Welsh Highland Railway

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V4.3841

News (1/8/20)

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Star Picture

This southerly view (3/11/19) shows No.608 hauling a heritage rake heading for Beddgelert between T2 and T3 in the Aberglaslyn Pass during the photo charter. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Phil Brown (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Welcome to Version 4 of this website, launched on September 8 2004 with news about work on Phase 4 of the WHR scheme. In addition to this Stop Press page and a Phase 1/2 page, there are 9 location pages, covering the Phase 3 works between Waunfawr and Rhyd Ddu. There are a further 9 pages covering Phase 4, the full route through Beddgelert, the Aberglaslyn Pass and on to Porthmadog, including the Traeth Mawr to Pen-y-Mount works recently constructed by the WHHR with three regularly updated map links for this area by Laurence Armstrong.

Finally, there are pages covering 'Phase 5', Views from the Line, the history of the abandoned PBSSR works around Beddgelert, Archived News and a Contacts page for volunteers. Another page covers the current operation of the WHHR southwest from Pen-y-Mount.

 

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The above OS map shows the route through the Aberglaslyn Pass and Beddgelert. Click on the image to enlarge. Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

Click here to use the free OS Get-a-map service.

Route section pages

Listed below are links to pages featuring progress on different sections of the line or archive views. Jump ahead to News section or follow the section links from page to page. Please note that access to the links below was restored on 2/9/04 at the new website www.isengard.co.uk

 

Phase 4 pages

Rhyd Ddu to Pont Cae'r Gors (updated 29/6/06)

Pont Cae'r Gors to Hafod Ruffydd Halt (new 8/10/06)

Hafod Ruffydd Halt to Beddgelert Forest Halt (updated 4/12/06)

Beddgelert Forest Halt to Beddgelert Station (updated 1/7/07)

Beddgelert Station Area (updated 30/6/07)

Beddgelert Station to Bryn-y-felin (updated 1/7/07)

Aberglaslyn Pass (updated 2/7/07)

Nantmor to Pont Croesor (updated 16/7/07)

Pont Croesor to Pen-y-Mount (updated 1/4/07)

WHHR (Porthmadog) (updated 1/4/07)

Porthmadog Cross Town Link (updated1/4/07)

 

Other pages

The 40km Dream (Updated 30/7/20)

'Phase 6' page (new 2/4/06)

Views from the Line Page (updated 26/2/05)

PBSSR Works Historical Page (updated 25/3/05)

Rhyd Ddu Opening Page (New 14/2/04)

Archived News Page (updated 1/8/20)

Snow Scenes (updated 10/12/18)

Rolling Stock News Page (updated 28/12/04)

Phase 4 News Page (updated 3/3/05)

Volunteer Contact details page (updated 18/5/16)

Phase 2 and 3 page list (updated 27/8/08)

Video list (new 9/11/15)

Access to Phase 2 pages is currently being progressed.

 

If you would like an automated announcement of site updates, email me at the NEW (2013) address below replacing the letters 'dot' with a full stop

Isengard@talktalkdotnet

This has been introduced as an anti-spam feature.

Disclaimer

There has never been any intent by myself to suggest that the views on these pages represent the views, opinions or policy of the F&WHR, the WHRCL or the WHRS.

I am happy to confirm that this is an INDEPENDENT web news service.

 

Stop Press!!

New construction images/text will be posted on a regular basis.

New text in RED!

 

News Section

WHR timetables

Click here for Laurence Armstrong's latest WHR North map dated 5/11/07

Click here for Laurence Armstrong's latest WHR Middle map dated 14/3/10

Click here for Laurence Armstrong's latest WHR South map dated 14/3/10

Click here for Mike Schumann's Phase 4 TWA maps and other maps courtesy of WHRS

Click here for John Sreeves Gradient profile courtesy of WHRS

Click here for Chainages and OS Map Reference

 

Spooners fully open from 3/8/20

The F&WHR are fully opening Spooners restaurant and bar for dining and drinking services inside on the Monday 3/8/20! Along with Welsh Government Guidelines, the F&WHR will welcome customers to eat and drink inside through a table service which will include indoor seats and outdoor seats. The 'Bar' will also re-open, but notice that this will also operate on board service. During the last few weeks the F&WHR have been busy creating a plan that will hold the safety of customers and staff. After getting the green light to reopen, the Company now feels that they are ready to provide a service that is safe and enjoyable.

The plan includes asking for 'Monitoring and Trace' information on arrival, a queuing system by keeping social distancing, table service only, sitting arrangements in keeping social distancing and hand sanitation stations. Spooners will be open 7 days a week and a takeaway service will remain available between 09:00 and 1600 for those joining a train service. The Table Service will be available from 12:00 and the 'Bar' service will be available between 12:00-22:00.

Spooners is participating in the Government's 'Eat Out to Help Out' campaign offering a discount on food Monday-Wednesday 3-31/8/20. Basically this offers a 50% discount on food and non-alcoholic drinks up to a maximum £10 per customer.

Detailed information about the Spooners re-opening can be found on the FAQ (Cyffredin) page.

 

Spare coaches on the move 1/8/20

The rake of three FR corridor coaches stored in the WHR platform was moved to the WHR loop line on Friday afternoon by Blanche at 1717 after it had arrived back from the 1525 service. Criccieth Castle seemed to be attached at the east end on the afternoon of 1/8/20. The purpose of these moves is currently unknown. It appeared there was no 1525 service again on Saturday 1/8/20 as forecast.

 

North Wales mainline

The new VivaRail Class 230 No.230006 has been out being tested by ROG drivers on the Borderlands Line, particularly between Wrexham and Dee Marsh but also visiting Wrexham Central, currently devoid of a train service. Particular attention has been given to its performance on the steep banks with another Wrexham-Dee Marsh run on 24/7/20 and a visit to Wrexham Central on 27/7/20 before finally visiting Chester depot on 28/7/20.

On Sunday 2/8/20 two Class 97/3s are due to haul an evening auto-ballaster working from Crewe to Porthmadog and back on Monday morning. 

 

The Snowdonian Limited postponed until 5/11/20

The F&WHR plans to run The Snowdonian Limited special train on the FR and WHR on Saturday 5/11/20 from 8 am until 8pm. Let us hope it is not the only train to run on the WHR post COVID-19 this year! This event has been postponed from 12/9/20 as WHR SuperPower has been cancelled.

 

Trains on 30/7/20

Prince, Blanche and No.5, in that order, hauled the six trains on 30/7/20. The 3 FR corridor coaches are still in the WHR platform, having been there for 4 days now.

 

No.5 departing Porthmadog on the 12:10 service, its first trip of the day. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Prince departing Porthmadog on the 13:15 service hauling its second trip of the day to Tan-y-bwlch. The driver is displaying his face covering to good effect. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Blanche departing Porthmadog working along The Cob on the 14:20 service hauling its second trip of the day to Tan-y-bwlch. The driver is wearing a standard face covering. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

WHR SuperPower event cancelled 29/7/20

Sadly the F&WHR's annual WHR SuperPower event scheduled for 11-13/9/20 has been cancelled presumably because of difficulties associated with the pandemic. No doubt the FR's Victorian Gala due in October will be cancelled for the same reasons.

 

Three days of busy trains

With the improved weather the FR has seen three days of busy trains. On 27/7/20 Blanche, Prince and No.5 were in action in that order. On 28/7/20 it was the turn of Prince, Blanche and Linda. Finally on 29/7/20 Prince, Linda and No.5 hauled the services.

 

Quiet weekends on the FR

The F&WHR is encouraging people to travel at weekends when things are quieter as people often travel to/from their holidays over the weekends. Accordingly, the first two weekends in August (1-2/8/20 and 8-9/8/20) will not see the late afternoon 1525 service though it may be added again if weekend traffic picks up.

 

Can the WHR be reopened during the pandemic?

Correspondents have been wondering if the WHR can be reopened now the FR has experience with operating for a few weeks.

Firstly a look at the FR operation: The FR stock used is compartment stock or has been turned into compartments with temporary dividers and individual doors. Small engines are used with short rakes to keep the costs down. In the absence of on train catering the FR also has Spooners and the dedicated Tan-y-bwlch cafe at its turn around point some 6 miles from Porthmadog. A 50 minute journey time is possible at reduced line speeds to save coal. Compartment windows have a compartment number on them so that passengers can identify their compartment for the return journey but there has been evidence of people changing compartments before starting their journeys. Passengers are free to choose their compartment but are advised to return in the same compartment. It is not known how rigidly this is being enforced. Passengers are encouraged to use facemasks and hand wash but evidence shows that, although all staff wear facemasks, frequently the majority of passengers detraining at Tan-y-bwlch or Porthmadog do not appear to do so.

Secondly a look at the WHR: Comparable journeys are Caernarfon-Waunfawr (6.5 miles) and Porthmadog-Beddgelert (7.9 miles). Caernarfon would tap a number of holidaymakers who do not want to drive the extra 25 miles to Porthmadog including people staying further along the North Wales Coast e.g. Llandudno or Rhyl. The De Winton cafe could offer a good take away service and a pop up cafe could be operated in Waunfawr station building as is done on the 'Journey into the Past' trains. Toilets are available at Waunfawr and the train could be run round leaving it open for use if weather was inclement or quickly propelled back in as now happens at Tan-y-bwlch. Obviously additional staff and train crew would be required at additional cost. The main problem it seems is the short train/small loco policy. There are no more small locos available unless Taliesin/Palmerston/Lyd are returned to service quickly and in the longer term, the Alco, Mountaineer. The coaching stock is another problem. While the FR is operating 'compartment' stock with individual doors, other railways are operating corridor compartment stock with end doors. It is possible the FR has a few coaches left that could be converted as the current ones have been. Alternatively the existing WHR coaches could be adapted with transparent Perspex screens to form 'compartments'. While a large Garratt loco seems inevitable, the easier gradients and lower speed could make the coal consumption comparable to the Tan-y-bwlch operation. Alternatively Vale of Ffestiniog could be used. Management must now be regretting sidelining Castell Caernarfon for so long!

And then there is the Beddgelert option: It would require a pop up shop catering outlet and a marquee on the concrete foundation of the future station building at Beddgelert as has often happened at Galas. Toilets are available and the train could be run round or propelled and drop back into the platform quickly as at Tan-y-bwlch in case the weather is rainy. Use of suitably adapted WHR coaches and a Garratt based at Porthmadog is possible. As regards coal costs, the operation across the flat Traeth would compensate for the steeper grades in the Aberglaslyn Pass. The attractions of the Pass and the four tunnels have always encouraged additional passengers so it might be worth a try even though drawing on the same potential pool of customers as the FR's Tan-y-bwlch service. Both the Waunfawr and Beddgelert services would be operated by a single train operating three times a day at 2 hourly intervals but with longer rakes than the FR's Tan-y-bwlch service.

Speculation has increased that the three coaches left in the WHR platform for the last 3 days are for a putative WHR service to Beddgelert. They are not WHR coaches, but FR corridor stock Nos.103, 108, 120. They are not modified in any way for the current traffic scheme, but are chocked and connected up to a battery charger. They might be waiting for some conversion work to bolster the existing service. However, the idea of a possible Beddgelert service was further boosted by the PW team servicing the point motor on the eastern end of the WHR loop at midday on 29/7/20 but no official announcement has been made.  

 

B&FRHT progress at Llan Ffestiniog July

Agreement has been reached with the new owners of Llan Ffestiniog station site to clear the westerly platform. The hope is that when working parties can resume in September up to 10 volunteers can safely work around the site but basic clearing to help identify the boundaries, The Trust is also launching a 'Timber for a Tenner' appeal. This appeal is quite important to the Trust as it gives the Trust sufficient general funds to meet its needs over the next 12 months including covering any legal fees and costs while negotiating a lease for the line with Network Rail etc.

 

FR Heritage services 26/7/20

Prince ran round at Tan-y-bwlch without a propelling move at 1430 as the 14:20 appeared to have been cancelled. It departed at 15:05. Meanwhile, down at Porthmadog, there appeared to be no 14:20 service but Blanche arrived at 14:35 with 4 bogies, including NWNGR No.24 and 3 bugboxes. There was no 15:25 as at 15:20 Blanche ran light engine to Boston Lodge after shunting its rake into the seawall siding. It seems the 15:25 is the least popular service as it is often cancelled.

This afternoon's mystery working was the appearance of 3 FR coaches in the WHR platform which were still present in the evening.

 

The 40km Dream Episode 17

May 1998 Part 3

Funding for the new Carriage Shed in the North Yard had been agreed. This was to be a two road shed in anticipation of extra rakes when operations were extended onto the WHR proper with a run round exit at the north end that connected into the existing headshunt. Bay No.2 track was being laid. Lamp posts were to be reduced by 3' and vintage lanterns installed. Platforms were to be surfaced in tarmac and yellow edge warnings applied. Holes for the uprights for four additional station running in boards were preformed in the platform surface in anticipation of longer rakes in the future. It had been decided that the railway would be styled as the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway. A generous donor had come forth to pay for the sympathetic rebuild of the original WHR station building at Dinas.

