TWO of Llangollen Railway’s own fleet of locomotives will be back home in time to take part in a major steam gala there this weekend.
They have been away for the summer helping out at other heritage railways over the border in England.
The Great Western Pannier tank engine No. 6430 is due to return from the South Devon Railway at Totnes where it has been providing cover during a locomotive shortage.
The return of this popular engine will allow Llangollen Railway to offer the running of the Auto-coach train, which will provide for a shuttle service on to the track extension west of Carrog during the gala event, which runs from Friday-Sunday.
The British Railways Standard Tank engine No. 80072 is returning from a spell of duty on the North Yorkshire Moors Railways at Pickering where it has been earning its keep by making a major contribution to the motive power on that line.
These locomotives will join the operation fleet with No. 7822 Foxcote Manor, Great Western Heavy Freight engine No. 3802 and the LMS Black Five No. 44806, which have provided the basic steam service at Llangollen during this summer.
With five engines in steam over the forthcoming weekend a frequent service of trains will operate in the Dee Valley to demonstrate steam power at its best and show how the railway operates at maximum capacity with a near half-hourly service.
Those who stand on Berwyn station during the weekend they will see a train passing at 10-minute intervals during the peak of the days as the services work in and out of Llangollen - a spectacle that was unimaginable in Great Western or British Railway days on the former Ruabon to Barmouth line when a two-hourly interval service was more likely.
Details of timetable are on the Llangollen Railway website.
George Jones for Llangollen Railway said: "Having our engines on hire by other railways not only helps them to provide the essential element of a heritage railway, but also allows the engines to earn their keep and contribute towards their future maintenance costs.
“Right now the operational fleet of engines at Llangollen exceeds our daily needs and the surplus capacity can be used elsewhere.
“As an example of this the British Railways Standard tank engine will not be staying long after the gala event as it is booked for hire to the Chinnor & Princess Risborough Railway in Oxforshire during the autumn and winter period."
A third engine will be returning to Llangollen this week when the Austerity Saddle tank No. 68030 comes in from a spell at the Ecclesbourne Railway in Derbyshire but this won't be operating at the weekend as it is due a heavy overhaul and is expected to be taken apart quite soon to renew it for further service.
All this provides work for the Railway's engineering department and allows for continued employment of the skilled workforce at Llangollen.
* Llangollen Station will be the scene of a major steam gala this weekend.