The 'Other' Deeside Line
Sunday 24th September 2017
Report by NKP
The Llangollen Railway are a lucky lot. Running from the lovely town of Llangollen they have steadily reopened nearly 10 miles of the Ruabon to Barmouth line down the Dee Valley to Corwen. Originally they had looked at the Prestatyn to Dyserth line before settling here; I wonder how that would have worked out. Operating for now to the temporary Corwen (very) East station they anticipate running through to Corwen 'Central' next year when East will close. Photos and diagrams at Llangollen show this substantial station with an island platform (the end visible from 'East'), is coming on well. The railway has no plans, nor is it feasible, to extend further either way.
On Sun 24 Sep, during a Diesel Weekend, two similar brakevan trips were kindly run by the Llangollen Diesel Group for BLS and PLEG members over interesting track at 15.00 and 15.50, each for 10 participants taking about 45 minutes. I was booked on the second and waited on Llangollen P1 for the previous trip to return. Our Editor was aboard, welcomed and checked the participants on, handed out souvenir tickets and left us to it.
The train consisted of two brakevans and at the 'country' end 13265 better known to me as 08195. Passengers boarded the van (No35225) nearer the loco. Departing just after 16.00 we ran over the facing crossover as far east as possible to Llangollen P2 head shunt (the end of line). Reversing, the Class 08 powered back through P1 along the main line past Llangollen Goods Junction box. Then it veered right over a facing connection to the separate branch towards Pentrefelin Sidings (where much of the railway's substantial rolling stock collection is held), stopping short of the locked entrance gates before the first point. It was rather a surprise to find a facing connection to the sidings rather than the trailing one shown on our track plans, but we were assured it has been like this for many years!
The main loco depot and workshop is located high above the running line on the site of the former goods yard. The two sites are linked by an independent line, the Back Road, which we took, climbing up to the depot. The tour ran along the most northerly line the 'Diesel Road', to the far left of the shed on approach. The traincrew were not aware of any passenger carrying train on this line before.
Heading back down the incline we reversed again and then ran into River Siding used for carriage storage. This was the Up line here in BR double track days. Returning to the loop the train reversed and our mini tour ended in P1. Compared to the previous day's South Eastern Metrolander tour when I used up several boxes of red pens I only scored a bit of track, but it was much needed nonetheless.
I also appreciated just how much effort goes in running our type of tours, not just the organising and arranging the train. As well as the gent looking after us in our van, we had more traincrew in both the cab and the rear van and two eager railway staff clipping the points and making sure all movements were carried out safely. Many thanks to all involved for this very successful and enjoyable trip.