Welsh Highland Railway

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News (19/6/21)

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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 Phase 1 (Updated 12/2/21)

The 40km Dream Phase 2 (Updated 1/4/21)

'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 1/6/21)

Snow Scenes (updated 25/11/20)

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

 

F&WHR traffic 19/6/21

Porthmadog was set to see a mild cloudy day on Saturday with 20 C maximum. With the full 5 Mountain Prince trains operating today only the 11:05 is fully booked. The Gelert Explorer is fully booked until 23/6/21.

At 09:42 Welsh Pony arrived at Porthmadog from Boston Lodge to shunt the yard for the 10:00 Mountain Prince which left 5 minutes late with the B set, passing Minffordd at 10:15. Blanche arrived later and drew out the A set from the yard at 10:41 for the 11:05 which left on time. Meanwhile a David Lloyd George was being steamed in Boston Lodge for the 12:25. The loco arrived at 11:28 almost an hour before the departure time of 12:25, allowing the crew a lunch break. The 12:25 left on time. Blanche was back for the 15:00.

Blanche left Tan-y-bwlch with the return working of the 15:00 at 17:21 arriving in Porthmadog in the WHR platform at 17:53 as usual. The loco promptly ran round but shunted to the refuelling point. The loco left the yard at 18:14 and propelled the rake to the FR yard by 18:21. Blanche left light engine for the depot at 18:25 bringing activities to a close.

The five Mountain Prince trains on Sunday are fully booked except for the 15:00 train. The Gelert Explorer is now fully booked until Thursday 24/6/21 however there are plenty of seats on the Glaslyn Venturer TWThO from 22/6/21.

 

More Historic Railway structure destruction

Readers may remember the story from January warning of the destruction of unused railway structures. Petitions, campaigns, press releases have had no effect whatsoever on the Tories and the rampant destruction by Highways England of the Historic Railways Estate is reaching new high levels. Any Government initiatives such as ‘reversing Beeching’ or encouraging people to cycle by putting cycle paths on disused railways appear to be irrelevant. Highways England are doing their utmost to make sure neither will happen, or at least make it so expensive that projects cannot go ahead. Another one was lost recently EDE 25, lying midway between Warcop and Kirby Stephen. Both the Eden Valley Railway Trust and the Stainmore Railway aspire to extend south and north respectively to meet up and make a more viable 11 mile route than what is possible within their respective current limits of operation. The HRE Group has been on the case for some time. Then in early June contractors turned up unexpectedly as they do, and in a couple of weeks it will all be over.

The inspection report dated February 2020 stated everything was in good condition with no risk. The cost of work required: £7,500 for minor re-pointing and repair to accident damage on the parapet (presumably subject to an insurance claim). However there is no chance of that happening. HE let the contract on 10/3/21 for £123,580, to ‘remove the associated risk of structural collapse and harm to the public’. What risk? In 1998 there was load assessment showing 17 tonnes. The bridge is unrestricted, but all through routes in the area have 18 tonne weight limits imposed for environmental reasons. Only local vehicles are exempt. No planning consent was needed for infill, citing permitted development rights. Take a good look at the photo below as the bridge has been there since 1862, but that is the last time you will see it. Any notions of the economic benefit of Heritage Railways are ignored.

 

This Warcop view (January 21) shows the bridge on the Eden Valley railway shortly before demolition started blocking a future preserved railway. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright HRE Group and was taken on a digital camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The condition of a bridge does not matter. The HE remit is to ‘reduce liabilities and remove assets’. So many more will be infilled or demolished eventually. They cannot be transferred to heritage railways, so unless the highway authority wants them, which they do not, that is the end. Heritage value, environment or historical context is not important unless it is already listed (even then it is not guaranteed to be safe). This has to be a new low in civil engineering and has upset many career civil engineers.

If you are interested in what goes on in Wales, unfortunately Highways ENGLAND controls WALES (and Scotland). The map below shows all structures owned by HRE:

Map of Structures

They are not all for demolition straight away, but constant vigilance is required especially for those on Traws Link Cymru (the plan to join the north and south Wales routes via the Cambrian Coast. One is under immediate threat at Pont-Llanio overbridge AYT 55 as shown on the earlier map:

Previous Map of structures

 

F&WHR still recruiting catering staff 18/6/21

It seems that like many catering outlets the F&WHR is having difficulty recruiting staff. Another advert has been released seeking to employ new staff at Spooners, namely chefs, food and beverage assistant and kitchen assistant. One of the difficulties pubs and restaurants, as well as farmers, are currently having is recruiting temporary staff now that Brexit has made it more difficult for foreign workers to come to the UK. See job description for more details.

 

WAG COVID restrictions latest 18/6/21

Mark Drakeford, WAG First Minister, has delayed any decision on further easing of COVID rules for 4 weeks until mid July in view of the 'third wave' of COVID caused by the Delta Variant. This means that the F&WHR will have to continue with its compartment strategy when considering the service post 23/7/21. The current booking system shows that the Summer timetable from 24/7/21 has not yet been decided though there are already many bookings in advance for July and even some full trains on 30/6/21.

 

F&WHR traffic 18/6/21

Friday was sunny and mild 20C at Porthmadog in contrast to the heavy rain, 12C cold conditions and thunderstorms southeast of the Fosse Way. Compartments were still bookable on the 15:00 even in the afternoon. There were no Glaslyn Venturer or Gelert Explorer trains as the F&WHR believes there is no market for ANY WHR service on Fridays or Mondays.

The first train, the 11:05 Mountain Prince, was hauled by Merddin Emrys with the A set, departing on time from the WHR platform unusually and passing Minffordd at 11:15. The  12:25 arrived at Tan-y-bwlch in sunshine at 13:07 hauled by Welsh Pony with the B set. Meanwhile, down at Porthmadog, Blanche arrived light engine at 13:09 and shunted onto the C set to form the 13:40 in the FR platform. This was mysteriously already present due to some shunting after the 12:25 had departed and departed on time. Merddin Emrys arrived back in Porthmadog at 14:06 to form the 15:00 after Zoono cleaning. This left on time passing Minffordd at 15:10.

The final movements of the day saw Merddin Emrys return at 17:54 arriving in the WHR platform. After detaching the loco ran to the yard at 18:03. The loco was back on the train by 18:15 and shunted the rake to the yard. The Fairlie left for Boston Lodge at 18:26 to conclude the day's activities.

 

This easterly view (14/6/21) at 17:54 shows Merddin Emrys arriving in the WHR platform with the return working of the 15:00. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Saturday and Sunday see the Mountain Prince extended to the maximum 5 services again. All are currently bookable except the 11:05 both days and the 13:40 Sunday. The Gelert Explorer is fully booked again but compartments were available on 23/6/21. There are no Glaslyn Explorer trains at the weekend.

 

Sarah Green by-election victory 18/6/21

Sarah Green, who won an amazing victory in the Tory stronghold of Chesham & Amersham Parliamentary by-election yesterday for the Liberal Democrats, was the party's candidate for the Arfon constituency in the 2019 General Election. Arfon is the constituency that includes the WHR and Caernarfon. She had previously campaigned to support the North Wales Tourist Industry and the WHR. Sarah was opposed to Brexit which has cut off the EU funding stream that helped restore the WHR. It's good to have another MP in parliament who knows the value of the WHR to North Wales even though she represents a Home Counties constituency. 

 

F&WHR traffic 17/6/21

Thursday dawned sunny and mild at Porthmadog with a maximum forecast 18C compared to the stifling weather endured in the Midlands and South East overnight. The 15:00 Mountain Prince was still bookable as were the two Glaslyn Venturer trains. there is no Gelert Explorer of Friday but Saturday's was fully booked a week ago. The opportunity to add one on Sunday has not been taken so far. The next available MFSuX Gelert Explorer is on Wednesday 23/6/21.

David Lloyd George arrived at 10:30 to shunt the A set to the FR platform for the 11:05 Mountain Prince. The 10:00 service arrived at Tan-y-bwlch in sunshine at 10:48 with Blanche and the B set and Moelwyn  already coupled to the rear for the Dduallt shunt. Previously, it appeared that Moelwyn has come up light engine before the first train. The train left at 10:54 for Dduallt. The 11:05 departed Porthmadog at 11:08 with the A set passing Minffordd at 11:22 after a 3 minute signal check for no apparent purpose.

At lunchtime the afternoon Glaslyn Venturer was sold out, possibly for the first time, even though there were compartments available on the 15:00 Mountain Prince! It appears the Glaslyn Venturer is gaining its own popularity. The 12:25 Mountain Prince departed on time with the C set behind Merddin Emrys passing Minffordd at 12:35 with no signal check this time.

At 12:57 No.130 returned with the Glaslyn Venturer and Blanche had arrived a few minutes earlier with the returning 10:00 working. Unusually No.130 ran to Boston Lodge for attention rather than to the fuelling point in Harbour Station while both rakes of coaches were Zoono cleaned by staff ready for the simultaneous departure at 13:40. The loco was back by 13:17 and running round at the same time as Blanche. Both departed on time with Blanche passing David Lloyd George at Minffordd. The Fairlie arrived at 14:11 with the Zoono team ready to clean the rake for the 15:00 service which was also sold out.

Friday is back down to four Mountain Prince trains with the 10:00 dropped from the schedule. The 15:00 is still bookable though. There are (currently) no trains on WHR Fridays!

 

F&WHR traffic 16/6/21

Wednesday proved to be a misty day at Porthmadog with lower temperatures and rain forecast for the afternoon. The full five Mountain Prince workings were planned for the day with just the 15:00 still available in the morning. Both Glaslyn Venturer trains are bookable today though in the final hour the curious message 'Phone to book ' comes up suggesting FareHarbor software uses a different system for these trains as this message is not seen with other services. The new Wednesday Gelert Explorer is also bookable, thought all the other trains this week are fully booked.

No.130 arrived at 09:30 to shunt the Glaslyn Venturer rake to the WHR platform. At 09:45 Merddin Emrys was shunting the yard whiles No.130 ran round its rake in the WHR platform. The 10:00 left a few minutes late as did the 10:15. Blanche left with the A-set on the 11:05, arriving at Tan-y-bwlch at 11:51 and Moelwyn was attached to rear minutes later. David Lloyd George arrived at Porthmadog at 11:34 to shunt the C set for the 12:25 Mountain Prince to the FR platform.

Merddin Emrys arrived back at Porthmadog at 12:52 with headlight on due to dull conditions. No.130 arrived back from Beddgelert at 13:00 with a good crowd. Both would be Zoono cleaned ready for the simultaneous 13:40 departures and both trains left on time in the increasingly murky weather.

There will be five Mountain Prince trains on Thursday 17/6/21 but the first and last trains are still bookable. There are no compartments left on the Gelert Explorer until 23/6/21 but Thursday's Glaslyn Venturer has compartments available on both morning and afternoon trains. Thursday is forecast to be sunny and a mild 19C at Porthmadog.

 

FR Mountain Prince Working timetable

Blanche, Palmerston, Prince, Welsh Pony; Merddin Emrys, David Lloyd George; Vale of Ffestiniog and Dduallt shunt loco Moelwyn or Upnor Castle.

Train     'Mountain Prince' 10:00 11:05 12:25 13:40 15:00
Previous working (if applicable)       ex 10:00 ex 11:05
Boston Lodge (light if applicable) 09:30 10:30 11:45 12:10  
Porthmadog depart (shunt ECS) 10:00 11:05 12:25 13:40 15:00
Minffordd depart 10:15 11:20 12:40 13:45 15:15
Rhiw Goch 10:30 11:35 12:55 14:00 15:30
Tan-y-bwlch arrive (diesel attached at rear) 10:45 11:50 13:05 14:25 15:45
Tan-y-bwlch depart 10:55 12:00 13:15 14:35 15:55
Dduallt (reverse) 11:10 12:15 13:30 14:50 16:10
Tan-y-bwlch arrive * 11:25 12:30 13:45 15:05 16:25
Tan-y-bwlch depart 12:20 13:30 14:50 16:00 17:10
Rhiw Goch 12:35 13:45 15:05 16:15 17:25
Minffordd depart 12:45 13:55 15:15 16:25 17:35
Porthmadog (run round and shunt ECS) 13:00 14:10 15:30 16:40 17:50
Next turn (if applicable) 13:40 15:00      
Boston Lodge (light to depot if applicable)     15:55 17:00 18:00

Any corrections appreciated.

* Following arrival at Tan-y-bwlch from Dduallt, the diesel detaches and attaches to next eastbound service (if any) and the steam loco runs round

 

Spooners fully booked 15-16/6/21

Spooners is doing just as well as the F&WHR. Both 15/6/21 and 16/6/21 were fully booked for evening food service. Booking is essential. Last year a modern coach was left on the platform and this could be used for overspill. Some thought might be given to repeating that experience.

 

WHRS donations via Amazon Smile

Help Amazon to help the Welsh Highland Railway Society on Amazon Prime Day! Did you know you can support WHRS/CRhE by using Amazon Smile when you shop online at Amazon? Instead of using the normal Amazon website, if you instead use https://smile.amazon.co.uk. Amazon donates 0.5% of the net purchase price (excluding VAT, returns and shipping fees) of eligible purchases to the charitable organisation of your choice – CRhE of course! Regular users (Prime Members) of Amazon will be aware of their Prime Days – this year Amazon are doubling the donations to CRhE. Prime members who shop Amazon Prime Day deals from 21-22/6/21 can do more than discover great deals: Simply shop at smile.amazon.co.uk/ch/1094938-0 or with Amazon Smile on in the Amazon Shopping app, and Amazon Smile will DOUBLE donations to Cymdeithas Rheilffordd Eryri at no extra cost.

 

F&WHR traffic 15/6/21

Today was sunny but fresher in Porthmadog with a  maximum temperature of 20C compared with the much higher temperatures in the Midlands and South East. Four Mountain Prince trains were operated and by the end of the day even the 15:00 was fully booked, The Glaslyn Venturer continues to mop up spare custom but the Gelert Explorer was fully booked.

No.130 left on the 10:15 Glaslyn Explorer on time and well loaded. Blanche arrived at 10:32 to shunt the 11:05 Mountain Prince into the FR platform which also left on time. Merddin Emrys passed Minffordd at 13:51 with the 13:40 Mountain Prince departing on time before the second run of No.130 with the slightly delayed Glaslyn Venturer.

Now that the Gelert Explorer runs MFSuX with additional Wednesday workings throughout June, tomorrow's Wednesday train offers the only seats available this week, such is the popularity of the service. There are 5 Mountain Prince runs tomorrow with the first four already sold out. However, both Glaslyn Venturer trains are still available for booking tomorrow.

  

F&WHR traffic 14/6/21

The new week brought cooler weather and sunny periods to Porthmadog. Four Mountain Prince trains were booked today at 11:05, 12:25, 13:40 and 15:00 with the first and third already fully booked. This combination requires three engines in steam with the 11:05 becoming the 15:00. These were the only trains available today as the Gelert Explorer is MFSuX (16/6/21 is still bookable) and the Glaslyn Venturer is TWThO and still surprisingly all seats are bookable this week as they have been until now. Volunteers were continuing to work on painting the station building

David Lloyd George emerged from Boston Lodge at 10:40 and headed across The Cob departing on time with the A set at 11:05. At 11:55 Merddin Emrys arrived in the WHR platform with 5 FR modern saloons and detached. The loco ran to shunt the FR yard, leaving the rake in the platform. The C set was shunted to the FR platform at 12:03 arriving at 12:10. So both double Fairlies were on the Mountain Prince trains today, possibly a first!

 

This easterly view (14/6/21) at 11:57 shows Merddin Emrys running around a rake of 5 FR coaches it had brought over from Boston Lodge. The coaches are probably the Glaslyn Venturer rake having received programmed servicing. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

At 12:45 the B set was shunted to the FR by Blanche for the 13:40 Mountain Prince. Merddin Emrys arrived at Tan-y-bwlch at 13:09 and departed at 13:17 with Moelwyn on the rear. Blanche arrived at Tan-y-bwlch at 14:29 with the 13:40 Mountain Prince working, departing promptly for Dduallt at 14:35 with Moelwyn on the rear and Merddin Emrys ran round at 14:41 once the platform was clear.

 

This westerly view (15/6/21) at 11:57 shows Merddin Emrys arriving at Tan-y-bwlch on the left whilst David Lloyd George waits to run round and take the 11:05 back to Porthmadog and form the 15:00. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Down at Porthmadog David Lloyd George ran round 14:48 ready for the 15:00 which departed a few minutes late. After returning with the 13:40, Merddin Emrys shunted the C set into the yard at 16:10. The coaches from the WHR platform had been shunted to the yard, presumably by Blanche after shunting its own rake to the sidings. David Lloyd George arrived back in Porthmadog at 17:50 and left the rake in the platform, before watering and returning to the depot at 18:03 to close the day's activities.

Tuesday's timetable showed the same pattern of four trains and the same pair were booked out a day ahead. Wednesday has five Mountain Prince trains rostered with the first three booked out two days in advance!

 

Prince at Statfold YouTube 8/6/21

Click on the YouTube window to watch 6 mins 47 seconds of video covering visiting England locomotive No.2 Prince' is seen at the Statfold Barn Railway, visiting from the Ffestiniog Railway. 'Prince' is seen participating in a 30742 Photo Charter on the 8/6/21, ahead of their upcoming 'enthusiast weekend'. For more information on 30742 charters visit: 30742 Charters. Video produced by Steaming Around Yorkshire. Video taken on a digital camcorder. It is best watched in 1080p HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on the YouTube link.

 

F&WHR traffic 13/6/21

It was a mild sunny day as Porthmadog, compared with nearly 30C where Prince was visiting Statfold Barn Railway. David Lloyd George was on the 11:05 Mountain Prince arriving back from Dduallt at 12:22. Blanche left Porthmadog on the 13:40 on time. There was a 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer but no afternoon working.

Prince worked top and tail with other locos including Saccharine at Statfold Barn from platform 3 and via the High Line and was also paired with the same loco Saturday. Prince will return to the F&WHR early next week.

 

This southerly view (13/6/21) at 11:38 shows Prince approaching the balloon loop at the far end of the Statfold barn Railway. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a iPhone 8 Plus and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

No.87 10/6/21

This northerly view (10/6/21) shows No.87 approaching Rhyd Ddu with the Gelert Explorer around midday. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

F&WHR traffic 12/6/21

It was a better start to the weekend on Saturday with clearer skies and higher temperatures forecast at Porthmadog. Only three trains were offered on the FR with the 11:05, 12:25 and 15:00, the first two fully booked by the previous day. The Gelert Explorer was fully booked today. Sunday is also showing just three trains on the FR, with the 13:40 replacing for the 12:25. The Wednesday additional Gelert Explorer was added in response to this week's trains being fully booked and the decision has been made to run trains every Wednesday for the rest of the spring timetable. So for the rest of June the Gelert Explorer is MFSuX with July seeing some additional Monday trains added as already some days in July are fully booked! The repainting of the station building continued.

