As has been previously reported the record breaking Santa Train operations on the Corris Railway in December last year were marred by a mechanical failure which put the Corris Ralway’s “Tattoo” steam locomotive No. 7 out of action. The valve gear failure occurred when the locomotive was climbing from Maespoeth Junction to Corris with empty coaching stock, and was on the driver’s side of the engine.
Once the Santa weekend was over (trains were worked by diesel No. 11 after No. 7 failed) a damage assessment showed that greater engineering capacity than that available in the Maespoeth Junction workshops would be necessary to carry out the repairs. The initial fault which caused the failure was traced to a lubrication problem.
Contact was made with the Vale of Rheidol at Aberystwyth and over the first three months of 2019 the V of R engineers worked with the Corris team who normally look after and maintain No. 7 so that it would be ready to work a David Williams photo charter and a “Your Railway for the Day” experience ahead of the Easter Weekend services which were the Corris’ first passenger operations of 2019. The target was reached and the “Tattoo” passed its fitness to run tests with less than 24 hours to go.
Corris Chairman Richard Foyn commented “We approached the Vale of Rheidol and fortunately their Management was highly supportive. We have really appreciated the help and advice that they have given us notwithstanding their busy winter schedule which this year has been affected by the work to completely remodel their Aberystwyth Station. Llyr and his team, together with our own workers led by Trefor Davies have done a tremendous job to make sure we have not had to disappoint our customers. This has not been a cheap project and we will have to look to our resources but a working steam engine, or two as we are working towards having, is a key part of what we offer to bring in fares and other revenue”.
No. 7 will also feature with the Corris’ diesel and battery electric locomotives on this year’s Gala Day, Sunday May 26th.
Having launched its “Your Railway for the Day” package at the end of 2018 the Corris Railway has been very pleased with the take-up of the idea with a good number of the available slots taken for 2019. The availability is somewhat limited by the number of volunteers who can run the Days as well as having time available for maintaining the Corris’ advertised public services – as with every heritage line more hands would be welcome. Details of “Your Railway for the Day” can be found by contacting email@example.com and information about volunteering is in the “About Us” section of the Corris website www.corris.co.uk
The Corris has also acquired an area of land behind the building which now houses the Railway’s Museum and Shop. This will not feature in the track laying which is a future stage in the development of the station at Corris but ideas for its use are being discussed, including a possible increase in available car parking. The existing car park area is shared by the Railway and the village. The area of land acquired was the site of the original Corris stables, dating back to the line’s origins as the horse and gravity worked Corris, Machynlleth and River Dovey Tramroad.
Timber has been purchased to allow the construction of new frames for one of the metal-bodied waggons in the heritage freight set, the previous set of frames having succumbed to fungus infection. In mid-February this had been marked out and cutting of joints had begun. Work on new-build carriage number 23 continues with parts being constructed by volunteers with woodworking skills in their home workshops and being brought together in carriage building weekends at Maespoeth Junction. The most recent work was the fitting of seating supports in one saloon area (in line with the original Corris carriages the new-builds have longitudinal rather than transverse seating). Welding work on the metal carcase of carriage number 24 has reached the clerestory roof.
The first train operations in the Dulas Valley this year will be a David Williams photo charter and a “Your Railway for the Day” booking. Timetabled passenger trains begin with diesel trains scheduled on Good Friday and steam on Easter Saturday, Sunday and Monday. There will be a children’s Easter Egg Trail for younger visitors to follow on Easter Sunday and Monday. The Corris will once again run a special train as part of the Machynlleth Comedy Festival taking the audience to a gig in the carriage shed at Maespoeth Junction during the first Bank Holiday Weekend in May whilst the second Bank Holiday Sunday in the fifth month will be the annual Gala Day.