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Saturday, July 3, 2021

Railway to roll back into action from next Friday

llanblogger exclusive

Llangollen Railway Trust (LRT) aims to resume train services from next Friday, July 9, subject to inspection and approval of maintenance work carried out on the River Dee Bridge. 

This follows eight months of the railway being closed, first due to the pandemic and then the financial crisis from which it is now recovering.

Initially, it will be a Llangollen to Berwyn shuttle service which will run using the diesel railcars operating Fridays to Sundays.

The work on the Dee Bridge re-started on Monday, June 28 and was completed July 2. 

The volunteer permanent way team were fitting the check rails to the timbers, aligning the track and welding-up the rail joints to complete the work started in March, when new baulk timbers were installed prior the PLC receiver suspending work. 

* Work on the important River Dee bridge is now finished.

The works will be inspected by an independent engineer before the bridge is signed off. 

The railway’s permanent way engineer will inspect the track between the bridge and Berwyn Tunnel before trains can start running to Berwyn.

Operations Director Mike Williams said: “Before we can run revenue-earning train services, we had to complete the railway’s Safety Management System for approval. 

"We have also started re-fresh sessions for steam, diesel loco and unit crews, signalmen, guards and so on, which will be an on-going need, as will be competency examination.”

Looking beyond Berwyn station, there are essential engineering works needed in the Berwyn Tunnel, the relaying of the West End Point work at Glyndyfrdwy has started and repair to Occupational Crossings at Carrog.

Once the Berwyn Tunnel work is finished, train services can extend to Glyndyfrdwy, initially again using DMU traction until the west end points become available. 

When around facilities are operational at Glyndyfrdwy, the options are for using steam or diesel loco hauled services. 

Upon completion of the Occupational Crossings, running to Carrog may start, hopefully by early August, says the trust.

The option then is for an engineering train to run to Corwen and drop ballast on the point-work and station loop prior to the tamping of the track through the station, as a longer-term aim.

Mike Williams added: “We are looking to re-start a limited service between Llangollen & Berwyn on Friday July 9 which is a special day in Llangollen for the International Musical Eisteddfod. 

"We will run two evening trains to coincide with the illumination of the Castle Street bridge over the river Dee.”

All services will be using diesel multiple units (DMUs) provided by Llangollen Railcars. 

Its spokesperson John Joyce said: “We are expecting to roster the class 108 DMU with the class 109 Wickham set in reserve, if demand warrants additional seats, subject to social distancing. 

"After an eight-month layover the units will be subject to checks and test runs to Llangollen station for crew refresher sessions.

"Trains will depart Llangollen hourly, Fridays to Sundays, from 11am through to 4pm and allow a 15-minute stopover at Berwyn to enjoy the view of the Dee Gorge or sample the Chain Bridge. 

"Other options for passengers are to visit the Horseshoe Falls or take the traditional walk back to Llangollen along the canal.

“Running a heritage DMU service to Berwyn will be recreating the pioneering days of 1986/87 when services at Llangollen first extended across the Dee bridge. 

"We hope our supporters will turn out and buy a ticket to ride the shuttle if revenues are to cover operational costs and make a contribution to the railway’s overheads when costs like insurance and utility bills remain substantial expenses for the LRT.”

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