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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Corwen railway extension officially opened

* Steam locomotive 3802 prepares to drive through a
symbolic banner stretched across the newly-extended track.

SCORES of invited guests braved a wintry St David’s Day to attend the official opening of the newly extended railway line between Llangollen and Corwen this afternoon (Sunday).

The special event, staged in a field just outside Corwen, marked the completion of the ambitious five-year scheme to run trains a further 2.5 miles west of the line’s previous terminus at Carrog.
It also came as the fulfilment of a dream going right back to 1975 when a team of dedicated railway enthusiasts began bringing part of the Dee Valley route back to life as a heritage railway after it was axed under the Beeching service cuts of the early 1960s.  

* Guests head towards the marquee for the ceremony.
As a regular passenger service now begins between Llangollen and Corwen for the first time in 50 years, it was revealed that plans are already taking shape for phase two of the plan to run trains from the new terminus near the car park in Corwen a further 500 yards right into the heart of the town and replace a temporary station and platform which has been built with permanent facilities.

And Llangollen county councillor Stuart Davies, who has given his full backing to the extension project, said that although he estimated this development would cost in the region of half a million pounds, he would be doing all he could to see the trust which operates the railway is able to obtain secure financial assistance with the scheme.

A large party of invited guests, including local politicians and civic leaders, boarded a train hauled by a steam engine for the journey from Llangollen to the new temporary station designated Dwyrain Corwen East.
The opening ceremony began with the symbolic driving of the locomotive through a banner stretched across the track and continued with a rendition of the Welsh national anthem by the Glyndwr Male Voice Choir (pictured left) and Llangollen Silver Band.

As driving rain turned to sleet and then snow, railway vice-presidents Gordon Heddon and Bill Shakespeare unveiled a bilingual plaque bearing the name of the new station.
Railway chairman Peter Lund cut a ribbon to declare the new station officially open and members of the Corwen Community handed out complimentary daffodils to guests as they gathered in a marquee to hear further selections from the band and the choir.

Railway spokesman George Jones said: “With the opening of the extension to Corwen East the intention of all members of the railway is to look towards the development of the final section of the extension.
* Llangollen Silver Band plays at the ceremony.
“We of course need financial assistance to enable all this happen but, for what is a relatively modest outlay, the area will gain so much.
“If you consider the footbridge erected at Chirk Station, this cost over a million pounds.

“For somewhat less than that Corwen will receive a permanent platform, signal box, all the track, signalling and much more, plus access to the town’s main car park via a subway from the platform.”

Llangollen county councillor Stuart Davies, who was amongst guests at the ceremony, said: “The band of dedicated volunteers who run the railway have done a fantastic job over the past 40 years is driving the line forward as far as Corwen, overcoming every obstacle in their way.
“The second phase of the extension project, which will bring many benefits to both Llangollen and Corwen, must definitely now go ahead.

“I personally estimate that it will take about £500,000 to complete this and I am determined to see the railway trust is given every assistance in securing the necessary finance to complement its own fundraising efforts.”

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