As regards operational detail, water would be taken on the first trip at Dinas with a top up for the 1 pm departure and again on the last trip to Caernarfon. the original boiler on No.138 was Ketel No.7114 of 1968 whilst that on No.143 was Ketel No.7017 of 1951. Wagons Nos.1412/23 were back in service on their bogies.

A museum piece loco had been bought for £500 after the Gloddfa Ganol closure in 1997 to be a talking point plinthed at Dinas. It was Llanfair of 1895, a De Winton 3' gauge loco. It has two vertical pistons and Stephenson's Link motion. The 5 tonne loco was built at Caernarfon and used at the Penmaenmawr Quarries.

Alterations had been agreed at Caernarfon with conversion of the Cross Town Railway tunnel to road use and a roundabout at the entrance. this would allow the station to be extended to the north in the summer. The alignment at the south end could be straightened too and a large station sign erected on the cutting wall.

Your webmaster was back in North Wales later in the Spring either the weekend of 25/4/98, the Bank Holiday weekend from 2/5/98 or 9/5/98 but most likely the Bank Holiday. Help would be welcome identifying this date. One clue is that scaffolding is being erected to work on the roof of the station building.

 

This northerly view (25/4/98-9/5/98) shows No.138 emerging from a cloud of steam at Caernarfon on the first train of the day as seen from St Helen's Road. The watering siding white painted buffer stop is visible in this view. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (25/4/98-9/5/98) shows No.138 emerging from a cloud of steam at Caernarfon on the first train of the day as seen from St Helen's Road and the start of Lon Eifion. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (25/4/98-9/5/98) shows No.138 uncouples to run round on possibly the first arrival from Caernarfon with the sun in the east as seen from Ty'n Llan Road bridge. Work has started on the rebuilding of the Dinas station building and scaffolding is up to give access to the roof. The No.2 road in bay platform is now fully laid but the point joining it to the yard is yet to be laid. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (25/4/98-9/5/98) shows No.138 running round on possibly the first arrival from Caernarfon as seen from Ty'n Llan Road bridge. Three of the six lamp posts on the future southbound platform have been fitted with their period lanterns. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (25/4/98-9/5/98) shows No.138 starting from Dinas on possibly the second Caernarfon train with the sun in the east. Sleepers have been laid for the No.1 track in the bay platform. Work appears well underway on the station building and a temporary toilet block is visible on the north side. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (25/4/98-9/5/98) shows No.138 starting from Dinas in a cloud of steam. Lanterns have been fitted to the lamp posts in what was to become the future northbound platform. The skull and crossbones sign refers to the fact these locos once operated under overhead wires at their SAR terminus. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (25/4/98-9/5/98) shows No.134 stabled near the Goods Shed for inspection that morning. It was hoped that once No.143 was available the restoration teams could switch to this loco. Nearby on the right the underframes of an Isle of Man coach that was purchased for possible reuse are lying on the ground. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (25/4/98-9/5/98) shows No.133 stabled in the North Yard headshunt with No.138 passing on a morning service from Caernarfon as seen from Lon Eifion. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (25/4/98-9/5/98) shows No.138 starting from Dinas on a midday service as viewed from Lon Eifion with the area designated for the new Carriage shed cleared on the left alongside the North Yard headshunt. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (25/4/98-9/5/98) shows No.138 arriving at Caernarfon as seen from the Segontium Terrace footbridge. The red water tank is just visible above the watering siding. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (25/4/98-9/5/98) shows passengers getting off No.138 after arriving at Caernarfon as seen from the Segontium Terrace footbridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (25/4/98-9/5/98) shows the new station sign prominently against No.138 recently arrived at Caernarfon from the steps of Segontium Terrace footbridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (25/4/98-9/5/98) shows the new station temporary Portacabin ticket office at Caernarfon with  No.138 recently arrived at Caernarfon and running round in the headshunt from the steps of Segontium Terrace footbridge. This was the first of 3 temporary station buildings. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (25/4/98-9/5/98) shows the new station sign prominently against No.138 running round at Caernarfon from the steps of Segontium Terrace footbridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

For the rest of the visit your webmaster decided to look at the WHR trackbed to see a 'before' view, with construction unlikely to start until 1999.

 

This easterly view (25/4/98-9/5/98) shows the former station site at Bryngwyn for the former level crossing on the Dinas-Bryngwyn lane. The site was in private ownership of the white house to the right but the incline can be seen rising from the motorboat to the left of the church towards Drumhead near the left slate tip. It was not planned to restore this route but a question mark lay over what should be done with the land. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (25/4/98-9/5/98) shows the site of Waunfawr station with the original station building still in existence. The former station master's house had some time previously been converted into the Snowdonia Parc pub and two tracks ran between the station building and the boundary fence with the pub. Building work was underway at the pub with new management with a play area nearer the bridge and a new toilet block in the caravan field to the left of the station building. The former yard is to the left of the station building and used to house a coal siding. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (25/4/98-9/5/98) shows the reputed site of Salem Halt with the railway on a shelf on the far side of the Afon Gwyrfai. The trackbed is very curvaceous at this location. The river opens up here into a small lake and a local resident has a boat with a canopy that sometimes takes to the river. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (25/4/98-9/5/98) shows the site of Plas-y-nant Halt where a passing loop was proposed and initially a siding was provided. Later, with the railway becoming more prominent in the news, a local resident took umbrage at the reopening of the railway and tipped a large pile of rubbish on the trackbed at this location. The prominent rock buttress on the right is Castell Cidwm (never really a castle). Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Britomart takes the 15:25 on 25/7/20

Diminutive 0-4-0 quarry Hunslet Britomart (No.707 of 1899) turned up at Porthmadog at 14:15 while Blanche was disposing its train. Britomart shunted three bogies off the 5 bogie rake leaving bogie brakes Nos.11/12 in the platform while Blanche returned to Boston Lodge. Britomart was said to be working a special but departed in the path of the 15:25 to Tan-y-bwlch passing No.5 at Minffordd at 15:39 and Linda at Tan-y-bwlch at 16:09 which departed at 16:21. Britomart continued towards Blaenau Ffestiniog.

 

New working method at Tan-y-bwlch 25/7/20

After the heavy showers of recent days a new method of working has released the coach compartments for those who wish to rejoin it early. Passengers cannot join a propel movement so the train was not available to passengers for shelter for much of the hour layover at Tan-y-bwlch under the old method. The new method trialled on 25/7/20 is for the train engine to draw the rake forwards after everyone has detrained and then propel back into the Up platform. This minimises the stock being unavailable to about 10 minutes. The train engine then runs round, pausing for photos in the Down line including footplate visits, before coupling up to the west end ready for departure for Porthmadog.

 

North Wales main line 25/7/20

Class 57 No.57312 worked from Leicester LIP to Holyhead Carriage sidings on 25/7/20. It returned later to Crewe Carriage sidings with the Mk4 rake that had been stranded there and No.67025.

Here is a short video of the new Borderlands/Conwy Valley VivaRail unit No.230006 on test at Gwersyllt. It sounds just like an underground train, unsurprisingly as it used to be LUL D stock!

The Daily Post reports the new Class 230 will now NOT be used on Llandudno-Blaenau Ffestiniog services but the spare units will be concentrated on North East Wales and used on Borderlands and the Chester-Crewe shuttle.

 

Wales opens for campers 25/7/20

Caravans and campers are welcome back in Wales from 25/7/20. There has been a huge surge in bookings as people are taking staycations rather than flying to the sun for their holidays (and potentially having to quarantine on return!). This is liable to benefit the F&WHR. Pitch spacings have been increased reducing the numbers that can be accommodated. Only two people will be allowed in shower blocks and toilet blocks at a time. Caravan site owners have been put to the expense of additional deep cleaning regularly throughout the day to make their sites safe. However North Wales Police have had to warn holidaymakers about illegal parking near Snowdon and wild camping on private land. See BBC story.

 

Spooner's reopens outside 24/7/20

The F&WHR is pleased to announce that Spooner’s is once again open to both passengers and the general public, offering food and drinks from a limited takeaway menu. Purchases can be taken on board for the journey or enjoyed in the outdoor seating area with great views across the Railway and the Cob. There is a socially distanced queuing system in place for the safety of both staff and customers. The F&WHR is encouraging customers to pay by card/contactless and will be accepting the ‘Eat and Drink’ card discount. Spooner’s will be open daily, opening hours are currently 0900 – 1600hrs, however please note these are subject to change.

WAG has given permission for inside service from 20/7/20 but the F&WHR does not feel ready for this yet. The full Takeaway menu can be viewed on the F&WHR website.

 

Booking YouTube 23/7/20

Click on the YouTube window to watch 5 mins 27 seconds of video covering the process of booking tickets for the Heritage services. This YouTube was published on 23/7/20 and was taken on 4K video camera. It is best watched in HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on YouTube link.

 

Early August tickets released

Further releases of tickets for the six service trains for the first week of August have occurred. Tickets can now be purchased for all trains up to and including Monday 10/8/20 though the 8-10/8/20 have reduced availability as some services appear to be fully booked already with the 15:25 not available and, on the Monday, the 12:10 not available either. From 11-28/8/20 only the 11:05 and 14:20 trains have been released until a better sense of the traffic on offer is gained. There are still no services shown for September although the timetable has tentative services shown for both SuperPower 11-13/9/20 and the FR's Victorian Gala 9-11/10/20. To book, click here.

 

Heritage trains 24/7/20

Prince, Linda and Welsh Pony were in action on 24/7/20. Welsh Pony was noted running round at Tan-y-Bwlch at 13:11 while a mystery developed at Porthmadog. Linda, complete with demountable cab considering the rain, was noted heading light engine back to Boston Lodge at 13:04 and so there was apparently no loco for the 13:15 service.

 

Two England locos out! (23/7/20)

No.5 (Welsh Pony) was on the first train of the day today. Linda (fitted with rear cab sheet because of the foul weather) hauled the second train consisting of 5 bogies departing at 11:07 and arriving Tan-y-bwlch at 11:54. In the meantime No.5 had run round at 11:10 and propelled its train out of the station before running back into the Up platform at 11:15 with its rake of 2 bugboxes and 4 bogies. Meanwhile Prince arrived at the Porthmadog at 11:33 and by 11:41 had propelled its rake into the FR platform, finally departing at 12:11. The two England locos were likely to pass at Rhiw Goch. Linda arrived back at Porthmadog at 13:40 passing No.5 on its second trip (the 13:15 departure) at Minffordd . Despite (or perhaps because of the weather-the FR has long been seen by visitors as an excellent wet weather activity!) all trains were fully booked on Thursday 23/7/20.

 

This westerly view (23/7/20) shows Prince entering Tan-y-bwlch in the pouring rain with the driver clearly wearing a face mask. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy
 F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

With the current small engine policy continuing for the foreseeable future, questions are being asked about the other small locos' availability. Palmerston is currently being serviced and is up on jacks, though the situation with regard to Taliesin is unknown.

 

This Boston Lodge view (22/7/20) shows Palmerston on jacks with its wheels removed for attention. Hopefully the loco might be back in service soon and take its share of the Heritage services if deemed to have sufficient power. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy
 F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

North Wales trains 23/7/20

The Central Wales Line saw an overnight working of NR's Class 37s Nos.97303/4 from Shrewsbury's Coleham depot to Llandeilo and back.

The new VivaRail Class 230 DMU No.230006 in TfW colours ran Wrexham Central to Bidston return and then Wrexham General to Dee Marsh and back in the morning, checking performance on the steep grades either side of Buckley, particularly the restarts from Shotton High Level and Hawarden. More test runs were due in the afternoon before the unit was delivered to Birkenhead North depot.

 

FR Bookings picking up

The FR booking website is showing some trains already fully booked with only 4 or 5 of the 6 daily services available until 28/7/20 when all six trains are currently bookable. This is an encouraging start for the Heritage train service.

 

Third day of service 22/7/20

The same three locos hauled the trains as the previous day, namely Blanche, Prince and Linda in that order. At 10:45 Prince was shunting 5 bogies from Porthmadog Yard to the platform for the 11:05 departure. At 10:50 Blanche arrived at Tan-y-bwlch with two bugboxes and 4 bogies. The loco detached and paused outside the station master's cottage at 10:57. At 11:00 it shunted to the west end and coupled up to the rear of the rake before propelling it towards Blaenau and finally hauling the rake into the Up platform ready for Prince to arrive. Prince duly arrived at 11:52 and Blanche departed a few minutes later arriving in Porthmadog at 12:39 where the coaches were given a deep clean.

 

This westerly view (22/7/20) shows Prince on a short rake the second Heritage special service of the day. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy
 F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

North Wales news 22/7/20

NR Class 37s Nos.97303/4 completed their tour of the Cambrian Coast System with an overnight run from Machynlleth to Pwllheli and back to Derby.

