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 Railway (UK) - - NEWS FOCUS -

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.

DAVID DEW

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.

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