Published 6th August 2013
Not only are there two ways to skin a cat, there are (at least) two ways to build an extension, as demonstrated by developments at two of our larger heritage railway operations. In the valley of the River Dee the Llangollen Railway has been progressively extending tracks from its Carrog terminus towards Corwen.
On the other hand, while the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway struggled to repair landslips which severed its running line in recent years (a battle fought and now won) a separately funded effort has been progressing reconstruction of Broadway station ready for the time the line in the Cotswolds can set about progressing its northern extension
The Llangollen Railway’s extension from Carrog to Corwen has been a tough old battle fought for a number of years. The railhead reached Plas Bonwm farm in April 2012 and is used during special events. The objective is Corwen, the problem is money.
While the cash problem is not solved, a £59,074 grant towards construction of its new station at Corwen has given the Llangollen Railway Trust sufficient confidence to announce a first train for guests and supporters will run over the extension to Corwen on St. David’s Day, March 1 2014.
While there are caveats, you guessed it, the need for additional finance being at the top of the list, this is the first time a projected ‘first train’ date has been announced.
The grant money has been provided by the Cyfenter project, administered by Mentor Môn and financially supported by the European Regional Development Fund and Denbighshire County Council to invest in the development of Social Enterprise in North West Wales.
The cash enables the railway to seek tenders for the installation of concrete foundations for the platform at the phase 1 terminus station site. The timber sections of the platform will be constructed in the Llangollen Railway’s workshops and delivered to the work site for erection after track into the station – which will have the bi-lingual name Dwyrain Corwen East - has been laid.
After having paused for a while, track laying on the extension is progressing again. The railhead should reach ‘Bonwm Bends’ shortly and when base ballasting is complete will continue towards bridge 28A near Plas Derwen where repairs to the brick arch over the line are being undertaken by contractors. Track should be into the Dwyrain Corwen East station site around autumn.
Other than money, potential drawbacks to the schedule are the need to rebuild under-bridge 29 (providing pedestrian access to the nature reserve on the north side of the Dwyrain Corwen East site) and under-bridge 30 being incorporated into Denbighshire County Council’s Corwen Flood Relief scheme at the western end of the station site.
The funding gap to complete the phase one extension, mostly needed to finance ballasting the extended track, has been reduced to £78,000.
Donations (which can be Gift Aided) can be sent to the Llangollen Railway Trust’s Corwen Appeal Fund at The Station, Abbey Road, Llangollen LL20 8SN. There are benefits linked to the size of the donation, see http:// www.llangollen-railway.co.uk/page.php?id=6 for details and download a donation form.
The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway’s northern extension from Toddington to an interim location at Laverton opened in April 2011. Joy was not quite as unbounded as one might have expected since the railway had found itself in the midst of a battle to repair a collapsed embankment which had severed its existing line between Toddington and Winchcombe.
Unsurprisingly, the railway’s efforts after the line opened to the Laverton railhead focused on repairing what it had. However, the G-WR’s Broadway Area Group and Friends of Broadway station organisation were already working to revive Broadway station ready for the day tracks would arrive, as inevitably they will at some stage in the future, from the south.
With construction of new platform walls very nearly completed, on July 10 planning applications were submitted to Wychavon District Council covering new buildings at Broadway. The application seeks approval for a station building on platform 1, a waiting room on platform 2 and a signalbox on the southern end of platform 2. An application for car parking facilities will be made later.
Bricks from a two-arch railway bridge to be demolished near Tewkesbury at the end of July will be donated to the G-WR. The material will either supplement the Broadway works or be used in reconstruction of platform 2 at Cheltenham Race Course where work has also started.
With its line fully reinstated and a hugely successful May 'Cotswold Steam Celebration' gala to celebrate the fact the railway is more than back in business behind it, the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway is again casting its gaze northwards. A new share issue will be launched later this year to finance extension work, initially to Broadway – but with the ultimate objective of Honeybourne very much in mind.
Written by Cliff Thomas