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Corwen Extension


CORWEN EXTENSION PROJECT

RAIL HEAD REACHES CORWEN TEMPORARY STATION SITE


A volunteer lead task force has completed the track extension project to reach the station site at Dwyrain Corwen East.


Track panels laid alongside the footings for the temporary platform were connected to a buffer stop at the end of the track on Saturday 5th April.


Corwen Community Representatives visit the rail head

Following a Project Co-ordination meeting on Wednesday 9 April, at which the conclusion of the track laying exercise was announced, representatives from the local community and Denbighshire County Council celebrated with a visit to the rail head.


Picture below shows the view looking west from bridge 29 with the track alongside the platform footings. Corwen is evident in the background.

CORWEN EXTENSION PROJECT REVIEW – May 2014  


Useful media headlines resulted from the arrival of the railhead at the Dwyrain Corwen East station site in April and local enthusiasm for the arrival of trains in 2014 is renewed. However there remains much to do and it would be unwise to speculate on an opening date at this point, although train services to Corwen in the summer remains an objective.


Corwen station site

The installation of the platform and access ramp at the Phase 1 temporary station requires the hiring in of expertise for the task and the Llangollen firm of Davies Bros have been appointed to undertake this work. Materials stored at the Llangollen Railway Carriage & Wagon works will be taken by rail through to Corwen and the erection work will start later in May. With an estimated six weeks work for the construction of the platform, it may be available for fitting out by early July.
















Photo. The finalised drain channel access to outflow pipe below the railway embankment – platform will be installed above and to the centre right.


George Jones, Llangollen Railway Trust 15 May 2014




Photo above shows the newly surfaced car park. New fencing and landscaping is underway in the back ground. Right hand is the meandering footpath to the car park via the Corwen Common.


Meanwhile there is much still to do to arrange for the basic facilities to be provided at the public access point to the station site.


The Denbighshire Routes Warden, Ros Stockdale, said, “The pedestrian access from Corwen East platform is developing well, and the paths should be completed in the next few weeks. The AONB has been working closely with the Flood Alleviation Scheme contractors as they complete their works, and they will be reseeding the site with a mix of wild flowers, so we are hoping that the journey from the railway into town will be a very colourful experience. The Artists in Residence – Camp Little Hope – are back and developing their ideas for the meadow and community orchard areas.”


In order to prepare train staff for the operation of trains to Corwen, a visit by members of the Traffic Department was arranged on 8 May. In the course of an escorted walk from the station site into town, the party gained an appreciation of the access arrangements for those arriving by train or visiting by car/bus. A conducted tour of the town centre provided an awareness of what Corwen has to offer in terms of shops, refreshment facilities and places of interest. Further visits by other customer facing volunteers and Llangollen Railway staff are to be arranged.


Track


The need for top ballasting of the new track remains a priority. Unfortunately there is a scarcity of the required grade of recycled ballast and resumption of deliveries from Crewe to Carrog is awaited. The calculated need is for 1,500 tonnes of stone requiring delivery by 55 lorry loads, at an estimated cost of £27,000. The start of ballasting is anticipated in late May and, if the section west of over bridge 28A can be completed during June, the hiring of a tamper machine in July will see the track work completed.

In the meantime, the extension has been the subject of a detailed in-house inspection to produce a list of items requiring specific attention to track and infrastructure. The list of ‘snags’ is being worked through by the project team but some of the heavier work requires the services of the 12 ton crane, once a repair to it has been effected.  One very visible addition to the railway scene is the installation of a fixed distant signal on the section east of bridge 28A as a sure sign the train will be coming.


Passenger Survey


In the course of the Easter and the May Bank Holiday weekends a Corwen Awareness survey was conducted at the Exhibition coach in Llangollen station. This revealed a great deal of interest in the project and eager anticipation for its completion. A high number of responses confirming the use of the Corwen terminus for a visit to the Llangollen Railway were recorded. The availability of convenient car parking was welcomed, as well as the easier accessibility from a different road network and nearness to home, or place of holiday accommodation, in the North Wales sector.  The results point to a need for a major marketing and promotional effort in North Wales once a date for the opening of train services to Corwen can be accurately determined.


Prospects


Llangollen Railway Trust Chairman, Neil Evans, said. “We are working hard on the final aspects of the project and trust all will come to fruition in time for trains to operate to Corwen during the summer period. A date will be announced directly we are confident that the extension and facilities are complete and have passed an inspection.”


Work on the Corwen Flood Alleviation scheme is now completed and the contractors have vacated the work site. In the course of restoring the area the surface on the over spill car park, on the approach to the station site, has received a new coat of asphalt, including the track up to the end of the existing railway embankment. This work is a notable improvement to the area.


Also due for attention is the pedestrian route from the town’s car park through the Corwen Common area when a top coat is applied to the footpath. Other enhancements to this area to make it attractive to visitors are planned, including the provision of an all-weather route in the area now restored by the contractors.

The photo shows the station site as seen looking East from the access gate with buffer stop middle centre; the platform will be located on the right.


