Locomotive Performance

The Llangollen Railway

I visit the Llangollen Railway quite often. On my visits to North Wales, it is an ideal point to stop off  to break the journey, have a ride up the scenic Dee valley, a drink and a snack, then continue on my way. Steam Galas demand rather more attention. It is then usually the whole day (or two). Over the years, I have watched the railway grow from a short train ride from Llangollen to Berwyn, to Deeside, then Glyndyfrdwy, and finally Carrog. 

The locos face their first test is straight from the platform end at Llangollen station. A curve on a 1 in 110 gradient. Even the ex G.W locos have been known to have difficulty here. Once past Llangollen Goods junction, the locos work hard on the 1 in 80 up to Berwyn. Another test awaits engine crews here. A start on a 1 in 80 gradient on a right hand curve (see the picture to the left). Once through the tunnel the crews can relax. The only problem from here on is not to exceed the 25 mph line speed by too much. 

The Railway had run the first train to Berwyn in October 1985, and a  full passenger service commenced in March 1986. It then extended westwards up the Dee Valley to Deeside (1990), Glyndyfrdwy (1992), and Carrog (1996). Corwen remains  the final challenge.

 EARLY DAYS: BERWYN: 1986 to 1990: 
My first journey on the Llangollen Railway was on 19th April 1997. The locomotive was the Kitson 0-6-0 Saddle tank Burtonwood Brewer, originally Austin no 1. It was a pleasant but short ride to Berwyn.  [View log of Burtonwood Brewer]  
 DEESIDE: 1990 to 1992: 
The extension to Deeside opened in 1990, and gave the Railway a new dimension. A tunnel on a steep gradient, and some fine views of the River Dee. The locomotive fleet was now expanding, and included a Manor class 4-6-0, 7822 Foxcote Manor, appropriate for the line.   
1st June 1991: A Gala was held over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend of 1991, and on the final day, 1st June, it was planned to conclude with a lengthy train double headed by visiting Ivatt 2-6-0 no 46443, and 7822. A 10 coach train was made up, with 7822 up front. Down backed the Ivatt. Disaster. No one had realised that the locomotives were facing opposite directions, with the consequence that the locos would be working smokebox to smokebox. It was a fine evening, and hundreds of photographers had assembled up the line. The problem was solved by sending 46443 off to Deeside. 7822 would work up the hill, and 46443 back, both trips smokebox first. So 7822 set off from Llangollen on a 1 in 80 gradient, round the curve, with a 345 ton train. No trouble at all. Goods Junction was passed in the fast time of 2 minutes 57 seconds, and we roared up the 1 in 80 past Berwyn and into the tunnel at 21 mph. A magnificent performance  [view log of 7822]  
1st June 1991: Ivatt 2MT 2-6-0 no 46443   [view log of 46443]
22nd September 1991: Another run to and from Deeside later in the year was of interest since it was worked by  Hunslet 0-6-0ST Darfield no 1 [view log of Darfield no 1]
 GLYNDYFRDWY: 1992 to 1996: 

Within two years, the next section to Glyndyfrdwy was up and running. And with crossing loops at Llangollen Goods Junction and at Deeside, some comprehensive services could be worked in the peak summer season and at Galas. The locomotive fleet was expanding, and the railway hired in some interesting visiting engines. A small fleet of diesels was also being built up, and Diesel Galas were beginning to attract a good following.
13th June 1992: LNER class J27 0-6-0 no 2392 [view log of 2392] 
26th June 1993: BR Std 4-6-0 no 75029 [view log of 75029]
26th June 1993: BR Std 2-6-4T no 80079 [view log of 80079]
7th August 1994: LMS 4F 0-6-0 no 4422 [view log of 4422]
22nd October 1995:  Class 24 diesel electric no 24081 [view log of 24081]  
22nd October 1995: Warship class diesel hydraulic no D821 Greyhound [view log of D821] 
 CARROG: from 1996:  
The next stage, to Carrog, took a little longer. 4 years in fact, for it opened on 2nd May 1996. It gave the railway a line of almost 7.5 miles, a 15 mile round trip. Carrog is a delightful station and is now my preferred access point for the railway. The visiting engines kept coming, and since the entire line was now mileposted, I could record the speeds with more accuracy. From the locomotive performance viewpoint however, the climb up to Berwyn tunnel continued to be the highlight.
25th May 1996 (1): Castle class 4-6-0 no 5080 Defiant [view log of 5080]  
25th May 1996 (2): GW 0-4-2T no 1450, with Auto trailer  [view log of 1450]
10th June 1996 (1): Class 20 diesel electric no D8142 [view log of D8142]  
10th June 1996 (2): GW 2-6-2T no 5541 [view log of 5541]
25th May 1997 (1): Jubilee class no 45593 Kolhapur [view log of 45593]
25th May 1997 (2): BR Std 4MT class 2-6-0 no 76079 [view log of 76079]
25th May 1997 (3):  ex LMS 0-6-0T no 41708 [view log of 41708]
26-27th May 1997: ex LNWR 0-6-2T no 1054 [view log of 1054]
29th June 1997 (1): Hymek diesel hydraulic no D7076 [view log of D7076]    
29th June 1997 (2): Class 33 diesel electric no 33103 [view log of 33103] 
14th September 1997: GW 0-6-0PT no 7754 [view log of 7754]
1st February 1998: BR Std 9F 2-10-0 no 92203 [view log of 92203]
28th May 1998: GW 0-6-0PT no 7754 & LMS 0-6-0T no 47298 [view log of 7754 & 47298]
1st April 2000 (1): GW class 2251 0-6-0 no 3205 [view log of 3205]
1st April 2000 (2): GW class 5100 2-6-2T no 4141 [view log of 4141]
1st April 2000 (3): GW class 4200 2-8-2T no 4277 [view log of 4277]