Many will have already seen that the Llangollen Railway PLC invited its bank to appoint a receiver on Monday 1st March. This has unfortunately been on the cards for some time, with mounting losses and liabilities based around the Engineering Business. The pandemic has compounded the situation. If you have a look at the full press release on the LR website: https://www.llangollen-railway.co.uk/, this provides some clear reasoning behind why PLC receivership was regrettably unavoidable.
The recently (appointed October 2020) LR Board and LR Trust are hoping to be able to broker an agreement with The Receiver to continue to operate the railway in 2021. The LDG fully support to the Board and Trust in this endeavour and are providing all the support we can. We are ready to provide operational locomotives when and if required and one of our Group members joined the Board last year.
It is also worth confirming that both 5310 and 1566 are privately owned by the Llangollen Diesel Group and are not LR PLC property. We have also confirmed the position to A1A Locomotives Ltd and we are pleased that they also wish to continue to support the railway and continue to base 31271 in North Wales if at all possible.
Finally, I would also point any potential supporters to the link on the press release seeking donations to the LR Trust (here). The Trust is solvent and owns many key LR assets (including locomotives, stock and much of the track). There are however a number of PLC assets at risk, so the Trust would welcome additional funds in order to try and secure these, should this prove possible.
Thank you for everyone’s understanding and support at this very difficult time for the Llangollen Railway Family. A brief update about our locos:
5310 is now based undercover in Llangollen shed, following the departure of a number of locomotives and frames related to the failed LR Engineering contract business making room for the railway’s operational fleet.
1566 and 31271 are both stored in winterised condition and will be examined for reactivation in the coming weeks.
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With repairs to 5310 complete and light engine testing on the 18th of August so far proving successful, we are delighted to announce that our BRCW Type 2 should work her first public train service for over two years on the most appropriate date of Saturday 26th September 2020.
This will also be the 11th anniversary of 5310’s first train on the Llangollen Railway way back in 2009. The 26 will work two return trips leaving Llangollen at 11:50 & 14:20 to Carrog only. A day rover fare for both trips is available. All proceeds from the day will go to keeping our wonderful railway running after a very difficult season indeed. Bookings need to me made in advance through the LR website. https://www.llangollen-railway.co.uk/timetables/?tt_month=09&tt_year=2020
A lot of work has been done to get 5310 ready and improve her general condition. Air leaks on the brake frame have been cured, a repaint and tidy up of both cabs and driver’s desks is underway and pipework to allow air to drain from the main reservoirs under the body rather than into the cabs has been reinstated. It’s nice to have the chance to attend to all these none-urgent tasks.
31271 – Sterling Service
31271 worked its last booked diagram for 2020 on the 26th of August. The loco has completed 6 full days in traffic in August, performing faultlessly throughout and continuing to be a credit to A1A Locomotives. She is seen below at a rather gloomy Carrog on the 19th of August, carrying a wreath in memorial to all those affected by the Stonehaven tragedy one week previously. 31271 remains available to cover for a steam locomotive failure if required, but with the onset of autumn and no further booked 2020 workings will soon be winterised again.
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Following a review of both loadings on operating days completed and advanced bookings for those remaining, all further weekend diesel running dates are regrettably cancelled. This leaves Wednesday 19th and 26th of August as our remaining 2 days of diesel operation this year. 31271 is currently rostered for both of these. Make the most of her while you can! Booking details can be found on the LR Facebook page and website.
31271 continues to perform well and is seen below approaching Glyndyfrdwy on Wednesday 12th August. Thanks to Craig Jolley for the photo.
A long overdue update from Llangollen! We hope all our supporters are safe and well following such a challenging few months. The good headline news is that services on the LR should resume on Saturday 1st August, with diesel-hauled trains playing a significant part of the operation. Diesel-haulage is currently scheduled for the 3rd, 8th, 12th & 16th, 19th, 22nd, 26th, 30th & 31st of August.
Taking things a few steps at a time, 31271 successfully worked the 3rd August is also scheduled for the 8th, 12th and 16th of August. She is seen below running round at Carrog during shakedown testing on 30th July. Please visit the LR website or Facebook page for details on travel arrangements and bookings. Advanced booking is required, but this can be done on the day if there are seats available and you arrive in good time before departure.
After a lengthy lockdown hiatus, 5310 returned from the GWSR on Monday 6th July and with volunteers now allowed back on site, work to complete the final stages of her traction motor overhaul has continued apace. The loco was successfully started and moved under her own power for the first time in over 2 years yesterday, July 23rd. Further work has been carried out on testing and adjusting the brake systems, with several minor leaks and valve gripes sorted. Making the most of ETB being in place between Llangollen station and Goods Junction during shakedown running. 5310 was able to make a series of light-engine test runs on the 30th of July. Iain Ross’s photo below shows her back in Llangollen station for the first time in over 2 years and preparing for another gentle trip up to Goods Junction and back.
There are still some jobs to attend to on the loco, along with some further careful light-engine running-in along the whole line. Particular care is being paid to the overhauled suspension bearing on the No 1 axle to make sure it is staying cool and oiling correctly. Provided all is well, we hope 5310 should be able to work a public train before the end of the summer.
The Llangollen Diesel Group are extremely grateful to all who have assisted us through a challenging job. We’ll start with the John Pepper and Ant Philp at the Northampton Type 2 Group for loan of their lifting beams. Next we have all at the GWSR for allowing us to use the railway’s lifting jacks and for all those who helped us to do the work. The photo below shows the loco just after lifting on Monday 2nd of March and the brilliant team from the GWR who supported us at short notice. L-2-R are Simon Townsend, Tim Leverton, Tez Pickthall (LDG), Andy Durham and Mark Stanley. Kev Jarvis also assisted and kindly took the photo. Thanks a lot gentlemen!
The Cotswold Mainline Diesel Group at the GWSR need a special mention too. Thank you to Simon Townsend, who got in touch shortly after the first motor failed with the offer to help us. Little did he know what he was letting himself in for! The CMDG have allowed us to use their 2 spare motors and provided much advice, encouragement and graft along the way. Andy Durham as both a CMDG member and Head of the GWSR Diesel Department has done much behind the scenes to help us at Toddington and also fitted the brackets with me for the second lift of the loco). We hope to be able to return the favour to Simon and Andy and assist them in getting D5343 back into traffic following its power unit problems. Dave Hesketh of EAMP has done a cracking job of overhauling all 4 motors and finally we have Ken Joy, Stuart Sellar and Ant Philp, who have all provided expert Sulzer Type 2 advice, encouragement and support with the numerous challenges we have dealt with along the way. The spirit of preservation is truly alive and well!
The dedicated team from A1A Locomotives were also with us on July 23rd, conducting an annual exam on 31271. The loco was started, moved under her own power and pronounced fit for traffic. Public trains are expected to recommence on the LR from Saturday 1st August. The loco seems to have suffered no real issues over the prolonged storage period other than some deterioration of the paintwork around the nameplates, which the A1A chaps were hoping to attend to before heading home. It goes without saying that their support is very much appreciated – they travel a long way to support us in far and now in far-from ideal circumstances
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Apologies for the long delay in updating the website. Some IT issues have made this more difficult and the site did go down for a few weeks. Our Facebook page (search for Llangollen Diesel Group) is however updated regularly. We would like to wish all our supporters a very Merry Christmas and all the best for 2020. As another interesting year for our Group draws to a close we’re looking forward to the start of another. 2020 should see an increase in the number of running days (see below), 5310 return to traffic, 1566 receive repairs to engine water leaks and A1A Locomotives Ltd’s superb 31271 continue to be a most welcome member of the fleet. We are also hopeful of seeing Corwen Central open for business – offering a new destination for diesel-electric traction. Although much remains to be done to commission the station, it is expected to open to the public some time towards the middle of the 2020 season.
A successful event with visiting Class 25 D7535 seeming very popular, along with out mixed train where passengers could ride in brake vans for the first time in a number of years. The timetable largely ran to time, with the only issue being a damaged fuse on 1566 causing a delay to the final train on the Sunday evening. This was repaired by the crew and the loco was able to get home under her own power. 31271 also performed faultlessly as usual. Thanks to all those who came out to support the event – both in tickets sales and in donations towards D7535’s transport costs. We were delighted to raise funds to cover the near-£3000 haulage costs. D7535 looked absolutely superb sat at Glyndyfrdwy whilst working the Saturday evening trains, it was proper shades of the last Cambrian stopper.
And both D7535 and 1566 made for a pleasing Sulzer 70’s timewarp at Llangollen on the Sunday morning
We were delighted to host the East Midlands Railway Photographic Society (EMRPS) on Saturday 12th October for another of their floodlit photo charters. This sold out event raised a significant contribution to the transport costs of D7535, which was joined by both 1566 and 31271. The locos were posed with two trains – a rake of ballast hoppers and a mixed freight. Thanks to Jason Cross for the photo.
2020 Running Days
We’re delighted to announce an increased number of B timetable running days in 2020, including 3 in August. Loco rosters will be confirmed next year but we hope to see both 5310 and 1566 running alongside 31271 and are working towards a further visiting locomotive for our diesel weekend.
Special Events: Classic Transport: 3rd & 4th July. 1960’s Weekend: 1st & 2nd August. DIESEL WEEKEND: 26th & 27th September
We are pleased to announce that the repair of 5310 is progressing steadily, with 4 traction motors now overhauled and ready to refit. A second lift of the loco is planned for February at the Gloucester and Warwickshire Railway, to whom we are extremely grateful for all their support and understanding during the loco’s extended stay. A traction motor suspension bearing has also required remetalling and machining. This work has been completed by Statfold Engineering Ltd. We are hopeful of having the loco ready for testing in early Spring and returning her to North Wales in time for the running season. It will be great to have her back
The loco has proved to be a godsend – working 14 days in service faultlessly. The team at A1A Locomotives Ltd have been extremely supportive and helpful, attending to perform routine maintenance and examinations but largely allowing us to operate the locomotive using 6 specially-trained drivers. Now sheeted over for winter, 31271 was used as late as mid-November for a guards training day. Due to stay for us for at least the 2020 season, we will be in no hurry to see this excellent locomotive leave us and are in discussion with A1A about the possibility of her staying on the LR for longer.
Water leaks from 3 cylinders on A bank have continued to provide troublesome through the season. These appeared to have worsened at the Diesel Weekend, so the decision has been taken to renew the liner seals on all 6 A Bank pistons. This is a big job, but not beyond us and work is already well under way, with the A side of the power unit stripped and big end nuts undone, ready for lifting. Liner seals and new transition rubbers are on order. We are hopeful of having the work completed in time for 1566 to operate in the 2020 season. Repairs to corrosion of the floor and conduit around the Battery Isolation Switch (BIS) have also been carried out, really smartening this area of the engine room up.
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Here is our diesel weekend timetable. Unfortunately it has not been possible to schedule the use of 08195 around the other workings without losing one of the visiting locomotive trips. A freight makes a welcome return, with around 30 spaces available for ticket-holders in the brake van and LNER pigeon van . Working timetables are available by email for a £5 donation to the D7535 transport fund by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to superb support towards funding transport costs, we are delighted to confirm that D7535 WILL be visiting us for our Diesel Weekend on September 28th & 29th! Joining our two season resident 31271 and home fleet 1566, this is now looking like a tasty event and we think it’s also our first gala with TWO visiting locomotives! We are still welcoming further donations towards transport https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/7535-v – every little helps a lot! We can’t wait to welcome a “Rat” back to Llangollen after an absence of over 10 years since 25313 left us in 2009. Big thanks are due to the South Devon Diesel Traction Group and Great Central Railway, whom we are working with closely to make the visit happen.
A DMU will also be featuring in the event and we’re planning an interesting timetable with an evening working on the Saturday. Hopefully a brakevan trip will also run along the full line for the first time in many years, subject to stock availability and operational approval. Unfortunately 08195 will not now be in use.
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With 5310 now unavailable for our Diesel Weekend on 28th & 29th of September, we felt it would be a good idea to see if we could source a further visiting loco for the event. We have been very generously provisionally offered Class 25 No D7535 from the South Devon Diesel Traction Group. This would be the first time this machine has visited Wales in preservation and the first Class 25 to work on the LR since 25313 last ran in 2008. The Railway is very supportive of the visit but sadly does not have the funds to bring in this wonderful machine by road.
We have therefore launched a funding appeal to raise sufficient funds to cover the road transport after a 4 week or so stay in North Wales. Nearly £1,500 has already been raised from donations made by our working members, so an additional £1500 is sought to reach our target of around £3,000.
All funds raised will be donated directly to the Llangollen Railway to pay for the road transport. Any excess funds will be used to fund the operational costs of the loco during her stay.
We appreciate every bit of support. In the event of the locomotive not visiting the railway, we will return all funds donated. See our Crowdfunding appeal at: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/7535-v
The loco has now completed 5 days in traffic and performed faultlessly so far. We are very grateful to A1A Locomotives Limited for all their support. They attended her first two running days and have supported conversion training for 5 LR drivers to operate the loco. Some running maintenance has been performed, with a brake application valve, a brake cylinder seal and a full set of wiper blades all replaced. The latter are particularly useful in our part of the World! She is seen below at Goods Junction during Classic Transport Weekend, 6th July. Photo by Tez Pickthall.
31271 will handle the Saturday 13th’s scheduled B timetable diesel working, covering the 10, 12:15 & 14:30 from Llangollen. We are also expecting her to cover the Sunday 14th July steam diagram – the 11, 13:15 & 15:45, working alongside a DMU. The 21st of July running day is also penciled in for 271.
1566 – AVR Failure
1566 unfortunately failed on 14th June, when called to cover the day’s steam service. The locomotive shut down after arriving in the station to collect her train and would unfortunately not re-start. Investigations subsequently found the Automatic Voltage Regulator (AVR) had failed in a rather spectacular style, with the brass shunt melted through and broken into several pieces, which were found in a tidy pile underneath the unit!
We have a spare AVR, but it was missing one of the control cards, which we removed from the original damaged one on the loco. Initially the replacement AVR would not operate, leading us to suspect the card we used from the original had been damaged. Much effort is underway to source more spares and make arrangements for repairs to the damaged parts. However, during testing on Tuesday 9th July it miraculously sprang back into life, with the reassuring buzz from the thyristors. We were then able to successfully start the loco and take power. Whilst this is excellent news and shows that no further damage occurred to the loco when the AVR failed, we do need to perform some further careful testing before the loco can work a train. We’re also concerned as to why the AVR started working again when we really hadn’t done anything other than measure voltages. We will therefore to continue to source spares and have the original unit repaired.
The aim is to have 1566 working on the Saturday of our 1960’s Weekend on 3rd & 4th of August.
31271 made a successful debut to traffic on Sunday 16th June. Our sincere thanks to A1A Locomotives Limited for supporting her first running day and arriving the day before to prepare and check the loco over. She looked and sounded superb. The sun even came out between the showers – the first time it had been seen this month I think!
Following problems with 1566, 31271 will cover our two remaining June B timetable running days on Saturdays 22nd and 29th of June. She should also be in use for at least one day of Classic Transport Weekend on 6th or 7th of July.
5310 was moved to the Gloucester & Warwickshire Railway’s Toddington HQ on the 4th of June. The aim was to lift the locomotive and fit an overhauled replacement traction motor that we have been able to source from the Cotswold Mainline Diesel Group, who look after D5343. This would then have allowed 5310 to return to traffic and take part in their summer diesel gala. She is seen on the Reid’s wagon at Llangollen on the 4th of June.
Unfortunately during unloading and preparations for lifting at Toddington it was found that Number 4 traction motor has also sustained a bearing failure. As the photo shows below, the damage to the commutator was extensive but is fortunately repairable. Regrettably the loco will therefore not now be able to take part in the GWR gala.
Following further discussion with the GWR and inspection of the motors with Dave Hesketh from Edgar Allen, we are hoping for getting 5310 running again. This will involve removing and overhauling 3 more motors in order to ensure we do not need to worry about this happening again. Suffice to say this job is therefore likely to take a good while longer and involve a bigger spend then we were initially hoping for.
We are very grateful to both the GWR and Cotswold Mainline Diesel Group for all their support to date. We hope that 5310 can still work some trains on the GWR at the end of her extended stay, but there’s a long way to go yet!
The loco has been through one of its most intensive periods of work in over a decade, completing 7 days in traffic through May and June. This included two extra days of running on 6th & 7th of June covering for 80072, which was undergoing an exam.
She failed on the 18th of May with a defective contactor on the Compressor Control Relay, which was repaired but not in time for her to work the days’ service, which was covered by a DMU.
Unfortunately a further failure occurred on Friday 14th June when 1566 was due to cover the day’s A timetable for 80072 again. All appeared well until she shut down after arriving in Llangollen station to collect her train. Again, a DMU was able to step in and cover the working. Investigations have found that a shunt on the AVR has failed. The red circles below show where two busbars are missing from the component. Without this in the place the locomotive cannot be run.
We hold a spare and are hopeful that the failure mode is a result of age and vibration, but want to be sure that it has not occurred due to a defect in one of the electrical machines. As a result we will need to carry out thorough checking and testing of all DC machines and the auxiliary generator before we can fit the spare shunt and start the loco again.
We are pleased to announce that following her arrival with us on Tuesday 7th May, 31271 is due to make her debut to traffic on the Llangollen Railway on Sunday 16th June, working the 10, 12:15 and 14:30 trains from Llangollen.
We are very much looking forward to seeing her run and would like to thank A1A Locomotives Ltd for providing their superb loco to us for the next two seasons. Please note trains are only running to Carrog at the moment due to the delayed opening of Corwen Central station. This is still under construction and awaiting connection to the running line following reinstatement of a section of missing embankment just outside the station.
1566 has performed well at our first 3 running days of the year on May 5th 6th and 11th , but unfortunately failed on Saturday 18th with a faulty compressor control contactor. This was very frustrating as we had thoroughly inspected and tested the loco on Tuesday 14th to make sure she was ready for another day in traffic. Such faults can occur at any time and are very hard to predict in such complex and aging equipment. Fortunately we hold spares of such components and the fault was repaired by the late afternoon, although sadly too late for 1566 to make her booked workings. The 12:15 and 14:30 trains were covered by the Class 126 DMU.
1566 has another busy month ahead. It will work the 2nd, 8th, 22nd & 29th B timetables and a driver experience on the 9th of June. We are also pleased to announce a new driver has joined our ranks, with group stalwart Pete Edwards passing out on Saturday May 11th – well done Pete!
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