Welsh Highland Railway

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V4.3876

News (23/9/20)

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Modern images updated from 19/9/20

Archive images updated from possibly 9/5/98

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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 30/7/20)

The 40km Dream Phase 2 (Updated 15/9/20)

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

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

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

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

Archived News Page (updated 1/9/20)

Snow Scenes (updated 10/12/18)

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

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

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

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

Video list (new 9/11/15)

Access to Phase 2 pages is currently being progressed.

 

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

Isengard@talktalkdotnet

This has been introduced as an anti-spam feature.

Disclaimer

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

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

 

Stop Press!!

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

New text in RED!

 

News Section

WHR timetables

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

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

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

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

Click here for John Sreeves Gradient profile courtesy of WHRS

Click here for Chainages and OS Map Reference

 

FR services 23/9/20

Wednesday 23/9/20 dawned cooler, grey and damp in North Wales and the WHR platform was again occupied by the FR rake parked close to Spooners. It remains to be seen how the Government's statements about the second wave will affect traffic but some parts of South Wales are already subject to partial lockdowns due to high R numbers. This has not yet affected North Wales.

Linda hauled the A set departing at 10:03 after consultation with the signaller and Upnor Castle was already at Tan-y-bwlch where it may be outstabling. During the day the diesel seems to be having problems creating a vacuum and the second man/guard regularly checked the rear vacuum pipe cover. Blanche followed with the B set on the 11:05. No.5 arrived late from Boston Lodge about 11:50 and took some time in the yard, possibly a coupling problem, leading to some consultation with the signaller. The black England shunted its rake at 12:15 and finally got away at 12:22 after the late arrival of a couple of passenger groups. A spirited run saw the !2:10 pass Minffordd in just 9 minutes compared to the more typical 12-15 minutes, reducing the delay to Linda, waiting patiently there with the returning 10:00 service. As a result the timetable got back to normal with Linda reaching Minffordd at 13:29 passing Blanche which departed promptly at 13:30. The weather improved after midday.

At 15:15 No.5 shunted to the WHR platform to move the FR stock used for Spooners overspill clear of the points at the Britannia Bridge end of the WHR loop at 15:22. This was presumably in readiness for a movement on the WHR loop. Having completed the job, at 15:23 the England loco detached and shunted to the FR platform, coupling up to the 15:25 at 15:27 finally departing at 15:30. The 15:25 passed Linda returning from the 13:15 at Minffordd. At 16:10 Linda shunted the A set to the yard and departed for Boston lodge at 16:17.

At 16:25 Harlech Castle arrived from the WHR with the cherry picker and a scrap wagon accompanied by a brakevan. The diesel waited in the loop for the signaller to return to the signalbox before heading off to Minffordd at 16:31, passing Blanche there returning from the 14:20 service at 16:40. Blanche shunted the B set into the seawall siding at 17:00 before shunting back to Boston Lodge light engine. Meanwhile, up at Tan-y-bwlch Upnor Castle was attached to the rear of the 15:25 return working to return the loco to Boston Lodge. Upnor Castle piloted No.5 back to Boston Lodge at 18:15 after shunting the C set into the sidings at Harbour station. The Spooners overspill coaches were not shunted back close to Spooners in the WHR platform.

 

The case of the disappearing 15:25!

Having disappeared from the booking timetable earlier in the week the 15:25 ran again on Wednesday 23/9/20. While the F&WHR has said it will remove trains from the booking timetable if fully booked, surely it would be better to show them as fully booked to encourage tourists to make their booking on another service promptly before alternatives too becomes fully booked? As the 15:25 could be one of the least popular workings, its absence seems to be because management is releasing the 15:25 booking slot only when advance bookings for the earlier trains on a particular day are strong, in order to provide more capacity. The 15:25 continues to be shown in the main timetable. For example on Tuesday 29/9/20 and Wednesday 30/9/20 neither the 12:10 nor the 15:25 are currently bookable which could mean they are already fully booked or that the release of these trains for booking depends on advance bookings for those days and that they will be released later to cope with demand if justified.

 

FR coach sets

Now that stable rakes are being used, here are the compositions of the three set normally used.

A set

This set is normally used on the 10:00/13:15 departures with compartment numbers.

Coach Compartment/s
No.8 Brown livery Quarryman's coach None shown
No.2 First Class Birmingham 4 wheeler 23
No.5 Third Class Birmingham 4 wheeler 22
No.19 Bowsider bogie coach 16-21
No.26 Ex-NWNGR bogie coach 9-15
No.22 FR Ashbury bogie coach 2-8
No.113 Carnforth Brake bogie coach 1
No.37 Open coach Two unnumbered

 

This northerly view (12/9/20) shows coach No.39 on the rear of the WHR Society Members special after arrival at Porthmadog at 13:06. The central two bays are marked out of use and the two end bays are clearly well over 2m apart and open to air currents anyway. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

B set

This set is normally used on the 11:05/14:20.

Coach Compartment/s
No.38 Open coach Two unnumbered
No.23 WHR Ashbury bogie coach 18-23
No.21 Replica Ashbury bogie coach 11-17
No.17 Bowsider bogie coach 5-10
No.12 Bogie brake 3-4
No.11 Bogie brake 1-2

 

C set (Colonel Stephens' green livery set)

This set is normally used on the 12:10/13:25 (when running)

Coach Compartment/s
No.1 Observation Car open 4 wheeler 23
No.3 Birmingham 4 wheeler 22
No.4 Birmingham 4 wheeler 21
No.24 NWNGR replica bogie coach 16-20
No.16 Original FR bogie coach 9-15
No.20 Bowsider bogie coach 3-8
No.10 Bogie brake 1-2
No.39 Open coach (occasional use only) Two unnumbered

Any corrections to these lists are welcome.

 

FR services 22/9/20

Tuesday 22/9/20 saw the end of the warm sunny spell in North Wales and the FR rake was again positioned close to Spooners in the WHR platform for overspill for diners. Upnor Castle was stabled at Tan-y-bwlch in case of further point problems. Blanche was on the A set departing at 10:01. When it arrived at Tan-y-bwlch, the train engine uncoupled and reversed into the departure platform followed by Upnor Castle shunting the rake onto the rear of it. Trains departed as normal from the westbound platform so it appears that the point at the west end cannot be reversed to allow a normal run round but is trailable. David Lloyd George was on the B set departing at 11:05. No.5 hauled the third train departing Boston Lodge at 11:28 to shunt the yard and finally departing with the C set at 12:12 with the weather closing in and becoming rainy.

 

WHR suppressed demand?

The F&WHR management stated on 20/9/20 that there had been 'a very busy few weeks over the Summer with virtually every train on the WHR being fully booked'. This suggests there was suppressed demand for WHR services and more money could have be made for the F&WHR during these difficult times by operating trains on additional days, not just the four trains a week currently operated (MFSuX) compared to the FR's every day six train a day service (42 trains per week!).

 

Tan-y-bwlch shunt release 21/9/20

On 20-21/9/20 Upnor Castle was used as shunt release loco at Tan-y-bwlch following failure of the points near the cafe.

 

This westerly view (21/9/20) shows Upnor Castle and Blanche posing side by side at Tan-y-bwlch. The diesel was shunt releasing Blanche due to failed points at the west end of the station. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

North Wales main line news 22/9/20

Yellow liveried NR Class 150 DMU No.950001 made an inspection trip from Crewe to Blaenau Ffestiniog in readiness for the reopening of the storm damaged branch at the end of September.

 

FR services 21/9/20

Monday 21/9/20 was another warm sunny day in North Wales and the FR rake was again positioned close to Spooners for overspill for diners. Upnor Castle had turned up early to shunt the rake to the platform allowing Linda a late start at 09:45 from Boston Lodge. COVID compliant cleaning was underway as passengers joined the train at 09:55 when Linda arrived and coupled up to pilot the diesel. Prompt work by station staff saw the 10:00 depart just 2 minutes late. Blanche then arrived at 10:46 to shunt and haul the B set. Finally No.5 was noted on the 12:10 passing Minffordd at 12:25 with the C set on the 12:10.

 

Welsh Pony naming ceremony YouTube 21/9/20

Click on the YouTube window to watch 9 mins 15 seconds of video showing the General Manager explaining the naming of No.5 as Welsh Pony at a private ceremony at Dduallt on 10/10/20. This YouTube was published on 21/9/20 and was taken by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a professional 4K camcorder. It is best watched in HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on YouTube link.

 

FR timetable cutbacks

Despite the sunny late September mild Autumn weather passenger numbers must be declining as it seems the 15:25 has been removed from the timetable this week (or is already fully booked which is unlikely) and will only run Saturday/Sunday 26-27/9/20. Four services are planned midweek using two sets until the end of September with the 12:10/15:25 removed from the timetable. Major changes are planned for October with services bookable until Friday 16/10/20. Friday services have disappeared from the FR timetable on 2/10/20 and no public services are offered over the Bygones Event members weekend 9-11/10/20. Initially only the 11:05/14:20 services are offered but on 5/10/20 and 15/10/20 the 13:15 is also offered. On the WHR, services are currently bookable until Thursday 15/10/20. Nevertheless the intention is still to run some sort of service until Saturday 31/10/20 on both railways if passenger numbers hold up and there is no national lockdown.

 

FR services 20/9/20

Unusually Blanche pilotted Upnor Castle on the first train of the day departing at 10:00. Again it was the Brown van rake so this seems to be the regular A set. The train returned at 1238 without Upnor Castle so that musty have been left elsewhere. Linda was on the second working and was noted departing Porthmadog. at 14:20 on time on its second trip. It passed No.5 at Minffordd which had hauled the third trip and was diagrammed to work the 15:25.

Allan Child has provided details of Upnor Castle's duties at Tan-y-bwlch, presumably caused by the failed point, gleaned from the webcams. 'I was able to check the Tan-y-Bwlch webcam from time to time during the day and Upnor Castle appears to have been used as station pilot there. When Linda arrived with the 11:05, Upnor Castle was standing in the Down platform road. Linda obviously then drew forward sufficiently to allow Upnor Castle to follow and shunt the rake into the Down platform; Linda then ran round the rake (via the Up platform road). When No.5 arrived with the 12:10, the procedure was a bit different; after No.5 had drawn forward Upnor Castle must have followed then set back onto the rake before No.5 ran back through the down platform road and Upnor Castle then shunted the rake into the down platform. Porthmadog webcam at about 15.20 showed No.5 shunting its rake into the seawall siding and then departing for Boston Lodge, so obviously the 15:25 was cancelled and presumably Upnor Castle returned with Linda on the return working of the 14:20'.

 

Small Engine specials 26-27/9/20

Britomart will work the 12:10 and 15:25 services on Saturday 26/9/20 and Lilla will be in charge of the 12:10 and 15:25 services on Sunday 27/9/20.

