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.

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 meandering 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.

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.

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.”

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