Llangollen Railway set to reopen this week and run first trains since October

A railway is set to re-open this Friday, three months after its future was thrown into doubt.

Trains will be running on the Llangollen Railway for the first time since October
Trains will be running on the Llangollen Railway for the first time since October

The Llangollen Railway is scheduled to start operating on Friday, with Llangollen Railway Trust (LRT) resuming the service.

It comes after the separate organisation Llangollen Railway plc – the management arm of the railway – went into administration earlier this year with £350,000 of debts.

The charitable trust however remained solvent and has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to get the railway back on track.

Now trains will re-start on July 9, subject to inspection and approval of maintenance work carried out on the River Dee Bridge.

Initially, it will be an hourly Llangollen to Berwyn shuttle service using the diesel railcars operating Fridays to Sundays.

A week-long effort by volunteers saw the bridge work completed last Friday.

Operations Director, Mike Williams, said, “An enormous amount of work has been necessary before LRT can run revenue earning train services, with a prime need to complete the railway’s safety management system for approval.

"We have also started re-fresh sessions for all operations staff and have begun competency examinations to ensure staff are fully qualified after so long a lay-off from their duties.”

The railway last ran trains on October 1, 2020 – a subsequent reopening was delayed by Llangollen Railway PLC going into receivership.

The LRT is now the operating company and has been striving to acquire assets and funding to allow train services to resume.

All services will be using the heritage diesel units provided by Llangollen Railcars.

Spokesman, John Joyce, said: "We are expecting to roster the class 108 Derby set for July 9. The class 109 Wickham set is in reserve, if demand warrants additional seats, subject to social distancing. After an eight-month layover the units have been subject to checks and test runs in to Llangollen station for crew refresher sessions.

“Trains will depart Llangollen hourly, Fridays to Sundays, from 11am through to 4pm and allow a 15-minute stopover at Berwyn to enjoy the view of the Dee Gorge or sample the Chain Bridge. Other options for passengers are to visit the Horseshoe Falls or take the traditional walk back to Llangollen along the canal.

“Running a heritage DMU service to Berwyn will be recreating the pioneering days of 1986/87 when services at Llangollen first extended across the Dee bridge. We hope our supporters will turn out and buy a ticket to ride the shuttle if revenues are to cover operational costs and make a contribution to the railway’s overheads when costs like insurance and utility bills remain substantial expenses for the LRT.”

For Friday evening two special trains will run to Berwyn to mark International Musical Eisteddfod week when the road bridge in Llangollen is due to be illuminated.

Llangollen Railway Trust chairman, Peter Edwards, said: "Llangollen Railway are delighted to be able to return to operation with a limited service to Berwyn on Friday 9.

“This is the result of a massive effort by volunteers at the railway and is also indicative of the significant support we've had from agencies and elected representatives. There is much more to do before we are running along the full length of the line, but we hope this marks the beginning of a new chapter in the story of our railway and its place in the Dee Valley."

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