These trains are limited to just 8 compartments per train in view of the low power of the locos so booking is recommend as soon as possible. Book online now at https://bit.ly/3etzaug.

Seats are available at the moment, but may well sell out as demand increases. If a particular train does not show on the bookings system it has sold out.

 

David Lloyd George returns 17-19/9/20

This northerly view (17/9/20) shows Merddin Emrys and David Lloyd George posing side by side at Harbour Station. The refurbishment of the red Fairlie had been put back in favour of completion of Welsh Pony and maintaining the small engines for the Heritage service. David Lloyd George made some running in trips back and forth across The Cob and appeared on ITV Wales coverage of the F&WHR on the same day. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (19/9/20) shows David Lloyd George hauling the 11:05 Heritage service crossing The Cob. The loco's last trip was 23/3/20. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

FR services hit by points failure 19/9/20

Saturday 19/9/20 was another fine day in North Wales and the WHR platform was still occupied by FR coaches close to Spooners. Linda hauled the 10:00 with the first rake again leading with the brown van. For a change David Lloyd George was turned out for the 11:05. Blanche was on the 12:10. A set of points malfunctioned at Tan-y-bwlch and this led to late running in the afternoon. As a result Linda on the 13:15 at 13:50 and David Lloyd George arrived at Porthmadog at 14:15 just 5 minutes before its planned 14:20 departure. It was held until 15:03 and departed as passengers were arriving for the 15:25.

 

BYGONES WEEKEND 9-11/10/20

This year has not turned out the way any of us would ever have expected and it has required the F&WHR to continually review their plans for train services and events. Already of number of events have been cancelled including the famous WHR SuperPower Event.

The F&WHR are now able to announce plans for the ‘Bygones Weekend' in October. This will feature many of the familiar aspects of our usual vintage weekends, in particular heritage trains, passenger and goods but with seats on all trains being pre-booked, in the same fashion as the current service trains to Tan-y-Bwlch.

PLEASE NOTE: this will not be a costumed event, there will be no sideshows / stalls, strict Covid-19 compliant measures will be in place (please bring your face masks etc), access to main stations will be limited to ticket holders but the F&WHR will be doing their very best to lay on a weekend that maximises the enjoyment of our railway’s rich heritage as they bring the past to life, 2020 fashion!

There will be no “Spotter’s Guide” produced this year - instead we have produced some outline information sheets which, together with working timetables and train graphs, can be downloaded from the website (see links below).

These information sheets are provided for your guidance, but please remember that access to stations is restricted, and train capacity reduced, due to social-distancing requirements.

To book seats on ANY of the ‘Bygones Weekend’ trains, you must phone the Booking Office on 01766 516024.

Tickets will go on sale at 09:00 on Friday 18/9/20.

This event focuses almost entirely on the FR and except for two trains to Beddgelert on Saturday and Sunday there will be little to interest WHR members who might be concerned that a large FR event is going ahead so soon after the equivalent WHR event was cancelled. Some had called for the event to be spread out more evenly over the two railways with more services on the WHR too.

Bygones Weekend Information Sheets:

https://bit.ly/3c9iWXD

Bygones Weekend Timetables/Graphs:

https://bit.ly/33DTllU

 

FR services 18/9/20

Friday 18/9/20 was another fine day in Porthmadog and the FR rake was pulled up close to Spooners in the WHR platform all morning. Traffic numbers still look good with many middle aged couples without school age children visiting mid week. With the Covid figures rising again and the Tory Health Secretary refusing to rule out another national lockdown, it seems people are determined to get a staycation holiday in North Wales. Another National Lockdown would likely see F&WHR services immediately stopped again.

Linda turned up at 09:50 and promptly shunted the rake with the brown van leading into the platform. Quick work by platform staff saw the train leave on time at 10:00. Merddin Emrys was next shunting at 10:46 ready for the 11:05 departure. No.5 hauled the third train, the 12:10, passing Minffordd at 12:25 with three 4-wheelers, NWNGR coach No.24, 2 saloons, brakevan No.10 but unusually no Open coach.

 

B wagons on ash duty? 12/9/20

This southerly view (12/9/20) shows 4 B wagons stabled at Hafod-y-llyn at 12:28. These could possibly have been on loco ash disposal duties. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on an iPhone camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Dinas Open Day 12/9/20

This northerly view (12/9/20) shows No.130 with paintwork complete stabled at Dinas outside the Goods shed at 15:28. Much other work needs to be finished before the loco is available for traffic. Surprisingly few came to visit the Dinas offerings. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (12/9/20) shows Harlech Castle with PW livery stabled at Dinas outside the Goods shed at 15:29. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This Dinas shed view (12/9/20) shows the boiler donated by Puffing Billy Railway with new smokebox fitted at 15:39. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (12/9/20) shows No.87 on the return working of the 11:00 Caernarfon-Beddgelert passing Dinas Loco Shed at 15:41. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This Dinas shed view (12/9/20) shows the current state of progress with NG15 No.134 at 15:39. The loco needs to be wheeled and the K-H pony truck is visible alongside. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This Dinas shed view (12/9/20) shows the detail of the K-H pony truck at 15:39. The ball joint and springs puts a force on the lead drivers that helps lead the loco into curves considering its long wheelbase. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This Dinas shed view (12/9/20) shows No.134's wheels all ready for fitting at 16:02. Much other work needs to be finished before the loco is available for traffic. Behind is No.138 and depot pilot Bill (ex Shotton Steelworks). Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (12/9/20) shows Vale of Ffestiniog arriving with North Wales Track Gang's volunteer work party at Dinas outside the Goods shed at 16:24. Coach No.111 is currently used as their Mess Coach. In the foreground a new point is under construction. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This westerly view (12/9/20) shows B wagon No.921 with the remains of the Waunfawr wooden station building at 16:24 that the North Wales Track gang had demolished. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

FR services 16/9/20

Wednesday dawned fine at Porthmadog with the FR rake in the WHR platform close to Spooners. Blanche was active at Boston Lodge at 09:30 and hauled the serviced rake back to Porthmadog arriving at 09:45, before shunting it to a siding. This is the second day that the serviced rake has not been put into instant service suggesting rakes are used in a particular order. After further shunting, another rake led by the brown van and two other four-wheelers with 4 saloons and an Open at the rear, departing on time at 10:00. Merddin Emrys hauled the second rake and No.5 the third.

 

WHRS Members' Special 12/9/20

This westerly view (12/9/20) shows Upnor Castle moving the three FR coaches in the WHR platform to Boston Lodge at 09:21 to allow the WHRS Members' Special train to run into the platform. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This westerly view (12/9/20) shows No.5 shunting in the yard to prepare the WHRS Members' Special train to run into the platform. It had arrived behind Merddin Emrys which shunted into the WHR loop line. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This westerly view (12/9/20) shows Blanche shunting the yard at 09:53 in preparation for the 10:00 service which left a little late as No.5 was also shunting the yard. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This westerly view (12/9/20) shows No.5 departing the yard at 10:10 in preparation for the 10:15 WHRS Members' Special. The England had extracted two bug boxes from another rake and then shunted an extra Observation 4-wheeler No.12 onto the front of the WHRS Member's special to strengthen the rake. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (12/9/20) shows Merddin Emrys with No.5 approaching Nantmor on the WHRS 10:15 special. The double Fairlie was required as No.5's lightweight tender could not pass through the hydraulic automatic points. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (12/9/20) shows Merddin Emrys and No.5 approaching Bryn-y-felin at 11:03. According to the fireman of No.5, Merddin Emrys had eased up to let No.5 work hard on the 1 in 40 grades through the Aberglaslyn Pass. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (12/9/20) shows Merddin Emrys and No.5 approaching Bryn-y-felin at 11:03. No.5 was working hard and making a lot of smoke. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (12/9/20) shows Merddin Emrys had detached and run forward to water at the Beddgelert water crane at 11.13. Few stayed on the platform as most members seemed to bring their families who wanted to visit the Beddgelert ice cream parlour! Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (12/9/20) shows Merddin Emrys running round at 11:18 to attach inside on the return leg.. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (12/9/20) shows Merddin Emrys having completed the run round. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (12/9/20) shows No.5 still attached to the rake, waiting its turn to water at 11:11. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (12/9/20) shows No.5 still attached to its rake before making its way to the heritage water tower at 11:12. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (12/9/20) shows No.5 watering at the historic Beddgelert water tower replicating scenes from many original WHR photos. The loco will be the centre piece of the Bygones Weekend in October replacing both SuperPower and Vintage Weekend. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (12/9/20) shows No.5 completing its run round at Beddgelert at 11:35. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (12/9/20) shows Merddin Emrys and No.5 coupling up at 11:37. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (12/9/20) shows No.5 and Merddin Emrys passing Cemetery Crossing on the return journey at 12:14. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (12/9/20) shows No.5 and Merddin Emrys crossing Britannia Bridge on the return journey at 12:55. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This easterly view (12/9/20) shows No.5 and Merddin Emrys shunting to the yard at 13:00 soon after arrival to clear the route for the 13:15 service train. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This westerly view (12/9/20) shows Blanche ready to depart at 13:07 on the 13:15 standard FR service train. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

FR services 15/9/20

The FR stock was positioned close to Spooners in the WHR platform and it seemed another fine day at Porthmadog. At 9:50 Linda arrived with a rake from Boston Lodge which had probably been serviced as part of a regular cycle. The rake was shunted into the sidings and the rake for the first train extracted. This process meant that the 10:00 departed some 6 minutes late. However, Blanche was much more prompt with the second train which left on time at 11:05. No.5 was turned out for the 12:10 duty arriving at 11:42 to shunt the yard. It had a full length rake of 5 bogies (including the Open) and three four-wheelers. Palmerston is apparently out of action following the fusible plug leak that led to last week's failure.

 

Moving Pictures No.44 14/9/20

Click on the YouTube window to watch 36 mins 46 seconds of video covering No.5's first visit to Tan-y-grisiau on 5/9/20 and the WHRS Members' Special on 14/9/20 to Beddgelert, both locations Welsh Pony had not visited since the early 1930s. The YouTube also captures your webmaster admiring locos at Beddgelert, another possible first! This YouTube was published on 14/9/20 and was taken by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a professional 4K camcorder. It is best watched in HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on YouTube link.

 

North Wales main line 14/9/20

Class 67s Nos.67023/7 top and tailed the NR Q train Crewe to Holyhead and back to Liverpool on 14/9/20.

The Heart of Wales line is occasionally being bustituted for lack of staff.

The September Edition of Back Track magazine (Vol.34 No.9) features an article on the Buckley Railway in North East Wales.

 

Wylfa B cancelled 15/9/20?

