by Cliff Thomas

Llangollen announces date of first trains to Corwen – half a century after closure!

Published: 2nd October 2014

The first passenger trains over the Llangollen Railway’s extension to Corwen will run on October 22

News of the long-awaited date for the first passenger trains to Corwen since the December 1964 closure of the line between the town and Llangollen came in a September 30 announcement by Llangollen Railway General Manager, Kevin Gooding. “The track inspection was successfully completed, with requirements for specific items to receive attention, to allow for the extension to Corwen to open for public services with effect from 22 October 2014.” The formal inspection of the extended line referred to had taken place on Monday September 22.

The October 22 trains will run for those whose donations to the project make them eligible to claim a commemorative ticket for a place on the first day of trains running to Corwen. The railway is contacting those who qualify for a seat by post with details of the ticketing arrangements for these special trains. Unallocated tickets on the day will be offered to the general public at a premium fare.

Motive power is yet to be confirmed for the initial operations but the aim is for it to be steam, probably either ‘Black Five’ No. 45337 or GWR 2-8-0 No. 3802.

Public services to Corwen will operate, as per the published timetable, during the half term week from Monday October 27 and at weekends until November 9.

An alternative option will apply during the LR’s October 4-5 Railcars 60 weekend when trains will run over the extended line to Colomendy Curve, short of the Corwen station site.

New interim station

The extension terminates at Dwyrain Corwen East, which is intended to form an interim station for the extended line. The railway aims to progress to the Phase 2 site for the proper terminal station as soon as finance is available.

The railhead reached the site at the end of June, but yet another hurdle to be cleared occurred when the contractor appointed to build the temporary wooden platform at the site pulled out of the job. A hasty re-think resulted in Grosvenor Scaffolding being engaged to construct a platform based on a scaffolding structure. This striking construction, 100 metres (330ft) long standing some 5 metres (16 ft) above ground level alongside the embankment location, has been rapidly built, together with a landing and 38 metre (125ft) long graded ramp to provide pedestrian access to modern standards for the mobility impaired. The structure has been completed with wooden decking and fencing.

An all-weather path from Corwen’s main car park to the station site is to be built by the Countryside Services of Denbighshire County Council. A portable building has been installed thanks to grant aid from the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) with the interior being fitted out to provide AONB information about the Dee Valley and facilities for station staff.

Following a site visit by Llangollen Railway Vice-Presidents, Bill Shakespeare and Gordon Heddon – who have worked tirelessly to bring the extension project to fruition - work was sufficiently complete to invite members of the Corwen Community and Denbighshire County Council to an inspection visit on September 24.

Gauging trains started to run in August, initial DMU operations being followed by steam in the form of Standard 4MT 2-6-4T No. 80072 and GWR 2-8-0 No. 3802 to check clearances. Route learning for operational staff has continued employing a Wickham DMU railcar and a Class 26 hauling coaches.

Formal opening set for St. David’s Day 2015

“We have made tremendous progress this summer and trains will operate to Corwen in the tail end of the 2014 season,” commented Llangollen Railway spokesman George Jones. “This short period of train services will provide experience in operating the extension prior to the formal opening on March 1 2015 and a full season of trains linking Llangollen with Corwen during 2015.”

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