Blanche turned up about 10:30 for the first Mountain Prince working and coupled to the A set which had been left in the platform overnight. The train left on time with steam being raised for the 12:25 at Boston Lodge. Moelwyn was waiting at Tan-y-bwlch for the 11:05 which arrived at 11:44 and departed with Moelwyn on the rear at 11:51. The 12:25 left on time with David Lloyd George in charge, passing Minffordd at 12:35.

The double Fairlie only made one trip but Blanche was back at Tan-y-bwlch at 16:40 running round its train ready to return from its second trip. The train had left by 17:15. Blanche ran into the FR platform at 17:41 and leaving the rake in the platform before leaving for the depot at 17:51 and bringing proceedings to a close.

 

Caernarfon Castle progress 12/6/21

The design of the new cab for Castell Caernarfon to replace the current fibreglass cab is complete and materials will soon be ordered shortly. Will this engine follow F&WHR policy and receive a Caernarfon Castle nameplate in addition to its current Welsh-only nameplates when it emerges from Boston Lodge?

 

F&WHR traffic 11/6/21

Friday was another grey misty mild day at Porthmadog and even more so around Tan-y-bwlch. Today's five Mountain Prince trains were fully booked so the TWThO Glaslyn Explorer could have run today and mopped up those passengers who were disappointed as the Gelert Explorer is FX and also fully booked until 22/6/21 so an additional Wednesday service on 16/6/21 might be a good idea. The service runs MFSuX from 22/6/21.

Welsh Pony was B set on the 10:00 service which arrived back in Tan-y-bwlch from Dduallt at 11:28. Blanche left Porthmadog on time with A set on the 11:05 service. The 12:25 with the C set was hauled by Merddin Emrys (circular smokebox screw) with thick sea fog. At 14:25 Welsh Pony arrived at a foggy Tan-y-bwlch where Moelwyn was quickly attached to the rear and left for Dduallt  at 15:56. Merddin Emrys ran round at 14:43. At 15:47 Merddin Emrys left Porthmadog for the depot having shunted the C set into the yard. Moelwyn left Tan-y-Bwlch at 15:53 on the rear of the 15:00. Work seemed to be underway painting the station building at Tan-y-bwlch. Welsh Pony departed for Porthmadog at about 16:15 and Moelwyn arrived with Blanche on the rear 5 minutes later. At the end of the day the A set was left in the platform and, with all quiet by 18:00, the signalman made his way home.

Two of the three Saturday Mountain Prince trains are already fully booked with availability limited to the 15:00 as of the end of Friday. There are compartments available on the 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer on Sunday but the Gelert Explorer is fully booked until 16/6/21.

 

F&WHR traffic 10/6/21

Thursday dawned a grey day with mild conditions and little chance of seeing the eclipse! The next three Gelert Explorer trains are fully booked and compartments are not free until 17/6/21 suggesting additional days could be run to increase F&WHR income. There are four Mountain Prince trains today but the first three are fully booked with only the 15:00 available. The F&WHR has responded to the high level of demand and will run the maximum five trains on Friday. Compartments on both the Glaslyn Venturer trains is still available today. These trains run TWThO for the rest of June and until 22/7/21, the end of the Spring Timetable, but, exceptionally, the 10:15 will run on Sunday 13/6/21.

There was nothing wrong with No.130 yesterday as it was back in traffic on Thursday, arriving at Porthmadog at 09:25 to shunt the yard. On Wednesday afternoon, the loco had been taken off the train at Pont Croesor to go back to Beddgelert to assist an ailing No.87 on the Gelert Explorer. In the event it was not needed as No.87 was fixed by the crew. The episode showed how quickly the F&WHR can respond to an incident by providing a spare loco, David Lloyd George, to collect the Glaslyn Venturer rake left behind at Pont Croesor.

Blanche also arrived at 10:35 from Boston Lodge to shunt the yard for the 10:00 Mountain Prince. After Blanche arrived No.130 shunted the Glaslyn Venturer rake to the WHR platform and ran round ready for the 10:15 departure which came at 10:17. At 10:28 David Lloyd George arrived and extracted the rake from the seawall siding and propelled it into the FR platform for the 11:05 Mountain Prince departure. Meanwhile up at Tan-y-bwlch Moelwyn was waiting for Blanche to arrive which came at 10:40. The train arrived back from Dduallt at 11:12 hauled by Moelwyn with Blanche on the rear.

No.130 arrived back from the afternoon Glaslyn Venturer at 16:24 with a large crowd on the afternoon Glaslyn Venturer. The rake was shunted to the yard by 16:45 and Blanche arrived back with the Mountain Prince at 13:47 allowing No.130 to be disposed to the depot. Blanche then shunted its rake to the sidings and followed to Boston Lodge light engine at 16:58. David Lloyd George returned at 17:52 to the WHR platform before promptly running round and shunting the rake to the seawall siding. The loco watered at 18:10 then left for the depot at 18:25 bringing the day's activities to a close.

Friday has 5 Mountain Prince trains and the 15:00 is still bookable though the Gelert Explorer was fully booked.

 

F&WHR traffic 9/6/21

The day dawned a little grey at Porthmadog but quite mild with all the Mountain Prince trains fully booked. There was however room on the Glaslyn Venturer. The Minffordd and Tan-y-bwlch webcams were back on line after several days out of action.

No.130 was running round the Glaslyn Venturer rake at 09:55 and Blanche was approaching from Boston Lodge coupling directly to the 10:00 Mountain Prince in the FR platform, departing a few minutes late at 10:05. The Glaslyn Venturer left at 10:18, also a few minutes late. Merddin Emrys arrived to shunt the yard at 10:30 and dragged the rake out of the seawall siding for the 11:05 Mountain Prince which left on time.

Blanche arrived at 12:50 with the return working of the 10:00 while No.130 arrived at 12:55 with the return working of the well filled Glaslyn Venturer. Both were Zoono cleaned and readied for their respective simultaneous 13:40 departures with No.130 visiting the yard for water/fuel at 13:02. Blanche completed its run round at 13:11 and No.130 at 13:20. At 14:42 Merddin Emrys was running round in preparation for the 15:00. Moelwyn returned to Tan-y-bwlch from Dduallt at 14:54 with Blanche on the rear.

It appeared there was some operational problem in the afternoon with No.87 on the Gelert Explorer. No.130 was detached from the Glaslyn Venturer at Pont Croesor to go back to Beddgelert to assist and David Lloyd George was steamed and stood at the WHR platform starter for a while waiting permission to go up the WHR as time approached 16:00 to bring the Glaslyn Venturer, marooned at Pont Croesor, back to Porthmadog. As the weather became murky the loco crew turned on the Fairlie's front lights. The Fairlie departed at 16:10 towards Beddgelert to rescue the Garratt's train.

 

This easterly view (9/6/21) at 15:57 shows David Lloyd George departing light engine to rescue the Glaslyn Venturer from Pont Croesor as No.130 had been removed to help No.87 near Beddgelert. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This easterly view (9/6/21) at 16:53 shows David Lloyd George arriving with the rescued Glaslyn Venturer. No.130 had been detached at Pont Croesor loop to help No.87 north of Beddgelert. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Blanche arrived back at 16:45 with the return working of the 13:40 Mountain Prince. At 16:53 David Lloyd George reappeared hauling the late Glaslyn Venturer due in the platform at about 16:20. No.130 was not attached and had been detached at Pont Croesor to go and assist No.87 at Beddgelert. At 16:55 Blanche left light engine for the depot. In the end No.87 was fixed by the crew and No.130 was not required. The late running Glaslyn Venturer rake was shunted to the yard at 17:07 and the Fairlie returned to the depot at 17:22. No.130 returned light engine at 17:26 via the WHR platform road and left for the depot two minutes later.

 

This easterly view (9/6/21) at 17:26 shows No.130 surprisingly arriving light engine under its own power after all the drama of the afternoon. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Meanwhile up at Tan-y-bwlch Merddin Emrys departed at 17:15, a little later than normal. The Fairlie arrived in the WHR platform at 17:52 and after running round, shunted the rake to the seawall siding at 18:00 and left a little later to finish off the activity for the day.

All compartments on the Mountain Prince were fully booked for 10/6/21 as was the Gelert Explorer but there were still compartments available on both Glaslyn Venturer trains.

 

Main line news

A TfW DMU developed wheel flats and was removed from Barmouth by road a few days ago as it was stuck on the wrong side of the Machynlleth Black Bridge upgrade works in early June. DMU No.158824 was sent to the Cambrian to replace it as a miscalculation had left no contingency reserve at Machynlleth. The new unit was brought in by road transport movements to Barmouth by Allely's via Ruabon-Barmouth route on 9/6/21. Pity there was no track on the route to help!

Following on from TfW's statement that it will look at the West Wales and Heart of Wales line again a study has come out in favour of a HoWL upgrade to link Swansea to HS2 at Crewe.

 

Glaslyn Venturer working timetable

Locos available: No.87, No.130, Merddin Emrys plus David Lloyd George or possibly double headed small locos if not required by other FR trains.

Boston Lodge 09:30* ex 10:15
Porthmadog dep. 10:15 13:40
Beddgelert arr. 11:00 14:25
Beddgelert dep. 12:00 15:25
Porthmadog arr 12:55 16:20
Next turn where applicable 13:40 N/A
Boston Lodge where applicable N/A 16:35

*Train engine may come over earlier to shunt yard.

 

No.143 news 24/5/21

Garratt No.143 is going through its refurbishment cycle and on 24/5/21 the loco was shunted out to Dinas North Yard by Vale of Ffestiniog to have its boiler removed for assessment. In accordance with F&WHR policy a local contractor with a crane fitted lorry Hughes Specialised Transport Ltd of Blaenau Ffestiniog provided their 18 tonne crane. The crane was fitted with outriggers so it could lift No.143's 12 tonne boiler off the boiler cradle. The boiler was placed on flat car DZ No.2005 and parked at Dinas for assessment by a boiler engineer. No.143 will be fitted with the refurbished boiler donated by the Puffing Billy Railway from No.129. No.130 was shunting by Dinas on test during the procedure.

 

No.130 transfer to Boston Lodge 29-30/5/21

No.130 was transferred from Dinas to Boston Lodge either 29-30/5/21 to haul the first Glaslyn Venturer on 31/5/21. It double headed with No.87 to Beddgelert and back on 27/5/21. This was presumably the first time the new Plas-y-nant bridge has been loaded with two Garratts, a working banned in the past. The new Garratt may have come down light engine or on the front of No.87 to Beddgelert on 30/5/21 Gelert Explorer before continuing light to Boston Lodge.

 

New coach No.2048 31/5/21

New panoramic style coach No.2048 was launched on 31/5/21 paid for entirely by long standing supporter Peter Campbell, who is often to be seen around the railway. The is the third of three panoramic coaches to be built through WHR Society Funding or private sponsorship. This is the first modern coach sponsored for the WHR though a NWNGR replica No.24 was previously sponsored by Mike Schumann. The coach had been shunted into the Glaslyn Venturer rake behind Observation car No.152 for the occasion and remained in the rake for the week.

 

F&WHR traffic 8/6/21

Tuesday appeared to be another fine warm day on the F&WHR but the Minffordd and Tan-y-bwlch webcams were still out of action. Blanche arrived at 12:47 hauling the B set with the return working of the 10:00 Mountain Prince. No.130 arrived back with the Glaslyn Adventurer arrived back about 13:00 and the Garratt shunted to the FR yard to water before running round to the north end of the rake by 13:14. Blanche then ran round at 13:11 for the 13:40 which is timed to depart the same time as the second Glaslyn Explorer.

 

This easterly view (8/6/21) at 14:40 shows Blanche departing for Dduallt at the same moment that No.130 sets off for Beddgelert. This is the first day that the simultaneous departures could happen. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

For more images of a typical No.130's day trip to Beddgelert see F&WHR Insider webpage.

 

This southerly view (6/21) shows No.130 with the afternoon Glaslyn Venturer crossing Britannia Bridge tramway section. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on an iPhone camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Shortly afterwards David Lloyd George arrived hauling the A set at 14:03 with the return working of the 11:05 Mountain Prince set to become the final working of the day, the 15:00. This train was also sold out departing at 15:04 after the driver had to get out to check to guard's Right Away....maybe an RA indicator is needed on the curved FR platform?

 

Prince moves to Statfold Barn 7/6/21

Prince arrived at Statfold Barn Railway near Tamworth on 7/6/21 in preparation for the Trangkil 50 Weekend 12-13/6/21. Prince will be running with Trangkil No.4, the last commercially built UK steam loco. Tickets are limited by social distancing rules. Contact Statfold Barn for more information.

 

TfW Mk4 announcement

On the day that the Mk4 rakes returned to Holyhead-Cardiff services (one return service a day), it was announced that some 20 of the 30 additional fully refurbished coaches purchased by TfW from the aborted Grand Central Blackpool-Euston trains will be used on 4 rakes of five coach Swansea-Manchester trains via Shrewsbury from December 2022. This will allow time for repainting into TfW livery and staff training. TfW confirm they will also revisit plans for Heart of Wales and West Wales branches as the Swansea-Manchester trains used to continue to Haverfordwest. No mention has been made of reinstating the Holyhead-Manchester loco hauled services but one five coach rake could surely be put to use on this formerly loco hauled route, not to mention Holyhead-Birmingham International, and still leave a maintenance spare rake. While the Swansea-Manchester trains do benefit travellers from Mid-Wales and the Marches, it seems that South Wales is being favoured again. See TfW Press Release and video.

Freightliner has run some trial trips to Penmaenmawr stone terminal which is being reactivated bringing freight back to North Wales.

 

Llangollen appeal for volunteers

The Llangollen Railway Trust has purchased the rights to run the railway and owns sufficient rolling stock to run the railway this summer. It is keen on restarting the service late July/early August. For this to happen work must be completed on the Dee Bridge, at Berwyn Tunnel and at Glyndyfrdwy as well as several other jobs that cannot be afforded by paid staff/contractors. The trust is appealing for volunteers to help get the railway open over the next three weeks lead time.

 

F&WHR traffic 7/6/21

Monday dawned as a fine day on the F&WHR but the Minffordd and Tan-y-bwlch webcams were still out of action. There was a large gathering of people on the platforms at Porthmadog before 0800 for PTG Tours special working and Lyd, newly released from Boston Lodge, came over at 07:46 to shunt the yard at Porthmadog. The loco dragged the B set out of the seawall siding and propelled the rake back into the WHR platform before running round at 08:00. This explains why the B set would not be available for additional services on the FR today. The train departed at 08:17 up the WHR to Caernarfon with guests with packed lunches.

 

This easterly view (7/6/21) at 08:17 shows freshly outshopped Lyd departing for Caernarfon with the C set carrying the PTG Tour excursionists. The A set had already been shunted to the platform for the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

There were briefly three trains at Rhyd Ddu with Lyd heading north on the excursion, Vale of Ffestiniog on a stock transfer with one coach to Boston lodge and Harlech Castle on a PW working.

 

This southerly view (7/6/21) shows Lyd with the PTG tour at Dinas at 11:21. With no Gelert Explorer on Mondays the train has the freedom of the line. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Keith Holland and was taken on an iPhone camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

On return from Caernarfon the tour was rostered to have an England engine to Blaenau Ffestiniog to complete the 80 mile round trip, possibly in the path of the 15:00. It is surprising that the Glaslyn Adventurer rake was not used as it was free today. Prince left the F&WHR for Statfold Barn's weekend event 12-13/6/21 later this week buy low loader from Minffordd yard.

 

This easterly view (8/6/21) shows Lyd with the PTG tour running round at Caernarfon. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Paul Lewin (F&WHR) and was taken on an iPhone camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The A set was in the platform from the start of the day, possibly shunted there by Lyd earlier. The leading coaches were pressure washed as they get covered in soot from locos. Blanche turned up at 10:17 for the 11:05 service which left on time. Vale of Ffestiniog turned up at 11:48 to shunt the Porthmadog Carriage Sidings. At 11:58 the Funkey removed the two WHR coaches stored over the weekend in the yard and shunted them back into the WHR platform before running round and heading to Dinas at 12:10. This train waited until staff had their lunch break before departing at 12:xx probably passing the PTG Excursion at Beddgelert where that had stopped for lunch. Possibly as a result of taking the two extra WHR coaches to Dinas the Thursday Gelert Explorer is no longer fully booked.

 

This easterly view (7/6/21) at 12:37 shows Vale of Ffestiniog departing for Dinas with two freshly outshopped WHR coaches. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The Mountain Prince was fully booked by midday so the F&WHR had to turn passengers away yet again even though the Glaslyn Explorer rake was standing idle, surely a miscalculation? At 13:00 steam was being raised for the 13:40 Mountain Prince and Merddin Emrys arrived a few minutes later to water and coal then shunt the yard. The C set was shunted into the platform at 13:27 ready for the 13:40 Mountain Prince which departed on time.

More steam was being raised at Boston Lodge at 13:45 in anticipated of a loco change for the PTG Tour excursion. Blanche arrived back at 13:08 with the return working of the 11:05, running round at 14:30 and departing on time at 15:00. Lyd arrived back at 15:18 with the replacement haulage coming across The Cob. Lyd was promptly detached and shunted to the FR yard while passengers made use of the facilities. Two England engines coupled to the front at 15:25, Palmerston with Welsh Pony inside. At 15:48 Lyd returned to Boston Lodge as the excursionists rejoined their train. The train left for Blaenau Ffestiniog at 16:00. At 16:16 Harlech Castle ran through the WHR platform non-stop with a different PW train featuring the WHR mess car, not the weed killer rake seen the Dinas in the morning.

Merddin Emrys arrived back at 16:41 with the C set. After shunting the rake to the yard the Fairlie left for the depot at 16:58. The excursion arrived back from Blaenau Ffestiniog at 19:06 with Palmerston leading Welsh Pony. The pair left for the depot at 19:19 bringing the day's activities to a close.

 

This easterly view (7/6/21) at 19:06 shows Palmerston leading Welsh Pony into Porthmadog with the return working of the PTG excursion. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Already three of the four Mountain Prince trains are sold out of Tuesday and Wednesday, though it is possible the F&WHR might offer a fifth train. The Gelert Explorer is fully booked for three of the four days this week with availability limited to Wednesday. However the Glaslyn Adventurer is avilable on all four days this week (MFSX).