This photo shows the newly surfaced car park. New fencing and landscaping is underway in the back ground. Right hand is the meandering footpath to the car park via the Corwen Common.

LLANGOLLEN RAILWAY TRUST


CORWEN EXTENSION PROJECT REVIEW – combined June/July 2014


First Train at Cowen East Station site


A notable occasion was achieved on Wednesday, 25 June 2014, when the first loco hauled train visited the station site – albeit only the ballast train propelled by diesel shunter 03162, nevertheless, it made an impressive sight as it waited to make a run to drop stone on the formation.


It should be noted that the appearance of 03162, a former Birkenhead Docks shunter, at Corwen was entirely appropriate. The loco celebrated the former long established connection with the Merseyside town when train services operated on the Ruabon – Barmouth line from and to the railway terminus at Birkenhead Woodside.


Track Ballasting


A continued famine of supplies of recycled ballast from Crewe frustrated the top ballasting of the track during June.  The issue was resolved by placing an order for 1,000 tonnes of new stone from the quarry at Penmaenmawr, although it does come at increased cost. However immediate delivery of stone by lorry to the yard at Carrog commenced and the ballast train began running again on the extension west of Bonwm from 23 June. These daily deliveries allowed for the ballast train to work through to Corwen East as stone was dropped west of Bridge 28A. It was anticipated that the ballasting would take four weeks to complete, to be followed by the hiring in of a tamper machine which will clearly take completion of the exercise into August.


Corwen East station site


As of late June the volunteer work force began laying the final panels of track to take the railhead through to the end of the embankment. In the event the railhead was extended at the Corwen East station site during week ending 28th June and the stop block now sits by the access gate at the end of the phase 1 station site and the Toad mess van is in residence.


Unfortunately, the prospect of the wooden temporary platform being erected by local contractors did not proceed as planned. The contractors have now withdrawn from the project and alternative methods for platform erection were being explored to provide a quick fix for this essential facility. In addition, the erection of the graded access ramp off the embankment is to be tackled as a volunteer lead option, once the railhead is secured.


The site of the accommodation building for the station has to be determined to allow for a concrete base to be cast, whilst the actual steel framed building is on order from the Railway’s engineering department. Solar powered lighting for the station is being investigated as the cost of a mains supply to the site is beyond the available budget.


Also by the end of June agencies for Denbighshire County Council began preparation of the footpath below to station site which will allow access via under bridge 29 to the adjacent nature reserve. Top coating of the footpath through the Corwen Common area to the town’s car park was also proceeding.


Local representatives at the Community Liaison meeting on 25 June were told that an autumnal option for a first passenger train in the Dwyrain Corwen East station is a possibility, if progress is maintained.



TRACK EXTENSION REACHES CORWEN RAIL HEAD


As of Tuesday, 8th July, the track extension at the Dwyrain Corwen East station site received its top ballast. Thanks to consistent supplies of ballast from Penmaenmawr quarry, the top ballasting of the extension has proceeded apace and the job was completed ahead of estimates.


The 03 shunter brought the SHARK and two tipper wagons onto the station site to spread the ballast and place ash on the north side of the station site. This is the furthest west a train has proceeded so far.


The services of the hired in tamper machine are now needed, when further ballast supplies will be required to top up the formation. In the meantime, there has been plenty of spade work for the volunteer work force to fettle up the stone dropped and the track is now ready for attention from the tamper machine to pack and align the formation.


It may be that we can soon have another golden fishplate moment at the end of the line to celebrate the volunteer achievement in completing the track laying exercise.


Station infrastructure


Estimates for the building of the temporary platform with scaffolding are coming to hand from contractors, but a start date for construction has yet to be determined.


There also remains the matter of building the graded access ramp off the embankment onto the approach road. However the footpaths from the car park have now been given a top coating and the poor weather approach is complete. The nature reserve access below the station site has been seeded with wild flowers and is closed to allow for germination.


The ‘snagging’ list of items large and small continues to be worked on. The piping of culverts 25g & 25h which take surface water off the A5 has been completed and work on the road surface drainage has been tackled by Highways. Some 800 fishplates on the extension have all been greased, but further work is necessary to complete the list of items requiring attention which includes fencing, crossings and items of infrastructure.


Retrospect


By way of reflection on the progress with the project, a picture taken in June 2011 makes a contrast with the current scene. Then chairman, Jim Ritchie, was seen  explaining to Corwen community leaders that the wilderness on the old trackbed would become the station site. The party was standing on the old under bridge 30 which disappeared as part of the Corwen Flood Alleviation Scheme – the spot where the 03 shunter stood with the final load of ballast. We did get there, but it has been a real challenge to rebuild nearly 2.5 miles of railway.


With a range of work still to be completed, the date for the start of passenger services still cannot yet be given, as inspection of the completed works will be required, but the recent achievement brings the opening ever nearer.

George Jones Llangollen Railway Trust 21 July 2014


Llangollen Railway Trust chairman, Neil Evans, said, “The occasion was the culmination of a lot of hard work and application of resources over the past three years. Whilst a significant moment to celebrate, there is still much to do before trains can operate into the station. However it is evident now that we have almost completed phase 1 of this exciting rail extension project.”

