Blaenavon's Heritage railway has had a very good summer, although passenger figures are slightly down on 2010, they are well ahead of previous years. It has seen a lot of infrastructure work undertaken and these are very visible and key to the future of the railway, the completion of the Varteg Road Bridge, the new station building at Furnace Sidings, and the completion of the branch line to Big Pit. Both the station building and the Big Pit branch were opened on Friday the 16th September, with BBC Wales radio and TV presenter Roy Noble officiating, accompanied by the Mayor and Mayoress of Torfaen and the Mayor of Blaenavon.
The opening of the branch proved an immediate success with over 800 passengers travelling during the weekend's opening event. The railway had brought 3 steam engines that used to work in South Wales back for the weekend and many visitors were reacquainting themselves with the engines they knew as children. From Mardy Colliery came the Mardy Monster, the most powerful industrial steam locomotive ever built in the UK, from Mountain Ash was Sir Gomer and from just down the the valley in Cwmbran came the diminutive Whitehead. These provided an attraction not only to local people to many enthusiasts who came from across the country to visit the railway, many for the first time.
The railway is now getting ready for the Santa Steam Specials which run every weekend in December from Furnace Sidings. With presents for the children, sherry for the grown ups (plus mince pies for all) and a chance to meet Santa these always prove popular and the railway was already taking bookings in August! To make sure you don't miss out call 01495 792263 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
With the branch to Big Pit now open a direct heritage link has now been established been there and Blaenavon via the railway and it is hoped that all will now benefit. The railway still has plenty of expansion plans but for now is consolidating on what it has before looking further afield. It is always on the look out for new members and volunteers, there are plenty of opportunities from behind the scenes, to station staff, train staff and even drivers and fireman, so why not go along and see what you can do.
For more details of our events please either phone the Railway Shop on 01495 792263 or visit our website on www.pontypool-and-blaenavon.co.uk.
Events for 2011 – Steam unless otherwise stated
October 15/16 - Autumn Diesel Gala
October 29/30- Ghost Train
December dates - Santa Steam Specials
Posted on: Thursday 6th October 2011