 

NG15 boiler report

Laurence Armstrong reports:

Since lockdown eased No.134's boiler (manufactured by Henschel in 1957) has been under repair at Locomotive Maintenance Services in Loughborough. The firebox has been cut away in all places indicated by the initial inspections and grit blasted, and a 'scope of repair' was agreed on the 18/5/21. Work has now commenced on repairing the firebox which involves several patches, many new stays & refitting of the foundation ring which will result in a much better condition of platework for the future than widespread crack repairs & local thickening. The boiler is in generally good condition prior to repair especially the inner firebox which is great news for the future, the main area of concern on the boiler was the corrosion to the platework near the foundation ring. In line with our acceleration of the planned completion of No.134, LMS have confirmed resources available to work on the boiler during this year as long as our funding can keep pace.

We currently have sufficient funds for the commenced firebox repairs but in order to complete the boiler and have it returned to Wales fully tested we need additional support to cover the barrel repairs, front tubeplate, smoke tubes & superheater flues. We would be delighted to receive any donations now in order to keep to our accelerated plan and bring this long-awaited locomotive type into service for the first time in the UK on the fantastically scenic Welsh Highland Railway. We prefer all donations to be channelled through Cymdeithas Rheilffordd Eryri/WHR Society as your kind support will also be boosted for the project by 25% Gift Aid. Donations will be kept in restricted fund only for use on loco No.134. We will shortly be refreshing our Reward Scheme to recognise donations from the past and future on this project so that benefactors can enjoy advantageous access to the loco in future. Many thanks for your continued support - and fingers crossed for a return to steam next year!

 

North Wales Track Gang 5-6/6/21

This northerly view (6/6/21) shows Vale of Ffestiniog with the Mess car and wagons at Rhyd Ddu. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Tom Waldren and was taken on a digital camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Weed killer train 7/6/21

A very 'Heath Robinson' weed killer train has appeared on the F&WHR at Dinas to cope with the rapid growth of grass across the track in various places at this time of year.

 

This southerly view (7/6/21) shows Harlech Castle with the weed killer train at Dinas. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Keith Holland and was taken on an iPhone camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (7/6/21) shows the weed killer train at Dinas. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Keith Holland and was taken on an iPhone camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

North Wales Main line 7/6/21

The loco hauled Holyhead-Cardiff service is back with Mk4 rakes in public service. The first train was the 1v91 the 05:34 to Cardiff hauled by TfW liveried No.67008.

Meanwhile on the Borderlands Line No.67030 with translator vehicle was taking a Class 508 EMU to Eastleigh for refurbishment.

 

F&WHR traffic 6/6/21

There were still quite a few holidaymakers around Porthmadog at the weekend but only four Woodland Wanderer trains to serve them. All the trains were fully booked by midday showing that additional services could have been run to garner extra income at 12:15/15:25. The 10:05 left behind Welsh Pony. Blanche arrived at 10:42 to shunt the yard for the 11:05, repeating the loco roster of the previous day. Welsh Pony arrived back at 12:34 in plenty of time for Zoono cleaning and running round the rake for the 13:15 service.

Monday sees the return of the Mountain Prince with three of the potential five trains booked to run. Already two of the three are fully booked with only the 15:00 available. The Gelert Explorer is operating MFSuX this week and Tuesday and Thursday are already fully booked showing suppressed demand on the WHR. This week the Glaslyn Venturer is operating MFSX with all days bookable.

 

Woodland Wanderer working timetable

Light engine from depot where applicable 09:30 10:35 11:40 ex 10:00 ex 11:05 ex 12:10
Porthmadog dep. 10:00 11:05 12:10 13:15 14:20 15:25
Minffordd pass 10:10 11:15 12:20 13:25 14:30 15:35
Tan-y-bwlch arr. 10:45 11:50 12:55 14:00 15:05 16:10
Tan-y-bwlch shunt to other platform where applicable 10:55 12:00 13:05 14:10 15:15 N/A
Tan-y-bwlch dep. 11:55 13:00 14:05 15:10 16:15 17:20
Minffordd pass 12:20 13:25 14:30 15:35 16:40 17:45
Porthmadog arr. 12:30 13:35 14:40 15:45 16:50 17:55
Next turn where applicable 13:15 14:20 15:25      
Light engine to depot       16:00 17:05 18:10

 

F&WHR traffic 5/6/21

It was another fine day at Porthmadog but to many supporters' surprise no additional trains were rostered and the four that ran were fully booked leading to potential passengers and income being turned away.

Welsh Pony was turned out for the 10:00 and Blanche for the 11:05. Two of the four final Woodland Wanderer Sunday trains are fully booked as the Whitsun holiday week winds down. Both the Tan-y-bwlch and Minffordd webcams were out of action for the second day.

No.87 was on the Gelert Explorer.

 

F&WHR traffic 4/6/21

Friday looked like a reasonable day at Porthmadog with broken cloud and sunshine. There was room on both Glaslyn Adventurer trains. Five Woodland Wanderer trains were booked to run with compartments still available on the 14:20 in the morning..

No.130 was rostered again on 4/6/21. It approached Porthmadog from the old Loco Shed rather than Boston Lodge, leading to the possibility that it is stabled overnight there instead at the moment. The Garratt arrived at 09:39 and promptly shunted the Glaslyn Adventurer rake to the WHR platform within the shunt limit while another loco was approaching from Boston Lodge for the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer. The shunt was complete by 09:48 and No.130 detached ready for a run round move after Prince had run in to shunt the yard for the Woodland Wanderer. This was a little later than normal at 9:51 and the rake arrived in the platform at the departure time! Merddin Emrys was rostered for the 11:05 and had shunted the A set into the FR platform by 11:50.

 

This westerly view (4/6/21) shows Merddin Emrys hauling the Woodland Wanderer on the morning trip.. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

No.130 left on time on the 1340 as Merddin Emrys arrived back at 13:44. All the Woodland Wanderer trains were sold out by midday so the 15:25 could have been put on. Welsh Pony arrived at 14:47 on its single trip with C set with the 12:15 Woodland Wanderer in lovely sunshine. No.130 arrived back at 16:20 while Moelwyn propelled another WHR coach from Boston Lodge into the yard. The Glaslyn Explorer rake was split behind Observation Car No.152 and the rest shunted to the WHR loop line whilst Moelwyn waited for a path. The WHR coach previously added next to No.152 was left in the loop and the rake was shunted back onto No.152.

Evidently the strengthening of the Glaslyn Venturer was unnecessary or fewer passengers were anticipated after the school Whitsun holiday week. Moelwyn now left the yard to collect the coach from loop. Now Merddin Emrys arrived with the return working of the 14:20 and was held at the trident signal while No.130 shunted the shortened rake into the FR yard at 16:49 as the Glaslyn Venturer does not run at weekends. No.130 left for Boston lodge at 16:30. Merddin Emrys attempted to run round but Moelwyn was blocking the run round with the extracted coach. Moelwyn moved the Panoramic saloon coach (from Nos.2046-48)  from the WHR loop to the yard at 16:58 allowing the double Fairlie to complete its run round move and propel the Woodland Wanderer rake into the yard at 17:06. Some shunting occurred in the yard, leaving the two WHR coaches there before the Fairlie left with Moelwyn for the depot at 17:19, bringing the day's activities to a close.

 

This easterly view (4/6/21) at 16:52: shows No.130 departing for Boston Lodge after shunting the Glaslyn Venturer to stable unused in the yard for the weekend. Merddin Emrys has just arrived with the 14:20 Woodland Wanderer. Moelwyn waits in the WHR loop to shunt a coach extracted from the Glaslyn Venturer to the yard. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Only the Porthmadog webcam was available during the afternoon and evening after some failure. There are four Woodland Wanderer trains on both Saturday and Sunday but three of the four on Saturday are already sold out. From Monday 7/6/21 the Woodland Wanderer is replaced by the Mountain Prince with up to 5 trains a day. The Glaslyn Venturer reverts to TWThO operation for the rest of June.

 

F&WHR traffic 3/6/21

Thursday dawned a little cloudy at Porthmadog but with plenty of tourists still around on holiday. All six Woodland Wanderer trains were fully booked for Thursday and Friday's four too which means additional trains are likely to be added to Friday's schedule. However, any disappointed passengers on Friday could book one of the two Glaslyn Venturer trains both of which have availability so maybe that's what the F&WHR plan intended.

No.130 was turned out for traffic at 09:29 today after three days of pairs of double Fairlies. This also means that No.87 is the motive power on the Gelert Explorer today. No.130 waited on the Glaslyn Venturer rake in the FR platform until Welsh Pony arrived at 09:39 light engine. No.130 then shunted the 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer to the WHR platform and ran round while Welsh Pony shunted the B set into the FR platform for the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer which left a few minutes late. No.130 left on time with its new headlights switched on. Blanche was provided for the 11:05 and left on time with the A-set. At 11:44 Prince was shunting the C set into the platform for the 12:10 Woodland Wanderer.

 

This easterly view (2/6/21) at 10:16 shows No.130 hauling the Glaslyn Venturer on the morning trip for the first time in four days. This was the first appearance of the headlights in use. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

No.130 arrived back at 13:12 a little later than normal but with plenty of time for the Zoono cleaning squad to prepare the train for the 13:40. Welsh Pony departed on time at 13:15. Upnor Castle was shunting the yard at 14:50 and left at 14:55 for Boston Lodge light engine maybe after delivering some rolling stock from programmed maintenance. Welsh Pony was shunting the B set back into the sidings at 16:00 with the return service from the 13:15 before leaving light engine for the depot at 16:07.

Prince arrived at Tan-y-bwlch with the well loaded 15:25 at 16:17 allowing Blanche to depart at 16:19 with the return of the 14:20 service. At 16:37 Harlech Castle with the Mess van, cherry picker and long reach excavator train came through from the Dduallt direction before shunting into Tan-y-bwlch yard to allow Prince to run round at 16:48. Down at Porthmadog the afternoon Glaslyn Venturer had been shunted into the FR platform by 16:40 and the loco was back at Boston Lodge. Prince left Tan-y-bwlch at 17:18 and arrived at Porthmadog at 17:52. Some passengers in the 4 wheelers had to detrain onto the ballast on the wrong side from the platform as usual. Prince ran round at 17:56 and shunted the rake to the sea wall. The loco set off for the depot at 18:10 bringing the day's activity to a close.

Staycation numbers have been surprisingly high around the F&WHR with occasional gridlock in Porthmadog. They will be swelled by the exclusion of countries like Portugal from the GREEN list today. People who have their fingers burned over holiday cancellations may flock to Wales where Porthmadog has benefitted from Mediterranean temperatures of late! By late afternoon the 12:10 had been added to the services offered on Friday as all four previously advertised trains were fully booked. This requires 3 engines in steam for the Woodland Wanderer. Saturday's Gelert Explorer is also fully booked but both of Friday's Glaslyn Venturer trains were available to book as of Thursday afternoon.

 

Moving Pictures No.51 2/6/21

Click on the YouTube window to watch 32 mins 09 seconds of video covering the F&WHR including a cab ride to Dduallt on a double Fairlie and pair of double Fairlies working the Glaslyn Venturer. This YouTube was published on 2/6/21 and was taken by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a 4K digital camcorder. It is best watched in 1080p HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on the YouTube link.

 

F&WHR traffic 2/6/21

The weather at Porthmadog became more cloudy with rain forecast in the afternoon but bookings continue to be very pleasing. The Cob and High Street remained grid locked with tourist cars. All six Woodland Wanderer trains were sold out on Wednesday morning and all except the 15:25 were sold out for Thursday. four trains are currently showing Friday to Sunday but if bookings hold up these might be extended to 5/6 trains. The Gelert Explorer is fully booked Wednesday/Thursday but the Glaslyn Venturer has availability both days.

 

This easterly view (2/6/21) at 07:48 shows Upnor Castle taking Romanian coach No.2060 on an early morning trip from Boston Lodge to Dinas. This was its first departmental coach duty of the day. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The first move of the day was Upnor Castle taking Romanian coach No.2060 back to the WHR from Boston Lodge Coach Works in a departmental move leaving the WHR platform at 07:48 for Dinas. Glaslyn Venturer Observation coaches were being pressure washed in the FR platform. By 09:00 David Lloyd George (recognisable by its whistle being towards the right of the dome and flatter roof profile) had come over from Boston Lodge and at 09:16 drew the Glaslyn Venturer rake out and shunted the coaches into the WHR platform. The loco ran round the train and coupled up by 09:32 and it appeared for a while that the F&WHR was going to chance this long heavy train with just a single double Fairlie even given the 1 in 40 gradients north of Hafod-y-llyn! However Merddin Emrys arrived at 09:37 dropping off Prince at the station limits before coupling to the front. So today the pair were operating in reverse order and it is a mystery what has happened to No.130 which ran the very first Glaslyn Venturer. Prince then ran into the yard, shunted the B set for the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer rake to the FR platform arriving at 09:46 and departed on time. The Glaslyn Venturer also departed on time at 10:15.

 

This easterly view (2/62/21) at 09:28 shows David Lloyd George running round the Glaslyn Venturer rake after bringing it into the station. For a while it appeared the rake might be single headed. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Blanche shunted the A set into the FR platform by 10:50 ready for the 11:05. Upnor Castle was back from Dinas with a spare WHR coach at 12:26 which it ran round in the WHR platform. Welsh Pony arrived at Tan-y-bwlch at 12:57 with the C set and the two double Fairlies arrived back at Porthmadog for Zoono cleaning at 13:00. Prince left on time at 13:15 with the Woodland Wanderer. At 15:09 Welsh Pony ran round ready for the 15:25 in Porthmadog FR platform which ran late again departing at 15:33 in damp conditions. The loco returned to Porthmadog WHR platform at 17:49. The rake was shunted to the yard by 18:00 and Welsh Pony set off to the depot at 18:05 bringing the day's activities to a close. 

 

This easterly view (2/6/21) at 12:26 shows Upnor Castle running round a WHR coach in the WHR platform that it had presumably brought back from its early morning trip to Dinas. This was its second departmental coach duty of the day. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The Woodland Wanderer is fully booked on Thursday and two of Friday's four trains are already fully booked so it is possible one or two trains may be added on Friday. Thursday's and Saturday's Gelert Explorer are fully booked indicating there is suppressed demand for trains out of Caernarfon with no Fridays of Sunday services and only one train a day. Compartments are available on the Glaslyn Venturer on Thursday and Friday but there are no Saturday or Sunday services planned.

 

WHR 25/5/21

No.87 was the loco on the Gelert Explorer on 25/5/21.

 

Llangollen Railway will be 'smaller' in future

The Llangollen Railway will be smaller in future as it matches it size to its budget. There are likely to be no more huge events such as 'Steel, Steam and Stars' and the railway will be more volunteer led like the G&WR rather than having 27 employees as in the past. The Trust has 10 coaches, plus two it purchased in the auction and two of those auctioned are likely to stay at the railway. Sadly though it has lost an RMB to the Spa Valley Railway so on board refreshment service may be reduced. Coach No.3950 is not moving far....just down the road to the Cambrian Heritage Centre at Oswestry. The Class 08 lookalike Davy has gone to the Battlefield Line. The LR is likely to open in late July/August for the school holidays and may feature diesel haulage as the fleet of three mainline diesel locos is privately owned by the Llangollen Diesel Group and there is only one steam loco GWR 2-8-0 No.3802. The extensive DMU fleet is also privately owned.

 

F&WHR traffic 1/6/21

The first day of June was fine and sunny again. there are six Woodland Wanderer trains planned today and all but the 14:20 and 15:25 are fully booked. The Gelert Explorer is fully booked today and the Gold tickets have sold well as every June day ahead except 23/6/21 is fully booked! The new Glaslyn Adventurer finds itself in an identical position. Upnor Castle shunted the WHR rake leaving the coach WHR No.2048 and No.152 in the WHR platform for spray cleaning the Observation car windows. As these are next to a loco twice a day its essential they are cleaned for the Gold compartment passengers! Upnor Castle shunted the rest of the rake onto the two coaches in the WHR platform and then returned to the yard.

David Lloyd George and Merddin Emrys were rostered for the 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer again, arriving in the WHR run round from the depot at 09:20. then locos uncoupled and separately coupled to the Glaslyn Venturer thereby reversing the order of the locos. Upnor Castle shunted the B set into the platform at 09:28 and all was set for the first passengers. The Planet then returned to shunt the yard. Prince turned up at 09:47 to haul the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer, departing at 10:02.

At 10:22 Upnor Castle left propelling a coal wagon to Boston Lodge. Blanche arrived at 10:39 to haul the 11:05, departing on time from the FR platform. The WHR ground signal starter for Britannia Bridge and also the one for the run round were being maintained at 11:25 and steam was being raised for the 12:10 service over in Boston Lodge. Palmerston arrived at 11:32 and shunted the C set into the FR platform. All Tuesday's trains were fully booked by midday.

In the afternoon things slipped a little and Palmerston arrived at Tan-y-bwlch at 16:31, some 20 minutes late. The return working of the 14:20 left with Blanche by 16:40. Palmerston ran round at 16:49. With the Glaslyn Venturer shunted into the FR platform, Blanche was running round its train in the WHR platform at Porthmadog via the WHR loop at 17:18 about 20 minutes late. Palmerston left Tan-y-bwlch at 17:26 and was back at Porthmadog in the WHR platform at 18:01 only a few minutes late after cutting the Tan-y-bwlch stop a little shorter. The loco ran round at 18:07 and shunted the rake to the yard before leaving for the depot at 18:24, bringing the day's activities to a close.

On Wednesday 2/6/21 five of the six Woodland Wanderer trains are fully booked with compartments available only on the 13:15. There are compartments available on the both Glaslyn Adventurer trains but the Gelert Explorer is fully booked.

 

F&WHR traffic 31/5/21

Bank Holiday Monday looked to be a fine day at Porthmadog. The 11:05, 12:10 and 13:15 Woodland Wanderer trains were sold out leaving only the 14:20 available as the 15:25 was cancelled in anticipation that day trippers might take the long trek home early in the afternoon to avoid jams on the A55. Despite the cancellation three locos are still required for the Woodland Wanderer services. Prince was on the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer arriving in Tan-y-bwlch at 10:47. Smart work saw the loco running round at 10:54.

 

This easterly view (31/5/21) at 10:17 shows David Lloyd George and Merddin Emrys hauling the first Glaslyn Venturer of the day out of the WHR platform. This train was heavily loaded with an extra WHR carriage compared to the previous day. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

David Lloyd George and Merddin Emrys were rostered for the 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer, pairs double Fairlies as it appears that No.130 threw a cotter from the crosshead! A new one must be made at Boston lodge and the motion checked for any damage. At 10:30 Blanche came over from Boston Lodge to haul the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer and extracted the A set from the yard before propelling it into the FR platform departing at 11:07. At 11:28 Palmerston left Boston Lodge and arrived at 11:32 to shunt the C set out of the seawall sidings for the 12:10 Woodland Wanderer.

