* Llangollen Railway volunteers at the end of the station site in Corwen.
A national railway magazine has highlighted the opportunities arising from the expansion of two heritage railways in the Dee Valley area.
Writing in the November 2017 edition of Heritage Railway magazine, a monthly journal reporting on the UK steam railway scene, the editor, Robin Jones, says that extensions to the Bala Lake Railway and the Llangollen Railway will offer a myriad of opportunities at Bala and Corwen, highlighting to local councils the multiple benefits to their economies that heritage railways can guarantee.
Reviewing the development of the heritage railway scene since the first volunteer-led preservation of the Talyllyn Railway in 1951, Robin Jones puts the spotlight on the former rail route between Ruabon and Barmouth, closed by Dr Beeching in 1965.
He says, the two heritage railways on the former track bed in the corridor of the Dee Valley are now adding themselves to the list of lines that go somewhere to somewhere, offering so much more than a steam ride for its own sake in the middle of nowhere. And both of them richly deserve your support at this stage.
Llangollen Railway’s big push into Corwen Central is making rapid strides each month.
It will not only be railway passengers who will benefit, being able to alight and visit the town centre’s shops and pubs, but coach operators who will see the line as a way of getting their customers into Llangollen.
Indeed, coach tour operations will have a big part to play at both of these lines, being able to offer their passengers rides on two heritage railways which pass through some of the most beautiful scenery Britain has to offer, simply by turning off the main road into a car park.
Then there is Bala Lake Railway whch is now just 80 yards short of the land it needs to complete its extension on ‘virgin’ land into Bala town centre, and give passing tourists a big reason to stop off there and spend their money in local establishments.
The scheme will benefit everyone – not least of all the railway, whose current out-of-the-way Bala terminus is by comparison ’finicky’ to find and misses out on much potential custom.
Both lines, says Robin Jones, need further public support in terms of donations or share purchase, and this is the time and place to jump on board.
Commenting on the editorial, Liz McGuinness, Interim General Manager at Llangollen Railway said: “We entirely agree with Robin Jones’s comments as to the prospects for Corwen when our new terminus opens in 2019.
“Whilst the current temporary platform at Dwyrain Corwen East has become established as our western terminus over the past three years, it is not operationally convenient and lacks the immediacy of access to and from the town centre and car park.
"Terminating trains at a station central to the town, the bus interchange and the car park will open up a new market segment to attract passengers from North West Wales.
"With the Bala Lake Railway just ten miles away, visitors will be able to sample two contrasting lines using the Traws Cymru T3 bus as a connection.
“There are not many places in Britain where a ride on a big standard gauge steam train can be readily contrasted with the smaller train of the narrow gauge in the midst of countryside that can boast an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or a National Park.
“We are grateful to Robin Jones for promoting the need for support to assist the completion of our major development project. Businesses in the Corwen and Bala townships would do well to support the ambitions of either line in the expectation of increased economic activities arising from visitors to the railways at their new terminus stations.”
Heritage Railway, edition 235, is now on the shelves and includes progress reports for both the Bala Town station project and the Corwen Central development.
* See: https://www.heritagerailway.co.uk/corwen-gets-new-stairway-to-heaven-but-more-cash-needed/