The BBC has reported that Hitachi, the developer behind Wylfa B, has withdrawn from the project. Hitachi owns Horizon Nuclear the official developer of Wylfa Newydd site. This comes days before the Environment Permit was to be confirmed and will hit job prospects in Anglesey hard if no other developer is found. It also means no resumption in the flask traffic that was expected once the power station was in operation. The Tory Government recently delayed the Planning Consent yet again until 30/9/20 and seem unable to make a decision on this project which is so vital for jobs in North Wales during the COVID pandemic. See BBC story.

A Sunday Times report said China's General Nuclear Power Corporation was keen to buy the site as part of plans to build a fleet of nuclear reactors but Trump has cautioned against accepting offers from China. The construction of the power station would have offered 9,000 much needed jobs in North Wales and when operational in 5 years time Wylfa B could power up to 5 million homes. There is a danger the National Grid could become unstable due to the closure of old Nuclear Power stations (in addition to the almost complete closure of coal-fired power stations) and the reliance of unpredictable wind turbines and solar power.

 

WHR news

Plas-y-nant bridge will be replaced this winter during the WMWP. When the WHR was rebuilt, the other two bowstring bridges at Betws Garmon and Salem were treated differently. The first was completely replaced with a structure acquired from BR and the second lifted out and repaired on the south bank near the Water Works. The Plas-y-nant bridge was lifted and repaired in situ but experiences more lateral forces being on a curve and has deteriorated.

There will be no F&WHR Santa Trains this year however the question of an Xmas Holiday Timetable is yet to be settled.

 

F&WHR timetables confirmed until mid October

The FR timetable now shows trains confirmed daily until 16/10/20 with the 11:05 and 14:20 bookable but the other 4 trains 'Not Yet Released'. This gives the FR the opportunity to add extra trains as traffic develops. One set can perform the 11:05 and 14:20 duties. On the strength of the Autumn 'shoulder' traffic so far all six trains are now bookable until the end of September. On the WHR a similar pattern exists with trains shown MFSuX until 15/10/20 (a correction as the October trains had previously been shown running every day) with the 11:00 once a day Caernarfon-Beddgelert service. Both FR and WHR services are shown as 'possibly running' later in October until Saturday 31/10/20 but currently not bookable.

 

New Welsh Social distancing rules from 14/9/20

F&WHR statement

There has been an update from the Welsh Government regarding the use of face masks and social distancing, so this is an opportune time to confirm the situation at our stations and on our trains...

From Monday 14/9/20, it is compulsory for face masks to be worn on our station premises, buildings and platforms - except when eating or drinking.

FACE MASKS - should be worn when walking to/from trains and when entering or leaving carriages:

• On the Ffestiniog Railway, passengers travel in separated compartments, so once settled in your seats you may remove your masks - until arrival at Tan-y-Bwlch, or Porthmadog on the return journey.

• On the Welsh Highland Railway, passengers travel in socially-distanced seating bays, so please wear face masks until everyone has been seated and the train departs. If you wish, face masks may be removed during the journey, but - if you need to use the (emergency) on-train toilet facility, your face mask should be put back on and worn until you have returned to your seat.

• Please remember to put your face masks back on when leaving the train at the half-way break (Tan-y-Bwlch or Beddgelert), and at the end of your journey, until you have left railway premises.

SOCIAL DISTANCING - remains at 2m in Wales, unlike the situation 'over the border', so bear this in mind when walking around the station and our catering outlets. Please also follow guidance on notices placed in areas where we have to limit numbers to help maintain reasonable social distancing - in particular in our shops and our toilets:

• Harbour Station - the shop here has narrow walkways, so we have put 2m markers on the floor and added a maximum limit of SIX customers at a time inside the shop to avoid congestion.

• Station Toilets - we ask you to follow a 'One Out, One In' routine when entering, this will help avoid unintended crowding due to the restricted spaces and single entry/exit doors.

 

FR services 14/9/20

Monday dawned fine and warm and there were plenty of tourists in North Wales. The FR coaches on the WHR platform had been moved clear of the WHR point next to Britannia Bridge. Blanche hauled the 10:00, Merddin Emrys on the 11:05 and Linda on the 12:10.

 

Bygones Weekend may feature WHR trains

Officials inspected the historic WHR water tower at Beddgelert on 12/9/20. It has emerged that the FR 'Bygones Weekend' event 9-11/10/20 will be extended to Beddgelert making it a joint FR/WHR event as there was no SuperPower over the weekend of 11-13/9/20, just two WHRS members only special trains from Porthmadog to Beddgelert on 12/9/20. This will appease WHRS members who might rightly consider holding an FR exclusive event unfair.

It was announced on 11/9/20 that Hugh Napier would not be ready in time for the Bygones Weekend as the amount of work needed on the motion was more extensive than thought at first. However, it should still be in service for the ash movement trains planned for winter weekends.

 

Michael Portillo on FR 12/9/20

Ex-Tory Minister Michel Portillo visited Porthmadog and the FR on 12/9/20. This was in preparation for another of his 'Great Railway Journey' series likely to be shown early in 2021.

 

FR trains 13/9/20

The three FR coaches had been shunted back close to Spooners on 12/8/20. Sunday started out a little damp but cleared up later. A couple who had unfortunately been double booked in Spooners actually ate in there Friday. Linda was on the 10:00 and Blanche on the 11:05.

 

FR Scenes from 11/9/20

This northerly view (11/9/20) shows Linda with the second train of the day at 12:36.awaiting the arrival of the third train. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This westerly view (11/9/20) shows No.5 arriving at Tan-y-bwlch with the third train of the day at 12:58..Linda is waiting to depart. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This westerly view (11/9/20) shows Merddin Emrys pulling into Minffordd on the 13:15 service. The train had been held at signals for several minutes. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This easterly view (11/9/20) shows Linda passing Merddin Emrys at 13:35 at Minffordd. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This westerly view (11/9/20) shows Merddin Emrys ready to depart Minffordd on its second train of the day at 13:37. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This easterly view (11/9/20) shows No.5 arriving at Porthmadog with the final train of the day, originally the 15:25 from Porthmadog. The weather was deteriorating by this time. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This westerly view (11/9/20) shows No.5 preparing to shunt its rake to the sea wall siding at 18:06 having run round at Porthmadog. It drizzled overnight. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

FR trains 11-12/9/29

Merddin Emrys, Linda and No.5 hauled the FR trains on 11/12/20.

On 12/9/20 Merddin Emrys and Linda performed again on the first and third timetabled workings with the rake for the second 11:05 working being allocated to two WHRS specials that day.

 

FR trains 10/9/29

The weather was much better on 10/9/20 and the Open coaches were in use. Blanche was on the first train with 3 bugboxes, 4 saloons and Open coach No.37. There was a works train at Tan-y-bwlch at 10:10 with the cherry picker wagon probably on its way to Blaenau Ffestiniog. Merddin Emrys was surprisingly turned out for the second train, shunting the yard at 10:49 and departing at 11:05 with five saloons and an Open coach. No.5 hauled the third train with 3 bugs, 4 saloons and an Open coach.

 

Conwy Valley to reopen 26/9/20

TfW are suggesting that the Conwy Valley line may reopen 26/9/20.

 

Webmaster's Holiday 11/9/20

There will be a couple of days' break in updates as your webmaster will be in Porthmadog for the WHRS Members' Day. Normal service will be resumed Sunday 13/9/20.

 

FR 'Vintage Weekend' cancelled (9/9/20)

The F&WHR has bowed to the inevitable and cancelled the Vintage Weekend due 9-11/10/20 and replaced it with a smaller 'Bygones Weekend' event. This follows cancellation of the WHR's SuperPower event and its replacement with a small scale Members Day on 12/9/20 featuring two special trains from Porthmadog to Beddgelert hauled by No.5 and a socially distanced visit to Dinas to see progress on No.130 etc..

Details of the Covid-aware 'Bygones' weekend, which will feature Heritage trains, passenger and goods - with seats on all trains being pre-booked in the same fashion as the current service trains to Tan-y-Bwlch...

Please Note: this will not be a costumed event, there will be no sideshows/stalls, strict Covid-19 compliant measures will be in place (please bring your face masks etc), access to main stations will be limited to ticket holders - but the F&WHR will be doing their very best to lay on a weekend that maximises the enjoyment of the railway's rich heritage..!

Final details are being worked out at the present moment and will be available in a few days. Further information will appear on the F&WHR's Facebook and website as soon as possible.

 

No.130 9/9/20

This Dinas loco shed view (9/9/20) shows No.130 with the cab fitted that was delivered on 8/9/20 (see below). The loco will be the centre piece of a small WHRS members event on 12/9/20 at Dinas replacing SuperPower. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Vale of Ffestiniog 8/9/20

This southerly view (8/9/20) shows Vale of Ffestiniog hauling a works train to Dinas crossing Cae Pawb Crossing as seen from Gelert's Farm at 9:30. This explains the shunting of the FR rake in the WHR platform on 8/9/20. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Andrew Goodwin (WHHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8/9/20) shows Vale of Ffestiniog hauling a works train to Dinas passing Gelert's Farm. The DZ wagon was carrying a load of old wooden sleepers and the well wagon was carrying the recently painted cab of No.130 which is rapidly nearing completion at Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Andrew Goodwin (WHHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

FR services 9/9/20

It was a fine day for a change at Porthmadog and Blanche hauled the first train (10:00), shunting at 09:42. The rake consisted of 5 saloons, the Open coach and 3 bugboxes. Linda hauled the second train (11:05) with 5 saloons an Open coach and 1 bugbox. No.5 was on the 12:10 with 3 bugboxes, coach No.24 and 3 other saloons and an open coach.

 

WHR timetable for October

A lilac timetable for WHR trains until 31/10/20 is now showing on the timetable website matching the equivalent FR timetable. No specific trains are shown but the information suggests that trains will be running subject to traffic and to watch the F&WHR website/social media for updates.

 

Single passengers?

Maybe the F&WHR could have standby tickets for single passengers on the understanding that if their chosen train is fully booked they would get their money backed or could travel on a later train if not fully booked. Usually the 15:25 is not fully booked. Recently there have been plenty of seats on the Open coaches due to inclement weather. Turning away potential passenger fares at this time of economic uncertainty for the railway does not make sense.

 

FR services 8/9/20

Another rainy day in North Wales yet there were plenty of tourists about with people desperate for a staycation before the inevitable second wave (of which signs already showing with cases up markedly nationally). The three FR coaches in the WHR platform had been moved east again to clear the WHR loop point by Britannia Bridge. Linda, with cab back sheet appropriately fitted, hauled the 10:00 with Blanche on the 11:05 and Palmerston on the 12:10 in deteriorating misty weather. Presumably adhesion difficulties in the misty woods caused the afternoon's timetable to be thrown into chaos. Upnor Castle recovered the train and was noted shunting onto the rake at Porthmadog at 14:52 and No.5 hurried over from Boston Lodge clearly substituting for Palmerston to double head at 15:04. Prompt work by the station staff saw the train depart at 15:08, probably the 14:20. Upnor Castle was retained as there is a problem connecting No.5 directly to this rake.

