Corris in the Autumn Time

The latter part of October can mean many things, the end of British Summer Time, the riot of fun and excitement that is half-term, and the cessation of timetabled runs on the heritage railway of your choice. For me it means another trip out to the Corris Railway in mid-Wales, for the AGM on the Saturday and a Council meeting on the Sunday.

Quite why this railway is attractive isn’t hard to define. It’s diminutive size and relatively small number of members means that it’s easy to get to know people, and share their enthusiasm for a rare piece of Welsh railway heritage. Certainly there are other railways that relied on slate for most of their trade, but only one other has a gauge of 2ft 3in. It’s a small railway with big ambitions, to extend the track southwards down the Dulas valley, to rebuild the station at Corris and to double the number of steam locomotives. So doubling only means going from one to two, but the fund-raising needed for a working replica of an earlier Corris locomotive is a major task for such a modest organisation.

The effort required to build more track is quite extraordinary, and that’s before a single sleeper has been laid, notwithstanding the fact that much of the trackbed still survives. Bat surveys, dormouse surveys, tree inspections, waste tipping licences, Transport Works Orders, road alignment approvals, land purchases, planning permissions, the task list seems never-ending.

Progress is slow but steady, and already there have been significant improvements. Two new replica carriages have been built (with a third well under way), existing stock has been preserved, and a brand new carriage shed built to store them all in the dry. The loco shed has been re-roofed (Welsh slate of course) and the new loco has advanced to the stage of boiler and frames completion. Two of the managers have recently made a substantial investment in the railway, in the form of a a chunky, powerful diesel locomotive from Eastern Europe.

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