RAILWAY buffs are chuffed to bits after a historic loco has returned to its original line.

The only surviving original Welsh Highland Railway steam locomotive ‘Russell’ is to steam through a section of the WHR railway.

Trials of the Hunslet Engine Company loco, built in 1906, were quietly carried out over the weekend.

Russell completed a gauging and inspection run along part of the original line of the Welsh Highland Railway, on Sunday, November 25,

It represents the first time the locomotive had travelled along this section since 1937 when it was on its way to Dinas to be locked away when the line was closed.

The run has been made possible by a close working relationship between members of the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway in Porthmadog, who own the loco, working with colleagues from the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways.

Russell is now set to appear at the Welsh Highland Railway's heritage weekend from Friday June 21 and Sunday, June 23.

It will be working between a replica 1920s halt at Pen-y-Mount, to Pont Croesor and on to Hafod y Llyn.

The latest run, will be the longest for the loco, since it was restored in 2014. The renovation, funded by private donations has cost £350,000 and the loco is now in a condition, close to how it was when originally built.

Mark Seale, Welsh Highland Heritage Railway project-manager said: "It was important for us to make sure that Russell was fit and well before we made a final commitment.

"We are aware that many railway enthusiasts are keen to see Russell running up the line, this is something that we have wished for, for some time.

"The inspection run went very well and we are very excited to be supporting the June event.

"The primary goal for the inspection run was to ensure that Russell’s special design of pony truck and running gear will negotiate the curves of the re-instated railway and ensure that enough movement from the trucks is evident on the tightest curve."

Whilst the inspection run took place Ffestiniog Railway engineers were invited to take a closer look at the locomotive. A team at the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway will now have the winter to prepare the locomotive.

Graham Farr, the chairman at the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway said: “This is another important milestone in the evolving Welsh Highland Railway story.

"It demonstrates how Russell was operated by the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway in Porthmadog and can be used to complement and support the further development of the re-instated railway.”

Welsh Highland Heritage Railway members are looking forward to working with our Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway colleagues."

Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways' general manager Paul Lewin said:

The June 21-23 event, will be THE narrow gauge event of the year. 2019 is looking like being an epic year for the Welsh Highland Railway, 21 years on from the first trains running out of Caernarfon.

"Not only will we see the opening of two new stations we will also enjoy visiting locos that will go a long way toward recreating so many Welsh Highland heritage scenes of years gone by and some fascinating additional visitors too."