CORWEN CENTRAL UPDATE OCTOBER 2017


Work on the site by the volunteer workforce continued through the summer and into autumn tackling various aspects of the work as weather conditions allowed.

Starting at the western end of the site, the head shunt was extended out onto the end of the embankment at Green Lane, Corwen. This entailed building up the ground and the construction of a retaining wall to support the stop block/buffer stop, then laying one and a half panels of track from the end of the points for the loop line. The job was finished in early September when the Muscleman track lifting machine made several runs to bring the track into an initial alignment, pending top ballast and tamping when the track work is fully complete. The end result as seen from the road is a clear sign the railway has reached the end of the line, but the missing element is the Gap back at the former Welsh Water Access road and it will be a while before this is tackled as it remains the access point for the site.

Also tackled in August was the delivery of a redundant mobile classroom from St Asaph which was brought to site and installed adjacent to the subway access. It is currently receiving remedial attention to the roof and sides to make it water tight and will be refurbished as the station building once planning permission has been obtained from Denbighshire County Council. Meanwhile it is in store.

The main thrust of the work has been the creation of the signalbox base in a crater dug out from the northern side of the Embankment. Foundations were laid by the volunteers before contractors came in to build the base and sides using shuttering for a reinforced concrete structure the size of a mini-nuclear shelter, as some might visualise it. This took several weeks of activities as the project developed in stages but eventually the completed box was revealed in mid September.  After damp proofing the area around the front and sides, the void was in filled with some 800 tonnes of spoil to establish the widened embankment in the area where the points for the loop and siding will be eventually installed. The signalbox base has now gained a roof of concrete beams and blocks incorporating three RSJ beams which will provide the anchor points for the eventual installation of the signal lever frames. The result of all this effort is the provision of a basement room which will provide for locker space.

Costing some £30k, the base will be largely invisible to future train passengers as they enter the station but the back will remain obvious when viewed from the Water Treatment plant. To mark the completion of this challenging construction when the local Welsh Assembly member Mr Ken Skates visited on a tour of inspection he was encouraged to cut the tape to gain access to the new room which still needs fitting out. The actual signalbox remains in store at Carrog awaiting restoration if grant aid can be found to pay for the work.

Elsewhere the subway access up the platform level has received two flights of stairs with shuttering installed by contractors and concrete poured during early October. The question of providing disabled access is being assessed to allow for wheel chairs to be accommodated via the subway, an installation which will involve some added expense.

On platform 2 work has been progressing to lay the platform edging panels as recovered from redundant railway sites and about half the length is currently complete, whilst infilling of the area between the end wall at the western end has begun. Excavation of the footings for platform 1 is likely to be a task for the autumn. However the building of the water tower base at the eastern end of the site will be tackled next with the water connection from the borehole. A shelter for the borehole installation and pump is under construction utilising the recovered remains of a former lamp hut.

The challenge for the winter is to construct the island platform once the platform 1 wall is in place. This will involve the movement of upwards of 10k tonnes of spoilt as infill to create the platform area with provision for drains and cabling already being installed.

To continue all this work through to a completed terminal station requires resources – financial, materials and manpower and we continue to seek all three, although the financial aspect is the most relevant to a successful conclusion of the project in 2018. Support for the Llangollen Railway PLC’s Big Push share promotion will help; otherwise donations are gratefully received as detailed in the section below.


George Jones

LRT CCRD


Llangollen Railway Trust  The Station Llangollen LL20 8SN 18 December 2017


RAILWAY VOLUNTEERS PROGRESS NEW TERMINUS AT CORWEN


Volunteers working on the Llangollen Railway Trust’s major civil engineering project to build a new terminus at Corwen reckon they are well on their way to completion, with the prospect of opening for trains in early 2019.

The past twelve months has seen good progress with the building of a new terminal station near to the town centre at Corwen.  With the wall for platform 2 complete, the subway access from the car park has gained a flight of steps and the buffer stop has been put in position at the end of the newly installed track where the railway embankment ends at Green Lane.

The really big work element in the summer and autumn of 2017 was to excavate the northern side of the embankment to a depth of 10 feet and construct the foundations for the eventual installation of the former Weston Rhyn signalbox which awaits restoration in the yard at Carrog station. With the cast concrete foundation box complete, and the embankment in filled, the below ground space was fitted out as a locker room. This work has cost in excess of £35k and was essential to allow the embankment to be extended to provide for the location of the points to the station loop lines and access to a siding.

Most of this work was undertaken by the team of volunteers, with an average age of 68, aided by contractors when specific skills and equipment were required. For the current year 2017 the estimated value of the volunteer hours input to this project exceeds £200k, without which the project would be unaffordable. Aside from grant aid provided by the Welsh Government’s European development fund for rural Wales, which is paying for 80% of the cost of the platform, the remainder of the cost is being raised through donations and share purchase in Llangollen Railway plc. Since a Big Push Corwen share appeal was launched in April 2017, nearly £100k has been raised, but shares to a total of £250k remain available to support the completion of the Corwen project.

When the subway access was completed with steel doors at ground level, the project was fortunate to be gifted some the wooden paling fencing from Gobowen station where a renewal with metal fencing has taken place. The wooden fencing is now installed at the top of the subway as a safety precaution pending completion of the platform area and ultimate replacement with heritage railings recovered from a Great Western station near London. All this work has cost over £100K todate.

