THE final phase of the Corwen station project got underway this week with the dropping of stone ballast on track in the approach to the station area.

A special engineering train of four ballast wagons filled with upwards of 100 tons of stone chippings was worked into the site from the ballast mound near Bonwm.

The initial drop was made in the area opposite the Corwen signalbox where the point work allows access to the station loop and the siding.

The track here has to be brought up to a required height to allow the points to be connected with the line-side switching mechanism already in situ.

Volunteers were on hand to operate the dropping mechanism on each wagon as the train slowly edged forward to provide a good spread and others at ground level were ready with shovels to pack the stone between the sleepers.

The use of the plough on the Shark van helped spread the stone along the tracks.

A spokesperson for Llangollen Railway Trust (LRT), who are in charge of the project, said: "The ballast is needed to provide a firm but flexible base for the track sleepers; it helps spread the load whilst allowing for drainage.

"Although 100 tons may sound a lot of stone but it did not go very far and it will require several more drops along the track on both sides of the island platform loop through to the end of the line at Green Lane.

"It is likely more works trains will be operated during November before the job is finished. It will then be necessary to hire in a tamper machine which will pack and align the track to a standard for passenger train operation."

The track work has been in situ at the site since December 2019 when a golden fishplate was fitted with some ceremony by the railway's President Bill Shakespeare MBE and Vice President Gordon Heddon, but the Covid 19 lockdowns prevented earlier ballasting of the layout.

The LRT spokesperson said project volunteers are 'greatly cheered' by the dropping of the initial loads of ballast and keen to get on with the completion of the work to allow first passenger trains to run into Corwen next year.