A compound has been set up on the south side of the Barmouth Bridge for the planned 3 year refurbishment of the structure.

The new VivaRail Class 230 DMU No.230006 in TfW colours did not move to Birkenhead North Depot from Wrexham on 21/7/20 as booked. It may move later in the week.

 

FR Driver's advice YouTube 21/7/2

Click on the YouTube window to watch 18 mins 16 seconds of video covering the General Manager explaining the Covid Rules to FR drivers. To save money trains will be limited to 15 mph and extra oiling is discouraged. The spare toilet block from Dinas has been moved to Boston Lodge to provide separate facilities for drivers. This YouTube was published on 21/7/20 and was taken on a phone camera. It is best watched in HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on YouTube link.

 

Second Day of FR service 21/7/20

Linda, Blanche and Prince were in service on the second day. Prince was shunting the yard at 11:35 and 11:58 shunted its rake, consisting of 3 bugboxes, No.24 and 3 bowsiders, into the platform. It departed 3 mins early at 12:12.

Up at Tan-y-bwlch Linda departed at 11:57 immediately after Blanche arrived. At 12:10 Blanche shunted to the signalbox where it paused for a few minutes before propelling the rake out of the station to the east. It then ran back into the Up platform to collect its return passengers at 12:40 allowing them plenty of time to find their original compartments.

Prince passed Linda with the returning first train of the day at Minffordd at 12:26. Linda arrived back at Porthmadog at 12:26 with a rake of 4 bogies and two bugboxes.

 

First Day YouTube videos

Four YouTube videos have appeared covering the first day of service. They are all about 6 minutes long.

Click on the links to watch:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTK8rtUrUMg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_5Hi3Jrip2c

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-m_Nk8rozHw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daA_oYMqCEk

 

'Ghost train' YouTube (18/7/20)

A video showing the practice runs on 18/7/20 has been published on YouTube. Click the link below to watch:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMukXYx5j8s

 

Reopening procedure slideshow 11/7/20

Click on the YouTube window to watch 3 mins 24 seconds of video covering a slideshow explaining how the F&WHR will reopen to passengers on 20/7/20. This YouTube was published on 21/7/20 and was taken on a phone camera. It is best watched in HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on YouTube link.

 

First Day of FR reopening 20/7/20

This easterly view (20/7/20) shows Blanche ready to depart with its shortened rake 'COVID-19' special at 09:52. A large crowd has gathered on The Cob footpath to watch and photo the departure. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is a screengrab taken from the F&WHR's Porthmadog station webcam. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Blanche arrived at Porthmadog at 09:40 and worked into the yard to collect a rake of coaches from the seawall siding at 09:45. The rake consisted of 2 four wheelers and 4 bogie coaches (including NWNGR coach No.24). The rake was propelled into the FR platform and the bugboxes removed, being shunted back to the seawall at 09:50 presumably because bookings did not match the consist. Passengers joined the train but it was noticed that some passengers changed compartments before departure, something to be discouraged with COVID regulations. Departure came at 1001. Many spectators lined The Cob path to watch the departure of the first passenger service since late March and some gained access to the wave wall to take their photographs.

Rhiw Goch loop signalbox is manned with a signaller travelling on the first train and opening the box after that train continues to Tan-y-bwlch. This gives the possibility of passing trains there or at Minffordd depending on any late running.

 

This westerly view (20/7/20) shows Blanche on a short rake testing hauling the first Heritage special service passing Penrhyndeudraeth halt non-stop. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy
 F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Welsh Pony arrived at Porthmadog about 10:40 and was noted shunting the yard at 10:45 before propelling its rake of 2 Birmingham 4-wheel coaches and 4 bogie coaches into the FR platform at 10:48. Departure came at 11:06 and this train passed Minffordd at 11:19.

Up at Tan-y-bwlch, after arrival Blanche eventually shunted its rake over to the Up platform to free the Down platform for Welsh Pony's arrival at 12:00.

Meanwhile the third train set was to be powered by Linda which arrived at Porthmadog 11:37 and shunted the yard before propelling its rake of 3 bogie coaches into the FR platform at 11:46. However, Upnor Castle then arrived hot on its heels at 11:48 with 3 bogie coaches which it left in the WHR platform before running round and shunting to the seawall siding at 11:55. The diesel was to act as station pilot for a couple of hours. Linda then departed with the third train at 12:11.

Blanche arrived back at Porthmadog at 12:45 with the return working of the first train of the day and staff started cleaning the rake after passengers had exited via the WHR platform. At 12:54 Upnor Castle burst into action and shunted the 4 wheelers over to the rear of the recent arrival on the FR platform where they were coupled up. The rake was shunted to the yard by 13.15. Meanwhile Blanche emerged from watering and coaling and shunted onto the short 3 coach rake in the WHR platform which departed at 13:23 (booked 1315), though your webmaster missed passengers joining this service. It is possible this was an ECS stock transfer to Glan-y-pwll as the loco was noted returning light later in the afternoon. At 13:45 Upnor Castle was involved in more shunting in the yard, probably reorganising the rakes to match the demand.

Welsh Pony arrived back on the second train at 13:45, probably passing Blanche at Minffordd. Staff immediately set to cleaning the coaches before the next trip. Soon after it arrived Upnor Castle departed for Boston Lodge.

 

Booking releases

The six daily workings at 65 minute intervals from 10:00 are all bookable until the end of July. However in August only the 11:05 and 14:20 are bookable presumably because the demand for the current trains is not currently known. No trains are shown in September  but the WHR Gala is tentatively shown over the extended weekend of 11-13/9/20. There are 22 compartments available for each train with each carrying up to six persons. The F&WHRS's booking website only shows the services available that are not fully booked.

 

North Wales mainline news 20/7/20

The first of the class 230 trains is heading to Wrexham for trials on the Borderlands Line on 20/7/20. No.230006 set out from Long Marston under its own power but was running an hour late at Shrewsbury. It arrived at Wrexham General at 1935 and stabled in the bay formerly used by Wrexham and Shropshire Railways. These units are also planned to be used on the Conwy Valley line connecting with F&WHR services.

NR's yellow liveried Class 37s Nos.97303/4 are due to run from Derby RTC to Machynlleth reversing at Aberystwyth overnight on 20/7/20.

 

L&B Bratton Fleming appeal reached target (20/7/20)

The L&B reopened on Saturday 18/7/20. The appeal to raise funds for the dwelling and land at Bratton Fleming station has reached its £25,000 target and the Friends of Bratton Group hope to buy the station site for future expansion of the L&B to Barnstaple. Lyd is scheduled to visit the line again in the future.

 

Welsh Pony on passenger 18/7/20

Click on the YouTube window to watch 5 mins 57 seconds of video covering the a rather wet journey of Welsh Pony's first passenger train (albeit a 'ghost train'). This YouTube was published on 18/7/20 and was taken by John Wooden on a professional 4K camcorder. It is best watched in HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on YouTube link.

 

Ready to go!

All preparations are now in place for the 'COVID-19 special' service beginning in time for the school Summer Holidays on Monday 20/7/20. It might be better to market it as a Heritage Train service though, especially as heritage stock is being used! With 2 weeks to go the Coach Works prepared some 18 carriages for the three rakes of the special service. This required 41 partitions to form compartments the new hardboard dividers required some 197 stainless brackets polished and 348 holes drilled. In addition 300 door locks were inspected, serviced and 13 replaced, Some 173 transfers were fitted. The Coach Works aimed to finish coach No.23 on Monday 20/7/20.

Test trains were run in preparation Saturday 18/7/20 in inclement weather with Welsh Pony hauling some of the trains. The platform will only be open for ticket holders to minimise overcrowding and preserve the 2m social distancing that still applies in Wales. This may cause problems for users of The Cob as there is insufficient room for people to pass on the fenced section alongside the WHR run round loop. In the past wheelchair users in particular like to use the platform to access the wider section of Cob Path beyond the station throat as people cannot pass wheelchairs on the narrow section.

There will be no parking except for Blue Badge holders in Harbour Station car park and people are advised to use the FR staff car park at the far end of the Llyn Bach car park or for a shorter walk (Llyn Bach itself-paid parking). Walking routes in the station require a clockwise flow to retain separations for passengers entering via ticket office and exiting via the gate by the toilets after returning from Tan-y-bwlch. There will be an anticlockwise flow for passengers who want to buy take away refreshments entering via Spooners and, on return from their journey, exiting via the WHR platforms. Passengers will be asked to leave as quickly as possible so the next train's passengers can enter the platform. There are public toilets 300 yards along High Street to reduce queuing at the station toilets which are being operated on a 'one in one out' method.

 

This plan view (16/7/20) shows walking routes for the COVID-19 service to minimise crowding on the platforms. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy
 F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Welsh Pony hauls 'Ghost timetable' trains 18/7/20

To provide staff with operational experience of the new arrangements and renew competencies, a 'ghost timetable' was run on 19/7/20 with Welsh Pony on the first train. This was also the first passenger train for the loco in 80 years. The train was open to Society members, staff and volunteers to familiarise themselves with the 'new normal' operation.

 

This westerly view (18/7/20) shows Welsh Pony carrying No.5 in the FR platform at Harbour Station on a short rake testing trialling the 'COVID-19' special service as seen from the signalbox steps. This was the first time the loco had hauled a train in 80 years. The short 6 coach train does not require Double Fairlie power which would be uneconomic. Each of the 'bug-box' Birmingham 4-wheelers is counted as a compartment for one family group. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy
 F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

For more images of Welsh Pony's first passenger train see F&WHR Facebook Insider page.

 

Welsh Pony to haul Covid-19 Service 16/7/20

Welsh Pony was noted shunting Harbour station on 15/7/20 and it has now been confirmed that small locos will be required for these small trains when the service starts on 20/7/20. Presumably the other locos will be drawn from the pool Prince, Taliesin, Linda or Blanche as three are required with one spare.

Paul Lewin (F&WHR General Manager) said: “The road to completion for Welsh Pony has been a long one, during which we have enjoyed incredible support from our members and supporters. We are immensely grateful for that help and indeed excited at seeing the loco taking steps towards being in traffic. We had hoped to launch the engine, with our members and contributors present at the Fairlie event this Summer. Sadly that event simply couldn’t happen. Now we find ourselves in an unusual situation. We will shortly commence a service to Tan-y-Bwlch using our smaller locomotives. We need three locomotives a day and in practice this means we need a fourth in case of any problems/maintenance needs. We are not looking to use the Double Fairlies for the time being, preferring to keep them for the times when we need to haul larger trains again, when they are at their most efficient.”

 

This westerly view (16/7/20) shows Welsh Pony carrying No.5 in the WHR platform at Harbour Station. The loco will be named Welsh Pony at a naming ceremony in the Autumn. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy
 F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

“In short this means that Welsh Pony can play an important role in helping us to earn income from fares, which in turn will help the railway to find a way through this crisis. Therefore, we hope we can count on the understanding of our members as we use the locomotive in traffic ahead of its official launch. The locomotive will simply run as No.5 for the time being. We plan to name the locomotive as part of our Vintage Weekend (9-11/10/20-Ed), if this is possible, and to run a celebration train in place of the originally envisaged launch train. This train will be the first time that the loco will appear publicly as Welsh Pony.”

“We could never have imagined that Welsh Pony, restored principally for heritage reasons, would become central to our operations. I hope you will all agree though, that it is wonderful to know that it can play this special part in our railway.”

 

Replica Ashbury's carriage No.21 enters service

The Covid-19 service will make use of newly completed replica of Ashbury's carriage No.21, with temporary inserts on the seat backs to form compartments. Carriage No.21 was built by the Ashbury Carriage and Iron Company in 1897. It was one of a pair of "tourist" carriages, which after a while were used in the Quarrymen’s trains transporting workers to and from Blaenau Ffestiniog. The original carriage was scrapped in 1962, but this replica was lovingly hand built by volunteers between 2013 and 2019 and is only just entering service.

 

This easterly view (16/7/20) shows replica Ashbury's carriage No.21 at Boston Lodge and an internal view. Temporary dividers have been placed between the seat back to form compartments. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy
 F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

WHR test train 16/7/20

Vale of Ffestiniog ran to Caernarfon on 16/7/20 presumably with the rake previously stabled in the WHR run round at Porthmadog which disappeared that day. The purpose was to check the line. On the way it was noted that the bridge supports for the Caernarfon Bypass are being constructed just north of Bontnewydd Halt.