 

This easterly view (31/5/21) shows Merddin Emrys and David Lloyd George hauling the first Glaslyn Venturer back from Beddgelert approaching Pont Croesor with Cnicht in the background. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Andrew Thomas and was taken on a digital camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Tuesday 1/6/21 and Wednesday 2/6/21 offer six Woodland Wanderer trains and all except the 15:25 are already fully booked both days. Compartments are available on both Glaslyn Adventurer trains both days but the Gelert Explorer is fully booked Tuesday.

 

F&WHR traffic 30/5/21

Bank Holiday Sunday dawned bright sunny and warm with a huge number of tourists in campsites around Porthmadog so the FR's 11:05 and the 12:10 were both fully booked but there were compartments available on the new Glaslyn Adventurer. No.130 had arrived in the WHR Platform early with its 10 coach train by 09:30 with Observation Cars each end. Welsh Pony arrived 09:51, coupled to the A set in the FR platform and departed at 10:00am on the first Woodland Wanderer. With two trains in the parallel platforms at the same time, lets hope people got on the right one! Steam was also being raised in Boston Lodge for the 11:05. No.130 on the first 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer left at 10:19 with Observation No.150 on the south end and No.152 on the north end.

 

This easterly view (30/5/21) at shows No.130 hauling the Glaslyn Venturer approaching Bryn-y-felin in lovely sunshine. This train had Observation cars at both ends as with the Gelert Explorer. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Chris Parry (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

An hour before departure of the second Glaslyn Venturer FareHarbour was showing tickets as 'not available online and to ring up the booking office' whereas FR tickets for earlier trains were available online. At 10:36 Merddin Emrys was shunting the A set into the FR platform for the 11:05. David Lloyd George was noted shunting the yard again at 13:15 just before Welsh Pony left with the 13:15. Merddin Emrys arrived at 13:43 and promptly afterwards David Lloyd George propelled a Bocoal wagon across The Cob to Boston Lodge.

 

This easterly view (30/5/21) at 13:06 shows No.130 running round the return working of the first Glaslyn Venturer in the WHR platform. This train was heavily loaded. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

No.130 arrived at 12:58 and promptly ran round giving a passenger and his son a cab ride along the platform. The 13:40 left for Beddgelert at 13:47. The FR's  14:20 passed Minffordd at 14:33 and passed Prince returning with the 12:10 Woodland Wanderer. At 15:10 Prince was running round its train ready for the 15:25. At the same time David Lloyd George was back from Boston Lodge in the WHR through line at Porthmadog with a WHR coach presumably released from coach works for return to Dinas. The Fairlie ran round at 15:38 and pulled up at The Cob signal at 15:41 waiting for the return of the 13:15. Welsh Pony arrived back at 15:55 and shunted its rake to the sidings leaving light engine for Boston Lodge at 16:14.

 

This easterly view (30/5/21) at 15:29 shows David Lloyd George with a spare coach in the WHR platform that was to be added to the Glaslyn Venturer rake on its return at the end of the day. The Fairlie was acting as shunter for the day and had earlier moved an empty coal wagon to the Boston Lodge. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

No.130 arrived back from Beddgelert at 16:20 and the loco detached and left light engine for Boston lodge at 16:25. David Lloyd George now detached from the coach in the WHR run round and coupled to the front of the train. Observation car No.152 was detached and rake drawn forward onto The Cob and shunted back onto the spare coach in the WHR run round and coupled up. The lengthened rake was then shunted back onto No.152. At 16:55 Merddin Emrys arrived back with the 14:20 Woodland Wanderer. The signalman came out to change points in the yard and the Fairlie shunted the A set to the yard. David Lloyd George shunted at 17:10 with the extended rake from the WHR platform to the FR platform. At 17:17 Merddin Emrys coupled up to the front of David Lloyd George and the two left together at 17:20 light engine for Boston Lodge leaving the rake in the platform. This meant the return working of the 15:25 Woodland Wanderer would need to terminate in the WHR platform. Prince arrived back at 17:58 and shunted the final Woodland Wanderer to the yard before heading light engine for the depot at 18:05 bringing the events of the day to a close.

The 15:25 has been dropped for Bank holiday Monday as it is thought day trippers will be going home. Six Woodland Wanderers operate Tuesday-Thursday however.

 

FR traffic 29/5/21

It was a bit dull in the Porthmadog area but becoming warmer. Six trains were booked today and at least 3 were sold out. The trains are 10:00, 11:05, 12:10, 13:15, 14:20 and 15:25. The first train was hauled by Prince arriving in Tan-y-bwlch about 10:45 and promptly shunting into the westbound platform and running round. The second train was hauled by Merddin Emrys and the third by David Lloyd George all running to time. David Lloyd George ran round the 15:25 without shunting it as no other train needed to use the eastbound platform. At 16:47 Merddin Emrys brought the return working of the 14:20 into the WHR platform. Some passengers have to get off trackside at both Tan-y-bwlch and Porthmadog from four wheeler coaches. The Fairlie then ran round before propelling its rake into the seawall carriage siding and departing light engine for Boston Lodge at 17:05. David Lloyd George also ran into the WHR platform at 17:51 and shunt procedure was a little different. The rake was propelled out onto The Cob and dragged back into the Carriage Sidings. The loco then ran round and left for Boston Lodge at 18:08 bringing the day's activities to a close.

The 11:05 Woodland Wanderer on Sunday is sold out but the other 5 trains all have room as do the Gelert Explorer and the Glaslyn Venturer.

 

This easterly view (29/5/21) at 16:53 shows Merddin Emrys running round the return working of the 14:20 Woodland Wanderer in the WHR platform. This is needed as the rake is propelled into the dead end seawall siding. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

During the course of the day Blanche went to Glan-y-pwll to collect some carriages presumably to form the first Glaslyn Adventurer on Sunday.

 

Double Garratts 28/5/21

Nos.130/87 powered the Gelert Explorer back from Beddgelert on Friday 28/5/21. This might be considered a running in turn for No.130.

 

FR traffic 28/5/21

Four trains were planned today with the 11:05 and 13:40 being sold out in advance. The weather started damp and rainy so no one made use of the Open coach on the 10:00. David Lloyd George hauled the first train at while Moel Hebog and Harlech Castle top and tailed a PW train in the WHR platform which included the Mess car and the cherrypicker. Harlech Castle was detached at 10:15 and used to shunt the B set to the platform maybe as steam was still being raised for the 11:05. Having completed the shunt at 10:25 Harlech Castle resumed its position on the rear of the PW train at 10:33. Merddin Emrys emerged from Boston Lodge at 10:36 and connected directly to the B set in the platform after fuelling and watering.

 

This easterly view (28/5/21) at 10:12 shows Moel Hebog and Harlech Castle top and tailing a PW train in the WHR platform. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Up at Tan-y-bwlch Moelwyn was waiting to attach to the rear of the 10:00 working which arrived at 10:42. At 10:50 the Fairlie shunted to the FR platform to couple to the 11:05 while the PW departed towards Boston Lodge. Merddin Emrys departed on the 11:05 on time making two Fairlies the haulages of the final Mountain Prince trains today.

 

This westerly view (28/5/21) at 11:46 shows Merddin Emrys arriving at Tan-y-bwlch on the 11:05 whilst David Lloyd George waits to return with the 10:00. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Upnor Castle was waiting with the FR Mess coach at 15:20 in the WHR platform for the 15:00 Mountain Prince to clear the section to Minffordd. Steam shunting was taking place at Boston Lodge around the same time. At Minffordd the PW train crossed over to the wrong line at 15:38 and reversed into the yard. At 16:12 Upnor Castle was back in Porthmadog station yard awaiting further duties. There was much steaming activity in Boston Lodge with locos on test in the yard.

 

This westerly view (28/5/21) at 15:28 shows Upnor Castle arriving at Minffordd wrong line to shunt the PW Mess car into the yard. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

After Merddin Emrys arrived back at 16:43 with the 13:40 Mountain Prince, Upnor Castle was used to remove part of the rake. It might be the case that a station pilot is require with the six trains a day envisaged over the school Whitsun Holiday break in addition to the twice daily WHR Glaslyn Adventurer starting up. The three four wheelers and the first saloon were drawn out at 16:53 and propelled back into the sidings where a spare bowsider was attached and shunted back onto the rake in the platform. Upnor Castle detached and waited detached in the FR platform. Merddin Emrys departed light engine for the depot at 17:07 and the diesel shunted up the platform light engine for instructions before coupling up again and shunting the lengthened rake to the seawall carriage siding. The diesel returned to the depot shortly afterwards.

At 17:42 David Lloyd George appeared on the return working of the 15:00 and went straight into the FR platform, breaking the recent practice of using the WHR platform to terminate this service. The loco left for Boston Lodge light engine at 17:50 apparently leaving the rake in the platform, again unusual, ending the activities for the day.

 

Whitsun Holiday trains

Six trains are planned per day for the Woodland Wanderer from 29/5/21 through until 3/6/21 with four trains planned over the final 3 days of the school holiday. some of these trains are already fully booked! The Gelert Explorer is operating additional days with no services on 4/6/21 and 6/6/21. The new Glaslyn Venturer runs from Sunday 30/5/21 to Friday 4/6/21 over the holiday week.

 

Welsh 'Steam Ale' launched 28/5/21

F&WHR announcement

'The F&WHR are delighted to announce that will be working with Porthmadog local brewery ‘Purple Moose’, who have produced a ‘new, own-labelled, railway themed beer’ exclusively for sale at the railway. ‘Welsh Steam Ale’ is a refreshing golden pale ale - the perfect accompaniment to a magnificent train journey through the mountains. The F&WHR’s Food and Beverage Manager, David Bevan and ‘Purple Moose’ Managing Director, Lawrence Washington met on the platform at Porthmadog Harbour Station to officially launch the new partnership.

The ‘Welsh Steam Ale’ bottle features the signature ‘Purple Moose’ design together with a photo of ‘Welsh Pony’, the historic steam engine that was rededicated last year following a long overhaul. This ale is now on sale exclusively at railway catering outlets, make sure you grab a bottle to take on the train, to take home with you or to enjoy in Spooner’s..! It has been a long wait for the hospitality sector to re-open - but, now we can all look forward to sitting out on the beer terrace at Spooner’s to enjoy a local ale..! See Purple Moose Brewery.'

 

North Wales Track Gang

The Black Hand Gang will be working every fortnight from 22-23/5/21 on various track projects on the WHR. There is still work to finish at Plas-y-nant Halt and sidings ground frame at Beddgelert.

 

WHR working timetable

Only one train per day operates the Gelert Explorer and it currently operates TThSO during May but with extra Wednesdays and Sundays planned for school holiday periods. The leaflet claims it is a six hour experience but in fact it is a five hour journey with an hour an a half break at Beddgelert. Passengers may want to allow 30 mins before departure for collecting hampers/visiting the station shop etc. and a similar half hour at the end.

Locos available: No.87, No.130; Vale of Ffestiniog plus Conwy Castle (double headed if diesel substituted)

Dinas (ECS) 10:15
Caernarfon arrive (run round) 10:30
Caernarfon depart 11:00
Dinas 11:15
Waunfawr 11:30
Rhyd Ddu 12:00
Beddgelert arrive (run round) 13:00
Beddgelert depart 14:30
Rhyd Ddu 15:00
Waunfawr 15:30
Dinas 15:45
Caernarfon arrive (run round) 16:00
Caernarfon depart (ECS) 16:15
Dinas 16:30

 

FR traffic 27/5/21

All trains on Thursday 27/5/21 were sold out including the 12:25. A fourth train, the 10:00 was added late in the day for Friday as two of trains were already sold out.

At 10:35 Prince emerged from Boston Lodge arriving at 10:43. The signalman came out to manually set the points in the yard so that the locos could haul out the rake. Welsh Pony was on the A set on the 10:00 departure arriving at Tan-y-bwlch at 10:45 and returning to there at 10:18. Moelwyn was on the rear and the Open coach was very popular as the weather was finally warming for the Bank Holiday weekend. The Tan-y-bwlch awning had been erected after the storm damage of a few weeks ago. A third loco was being steamed at Boston lodge for the 12:25. Prince departed on time at 11:05.

David Lloyd George left Boston Lodge at 10:24 after Prince had cleared the section at Minffordd and shunted the C set out of the seawall siding at 10:29. The signalman came out to set the points in the yard again. Lyd was shunting in the yard light engine at 11:33 presumably still on test. It worked light engine to the WHR platform at 11:37. Once the Fairlie had shunted the C set into the platform it detached and went to the fuelling point. A fifth loco Palmerston arrived from Boston Lodge at 11:50 and coupled up to the C set. Lyd disappeared light engine up the WHR shortly after midday.

Welsh Pony returned at 12:50 with return working of the 10:00 and David Lloyd George shunted the yard. At 13:02 the Fairlie shunted two four-wheelers and a saloon into the seawall siding. Leaving the saloon in the siding, the Fairlie hauled the two small coaches past the Old Loco Shed but its subsequent activity is a mystery. To use a Fairlie as a stock shunter seems excessive when the FR has a number of diesels available in Boston Lodge that could do the job more economically.

Prince departed Tan-y-bwlch at 13:34. Palmerston left Porthmadog on time at 13:40 while Welsh Pony arrived back at Tan-y-bwlch at 13:43. Prince arrived back at Porthmadog at 14:05 ready for Zoono cleansing and the 15:00.

 

This easterly view (27/5/21) at 17:56 shows Lyd arriving back from a test run up the WHR. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Lyd arrived back from its WHR test run at 14:13 and so had time in its 2 hour trip to try out its performance and brakes on the 1 in 40 around Beddgelert. The loco paused in the WHR platform for a while for the token before setting off for Boston Lodge at 14:17.

At 17:03 Welsh Pony left Porthmadog for Boston Lodge light engine having shunted its rake to the sidings. Prince arrived on the final working at 17:51, arriving in the WHR platform as on the previous two days. This time however the loco detached and was about to run round when the signalman advised the rake be propelled as yesterday so the loco was coupled up again! The rake was then propelled out onto The Cob and dragged back into the yard.

 

Final Mountain Prince 28/5/21

Friday sees the final Mountain Prince workings for a couple of weeks as the Woodland Wanderer takes over from Saturday which does not go beyond Tan-y-bwlch.

 

This westerly view (25/5/21) shows Blanche about to depart Porthmadog on the Mountain Prince. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This westerly view (25/5/21) shows Welsh Pony emerging from the east portal of Garnedd Tunnel on the Mountain Prince. This section of the line above Tan-y-bwlch will fall silent for the next two weeks. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Glaslyn Venturer test trains

With the Glaslyn Adventurer due to start on Sunday 30/5/21 staff familiarisation trains might be expected in the next few days. Already Lyd has been up to Beddgelert on 27/5/21. Modern FR coaches with top and tailed Observation cars are expected to be utilised with the saloons having Perspex dividers.

 

FR traffic 26/5/21

Although the trains were fully booked in advance on Wednesday it was too late notice to add the 12:25 and potential passengers had to be turned away. The FR added a 12:10 on Thursday as it was clear a similar situation was occurring with all trains except the 15:00 sold out. Friday is currently showing 3 trains with the 11:05 already sold out. The timetable changes to the Woodland Wanderer (Tan-y-bwlch only) from Saturday 29/5/21-Sunday 6/6/21 with up to six trains a day. In fact 6 trains are operating everyday until Thursday 3/6/21 with the 11:05 booked.

Palmerston departed Porthmadog at 11:07 on the B set with newly restored Open coach No.39 added to the front, passing Minffordd at 11:16. Blanche was on the 10:00 A set arriving back at Tan-y-bwlch from Dduallt at 11:19 pilotted by Moelwyn.

Palmerston arrived back in Porthmadog on the return working of the 15:00 at 17:56, pulling into the WHR platform as yesterday. The sun was shining again and the train appeared well loaded. As yesterday the train was propelled out on The Cob at 18:02 before being hauled back into the sidings at 18:05. Palmerston ran round and departed for the depot at 18:18 to conclude the activities for the day.

 

This easterly view (26/5/21) at 17:56 shows Palmerston having arrived unusually in the WHR platform with the return of the 15:00. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Lyd 25/5/21

Lyd went on a test run to Minffordd on 25/5/21 after its 10 year overhaul and may soon join the small loco fleet hauling the Mountain Prince and Woodland Explorer.

 

This westerly view (25/5/21) shows Lyd on test at Minffordd after completion of its 10 year overhaul at Boston Lodge. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Chris Parry (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Plas-y-nant upgrade 22-23/5/21

North Wales Track Gang volunteers were again working at Plas-y-nant over the weekend of 22-23/5/21 erecting platform fencing at the site of the halt and concreting in the fencing poles.

 

This northerly view (22/5/21) shows Vale of Ffestiniog with the Mess car and wagons. Volunteers were concreting in fence posts for the back of the platform over the weekend. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Tom Waldren and was taken on a digital camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

North Wales main line

The Cambrian Coast Line between Machynlleth and Shrewsbury is closed from 15/5/21-28/6/21 as work proceeds to increase the height of Black Bridge just east of Machynlleth by 1m to reduce frequent flooding at this site. There is a bus link between Machynlleth and Shrewsbury. What was wrong with turning back trains at Newtown or even Caersws to reduce the length of the bustitution? NR/TfW needs to get out of this bustitution mentality! See NR website for full details.

On 18/5/21 Cambrian Heritage Railways moved their Pacers by road to Oswestry from Gobowen. The DMUs have been at Gobowen since delivery by rail on 22/5/20! Apparently the Highways Authority would not allow them to use the extant A5 level crossing to move the short distance to Oswestry though all the track is present. With the movement of the units from Gobowen it seems the CHR has abandoned its recent plan to provide a Pacer link between Gobowen and Park Halt for the local hospital. The CHR hopes to open Oswestry to Weston Wharf by late summer (August Bank Holiday?) and on 19/5/21 received a BR Mk1 coach back from hire at another railway.

On 20/5/21 67008 hauled a 4 coach + DVT test train from Cardiff to Holyhead. The train was returned by 67010. Loco hauled train services between Holyhead and Cardiff are expected to resume in the Autumn.

 

FR traffic 25/5/21

Four trains were set to run on Tuesday 25/5/21 with the first three already fully booked. The same services are offered Wednesday and the first three are again sold out at the start of the day with only the 15:00 free to book. Adding the 12:10 departure would require a third loco in steam and crew. Palmerston hauled the 10:00 and was noted shunting the A set into the FR platform at 09:45 on a relatively sunny morning, passing Minffordd at 10:12 with Moelwyn attached at the rear.

Volunteers were in action at Tan-y-bwlch improving the car park surface. Palmerston set off at 10:59 from Tan-y-bwlch for Dduallt. Prince left Porthmadog on time with the 11:05 with the B set. Palmerston departed Tan-y-bwlch at 12:25 with the return working of the 10:00.