Photos Left to Right: Preparing the footpath alongside the platform site; Ballasting through the station site; The view of Corwen Town from the site of the new platform

All photos - George Jones

Progress - September 2014

Significant steps forward have been taken over the last couple of weeks! The tamper has been up and down the track, lining and levelling, and has identified areas where further topping up of the ballast is required. This work has started and when complete, the tamper will operate on the line again  bringing it up to operating standards.


Work has started on the construction of the new Dwyrian Corwen East platform and access ramp and the ‘Daisy’ DMU set (taking time off from looking after Thomas the Tank Engine’s passengers while he is in Llangollen Station) has been up and down the new track checking clearances.


The pictures below show Daisy in Dwyrain Corwen East and at the location of Bonwm Halt. The bottom picture is of the tamper working towards the site of the new platform. - All pictures - George Jones.


There is still much to do before passengers can be brought down to this new station and continued supply of funds by donations and share purchases still needed. Once everything is in place, inspection and approval for passenger use is still needed.

LLANGOLLEN RAILWAY TRUST  The Station, Llangollen LL20 8SN

PRESS RELEASE  - 10 AUGUST 2014


Rapid progress at the Dwyrain Corwen East Station


There was a momentous occasion for the Llangollen Railway on Friday, 8th August 2014, with the arrival of a gauging train at the site of the Corwen temporary station. A test train of three diesel railcars ventured west of Carrog to check out the clearances at structures along the two and a half mile railway extension.


The train was driven by the chairman of Llangollen Railway Trust, Elizabeth Harland, who took the opportunity to congratulate the volunteer members of the extension project team on the completion of the track laying exercise.


Commenting on the successful test run along the extension, Elizabeth Harland said, “I was delighted to drive the gauging train down the line and to see what had been achieved by our volunteers.”


Picture below shows some of the project team meeting the chairman in front of the railcar at the Corwen rail head.












Looking towards completion of the project


However, before trains can run into the station at Dwyrain Corwen East, a further stage of construction requires the erection of a 38 metre long ramp off the platform end to connect with a footpath coming up from ground level. This is a complex text designed to meet modern standards which will allow for disability access on an appropriately graded structure.


George Jones, for Llangollen Railway Trust said, “The completion of tasks is rapidly coming to a conclusion and, when all arrangements come together, we will then be able to announce a date for the opening of train services to Corwen. This will be the completion of a 40 year old dream.”


The photograph below shows the six coach gauging train  coming along side the scaffolding which forms the basis of the temporary platform at Dwyrain Corwen East station.





The running of the gauging train was possible thanks to all the work undertaken to have the new track ballasted and then packed and aligned with the aid of a hired-in tamper machine.


In addition, work is well underway by contractors, Grosvenor Scaffolding of Bagillt, to erect the 100 metre long temporary platform which will provide the passenger facility at the Dwyrain Corwen East station.


The completion of all infrastructure works will shortly allow for the track extension to be inspected with a view to being declared fit for the operation of passenger trains.



Earlier the railcar was captured en route passing the site of the former Bonwm Halt as seen in the photograph below.


George Jones for LLANGOLLEN RAILWAY TRUST

10 AUGUST 2014


Progress -  To Early August 2014

Any further donations to the ‘Sponsor a Sleeper’ fund will be used to buy sleepers for Phase Two

Pictures from 15th August 2014

Timber for the platform decking moved into position ready for laying 15th August

Picture - George Jones

The fencing gang cracking on with the job 15th August

Picture - George Jones

Platform and pedestrian ramp surfaces being fitted on 13th September 2014

Photos George Jones

Left to Right: The cabin at the bottom of the ramp gets a goat of Chocolate and Cream Paint; The paling fence to the rear of the platform being fixed in place; The view to the east along the platform. - All pictures George Jones

The Driver Training Train on 22nd September 2014; Left - approaching Dwyrain Corwen East; The train in the platform; The train returning to Carrog to take up the scheduled service departure. - All photos - George Jones

What can be seen from Dwyrain Corwen East

Left to Right: The iron age fortress of Caer Drewen on the hilltop to the north of the station; The Berwyn Mountains rising to the South of the Station. The temporary stop block at the end of the Phase One running line taken from the path to the station. Photos - John Rutter

Above - Left: Bill Shakespeare and Gordon Heddon with the team who have driven the project.

Above - right: The Cabin painted in Western Region chocolate and cream - both photos - George Jones

I suppose that this is a good time to talk about photography of trains on the Carrog to Corwen length. All the photos of trains on the running line have been taken from the footpath on the A5 road, which runs very closely with the railway for most of its length.


A word of caution is appropriate though! The A5 is fast, busy, twisty and heavily loaded; and there are no safe parking places.


The safe parking places are at the Llidiart-y-Parc (east) end, about ¼ mile to the west where there is a large layby; and at the Corwen (west) end where there are plenty of parking places in the town carparks.


In between, it is necessary to walk. The footpath is on the railway side, but not particularly wide. The A5 is already prone to accidents - please don’t add any more!


John Rutter - Webmaster