Linda which should have left Tan-y-bwlch at 15:10 on its second trip was still running round at that time. Meanwhile Blanche passed No.5 and Upnor Castle at Minffordd and Palmerston was noted on the rear. It seems that Blanche had rescued Palmerston from where it was dumped after failing on its first trip and all the locos possibly rolled back one train. Prompt station work at Porthmadog saw Blanche run round and shunt the rake to the seawall siding at 15:46 before it took the failed Palmerston back to Boston Lodge at 15:50 so no 15:25 service today. No.5 and Upnor Castle arrived at Tan-y-bwlch at 15:50 allowing Linda to depart at 15:55.

Linda arrived back at Porthmadog at 16:25 and shunted the rake to the yard at 16:38. No.5 and Upnor Castle left Tan-y-bwlch at 16:39. At 16:44 Linda was used to shunt the 3 FR coaches back along the WHR platform closer to Spooners (and fouling the WHR point in the process) before being disposed to Boston Lodge at 16:52.

 

The Snowdonian 7/11/20

The COVID delayed Snowdonian will run on 7/11/20. The £200 fare includes lunch at Waunfawr, No.87 on the WHR and a triple headed England on the FR with No.5 running as Welsh Pony following its naming at the FR Vintage Gala. Almost 80 miles of narrow gauge haulage will be included. With no First class and accommodation limited by social distancing, tickets are fewer than in the past. Booking can be made by post/phone or email. See F&WHR website which has not yet been updated to match adverts in the press.

 

BBC reports National Lottery Award 6/9/20

The BBC has reported the granting of £250,000 to the F&WHR to help support it throughout the COVID virus crisis. BBC report.

 

FR services 7/9/20

The 7/9/20 was a showery day in North Wales. Linda, with demountable cab back-sheet fitted, hauled the 10:00 service but with no Open coach in the rake. Blanche hauled the 11:05 and hauled the only rake with an Open coach today. No.5 hauled the 12:10.

 

FR Members' Special 5/9/20

This southerly view (5/9/20) shows No.5 hauling the 12:10 FR Members Special service rounding the Dduallt spiral on its way to Tan-y-grisiau, where it ran round and reversed. This service ran in the path of a revenue earning service and most members did not get to hear of it. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This westerly view (5/9/20) shows No.5 hauling the 12:10 FR Members Special service crossing Penstocks Crossing, Tan-y-grisiau, where it ran round and reversed. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Alan Frewin and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (5/9/20) shows No.5 running round the 12:10 FR Members Special service at Tan-y-grisiau. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Alan Frewin and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

FR services 6/9/20

The 6/9/20 was a showery day at Porthmadog. Palmerston was due to haul the first train and as usual the Open coach had been removed from the rake. Concerns about the loco's tendency to slip led to it being piloted by Moelwyn on the first trip only. The diesel had been used to shunt the 3 FR coaches in the WHR platform clear of the WHR loop point close to Britannia Bridge, a sure sign the WHR was due to see a movement. Linda, with demountable cab fitted, hauled the second train. At midday Vale of Ffestiniog turned up in the WHR loop from Dinas with the well wagon which had been to Waunfawr to deliver an excavator helping demolish the wood station building which will be stored for use elsewhere. The Funkey shunted the three FR coaches back close to Spooners to act as Spooners' overspill and allow more socially distanced dining, before disappearing across The Cob with the well wagon. Blanche then hauled the 12:10.

 

This westerly view (6/9/20) shows Moelwyn and Palmerston running around at Tan-y-bwlch after arriving with the 10:00 from Porthmadog at 10:58, having already reversed its train into the westbound platform. The loco arrived wrong line and then shunted back into the yard. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is a screengrab courtesy F&WHR webcam. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

F&WHR 2-3/9/20

This westerly view (2/9/20) shows Prince hauling the 15:25 service departing Harbour Station. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright John Rawlings and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This westerly view (3/9/20) shows Linda hauling the 10:00 service crossing Penrhyndeudraeth level crossing. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright John Rawlings and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (3/9/20) shows No.87 hauling the 11:00 service from Caernarfon at Rhyd Ddu. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright John Rawlings taken by a quadcopter. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

FR services 5/9/20

Palmerston put in an unexpected appearance on the 10:00 service with the rake again shortened by removal of the open coach. Linda hauled the 11:05 and No.5, back from its visit to Glan-y-pwll, hauled the 12:10.

 

No.5 ash special 4/9/20

No.5 worked a DZ wagon full of loco ash and a brakevan to Glan-y-pwll on 4/9/20. After collecting the curly roofed van and two bowsiders from Glan-y-pwll carriage shed the mixed rake returned to Boston Lodge.

 

This Campbell's Platform view (4/9/20) shows No.5 taking a DZ wagon of loco ash to dispose of at Dduallt. The loco then ran to Glan-y-pwll to bring 3 more coaches down to Boston Lodge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is a screengrab courtesy F&WHR webcam. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Additional photos/video are available of the F&WHR Facebook page.

 

FR services 4/9/20

Prince hauled the 10:00 and Blanche the 11:05. Upnor Castle turned up to remove the Open coach from the third rake as Palmerston was allocated for the 12:10 and has a lower timing load than the other two England locos. This was the first time it had been used since Bank Holiday Monday. The other two trains had an Open coach. Upnor Castle then removed two B wagons at 12:18 to Minffordd Yard for refilling with coal for Harbour Station fuelling point. The diesel returned propelling one B wagon full of coal arriving at Harbour station at 13:56. This allowed Blanche to refuel and shunt onto its train at 14:09 departing at 14:23, a few minutes late.

 

This Minffordd view (4/9/20) shows Upnor Castle taking two wagons from Harbour station to Minffordd Yard presumably to refill with coal. The loco arrived wrong line and then shunted back into the yard. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is a screengrab courtesy F&WHR webcam. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This Tan-y-bwlch view (4/9/20) shows Palmerston arriving with a shortened rake. The train arrived at 12:55 taking the standard 45 minutes from Porthmadog despite its lower power. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is a screengrab courtesy F&WHR webcam. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

FR to offer October service

The FR's timetable website (as opposed to the booking website) now shows a lilac timetable for the whole of October. Clicking on the lilac timetable gives a message that 'A train service will be operating on this date, however, tickets and times have not yet been released. Keep watching our website and social media channels for the ticket release date.' No such timetable information is provided for the WHR in October although the F&WHR have stated they are considering such a service if traffic justifies it.

 

FR services 3/9/20

Linda hauled the 10:00, Prince the 11:05 and Blanche the 12:10 in improving weather.

 

WHR 'Back to Beddgelert' tickets released until 1/10/20

With Autumn Staycation improving visitor number to North Wales compared to 'Flycation' with its inherent uncertainties about Covid quarantine, the F&WHR has bowed to requests for more certainty about its WHR service, particularly as the FR was continuing until 30/9/20.

• Passengers can now book their tickets for our Caernarfon to Beddgelert service that will be running up until the Thursday 1/10/20.

• The F&WHR 'Back to Beddgelert' service runs between Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday each week.

• Trains will depart from Caernarfon Station at 11:00, arriving at Beddgelert Station at approx. 12:45.

• Visitors will have a 1hr 30mins visit at Beddgelert before returning on the 14:15 train which will arrive back at Caernarfon Station at approx. 16:00.

• Further trains may be added in October as bookings increase, the situation is being reviewed daily.

• Book online at https://bit.ly/2PYGgx5

All the details are available on the F&WHR website, with links between the various pages, but here are a few shortcuts:

bit.ly/2PREY70 - Details of the 'Back to Beddgelert' train service...

bit.ly/2Y090dc - FAQs about 'Back to Beddgelert'...

bit.ly/3g1QgAx - The new Hampers available for these trains.

 

FR's timetable becomes random!

With FR services extending until 30/9/20, either heavy booking of some services or attempts at yield management are making the FR timetable look unpredictable. The last day that all six trains can be booked is currently Sunday 13/9/20. The 15:25 disappears after 16/9/20 as the evenings draw in but on that day 3 services are currently bookable 11:05/14:20/15:25. For the next three days only the 11:05/14:20 are bookable but on Sunday 20/9/20 three services again, the 11:05/12:10/14:20. On 21-22/9/20 the first five trains are bookable. On 23/9/20 the first and third sets are out providing four bookable trains. From 24-30/9/20 just two trains are bookable, the 11:05/14:20; however Monday 28/9/20 has three trains bookable with the addition of the 12:10.

Although computer literate people will have no trouble with this, the absence of a regular timetable will make booking for others a confusing process. Maybe the booking website should state which trains are already fully booked and encourage people to book for fear of losing the chance? As with the WHR, the F&WHR will be looking at traffic carefully and judging whether to provide services in October.

 

North Wales main line

As of a letter of 27/8/20, the ORR has given type approval to the new Class 230, namely the battery upgraded multiple units Nos.230002/6/7/8. It is expected staff training will now begin on The Borderlands Line.

 

No.87 at Rhyd Ddu 29/8/20

This northerly view (29/8/20) shows No.87 on the 11am from Caernarfon passing Vale of Ffestiniog at Rhyd Ddu returning from delivering platform seats to Beddgelert with the North Wales Track Gang. The loco is still carrying the National Lottery headboard (see story below). Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Keith Holland and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

FR services 1-2/9/20

September dawned with more fine weather at Porthmadog and back to normal on the loco roster with Merddin Emrys and Palmerston put 'back in their boxes'. The FR rake featuring brakes Nos.11/12 was in the WHR platform as Upnor Castle shunted the yard at 09:50. Prince was standing at station limits receiving attention before entering the yard to shunt its rake to the platform. Upnor Castle then removed two saloon coaches and an Observation car from the yard disappearing over The Cob at 10:00. This made Prince late with the rake arriving in the FR platform at 10:04 and prompt work by station staff allowing the train to get away at 10:08 only 8 minutes down. Time could have been saved by Prince connecting to the rake in the WHR platform.

Linda hauled the second train, shunting directly onto the rake in the WHR platform where it coupled up at 10:42. Maybe Upnor Castle had been present and shunted the rake into the platform. At 10:45 the rake was reversed back to the permanently stabled rake of three FR coaches used as extra seating for Spooners. At 10:48 it drew the 3 stabled FR coaches forward while a lot of attention seems to have been given to the king point, which appeared to require hand cranking. Linda left with its standard rake on time at 11:05, possibly the first public departure from this platform in over 5 months, leaving the three FR coaches repositioned further east along the WHR platform, thereby clearing the western WHR loop point.