 

This easterly view (25/5/21) at 17:48 shows Prince having arrived unusually in the WHR platform with the return of the 15:00. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Prince arrived back from the 15:00 working at 17:48 and unusually ran into the WHR platform. The loco propelled the rake out onto The Cob and then ran back into the yard to leave its rake in the sidings, running round and departing to Boston Lodge at 18:12 to conclude the activities of the day.

All four trains on Wednesday are fully booked but there is the option to add a 12:10 service. Two of the four Thursday services are also already fully booked. Thursday's Gelert Explorer is also sold out in both Gold and Standard classes.

 

F&WHR service plans 24/5/21

The F&WHR has announced its plans covering the upcoming Half Term late Spring bank Holiday week. The aim is to add a service to Blaenau Ffestiniog this Summer if the 2m social distancing rule is relaxed. There are still problems recruiting people to fully staff the catering outlets. The F&WHR are offering catering jobs until October but these may be extended if traffic holds up into the Winter Timetable. See F&WHR announcement.

 

FR traffic 24/5/21

Monday dawned with improved weather compared to the wet weekend. Four train services were provided with the 10:00/11:05/13:40/15:00 requiring two locos in steam with the two midday trains sold out. Prince was on the 10:00 passing Minffordd at 10:11. Blanche was on the second train, departing Porthmadog at 11:05.

 

FR traffic 23/5/21

Prince was on the 11:05 with the B set and Upnor Castle was at Tan-y-bwlch for the Dduallt shunt duty. Welsh Pony handled the transfer of the Pickering private contract brake to the WHHR (see separate story) and was noted in the WHR platform at 13:30 while Palmerston was being prepared for the 13:40 departure with the longer A set, which was fully booked. Welsh Pony departed for Pen-y-Mount at 13:46 and was back in Porthmadog station at 15:18 while Prince passed Palmerston, running a little late it seemed, at Minffordd at 14:02.

 

This easterly view (23/5/21) at 13:41 shows Palmerston departing Porthmadog on the Mountain Prince with Welsh Pony on a transfer departmental working taking the new-build replica Pickering brake coach No.8 to the WHHR at Pen-y-Mount. Welsh Pony's headlight is blazing as the weather is poor and it was about to cross the Britannia Bridge tramway section. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Pickering brake No.8 delivered to WHHR 23/5/21

The new build replica Pickering brake van, numbered as No.8, was delivered to the WHHR at Pen-y-Mount on 24/5/21. The two Pickering brakes delivered to the NWNGR in 1907 were originally Nos. 4/5 and continued as Nos.8/9 in WHR days. Welsh Pony was in charge of the duty. The coach was first taken on a test run to Minffordd. The Guard's compartment has double doors for wheelchair access and an internal door allows wheelchair access to the saloon. This was probably the first visit of Welsh Pony to WHHR metals. The WHHR's diesel loco Emma took the carriage forward to Gelert's Farm depot. For more images from Glenn Williams (F&WHR) see the Friends of the F&WHR webpage.

 

This westerly view (24/5/21) shows Welsh Pony hauling the WHHR's replica Pickering Brake coach No.8 on a test run to Minffordd before delivery to the WHHR. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Glenn Williams (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (24/5/21) shows Welsh Pony propelling the WHHR's replica Pickering Brake coach No.8 across Pen-y-Mount Junction onto WHHR metals to the WHHR. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Glenn Williams (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Mainline news

WalesRail, the nationalised company running Welsh Railways (officially TfW) has purchased the former fleet of Mk4 coaches destined for the abandoned Grand Central London-Blackpool service. TfW already intends to strengthen its 3 Mk4 Holyhead-Cardiff rakes by 1 coach and timing trials with the longer rakes have begun. These amount to some 15 of the 45 coaches. The question therefore arises as to what the other 30 coaches purchased are for. An obvious candidate is the promised restoration of the Manchester/Manchester Airport-Holyhead/Llandudno trains (one rake), the frequency of which could be increased by an additional rake. These were well liked services and very popular when leaving Manchester in the evening peak as crowd shifters. Other suggestions have included the Swansea-Manchester services (via Shrewsbury). With 30 spare coaches there are a possible 5x5 coach rakes leaving a set of 5 as spare for the fleet.

WalesRail could increase the frequency of the Holyhead-Cardiff service and even run some via Chester-Crewe-Shrewsbury rather than via Wrexham as there have been many complaints about the Crewe-Chester DMU shuttle currently planned as being adequate for the link into the WCML services. Holyhead services have been forgotten about in HS2 planning. As a final thought, Grand Central's paths exist so maybe WalesRail could take up the option and run North Wales-Euston services, succeeding where Arriva tried and failed.

 

FR traffic 22/5/21

Three trains are booked to run Saturday with a 10:00, 11:05 and 13:40, requiring two locos in steam. The latter two trains are fully booked. Sunday will also offer 3 trains starting with the 11:05. The WHR's Gelert Explorer is also fully booked today and indeed on Tuesday and Thursday next week too suggesting additional services are needed! The Bank Holiday weekend sees additional services on Sunday 30/5/21 and Monday 31/5/21. There is also a midweek additional on Wednesday 2/6/21 during the school Whitsun Half Term Holiday week but that is also fully booked. The FR changes to the Woodland Wanderer timetable to Tan-y-bwlch only from 29/5/21 to 6/6/21 during the holiday weeks with six trains a day offered until 3/6/21.

Saturday dawned brighter and sunnier with the wind having dropped compared to the storms of the previous days. Welsh Pony departed on the 10:00 on time with the A set while the second engine was making steam at Boston Lodge ready to come over for the 11:05. Moelwyn was back on duty waiting for the 10:00 to arrive at Tan-y-bwlch. Prince was the loco for the 11:05 and left Boston Lodge at 10:35, shunting the yard at Porthmadog at 10:44 and departing on time with the B set.

A problem with wiring meant that the last train of the day spent an extra hour at Tan-y-bwlch as the token could not be withdrawn. It eventually departed Tan-y-bwlch at 18:03.

 

Locos used on public trains April

Date FR TYB pilot WHR
27/4/21 Prince + Criccieth Castle/Welsh Pony N/A N/A
28/4/21 Prince /Welsh Pony N/A N/A
29/4/21 Blanche/Prince N/A N/A
30/4/21 N/A N/A 130

 

No.138's new cylinder

No.138, currently in red livery and under repair, was the first Garratt on the WHR and has served the line very well for over two decades. When dismantled for its current refurbishment it was found that, as suspected, the left hand cylinder on the hind unit, was leaking from a large crack previously repaired but not fit for further service. Fortunately our former works manager Tony Williams (who retired last November) had the foresight to get a spare cylinder cast. This is now being machined up ready for fitting. This work is sponsored by Welsh Highland Railway Society who would welcome donations via the WHRS website.

 

This Boston lodge view (13/5/21) shows No.138's new cylinder being machined ready to fit to the loco. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Paul Lewin (F&WHR) and was taken on a  digital camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Dinas volunteer weekend 15-16/5/21

Another of the monthly Dinas working parties occurred last weekend 15-16/5/21. Lilla and Bill were used to shunt rolling stock. The large water carrier was cleaned with a pressure wash and some B wagons taken inside the Loco Shed to repaint after pressure washing. A date has not been set yet for the June working party.

 

This northerly view (13/5/21) shows Lilla hauls B922 to the Loco Shed for pressure washing and painting. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Paul Lewin (F&WHR) and was taken on a  digital camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Caernarfon station 'Y Stesion' fully open 21/5/21

The De Winton Cafe or ‘Caffi De Winton’ is now open every day from 09:00 to 15:00. The F&WHR are serving a large selection of refreshments, tasty meals and homemade cakes - available for takeaway or to enjoy indoors. The shop is also open seven days a week, from 09:00 to 16:00. There’s a wide selection of gifts, railway and local souvenirs, books, DVDs (and much more) on the shelves for visitor.

A brand-new railway preservation magazine, TRACKSIDE, is out today (Friday) - and the F&WHR features in the launch issue. Read General Manager Paul Lewin’s incisive article as he outlines his expectations and hopes for the future of Britain’s incredible railway heritage. The magazine covers steam, diesel and electric heritage. Copies of TRACKSIDE are available from the Harbour Station gift shop. For more details see www.tracksidemag.co.uk to find out more about the magazine.

Tickets can also be purchased at Y Stesion for the WHR Gelert Explorer service from Caernarfon to Beddgelert - although, to avoid disappointment, it is strongly recommended passengers book seats before travelling as some trains are fully booked days in advance. The online booking service is proving very popular, especially as it helps passengers plan their day-out in advance of their visit.

The Gelert Explorer is the premier WHR service - it begins at the modern, award-winning station and takes passengers across the foothills of Snowdon, over a mountain pass, on a scenic journey filled with variety. There is a tempting selection of Hampers available, which can be pre-booked for collection at ‘Y Stesion’ for passengers to enjoy along the way. For an extra special treat, Gelert Explorer First Class Gold packages are also available on every train but must bb booked in advance.

Upon arrival at Beddgelert, passengers can explore the village, walk beside the river and learn more about the legend of Gelert, the faithful hound of Prince Llewellyn. There are numerous shops, cafés and pubs - and the ice cream parlour in the centre of the village is not to be missed. Click on festrail.co.uk/trains for further details and online booking. The F&WHR look forward to welcoming all to ‘Y Stesion’.

 

FR traffic 21/5/21

Four trains were booked to run on Friday, with the late addition of the 10:00 as the other three were fully booked, so only two locos required in steam. Weather was pretty poor in Porthmadog and it was hoped that the storm had not brought down trees across the line. Upnor Castle went up the track early to check it was clear and to perform the duty of the Dduallt shunt loco. The Planet's cab provides a little more protection from the weather than the exposed cab of Moelwyn.

The 10:00 departed on time from the WHR platform unusually with Prince in charge. This waited for a PW train to arrive from Dduallt with Harlech Castle, the Mess car and the cherry picker which had presumably been used on line clearance duties. The PW train left at 10:57 for Minffordd Yard passing Minffordd at 11:29. Prince arrived back from Dduallt at 11:22 and arrived back at Porthmadog at 12:52 in plenty of time for the 13:40.

Steam was being raised at 10:30 at Boston Lodge for the 11:05 and then Welsh Pony departed at 10:35. The loco arrived at 10:41 and left on time after shunting its rake to the platform, passing Minffordd with the B set at 11:14.

At the end of the day Welsh Pony shunted the B set back into the sidings at 1802 having run round the rake. The loco set off light engine for Boston Lodge at 18:06 to draw the stormy day's activities to a close.   

 

NG15 No.134 update 15-16/5/21

Lilla shunted No.134's tender out of the Good's Shed so as volunteers could steam clean it in the open. Whilst it had spent a good few years under cover it was in the Carriage Shed where unfortunately quite a few birds nest in the roof space and had duly left signs of their presence all over the tender body! The tender body rests on the rolling chassis of No.133's tender. Volunteers started to tidy up the axle boxes for No.134's tender underframe and the intention is to get the tank onto No.134's as soon as possible. The axle boxes had unfortunately spent an unplanned long period outside due to the pandemic hitting so volunteers have a number of seized nuts on studs to attend to! There are still a few to finish off next time then the axle boxes will be available for the paid staff to refurbish the journals, fit new seals and machine the horns.

It was still a bit of an 'admin' weekend with volunteers tracking down various components and moving them into a more logical location ready to go to wherever they are needed to be worked on. This involved getting the tender wheels into a B-wagon ready to be taken to Boston Lodge on the next departmental movement between the two depots. Whilst the tender wheels have been worked on before, they still need their flange profiles tweaking a small amount. The tender vacuum cylinder is also going to Boston Lodge as it has been some time since it was overhauled. Even though the cylinder has not been used it was decided to have it checked out and give it a brand new sealing ring then the cylinder should be good few years service.

The boiler had previously been sent to Locomotive Maintenance Services (LMS) in Loughborough. This is now being worked on and the first stage is for the known areas of wastage to be cut away and those areas sandblasted. The Group will then get a better idea about the extent of any further concerns about the condition of the boiler over and above the initial inspections and defined areas of repair.

For a full report and images see the NG15 No.134 website.

 

WHR news 15/5/21

No.130 hauled the Gelert Explorer on Saturday 15/5/21 and was said to be running well. The headlights on the loco work now so the loco can be used in the evenings in future.

 

FR traffic 20/5/21

The five trains booked for Thursday 20/5/21 were completely sold out in advance with the late addition of a 10:00 service. Up to five Mountain Prince trains can be run each day. Two of the three Friday trains and one of the two Saturday trains are already fully booked so a Saturday 10:00 service was added shortly after 11am Thursday showing the FR reacting to demand.

Prince left on time on the 11:05 with the B set passing Minffordd at 11:16 in overcast windy weather! Welsh Pony was already at Tan-y-Bwlch with the 10:00 on the A set at 11:49 having returned from Dduallt when Prince arrived in the rain. Blanche arrived with the C set on the 12:25 at 13:09 with unsurprisingly no one in the Zoo car (four wheel Obs No.1) considering the rain! Moelwyn was coupled to the rear at 13:12. Swift work saw the train depart for Dduallt at 13:15 allowing Welsh Pony to run round at 13:18.

A storm set in later with 70mph wind, driving rain and trees were brought down blocking roads in the area. All the trains appeared to get back safely but Porthmadog looked pretty stormy at 18:00.

 

North Wales main line 14-20/5/21

The Tories launch of 'Great British Railways' (why not simply call it British Rail and have done with it?) is to be welcomed as a late adoption of Liberal Democrat/Labour policies of the last 30 years. The country has yet to see the details of how the UK Government will replace what they admit is the 'broken franchise system' that they forced on the country back in the 1990s leading to the highest fares in Europe. Since then WalesRail (aka TfW) has recently become nationalised and ScotRail is following suit.

DB liveried Class No.67010 was out on the North Wales Coast driver training between Crewe and Holyhead for this Autumn's loco hauled reintroduction.

On 14/5/21 Europhoenix liveried No.37800 Cassiopeia was on driver training duties. It seems that ROG and going to be in charge of the TfW Class 197 trial runs on the North Wale Coast.

As expected the Penmaenmawr-Crewe Basford Hall Virtual Quarry stone trains did NOT commence on 17/5/21 timetable change. Although the sidings have been cleared recently and the huge stone hopper refurbished several months ago some trackwork may be required to return the sidings to use after an extended period OOU. The paths are 06:44 and 16:53 off Penmaenmawr and two return paths 07:53 (08:53 MO) and 18:44 from Basford Hall. RealTime Trains shows train headcodes 'obfuscated' for most freight operators for some strange reason. As the actual headcodes are showing (6K51/6K17 outbound and 6D61/6D17 return empties) and GBRf is the only operator giving this information at the moment it is likely GBRf is the operator. They operate stone trains on several routes including out of Wellingborough Yard. GBRf crews are passed for the route to Holyhead as they still operate path retaining runs to Valley Nuclear Electric sidings.

Class 37 No.37612 visited Blaenau Ffestiniog around 1 pm on 20/5/21 on an NR test train on a Bangor-Crewe run.

 

This easterly view (19/5/21) shows Statesman Rail's The Snowdonia Statesman arriving at Blaenau Ffestiniog from Hull with the train made up in mock Pullman livery. Rail Blue large logo liveried 47593 top and tailed the excursion. Prince and Palmerston had brought an ECS rake of 10 bogies up from Porthmadog to give the passengers a trip to Tan-y-bwlch and back. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Chris Parry (F&WHR) and was taken on a  digital camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Trains may run more slowly than previous years to conserve fuel and reduce costs with lighter traffic during the pandemic.

 

FR traffic 19/5/21

Only two trains were provided on 19/5/21 and both were sold out days in advance. Blanche was on the 10:00 service train. A second train departed Porthmadog at around 11:05 appearing to be the ECS for the Snowdonia Statesman that was booked to arrived at Blaenau Ffestiniog form Hull at midday hauled by 47805 top and tailed with 47593. The FR train was formed as a double length train with the saloon coaches from the B and C sets hauled by Palmerston and Prince possibly directly from the yard as Welsh Pony was noted shunting in the FR platform at 11:09 with a DZ wagon with some panels removed.

After running round at 11:20 Welsh Pony shunted the DZ to the Harbour Station coaling point and collected two empty B coal wagons. At 11:40 this departmental working left for Minffordd Yard to refill the coal wagons and at 11:50 was noted arriving wrong line at Minffordd and shunting back into the yard.

 

This westerly view (16/5/21) at 11:52 shows Welsh Pony arriving at Minffordd to shunt the empty B coal wagons to the yard and refill them. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Meanwhile the special continued to Blaenau Ffestiniog ECS passing Tan-y-bwlch at 11:45 where the 10:00 service train with Blanche was waiting. Once clear this allowed Moelwyn to s 's train by 12:09 and exchange places with Blanche. The return working of the 10:00 then set off for Porthmadog a few minutes later where it was to form the 13:40. The 14:20 arrived in Tan-y-bwlch at 14:20 with Moelwyn on the back already and departed at 13:40. The station was already occupied by the special working which had to run round before Moelwyn returned from Dduallt. Palmerston and Prince shunted the special down to the western shunt limit and back up into the eastbound platform at 14:46 leaving the westbound platform free for the return working of the 13:40 which arrived back at 14:54. At 15:07 Blanche pulled forward to let the excursionists take photos before the excursion left for Blaenau Ffestiniog at 15:17. Blanche ran round at 15:34 and departed for Porthmadog at 16:05 leaving the platform clear for the ECS working ex Blaenau Ffestiniog which arrived there at 16:53.

 

This easterly view (19/5/21) shows Prince and Palmerston arriving at Blaenau Ffestiniog to meet the excursion. The tracks look very rusty as current services are limited to Porthmadog-Dduallt. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Chris Parry (F&WHR) and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This easterly view (19/5/21) at 17:28 shows Palmerston and Prince arriving back at Porthmadog ECS with the 10 coach special use for the excursion. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Blanche shunted its rake into the yard at Porthmadog at 17:02 with the light engine heading back to Boston Lodge at 17:06.  This left the line clear for the ECS from the excursion to arrive and be shunted which passed Minffordd at 17:20 arriving in Porthmadog at 17:28. The rakes needed to be shunted ready for the three trains on Thursday however the two locos returned directly to Boston Lodge by 17:55 leaving the shunt for the following day's locos.

 

Further changes to webcams

Access to the FR webcams is now via Railcam using YouTube's player and functionality has been lost again. There appears to be no ability to roll back time other than the standard 15 second rewind and pinching on an iPad to select and magnify does not lock that view area as it did with the previous player.

