2024 has seen rapid progress on the construction of the new embankment - a key part of the Southern Extension of Corris Railway.

Once complete, the extension will double the length of the journey along the Dulas Valley and one-and-a-half miles of the original six-and-a-half mile route between Machynlleth and Aberllefenni will see train operations once again.

                    Work on the southern extension to Corris Railway. Photographs by David Coleman, Corris Railway.
Work on the southern extension to Corris Railway (David Coleman, Corris Railway)

The key factor in the acceleration of progress was the completion of the new Dyfi bridge.

Large tonnages of this material has been making its way up the A487 to the works site south of Maespoeth Junction. At one point in February a lorry was arriving every 15 minutes.

After unloading the material was laid and new “benches” were cut in the hillside climbing towards the A487 ready for the next phase of building up the new embankment. These were then filled. Apart from drainage and embankment stone and material the new structure also has layers of geotextile laid.

The main enemy to progress was wet weather and some material had to be left to dry after delivery. However the pace kept two diggers, a dumper truck and a roller at work on the 100 metres long section of embankment.

By the end of March the new earthworks had risen by five metres and at the southern end of the site was coming tantalisingly close to a remaining section of the original railway fence which survived closure of the Corris in 1948 and the re-routing of the A487 which has made the new works necessary.

At this point in the project the embankment is laid level level along its length but later works will be necessary to raise the northern end to the same height as the original route and the existing railhead south of Maespoeth Junction. That will reinstate a 1 in 30 gradient, and the prospect of the Corris’ steam locomotives climbing that will delight many enthusiasts.

Before that however the Nant Goedwig stream will need to be crossed followed by final grading and track laying.

This progress is expensive. Corris has a healthy extension fund fund but payments for the material, machinery and operators are quickly eating into that. Any donations toward these costs and keeping the project moving forward will be very welcome and can be made online via www.corris,co,uk. Alternatively cheques, payable to Corris Railway, can be sent to Corris Railway (SE), Station Yard, Corris, Machynlleth, SY20 9SH.