Blanche turned up for the third train. Upnor Castle arrived at 12:00 running into the WHR loop to stable. Blanche departed on time at 12:10 by which time Upnor Castle had disappeared, probably up the WHR as the stabled FR coaches had been earlier moved to clear the WHR loop point. The FR coaches were shunted back to be close to Spooners at the end of the day, again fouling the western WHR loop point.

On 2/9/20 rain came in from the west. Linda hauled the 10:00 service but without demountable cab, something the crew might later have regretted. Blanche was provided for the 11:05 and Prince for the 12:10.

 

F&WHR receives Lottery Grant 1/9/20

After being forced to shut down all their operations earlier this year due to the devastating COVID-19 crisis, there is finally some light at the end of the tunnel for the F&WHR, one of the largest and most successful tourist railways in Wales, as services get back on track with the help of £250,000 from The National Lottery. When lockdown measures came into effect in March this year, the F&WHR, along with thousands of other businesses in the tourist sector, were just getting ready to open for what would normally have been the start of their peak season. However, as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic, they were forced to shut down their operations and instantly had to switch into survival mode.

Heritage railways across the UK traditionally attract millions of visitors and passengers every year. They support around 4,000 jobs and contribute some £400million of economic impact to the visitor economy. They also play a key role for apprentices and trainees to learn vital heritage skills. Being forced to shut down during their busiest time of year had a devastating effect on the income of F&WHR. However, The F&WHR is amongst a number of heritage railways throughout the UK that have received vital funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Heritage Emergency Fund. The £50m fund was put together in response to the COVID-19 outbreak to support the heritage sector.

Made possible by National Lottery players, the funding is enabling bills and salaries to be paid and essential repairs and maintenance of tracks, engines and trains to continue. It is also helping organisations look towards reopening for business and getting their volunteers, apprentices and staff back on board. As lockdown measures eased, services eventually re-commenced on the FR on 20/7/20, and on the WHR on 18/8/20, but at a greatly reduced capacity due to carriages having to be adapted and capacity limited due to social distancing guidelines. These restrictions still limit the revenue they are able to generate at this current time. However, the £250,000 grant from The National Lottery is enabling F&WHR to continue to maintain their heritage buildings, work which had to be suspended at the start of the crisis.

To thank National Lottery players for their support, the first WHR locomotive to be rolled out since lockdown measures were eased in Wales, was emblazoned with a special ‘Thank You’ message to all National Lottery players who raise more than £30 million a week for good causes throughout the UK. Highlighting the importance of The National Lottery funding, the F&WHR General Manager, Paul Lewin, said: “Without this funding, we would simply not have been able to afford to continue this highly important work, having effectively lost four months of our high season. The National Lottery Heritage Fund have also been very supportive of our ongoing project to secure the future of the historic railway works site at Boston Lodge by conserving the remaining 19th century buildings to ensure that they can continue to function effectively into the 21st century. Thanks to the invaluable support of The National Lottery and its players, we are pleased to confirm that this project is continuing unabated, despite the current challenging situation.”

Mr Lewin added: “COVID-19 brought all our efforts to a rapid and potentially very damaging halt. The additional support of The National Lottery during this emergency means that we can form a plan that sees our business survive the immediate challenges and go on to flourish once more in the future.” Andrew White, Director of National Lottery Heritage Fund, Wales, said: “Our heritage railways are totally reliant on the summer months for their income. Lockdown has left many struggling and some facing a bleak future. We're thankful to been able to support a number of them with emergency funding thanks to National Lottery players, including F&WHR. The heritage sector is so vital for tourism, jobs and wellbeing as we emerge from this crisis.”

Thirty million pounds is raised every week on average by National Lottery players for projects big and small across the country. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, The National Lottery has announced support packages of up to £600 million across arts, sports, heritage, education and the environment.

To find out more about the range of funding support announced by National Lottery distributors across the UK to date, visit the National Lottery Good Causes website www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/coronavirus-pandemic-response.

 

WHR services 1/9/20

Today's service had 12 carriages with 30 seating bays. there are very few problems with social distancing on the WHR services despite having three bays in a coach so the central party needs to pass others. The corridor doors are open and have been helpfully marked with signs that indicate the nearest toilet. On the way back the train had 13 coaches as it picked up one, presumably brought to Beddgelert by Upnor Castle (see FR services).

 

FR services 31/8/20

Blanche made an early light engine trip to Tan-y-bwlch presumably after receiving some attention passing the 10:00 at Rhiw Goch loop. Prince, Palmerston and No.5 were the rostered locos for the three passenger turns of the day.

 

Main line trains 31/8/20-2/9/20

On 31/8/20 Class 73s Nos.73961/963 on an NR inspection train covered the Wrexham to Bidston line Borderlands Line.

On 2/9/20 with the line due to reopen in September Nos.70806/15 top and tailed a spoil removal train leaving Llandudno Junction at 07:30 for the Conwy Valley possession.

 

Amlwch funding 30/8/20

The BBC reports that a bid has been made to fund a study into reopening of the Amlwch Branch.

 

F&WHR booking

Services begin to wind down from 14/9/20 with the final train of the day, the 15:25, cut that day. The following day currently has a four train service with two sets out. Only one train set with two return services, the 11:05 and 14:20 are bookable for the last two weeks of September from Wednesday 16-30/9/20. currently no trains are shown in October though this may be revised if autumn shoulder staycation traffic remains high. The WHR continues with its one train a day 11:00 service from Caernarfon to Beddgelert until 19/9/20 but if booking remain strong trains may continue until the end of September. Both railways may operate October services if the demand is there for services that can be operated economically.

 

Bank Holiday weather report

The weather was cool but dry over the weekend and this may have encouraged visitors to travel on the FR where loadings looked good even on the 15:25. In fact the BBC reports it was one of the coldest August Bank holidays on record in addition to the hottest August day on record earlier in the month!

 

Waunfawr works 29/8/20

Volunteers were dismantling the old wooden waiting room/toilet structure at Waunfawr on 29/8/20. This is no longer needed since the completion of Waunfawr station building.

 

YouTube 'How to book WHR' 28/8/20

Click on the YouTube window to watch 6 mins 22 seconds of video covering how to book tickets on the WHR. The YouTube also shows scenes from the journey from Caernarfon to Beddgelert on the first WHR train. This YouTube was published on 28/8/20 and was taken by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a professional 4K camcorder. It is best watched in HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on YouTube link

 

Beddgelert station shop

Passengers on the WHR are reminded there is a small station shop at Beddgelert where they can buy refreshments for the return journey. On leaving the train at Caernarfon, passengers can exit via the side gate or via the main hall if they wish to buy mementoes in the station shop.

 

Hand sanding 23/8/20

The recent storms and wet conditions caused a problem for Prince on 23/8/20 and the fireman had to get out and hand sand the railhead when the loco lost traction is the woods.

 

Hugh Napier ready for FR's October Vintage weekend (30/8/20)

Hugh Napier, the National Trust owned locomotive in the care of the F&WHR is currently undergoing a significant overhaul at Boston Lodge. The 0-4-0 large quarry Hunslet (855 of 1904) originally worked at the Penrhyn quarries. In 2018 the two organisations came to an agreement that would see the locomotive stay at the F&WHR for the next ten years and in return the F&WHR would raise the funds to cover the ten-year overhaul of the boiler. This was scheduled for 2021 - however, with the Covid lockdown and with funds on-hand, the decision was taken to start the job a year early as with fewer trains running, loco maintenance has taken less of the works time. The boiler tubes were very thin at the smokebox end and heavily pitted inside the boiler. As the loco was not likely to see much use in 2020 and with space available at Boston Lodge everything seemed to fit together well.

The strip down was completed in July and the boiler was inspected. No work was required other than a re-tube which has now been completed. The longest delay in this being waiting for the tubes to arrive from the supplier. Volunteer loco crew have helped clean the boiler shell and repaint it. The chassis whilst reasonably solid suffers from misalignment. The works team have set about a major overhaul of the wheelsets, horns and slidebars. This along with work on crossheads and rod ends should see the loco fit for use for another few decades.

Given a successful hydraulic test of the boiler, due in mid-September, the engine is hoped to be back in action in time for the FR's Vintage Weekend. Whilst not an FR locomotive, members do enjoy catching a glimpse of Hugh Napier working in the sidings or in the yard at Boston Lodge. The locomotive will be out-shopped in its current, original-style, black livery as the paint is in good condition, only requiring light repairs. As the WHR's SuperPower event has been cut back to a couple of trips from Porthmadog to Beddgelert with No.5, WHR Society members must be hoping that the FR Vintage weekend will be extended onto the WHR. This would have the added advantage of spreading out any crowds and permitting better social distancing.

A full Autumn program of works trains is planned for the loco, mainly moving ash and other materials around the FR. Volunteers wishing to help with this work on trains hauled by Hugh Napier should drop an email to jstirland@ffwhr.com in the first instance.

Several images of the loco's rebuild are available on the F&WHR Facebook page.

 

FR services 29-31/8/20

In the event, on 29/8/20 the first two locos in the roster changed places so Linda hauled the 10:00 and Merddin Emrys the 11:05. Blanche's 12:10 turn was unaffected. No information is to hand about any changes to Sunday's roster and no information was published about Monday's although Prince did haul one turn on Bank Holiday Monday. Criccieth Castle was noticed on a works train at Tan-y-bwlch at one stage on Monday and worked to Tan-y-grisiau on an S&T train.

 

FR services 28/8/20

Merddin Emrys was allowed out for the first time since the restart of services on the 10:00 and 13:15. This was presumably a test for the Bank Holiday weekend services. Linda was on the 11:05 and 14:20 and No.5 on the 12:10 an 15:25.

 

This Boston Lodge view (28/8/20) Merddin Emrys being prepared for duty of the first and fourth services of the day. This was the locos first time out in a while so it was given a good oiling round to ensure reliable operation. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This westerly Porthmadog view (28/8/20) shows Merddin Emrys running round to take the ECS back to depot for deep cleaning and maintenance at about 16:00. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Melvyn Hughes and was taken on a mobile phone. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

There are 28 images of Merddin Emrys on its first trip to Tan-y-bwlch on 28/8/20 on the F&WHR Insider Facebook page.

 

Bank Holiday weekend roster 29-30/8/20

The F&WHR has organised a treat on the haulage front over the busy Bank Holiday weekend ahead. There will be 7 locomotives in steam to provide plenty of variety to look out for during a visit or on the webcams - including the first day with 3 England locos running the train service on the Ffestiniog Railway. Palmerston has been tested out twice this week double headed with other England locos and has been passed fit for traffic on its own.