 

Llangollen crane issue resolved

There is some great news about the Llangollen Railway's historic Cowans Sheldon crane. The owner of Sandbach Commercial Dismantlers who won the Cowans Crane in the auction last week has met with several LR Trust representatives on site. He has very kindly agreed to keep the crane in one piece and on the railway for the foreseeable future. The Railway also has the option to buy it back over an extended period, including offsetting the value raised from supplying day-to-day scrap materials to SCD. The urgent priority obviously remains on raising funds for the re-opening of the railway later this year (and both the Rolling Stock and Full Steam Ahead appeals are still open), but there will be a specific fundraising programme to support the crane.

 

FR traffic 17/5/21

Spooners reopened for inside service today. The 3 train service on Tuesday is showing as sold out as is the two train service on Wednesday. As the FR has the ability to run 5 Mountain Prince trains it is surprising that no others have been added to the timetable.

Blanche appeared to have brought the A set back from maintenance today directly to the FR platform and ran round it by 10:24. The train left on time at 11:05. Film crews were back on the platform taking advantage of the brighter weather. The orange army were maintaining the track in the station. The train passed Minffordd at 11:15 where it stops for token exchange and arrived at Tan-y-bwlch at 11:48 in sunshine. Blanche received some help from the rear from Moelwyn as it departed at 11:55.

By 12:30 the train had returned to Tan-y-bwlch and at 12:35 Moelwyn ran round with Blanche following to the eastern shunt limit to exchange places. Work appeared to be underway on the station building.  Down at Porthmadog Prince turned up to shunt the rake from the seawall siding at 13:07 and the rake was in the platform a few minutes later. It passed Blanche at Minffordd at 13:50 and arrived back at 14:05. Blanche ran round at 14:25 and was coupled up for the 15:00 by 14:28 and left on time.

 

This westerly view (16/5/21) at 12:35 shows Moelwyn running round to the rear of the train to exchange positions with Blanche on the return working of the 11:05. Blanche ran round shortly afterwards. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

At 14:22 Moelwyn ran to the west end of Tan-y-bwlch ready for the 13:40 which arrived at 14:24. Some people ask to get off at Tan-y-bwlch and use the facilities, foregoing the trip to Dduallt. The train left at 14:36 with Moelwyn on the rear.

By the end of the day the F&WHR had added a 12:25 on Tuesday, which requires 3 engines in steam, as the other three trains were fully booked. However the two trains on Wednesday are also fully booked but additional services cannot be run as there is a special working in association with the Snowdonia Statesman railtour arriving at Blaenau Ffestiniog.

 

Webcam changes

The FR's webcams have changed and are showing Railcam logos. The Inside Motion links have lost their roll back functionality and display as a regular YouTube stream which can be viewed as full screen but not selectively pinched to make larger sizes on an iPad for example. Free membership of Webcam can restore that lost functionality via the Railcam website but makes it a little slower to switch between the three FR webcams.

 

FR traffic 16/5/21

The 11:05 is sold out right through to 22/5/21. The two trains on Wednesday 19/5/21 are already sold out but there are no signs of enhancing the service on this day as the potential is there to operate 5 trains in the Mountain Prince timetable. The day started off cloudy but dry at Porthmadog. Prince left Boston Lodge at 10:23 to refuel and water at Porthmadog at 10:28 before shunting the rake to the platform. At 12:25 Moelwyn led Prince's train back into Tan-y-bwlch from Dduallt and by 12:43 the locos had changed places. At 12:25 Upnor Castle was stabled rather unusually in the seawall siding at Porthmadog and was still there early afternoon but had goner by 16:00. Blanche arrived light engine from Boston Lodge at 13:03 for the 13:40 departure. Meanwhile Prince left Tan-y-bwlch at 13:31. Blanche departed Porthmadog on time at 13:40 and passed Prince at Minffordd at 13:50. Prince resumed its journey at 13:55 arriving at Porthmadog at 14:05 in plenty of time for the deep clean team to prepare the rake for the 15:00. It had run round at 14:16. Blanche arrived at Tan-y-bwlch at 14:24.

Prince arrived at Tan-y-bwlch at 15:44 and departed for Dduallt at 15:53 once Moelwyn was attached to the rear. This allowed Blanche to run round at 15:59. Departure came at 16:10 leaving the platform free for Prince to return from Dduallt at 16:23. Blanche arrived back at Porthmadog at 16:46 and ran round at 16:55. The loco shunted the stock to the sidings at 17:00 and departed light engine for Boston Lodge at 17:05 after being held at the signalbox for several minutes as Moelwyn arrived at Pen Cob light from Tan-y-bwlch at 17:07 and shunted into the depot. With the line finally clear at 17:12 Blanche departed for the depot, somewhat later than usual.

Prince departed Tan-y-bwlch at 17:15 with the return working of the 15:00, passing Minffordd at 17:41 and arriving at Porthmadog at 17:50. The loco propelled the rake out at 18:04 in an unusual move all the way across The Cob to the Carriage Sheds, presumably for planned maintenance.

 

This easterly view (16/5/21) shows Prince propelling the return working of the 15:00 out of the platform and across The Cob at 18:05 presumably for servicing at Boston Lodge. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Llangollen latest

The Llangollen Trust says they are on track to reopen the line late July or early August following the auction of the bankrupt Company's assets on 12/5/21 and have acquired essential plant and the accessible coach M4858 from the auction. Two friendly bidders acquired two more of the 9 Mk1's up for sale which will therefore stay on the railway. The railway now has at least two full length rakes of coaches, however it has lost the RMB to the Spa Valley Railway. One concern is the Cowans 50 tonne crane which a scrap merchant purchased for £35,000 to be cut up on site. This working crane, the ex-Laira breakdown crane, is fully operational and a campaign has been launched to buy it back from the scrap merchant. For more details and a link to donations see Llangollen Trust's Press Release.

To reopen the line some additional work is needed on the Dee Bridge and in Berwyn Tunnel. Meanwhile the waiting room at Corwen station is under construction on the new island platform and the token signalling system has been tested which will eventually allow a second train to follow between Carrog and Corwen. The signal box itself is nearing completion externally.

 

FR traffic 15/5/21

Saturday dawned a bit rainy and dull in Porthmadog but with all three trains fully booked, it appeared too late to add an extra 12:25, which would have required a third engine in steam. The 11:05 is already fully booked for the next three days but the FR can add an extra on Wednesday as the only two trains currently advertised, the 10:00 and 13:40 are already fully booked. These only require one loco in steam however. With the Prime Minister admitting he has let Indian variant into the country and its rapid growth, a potential fourth wave of COVID is possible. Many visitors may be seeking to have a quick holiday before the possibility of further lockdowns materialises.

Prince left Boston Lodge at 10:30, arrived at Porthmadog Harbour Station at 10:38 and by 10:45 it had shunted the A set into the platform. The train departed on time. Up at Tan-y-bwlch, no attempt had been made to restore the short lived awning blown down in the gales over a week ago. Work was underway on the wall of the small station building opposite the signal box. Moelwyn shunted to the westbound platform at 11:10and 11:42 moved to the west end in order to allow a quick coupling to the rear of the arrival of the 11:05 from Porthmadog which came at 11:48. Departure for Dduallt came at 11:55 with some assistance from the diesel loco. Moelwyn arrived back at 12:23 with Prince on the rear and passengers had their hour break. Prince arrived back at Porthmadog at 14:08 in plenty of time for the Zoono Gang to clean the train before the 15:00 working.

 

This westerly view (15/5/21) shows Prince arriving on the 15:00 while Palmerston awaits a run round at 15:46. The locos sport different coloured Mountain Prince headboards. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Palmerston left Boston Lodge at 12:10 and arrived to shunt the yard at 12:19. The rake was shunted into the platform at 12:48 and the loco crew took their lunch break with the sun coming out. Up at Tan-y-bwlch the locos had swopped places by 12:55. Palmerston passed Prince at Minffordd at about 13.55 as the former made its way to Tan-y-bwlch. About 20 people gathered to watch the spectacle of Prince departing on time at 15:01 on its second turn of the day. Meanwhile Moelwyn arrived back at Tan-y-bwlch at 15:00 with Palmerston on the rear for an hour's break for passengers. Prince passed Minffordd at 15:13 and arrived at Tan-y-bwlch at 14:46. Moelwyn was connected to the rear by 15:49 and the rake set off for Dduallt at 15:52 allowing Palmerston to run round at 15:57 and couple to the west end at 16:05. There was some difficulty obtaining a vacuum and the train did not leave until 16:18, the second time a brakes problem has delayed a service in the same week. Palmerston's departure cleared the platform just in time for the 15:00 to arrive back from Dduallt at 16:26 for the customary hour break (often shortened to 45 mins on the last train of the day). Prince had uncoupled and moved over to the water tower by 16:34.

Down at Porthmadog Palmerston was shunting its rake into the seawall siding at 16:56 then ran light engine to Boston Lodge at 16:59, back on schedule despite the late start from Tan-y-bwlch. Prince departed at 17:14 and passed Minffordd at 17:36. Arrival at Porthmadog came at 17:44 and run round at 17:51. The rake was shunted to the yard at 17:57 and the loco departed light engine to Boston Lodge at 18:00 bringing activities to a close for the day.

At the end of the day, next Wednesday's peculiar timetable with only two FR trains, which are already sold out, has not seen any additional trains added.

 

Spooners indoor dining reopens 27/5/21

Following WAG advice Spooners will reopen services for indoor locals and visitors from 12:00 until 22:00 drinks only table service. The take away food option will continue to be offered from 09:00 to 16:00 as the F&WHR is still building its catering team despite advertising for staff some weeks ago. This is also true of other catering outlets where foreign workers have gone home due to BREXIT issues and UK workers don't wish to take on insecure basic wage jobs. No mention is made about the De Winton Cafe at Caernarfon in the announcement.

 

TfW advises timetable changes from 16/5/21

Transport for Wales has advised that there will be timetable changes from Sunday 16/5/21, mostly for North Wales.

 

FR traffic 14/5/21

Only two trains were advertised today and so only one engine was required in steam. Blanche was the rostered traction and departed on time at 11:05. Blanche had run round at Tan-y-bwlch by 13:17 and departed by 13:39, passing Minffordd at 13:58 and arriving at Porthmadog at 14:07 for the Zoono squad to clean before the 15:00 departure. Moelwyn was stabled at Tan-y-bwlch waiting for the 15:00.

Moel Hebog was in the WHR platform at Porthmadog with a S&T cherrypicker train during the lunch break and shunted to the east end of the platform at 13:15 where the FR/WHR starter signal received some attention. Preparation may be underway for the Glaslyn Venturer including getting the track/signals ready and driver training as services commence on 30/5/21. Meanwhile Blanche ran round at 14:31 after coaling and watering for its 15:00 service.

It was all go at 14:52 with Moelwyn running round the S&T train and Upnor Castle bring the C set back from maintenance at Boston Lodge. Blanche left on time with the 15:00 with over 20 bystanders watching the proceedings. Once clear of the shunt limit, Upnor Castle, having run round, shunted the rake into the yard. Meanwhile Moel Hebog with the cherrypicker attended the advance starter/shunt signal halfway along the platform departing at 15:57. It arrived at Minffordd at 16:09 and shunted into the yard. Upnor Castle emerged for the yard at 15:10 and took instructions from the signalbox. Blanche passed Minffordd at 15:13 and having cleared the section, this allowed Upnor Castle to set off light engine for Boston Lodge at 15:16.

 

This easterly view (13/5/21) shows Moel Hebog on the cherrypicker rake in the WHR platform at 14:57. Blanche is preparing for the 15:00 in the FR platform and Upnor Castle has just returned the C set to the yard from planned maintenance. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Blanche arrived Tan-y-bwlch and after Moelwyn was coupled to the rear, the train left for Dduallt at 15:50 and arrived back at 16:19. Blanche ran round at 16:27 while Moelwyn went light engine to Boston Lodge. The train was back in Porthmadog by 15:50 and Blanche ran round at 17:55. At 17:58 the rake was shunted to the yard and Blanche departed light for Boston Lodge at 18:03.

In the week ahead the standard three trains 11:05/13:40/15:00 operate most days except Wednesday when so far a 10:00 and 13:40 are booked to run. This was likely to be revised as there were only 3 compartments left across the two trains by the end of Friday. Thursday, Friday and Sunday are currently showing as back to the usual 3 trains and the 13:40 had been reinstated for Saturday by the end of Friday. The popular 11:05 is sold out Saturday and some other days next week.

 

Llangollen auction 12/5/21

Over 60 bidders came to 'pick over the bones' of the Llangollen Railway with the Mk1 coaches being in greatest demand. The auctioneer suggested over £1 million could be raised. It was surprising that railways from Cornwall, Norfolk and the North came to buy the coaches. The Llangollen Trust itself hoped to buy some of the rolling stock and equipment. See BBC News story.

 

North Wales main line 14/5/21

No.37800 was said to be making several Chester-Holyhead runs on 14/5/21, presumably for driver training.

The Autumn introduction of loco hauled Mk4 trains will sadly not feature Shotton station, a vital interchange with the Borderlands Line.

 

FR traffic 13/5/21

At 1000 the Harbour Station platform seats were receiving attention with new seating planks being provided for some. There was 1 compartment left on the 11:05 but the 13:40 was fully booked as was the 15:00 and tomorrow's 11:05 tomorrow (one of only two trains operating Friday-Sunday on the FR). Yesterday's film crew appeared to be working on the platform throughout the morning.

The day kicked off with Blanche emerging from Boston Lodge at 10:20 and running into the yard to collect the A set. The rake was shunted under the platform canopy by 10:37 and departed on time at 11:05 in dull weather. The train arrived at 11:48 and Moelwyn was waiting at the west end to be coupled to the rear. This was achieved in short order at 1152 and the train set off for Dduallt at 11:54. Some people had chosen to sit in the Open coach No.37 rather than the brake No.113. The train arrived back at 12:21 for an hour break. Light rain was falling. At 12:26 Blanche detached and ran round as the rain set in. The train left for Porthmadog at 13:28 passing the 13:40 at Minffordd at 13:55 and arriving at Porthmadog at 14:05 in plenty of time for the Zoono Squad to prepare the coaches for the 15:00.

Meanwhile down at Porthmadog, Welsh Pony had arrived early at about 12:50 and shunted the C under the platform canopy by 13:00 ready for the 13:40. The platform has become a spectator sport area with a least a dozen watching or photographing the departure. The train left on time and passed Minffordd at 13:50 and arrived at Tan-y-bwlch at 14:28. Moelwyn coupled up to the rear at 14:30 and the train left for Dduallt at 14:33 arriving back at 15:03 for an hour's break.

Blanche left Porthmadog on time on the 15:00 in wet conditions, passing Minffordd at 15:12. The train arrived at 15:41 and Moelwyn was coupled up by 15:45. The train left for Dduallt at 15:48. Meanwhile Welsh Pony ran round by 16:15 and departed for Porthmadog at 16:19 passing Minffordd at 16:49 and arriving at Porthmadog at 16:58. Moelwyn had arrived back on the 15:00 at 16:31 after a longer than normal trip to Dduallt. Blanche ran round at 16:41 and hung round by the footbridge at 17:00 before coupling up at 17:28 and departing for Porthmadog at 17:34.

Welsh Pony had not run round by 17:25 even after being signalled for a long period and diesel assistance was called for from Boston Lodge. Moelwyn, having recently arrived light engine from Tan-y-bwlch off the 15:00 service, arrived in the FR platform at 17:35. There may have been a problem with vacuum brakes as a further long signalled shunt did not occur until 17:45. There was a risk that if the rake was not moved the returning 15:00 would have to run into the WHR platform. Moelwyn emerged at from the platform at 16:58 with its wheel's spinning dragging the failed rake. The diesel managed to propel the rake into the yard at 18:01 and the rake was placed in the seawall siding.

 

This easterly view (13/5/21) shows Moelwyn coming to the rescue at 17:33. It appeared that the brakes of the 13:40 rake were binding as the loco struggled to extract the rake from blocking the platform. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Blanche arrived back at 18:05 in the FR platform which had been cleared with minutes to spare! The return working of the 15:00 had possibly been held for a few minutes at Minffordd. Moelwyn emerged from the yard light engine and took instruction from the signalbox. At 18:09 it was shunted into the FR platform while the yard points were set for Welsh Pony to shunt out. At 18:14 Moelwyn coupled to the rear of Welsh Pony and the pair set of light engine for Boston Lodge at 18:16. Once beyond the shunt limit, Blanche was signalled to run round and shunt its rake to the yard. The rake was shunted at 18:22. At 18:26 Blanche left light engine for Boston Lodge bringing the day's activities to a close.

The FR has today increased its offering to three trains on Saturday and Sunday with the addition of the 13:40 but Friday still only has 2 trains despite one being fully booked already.

 

Set Composition

Trains run in fixed formation sets with compartment numbers as last year. Additional open coaches may be added when weather improves. Compartment Nos. range from 1-24 but Open coaches are not designated.

A Set Comp No. B set Comp No. C Set Comp No.
No.6 Van 23 No.1 Zoo car 23 No. 23 WHR Saloon 18-24
No.2 Four wheeler (First) 22 No.3 22 No.21 Saloon 11-18
No.5 Four wheeler (Third) 21 No.4 21 No.17 Bowsider 5-10
No.19 Bowsider 15-20 No.24 NWNGR   No.12 Brake 3-4
No.26 Saloon 9-14 ?   No.11 Brake 1-2
No.22 Saloon 3-8 ?      
No.113 Brake 1-2 No.10 Brake 1-2    
No.37 Open Not designated        

 

Open coach No.39 soon to fleet 14/5/21

This Boston Lodge view (14/5/21) shows No.39 hauled out into the sun for some finishing touches. The coach may join the B set in coming weeks offering a pleasant experience in the hopefully warmer Late Spring Bank holiday soon to come. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Glenn Williams (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

FR traffic 12/5/21

All three trains today are sold out leading to the suggestion that additional trains might soon be introduced on an ad hoc basis as up to 5 trains a day can be run in the Mountain Prince timetable. The 11:00 and 13:40 are sold out on Thursday too. The decision to reduce the service to just 2 trains on Friday-Sunday most be questionable in the circumstances.

The action kicked off at 9:30 when steam was noted being raised and a diesel shunted out onto The Cob and set back towards the Old Loco Shed. Blanche eventually left Boston Lodge at 10:23 and made its way across The Cob to shunt Harbour Station Yard. The rake was shunted under the canopy at 10:37 as the weather was wet and windy and departed on time at 11:05. Moelwyn was waiting the arrival at Tan-y-bwlch which came at 11:50, was coupled up by 11:53 and departed for Dduallt at 11:56. The train was back by 12:24 for passengers to have an hour break and arrived back at Porthmadog at about 14:00.

