CORWEN EXTENSION PROJECT UPDATE –  November 2013  


The project made further progress during August when deliveries of recycled ballast brought in 200 tonnes of stone via the access at Bonwm. This allowed the base ballasting of the trackbed to be brought forward towards the access gate and track laying by full time permanent way staff commenced. By the second week of September, the track was extended by twelve panels to bring the railhead into the area of the gate at Bonwm.


The stack of concrete sleepers has been dispersed along the track bed towards Corwen. Further deliveries of 1,000 tonnes of ballast are providing for the base towards over bridge 28a, with pegging out of this section undertaken during September. It was envisaged that track laying during the autumn will begin at bridge 28a working backwards towards Bonwm, a stretch of approximately 900 metres. As of late October work on laying track east of overbridge 28A had begun and by 7 November eleven 60ft panels had been laid with ballasting of the trackbed proceeding towards Bonwm halt site.


The repair of the under arch and abutments to bridge 28a is in hand from contractors who tendered for this work, and a volunteer team has completed repairs to bridge 28, a fisherman’s access underpass.


Completion of repairs to the road/railer machine and the certification of the machine allowed for delivery to the Bonwm as the essential tool for further track laying. Two members of the full-time staff are passed competent to operate this machine and two volunteers have been similarly instructed. A volunteer work force has been assembled to undertake the track laying from  bridge 28a and, ultimately, beyond to the Corwen platform site.



Dwyrain Corwen East Station site


Whilst it is intended that a first train will arrive at the new platform, to be known with a bi-lingual title of Dwyrain Corwen East, on St David’s day, 1st March 2014, it is now likely that an official opening occasion will be held some weeks later to obtain maximum publicity. This is, of course, subject to all the work being completed, including the acquisition of the outstanding funding.


The complications with the under bridges within the area of the platform have been resolved. Denbighshire County Council let a contract for the installation of the flood relief scheme outfall to the river Dee and the contractor MacPhillips arrived on site during September. Demolition of under bridge 30 at the access end of the phase 1 station site followed and major civil engineering work is on-going for the installation of the outfall pipe lines through the railway embankment which currently prevents access to the trackbed.


Denbighshire Countryside Services advise that the flood relief scheme has implications for the route of the link foot path to the riverside nature reserve. This requires under bridge 29 to be refurbished and the task is now in hand.


Within the wider context of Corwen, consultation with the designated artists in residence allowed for the design of the access pathway from the Corwen car park to the station site and, as of early November, landscape contractors were on site to lay the foot path and plant trees and bushes.


Wide ranging discussions have also take place with regard to the opportunities to promote the new station at Corwen as a destination next year and plans for the 2014 train timetable have been completed.

The whole length of the trackbed is now a designated construction site and access to it is restricted to workers with appropriate authorisation. Sadly, this means there will be no more trackbed walks to see the extension, but progress may be observed from the pavement on the A5 road.



Llangollen Railway Trust November 2013


CORWEN EXTENSION PROJECT UPDATE – September 2013  


The project made further progress during August when deliveries of recycled ballast brought in 200 tonnes of stone via the access at Bonwm. This allowed the base ballasting of the trackbed to be brought forward towards the access gate and track laying by full time permanent way staff commenced. By the second week of September, the track was extended by twelve panels to bring the railhead into the area of the gate at Bonwm.


The stack of concrete sleepers has been dispersed along the track bed towards Corwen. Further deliveries of 1,000 tonnes of ballast are providing for the base towards over bridge 28a, with pegging out of this section undertaken during September. It is now envisaged that track laying during the autumn will begin at bridge 28a working backwards towards Bonwm, a stretch of approximately 900 metres.


The repair of the under arch and abutments to bridge 28a is in hand from contractors who tendered for this work, but, in the meantime, a volunteer team has completed repairs to bridge 28, a fisherman’s access underpass.


Completion of repairs to the road/railer machine and the certification of the machine allowed for delivery to the Bonwm as the essential tool for further track laying. Two members of the full-time staff are passed competent to operate this machine and two volunteers will be similarly instructed. A volunteer work force is being assembled to undertake the track laying through to bridge 28a and beyond to the Corwen platform site.