SATURDAY 29/8/20

WELSH HIGHLAND RAILWAY:

• NG/G16 No.87 - 11:00 from Caernarfon

FFESTINIOG RAILWAY:

Merddin Emrys - 10:00 and 13:15 from Porthmadog

Linda - 11:05 and 14:20

Blanche - 12:10 and 15:25

SUNDAY 30/8/20

WELSH HIGHLAND RAILWAY:

• NG/G16 No.87 - 11:00 from Caernarfon

FFESTINIOG RAILWAY:

No.4 Palmerston - 10:00 and 13:15 from Porthmadog

No.2 Prince - 11:05 and 14:20

No.5 (to be named Welsh Pony in the near future)- 12:10 and 15:25

For those that want to watch the action on line the F&WHR webcams are available. The roster for Monday 31/8/20 has not been released yet.

 

National Rail news

A major study by the Rail Safety and Standards board has found a vanishing small chance of catching the pandemic virus on a train. The chance could be as low as 1 in 20,000. See RSSB report coverage.

Meanwhile the Government is becoming concerned about the slow rate of recovery of rail loadings and the cost to the Treasury of supporting the current levels of service. Any 'second wave' brought about by school super-spreaders returning, office returnees or just lax social behaviour in pubs etc. could see branch line and even main line services cut back severely. See Transport XTra.

Meanwhile some rail companies are beginning to reverse the relaxation of Conditions of Travel allowed during the height of the pandemic. e.g. Arriva Chiltern. See Chiltern website.

 

WHR emblem

This F&WHR emblem view (27/8/20) shows the symbol giving thanks to the staff and volunteers that have made the restart of services on the WHR possible. A similar, but coloured, symbol for the restart of the FR was produced in late July. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

FR services 27/8/20

Thursday 27/8/20 was another wet rainy day in Snowdonia. Blanche hauled the first train of the day at 10:00 and Prince the 11:05, this time including the Open coach in the formation, unlike the 11:05 yesterday. No.5 hauled the 12:10 but it did not depart until 12:18 as it waited for late passengers. The afternoon was fairly uneventful with trains largely running to time and no double heading.

 

F&WHR fully booked 27/8/20?

With heavy traffic flocking over The Cob to visit North Wales and also on the A55 for the coming Bank Holiday Weekend, the WHR on 27/8/20 appears to be fully booked as the service has been removed from the booking webpage. WHR services are also available on Saturday-Monday over the Bank Holiday weekend. However, despite the large number of tourists in the area, it does not seem that the F&WHR is willing to risk putting a service on for Friday 28/8/20 even though the FR is offering six services on that day and also seems fully booked on both 27-28/8/20 according to the booking website as services are no longer displayed. There is plenty of evidence that a WHR service would be profitable on Friday and, with the FR apparently fully booked, passengers could travel on the WHR instead if a service was actually offered!

 

North Wales main line 27/8/20

NR's Class 37 No. 97302 worked from Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth and Machynlleth overnight on 26-27/8/20 in connection with weekend engineering.

 

Hamper meals on WHR trains 23/9/20

This WHR view (23/8/20) shows passengers enjoying a wicker hamper of food on their journey to Beddgelert. Food hampers are being made up to order for collection at Caernarfon station before a booked WHR journey and may be booked on line with the ticket, Three levels of hamper are possible including children's hampers or passengers may bring their own food (see below). The hamper service is offered because on train food service is deemed unsafe during the pandemic. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy Chris Parry (F&WHR). Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

FR services 26/8/20

Linda hauled the first train of the day, the 10:00 service, in much improved weather with wind slowly dropping. Upnor Castle tuned up shortly after departure and removed the Open coach from the second rake which departed behind Prince at 11:08, perhaps recognising that Prince had needed help with a full length train the previous day as both the other rakes retained their Open coaches? Upnor Castle continued to shunt the yard after the departure and propelled the third rake into the platform at 11:35 complete with Open coach in preparation for No.5 which arrived at 11:43 and departed on the third service at 12:18. Meanwhile Upnor Castle propelled an empty B wagon for loco coal back to Boston Lodge at 11:46, presumably to return later with a full wagon.

Palmerston turned up at 13:54 from Boston Lodge and shunted to the WHR platform as Prince was shunting in the yard preparing the !4:20 service. Prince collected the Open coach removed that morning and restored the rake to its normal size as the 14:20 is often a busy train, Palmerston shunted to the yard at 14:12 and Prince departing on its second turn at 14:21. No.5 arrived in heavy rain at 14:45 and Palmerston was noted coupled to the front when No.5 remerged from the yard at 15:00. The pair left double headed at 15:25.

 

This westerly view (25/8/20) shows Palmerston double heading with No.5 hauling the 15:25 arriving at Tan-y-bwlch at about 16:15. Prince is waiting to depart on the return working of the 14:20. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy Chris Parry (F&WHR). Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Several more images are available on the F&WHR Facebook page.

 

Safety Inspection 26/8/90

Both railways were subject to a safety inspection of 26/8/20 before services ran after the 80mph gusts of Storm Francis and reported flooding. Normal services were expected to operate as they weather had improved considerably and winds were dying down.

 

FR reduces services on 12/9/20

It appears that the FR has reduced its service to 4 trains on the 12/9/20 by taking out the 12:10 and 15:25 services. This is apparently because the rake will be used for two special trains hauled by No.5 from Porthmadog to Beddgelert for WHR Society members. The normal 6 train service resumes on Sunday 13/9/20. On 14-15/9/20 five trains are bookable with the 15:25 being dropped until Autumn 'shoulder' traffic patterns are better known. From 16-30/9/20 just the 11:05 and 14:20 are currently bookable though further trains may be added if traffic justifies. Services may also be extended into October if the staycation continues to be popular.

Meanwhile, the WHR's once a day, 4 days a week 11:00 service is set to terminate on 19/9/20 whereas the FR's services continue until 30/9/20, surely an error unless the WHR loadings have proved disappointing?

The F&WHR is still considering services for the Victorian Weekend in October and WHR Society members hope that if the event does go ahead, it will extend over the WHR too as the SuperPower event due in September has been cancelled.

 

FR services disrupted by Storm Francis 25/8/20

Linda hauled the first train, the 10:00, in worsening conditions as Storm Francis with 50 mph winds hit Porthmadog but with no demountable cab back sheet! Blanche followed at the 11:05 but Moelwyn pilotted Prince for some reason on the 12:10. Linda left on its second trip hauling the 13:15 at 13:30 with high tide approaching at 13:59 and the storm lashing The Cob. When Blanche returned an hour later the fifth train was cancelled and the rake was shunted to the yard and the loco ran light to Boston Lodge. The same happened when Prince and Moelwyn returned at 1530, some 50 minutes late. The decision to cancel trains was partly due to Tan-y-bwlch losing power and their webcam was consequently out of action. The electrical failure seemed to have been more widespread as points at Minffordd seemed to be out of action and semaphore signals at Porthmadog remained on red during the disposal of the final two trains in the afternoon.

Disposal of rakes in the afternoon was a little confused as after the double headed 12:10 arrived back about 15:30, Moelwyn worked back light engine to Boston Lodge at 15:40. Prince propelled its rake to the yard and waited for Linda to return from its second trip, delayed as the Minffordd points had to be hand cranked after the power failure. Prince took its rake to Boston Lodge and finally Linda ran back to Boston Lodge light engine at 16:35 concluding the events of the day. This unseasonable autumn weather will see Autumn officially start in September with new storms named starting with 'A' as with previous years. The F&WHR must be hoping for better weather over the Bank Holiday and in September tourist 'shoulder'.

 

This westerly view (25/8/20) shows Moelwyn double heading with Prince hauling the 12:10 passing Minffordd at 12:21. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy the F&WHR webcam. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This easterly view (25/8/20) shows Prince double heading with Moelwyn hauling the returning 12:10 arriving back at Porthmadog at about 15:30 in foul weather. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy the F&WHR webcam. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

North Wales main line news

The Government Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced £343m of extra infrastructure investment to help deliver better journeys for passengers in Wales. North Wales will, it seems, get only a paltry £2m for the next phase of development work on proposals to speed up journeys between Llandudno Junction and Chester. This is, according to press reports, is for 'better aligned tracks and exploring putting additional services on the line'. A new Metro service between Rhyl's bay platform and Chester has often been suggested in the past calling at new intermediate stations at Holywell Junction, Connah's Quay, Queensferry and Saltney and cutting out stops for fast trains at Prestatyn/Flint but preserving stops at Shotton with its interchange between High and Low Level stations. Some of these proposed reopened stations still have platforms.

The Daily Post reported on 13/8/20 that funds are being sought for a study into the reopening of the Amlwch branch under Rolling Back Beeching programme.

 

WHR Society organises 'Members' Day' 12/9/20

The weekend of 11-13/9/20 was in the diary for Superpower. When the pandemic and lockdown struck planning was well in hand. All that work has had to be put aside. On 23/8/20 the F&WHR Co. /WHR Society announced that Saturday 12/9/20 will be a WHR Society “Members’ Day” with trains working between Porthmadog and Beddgelert and NGG16 No.130 and NG15 No.134 on display at Dinas. Both the Company and Society are immensely grateful to the Society’s members for the support they have offered over the years and particularly in recent months. The Members’ Day is a token of thanks for that support. The Society’s AGM will take place that evening as an “internet only” event as already announced in the recent edition of The Snowdon Ranger.

Two heritage style trains will operate between Porthmadog and Beddgelert, hauled by No.5 (Welsh Pony) departing from Porthmadog at 10:15 and 13:40 with an hour at Beddgelert. Capacity is limited and available on a “one compartment per household/support bubble” basis (the same as the Porthmadog to Tan y Bwlch service). Free tickets, for fully paid up Society members and bona fide guests only (to a max of 6 persons per member), can be requested by email to dthomas@crhe.uk or by phone to 07919 414877 or, as a last resort, 01766 516024. Members will need to give their membership number, name and a contact telephone number for 'track and trace' purposes, plus the number of people in their party.

WHR Society Members may travel free on the Saturdays 1100 ‘Grand Day Out’ to Beddgelert which is now additionally running on 12/9/20 but should remember that this is an advertised service and must be pre-booked. Perhaps members might consider a donation in lieu of ticket payment. The De Winton Cafe is open and is making up excellent wicker food hampers which can be ordered before travel. Please note it will not be possible to combine travel on the 11:00 Caernarfon to Beddgelert and return service train with travel on the Members’ Trains between Porthmadog and Beddgelert, or with a visit to Dinas.

New locos Nos. NGG16 130 and NG15 134, which in years to come will be the mainstays of WHR services, will be on display at Dinas. Access to the station between 10:00 and 16:00 is for members only and, as with the trains, capacity is limited. Members will have to make their own way to Dinas (the 11:00 Caernarfon to Beddgelert and return public train will be operating but passengers cannot join or alight from that train at Dinas). Admission tickets will not be required however numbers in the various parts of Dinas station and sheds will be limited in order to maintain social distancing and it may be necessary for visitors to queue at busy times.