Meanwhile, after the 13:40 from Porthmadog with Welsh Pony had cleared Minffordd loop, the KMX tamper and running truck emerged from Minffordd Yard at 14:05 and appeared to head towards Tan-y-bwlch. Blanche arrived back at Porthmadog at 14:11 to form the 15:00 service after Zoono cleaning. At Tan-y-bwlch a video/drone team was setting up to record the arrival of the 13:40. The train arrived at 14:28, Moelwyn coupled to the rear and it left for Dduallt a few minutes later arriving back at 15:01. Down in Porthmadog the sun had come out and Blanche departed on the 15:00 arriving at Tan-y-bwlch at 15:49. Moelwyn was connected to the rear at 15:52 and the train left for Dduallt at 15:54 allowing Welsh Pony to water and run round on the 13:40 at 16:00.

 

This westerly view (12/5/21) shows the KMX tamper/liner departing Minffordd Yard at 12:05. It appeared to head towards Tan-y-bwlch. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Later in the afternoon one loco, presumably Welsh Pony, entered Boston Lodge at 17:25, a little later than usual. Blanche passed Minffordd at 17:39 on the return working of the 15:00. The train arrived back at Harbour Station at 17:48 and pulled under the platform canopy. The loco ran round at 17:54 and shunted the rake to the yard at 17:58. Blanche left for Boston Lodge at 18:04 bringing the day to a close.

Compartments are only available on the 15:00 on Thursday. The timetable still shows only two trains from Friday-Sunday (11:05 and 15:00) and the 11:00 has only one compartment left on Friday. There are plenty of compartments left on the Gelert Explorer Thursday and Saturday.

 

Insidemotion webcams site overwhelmed!

The F&WHR's FR webcams (there is still no WHR Dinas webcam!) were recently moved to an alternative 'Insidemotion' website probably to prevent bandwidth being used blocking ticket sales. Now the 'Insidemotion' website itself is being overwhelmed with the website frequently showing almost 100 webcam viewers and sometimes the message 'Resource Limit Is Reached' is displayed so the webcams are inaccessible.

 

Welsh Hospitality to reopen from 17/5/21

One of the first acts of Mark Drakeford, WAG's First Minister after Labour were re-elected last Thursday has been to confirm the re-opening of Welsh Tourism including indoor restaurants from 17/5/21. WAG is offering a package of financial support. Businesses will be able submit applications by the end of the May and they will receive between £2,500 and £25,000 depending on their circumstances. Funding will be calculated based on the size of the business and the type of restrictions they are under. This support is in addition to the Welsh Government’s £610m non-domestic rates relief which will mean more than 70,000 retail, leisure and hospitality businesses pay no rates in 2021-22.

An announcement might be expected shortly from the F&WHR about opening the Spooners, De Winton Cafe and the Tan-y-bwlch cafe to inside dining. The existing F&WHR timetable continues until 23/7/21 and is being reviewed in the light of current demand and the anticipation of a UK-wide staycation this summer as many traditional foreign holidays are closed by COVID.

 

Expansion of F&WHR services?

So far the only expansion of F&WHR services known is the proposed Glaslyn Adventurer which runs twice daily Porthmadog to Beddgelert from the Bank Holiday Monday 31/5/21 with trains running TWThO generally. An enquiry about all F&WHR trains in early July found that many are booking up quite heavily in advance with only a few compartments left two months in advance of travel. Many preserved railways have advised a return to a more normal timetable in mid-May with the relaxation of COVID regulations. The F&WHR is still considering its options from 23/7/21 when the current timetable ends.

 

Portillo on the FR broadcast 13/5/21

Another episode of Great Railway Journeys will be shown on BBC2 on 13/5/21 at 18:30. Michel Portillo recounts his journey from Blaenau to Barmouth with footage of the FR. The programme is available on BBC iPlayer for the following 30 days.

 

No.87 Gelert Explorer 6/5/21

The 6/5/21 was a sunny day with a lot of snow on the top of the mountains. Snowdon had a good covering. No. 87 was allocated for this day and No.130 was rostered on 11/5/21 possibly for the first time since its appearance on 30/4/21 following a problem with No.87. For additional images see F&WHR Facebook page.

 

This northerly view (6/5/21) shows No.87 with the Gelert Explorer headboard waiting for the 11:00 departure from Caernarfon. This service runs TThSO at present but could be extended to additional days if traffic grows and appears to be preferring No.87 at the moment. Click on the image to expand . This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

FR traffic 11/5/21

On 11/5/21, the 11:05 and 13:40 were fully booked but there were seats available on the 15:00. The Gelert Explorer had the unusual message 'Call to book' showing in the last 20 minutes before departure which may be the usual response close to departure time. Blanche was shunting the C set with Coaches Nos.23/21/17 and the two brakes Nos.11/12 into the platform at 10:43 for the 11:05. As usual recently the rake was shunted under the platform canopy, departing at 11:06. Blanche passed Minffordd at 11:16 and Moelwyn was already waiting at Tan-y-bwlch to attach to the rear when it arrived at 11:44. The train had departed for Dduallt within 10 minutes. The train has arrived back from Dduallt by 12:50 and Moelwyn and Blanche had changed ends. There were showers at Tan-y-bwlch as the train left for Porthmadog at 13:30.

Meanwhile, down at Porthmadog Palmerston had propelled the rake for the 13:40 under the platform canopy, leaving at 13:42., passing Minffordd at 13:51.

 

Plas-y-nant works 8-9/5/21

The North Wales Track Gang was working at Plas-y-nant over the weekend of 8-9/5/21 with Vale of Ffestiniog in support. With the No.87 operating on the Saturday, the PW train retreated to Rhyd Ddu, while the volunteers continued their task re-installing the footpath crossing to Plas-y-nant Halt.

 

This northerly view (6/5/21) shows Vale of Ffestiniog at Rhyd Ddu presumably to allow No.87 on Gelert Explorer to pass. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Tom Waldren and was taken on a digital camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (6/5/21) shows No.87 approaching Plas-y-nant bridge with the return working of the Gelert Explorer. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Tom Waldren and was taken on a digital camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Fence repair 6/5/21

It is over 20 years since the WHR fencing was installed and the fencing is being renewed in places such as Castell Cidwm where there is a lot of cattle in neighbouring fields.

 

This southerly view (6/5/21) shows No.87 passing the Infrastructure Gang replacing fence posts at Castle Cidwm with the Gelert Explorer. Snowdon shows a good covering of late Spring snow after recent storms. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Welsh COVID rules to change 17/5/21

With Labour re-elected to govern WAG Mark Drakeford, the First Minister, has confirmed there will be a review of COVID on Friday 13/5/21, possibly leading to further relaxation of COVID regulations from 17/5/21. As COVID rates in Wales have fallen to a low level, it is widely expected that indoor dining might be allowed in Spooners and the De Winton Cafe and potentially on trains too. Despite this there has been a small outbreak in a holiday camp at Black Rock Sands, just outside Porthmadog. Labour has promised an additional £200 million to assist businesses affected by COVID and some of this may come the F&WHR's way and possibly help the bankrupt Llangollen Railway too.

 

Llangollen auction latest

Labour made election promises to help the Llangollen Railway which this week is seeing an auction of the part of the rolling stock owned by the Company including 9 Mk1 coaches. It has been made clear that the shunter up for sale is the Company's hybrid private built 08 'Davy' built for ICI and named after chemist Sir Humphrey Davy. The bidding closes on 12/5/21 at 2pm. Supporters hope that the Llangollen Trust will be able to secure some of the rolling stock. Click here for auction catalogue which includes 9 BR MkI coaches. It is not clear how many coaches are left in the Trust's ownership to run a service but the railway also has a considerable number of privately owned DMUs and the Diesel Group has its privately owned operational Class 08/26/47 locos and Wirral Council's Class 03. There is a Class 31 on an extended visit to the railway but long term Llangollen resident Foxcote Manor is away at the West Somerset Railway and signed up there for the next few years.

 

Historic railway bridge concern continues

John Sreeves writes: You may be aware that Highways England is proposing to demolish or infill hundreds of redundant railway structures throughout the country (including Wales and Scotland); an act of desecration finishing off what Beeching started. A campaign to prevent this happening is gathering support where many railway routes could be reopened or repurposed for leisure activities. The attached document highlights examples where some bridges are under immediate threat; others will follow. All bridges in HRE ownership are recognisable by a stencilled black and white panel painted on the parapet or abutment, showing the former line reference and bridge number. Constant vigilance is needed, as HRE are using underhand tactics to get their way. By declaring ‘permitted development rights’ or ‘emergency powers’ they are able to circumvent the planning system. In many instances, people only get to know about it when the bulldozers turn up on site. Some of the bridges do indeed need remedial work, or have weight restrictions, but not to the extent to justify demolition. Please keep a watchful eye for any railway infrastructure in your area that may be under threat, thereby prejudicing reuse of the former railway route.

For further details see HRE Securing its Potential leaflet.

 

FR traffic 10/5/21

Both the 11:05 and 13:40 were sold out today but there were compartments left on the 15:00. Blanche shunted the A Set into the platform under the awning at 10:45 as it was a blustery day with passing showers. Moelwyn was at Tan-y-bwlch. Blanche was back from Dduallt and had exchanged places with Moelwyn by 12:35. At 13:07 Palmerston arrived and shunted the C set from the seawall sidings and shunted it under the platform awning, departing on the 13:40.

At 17:48 Blanche was running round to shunt its 15:00 service back to the yard. The rake had unloaded under the platform awning again. The loco left light for the depot at 17:57 bringing the day's activities to a close.

The 11:05 was fully booked for Tuesday and Wednesday and the 13:40 only had one compartment left.

 

Penmaenmawr stone paths from 17/5/21

The diagrams for the new Penmaenmawr stone trains are now available on RealTime Trains. The Jumbo empty westbound working 6D17 leaves Crewe Basford Hall at 18:44 and arrives Penmaenmawr at 20:46. The two loaded eastbound workings are 6K61 Penmaenmawr dep 06:44, arriving Crewe Basford Hall 08:43 and 6K17 Penmaenmawr dep 16:53 arriving Crewe Basford Hall arr 19:20. It is not known exactly when the trains will start as driver training has not yet occurred.

Clearance work is also underway at Llandudno Junction Yard for a future freight flow of slate waste from Penrhyn Quarry which will be loaded in the yard from lorries.

On 6/5/21 No.67015 hauling a Mk4 coaches test ran from Cardiff to Holyhead and back. This was a test train to determine timings and fuel consumption under various load conditions. The paths for loco hauled service begin 13/9/21 according to RealTime Trains. Users of this route currently have to change at Shrewsbury (Sunday there are some through trains).

 

FR traffic 9/5/21

Sunday was a day full of excitement on the FR due apparently to a failure on the 13:40. Initially things went well with David Lloyd George on the 11:05 arriving back from Dduallt at 12:20 carrying the Mountain Prince headboard, unlike the previous day. Moelwyn was back on the pilot duty. There were still compartments available on the 13:40 and 15:00. The locos had changed ends at Tan-y-bwlch by 12:47. The double Fairlie returned to Porthmadog on time presumably passing Welsh Pony at Minffordd on the 13:40. However, running round its rake at 14:20 the double Fairlie left Porthmadog light engine for Minffordd. It stopped to deliver packages near the Minffordd signal, presumably to effect a repair of Welsh Pony, then staff opened the location cabinet to set the route into the westbound platform at Minffordd at 14:36. This may have been connection with the late running of the 13:20 which had not arrived in Tan-y-bwlch by 14:40. As the Fairlie was to be the train engine for the 15:00, another loco was rapidly steamed at Boston Lodge. Welsh Pony emerged from Minffordd Yard siding at 14:54 presumably having been replaced by the Fairlie on the late 14:20 at Minffordd. It then appeared to run back light engine to Boston Lodge.

Palmerston emerged from Boston Lodge at 15:05 and departed at 15:15, just 15 minutes down. David Lloyd George arrived at Tan-y-bwlch at 15:08, some 40 minutes late after recovering the failure, and had gone to Dduallt within 10 minutes. Moelwyn arrived back at 15:35 with the Fairlie on the rear. Palmerston arrived at 16:04 with the B set and Moelwyn coupled to the rear at 16:08. The rake set off for Dduallt at 16:13 freeing the platform for the Fairlie to run round at 16:17 and depart for Porthmadog at 16:37. Moelwyn returned with the late running 15:00 at 16:44.

 

This westerly view (8/5/21) shows David Lloyd George carrying the correct headboard for the first time, finishing its turn a little early at 17:25 after being pressed into service to take the 13:40 forwards from Minffordd after Welsh Pony experienced a problem. Originally it had been booked for the 15:00, which was taken over by Palmerston, rapidly turned out from Boston Lodge. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Meanwhile at 17:25 David Lloyd George ran round after watering at Porthmadog and shunted its rake to the yard, departing light engine for the depot at 17:34. At the same time Palmerston was watering, running round at Tan-y-bwlch. It departed for Porthmadog at 17:37 passing Minffordd at 18:03, arriving at Porthmadog at 18:13 and pulling forward under the platform awning as did most trains this week. After watering Palmerston ran round at 18:29 and propelled the rake into the yard. The day's activities came to and end when the loco headed light engine back to the depot at 18:40.

The Mountain Prince 11:05 is sold out for the next three days but both the afternoon trains have compartments free all week. The Gelert Explorer has free compartments but only runs TThSO in the week ahead.

 

FR traffic 8/5/21

The day kicked off wet and windy yet both the 11:05 and 12:40 were fully booked with compartments still available on the 15:00. Welsh Pony came across from Boston Lodge at 10:35 and shunted the seawall siding before drawing the A set out at 10:50 and propelling it right under the platform awning to protect the passengers from the weather. The 11:05 left at 11:06 and illustrated the unusual section event caused by wind over the signalbox and relay cabin where the wind from the sea generates a lower pressure on the leeward side which sucks smoke up to the roof ridge before propelling it north towards Traeth Mawr.

The train passed Minffordd at 11:17 and Upnor Castle was already waiting at 11:20 having taken over the Dduallt shunt duty from Moelwyn for the weekend The train arrived at Tan-y-bwlch at 11:52 in pouring rain and Upnor Castle connected to the rear at 11:57. The train departed for Dduallt at 12:04 with assistance from the diesel. The train arrived back from Dduallt about 12:35 pilotted by Upnor Castle. There was good condensation in the damp air but fortunately the rain had stopped. Welsh Pony detached at 12:42 and went to water. Upnor Castle shunted to the rear at 12:47 and immediately afterwards Welsh Pony ran round to the front of the train. Welsh Pony departed at 13:31.

 

This westerly view (8/5/21) shows Welsh Pony running round its rake at Tan-y-bwlch at 12:47 just after Upnor Castle had exchanged placed with it. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The 14:20 was a surprise on Saturday as double Fairlie David Lloyd George was turned out for the 13:40. After arriving and pausing in the platform for a while, it shunted the rake into the platform under the awning at 13:35. The double Fairlie departed with the 5 bogie C set with no Open coach at 13:41 crossing Welsh Pony at Minffordd at 16:58. The loco carried a special headboard celebrating the Chief Mechanical Engineers 60th birthday. Welsh Pony arrived at Porthmadog at 14:08 and again pulled forward under the awning.

 

This westerly view (8/5/21) shows David Lloyd George passing Minffordd at 13:53 carrying the a headboard celebrating the CME's 60th Birthday. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

David Lloyd George arrived at Tan-y-bwlch by 14:30 and Upnor Castle was coupled to the rear by 14:33. The train left for Dduallt at 14:35 and arrived back at 15:05. Meanwhile down at Porthmadog Welsh Pony left on time on the 15:00 and arrived at Tan-y-bwlch at 15:44. With the Planet coupled to the rear, the train had left for Dduallt within 10 minutes and arriving back about 30 minutes later.

 

This westerly view (8/5/21) shows Welsh Pony arriving at Tan-y-bwlch at 15:44 passing David Lloyd George carrying the a headboard celebrating the CME's 60th Birthday. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

David Lloyd George ran round at 16:05 and departed for Porthmadog at 16:17 passing Minffordd at 16:43. This left the platform free for Upnor Castle to arrive at 16:20 piloting the return of the 15:00 return working. The Fairlie pulled into Porthmadog at 16:52 and, as is the new style of operation, disappeared under the platform awning. After watering the Fairlie ran round at 17:12 and shunted the rake to the seawall siding at 17:18 before leaving light engine for Boston Lodge at 17:20.

At 16:23 Welsh Pony detached and after exchanging places with Upnor Castle, watered and ran round to couple to the west end of the rake by 17:15. The train departed for Porthmadog at 17:20, passing Minffordd at 17:46 and arriving at Porthmadog at 17:56 this time pulling up a little short as the rain had ceased. Welsh Pony ran round at 18:09 and moved the rake to the sidings. The loco left light engine for Boston Lodge at 18:18.

There is no WHR service on Sundays for some reason but there are three FR services tomorrow with the 11:05 sold out as usual.

 

FR traffic 7/5/21

Vale of Ffestiniog was in the WHR platform with a Mess car, a flat wagon and a B wagon from at least 10:30 while steam was being raised at Boston Lodge for the 11:05. The Funkey left for Dinas just before Blanche arrived a little late at 10:48. Blanche ran through the FR platform, collected its train (including WHR coach No.23 but no Open) which was positioned under the platform awning because of the rain. It set off on time and passed Minffordd 11:16.

 

This easterly view (7/5/21) shows Vale of Ffestiniog ready to depart with a short works train towards Dinas at 10:21. The loco may have been used to shunt the 11:05 in Harbour Station under the awning earlier as the train engine was late and it was raining. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The train arrived at Tan-y-bwlch at 11:46 where Moelwyn had been waiting since before 10:30. The diesel was coupled up at 10:49 and the train set off for Dduallt at 11:55 and was back within half an hour. By 13:15 the locos had swopped ends and departed at 13:30 for Porthmadog to become the 15:00 passing .

Meanwhile down at Porthmadog Welsh Pony was propelling the rake for the 13:40 under the awning at 13:15 even though it had stopped raining. The loco left on time at 13:40 with the A Set with Open coach No.37 on the rear. The train passed Minffordd at 13:50 passing Blanche at Rhiw Goch. Welsh Pony reached Tan-y-bwlch by 14:25 and after a trip to Dduallt it arrived back at 14:59. Blanche ran round in Porthmadog at 14:39 while another engine, presumably Prince or Palmerston, was noted in steam at Boston Lodge. Meanwhile Blanche departed Porthmadog at 15:03 for Dduallt.

At 15:58 Welsh Pony ran round at Tan-y-bwlch after Blanche had departed for Dduallt. The England departed for Porthmadog at 16:10 passing Minffordd at 16:42 and arriving at Porthmadog at 16:50 and pulling forward towards the awning. Moelwyn returned at 16:20 with Blanche on the rear. Blanche ran round at 16:54, watering on the way.