 

This northerly view (16/7/20) shows Vale of Ffestiniog at Caernarfon after the inspection run. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy
 F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (16/7/20) shows the view from Vale of Ffestiniog at the site of the Caernarfon/Bontnewydd Bypass bridge just north of Bontnewydd Halt returning from the inspection run. The piles have been driven for the bridge support columns the rebar of which can be seen extending vertically upwards. WHR engineers asked WAG engineers to design to bridge to passively accommodate a future reopened Bangor-Pwllheli NR track. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy
 F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This westerly aerial view (16/7/20) shows the Caernarfon Bypass cutting through fields just north of Bontnewydd, visible on left. The site of the new A487 roundabout is in the foreground. The WHR runs along the line of trees in the mid distance. In the background are the mountains of the Llyn Peninsula and Caernarfon Bay. The image is courtesy of the Welsh Air Ambulance Charity which is desperately short of funds. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy
 F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Preparations for ghost timetable 15/7/20

This southerly view (15/7/20) shows the three Covid 19 rakes after shunting in Harbour Station. These are all older compartment stock. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is a copyright Keith Holland and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Main Line news 16/7/20

An HST with power cars Nos.43062/013 ran to Holyhead during the afternoon of 16/7/20. Meanwhile No.67025 in TfW livery with its Mk4 rake has been stabled there for a while apparently in the absence of a passed driver.

A PW train ran to Machynlleth and back on 16/7/20 with NR yellow Class 37s Nos.97303/4 in charge.

A PW train ran from Bescot to Llanwrtyd Wells and back earlier in the week.

 

Preparations for ghost timetable 13/7/20

The S&T department was out on The Cob and in Harbour station during the afternoon of 13/7/20 readying signals and points for the ghost timetable. Technicians attended to the trident signal with the hydraulic platform wagon and Moelwyn. Later attention was given to the home signal nearer the King point that gives access to the FR platform and yard, before coming into the station to stable by the signalbox. After lunch they gave some attention to greasing the Queen point crossover that controls access to the Harbour Station yard and checking it operated remotely from the signalbox, followed by the King point.

 

This easterly view (13/7/20) shows Tim Prent driving Moelwyn into the WHR platform. The S&T department was working on the signals and points ready for the restart of services next Monday. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is a copyright Keith Holland and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

At 1500 Vale of Ffestiniog emerged from Boston Lodge and shunted to the Old Loco Shed. It returned with FR coach No.104 and came into Harbour Station's FR platform at 1530 after the S&T train had shunted to the WHR platform. The S&T technicians later gave attention to the platform signals using the hydraulic platform. The Funkey then hauled three FR coaches out of the platform including an Observation Car No.150 before shunting them into a sidings and depositing No.104 in the FR platform. At 1630 the Funkey emerged from the yard and shunted an additional rake of 3 coaches including coach No.113 onto Buffet car No.114 and Obs Car No.100. The whole rake was removed for storage at 1650 passing Minffordd about 1705 and Tan-y-bwlch at 1742, presumably for storage at Glan-y-pwll Carriage shed.

 

This easterly view (13/7/20) shows shunting underway for form up the Covid-19 special with Vale of Ffestiniog hauling No.114 from the Old Loco Shed. Moelwyn is present with the S&T train in the WHR platform with staff attending to signals and points. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is a screengrab taken from the F&WHR's Porthmadog station webcam. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Special COVID-19 Service

Timetable notices have now gone up for the new timetable. Some might question the advisability of advertising next week's trains as a 'Special COVID-19 Service'. Trains start every 65 minutes from 10:00 with the final train being 15:25.

 

This Tan-y-bwlch view (12/7/20) shows the new timetable on display. Some may wonder about the use of the term 'Special COVID-19 Service'. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Alasdair Stewart and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Welsh pubs and restaurants open for outside service 13/7/20

WAG gave permission to open Welsh pubs and restaurants for outside service on 13/7/20. If there are no problems WAG will give permission for inside serving from Monday 20/7/20, which will give the F&WHR time to reconsider its proposal for take-aways only at Spooners and Tan-y-bwlch cafes. Major chain pub/restaurants say they will not reopen until next Monday as they claim outside service only is not a viable option.

 

Stock movements 11/7/20

Blanche went up to Glan-y-pwll on 11/7/20 to collect stock from Glan-y-pwll shed. The rake of 4 B wagons in the WHR run round at Porthmadog Harbour has been joined by two more B wagons and two coaches by 1400 on 12/7/20 on the Porthmadog webcam. Lots of people were wandering round without facemasks treating the platform as the Porthmadog 'prom' on 12/7/20. Complimentary facemasks will be provided for passengers but they are 'encouraged' rather than mandatory. Foot pump hand santisers will also be provided. Some practice running of the proposed 3 rake service is expected over the week of 13-19/7/20 prior to the start of the service on 20/7/20.

 

This westerly view (11/7/20) shows Blanche with brake van approaching Tan-y-grisiau, heading to Glan-y-pwll to pick up stock stored in the shed there for use on the FR reopening services from 20/7/20. Note how rusty the rails appear. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Steve Broomfield and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

FR reopening YouTube 11/7/20

Click on the YouTube window to watch 3 mins 24 seconds of video covering the F&WHR's 12 point plan to reopen the FR only to Tan-y-bwlch on 20/7/20.. This YouTube was published on 11/7/20 and was taken by John Wooden on a professional 4K camcorder. It is best watched in HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on YouTube link.

 

Welsh Pony running in turns 10-11/7/20

This westerly view (11/7/20) shows Welsh Pony running in at Minffordd. The loco made it past Penrhyndeudraeth before returning to Boston Lodge for checks. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This westerly view (11/7/20) shows Welsh Pony running in at Porthmadog in the WHR platform. This was its first appearance since its return to steam on 27/6/20. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

F&WHR to part-reopen from 20/7/20

The F&WHR revealed the reopening strategy late in the evening of 10/7/20. Trains will resume on 20/7/20 with on-line booking only available from 14/7/20. It will come as a disappointment to some that the service being offered is only on the FR and only between Porthmadog and Tan-y-bwlch. This is because the railway is offering compartment stock and using the Tan-y-bwlch cafe rather than on train catering to generate important catering income. Without an equivalent facility at Beddgelert/Rhyd Ddu it is impossible to run such a service on the WHR even if the FR compartment stock was used on the WHR route. Three train sets are being used with passengers using the same compartment for their outwards and return journeys. Each set will make two trips with a 30 minute layover in Porthmadog allowing a deep clean of each compartment. the service operates 7 days a week.

Initially tickets are being released for the period 20/7/20 to 2/8/20 but based on experience this may later be extended to 4/9/20. The fare is £50 per compartment for up to 2 adults with additional adults £25 in the same 'social bubble' and children £1 each, maximum occupancy 6 persons. Single occupancy is possible at £50. additional dividers have been installed between seating bays. There are limited member tickets available. There are no First Class compartments. Dog Tickets at £3 are available. Passengers may take a single journey to Tan-y-Bwlch but cannot join trains there. Break of journey is not allowed but there is an hour at Tan-y-bwlch for a picnic on spaced out tables but preference is given to those buying food in the cafe. Face masks are not mandatory in Wales but the F&WHR recommends them and complimentary masks will be available on the platform.

Spooners and Tan-y-bwlch cafes are open for take away menus and outdoor seating areas are available for consumption of food but WAG advice changes to allow indoor seating from 3/8/20 which the F&WHR might take advantage of. Frequently cleaned toilets are available at these two locations but not on trains.

An announcement about remaining Autumn events such as SuperPower and the Victorian Gala will be made soon. The WHR remains closed along with Caernarfon station.

 

In addition to the company statement there is a FAQ section on the website that gives more detail. 

F&WHR Company statement:

'Tickets available online only from 14th July

The swirling mists of a global pandemic have caused a seemingly never-ending cloud of difficulties, complications and uncertainty. During this period our railway has undergone challenges the like of which it has never experienced before, but while the challenges persist we have always maintained the hope that brighter times lie ahead.

Thanks to the incredible work and continuous support of our staff, volunteers and supporters, we are delighted to announce that the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways will soon be steaming once again!

This is a momentous occasion for the railway and we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their phenomenal support during these challenging times. Generous donations, offers of voluntary service and well-wishing messages have been a constant theme throughout this period.

Without your support, we would not be making this announcement.

On 20/7/20 we will be welcoming visitors back to the railway, for the first time since March, as we launch the Ffestiniog Railway’s reopening service from Porthmadog to Tan-y-Bwlch.

While we are Rolling back the Mists, we are also Rolling back the Years on our new services, our Heritage carriages are once again coming to the fore, running to Tan y Bwlch much like they did in the 1960’s.

Our priority over the past few weeks has been to create a service that maintains the safety of our visitors, staff and volunteers. This has been of the utmost importance and we believe the new service is as safe as possible during these troubling times.

While safety has been the primary focus of our planning, we have also worked hard to design a service that allows you to enjoy many of the fantastic features our railway has to offer. This new look ‘Summer’ service will undoubtedly be different to what many of us expected at the start of the year, but we are determined to make it an enjoyable experience for all our visitors.

Detailed information is provided below; while we appreciate there will be many queries regarding our reopening, we encourage you to read this thoroughly, and visit the comprehensive FAQ page on our website, prior to emailing or calling our offices.

 

Limited Service

  • Our reopening service will only operate on the Ffestiniog Railway - from Porthmadog to Tan-y-Bwlch.

  • There will be no other train services on the F&WHR at present.

  • This new service will run daily, with six round-trips per day.

  • Trains will depart from Harbour Station at 10:00, 11:05, 12:10, 13:15, 14:20 and 15:25.

  • The total journey time will be approximately 2 hours 45 minutes, including a one-hour layover at Tan-y-Bwlch.

  • All journeys start and finish at Porthmadog. Tickets must be booked in advance (see below). Passengers cannot join (or alight from) trains at any other station, halt or request stop.

  • Please arrive at Harbour Station 30 minutes before your departure time. This will allow enough time for you to purchase refreshments and select your compartment.

 

Online Booking Only

Another key feature of our reopening is that tickets will only be available via online booking and cannot be purchased at our Booking Office.

Online ticket sales will go live on our website from 14/7/20.

We will initially release tickets for trains running between 20/7/20 and 2/8/20. During the initial days of the new service we will review demand and look to extend advance bookings through to 4/9/20.

We will be using our heritage carriages on these trains, with their individual compartments helping to maintain social distancing on the train. Each compartment seats up to 6 passengers, and additional dividers have been installed between seating bays.

Ticket prices start from £50 per compartment, which includes the fare for 2 adults. Tickets for each additional adult cost £25, while the fare for each child will be £1. NOTE: there is a maximum of 6 people per compartment.

If you are a solo traveller, you must still pay the £50 fare for the compartment.

Tickets will be sent via email and must be presented to the Station Host or Train Guard for inspection prior to boarding the train. Alternatively, if you prefer, you can print the tickets at home and bring them with you to the station.

The tickets will display your details and the number of travellers. They will not include any details of seat numbers or carriage compartments, which you will be free to choose upon arrival.

 

Safety Measures at the Stations

The safety of our visitors, staff and volunteers has been our principal concern during the planning process for reopening our services. We have introduced measures and procedures throughout the railway to maintain the safety of all.

Upon arrival at Harbour Station, routes into, through and out of the station will be clearly signed. It is important that all visitors adhere to these routes, while also maintaining social distancing.

Spooner’s Café will be open to passengers and the general public, offering food and drinks from a limited takeaway menu - which can be taken on board for the journey.

NOTE: there will be no catering service on these trains.

There will be two routes to the trains - one through the Booking Hall direct to the platform and one through Spooner’s for those wishing to order takeaway refreshments prior to their journey.

Harbour Station shop will remain closed - however, a ‘pop-up’ shop with a limited selection of gifts will be open at the far end of Spooner’s Café. Routes to and from the shop will be clearly signposted.

Visitors are asked to use ‘contactless’ card payments whenever possible, to limit the use of cash being circulated and handled by staff in our facilities.

We are also encouraging visitors to wear face coverings during their visit. Complimentary masks will be available at Harbour Station if you do not have your own.

Hand sanitiser stations will be provided on platforms. We advise passengers to use these prior to boarding the trains to reduce potential contamination.

Social Distancing signs will be in place to manage queues for the toilet facilities at both stations.

Tan-y-Bwlch Café will be open to passengers and the general public, offering food and drinks from a limited takeaway menu - which can be taken on board for the journey.

There will be a one-way route through Tan-y-Bwlch Café in order to safely manage the flow of visitors. There will be plenty of outdoor seating available throughout the station area.

 

Safety Measures on board the trains

Our carriages will be regularly deep-cleaned using ‘Zoono’, a long-lasting disinfectant surface sanitiser which offers up to 30 days of protection.

We will be using three sets of heritage carriages, which contain separated compartments, helping to maintain social distancing on the train. As stated above, these compartments have the capacity to seat up to 6 passengers.

Each compartment will be numbered, with visitors able to choose their compartment before boarding the train. Passengers must use their chosen compartment for the duration of the return journey.

All carriages will be cleaned by our staff between each departure, ensuring the compartments will be safe and ready for you to enjoy upon arrival.

 

Loyalty Cards and Gift Vouchers

Due to the financial difficulties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, we are regrettably unable to offer loyalty card discounts on our train services at this moment in time.

All holders of ‘Y Cerdyn’ will receive a 6-month extension to their scheme as a result of this decision.

Please note both ‘Y Cerdyn’ and the ‘Eat and Drink’ card can still be used for discounts in our catering outlets.

Gift card holders will be unable to apply their discount when booking online. However they can activate their gift card by calling our Booking Office on 01766 516024.

Society members (FRS and WHRS) can reserve tickets by calling our Booking Office. However, please note there is limited seating for members on these trains.

ATOC card holders can purchase discounted tickets by calling our Booking Office.

 

2020 Timetable Leaflets

We are aware that a large amount of our 2020 printed timetable leaflets are still in circulation.

Due to current circumstances we must ask that you ignore its contents as the timetables are now void and we ask you to use our website for the latest information.

Special Event listings in the leaflets are under continuous review and, while many have unfortunately been cancelled, future events are being monitored in accordance with Welsh Government advice.

We will make announcements on these events shortly.

While we are delighted to share this great news with you all, we would also like to offer our sympathies to all those who have been affected and who have suffered losses during this pandemic.

Whilst the effects of these past months will take a long time to heal, we trust that our reopening can provide a ray of joy to those who have struggled during these challenging times.

A warm welcome awaits you all once more.

Please note that ongoing train services will be subject to any further changes in UK Government policy in response to the Covid-19 situation.

 

Welsh holiday facilities easing lockdown 11/7/20

Saturday 11/7/20 saw self contained holiday accommodation such as hotels and static caravan parks reopening. Touring campsites with shared facilities can reopen from 25/7/20 just in time for the school summer holidays depending on the success of the 11/7/20 easing not causing any problems. Indoor pub/restaurant accommodation can reopen from 3/8/20 returning life to near normal for local residents and adding to the holiday experience as well.

 

Welsh Railways reopening 10/7/20

The SMR opened on 10/7/20 but with diesel hauled trains from Llanberis to Clogwyn only. Tal-y-llyn Railway hopes to reopen late July or early August but will only be booking 100 per train rather than the normal 700 to allow for social distancing. Railways are retraining staff and reviewing competences. Some railways have erected home made Perspex screens effectively forming compartments with toilets locked OOU.

The F&WHR position is still emerging with the Porthmadog webcam just showing 4 B wagons in the WHR platform loop on Friday afternoon 10/7/20. A steam loco set off from Boston Lodge at 1500 towards Minffordd. It is possible some test trains may run on both routes soon to familiarise staff with operations after over 3 months of closure.

On 10/7/20 the F&WHR said: 'There's a Warm Welcome in Wales; along with Contrasts along the Coast, History in the Hills, Magic in the Mountains and - shortly - Steam in Snowdonia. We're getting closer to announcing our plans to welcome you back'

The Welsh Government's cautionary welcome on 6/7/20 states:

  • Welcome back.
  • While you were away, nature reclaimed our famous beauty spots.
  • Please respect it as you return.
  • Plan ahead – not all facilities like toilets are open.
  • Don’t overcrowd – have a plan b in case places are busy.
  • Please take your rubbish home with you. Keep 2 metres apart.
  • Keep Wales Safe!

 

NR news 8/7/20

NR has placed the first 8,000 tonnes of the planned 20,000 tonnes of rock armour between Tal-y-cafn and Llanwrst on 8/7/20. See Conwy Valley Rail Partnership website.

In other NR news the Britannia bridge was lit up in blue on 4/7/20 to celebrate 50 years of the NHS.

GBRf has won the contract to run a Penmaenmawr-Theale aggregate train and there are on going discussions about the Llandudno junction-Pen-y-ffordd slate waste train. This would currently have to reverse at both Chester and Wrexham but could run direct if a Freight Facilities Grant restored the 1 km trackbed from Connah's Quay to Shotton High Level which remains undeveloped.

An expected move of a VivaRail Class 230 (ex LUL D78 stock)  from Long Marston to Wrexham for testing on the Borderlands Line (and eventually Conwy valley) did not occur on 9/7/20.

NR and TfW have agreed to revert to Monday-Friday services from 6/7/20. However daytime off-peak services do not run between Shrewsbury and Birmingham International. North Wales services are basically Holyhead - Shrewsbury (with some variation), shuttles operate between Crewe and Chester and on the Llandudno branch. The Conwy Valley service continues to be a bus service. The Central Wales remains two daily trains each way. This does not mean that the loco-hauled Holyhead-Cardiff and Manchester workings will resume although they will be sorely missed as the crowds come back during the summer holidays.

 

Wales opens up 6/7/20

Covid restrictions on travel have been lifted in Wales allowing both local travel and travel from the rest of the UK as of Monday 6/7/20. Restaurants with outdoor areas can open and 'self-contained accommodation' can reopen from 13/7/20. Heritage Railways such as the SVR are opening from 1/8/20 while the G&WR reopens later on 15/8/20 selling compartments only. A safe opening plan is being developed by the F&WHR and the WHR with its larger coaches may be the easier line to reopen. See BBC News story.

 

More heavy rainstorms hit North Wales 4/7/20

July has been cool, wet and windy in North Wales which opens for tourists this week. There was heavy flooding in the Conwy Valley and the Vale of Ffestiniog with temporary traffic lights on the A487 at Maentwrog due a flood across the road. See BBC News story.

 

Welsh Pony 'The Director's Cut' 5/7/20

Welsh Pony returned to steam on Saturday 27/6/20 and moved under its own power for the first time in 80 years. The original live broadcasts have been available to view on Facebook since day one, but an edited 'Director's Cut' reboot of each (combining material from the original live broadcast and previously unseen footage recorded on different cameras) has now been uploaded to YouTube.

Video One: Introduction and lighting the first fire (36 mins 19 seconds)

Video Two: The first whistle and a look around the cab (30 mins 20 seconds)

Video Three: The first movements in steam (20 mins 11seconds)

 

The 40km Dream Episode 16

April 1998 Part 7

Two of the NG15's stored at Pickering for the aborted Robin Hood's Bay railway were purchased for the FR by sponsorship courtesy of benefactor FR Co. director Mike Schumann. Nos.133/134 had been worn out in the final years of use and were quite rusty having been stored in the open. Both had been stripped of non-ferrous metal. It was expected that the locos would move to Dinas in late April from their owner's, Simon Boak, storage site at Pickering. These two Franco-Belge 2-8-2 locos were from the 1953 batch and look like proper locos as there is no tank in front of the smokebox. The large tender designed for the arid desert regions where they worked may be redesigned to reduce its impact and permit better running in reverse in the absence of a turntable. Once volunteers have restored No.143 it was hoped the team would turn to the better of the two locos and get it into traffic with two years.

The AGM of the WHR(P) approved the Agreement reached with the FR by a substantial majority. It gives the opportunity to build and operate a section of the railway from Pen-y-mount to Pont Croesor and possibly further north but the WHR(P) would need to raise funds for the construction and new rail.

Your webmaster visited the railway at Easter which initially was a bit dull. Any help with dates would be appreciated.

 

This southerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 emerging from the Loco Shed ready for service on the first train of the day. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 being dragged from South Yard by Upnor Castle to be prepared for hauling the  first train of the day as viewed from Ty'n Llan road bridge. This was though to be normally Castell Caernarfon's duty. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 being dragged from South Yard by Upnor Castle to be prepared for hauling the  first train of the day as viewed from Ty'n Llan road bridge. The light engines take the run round loop as the rake of coaches is already in the platform on a rather wet day. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 coupled to the front of the train ready to leave for Caernarfon on a rather wet Easter Holiday morning. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 using the watering siding to tank up with water ready for the several Dinas-Caernarfon trips timetabled for that day. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 coupled to the front of the train ready to leave Caernarfon on a rather wet Easter Holiday morning. The final alignment of the track did not meet the revised platform edge in this area. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 heading towards Dinas during a rather wet Easter Holiday. The loco has just crossed Hendy level crossing which was at this time a Stop and Proceed Crossing but later became a PSR when local traffic got used to it. It was sometimes difficult to restart trains here with the rake still on the steep ascent of Coed Helen bank. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138  heading back towards Caernarfon approaching Bontnewydd footpath crossing, the site of the future Bontnewydd Halt. The train has just crossed Bontnewydd viaduct visible in the background. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (8-11/4/98) shows Upnor Castle  in Dinas North Yard with the rail bolster wagon behind. A dumper truck is being used to construct the way platform and release road and the ballast bed has already been formed with piles of sleepers available. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138  heading back towards Dinas approaching Bontnewydd viaduct passing the site of the future Bontnewydd Halt. The train has just crossed Bontnewydd footpath crossing. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138  heading back towards Caernarfon departing Dinas as seen from Lon Eifion. Upnor Castle can be seen in the North Yard siding with the rail bolster wagon and spare rails can be seen in the two foot in front of the loco. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows some 8 volunteers working on laying the release road in the bay platform area at Dinas starting from a genuine ex-SAR buffer stop. Upnor Castle can be seen in the North Yard siding with the rail bolster wagon. Spare rails can be seen being levered over from a stockpile to the right. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

It seems your webmaster returned the following day with better weather with sunny periods.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 shortly after arrival at Dinas in the early afternoon as seen from footpath crossing. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 running round shortly after arrival at Dinas in the early afternoon as seen from Ty'n Llan Road bridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 running round shortly after arrival at Dinas in the early afternoon as seen from Ty'n Llan Road bridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 coupling up at Dinas ready to take an afternoon departure to Caernarfon as seen from Lon Eifion. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 heading north passing under Plas Dinas bridge in the early afternoon as seen from Lon Eifion. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 departing Caernarfon in the late afternoon as seen from St Helen's Road bridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 shunting at Dinas in the late afternoon as seen from Ty'n Llan Road bridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 running round at Dinas in the late afternoon as seen from Ty'n Llan Road bridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 approaching Caernarfon crossing the Seiont Viaduct in the late afternoon as seen from St Helens Road bridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 departing Caernarfon in the late afternoon as seen from the southerly footbridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 running round at Caernarfon in the late afternoon as seen from the platform. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 running round at Caernarfon in the late afternoon as seen from the platform. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 taking water in the watering siding at Caernarfon. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 reversing out of the watering siding at Caernarfon. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 completing its run round move at Caernarfon. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 setting back onto the at Caernarfon in the late afternoon as seen from the platform. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 crossing the Seiont Viaduct in the late afternoon as viewed from the Open Coach. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (8-11/4/98) shows No.138 setting back onto the Loco Shed at Dinas at the end of the day. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (8-11/4/98) shows Castell Caernarfon in the depot headshunt at Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (12/4/98) shows heavy snow on the Horseshoe Pass from the days before Global Warming on the way home at the end of Easter. An Open Top tour bus is running Easter trips from Llangollen to the top of the pass for the hardy few! Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Snow persisted for a week and was still present when Hertford Rail tours brought National Power liveried No.59205 L Keith McNair to the Trawsfynydd branch the following weekend on the Roman Nose railtour. The new Funkey was polished up and posed alongside its big brother in Blaenau Ffestiniog station on 18/4/98.

 

This northerly view (18/4/98) shows Vale of Ffestiniog in its National Power livery posed in platform 2 alongside No.59205 L Keith McNair in the same livery. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (18/4/98) shows Vale of Ffestiniog in its National Power livery posed in platform 2 alongside No.59205 L Keith McNair in the same livery. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (18/4/98) from the FR's headshunt shows Vale of Ffestiniog in its National Power livery posed in platform 2 alongside No.59205 L Keith McNair in the same livery. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (18/4/98) shows No.138 running round at Caernarfon in late afternoon sunshine. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (18/4/98) shows Upnor Castle with No.133 at Dinas. The loco had just arrived there from Pickering. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Pickering Brake 3/7/20

When the Pickering Brake is completed at Boston Lodge the WHHR will be able to run an authentic WHR vintage train from the 1920s/30s rather than relying on the ex-VoR brake. The replica Pickering Brake being built under contract for the WHHR at Boston Lodge has an authentic appearance complete with guard's ducket. The replica is a copy of one of two NWNGR 1907 built brake coaches which became WHR Nos. 8/9 in 1922 and feature in many photographs of the railway in its final years. It is not know what number this coach will carry but it may as a replica carry either No.8 or No.9.

The WHHR railway has an agreement with the F&WHR to run specials along the whole length of the rebuilt WHR and ran photocharters to Rhyd Ddu last year.

