The following describes the plan for the next stage of taking the Corris Railway running line south of Maespoeth Junction to a new railhead at Pont Evans, the point where the minor road to Esgairgeiliog village leaves the A487 (this minor road will need to be crossed in due course). As work proceeds, at a pace very much dictated by fund raising, progress reports will appear at the bottom of this page.
The Corris Railway is actively pursuing a southwards extension towards Machynlleth, with the aim of extending the line to Tan-y-Coed, midway between Esgairgeiliog and Llwyngwern and some two and a half miles south of Corris and is the site of the Forestry Commission managed site with facilities including a picnic area, car park, toilets and designated number of trails through the woodland and along Cwn Cadian.
As always, this is involving lengthy negotiations with the authorities, not least due to the line south of Maespoeth running immediately adjacent to the A487 trunk road.
The Corris Railway owns the land south of Maespoeth up to, but not including, the former crossing keeper’s cottage at Pont Evans. In the early days of the society, before the Railway was in the position of being able to affect the decision, the A487 was straightened across the track bed and this will necessitate the building of a new embankment to join the current rail head to the original track bed. About six hundred metres long, it will incorporate a bridge over the (little) river Goedwig and built on land that is owned by the Corris Railway. In 2015 work began to enable the southerly extension to join up with the old trackbed.
At the southern end of the embankment the Railway has already done the necessary ground work to join the old with the new. The track on the new embankment will need to follow the steep slope of the original Maespoeth Bank with an average gradient of just over 1 in 30. It has been our intention to build the track through this point, cross the road at Pont Evans and then through Esgairgeiliog to a new station near the car park at Tan y Coed. Outstanding issues relate to the rebuilding of the Railway once it joins the original track bed and while there are good reasons why rebuilding all the way to Tan-y-Coed has been the target for a number of years it has been decided that a phased extension would make better sense.
As a result of this decision, the Railway should be able to proceed with the building of the embankment and extend the passenger service to a new run round loop on land near to where it joins the old trackbed. Nearly all the permissions required to build the embankment are in place but investigations into the situation with regard to the requirement for planning permission to run passenger trains on our new formation are still ongoing. There should be plenty of time to sort this out while we raise money and build the embankment.
The new destination will be known as Goedwig South and at the present time we are not planning to make this a station with facilities for passengers to disembark. The service will run, as at present, from Corris to Maespoeth with the train carrying on to Goedwig South where the engine will run round and return the passengers immediately to Maespoeth. How will this affect what is offered to passengers? Well it will nearly double the length of line and give passengers the opportunity to experience a small engine working up one of the steepest banks on preserved railways in Britain. Furthermore, it will greatly enhance the experience for the operational staff, with the challenge of running up (and down) the bank in the variety of conditions that Corris is well known for.
There are other benefits of extending to Geodwig South. These include, proving to politicians, locals and funders that we are capable of moving forward and the potential to both raise morale of the existing membership and to attract new members.
By March 2020 after many years of hard and frustrating work on administration and obtaining of permissions to go ahead with work on the embankment south of Maespoeth Junction the paperwork was in place. This meant that when a large amount of suitable material for the construction of a section of embankment became available at Dolgellau it was possible to purchase it and have it moved to the works site. This coincided with the COVID-19 outbreak but contractors were able to work within government guidelines to take construction further forward.
However the use of contractors including hiring the necessary machinery and plant means that there was a major financial outlay. Careful budgeting had built up extension funds that ran into six figures but the Spring 2020 work including the purchase of the materials has cost in excess of £70,000 and there is more to do including construction of a bridge over the Nant Goedwig stream. Track laying will be carried out in due course by volunteers.
A map can often clarify text descriptions for people unfamiliar with an area, a railway and/or plans for the future.
The route plan drawn by Edwin Lambert shows the Corris as it was at the end of 2020 with the running line between Corris station and the limit of the headshunt for the siding to the carriage shed south of Maespoeth Junction. Beyond that there is the section where the new embankment is being built as funding, available materials and suitable ( long dry spells) weather permits. Lastly there is what will be final planned section in the next phase of the extension southwards where the line will leave the new embankment and rejoin the original trackbed as far as Pont Evans.
What the map also shows is the route of the A487 as it was before it was straightened and severed the original trackbed whose route followed that of the road very closely. That has necessitated the building of the new earthworks.
One silver lining of the new embankment is that it will give a straighter route on a section of line that was always a severe test for locomotives heading north as it combined sharp curves and a steep gradient. The Corris climbed fairly consistently along the Dulas Valley after it left the flood plain of the Dyfi at Machynlleth and although our new alignment is straighter it will still be as steep in 1 in 30 and will bring the distinctive and unique sound of a steam locomotive working very hard back to Dyffryn Dulas for the first time since 1948.
Donations towards the work can be made via the Southern Extension section of this website or cheques, payable to Corris Railway, can be sent to Corris Railway, Station Yard, Corris, Machynlleth, SY20 9SH.
The photographs below show work being carried out by a local contractor under strict UK and Welsh Government COVID-19 (Coronavirus) guidelines: