TO IRONBRIDGE! TELFORD TO PUSH AHEAD WITH £1.5M PLAN
‘Polar express’ enables railway to make progress with its ambition of running to Ironbridge.
Steam‑hauled ‘park and ride’ trains on two gauges will run to the World Heritage Site of Ironbridge Gorge as part of the Telford Steam Railway’s long‑ awaited extension plans.
Thanks to the financial boost of its successful ‘Polar Express’ Christmas trains, the line is pushing ahead with its £1.5m, four‑stage ‘Steaming to Ironbridge’ project, which will increase its length from the current one mile to ten miles.
With Ironbridge Power Station due to be decommissioned and the site sold for redevelopment, the TSR is aiming to reconnect with Network Rail’s freight‑only line from Madeley Junction that formerly served the facility. The first stage will be to extend southwards by half a mile to Doseley in 2019, engaging contractors to upgrade the existing track.
The railway will then seek planning permission to re‑lay the section to Lightmoor Junction on the branch to the power station, which will also require the installation of a new bridge (already acquired) where the A169 road has severed the trackbed.
In Phase 3, the TSR will seek to lease or purchase the power station branch from Network Rail, allowing it to run through to Buildwas, where a station to serve Buildwas Abbey is suggested. Other possible stations could be provided at Lightmoor, the Museum of Iron, and a local rowing club; while the railway would like to see the power station’s coal unloading facilities preserved as a museum, displaying its Peckett 0‑4‑0ST Works No. 1990 Ironbridge No. 3 which formerly worked at the site.
Finally, in Phase 4, 2ft gauge track would be laid along the former Severn Valley route, from an interchange station on the site of the power station’s oil sidings, to the Ironbridge Gorge Museum itself. It would utilise the TSR’s steam tram locomotive, which was originally built for a planned tramway in Telford Town Park and now operates at the TSR’s Horsehay base.
Narrow gauge is needed on this section to share the trackbed with an existing footpath and bridleway, and will take up less space at Ironbridge, as well as reducing the costs of maintaining its viaduct.
The TSR’s northern terminus of Lawley Village, opened in 2015, will act as the ‘park and ride’ facility, while the interchange station would also have road access.
It is hoped that the extended line could attract up to 100,000 visitors a year and generate £2m in annual turnover, with the possibility of a further £1m through expansion of the ‘Polar Express’ operation; the TSR hosted 23,000 passengers on the festive trains in 2018 and expects its turnover to reach £1m in 2019.
disguised as ‘pere marquette no. 1225’, the star of the 2004 movie The Polar Express, usatC ‘s160’ 2-8-0 no. 5197 is ready to depart from horsehay & dawley on december 9 2017.