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Friday, September 2, 2022

Railway goes back to diesels golden era this weekend

* The 1566 near Caernarfon in the 1970s. 

* The 1566 today.

* The 5310 at Berwyn Station.

* The 31271.

It will be back to the 1960s- 1990s era of British Rail when Llangollen Railway stages its Diesel Weekend this Saturday and Sunday.

All available diesel locomotives are expected to be in use including 1958-built Class 26 No 5310, 1961-built Class 31 No 31271 and 1964-built Class 47 1566.

The event will see a frequent timetable with some interesting workings and stock in use, including a freight train that incorporates a passenger carrying vehicle allowing visitors to experience something a bit different. 

LR Press Officer and Diesel Group volunteer Terry Pickthall said: “We are delighted to be running a diesel weekend again for the first time in 3 years following the pandemic and the railway’s financial challenges last year. 

"It will also be the first time we’ve run a three-train service under the new management of the Llangollen Railway Trust. 

"Our diesel locomotives have already covered more miles this year than they have in previous years as the railway has worked to conserve coal stocks and reduce costs in the wake of spiralling fuel costs.

"This is no mean feat when you consider we are a small group, with less than 10 regular volunteers and our locomotives are all pushing 60 years old  - with some of us not that far behind them in age either.

"It will be great to see them all running this weekend. As someone who was born in the late 70s, the diesel era of British Rail, with its strong nationalised, corporate image is how I remember the railways growing up. 

"Although our locos are authentic to the era we are pleased to say that our catering offering remains very much in the modern day and visitors need not be worried about encountering the infamous dried-out BR pork pie or egg sandwich in our station cafes this weekend.”

The locomotives in use this weekend represent those that would have been seen in use across the Country from the 1960’s right through to the 1990’s. 

Class 47 1566 spent a lot of its life working trains on the North Wales Coast whereas Class 26 5310 spent its working life in Scotland, including working to the very far north of the UK rail network at Thurso. 

Class 31 31271 spent much of its life on British Rail’s Eastern and Midland regions and carries the name “Stratford 1840-2001” to commemorate the London depot where many of the class spent their working lives. 

All have diesel engines that drive a generator that powers electric traction motors geared directly to the wheels. 

Terry Pickthall added :“Many think the hybrid powertrain we see used in modern cars is a new idea – it’s not really. The diesel-electric drive used in locomotives like ours can be traced way back to US in the 1920s. 

"Our locos all have a bit more power than the average hybrid car though. Our Class 47 has a 12 cylinder, 83-litre engine producing 2,580hp. This may seem extreme but you also need to remember it could pull a train of 12 coaches at 90mph.

"This works out at about 3hp per passenger, so the amount of CO­2 generated per person is a lot less than you’d think – and that’s for a 60 year old design. Modern trains­ are even more efficient, showing how rail travel can be part of the solution to tackle climate change. This is an important story to tell to our visitors alongside enjoying a nostalgic day out in the stunning Dee Valley AONB.”

Tickets for the Diesel Weekend can be bought on the day of travel and advanced booking is also available online at

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