 

This Boston Lodge view (3/7/20) shows the replica Pickering brake coach for the WHHR in Boston Lodge Carriage Works where the roof will be completed. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Glen Williams (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Conwy Valley line closed until September (NR 11/6/20)

Having been closed after winter floods for two years on the run NR are investing in a £2.2 million resilience fund to protect the Conwy Valley line from floods. The rock armour will be added between Tal-y-cafn and Llanwrst. Track has recently been restored to Llanwrst and the auto-ballaster has reached that point. Some 20,000 tonnes of rock are to be added to a 1 mile section north of Llanwrst as was added to a section south of Llanwrst last year, curing the problem in that vicinity. Although this will take an additional 10 weeks the cost and delay is necessary to ensure the resilience of the line given the increased flooding risk from climate change associated with global warming. The continued closure will impact on passengers using the train to come to the FR which might reopen sometime in July for the summer peak school holiday traffic. The train service remains bustituted until the line is reopened. 

See NR report.

 

Turning back Beeching 1/7/20

The Times published a list on 1/7/20 revealing the government's chosen schemes. Some 50 schemes have been selected for further consideration. In Wales, the Bangor-Afonwen and Aberystwyth-Carmarthen lines have been ignored.  However the Gaerwen-Amlwch line has been slated for examination by a panel. This could run as a shuttle service from Bangor. Track is in place and a preservation group has been clearing the line with an NR licence. One downside is the bridge that was knocked down in Llangefni by a lorry in 2018 but presumably NR's insurance will cover this.

The DfT said that successful schemes will be awarded up to £50,000 from the £500 million fund to develop economic studies and business cases. They will be named by the end of the summer.

 

Mostyn tidal lagoon might bring freight to Conwy Valley line

A proposal to build a tidal lagoon on the west bank of the Dee estuary between Mostyn Dock and the Point of Ayr might mean slate waste being shipped from Blaenau Ffestiniog. The proposal to build a tidal lagoon follows the recent collapse of the Swansea Bay scheme. The Mostyn Docks Company is enthusiastic about the project and slate waste could be loaded in Blaenau Ffestiniog and delivered to the sidings at the former Point of Ayr colliery to be tipped in the sea and form the wall of the tidal lagoon.

 

This southerly view (29/7/97) shows 37422 passing Ffynnongroyw with a short rake for Bangor/Holyhead. Mostyn Docks are in the background and the tidal lagoon would be the area of mudflats to the left. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (29/7/97) shows 37426 passing Ffynnongroyw with a short rake for Crewe/Manchester. Point of Ayr is in the background and the tidal lagoon would be the area of mudflats to the right with the wall extending  from Point of Ayr around to Mostyn Dock. This area of mudflats would often be flooded as a result. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

See Daily Post report.

 

The 40km Dream Episode 15

March 1998

After the closure of the Inquiry into the LRO, the FR was urging supporters to write to the Snowdonia National Park Authority to protest about their decision to withdraw support from the WHR project. Originally the SNPA gave their full support in the Draft Local Plan as the rebuilt railway could provide a public transport function and keep cars out of the Snowdonia National Park, an environmentally sensitive area by providing a regular local service of several trains a day to rival local bus services. The line could be used for transporting timber from Beddgelert Forest  from a new siding at Hafod Ruffydd keeping large articulated vehicles off the inadequate local roads. In November the SNPA made a U-turn, overturning the advice of its officers, and excluded the WHR from the Local Plan.

Mike Hart, the FR Chairman, appealed to supporters to write into the SNPA to indicate the level of support and get the WHR reinstated in the Local Plan. 'We know many people want to see the WHR rebuilt. If they can just spend a few minutes to write to the Local Plan Inquiry Inspector, he can judge the wide level of support against the three objections to the WHR. Letters had to arrive by 10/4/98. Your webmaster was one of those who wrote in supporting the rebuilding of the WHR.

Some deliveries to the WHR had gone to the WHR(P) at Gelert's Farm by accident so the FR took out adverts in the local press directing local suppliers to Dinas for the WHR(C) and the WHLR (Dinas). Unfortunately timetable materials prepared for the WHR had gone to print before the agreement to characterise the WHR as the WHR(C) as it is based in Caernarfon and the WHR(P) as that based in Porthmadog Gelert's Farm. Preparations were being made for the Easter season of this the first full year of WHR operations which were due to begin on 4/4/98 in time for the school Easter holiday break (Easter weekend 10-13/4/98). Consideration is being given to Santa Specials, Xmas Holiday trains and February Half Term Holiday trains over Winter 1998-1999.

Engineering solutions/quotes for the underpinning of bridges on Phase 2 from Dinas to Waunfawr were being sought as well as solutions to the major landslip just east of Tryfan Junction. All the WHR are much too small for the Garratt/Funkey loading gauge. Some thought was also given to potential rockfalls in the Aberglaslyn Pass and insurance liability of persons using Bryn-y-felin bridge and the Aberglaslyn Tunnels permitted path. It was deemed essential that Phase 2 Dinas-Waunfawr, which was already funded, was ready to go the moment a positive decision to allow the LRO to go ahead was received from the Minister.

After a further inspection, on 19/3/98 the HMRI gave full and permanent approval to the FR to operate Caernarfon-Dinas following the temporary permission granted October 1997. The only change required was that structures are numbered for maintenance records rather than named as in the past. Cast plates have been ordered to be fixed to every structure. As the railway is built to modern metric measures a kilometre based 'chainage' is being used for all underbridges and overbridges based on 20km 'zero' at Caernarfon station footbridge. This will avoid duplication with FR mileposts out of Porthmadog if these also change to metric measures in future.

 

The 40km Dream Episode 14

February 1998

Work continued to improve the rolling stock and the track of the Caernarfon-Dinas section. Dinas Works was kitted out and the machine shop came together in the building on the site of the old loco shed.

As regards the Inquiry, which reached its end in January, the inspector was expected to take three months to present his decision to the Transport Minister and after due consideration, the Minister was expected to make his recommendation after a further 3 months. The Inspector had visited the railway and experienced run pasts to determine the noise levels of the trains using No.138.

Railtrack withdrew their objections to Cambrian Crossing which was to become Cae Pawb to distinguish it from other similarly named crossings on the Cambrian Coast route. Welsh Water was happy to reroute the Nantmor water supply, which uses the Aberglaslyn Tunnels, along the A498 through the Pass. The Forestry Commission was also happy with fire prevention procedures agreed with the FR. However the Snowdonia National Park authority overturned its officers recommendations and opposed the TWO as did the Rambler's Association, who wanted the trackbed as a walk, despite support from local members who had sought mitigation for an improved Fishermans' Path through the Aberglaslyn Pass. The paths through the Aberglaslyn Pass tunnels and the Bryn-y-felin bridge were to be fenced off for insurance reasons once the FR took possession of the trackbed. The National Trust also objected to the closure of their permitted path on the trackbed through the Aberglaslyn Pass despite the FR offering to fund improvement of the Fishermans' Path.

The FR was planning a small gala over the weekend of 2-3/5/98 centred on Glan-y-pwll with the completed Funkey Vale of Ffestiniog on view and footplate rides. There would be a bus link from Blaenau Ffestiniog and a six train service on the FR. A main line steam visit to the town was also due in May. During a small ceremony on 21/2/98 Vale of Ffestiniog was handed over to the operating fleet in Boston Lodge works.

 

This Boston Lodge archive view (21/2/98) shows the newly rebuild Funkey Vale of Ffestiniog resplendent in National Power livery. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This Boston Lodge archive view (21/2/98) shows the naming ceremony for newly rebuild Funkey Vale of Ffestiniog resplendent in National Power livery. The loco was named by Linda Fairney, wife of Professor Fairney, the recently retired chairman of The Year of Engineering Success NP Executives and local councillors in attendance. Maybe the stage should have been on the sunny side of the loco that afternoon? Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This Boston Lodge archive view (21/2/98) shows Vale of Ffestiniog shunting off Boston Lodge for a run up the FR. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This Boston Lodge archive view (21/2/98) shows Vale of Ffestiniog waiting at Pen Cob Junction for the path. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This Boston Lodge archive view (21/2/98) shows Earl of Merioneth passing light as the new diesel prepared to enter the running line at Pen Cob Junction. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This Tan-y-bwlch archive view (21/2/98) shows Vale of Ffestiniog arriving on the inaugural train carrying guests from the hand over ceremony. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This Tan-y-bwlch archive view (21/2/98) shows Vale of Ffestiniog running round the special train. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This Tan-y-bwlch archive view (21/2/98) shows Vale of Ffestiniog running round the special train. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This Porthmadog Harbour archive view (21/2/98) shows Vale of Ffestiniog arrived on the special train. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This Porthmadog Harbour archive view (21/2/98) shows Vale of Ffestiniog running round the special train. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This Porthmadog Harbour archive view (21/2/98) shows Vale of Ffestiniog preparing to depart Porthmadog. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Meanwhile at Dinas later that day....

 

This northerly archive view (21/2/98) shows Castell Caernarfon stabled outside the Loco Shed at Dinas with trackwork now complete. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Your webmaster went back to Dinas a week later with his father on one of their regular visits to view progress.

 

This southerly archive view (27/2/98) shows Vale of Ffestiniog with No.138 outside the Loco Shed and the rake of carriages stabled in the short lived South Yard siding as seen from Lon Eifion. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This internal view of Dinas Loco Shed (27/2/98) shows No.143's boiler on ambulance bogies and the Gullick & Dobson tamper. The stair and office accommodation (since removed for the shed expansion) can be seen behind the loco. Each road could accommodate one Garratt initially before the shed expansion. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This internal view of Dinas Loco Shed (27/2/98) shows No.143's boiler, dome and chimney painted in aluminium paint on ambulance bogies and the Gullick & Dobson tamper on the newly completed pit. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This internal view of Dinas Loco Shed (27/2/98) shows No.143's boiler, dome and chimney painted in aluminium paint on ambulance bogies and the Gullick & Dobson tamper on the newly completed pit. The base support frame and lids for the Caernarfon water tank are being assembled on the right hand road as seen from the office stairs. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view of Dinas Loco Shed (27/2/98) shows No.138  and Castell Caernarfon outside the Loco Shed. The Garratt had been dragged out to allow work to proceed on the Caernarfon water tank in dry conditions. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This easterly view (27/2/98) shows a wagon and buffer stop in the depot headshunt with the overgrown cutting leading to the A487 overbridge in the background. In Phase 2 it would be necessary to lower the ground level in this area to provide adequate clearance for Garratts/Funkey loading gauge under the road bridge. This would require gabions to the left of the wagon. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (27/2/98) shows the five coach rake in the temporary carriage siding in south Yard. In Phase 2 it would be necessary to lower the ground level in this area and to remove the siding. The coaches were later stored in the North Yard Carriage shed when completed some time later. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (27/2/98) shows the No.138 dragged out of Loco Shed by Castell Caernarfon. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (27/2/98) shows the No.138 dragged out of Loco Shed by Castell Caernarfon. In the background is the short lived coach siding. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (27/2/98) shows a view of a snowclad Snowdon from Dinas in the days when we used to get snow in the Winter!. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was scanned from a slide taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The 40km Dream Episode 13

January 1998

The Public Inquiry in Caernarfon came to a close in January after some 4 weeks of gathering evidence. Work continued on the WHR to improve the ride with tamping allowing 25 mph in future. The Stop and Proceed operation at Hendy Crossing was examined to see if it could be replaced by a speed restriction in consultation with the Railway Inspectorate. Work was underway to make the carriage connections fit for passengers to use which would also permit trolley sales when the line extended to Waunfawr. A full year's timetable was planned for 1998 with trains starting for the Easter holidays and continuing to the Autumn Half Term holiday, with thoughts given for eventual Santa Trains and an Xmas service as on the FR.

The boiler of No.143 was due to be completed at Ian Riley Engineering at the ELR by the end of January after some delay waiting for bottle ended superheater flues from the manufacturer. The boiler was to be placed on its cradle frame on return to Dinas on accommodation bogies as work is still underway at Boston lodge on the on the power bogies. The loco was to be reassembled by volunteers and it was hoped the loco would be complete by April, supporting No.138 on the Easter services and hopefully not requiring a spare loco from the FR. The reassembly of K1 had started at Tyseley Loco Works at the BRM but progress depends of volunteers and funds. a new boiler is under construction at Winson Engineering and the loco may be back in steam before the end of 1998.

On the FR, the Funkey diesel was nearing completion, to be named Vale of Ffestiniog, and it was hoped could be in use from Spring1998. The loco resembles a miniature BR Class 58 has acquired new cabs and the power unit and bogies have been overhauled at Boston Lodge. Along with the unaltered Castell Caernarfon, the loco was purchased from the Port Elizabeth Cement Co. South Africa, but has been cut down to meet the FR tunnel profiles. National Power has sponsored much of the work and it is hoped to have a NP Class 59 and the Funkey side by side in Blaenau Ffestiniog at some stage.

An abortive project to build a 2' gauge line on the trackbed of the closed Scarborough & Whitby line at Robin Hood's Bay, a popular north east coast tourist spot produced an unexpected benefit for the WHR. An enthusiast had purchased five steam locos from Port Elizabeth SAR arriving in the UK in mid-January at Tilbury Docks. The locos went into store on arrival when the project folded whilst the locos were on the high seas. NG16s Nos.87/115/130 along with NG15s Nos.133/134 were to be available for purchase if any sponsor would like to support the WHR.

