Phase 1 - To Lawley!
"What is the significance of the new station at Lawley to TSR? - It represents a major achievement for the railway."
After the original line was closed in 1962 and the area was earmarked to become a ‘New Town’ the track bed at Lawley, including the old station were open cast mined for coal.
When the area was reinstated after the work, all trace of the railway was wiped from the landscape. The railway you see today from Health Hill tunnel to Lawley Village has been built by Telford Steam Railway.
Unearthing a Tunnel
When Telford Steam Railway (TSR) started the project the area north of Health Hill Tunnel was filled in with 40,000 cubic metres of spoil, and the tunnel was flooded with nearly 3ft of water over almost its entire length.
Working with Telford & Wrekin council, Homes and Communities, the Parish Council and the Developers, the railway secured enough land to build a terminus station. Planning permission was sought and granted and the task of building a new railway was on.
One of the biggest challenges was that there was no road access to the site. It soon became apparent that 15,000 cubic metres of spoil were going to have to be removed from the site. With no road access, this was going to be a challenge.
A plan was devised that would see the excess spoil removed by rail to a site on the railway land near Doseley. This also meant the laying of track from Horsehay, 2/3rds of mile to Doseley. With the help of a member of the railway, two 360 excavators were purchased, and a start made on moving the spoil. This continued over a period of 3 years.
During this time, help was received from the territorial army engineers, who undertook several exercises onsite helping to move many tons of spoil. By early 2008, the excess spoil had been removed, and the railway employed a local grounds work company (Corley Plant Hire) to complete the work. This was paid for from the railway’s operating profits.
With the new cutting and embankment completed, work started on laying the track. Again, because of no road access, all materials had to be delivered to Horsehay, loaded onto trains, and then delivered to site.
Track laying was assisted by RAF cadets from RAF Cosford, who the railway is most grateful to. Due to the credit crunch, the new housing development, after which the new station has been named, has not progressed as quickly as was first planned. This has left the new station with only a foot path entrance so far. The recreated period GWR halt, that has been built by the railway at the station, is only temporary and the railway hopes will be a full terminus station eventually. This will provide all the facilities needed to operate a heritage railway park and ride service to the world heritage site of Ironbridge.
The station has been completed entirely by volunteers, who raised the approximately £100,000 needed to fund it, and provided the labour to construct it.
The railway and its volunteers are extremely grateful to all those companies, organisations and individuals who assisted them in making the station a reality.
Onwards & Upwards
The opening of Lawley provided a spring board for the expansion of the railway. Opening year saw passenger figures double, providing a much needed boost to revenue.
2016 saw a bold next move; the railway secured a license to operate ‘The Polar Express’ train ride from Warner Brothers based on their 2004 hit animated movie of the same name.
Christmas 2016 saw 14,000 people ride the train to the North Pole and the railway had a huge hit on its hands. 2017 saw 21,000 passengers and 2018's 23,000 tickets were sold out in just 36 hours in early April!
The Polar Express has added the long missing ingredient to the railway; cold, hard cash to further its aims. Polar express has lifted the railway from a annual turnover of below £100k to one that by early 2019 will break the one million pound barrier. This has allowed the railway to invest heavily in additional rolling stock and locomotives and plan a major expansion of it’s facilities for both visitors and volunteers, 2019 will see the railway double in size from 1km in length to 2.25km with the track being re-laid from Horsehay to Doseley by contractors.
The railway has also become an employer, employing over 40 seasonal staff to run the event.