Joy as the steam locomotive returns to Llangollen Railway

LLANGOLLEN Railway volunteers celebrated the arrival of the first steam train of the 2021 season to Carrog.

Great Western Railway heavy freight locomotive No 3802 departed at 10.30am from Llangollen and was the first such steam train since October on the Dee Valley Line.

Great Western Railway heavy freight locomotive arrives at Carrog

Despite the wet weather, a good number of people boarded the train to run behind 3802. There was an air of enthusiasm from the assembled volunteers as steam returned to the railway, and members of the public visiting were delighted to join the long journey to Carrog.

Wickham’s heritage carriage supplemented the steam train by providing a 75-minute interval service for the weekend.

The certification of the locomotive was completed to the satisfaction of the ORR (Office des Chemins de Fer et de la Route) thanks to the hard work of the members of the Service de la Force Motrice who had prepared No. 3802 for its return to the steam.

For the rig crews, it was a day to reassess their ability to drive and pull the engine after ten months of shutdown.

The Leader: Great Western Railway heavy freight locomotive - conductor Martin Fuller and fireman Steph Ellwood on the footrest The Great Western Railway heavy freight locomotive – driver Martin Fuller and fireman Steph Ellwood on the footrest

For the first trip, Martin Fuller was the driver accompanied by firefighter Steph Ellwood.

LRT Chairman Peter Edwards said: “Resuming a steam service to Llangollen this weekend is the culmination of a huge effort by our volunteers and small team of staff. This is an important step in our return to full operations.

“We cannot afford to be complacent however, we are dependent on the continued support of the Welsh Government and there are still challenges ahead of us if we are to return the railway to stability and profitability.”

Rail services have been gradually reintroduced to the railway since July, when an interim service with the heritage diesel wagon first ran to Berwyn.

These were later extended to Glyndyfrdwy when the engineering work was completed.

The heritage diesel service has proved popular with visitors wishing to access walking areas in the Dee Valley and ticket revenue has made a useful contribution to the railway’s overheads, pending the return of the steam train.

Steam trains will run on weekends and public holidays, with diesel carriages running Tuesday through Friday in August.

Jose P. Rogers