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Lappa Valley to kick off birthday celebrations with arrival of first brand new train in 50 years

24 July 2023 | News

In anticipation of a milestone birthday, one of Cornwall’s most loved family attractions has announced a major investment in their first brand new locomotive and carriages in six decades, designed to improve accessibility and efficiency.

Lappa Valley in St Newlyn East, Cornwall will celebrate its 50th birthday in 2024. In time for the celebrations, they have commissioned leading train builders Alan Keef Limited to design and build a brand new state of the art locomotive and new carriages for their main railway.


The deal, representing an investment of over £500,000 will consists of a bogie diesel locomotive, five passenger carriages and a buggy wagon. The train is currently being constructed by hand in Ross-On-Wye and due to be delivered by late October 2023.


This will be the first brand new locomotive for Lappa Valley’s main fifteen-inch gauge line since the introduction of the attraction’s first locomotive, Zebedee, in 1974. Featuring low floor access, it will significantly increase the number of wheelchair users able to ride each trip and will be equipped with an extremely economical diesel engine, cutting emissions compared to current diesel options.


Lappa Valley owner Keith Southwell said: “I am delighted to be working with Alan Keef Limited on this exciting and auspicious project which represents another significant investment in Lappa Valley.”


This latest project is the latest in a series of major investments for the family attraction, which over the last three years has opened a purpose-built cafe, soft play centre and a brand new accessible adventure golf course amongst many other projects. The attraction was awarded gold in last year’s Cornwall Tourism Awards and silver in the South West Tourism Awards.


Keith continued: “We are particularly passionate in ensuring Lappa Valley is as accessible as possible. We’re continually looking to make a day out at Lappa as enjoyable as possible for people of all abilities. Alongside our recent investment in a Changing Places toilet facility, this train will help us to welcome as many people as we can.”


The 100 seat carriage set features enhanced safety features such as an emergency passenger communication system and permanent colour changing lighting.​

Outside of the Alan Keef works from left to right – Sara and Keith Southwell (Owners of Lappa Valley), Patrick and Alice Keef (of Alan Keef) and Ben Harding (Operations Manager of Lappa Valley)

Lappa Valley’s Operations Manager Ben Harding is excited about the opportunities the new train will present:“The addition of the new locomotive and carriages really sets us up well for year round operations.


“Most significantly, our main train service will be greatly improved with a passenger capacity increase of nearly 60%. This means that waiting times at either end of the line will be reduced allowing families to spend more time with us.


“We recently visited Alan Keef Limited to see the train being built. The first of the carriages is nearing completion, and we’re pleased to share that these will be delivered in stages over the coming months. Meanwhile the locomotive frames are nearly complete, along with the cab and bodywork fabrication. The installation of the plant has also commenced.”


A family-run company, Alan Keef Limited locomotive builders have been operating for over fifty years, providing locomotives for light railways across the world. Patrick Keef from the company said: “We were delighted to be asked to design and build this new locomotive and rolling stock and have worked closely with the team from Lappa Valley to ensure we have fully understood what they wanted to achieve.


“Having celebrated our own 50th anniversary just last year and with many of our original locomotives still in use, we are expecting this new train to be around for many more special anniversaries for Lappa Valley”


More information about the new addition to the Lappa Valley family will be announced in the coming months on their social media platforms, including an opportunity for young train fans to help name the locomotive.


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