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Trains taking to the tracks on Ironbridge line for 'final time'

By Mark Andrews | Ironbridge | Telford nostalgia | Published: | Last Updated:

Steam trains will run once more through Coalbrookdale – in what could possibly be the last journey along the disused rail line.

The picturesque railway viaduct at Coalbrookdale

Heritage rail company Vintage Trains will be running two special excursions along the mothballed Ironbridge and Coalbrookdale branch line on June 9. The services will be pulled by the Castle Class steam locomotive 7029 Clun Castle.

The line closed to passenger services in 1963 – before the infamous Beeching cuts – but continued to serve the Ironbridge power station until its closure in November 2015.

Passenger services to Coalbrookdale were briefly resumed between May and September 1979 to mark the Iron Bridge bicentenary.

Passenger services briefly resumed along the line in 1979 as part of the Iron Bridge bicentenary celebrations

Since then the line has been mothballed and faces an uncertain future, although Telford Steam Railway is campaigning for it to be opened as a heritage railway.

The special trips on June 9 will depart from Wellington station at 1.30pm and 3.30pm, stopping at Telford station, before heading for Madeley Junction.

There it will reverse down the branch line until it reaches the Albert Edward Bridge, next to the power station.

The rain will then sprint up the steep hillside, offering stunning views of the Ironbridge Gorge.

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Vintage Trains spokesman Denis Chick said: "We will cross the picturesque brick-built 26-arch Coalbrookdale viaduct, running alongside the Abraham Darby ironworks furnaces, back to the main line.

"This excursion is likely to be the final opportunity to travel down the branch."

The train will then be hauled by a diesel locomotive back to Telford and Wellington.

Mr Chick said the company had been working with Telford Steam Railway to provide the excursion, whose members would be joining the train for the ride.

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The line had carried up to 6,000 tons of coal a day to the power station before its closure, but was now earmarked for possible closure on 2019.

The Albert Edward bridge was closed to rail services by Network Rail, and the excursion will not be allowed to cross that.

The Castle Class locomotive Clun Castle will be pulling the train

The 350-acre power station site was bought last year by the Rotherham based Harworth Group, which is expected to submit plans for the site in the autumn.

A second consultation is scheduled to take place late spring, with hundreds of new homes likely to be central to the plan.

The company has appointed Demolitions Services Limited to dismantle the landmark cooling towers at the site, and work is expected to begin at the end of spring.

The demolition process could take up to two years, and is expected to cost about £10 million.

Harworth's head of planning Stuart Ashton said there was a real possibility that the railway could be re-opened to both heritage and commuter services as part of the redevelopment scheme.

"It's something that could potentially happen," he said.

Passengers are advised to book their tickets, starting at £25 per person in advance before travelling.

They can do so through the website VintageTrains.co.uk or by telephoning 0121 708 4960.

Mark Andrews

By Mark Andrews
@MAndrews_Star

Senior news writer for the Shropshire Star specialising in in-depth features and commentary, investigative reporting and political matters.

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