The Deputy Minster visited Corwen station to see the plans for the Railway after travelling from Llangollen to Glandyfrdwy on board the steam train from Llangollen with members of the Llangollen Railway Trust and Hugh Evans, Leader of Denbighshire County Council.
The project has been made possible by £500,000 of Welsh Assembly Government funding that was announced by the Deputy Minister earlier this year. £370,000 has been made available for this year which has allowed the work to begin sooner than expected.
The work will be undertaken by the Llangollen Railway Trust which has been working closely with Denbighshire County Council and the local community to prepare the town for the railway’s arrival.
The Deputy Minister said:
“It is a pleasure to see the plans that the trust has for the railway. Regeneration is all about making the most of what an area has to offer and the railway is certainly one of the jewels in Llangollen’s crown.
“The funding we have awarded will mean that the tourists who currently visit Llangollen will in future also be drawn to Corwen and the wider Dee Valley area will benefit from the railway.
“I’m delighted that the project is running ahead of schedule and that work can begin earlier than originally planned so that businesses and tourists alike can reap the benefits sooner rather than later. “
Leader of Denbighshire, Councillor Hugh Evans, said:
"We are fully supportive of the project and we have been involved in assisting the Railway with their Transport and Works Act Order and funding applications.
"The Council has also supported the project both financially and with officer time in dealing with the planning process. The council will also assist the Railway during the construction phase.
"The arrival of the railway back into Corwen will provide a huge economic opportunity for the town, as well as the Dee Valley and surrounding area".
Chairman of Llangollen Railway, Jim Ritchie said:
“We are really delighted that the Deputy Minister Housing and Regeneration has been able to visit Llangollen Railway and participate in the start of the final lap of a project that began some 35 years ago. The provision of grant aid funding from the Welsh Assembly Government has allowed Phase 1 of the project to commence and it is appropriate that the Deputy Minister should ‘cut the first sod’ at the site of the Corwen temporary station.
“A first train can be expected in Corwen during 2012 bringing some of the 110,000 passengers a year that travel on the Llangollen Railway into our new western terminus. The Railway looks forward to growing our passenger revenues from the tourist sector to the west of Corwen. Plans are already underway to expand the Railway’s catchment area to attract additional passengers from the important road network which brings traffic through from Snowdonia and the North Wales coast into the locality of Corwen.
“Most of the work involved in laying the track will be undertaken by volunteer staff at the Railway. However, we need help from Llangollen Railway supporters and well-wishers to raise further funds to ensure completion of this important extension to the heritage line in the Dee Valley. Donations to Llangollen Railway Trust Ltd are welcomed and purchase of shares in Llangollen Railway plc will provide for capital to expand the facilities necessary to support the extended railway and additional train operations.”
John Briggs, Project Manager said:
“Extending a railway alongside the River Dee Site of Special Scientific Interest requires careful management. The key to this has been the agreement of Countryside Commission for Wales to our conservation management plan. As a consequence of that plan we will work closely with ecologists to maintain the biodiversity of the site which places some restriction on the timing of engineering activities within the project Plan”