Final agreement was reached in early January after solicitors checked the FR/WHRL (64 Co.) agreement of 30/11/97.

  • The WHR will be known as WHR(C) until it opens throughout with the WHRL becoming the WHR(P) and the whole line will be known as the WHR when open throughout.
  • The WHRL will fund build and operate the Pen-y-Mount to Pont Croesor section and possibly beyond towards Nantmor as their funds allow.
  • The WHLR will have guaranteed access to the whole line for operation of its heritage trains subject to various provisos.
  • A Joint Steering Committee will be set up to improve communication between the companies and deal with any disputes which would see the AIRPS called in to mediate.

FR Chairman Mike Hart said he was 'delighted' that agreement had finally been reached and that everyone should work together for the benefit of the WHR project. The WHLR had consequently withdrawn its opposition to the granting of the WHR LRO.

 

The 40km Dream Episode 12

December 1997

The Millennium Fund had granted the FR £4.3 million on the assumption the FR would reopen the WHR throughout but the reopening of Dinas-Porthmadog had aroused local opposition and become subject to a Public Inquiry which started on 9/12/97 in Caernarfon. Some 372 objections had been raised and a similar number of letters of support had been received. As a consequence the Inquiry would continue into late January.

Conservation groups, farmers and Gwarchod representing some of the local community were against the plan even though the scheme was reopening a railway that had never been formally abandoned and was essentially, except for rails, in place as a vacant trackbed. Evidence of the scheme's worth to the local community was presented as the railway as more than 9,000 had travelled on the short 3 mile Caernarfon-Dinas line during its very brief 3 week opening in October/November. Caernarfon's shops and cafes had benefited from increased tourism brought about by the opening of the railway and the town supported the extension of the railway to Porthmadog. The FR estimated that if the full route was permitted to be opened it could attract as many as 200,000 visitors per year and increased employment, both permanent and seasonal.

One of the main objectors to the routes reopening south from Dinas was the Snowdonia National Park Authority whose Planning Committee members voted against withdrawing their objections even though the railway forms part of the Local Plan!! There was concern from environmental groups that as the area already has the largest concentration of outdoor pursuits in Europe, another railway would do even more environmental damage in terms of pollution.

The NFU had also raised objections. Farmers had been using the trackbed for access without permission since the closure for over 50 years. Some 15 of its members had enclosed sections of the trackbed into their fields claiming the trackbed was not maintained by the Official Receiver and they had not purchased the land. Now they were saying they should not be forced to give it back! The Ramblers Association objected that parts of the route were a permitted path near Rhyd Ddu and in the Beddgelert Forest and Aberglaslyn Pass.

Your webmaster visited the Inquiry 22/12/97 and made some observations:

  • Some the WHR deeds were missing but the railway's boundary was well identified by metal posts or stone walling.
  • There might be a shop at Rhyd Ddu station which could also serve local residents.
  • There could be a temporary coach link between Rhyd Ddu and Porthmadog.
  • Environmental moves saw reduced stocking levels on the mountain but there were times when sheep/cattle drives would need to cross the railway so sheep/cattle creeps could be acceptable mitigation.
  • Some local residents were concerned about what they saw as the 'Rape of Snowdon' and levels of air pollution arising from train smoke.
  • The FR could take on 24 employees on the WHR.
  • The inspecting Officer would observe the WHR(C) and the FR to see the nature of the operation.
  • Some £400,000 was thought to be a likely sum for mitigation and £7 million for the whole project
  • Since 1969 there had been no land sale by the Official Receiver (that was thought to be the Rhyd Ddu station site for GC's toilet block and car park).
  • The railway had fallen into a grey area with no Abandonment Order.
  • The Inspector reminded all that 'without prejudice' they should make assumptions the TWO would be granted and seek mitigation agreements.

At Dinas 'Llanfair', a 3' gauge De Winton of 1895 was in evidence weighing 5 tonnes. It had previously worked at Penmaenmawr Quarries and had been purchased for £500 as an exhibit. The 0-4-0 loco 'coffeepot' loco has 2 vertical cylinders and a Stephenson Link motion. No.143's boiler was due for return at the end of the year. Components of the former Southam water tank were on site and a curved roof and tank support columns had been delivered.

 

This northerly archive view (22-24/12/97) shows the complete Loco Shed tracks at Dinas with a flat wagon on the newly commissioned easterly shed road carrying two ex-SAR buffer stops. The Loco Shed is on the site of the original WHR Carriage Shed. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This easterly archive view (22-24/12/97) shows a PW train being loaded in the depot headshunt which curves into the WHR cutting under the A487. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (22-24/12/97) shows the completed track layout at Dinas South Yard with the rake of coaches stored in the very temporary siding curving into the yard and the Loco shed headshunt on the left. The building on the right stands on the site of the WHR Loco Shed and was becoming a machine shop. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (22-24/12/97) shows Upnor Castle on a PW working at Caernarfon. The train is returning to Dinas with RRM's connected at the rear by a long towing bar. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (22-24/12/97) shows Upnor Castle on a PW working departing Dinas possibly the next day as seen from Ty'n Llan Road bridge. The train is returning to Caernarfon propelling RRM's connected at the front by a long towing bar. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (22-24/12/97) shows Upnor Castle on a PW working crossing Hendy Crossing. The train is returning to Caernarfon with ballast wagons on the rear but no sign of the RRMs. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (22-24/12/97) shows Upnor Castle on a PW working at Caernarfon. The staff are laying the water tower siding and loose rails are being moved from the loop track as seen from Segontium Terrace. Sleepers have been laid out ready to receive the rails which are being slid over from the left. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (22-24/12/97) shows Upnor Castle on a PW working at Caernarfon with rails being laid for the water tower siding as seen from Segontium Terrace in the later afternoon sunshine. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The 40km Dream Episode 11

November 1997

Following the preliminary meeting on 28/10/97 between WHLR officials and DoT officials the format of the Public Inquiry was agreed and the date set for the start on 9/12/97 in Caernarfon. It was expected the Inquiry would last until late January. the Inquiry was ordered by the new Labour government and will ultimately be a decision to be taken in the spring by the Secretary of State for Transport. If the order is approved the WHLR will have the right to reopen the 22 miles from Dinas to Porthmadog along with powers of compulsory purchase. Letters of support (including one from your webmaster) and objections were invited from interested groups and the WHLR was invited to discuss mitigation with objectors.

Railtrack has withdrawn its objection to the WHR reinstating its former level crossing of the Cambrian Coast line at Cambrian Crossing (likely to be renamed to avoid confusion as there are so many similarly named crossings on the Cambrian Coast line). Agreement has been reached for the crossing to be controlled by signals with electronically interlocked catch points on the narrow gauge. These will be interlocked with controls for adjacent level crossings.

Since the Caernarfon-Dinas section was opened traffic on this short line has been better than the FR envisaged with 18361 single journeys made by some 9200 passengers. Alco Mountaineer returned home to the FR at the end of the season after seeing little use with No.138 hauling most of the trains except when there were problems with the oil burners. Yorkshire Engines took delivery of the ex-Chattenden & Upnor Combination coach and some spare ex-SAR bogies. When work is complete the coach will be used on the Works Train for the extension of the WHR to Porthmadog. On the trackwork side, the opportunity was taken to tamp and tweak the alignment of the railway to improve running speeds to the eventual line speed limit of 25 mph. Initially trains had operated at 15 mph.

AIRPS Chairman and solicitor David Morgan chaired a meeting between the FR and WHR (P) in Warrington starting on 20/11/97 aimed at resolving the ongoing dispute between the two railways. A further meeting at Harbour Station on 30/11/97 confirmed arrangements subject to examination by solicitors for the two parties. The WHR Ltd (aka 64 co.) was to build the track as far as Pont Croesor and beyond depending on their finances. They would run trains on this section until the FR reached there. The WHRL agreed not to compete for grant monies against the FR. Once the line from Caernarfon to Porthmadog was complete the WHRL would have guaranteed access over this section subject to certain provisions:

  • All train crews passed out by FR and operating to their rule book
  • Train pathing to be compatible with normal commercial requirements and those imposed by outside agencies
  • Fares would be paid to FR but the FR would pay for the use of the rolling stock
  • The FR would pay a proportion of receipts to the WHRL for using the section of track the WHRL had laid north from Porthmadog
  • All proceeds from the WHRL's shop and cafe at their Tremadog Road terminus to be retained by them
  • The legal responsibility for the operation over FR lines to be remain with the FR

The agreement also envisaged the possibility of FR trains terminating at Tremadog road as there was still some uncertainty about the Cross Town Link. Access charges were still to be agreed.

The dispute about the name Welsh Highland Railway was resolved as the whole line will become the WHR when complete but until that time the northern section will be known as the WHR(Caernarfon) and the southern section as WHR(Porthmadog). This was too late however for the printing for the 1998 season's trains.

 

The 40km Dream Episode 10

October 1997

In October the Welsh Highland Railway was set to open having previously been set opening dates of 1/7/97 and August Bank Holiday. Coaches and the Alco Mountaineer had arrived on 23/9/97 and tracklaying in Caernarfon was completed by the start of October with points tested and some basic ballasting/tamping done sufficient to invite HMRI to inspect the line. The inspectors came on 2-3/10/97 and produced a snag list giving a positive indication of approval when snags were completed on a one engine in steam basis. The WHRS AGM was being held on 4/10/97 at The Mount pub in Dinas. Driver training was underway and Mountaineer was first out being tested with the full rake of 5 coaches. Next came No.138 light engine and finally it was announced at the AGM that No.138 would be running loaded at 4pm which encouraged an early finish to the often verbose AGM questions and Points of Order! Castell Caernarfon was also trialled on the test train so all three large locos were used.

Your webmaster was in North Wales for the weekend and must have taken many photos but this film has failed to surface as yet. If it does it will be added here. Fortunately, friends (including the late Dr. Ben Fisher) provided me with photos of the day but more would be welcome and due credit will be given!

 

This southerly archive view (4/10/97) shows Castell Caernarfon on the test train during the WHR AGM during dull weather as it prepared to start from Dinas. The train made a return trip from Dinas to Caernarfon. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a negative copyright Russell Edwards and was taken on an SLR camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (4/10/97) shows Castell Caernarfon on the test train during the WHR AGM as it crossing the Seiont Viaduct. The train made a return trip from Dinas to Caernarfon. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a negative copyright Russell Edwards and was taken on an SLR camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (4/10/97) shows Castell Caernarfon on the test train during the WHR AGM after it had arrived at Caernarfon as seen from Segontium Terrace footbridge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a negative copyright Russell Edwards and was taken on an SLR camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (4/10/97) shows No.138 on the test train leaving Dinas shortly after 4pm as viewed from the site of the future Carriage Shed. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a negative copyright Dr Ben Fisher and was taken on an SLR camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (4/10/97) shows No.138 on the test train leaving Dinas shortly after 4pm as viewed from the site of the future Carriage Shed. The Gullick & Dobson tamper is to the right in the North Yard headshunt. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a negative copyright Dr Ben Fisher and was taken on an SLR camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (4/10/97) shows No.138 on the test train returning to Dinas near Bontnewydd. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a negative copyright Dr Ben Fisher and was taken on an SLR camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The pace of developments now speeded up as the snagging list was dealt with. The LRO was granted on 8/10/97 and HMRI granted an initial operating permit for one engine in steam on 9/10/97 until 30/11/97. The opening ceremony was set for 13/10/97 with advertised public services starting the following day 14/10/97. In fact with most of the season's traffic lost from the previous suggested opening dates of 1/7/97 and August Bank Holiday, it was decided to run an unadvertised service over the weekend of 11-12/10/97 to try and recoup some of the lost revenue.

For some reason your webmaster was not in the loop and, as it happened, had responded to a crisis at work to go in with the team on Saturday 11/10/97 to help. On the way into work a teenager pulled out of a side road and wrote off your webmaster's car in a serious accident. Although injuries to both drivers consisted of heavy bruising, it took some time to hire a car and feel well enough to drive the 200 miles to Dinas so it was not until Half Term that your webmaster was able to visit the WHR. So again the website has to rely on photos from friends.

 

This northerly archive view (11/10/97) shows No.138 with one of the first arrivals of the unadvertised public service at Dinas. The discounted fares attracted quite a crowd and despite the lack of advertised, trains ran 3/4 full by the end of the weekend. Many also stood by the lineside to take pictures of the passing trains despite the damp autumn weather. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a negative copyright Dr Ben Fisher and was taken on an SLR camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The 2.5 mile long line was officially opened by the Lady Mayor of Caernarfon on Monday 13/10/97 when after speeches, the opening special carried the Mayoress, Millennium officials and local politicians from Caernarfon to Dinas and back. The station was decorated in bunting and flags and the opening train, hauled by No.138, left Caernarfon at 1330. Mr Wigley, the local MP spoke about his hopes that people would unite behind the project (the self styled opposition group Gwarchod was gearing up for a fight in the coming Public Inquiry). He hoped the railway would produce spin off for employment and bring extra visitors to the area. 'I want visitors to empty their pockets and go home happy' he said. At the reception Mike Hart, who was leading the project, injected a note of caution. 'There is plenty to do over Winter to turn a basic railway into a tourist attraction. We need to be able to move onwards towards Beddgelert and Porthmadog', he added.