The current rail head at Bonwm is illustrated below:


Dwyrain Corwen East Station site


Whilst it is intended that a first train will arrive at the new platform, to be known with a bi-lingual title of Dwyrain Corwen East, on St David’s day, 1st March 2014, it is now likely that an official opening occasion will be held some weeks later to obtain maximum publicity. This is, of course, subject to all the work being completed, including the acquisition of the outstanding funding.


The complications with the under bridges within the area of the platform have been resolved. Denbighshire County Council let a contract for the installation of the flood relief scheme outfall to the river Dee and the contractor arrived on site during September. Demolition of under bridge 30 at the access end of the phase 1 station site followed and major civil engineering work is on-going for the installation of the outfall pipe lines through the railway embankment.


Denbighshire Countryside Services advise that the flood relief scheme has implications for the route of the link foot path to the riverside nature reserve. This requires under bridge 29 to be refurbished and the task is now in hand.


Within the wider context of Corwen, consultation is underway with the designated artists in residence for the design of the access pathway from the Corwen car park to the station site. Wide ranging discussions have also take place with regard to the opportunities to promote the new station at Corwen as a destination next year and plans for the 2014 train timetable have been completed.

The whole length of the trackbed is now a designated construction site and access to it is restricted to workers with appropriate authorisation.


Llangollen Railway Trust September 2013

Buy A Ticket to Help Fund the Extension

A novel fund-raising scheme has been initiated through the sale of limited editions of the traditional type of Edmondson card tickets specially printed for the journey from Llangollen to Plas Bonwm, whereby a donation helps fund aspects of the extension work.

For £5 a buff ticket will be issued in respect of drainage work,

£10 a red ticket for platform work,

£15 a blue ticket for a sleeper

and for £20 a vellum ticket for ballast.

 

These are already proving popular with visitors and a full set is available for £50 from the Llangollen Railway Trust at sales outlets at the Railway, or by post enclosing a stamped and addressed envelope to Llangollen Station, LL20 8SN.


A GOLDEN MOMENT ON TRACK EXTENSION


Representatives of the Cowen community today joined volunteers from the Llangollen Railway Trust to mark an auspicious occasion with progress for the railway extension project.


Two separate lengths of track were joined together near the Bonwm Bends on the adjacent A5 road to complete two miles of track west of Carrog station.


A golden fishplate was ceremonially fixed to the final rail joint to mark the volunteer effort which has seen over a thousands yards of track laid eastwards from the restored overbridge, near Plas Derwen, towards the existing railhead at Bonwm. A volunteer work force has achieved this milestone working on a two-day a week basis throughout the autumn to assemble panels of track on a prepared trackbed base.


Denbighshire County Councillor, Huw L Jones, who assisted with fixing the fishplate, said, “A most impressive length of straight track has been assembled in recent weeks by the volunteers. Their achievement is clearly visible to users of the A5 road and has raised hopes for the early completion of the project. Today’s link up represents 80% of the track work necessary to bring the railway to Corwen in 2014.”


Speaking for Llangollen Railway Trust, the Corwen Extension Project Co-ordinator, Richard Dixon-Gough, from Llangollen, said. “The work has been undertaken by a volunteer workforce varying from 6 - 20 workers on site, comprised mainly of members over 60 years old age. In the course of 16 volunteer working days they have laid 52 panel of track.

“We have to thank many people and organisations for their help with this project. The extension has needed administrative, financial, verbal and physical help which has been forthcoming from Denbighshire County Council, Welsh Assembly, Councillors and community leaders, members of the community and the Railway’s members.

“We still have some way to go yet, but with continued support from everyone we will be at our temporary station site in the near future. The next challenge is to lay 46 panels of track, plus installation of our buffer stop. This further stage requires purchase of a thousand concrete sleepers and all their fittings, plus ballast, and will present a financial challenge for the Trust.”


