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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Railway steams ahead with modified Corwen scheme

 * View of Corwen East station with platform on the right.
Following a major review of the project the board of Llangollen Railway Trust says it has reluctantly concluded that, due to the present economic climate, it will not be possible to fund the proposed Phase 2 terminal station at Corwen in the foreseeable future without substantial grant aid.

However, it will go ahead with a modified Phase 1 scheme aimed at the early completion of a Corwen East station.  

The original proposal for the extension of the railway to Corwen envisaged a £4.6 million plan incorporating a terminal on the embankment adjacent to the town’s car park, to be part-funded from European Objective One funding for North Wales. 

However, following the acquisition of the Transport & Works Order for the Extension in 2010, it was revealed that the European Funding was no longer available for this project. 

A revised scheme, to be completed in two phases, was therefore agreed to allow some work to proceed.  

The first phase, estimated at £1.2m, to extend the track and provide for a temporary platform is part-funded by a £500,000 grant from the Welsh Assembly Government which has to be match funded by the Llangollen Railway Trust. 

Now, to allow steam trains to operate to Corwen on a regular basis, a run-round loop will be installed some 170 metres east of the platform on land which is available within the boundaries of the line.  

Llangollen Railway has the necessary turn-out point work to allow for such a loop line to be constructed. 

The four-coach train platform for Corwen East station will be constructed near to the end of the existing embankment.  

This revised location will be possible when Under Bridge 30 is removed and the track bed filled in after Denbighshire County Council has installed a larger culvert as part of improved flood control arrangements.  

This new location for the platform end ramp will provide for a graded access on to the entrance track for Welsh Water’s Corwen Sewerage works.  

It will dispense with the provision of a long three-staged access ramp and save the cost of an expensive item of infrastructure.  

Some form of portable building will be provided in this area as a temporary shelter for passengers and to offer basic facilities for railway staff. 

The Corwen East station will operate on the basis of a steam train arriving to disembark all passengers.

The empty train will propel backwards into the loop to allow the engine to ‘run round’. The train will then be propelled back into the station in readiness for the return journey. 

A similar facility was once provided at Berwyn in the early days of the railway’s restoration. 

It avoids the need to ‘top and tail’ trains with two locomotives, which is uneconomic. 

These arrangements will be a marked improvement on the earlier proposal that a shuttle service of trains would operate west of Carrog. 

Future Prospects 

The operation of regular steam trains at Corwen East station is seen as essential to the success of the project in attracting tourists to the west end of the line from the north and west market segment of North Wales.   

Increased passenger numbers attracted to Llangollen Railway will benefit the regeneration of Corwen as a centre, improve the railway’s viability and make the Dee Valley more environmentally accessible for visitors by use of the trains. 

The envisaged success of the new interim arrangements will support the case for the building of the terminal station and complex at Corwen, which remains the ultimate objective when external funding is available at some future date. 

Llangollen Railway Trust chairman, Jim Ritchie, said: “The revised scheme recognises the practicalities of the situation.  

“It is a realistic solution to the need to provide regular steam train services at Corwen sooner than waiting for the Phase 2 terminal to be delivered. 

“However, the additional work involved in implementing this option will mean some delay in completing Phase 1 work, such that steam trains will not operate until early 2014, subject to continued financial contributions towards completion of the track extension work.” 

The revised station location and operational arrangements have been outlined to representatives of the Corwen Business Association and Corwen Community Council who expressed themselves in favour of the scheme.


* View of the site of Corwen East station looking towards Corwen - platform to be located on the left.







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