HOMELESSNESS charity Emmaus South Wales celebrated the launch of its all-new land train attraction with an official launch in the seaside town of Porthcawl.
The seasonal service, which runs between Sandy Bay and Rest Bay, takes in key stops such as Coney Pleasure Beach, Porthcawl harbour, the town centre, the Grand Pavilion and the Rest Bay Watersports Centre.
Attending the official launch last week alongside members of the Emmaus South Wales team was Bridgend County Borough Council (BCBC) leader Huw David, the council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Regeneration Charles Smith, and the Mayor of Porthcawl, Tracey Hill.
At the launch, Emmaus South Wales named the land train Lucie in honour of the co-founder of Emmaus, and attendees enjoyed a round-trip train ride from Rest Bay to Sandy Bay, with the Mayor of Porthcawl cutting the ribbon to mark the official opening of the tourist attraction.
Jemma Wray, Chief Executive of Emmaus South Wales, said:
“We’re delighted to be providing this new attraction and look forward to welcoming visitors and local residents in Porthcawl on board. Many will have heard of the founder of Emmaus, Abbé Pierre, but little is heard about Lucie Coutaz, the co-founder. Lucie was an active member of the resistance during the Second World War and later dedicated her life to Emmaus, using her organisational prowess and leadership to grow the movement internationally. Abbé Pierre once described her as: ‘…the one, without whom, nothing would have been possible. Our land train is therefore named after Lucie in honour of her vital contribution to the Emmaus movement.”
Emmaus South Wales supports people back into employment and independent living by offering a home for as long as needed and the opportunity to gain work experience in the charity’s three shops. Lucie the Land Train will provide more training and work experience opportunities for the people supported by Emmaus South Wales.
Jemma continues to explain:
“We’re so pleased to be able to launch another enterprise that allows us to be at the heart of our local community and make a positive impact. Social enterprise is core to the Emmaus movement and ethos. We’re about providing real and meaningful training and work opportunities for the people we support, and what could be more fun than gaining it on Lucie the Land Train?
“I am so proud of everyone at Emmaus South Wales who have worked extremely hard to launch the service, and I would like to thank them and Bridgend County Council for their support. A big thank you to all our supporters and everyone who waves at Lucie as we go by too, it makes our day!”
The new land train has been introduced using £11,453, which has been secured from EU funding via the Welsh Government as part of the Visit Wales Tourist Attractor Destinations scheme.
BCBC’s Cabinet Member for Education and Regeneration Charles Smith said:
“It is great to see the new Porthcawl land train adding to the tourism offer in the area, providing a fun and convenient way of accessing both Sandy Bay and Rest Bay as well as the harbour and town centre.
“Emmaus South Wales, which is operating and providing the service, has a track record of supporting people to improve their circumstances, find new accommodation, gain new skills and explore opportunities for fresh employment. As well as having strong links with the area, they can offer their considerable experience across a broad range of business operations and can draw on the resources of the wider Emmaus UK community.”
Lucie the Land Train has three carriages, one of which is wheelchair accessible, and the operator Emmaus South Wales plans to open a ticket office and waiting area soon at its store on New Road, Porthcawl, which is near the start of the road train’s route.
Completing six stops across a four-mile round trip, the service is open seven days a week from 10am to 4.30pm (11am to 3.30pm on Sundays). A round trip takes around 45 minutes.
Ticket purchases can be made on board and are via contactless payment only. For adults, it is £5 single or £8 return while for children it is £3 single or £6 return. For a family of two adults and two children, it is £10 single and £15 return. For bus pass holders, carers or children under five years, tickets are free.
To find out more about Lucie the Land Train, please visit: www.emmaus.org.uk/south-wales/porthcawl-land-train/.