A Corwen Sleeper appeal has been launched on behalf of the Llangollen Trust by member Mr Paul Bailey aiming to raise £20,000 to finance the acquisition of the material. A generous response from supporters has so far raised half that sum. Well wishers may contribute donations to the appeal c/o Mr P Bailey, Dolwen, Bryneglwys, Corwen LL21 9LY, cheques payable to the Llangollen Railway Trust Ltd.


Attached pictures show:

1. Representatives of the Corwen community on site during their visit to the railhead near Bonwm.


2. Councillor Huw L Jones assists Llangollen Railway volunteer Mr John Mason in fixing the ceremonial fishplate to the track.



George Jones

Press Officer

Llangollen Railway Trust



Bridge 28A

Before refurbishment

Work started

CORWEN EXTENSION PROGRESS – DECEMBER 2013


With materials on site and the road/railer machine available, the volunteer work force made rapid progress with track laying on the section beyond Bonwn during November. Continual supplies of ballast brought it to the access point at Bonwm Gates allowed a contractor to spread the stone to form the base and the work force began laying 60 ft panels with concrete sleepers from near overbridge 28A. Heading eastwards towards the existing rail head which had been brought round from Plas Bonwm Farm, fifty panels were laid by early December with the volunteers working two days a week.

By mid December the railhead was at the site of the former Bonwm Halt having laid an impressive straight section of some 1000 yards with a final gap of just 67ft. This was closed on 19 December and completes a two mile section of track from west of Carrog, leaving just half a mile to complete the extension into Corwen.


The picture below shows the final panel in place at Bonwm Gates with temporary crossing in place.

As seen from the nearby A5 road, the sight of the work force in action, and the resulting track layout, has given encouragement to passers-by that the project will reach Corwen early in 2014. However, work by contractors continues on the repair to overbridge 28A and it will require the removal of their scaffolding to allow progress west to be maintained in January 2014.


 It is now estimated there is a short fall of concrete sleepers for this final stage of the track extension and funding to acquire a further supply is now the subject of an appeal being organised by Mr Paul Bailey. A good response has been received from members and supporters on the basis that a sleeper and its fittings cost £20. Those wishing to contribute to this appeal should donate to: Mr P Bailey, Corwen Sleeper Appeal, Dolwen, Bryneglwys, Corwen, Denbighshire LL21 9LY. Cheques payable to Llangollen Railway Trust Ltd.


Corwen site developments


At the site of the Dwyrain Corwen East station the major civil engineering project for the Corwen flood relief scheme has progressed throughout the autumn. This has seen the railway embankment breached to allow for the installation of outflow pipes and associated drainage works such that access via the contractors’ construction site has not been possible. It is now advised that this work will be completed in mid January, when deliveries of materials for the railway can be accommodated at the Corwen end. The Railway’s contractors will then have access to the embankment to install the foundations of the five coach platform.


Work has continued on bridge 29, the underpass for access to the nature reserve, and the route for the footpath has been provided with a bridge across the drainage channel now constructed adjacent to the station site.


There remains much to do in the New Year, including, of course, the final ballasting and tamping to pack and align the new track before the extension can be passed for the operation of trains. However, what has been achieved this autumn, after so much earlier frustration, is very encouraging and a great credit to the volunteer force work which has undertaken the bulk of the physical effort to extend the track and repair the associated infrastructure.


If the present rate of progress can continue, subject to the acquisition of funds and material, not to forget the winter’s weather, the arrival of a first train at the station site on 1st March 2014 remains a possibility. An official date for commencement of train services has yet to be decided and a further announcement should be awaited, although the 2014 Llangollen Railway timetable leaflet includes the times of trains to and from Corwen.


Track viewing walk – 1 January 2014 (This walk was postponed due to wet weather)

To allow for supporters to see the extent of the track now in situ, and the work still to be completed, an escorted walk is proposed for New Year’s Day. This will begin from Carrog, departing 11.45 am to access the A5 road taking the fisherman’s path route from the River Dee bridge, hence along the pavement to Bonwm and continuing through to Corwen looking in on the railway which closely follows the road. At Corwen sight of the flood relief scheme works is bound to impress and provide an appreciation of the impact on the railway project. The route is approximately 2.5 miles (4km), but, with an absence of public transport on the day, a similar return is necessary, although the route using the old road back to Carrog village will provide an alternative viewing option.