Any help with photos from this day would be gratefully received and full credit given.

Over the first weekend of advertised services 18-19/10/97 over 900 people were carried on both days. this traffic volume is equivalent to a good shoulder season on the FR and required extra trains to be run. The management was said to be delighted with the response. Services begin at 10 am from Caernarfon with the stock running ECS to and from Dinas. Five return trains a day are scheduled though some thought has been given to starting trains from the bay platform at Dinas in future. As part of the HMRI rules, corridor connections are currently locked OOU as they are considered too short. This matter was to be remedied over Winter.

Despite the help offered by the WHR tracklaying volunteers over the Summer, an EGM of the WHR '64 co. rejected an offer by the FR to finally settle all outstanding matters. Alistair McNichol, the '64 co. Chairman claimed 'The goalposts have been moved' following receipt of a draft agreement from the FR which they claim did not agree with the Heads of Agreement formulated earlier in the year. The FR had asked if they could use the WHR(P)'s Tremadog Road terminus as a temporary measure following difficulties getting approval for the Cross Town Link on the original alignment. In exchange the FR had agreed that the WHR(P) could build the section to Nantmor following opening of the Waunfawr section planned for 1999 and operate trains on it. Although the WHR(P) was in favour of this they were not prepared to release the name 'Welsh Highland Railway' for the FR to use for its Caernarfon-Dinas line and extensions to Porthmadog. Instead WHR(P) members voted to raise a fighting fund for their recently registered name and logo.

In response FR Chairman Mike Hart was seeking a meeting of all parties under an independent chair from the AIRPS, who agreed to the proposal subject to WHR(P) agreement. Mike Hart denied that what was being offered was different to the Heads of Agreement from the previous meeting on 19/8/97. 'It was becoming clear that their interpretation of what were offering was diverging from what we had put in writing', he said. 'I hope they will accept this initiative to restart negotiations under AIRPS chairmanship and that the differences of opinion can be resolved' he added.

Your webmaster was finally recovered enough from the car accident to embark on the 200 mile drive in a replacement car by Half Term and visited the line on 27-28/10/97 when Mountaineer was in charge of services. Unfortunately this coincided with a short period of unavailability of No.138 which has problems with its oil burners. Services closed until Easter on Sunday 2/11/97.

 

This northerly archive view (27/10/97) shows Mountaineer with a lunchtime arrival at Dinas. The Open Coach was placed next to the loco so that enthusiasts could enjoy the loco working hard up the bank out of Caernarfon. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (27/10/97) shows Mountaineer running around its train at Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (27/10/97) shows Mountaineer  being serviced at Dinas. There was a temporary water tank at this location and the delivery pipe can be seen on the right. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (27/10/97) shows Mountaineer being serviced at Dinas as viewed from Ty'n Llan bridge. The temporary water tank and delivery pipe can be seen and a red oil fuel bowser. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (27/10/97) shows Mountaineer being prepared fro its next turn at Dinas as viewed from Ty'n Llan road bridge. There are good crowds on the platform but the bay platform still has no track. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (27/10/97) shows Mountaineer, having run round, preparing to leave Dinas. The yard area is cordoned off with orange plastic tape as work was still underway tidying up the area. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (27/10/97) shows Mountaineer arriving at Dinas in the late afternoon passing Castell Caernarfon stabled in the yard as rescue loco. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (27/10/97) shows Mountaineer being serviced at Dinas before possibly its final trip of the day. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (27/10/97) shows Mountaineer running round at Caernarfon. The initial position of the ticket office (a Portacabin) can be seen on the left and temporary toilets were provided. The car park looks pretty full! Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (27/10/97) shows Mountaineer passing Hendy Crossing now with full tarmac and road markings, with possibly the final train of the day returning ECS to Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

First Hydro, which operates the pumped storage power stations at Dinorwig and Ffestiniog, reached a sponsorship deal with the FR worth £100,000 to help some WHR rolling stock. The first tranche sees First hydro sponsor the disabled coach No.2090 with the company logo carried on the coach. The second tranche sees support for the restoration of a loco, presumably No.143, which will be named Edison after Edison Mission (California), First Hydro's holding company. The loco was to appear in Edison Mission's house colours. The final part of the sponsorship will see a coach painted in First Hydro's house colours for the Millennium. Nigel Petrie speaking First hydro said that the FR was viewed as an important neighbour and a good friend adding that the WHR project was 'exciting'. No.138 appeared in three different shades of green before acquiring the name Millennium for the Millennium.

The next day (28/10/97) dawned fine and your webmaster arrived bright and early to photograph the first trains of the day in sun from the southeast. Access was also granted to photograph the completion of the South Yard and Engine Shed.

 

This southerly archive view (28/10/97) shows Mountaineer being prepared for possibly the first train of the day at Dinas already coupled up to the rake in the platform. Brake/disabled coach No.2090 with extra wide doors is next to the loco. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (28/10/97) shows Mountaineer departing Caernarfon from St Helens road bridge. The train is just starting the 1 in 45 climb towards Hendy Crossing. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (28/10/97) shows Mountaineer passing Hendy Crossing in the morning light on probably the first train of the day returning to Dinas with a loaded Open coach. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (28/10/97) shows Mountaineer arriving at Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (27/10/97) shows Mountaineer being serviced at the temporary water tank at the south end of Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (28/10/97) shows Upnor Castle stabled in Dinas South Yard with the completed trackwork and Loco Shed extension. At this stage the more easterly of the two loco shed roads was still being laid as can be seen from the use of RRMs just outside the shed. Another loco lies inside the shed on the left hand road probably No.138. The track in the foreground leads to the temporary Carriage Siding and PW Yard. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This easterly archive view (28/10/97) shows the depot headshunt which tantalisingly heads into the cutting towards the A487 overbridge at Dinas indicating the way towards Porthmadog. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (28/10/97) shows spare track panels in the south Yard at Dinas. The building on the left stands on the site of the original WHR Loco Shed and that to the right on the site of the original WHR Carriage Shed. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

After lunch your webmaster went back to record the afternoon workings, again in bright sunshine.

 

This southerly archive view (28/10/97) shows Mountaineer crossing the Afon Seiont Viaduct approaching Caernarfon as seen from St Helen's road bridge on an afternoon service. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (28/10/97) shows Mountaineer running round at the south end of Caernarfon station. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (28/10/97) shows Mountaineer hauling the return service to Dinas attacking the 1 in 45 bank over the Seiont Viaduct taken from Lon Eifion on the viaduct with St Helen's Road bridge in the background. The Open coach again looks popular in the Half Term holiday. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (28/10/97) shows Mountaineer hauling the return service arriving at Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (28/10/97) shows Mountaineer having detached from the train being serviced at the watering point at the south end of Dinas station. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (28/10/97) shows Mountaineer hauling possibly the penultimate return service approaching Hendy Crossing having stormed up Coed Helen bank very audibly. The Open coach was again very popular. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (28/10/97) shows a silhouette of Mountaineer hauling a late afternoon train heading north past Hendy Crossing. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (28/10/97) shows Mountaineer hauling possibly the final train of the day crossing the Gwyrfai Viaduct. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

A preliminary meeting was held on 28/10/97 between WHLR officials and DoT officials to agree the format of the Public Inquiry into reopening the Dinas-Porthmadog section of the WHR due to start before the end of the year.

 

Gradient graph

John Hopkins has contributed this image of the gradient profile of the WHR. It makes clear how much of a mountain we have climbed and how steep the drop through Beddgelert is. Maybe most of all, it reveals the challenge facing northbound trains after they stop at Beddgelert!

This image is courtesy/copyright John Hopkins and is derived from data courtesy John Sreeves with additional work by Michael Bentley. Click on the image to enlarge.

 

Special Events 2020

1/1/20

Final Mince Pie special (two Caernarfon-Rhyd Ddu trains)

15-23/2/20

Half Term Blue timetable Caernarfon-Porthmadog (one return service from each end)

26/2/20-26/3/20

MTFX Orange timetable Porthmadog-Hafod-y-llyn twice a day

28/3/20

Main Season Easter service starts POSTPONED

18/4/20

The Snowdonian POSTPONED TO 17/4/21 and subsequently POSTPONED AGAIN INDEFINITELY

2/5/20

FR AGM and FR extra services? VIRTUAL AGM-NO TRAINS

9/5/20

Caernarfon Food Festival with additional train on WHR? POSTPONED TO 2021

5-7/6/20

WHR Beer Festival POSTPONED TO 4/6/21

19-21/6/20

Fairlie Eventful (may include some WHR events) POSTPONED TO 18-20/6/21

27/6/20

Welsh Pony Launch (Live Stream). The public launch/naming is POSTPONED TO VICTORIAN WEEKEND

20/7/20 Restart of limited services with virus compliant protection measures on FR ONLY

11-13/9/20

SuperPower and WHR AGM 12/9/20 (may feature Baldwin No. 608 and K1) CANCELLED

12/9/20

The Snowdonian Limited POSTPONED to 5/11/20 (0800-2000 possibly some running in dark with fireworks?)

9-11/10/20

Victorian Weekend (may include some WHR events and launch of Welsh Pony)

 

Trackwork Volunteering 2020

Volunteering is currently suspended due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The F&WHR has a small number of staff ensuring the railway remains secure. Keeping the permanent way, in particular, and the infrastructure in general, fit for trains to run is an essential task. Volunteers have a lot to offer by assisting with this and will be needed later in the year when the railway resumes service. We have a mix of weekend and weekday working parties. The Black Hand, Tuesday Gang and Rest of the World Gangs will be very glad to accept your help. Contact the relevant organiser to let him know when you plan to join us. Please do not just turn up as that makes it difficult for us to plan ahead.

The programme for 2019 is as follows with the ROWG in BLACK and the North Wales Track Gang in RED:

January

5-6/1/19

12-17/1/19WW

19-20/1/19

February

2-3/2/19

9-14/2/19WW

16-17/2/19

March

2-3/3/19

9-14/3/19WW

16-17/3/19

 

30-31/3/19

April

 

 

13-14/3/19

 

27-28/4/19

May

 

11-12/5/19

18-23/5/19WW

25-26/5/19^

 

June

 

8-9/6/19

 

22-23/6/19

 

July

 

6-7/7/19

13-18/7/19WW

20-21/7/19

 

August

3-4/8/19

 

17-18/8/18

 

31/8/19-

September

-1/9/198

7-12/9/19WW

15-16/9/19

 

29-30/9/19

October

 

 

12-13/10/19

 

26-27/10/19

November

2-7/11/19WW!

9-10/11/19

 

23-24/11/18

30-/11/19WW!

December

-5/12/19WW!

7-8/12/19

 

 

 

^ Bank Holiday weekend

! Subject to confirmation when the Winter Major Works Programme is available

WW-Working week Saturday-Thursday

The Tuesday Gang expects to be operating most Tuesdays.

Arrangements may change so contact the working party organiser before you commit yourself to joining us just to make sure.

Contacts

If you intend to join one of the weekend or Tuesday gangs, please contact the appropriate organiser. If you are interested in weekday working or have any queries about track work volunteering, please contact Phil Nock.

Tuesday Gang:

North Wales Black Hand Gang (BHG):Dafydd Thomas Phone: 01248 681019 Email: dthomas@ffwhr.com

Rest of The World Gang (ROWG): Phil Nock Email: pnock@ffwhr.com

If you intend to join one of the weekend or Tuesday Gang days, please contact the appropriate organiser. If you are interested in weekday working or have any queries about track work volunteering, please contact Paul Bradshaw. See Contacts page.

 

Site development

If you have suggestions for development of this site, please contact me by email at the address at the top of the page.

 

Comments

If you would like to make a comment about this website, why not visit my Guestbook? If you have a correction or require a reply please leave your email address or, more simply, send an email directly to my email address shown near the top of this page, just after the list of links to other pages.

 

[Sign My Guestbook] [View My Guestbook] Powered by E-Guestbooks Server.

 

Maps & Plans and links

Click here for Steve Harris' /WHRS' full list of Historical Maps and Gradient Profiles

DVD material can be purchased from Jon Marsh who is the WHRS' (DVD Only) Mail Order officer. All other materials are now sold in the F&WHRS shop.

Click here for the Mail Order web page

Click here for the Official WHR website

Click here for Official WHHR site

Click here for FR Company websites

Click here for Welsh Highland Heritage Group

 

V4.3841 updated 1/8/20