The Society AGM will be held on the evening of Saturday 12/9/20 in accordance with the Agenda and Notice circulated with TSR. It will not be possible to attend the AGM in person.

 

FR services 24/8/20

Blanche hauled the 10:00, departing at 10:03 after Upnor Castle arrived light engine and ran into the WHR platform at 09:59. The diesel than shunted to the yard at 10:12 once the service train had cleared the shunt limit. Linda arrived at 10:29, running into the FR platform rather than the yard. It departed at 11:06 with the second service train. It was not clear what Upnor Castle was up to but it reappeared in view at 11:24 and after No.5 appeared at 11:29, also working into the FR platform initially, the diesel departed at 11:30. After shunting its rake into the FR platform, No.5 departed on the third working on time at 12:10.

 

Mainline news

NR Class 37s Nos.97304/302 ran from Crewe to Pwllheli with an engineers working on Sunday night 23/8/20 consisting of the CWR train. sections of jointed track on the Cambrian are slowly disappearing.

 

Palmerston out on freight test and passenger duties 23/8/20

FR traffic on 23/8/20 was subject to late running of up to an hour after a mystery delay in the morning. First out was Linda which arrived light engine at Porthmadog at 09:34 to prepare the 10:05 departure. At 10:46 Prince was noted shunting the rake for the second duty, the 11:05 departure. Blanche was at Porthmadog at midday ready for the 12:10 departure but this train did not depart until almost an hour later at 13:04 as it appears Prince had been subject to an hour's delay somewhere on its journey! In the meantime Palmerston shunted Porthmadog yard and departed on a test train of 8 skips and a brakevan at 12:33. It may have been Palmerston's morning test freight run in to Rhiw Goch, where it ran round and waited for the next Heritage train to pass, that caused reactions for the rest of the day. Having completed the running in trains successfully Palmerston will now join the 'small loco' stable that is hauling the short Heritage train service to Tan-y-bwlch.

 

This westerly view (23/8/20) shows Palmerston hauling the test train of 8 skips and a brakevan to Tan-y-bwlch crossing Penrhyndeudraeth level crossing. The F&WHR would like to express gratitude to the Ffestiniog Railway Society whose funding allowed Boston Lodge to return the loco to fine fettle after a number of years of being limited to low mileage. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy Paul Lewin (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Palmerston was noted arriving with its rake at Minffordd at 12:44 and entered the loop wrong line before presumably shunting the wagons to the yard. In the meantime Prince was noted arriving an hour late at Tan-y-bwlch at 12:58 on the 11:05 departure. Palmerston ran light engine back to Porthmadog arriving at 13:26 followed by Linda on the returning first service train at 13:45, half an hour after its planned second departure on the 13:15. Linda eventually departed at 14:10.

 

This westerly view (23/8/20) shows Palmerston double heading with Prince hauling the late running 14:20 passing Minffordd at 15:26. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy the F&WHR webcam. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Prince arrived at 14:32 and its rake was prepared for its second turn on the late 14:20 departure. Palmerston then shunted onto the front of Prince and the two left double headed at 15:15 some 55 minutes late, passing Minffordd at 15:26. Blanche was held at Minffordd and arrived at Porthmadog at 15:37, some 12 minutes after its planned departure time on the final train of the day, the 15:35. It eventually departed at 16:15, some 50 minutes late, passing Linda returning from its second trip, at Minffordd at 16:39.

There are 25 further images of Palmerston on freight and passenger tests on the F&WHR's Facebook page.

 

Three England locos available for traffic 21/8/20

This Boston Lodge view (21/8/20) shows Palmerston No.4, No.5 and Prince No.2 the latter having just arrived light engine from Porthmadog with the fifth turn of the day. Three England engines are now available for traffic though there are doubts as to whether Palmerston can haul the current Heritage trains the timing-loads required. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy Paul Lewin (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

FR trains 22/8/20

Blanche was on the first train and departed Porthmadog on its second turn at 13:21 some 6 minutes late. Prince was held at Minffordd returning with the 11:05 and passed at 13:32. Prince left Minffordd at 13:32 and departed Porthmadog on its second turn at 14:25, some five minutes late. Linda, complete with demountable cab, was on the third service and, after returning from its second working, it left Porthmadog light engine for Boston lodge at 18:00.

 

FR restores Sunday 15:25 services into September

The FR originally cancelled the final train of the day, the 15:25, on weekends because of weak/uncertain demand but after a few weeks of experience and advertising it was restored from 16/8/20. It is now bookable right up to Friday 11/9/20. So the FR is offering six trains a day until then. Furthermore, tickets are also bookable for the 11:05/14:20 so far until Wednesday 30/9/20 and may be extended until the end of October if staycation 'shoulder' traffic remains strong and no second wave restrictions appear as with some UK localities.

With the FR offering 6 trains a day into early September maybe it is time to try offering a daily WHR service rather than 4 days a week (Monday/Friday/Sunday excepted) currently on offer. The F&WHR needs every penny it can earn and if the WHR can add to the coffers with profitable WHR services then management should test the market over the coming Bank Holiday weekend when services will run on Saturday, Sunday and Monday 29-31/8/20 but not Friday 28/8/20 when no doubt there will be many tourists staying in the area! If traffic is good enough over the Bank Holiday weekend maybe daily services could start in September?

 

Storm Ellen envelopes FR 21/8/20

Passengers made a few enquiries as to whether trains are running today or have been cancelled due to the high winds and Spring Tide. All trains are running as planned today - subject to any changes caused by developments beyond the railway's control. Despite the storm, conditions are within the railway's operating parameters.

 

This easterly view (21/8/20) shows Blanche departing Porthmadog with the full fury of Storm Ellen blowing spray across The Cob. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Passengers on the 10:00 from Porthmadog experienced an exciting ride when their train was enveloped in spindrift spray from waves crashing onto The Cob all the way from the station throat to Boston Lodge. It is not known if anyone travelled in the Open coach but it would have been ill-advised! A combination of storm Ellen and a high tide lead to large waves crashing all along The Cob and sending spindrift over the railway and the road below and even occasionally west of the signalbox! As high tide approached at 10:50, The Cob disappeared at times in a continuous mist of spindrift from the station throat to Boston Lodge. Upnor Castle ran up the FR earlier to check the line was clear as strong storms can sometimes bring down trees across the route. The loco departed Tan-y-bwlch after the 10:00 arrived from Porthmadog. Prince ventured out of Boston Lodge and got a good soaking coming across The Cob at 10:35 for the 11:05 departure and Linda got a good drenching too when it emerged from the depot at 11:40 for the 12:10 service.

WHR trains do not currently run Friday (or Sunday/Monday!) as the F&WHR management do not think the loadings would justify a service with tourists traditionally travelling to/from the area over the weekend even though the FR has services on these days. Maybe the F&WHR should have trialled a 7 day WHR service as they did on the FR before cutting back as they do with the FR's 15:25 at weekends according to demand. Deciding in advance that people will not book Mondays, Fridays and Sundays seems premature until the evidence of loadings over a couple of weeks is in as it was with the FR when they cut back there.

It is likely that Vale of Ffestiniog or another Dinas diesel will be used to check the WHR before Saturday's 11:00 service in case the storm has brought trees down across the line.

 

No.87 runs with wreath 20/8/20

This northerly view (20/8/20) shows No.87 departing Caernarfon carrying a wreath in memory of F&WHR volunteer driver Mike Middleton who sadly passed away on Tuesday, after collapsing while working on the footplate of No.46115 Scots Guardsman. The loco still carries a headboard thanking the NLHF for their support in keeping the railway afloat during the pandemic. Despite the fine weather, the Open carriages were not used again. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

WHR to run on 12/9/20

The absence of bookable WHR trains on 12/9/20 has now been fixed on the F&WHR website. Your webmaster is taking advantage of this additional date to visit the WHR. This anomaly resulted from the fact that the WHR SuperPower Gala was due to be held that weekend. However that event has now been cancelled so the ordinary 1100 Caernarfon-Beddgelert will run that day. The FR Gala 9-11/10/20, if it still goes ahead, should be extended to cover both railways which will assist social distancing by spreading out enthusiasts over 40 miles rather than 12 miles.

 

WAG allows 'non essential' travel 17/8/20

The Welsh Assembly Government has removed its restriction on 'non-essential' travel on 17/8/20. This means people can again use trains and buses for leisure trips, for example to visit the F&WHR by rail. See Deeside.com.

 

FR locos 20/8/20

No.5 hauled the first train and, after arriving at 10:55, took from 10:58 to 11:13 to complete the shunt at Tan-y-bwlch. The second train was hauled Prince which passed Minffordd at 11:18. Blanche came off Boston Lodge shed at 11:30 and by 11:36 it was shunting the seawall siding at Porthmadog to collect its rake for the 12:10 service.

 

The 40 km Dream WHR Phase 1 complete, now for Phase 2!

The 40 km Dream WHR Phase 1 page is now complete with the final October 1997 news and images added to the page taking readers up to the opening of the WHR. A new The 40km Dream WHR Phase 2 page will start from November 1997 with many new images, never seen before on this website.

 

WHR first train YouTube 18/8/20

Click on the YouTube window to watch 6 mins 39 seconds of video covering the first WHR Covid Special on 18/8/20. The YouTube shows the journey from Caernarfon to Beddgelert on the first WHR train introduced by the General Manager Paul Lewin giving thanks to the NHLF. This YouTube was published on 19/8/20 and was taken by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a professional 4K camcorder. It is best watched in HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on YouTube link.

 

WHR train formation

The WHR train was comprised of 11 coaches and one service car on the rear on the first day. Surprisingly two smaller profile FR coaches were used Nos.117/9 even though the WHR has 11 passenger carriages (including 9 saloons and two Opens) of its own design (work to complete second class No.2048 at Boston Lodge has been paused because of the pandemic). Even though the FR is operating an Open coach in each of its three rakes, neither of the two WHR Open Coaches Nos.2021/2 were used on the first day though they have been prepared for use if the weather if suitable and traffic requires.

Although passengers are free to chose their seats the F&WHR has helpfully provided compartment numbers to assist when they return from their walk around Beddgelert to find the same seats as they arrived in.

The WHR rake from south to north (including virtual compartment numbers in brackets) is as follows:

119 (29-31?)

117 (26-28?)

2042 (23-25?)

2040 (20-22?)

2090 Toilet/Brake (18-19?)

2046 (15-17)

2045 (12-14)

2044 (9-11)

2091 (ex 2041) Toilet/Brake (7-8)

2047 (4-6)

FR trains 19/8/20

Prince arrived at 10:31 to shunt its rake for the 11:05 departure and No.5 at 11:35 for the 12:10.

 

Trawsfynydd line to be used again for de-commissioning?

