Llangollen Railway set to cut services as fuel prices spiral and coal stocks dwindle
The Llangollen Railway has announced it will be running a revised timetable this season due to rising fuel costs.
Fuel prices have soared and coal supplies dwindled since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and according to RailAdvent, the railway currently has only enough stock for around 30 days of steam operation.
There is still some stock of Russian coal in the UK, but Llangollen is not the only heritage railway which has decided it would be unethical to purchase anymore due to the situation in Ukraine.
Added to this, the increasing price of diesel means operating diesel locomotives and diesel railcars as an alternative to steam will also be challenging.
The heritage line, which formally ran from Llangollen to Carrog, before the line was extended to Corwen, is looking into alternative ways of fuelling with a view to sustaining the supply and reducing the overall carbon impact.
This includes the limited supply of coal from South Wales and a processed coal, called ovoids, which is British-made and a viable option for steam.
The updated timetable is expected to be released soon, but the railway is recommending advanced booking as demand for steam-hauled trains will be high. More information can be found here.
Meanwhile, the heritage railway has also announced it will be welcoming a special guest for the 2022 season.
The historic locomotive GWR 0-6-2T No. 5619, which was saved from Woodham Brothers Ltd scrapyard at Barry in South Wales, will be working in Wales this summer, on loan from its home at Telford Steam Railway.
The 5619, which has a long and well-travelled history, will be arriving next week in Llangollen, and after some running repairs and a routine examination the locomotive is expected to enter passenger service in time for Easter.
Built in Swindon in 1925, costing just under £4000, the locomotive 5619 was part of a new stock built in response to the 1921 Railways Act which saw the formation or ‘the grouping’ of ‘The Big Four’ railway companies, Great Western Railway (GWR), London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS), London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) and Southern Railway (SR)
According to rail enthusiast blog and all-round mine of information Preserved British Steam Locomotives, by the time the locomotive was withdrawn from service in 1964 it had travelled 778,263 miles
The Telford Development Corporation bought 5619 from the Barry scrapyard in 1972, initially for static display but eventually, with full restoration under the care of the Telford Horsehay Steam trust, became fully operational by 1981.
Further grants and overhauls since then have kept the locomotive running, and cared for, travelling for various purposes from Lydney to heritage railways across the UK, including Gloucester-Warwickshire, North Norfolk, Bodmin & Wenford and the Midland Railway Centre.
After a loan to the Swindon & Crickade Railway the locomotive moved to the Epping Ongar Railway in November 2020, where it stayed until June 2021.
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The line has been extended to Corwen for about three years now, it is no longer a plan. The railway has had a dark time over the last few years, and that was pre COVID financial problems. This could be the end of this, and other similar organisations. I believe it’s a charity, and not a particularly wealthy one at that. Shame.