Meanwhile Welsh Pony propelled the rake out and then dragged the rake back into the sidings before running round. The loco emerged at 17:06 and paused at the signalbox until 17:10 when it left light engine for Boston Lodge. Blanche left Tan-y-bwlch at 17:13 and passed Minffordd at 17:36. The train arrived at Porthmadog at 1745 pulling right forwards to the awning. Blanche ran round at 17:52. The loco left light engine for Boston Lodge at 18:03.

Saturday 8/5/21 shows the 11:05 Mountain Prince fully booked again but there is no problem with compartments on the two later trains. There are plenty of compartments available on the Gelert Explorer too.

 

Open Coach No.39 ready to join fleet

FR Open coach No.39 will soon be ready to rejoin the fleet after some hard work by the Coachworks team. With better Summer weather approaching, it is likely the open Coach will be added to the B set to provide more choice.

 

This Boston Lodge view (5/5/21) shows No.39 hauled out into the sun for some finishing touches. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Glenn Williams (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

FR traffic 6/5/21

The Porthmadog signalman arrived by bicycle at 09:45 and stored his cycle in the signalbox before opening he box for traffic.
The day was to see sunshine and showers and there was snow overnight even in Porthmadog with a light covering on the Rhinogs. At the start of the day both the 11:05 and 12:25 were fully booked with seats only available on the 15:00. The 11:05
was also sold out for the Thursday with an identical pattern of three trains operating.
Prince
arrived at Harbour station at 10:38 to draw out the A-set which was shunted into the platform by 10:46 ready for the 11:05, which departed on time. The 11:05 was sold out and the 12:25 had one compartment left. The 15:00 as usual was less popular as it arrives back at nearly 6pm. Prince passed Minffordd at 11:16 and arrived at Tan-y-bwlch at 11:52 with Moelwyn coupling to the rear at 11:54 and the train departing for Dduallt at 11:59. Moelwyn arrived back from Dduallt at 12:27 with Prince on the rear.

Welsh Pony hauled the second train with the B set containing NWNGR coach No.24 departing Porthmadog on time at 12:25 and passing Minffordd at 12:36. The train arrived at Tan-y-bwlch at 13:13 and Moelwyn coupled onto the rear at 13:16. The train departed at 13:21 for Dduallt allowing Prince to detach and water at 13:23. Prince departed for Porthmadog at 13:38.

Moelwyn pilotted Welsh Pony's train into Tan-y-bwlch at 13:51. Prince arrived back at Porthmadog at 14:12 with the Zoono squad ready to prepare it for the 15:00 departure, the last of the day. Moelwyn and Welsh Pony had exchanged places by 14:15 and the train departed for Porthmadog by 14:55 leaving the diesel at Tan-y-bwlch.

Prince departed Porthmadog on its second trip on the 15:00 arriving at Tan-y-bwlch at 15:44. Moelwyn was attached to the rear at 15:48 and the train departed for Dduallt at 15:53. All was over for the day by 18:00.

Friday sees a change in the timetable with the 11:05, 13:40 and 15:00 running which requires two locos in steam. The 11:05 is already sold out for Friday 7/5/21. This pattern persists until 13/5/21 though may be changed at short notice according to demand. While there are three trains this Sunday on the FR there is no Sunday service on the WHR. The WHR's Gelert Explorer is TThSO until 29/5/21. Three dates are already sold out 18/20/27 May suggesting there is suppressed demand.

If the WHR trains regularly sell out the F&WHR could run a short train out of Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu or Waunfawr for people who want a shorter trip comparable to the FR offering. This could even operate on the same day as the Gelert Explorer using the spare modern FR coaches or on days it does not run. However, from 1/6/21 the Glaslyn Adventurer will run TWThO and exceptionally on Bank Holiday Monday 31/5/21 twice a day from Porthmadog to Beddgelert at 10:15 and 13:40 carefully missing the dwell time of the Gelert Explorer at Beddgelert on days when they both run.

 

SMR cuts steam services

The Snowdon Mountain Railway has decided to withdraw its Heritage Steam Service for the 2021 season. They will be dedicating all available timetable capacity to the Traditional Diesel Service which will operate throughout the season from 22/5/21 (subject to weather) and in line with the prevailing Government restrictions. The impact on SMR operations is detailed on their website and during the booking process. Passengers who have already booked onto the Heritage Steam Experience will be contacted via email over the coming days. Hafod Eryri, the Summit Visitor Centre, will remain closed during the 2021 season and further details are available on the Summit Visitor Centre page. Trains will operate to Clogwyn with a half hour layover there and will not reach the summit. There are no facilities at Clogwyn. The half hour layover does not allow time for a walk to the summit and back.

 

Criccieth Castle repaint 5/5/20

Criccieth Castle is in Boston Lodge paint shop for a much needed repaint. There may be minor alterations to the paint scheme but the main features will remain as now.

 

Moving Pictures No.50 4/5/21

Click on the YouTube window to watch 23 mins 53 seconds of video covering the F&WHR including the first day of the FR's train service in miserable weather and No.130 on the Members' Special of 30/5/21 again in mostly dull weather. This YouTube was published on 4/5/21 and was taken by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a 4K digital camcorder. It is best watched in 1080p HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on the YouTube link.

 

FR traffic 5/5/21

The Porthmadog signalman arrived by bicycle at 09:45 and stored his cycle in the signalbox before opening he box for traffic. The day was to see sunshine and showers and there was snow overnight even in Porthmadog with a light covering on the Rhinogs. At the start of the day both the 11:05 and 12:25 were fully booked with seats only available on the 15:00. The 11:05 was also sold out for the Thursday with an identical pattern of three trains operating.

Prince emerged from Boston Lodge at 10:30 and ran through the FR platform to water and coal before shunting the yard. At 10:49 the loco extracted its rake from the yard and propelled the rake into the platform, departing on time at 11:05. At 11:09 Moel Hebog was propelling a flat wagon out of Minffordd yard into the Up line at Minffordd station. Prince passed Minffordd at 11:16. Moelwyn was already waiting at the west end of Tan-y-bwlch by 10:40 for the arrival of Prince which came at 11:47. The awning had been removed after it had blown down two days before. Moelwyn was coupled to the rear at 11:50 and the rake departed for Dduallt at 11:56. The train was back by 12:40.

Meanwhile, Welsh Pony exited Boston Lodge at 10:30 and shunted directly to the yard in preparation for the 12:25. The rake was in the platform by 11:50, over half an hour before departure and left on time at 12:25, passing Minffordd at 12:36. Welsh Pony arrived at 13:05 and Moelwyn was coupled up to the rear by 13:08 and the train left for Dduallt. The station could do with a Right Away indicator as the guard had to walk the length of the platform to attract the attention of the footplate crew due to the curved platform, eventually departing at 13:18. Prince then ran around at 13:22 and departed for Porthmadog at 13:34.

Moelwyn with Welsh Pony of the rear arrived back at Tan-y-bwlch at 13:44. The England engine uncoupled at 13:55 and watered exchanging places with Moelwyn by 14:22, departing at 14:53. Meanwhile down at Porthmadog, Prince departed on the 15:00 on time with just one compartment left vacant. On its return Prince left Tan-y-bwlch about 17:00 and passed Minffordd at 17:36 before arriving at Porthmadog at 17:46. The rake was propelled out of the platform at 17:53 then dragged back into the yard. Prince left light engine for Boston Lodge at 18:00.

 

Llangollen Railway may be back sooner than expected 28/4/21

The Llangollen Railway Trust has agreed a deal with the Receivers with some railway assets and the right to run the railway purchased. Talks have started with WAG, Business Wales, Denbighshire County Council and the National Heritage Lottery Fund about saving the railway. A new Safety Case needs completion and the Trust has been getting external help with this. Some £85,000 has been donated in the Appeal and the Trust will be able to bid in the auction on 12/5/21 for some of the rolling stock. A further £100,000 is needed to reopen the railway and the Trust is now looking more positively at a possible July/August reopening.

 

FR traffic 4/5/21

Harlech Castle was noted arriving from Dduallt at 08:40 on a PW train and departed at 08:43 towards Minffordd. This may have been a precautionary run to check the line was clear after the overnight storms as there were three workings booked to Dduallt Barn Cutting, the 11:05 (sold out), 12:25 and 15:00, so only two steam locos are required today. This pattern persists until Friday when the 12:25 is replaced by a 13:40, repeated on Saturday. Sunday sees only two trains, an 11:05 and a 15:00 operated by one steam loco. Trains will be added and removed from timetable according to demand. e.g. the 12:05 has disappeared from the booking page after Thursday 6/5/21.

Prince came over from Boston Lodge about 10:30 and was shunting the rake to the platform at 10:45. The train departed on time at 11:05. Moelwyn was already waiting in the Up platform at Tan-y-bwlch at 11:10. The train arrived at 11:52 and Moelwyn swiftly attached to the rear at 11:54. The rake departed for Dduallt at 12:00. Palmerston had arrived early at Porthmadog and shunted its rake to the platform by 11:50 for the 12:25 service which departed on time. Departing Tan-y-bwlch at 13:15 with Moelwyn on the rear. Prince ran round at 13:18, tanked up and departed for Porthmadog at 13:35 to become the 15:00. At 14:00 Palmerston ran round and at 14:05 Moelwyn ran round to stable by the signalbox awaiting the arrival of the 15:00.

Vale of Ffestiniog arrived at 14:33 with several modern FR coaches in the path of the 13:40, presumably for store in Glan-y-pwll. This rake may be used in the Glaslyn Venturer in the summer. Vale of Ffestiniog detached went to stable next to the signalbox. Prince departed Porthmadog on time on the 15:00 departure. The diesels had shunted around by 15:20 with Vale of Ffestiniog on the west end of the FR Super Barn rake. Moelwyn was waiting to go on the rear of the 15:00. At 15:23 the Funkey propelled the FR rake out of the a station and back into the Up platform, leaving the Down platform for the 15:00 arrival.

Prince arrived at Tan-y-bwlch at 15:49 and Moelwyn coupled to the rear by 15:53 ready to depart for Dduallt. Vale of Ffestiniog departed for Porthmadog at 15:55 and Prince for Dduallt at 15:56.

 

More F&WHR jobs 3/5/21

The F&WHR are pleased to announce that they have new Carriage Cleaning job opportunities available at the F&WHR. To view these jobs and the relevant application forms please visit the 'Jobs' page on their website.

 

Bank Holiday Monday 3/5/21

There was no Gelert Explorer on Monday 3/5/21 (a Bank Holiday!) though one did run on Sunday 2/5/21 whereas normally the train does not run Sundays. It is planned to run TThSO for the next few weeks. In contrast the FR expects to run 5 services on 3/5/21 and the 11:05 was sold out despite the foul weather forecast with heavy rain and strong winds throughout the day.

Blanche was allocated for the 10:00 service arriving light engine at Porthmadog at 09:39 to extract the rake from the yard. The 5 bogie rake with no Opens or four wheelers was shunted into the platform by 09:48 with strong wind and rain setting in. Departure came on time at 10:00. Meanwhile a cold wet Moelwyn was waiting in the platform at Tan-y-bwlch to attach to the rear for the Dduallt return pilot duty. It had probably brought up the Rhiw Goch signalman.

Prince arrived at 10:38 to shunt it rakes out of the yard. The rake, with three four-wheelers (but an unoccupied Open understandably!), was shunted into the platform by 10:49. Unusually the train shunted right under the awning in view of the atrocious weather so that passengers could board the train and remain dry. Prince departed on time at 11:05. Meanwhile Blanche arrived at Tan-y-bwlch at 10:43 and Moelwyn rapidly coupled to the rear. The rake left for Dduallt Barn Cutting at 10:53 after Blanche had replenished its water tank. It arrived back at 11:20 and stabled waiting for the arrival of the 11:05. Passengers made their way to the Tan-y-bwlch tea room.

Prince arrived at 11:47 and short work was made of coupling Moelwyn to the rear by 11:52 while the loco replenished its water supply. Prince departed for Dduallt at 11:55.allowing Blanche to run round to the front of the train by 12:05. The train left for Porthmadog by 12:15. Meanwhile, at Porthmadog Palmerston had shunted the third set including three 4 wheelers No.24 and No.10, right up to the Harbour Station awning given the stormy wet weather. The train departed at 12:27, a couple of minutes down, and had to cross with the returning 10:00 service at Rhiw Goch.

Meanwhile Prince returned from Dduallt pilotted by Moelwyn and was back in Tan-y-bwlch by 12:25 and passengers made their way to the tea rooms with a few hardy souls making it to the end of the platform to photograph Prince in the rain. Blanche arrived back in Porthmadog at 12:53 and the compartments were rapidly cleaned by the Zoono squad ready for the 13:40.

Palmerston arrived at Tan-y-bwlch about 13:10. Moelwyn quickly coupled to the rear and the train departed by 13:25. The awning erected just a few days before to provide shelter for waiting passengers collapsed in the storm and staff disassembled the structure to stop it blowing away in the gale. At 13:27 Prince ran round to the front of its train and coupled up by 13:35, departing at 13:38 and passing the 13:40 from Porthmadog, which departed a couple of minutes late at 13:42, at Rhiw Goch about 20 minutes later. Meanwhile Palmerston arrived back from Dduallt at 13:50 pilotted by Moelwyn.

Blanche arrived at Tan-y-bwlch at 14:30 on the 13:40 from Porthmadog and Moelwyn promptly coupled up to the rear of the train at 14:32, departing for Dduallt at 14:38. With the Down line now clear, Palmerston ran round at 14:45 and departed for Porthmadog at 15:00. Meanwhile Prince departed Porthmadog at 15:00 with the final train of the day, set to pass Palmerston at Rhiw Goch. Palmerston reached Porthmadog about 15:45 and shunted its rake to the yard at 16:03. The light engine left for Boston Lodge at 16:04 with the crew no doubt keen to get back with thick storm clouds blanketing The Cob.

Blanche arrived back at Tan-y-bwlch from Dduallt at 15:10. Prince arrived with the 15:00 from Porthmadog at 15:52. Moelwyn attached to the rear by 15:55 and the train departed for Dduallt at 15:58. Blanche ran round at 16:02 and was coupled to Moelwyn by 16:10. The train left for Porthmadog at 16:12 and arrived there about 16:50 just as the sun came out. Blanche ran round at 17:00 and shunted the rake to the sidings at 17:10 before leaving for Boston Lodge light engine at 17:15, bringing the day's activities to a close.

 

F&WHR Webcams move to new website 3/5/21

Heavy use of the webcams in recent days has apparently caused delays to booking tickets so the webcams have been moved to the insidemotion website. This should provide faster access for webcam users which at times was taking over 1 minute and, more importantly, reduce latency for on line ticket sales.

 

Mountain Prince 1/5/21

This westerly view (1/5/21) shows Prince having arrived at Tan-y-bwlch and Welsh Pony on the rear of the train waiting to return to Porthmadog. The weather was mixed with occasional sleet and a dusting of snow on some mountains but strong sunshine at times too. Click on the image to expand. This digital camera image is copyright Chris Parry (F&WHR) and was post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Later on 1/5/21 your webmaster was at Tan-y-bwlch to observe the Mountain Prince operations.

 

This easterly view (1/5/21) shows Welsh Pony having run round and ready to depart for Porthmadog at 12:18. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

An hour later another train had pulled in from Porthmadog and Moelwyn coupled to the rear to pilot the return from Dduallt.

 

This easterly view (1/5/21) shows Moelwyn having attached to the rear of a train from Porthmadog at 13:19. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Gelert Explorer 1/5/21

Those WHR Society members who were unable to book on the Members' special on 30/4/21 and hoped to travel the following day on the first day of public services might have been disappointed to see No.87 turned out for the duty. The rake contained 47 numbered compartments with Observation car Gwyrfai at the north end and a reversed Glaslyn at the south end. The Saturday was much brighter at times though there were still occasional hail showers and the north facing summits of the Carneddau had a covering of snow. Snowdon had the odd patch.

 

This easterly view (1/5/21) shows No.87 preparing to haul the 10:15 ECS round Gelert Explorer rake from Dinas to Caernarfon. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This easterly view (1/5/21) shows No.87 preparing to haul the 10:15 ECS round Gelert Explorer rake from Dinas to Caernarfon. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This easterly view (1/5/21) shows No.87 returning from Caernarfon hauling the 11:00 to Beddgelert passing at 11:15. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

North Wales Railtour news

Railtours are starting up again subject to COVID rules with a bunch planned in North Wales for early May. Locos listed with an S prefix are steam engines.

Date Railtour Name From-To Promoter Loco
1/5/21 North Wales Coast Express Tyseley-Llandudno Vintage Trains S7029/47773
1/5/21 Llandudno Statesman Ely-Llandudno Statesman Rail LSL Class 47
3/5/21 Victorian Day Pullman Skegness-Llandudno West Coast Railways WCR Class 47/57
3/5/21 Settle and Carlisle Circular Bangor-Carlisle Statesman Rail LSL Class 47
19/5/21 The Snowdonia Statesman Hull-Blaenau Ffestiniog Statesman Rail LSL Class 47?
31/521 North Wales Coast Express Worcester-Holyhead Saphos Trains Steam
1/7/21 The Bristol Forty Bangor-Bristol Saphos Trains LSL D213
18/7/21 North Wales Coast Express Liverpool-Holyhead Railway Touring Company Various steam/diesel
20/7/21 The Welsh Mountaineer Llandudno-Blaenau Ffestiniog Railway touring Company Steam
20/8/21 The Cambrian Coast Express Bristol Parkway-Pwllheli Pathfinder Class 67 and Class 97/3

Promoters:

Pathfinder

Saphos Trains

Statesman Rail

West Coast Railways

Vintage Trains

 

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 and Service Trains 2021

1/1/21

Final Mince Pie special CANCELLED

13-21/2/21

Half Term Blue timetable Caernarfon-Porthmadog CANCELLED

26/2/21-26/3/21

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

Easter 21 Easter Service CANCELLED
April 21 Rail Ale DEFERRED TO 2022

27/4/21

Main Season Spring service starts

24/7/21 Summer Season starts

24-25/7/21

The Snowdonian-WHR 24/7/21 and FR leg 25/7/21

9/21? SuperPower with K1
12/21? Santa Specials
27/12/21-1/1/22? Festive Specials

 

Trackwork Volunteering 2021

Volunteering is currently organised differently due to the Covid-19 outbreak. 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 2021 is fortnightly for the North Wales Track Gang in RED but details are still awaited for the ROWG in BLACK:

January          
February          
March          
April   10-11/4/21      
May   8-9/5/21   22-23/5/21  
June 5-6/6/21   19-20/6/21    
July 3-4/7/21   17-18/6/21    

August

 

 

 

 

 

September

 

 

 

 

 

October

 

 

 

 

 

November

 

 

 

 

 

December

 

 

 

 

 

^ 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

 

V4.4015 updated 19/6/21