Looking forward to further progress in 2018, project leader, Richard Dixon-Gough, said, “In the New Year we will install the foundations for the water tower at the eastern end of the platform.  This will allow provision of the water supply from the borehole which was drilled in February 2017. A Pump House structure has been fabricated using mostly recycled materials and is now in place to secure the installation

“The building of the wall for platform 1 will follow and will involve excavating footings for 16 loads of concrete and the installation of 200 easi-blocs as the modern means of building a platform before the corbeling, or overhang, is built on top. When complete, we will have created the area for the island platform and will need to bring in some 10,000 tonnes of spoil to infill the base prior to paving the large area. The installation of drainage and piping for water, sewage and cabling has already taken place, and the accessible ramp for wheel chair access is being built at the western end.

“Latterly, the volunteers are working in very wet conditions, ankle and knee deep in sloppy mud together with bitingly cold winds – which are a challenge for anyone.


Prospects

“By this time next year, we anticipate being in a position to infill the gap in the embankment which was created to provide Welsh Water with access to the Corwen Water Treatment plant. The building of a new access road from Green Lane into the plant allows the earlier route to be recovered. Subject to the on-going need for resources, manpower, materials and finance, we expect to be able to lay track from the existing rail head to connect up with the station loop line installation. Once the new terminal rail layout has been ballasted and tamped, and inspected to be fit for operation, we hope that trains will run into Corwen Central in the early part of 2019, although a date for a public opening cannot be announced at this time.”

Commenting of the prospects for extended operations on the line, General Manager, Liz McGuinness said, “The prospects of trains running into the new station during 2019 means that the current, temporary, platform at Dwyrain Corwen East, will remain in use for the 2018 season. However, we will call a halt to operations on the extension beyond Carrog as of October 2018 and the temporary platform will be dismantled as part of the engineering work needed to connect to the new station layout.

“The temporary station has served us well since it opened in 2014, but has always been recognised as operationally inconvenient and it 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 is key to opening up a new market segment to attract more passengers from North West Wales to the Llangollen Railway, with important prospect for the town of Corwen to gain extra visitors. “


George Jones

Press Officer

Llangollen Railway Trust Corwen Central Development Project



Corwen Central Review for 2018

The project team has made significant progress with works on the site throughout 2018 and the challenge remains to complete a basic station layout to allow trains to terminate at the new facility in 2019. The progress is well illustrated by the drone photos taken in late August, with further work completed since then noted in this summary of activities.

The building of the platform 1 wall for the upside loop has reached the point where, as of mid November 2018, the last 70 yards of foundations was in place with the building up of blocks to follow to complete the six coach platform length.

Where the two walls exist around the subway access point infilling has taken place with spoil brought in from the old Ruthin branch, with more to follow when the walls at the eastern end are complete. Meeting the expense to employ a contractor to carry out this work has been assisted by the many contributions to the Tenner for a Tonne appeal which has reached its initial target of £10K but more is always needed.

Within the area infilled and compacted the foundations for the planned platform waiting room have been excavated and concreted with provision of drainage and water supply for the toilets.

Foundations for the installation of the stanchions for the intended canopy are also being prepared and the original heritage stanchions have been cleaned and refurbished ready for installation. Another on-going renovation job has been the refurbishment and modification of a set of heritage railings which will be installed around the subway access area, both time consuming aspects of works by dedicated volunteers.

The Water Tank was delivered to site and installed at the end of June and is connected up with the borehole via the pumphouse installed at the foot of the embankment. Completion of the electrical installation will one day allow for the water to flow to fill the tank now all the plumbing and drain away is complete.

The other big installation job has been the delivery of the signal box cabin from its long term storage at Carrog. The former West Rhyn box has been at Carrog since 1991 and this summer work by volunteers gave attention to its external condition and a repaint, as well as internal supports in readiness for a big lift. Taken down the A5 road by low loader, the cabin was lifted on to the previously built locking room where it will await further internal restoration and fitting out as a long term project but, for now, it looks the part and represents a major infrastructure addition to the station site.

The temporary building adjacent to the subway access has received a new roof to make it water tight, and modifications to provide disabled entry and exit doors, as well as an external coat of chocolate and cream paint to look the part. A lot of work is needed internally to provide for the booking office and waiting room facility as an on-going task. This work will now receive attention from the station staff as they transfer from the now redundant building at the Dwyrain Corwen East temporary platform which closed as of 4 November 2018.

The project team of dedicated volunteers now face working through the winter period to complete the terminus. Aside from completing the platform 1 wall, the provision of the track work to complete the loop line and siding is a priority task. Infilling of the island platform will provide a surface for a contractor to pave the area with an estimated 40k pavers before items of platform furniture can be installed. The subway also will need a chairlift to provide for access for the immobility impaired – an item of further expense.

Finally, when all this is done and no further deliveries of materials to site are required, the infilling of the infamous gap in the embankment can be tackled and the two rail heads connected up, hopefully by early spring 2019.

However, it all depends on the winter’s weather and continued availability of resources – manpower, materials and finance – to allow for completion of a station providing basic facilities for the locomotive run-round and passenger access. Continued help with contributions to the project are essential if trains to Corwen are to be a feature of the 2019 timetable and an anticipated boost the railway’s fortunes. It may have been a long time coming, but we are nearly there and your help will ensure it is operational next year when work will continue to complete all the facilities the terminus will need, including the provision of a fully signalled layout.


GJ-14/11/2018


Far Left - the water tower installed on prepared footings has changed the appearance of the station site completely.

Above Left and Right - Platform one developments: Left the west end of the platform with the rails in place. Right: Towards the east end, footings lfor the platform wall laid and sleepers in place.

Below Left: The view along the edge of platform 2 with the new water tower at the far end.

All photos - Jeff Albiston. July 2018