Published: 31st October 2014
The Gwili Railway’s RSH 0-6-0ST Welsh Guardsman (7170/1944) became the first steam locomotive to reach Carmarthen from north of the town since 1964 during a test run from Bronwydd Arms on October 25.
The Gwili Railway was the first standard gauge line in Wales to re-open as a privately owned steam railway. Initial steam operations ran from a base established at Bronwydd Arms (some three miles north of Carmarthen) for around a mile northwards. Work to extend the line further north saw services start running to Llwyfan Cerrig in 1988 and onwards to a new station at DanyCoed in March 2001.
Expansion efforts then switched to a southern extension, construction of which has been a long, hard battle. A platform was built at the site of the new ‘Carmarthen North’ southern terminus – to be named in English and Welsh as Abergwili Junction/Cyffordd Abergwili – in 2013 and track has finally been laid into the site enabling the emotive, not to mention historic, test run by a steam locomotive. Welsh Guardsman’s train comprised two coaches with a diesel on the Bronwydd end to lead on the return trip.
The extension to Abergwili Junction/Cyffordd Abergwili is likely to open to passenger operations next year.
All 20 wheels for new-build Gresley P2 2-8-2 No. 2007 Prince of Wales have been produced. The castings for the eight 6ft 2in diameter driving wheels, two 3ft 2in diameter pony truck wheels, two 3ft 8in diameter Cartazzi wheels and eight 4ft 2in diameter tender wheels have been produced by William Cook Cast Products in Sheffield and Leeds. The company, the principle sponsor of No. 60163 Tornado which was completed in 2008, made the pattern equipment, cast and machined the new P2 wheels on “very advantageous terms.” The Trust estimates the 20 wheels (including proof machining) would normally have cost in excess of £155,000.
Over the next few months the wheels will be machined, fitted with tyres, attached to their axles and the completed wheelsets equipped with roller bearings. The completed wheelsets are expected to be fitted to the locomotive by the end of 2015 to create a rolling chassis.
The locomotive is being constructed by the The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust through its P2 Steam Locomotive Company subsidiary. For a previous update see http://www.rail.co.uk/rail-news/2014/wheel-appeal-for-p2-prince-of-wales/ .
Existing supporters of the project can sponsor whole wheels or individual spokes of the driving wheels as part of a broader Dedicated Donation scheme where supporters can sponsor a variety of components. One or more of the 18 spokes of the driving wheels are available to sponsor for £600 (or £25 per month for 24 months) each and a ‘6ft 2in driving wheel casting and proof machining’ at £12,000 (or £200 per month for 60 months). Supporters who subscribe to the scheme will have their names inscribed on the official roll of honour at Darlington Locomotive Works, receive a certificate recording the sponsorship and a copy of the drawing for the component.
Work to construct a new bridge to carry a re-unified Great Central Railway over the Midland Main Line at Loughborough is expected to commence early in 2015. Planning permission to build the bridge was secured earlier this year, see http://www.rail.co.uk/rail-news/2014/gcr-unification-getting-closer/ . Contracts have now been let for the environmental studies required ahead of a planning application for the rest of the project to create an 18 mile main line heritage railway by unifying the Loughborough to Leicester North Great Central Railway and the GCR (Nottingham) north of Loughborough to the latter’s base at the Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre at Ruddington.
In early October contractors were on the site of the proposed new embankment, another key component of the reunification scheme, to work on preparation of a report detailing the condition of the site and what effect rebuilding the embankment will have on wildlife and nearby water courses.
“The project is really beginning to move up a gear,” commented GCR spokesperson Lili Tabiner. “With work expected to begin on the main line bridge shortly, it is vital we get the rest of the project ‘shovel ready’. If funding permits, we’ll be able to move straight on to other elements, once the bridge is complete. The paperwork may not sound exciting, but it is crucial to securing all the required consents before building work can take place. The fact that we have been able to let these contracts shows real progress.”
The £1million ‘Bridge to the Future’ appeal launched in June 2013 to finance construction of the bridge over the main lines has now raised £650,000. To donate to the appeal, download an appeal form at www.gcrailway.co.uk/unify or send a cheque made payable to the David Clarke Railway Trust to ‘Bridge Appeal, Lovatt House, Wharncliffe Road, Loughborough , LE11 1SL.
Long-time Quainton resident, LMS Stove Van No. 33014, was launched into full service on October 5 during the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre’s Enthusiasts’ Gala. Although previously seen being shunted around the Quainton Road site, the entry into proper service on Up yard train services followed completion of an exhibition standard restoration.
The work undertaken includes a new roof, new steel side panels, new timber interior and provision for access by wheel-chaired passengers through the existing double doors.