The occasion is weather dependent of course and a further announcement will be made on this news page nearer the date. Expressions of interest and request for further details can be emailed to:

llangollen.railway@btinternet.com with subject : Corwen Walk 1.1.14.


Llangollen Railway Trust December 2013



Work on extending the line 2.5 miles west from Carrog to Corwen has been on going since the Transport and Works Order was authorised by the Welsh Government in August 2010. The search for funding and agreement of a Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan relative to the railway’s route through what is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area of Conservation occupied much time and effort early on, as well as the acquisition of materials and clearance of the trackbed. Fortunately there was little in the way of actual obstructions on the route, but a start was made with renewal of the lineside fencing during 2011.


It was not until late in December 2011 that work began with the relaying of existing track west to Carrog and then new track was assembled on a new ballast base from January 2012 with volunteers working at weekends. Unlike previous extensions the adoption of modern methods of working saw mechanical aids brought to the task with the use of a rail/roader machine and rail mounted 12 ton crane. These allowed for seven or eight 60 ft panels to be assembled over a weekend and a mild winter allowed for good progress to be made. A major bash at half term in February saw the rail head through to the area of Plas Bonwm Farm and a halt was called to allow for the 1500 m length of track to be top ballasted. This brought ballast trains onto the new section in early April, followed by use of a hired tamper machine to pack and align the track. With a deadline of availability in time for the major Steel, Steam and Stars III gala event, crew training runs were made with the diesel railcars to acquaint staff with the new line. The culmination of all these activity saw the new build locomotive “Tornado” head the first passenger train west of Carrog since 1964. On subsequent gala events other trains, both steam and diesel, have ventured onto the new section to show visitors what has been achieved.

A lot remains to be done to complete the section through to Corwen and there were frustrations with lack of progress during the winter of 2012/13. Much of this is down to a lack of adequate finance to push on the with various tasks involved on the next section, which includes refurbishment of the drainage systems, repairs to an overbridge, as well as the purchase of additional ballast and materials. However, the good news is that grant aid in the order of £59,000 has been provided from European Regional Development Funding towards the building of the temporary platform at the phase 1 station site to be known bi-lingually as: Dwyrain Corwen East.

For the second part of 2013 we can expect the rail head to more forward to the site of Bonwm Halt and onward as new ballast is delivered. The target date for the first train to Bonwm is 1 March 2014, subject to further funding being acquired and to this end the Llangollen Railway Trust welcomes donations towards its long term ambition of bringing the trains back to Corwen and operating a ten mile heritage railway in the Dee Valley.

Left:

Bridge 28A under repair. This is a farmer’s access bridge and has no public access

Right

The trackbed east from bridge 28A. Base ballast has been laid.

Bridge 28 refurbishment

All photos George Jones

Immediately above - L to R: Ballast train approaching the section below the A5 main road; Ballast train passing the roadsign on the A5 near the layby.

Below -  Plas Bonwm Farm crossing where the drainage work was done; the railhead awaiting the buffer stops. This is the end of the line until after the Steel Steam and Stars 9 day gala. (See text)                                                                                              Pictures by George Jones

Pictures above and below of track laying work by George Jones. Left to Right above: Track laying approaches the farm; the end of the line (temporarily); the ‘Muscleman’ machine used to line and level; underbridge 26.

L to R below: Rail, sleeper, mat, carrots, and clips; pulling in the clips; ‘08 shunter ‘Davy’ on the extension; loading materials.

Pictures above of track laying work by George Jones. Left to Right above: Track laying below the A5; Pilkington on the works train near the farm; Davy on the works train; the crane at the railhead

Members of the Corwen community, including business representatives, joined County Councillors, Assembly Members and the Member for Parliament to see progress with the extension of the Llangollen Railway on the section west of Carrog.

The photo shows the visiting party at the trackside after having listened to a briefing about the work in progress.

Photo - George Jones