A report in the Daily Post states that the Trawsfynydd nuclear reactor, closed in 1991, has been chosen for the first full decommissioning project of a magnox reactor, returning the site to capped bare earth. This will involved removing irradiated material from the reactor's pressure vessel and may require GBRf flask wagon trains to be used again on the branch, currently disconnected from NR at Blaenau Ffestiniog. Work might take 20 years to complete.

As regards the Horizon Nuclear Power (Hitachi) reactor project on Anglesey, Wylfa B/Wylfa Newydd, the government has delayed a planning decision yet again until 30/9/20, now almost a year late! DRS continue to make occasional runs with one flask to Valley Nuclear Electric siding to maintain their competence on this route. See Daily Post report.

 

First Day of WHR services 18/8/20

After a rainy dismal day for the test train on Monday, the first WHR train ran on Tuesday 18/8/20 at 11:00 from Caernarfon with sunny periods and mild temperatures. The train was hauled by No.87 which carried a headboard thanks the National Lottery Heritage Fund for their support. The first train was fully booked and trains operate MFSuX with additional services on August Bank Holiday Sunday and Monday. If traffic continues to be this good maybe the service will be extended to every day as on the FR? There are still no services shown on Saturday 12/9/20 (the former SuperPower Weekend) despite enquiries to the booking office.

 

This northerly view (18/8/20) shows No.87 arriving at Waunfawr with the first public train. The loco carries a headboard thanking the NLHF for their support in keeping the railway afloat during the pandemic. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Several additional views are available on Festrail Facebook page and Festrail Insider Facebook pages taken by Chris Parry (F&WHR).

 

WHR Test Train 17/8/20

A test train was run on 17/8/20 hauled by Vale of Ffestiniog to re-familiarise staff and volunteers with running trains again the following day. Unfortunately the weather was very poor with heavy showers all day.

 

This southerly view (17/8/20) shows Vale of Ffestiniog at Dinas with the test train departing for Caernarfon at 09:43 in heavy rain. Volunteers and staff were renewing competences in preparation for the reopening the following day. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright John Sreeves and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (17/8/20) shows Vale of Ffestiniog arriving at Caernarfon with the test train at 09:57 as seen from Segontium Terrace footbridge. Volunteers and staff had to endure heavy downpours. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright John Sreeves and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (17/8/20) shows Vale of Ffestiniog arriving at Caernarfon with the test train at 09:57 as seen from Segontium Terrace footbridge. The train has drawn forwards with the first vehicle, a service car with toilet, alongside the end of the platform. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright John Sreeves and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

FR trains 18/8/20

Blanche was on the first train of the day with Prince on the second. Blanche was signal checked on its second trip and made a slow approach to Minffordd at 13:29, leaving Prince to pass at 13:32. Linda hauled the third train of the day.

 

Preparation for WHR services 14-15/8/20

On 14/8/20 the F&WHR ran a test train from Caernarfon to Beddgelert to renew staff competences.

 

This northerly view (14/8/20) shows No.87 arriving at Rhyd Ddu with a test train. The run round loop looks very rusty! Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Other images are available at https://www.facebook.com/festrailinsider.

By 15/8/20 the F&WHR Commercial team had visited all the WHR stations/halts putting up posters about the new Caernarfon-Beddgelert service and warning people to keep off the track.

 

This collage view (15/8/20) shows the posters erected at various stations and halts advertising the new Caernarfon-Beddgelert service just two days before the start of trains. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

PW loco Harlech Castle and the lineside train have spent a couple of months at Dinas. Volunteers have been busy clearing vegetation in readiness for the service to Beddgelert resuming today. A final day's work was planned for Monday 16/8/20.

 

This southerly view (15/8/20) shows Harlech Castle at Dinas with an old coach being used as a mess vehicle for volunteers. Volunteers have been tidying the lineside for months in preparation for the reopening. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The F&WHR's Plan Your Journey page really needs to be altered as the WHR is only shown if you use the drop down menu which is not immediately obvious. Many potential passengers who book via this page might just click on the visible FR service link.

 

F&WHR trains 17/8/20

On the FR Linda, with demountable cab fitted because of weather, was used on the 10:00 and Blanche on the 11:05. No.5 hauled the 12:10.

 

North Wales main line 16-17/8/20

ROG loco No.57312 hauled EMUs Nos.508110/134 to Newport Docks for scrap passing down the Borderlands line late evening on 16/8/20. NR Class 37 No.97304 worked from Shrewsbury to Tywyn on 17/8/20 presumably hauling a tamper.

The line to Barmouth will be closed for several weeks each autumn for the next three years, while the bridge is being refurbished. The first period starts after the last train on 16 October and ends on 2 November; the next two will be long three-month closures.

 

F&WHR trains 16/8/20

The FR's services have evolved into a steady pattern of using two England locos or two Penrhyn locos with one of the other type. On 16/8/20 No.5, Blanche and Prince were used in that order. The last train of the day does not require shunting at Tan-y-bwlch so will remain unlocked and available for people to retreat to if it rains.

It appears the FR is changing its timetable according to demand. Initially the 15:35 was dropped at weekends when it was thought passengers would be travelling to/from the area. However, the 15:25 was reinstated for the weekend of 15-16/8/20 so more staycations must be taking place in North Wales than anticipated with so many foreign countries now off limits or at risk of 2 week quarantines!

Intriguingly Saturday 5/9/20 shows no FR trains available, though it is just possible that the trains for that day could all be fully booked. From the 12/9/20 only the 11:05 and 14:20 are shown as bookable though additional trains could be added if substantial staycation traffic continues into September as seems likely.

Upnor Castle was Porthmadog station pilot in the afternoon of 16/8/20 and was used to shunt the late arriving 13:15 to the yard. Prince departed late on the 15:25 extra at 15:35. This passed No.5 at 15:47 returning from its second trip of the day and being held at Minffordd until departing at 15:55 after a rather slow token exchange considering the lateness. No.5 departed light engine for Boston Lodge at 16:18.

 

Further information on WHR restart 18/8/20

The new WHR service is generally FSuMX however changes are in the air. While a Sunday/Monday service has been added on the August Bank Holiday weekend 30-31/8/20, there is confusion about the status of WHR services over the former Super Power Weekend which has been advised as CANCELLED on Facebook Events for some weeks as no train is showing for Saturday 12/9/20. The asterisk symbols in the timetable for the Special Event on these days have now been removed. Booking office queries have been met with comments such as 'We are still considering train services for that day so watch website for further details'! Maybe some kind of event is being planned after all?

The WHR's 'Grand Day Out page' is now properly linked to various pieces of WHR information.

Some major changes have been made. Tickets will now be available at Caernarfon station if the train is not fully booked, though to avoid disappointment on-line booking is recommended! Also WHRS/FR Society members can only use their membership cards for travel on the weekend by calling the booking office; 01766 516024. Single journeys can be made from Caernarfon to Beddgelert though at the full price of £80 per compartment for two (or 6 with addition payments) as that compartment cannot be used on return.

The De Winton cafe will be participating in the 'Eat out to Help Out' scheme Monday-Wednesday.

Each train will be have two toilet compartments in addition to toilets available at Caernarfon and Beddgelert. There are a maximum of 30 bays at £80 each for 1/2 persons, each carrying up to 6 people. Additional adults are £40 each, accompanied children (under 16) are £2 each and Dog tickets are £3.

During the new Welsh Highland Railway booking process passengers will be able to purchase a selection of Food and Drink Hampers which will be added to their order and will be available for pick up at Caernarfon Station on the morning of their visit.

The F&WHR is introducing this new Hamper Service as there will be no catering service available on board the trains.

Hamper choices are as follows;

  • Hamper 1 – ‘Prince Llewelyn’ (luxury Hamper for two persons) £30 for two persons.
  • Hamper 2 – ‘Gelert’ (standard Hamper) £9.50 per person.
  • Hamper 3 – ‘Engine Driver’s Lunchbox’ (Child’s Hamper) £5 per child.

Once passengers have received their booking confirmation, they can email hamper@ffwhr.com or telephone 01766 516024 to confirm any dietary requirements.

Further information on this Hamper Service is available on the F&WHR website.

 

North Wales main line 16/8/20

VivaRail Class 230 No.230007 has arrived at Wrexham for test runs. Birkenhead North depot is to start disposing of Class 507/8 units and on 16/8/20 ROG loco No.57302 was booked to travel via the Borderlands line to collect a unit for disposal. For many years Transport Groups have been trying to get MerseyTravel to electrify this line at least as far as Shotton High Level so the EMUs being dragged over the line for scrap is quite ironic!

An explanation of the VivaRail Class 230 mode of operation is provided here.

 

Mystery WHR platform coaches solved 16/8/20

The 3 FR coaches which were still parked in the WHR platform on 16/8/20 are apparently being used as an extension seating area for Spooners bar. The rake has to be in this position so that the extension cable can power the batteries and allow lights during the evening. The rake must be shunted when any works train requires to use the WHR as it is parked foul of the loop points to allow the extension cable to reach. People were noted using the coaches to eat food they had bought on 16/8/20.

 

WHR reopens 18/8/20!

The new logo now includes the WHR. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

A 'Grand Day Out'

The WHR will reopen from 18/8/20 with tickets available online from 13/8/80 with a once a day FSuMX service four days a week at 11:00 Caernarfon-Beddgelert service which must be booked online. Trains will initially operate for 4 weeks from 18/8/20 to 19/9/20 with the possibility of extension if traffic is favourable. The booking site is marketing the service as 'A Grand Day Out' but the website is currently only partially available. The General Information on the Booking Page is still being developed so is currently just a repeat of the FR information. However at the bottom of the page 'Plan Your Journey' allows WHR services to be selected for Tuesday-Thursday and Saturdays.

Back in February, the last train of a busy Winter Half Term Service pulled in to Caernarfon Station. While this signalled the end of the Welsh Highland’s Winter Service at Caernarfon Station, normal Summer service was soon set to resume in March. This would be the last commercial service at Caernarfon for many months. With the exception of a short lived Hafod-y-Llyn service on the southern end of the track along with the odd works train, the Welsh Highland Railway and its surrounding mountains have seen many months pass without a trace of steam or diesel in the air.

Thanks to the incredible work and continuous support of F&WHR staff, volunteers and supporters, the Welsh Highland Railway will soon join the Ffestiniog Railway in steaming once again! On the 18/8/20 the Welsh Highland Railway will reopen with a once a day new service from Caernarfon to Beddgelert. This is another significant development in the reopening of the railway and the F&WHR would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their phenomenal support during these difficult times. Since the Ffestiniog Railway reopened, generous donations, offers of voluntary service and well-wishing messages have remained a constant theme. This unwavering support has played a crucial role in the reopening of the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways.

The WHR's priority, as with the reopening of the Ffestiniog Railway, has been to create a service that maintains the safety of visitors, staff and volunteers. This has been of paramount importance and the company believes the new service is as safe as possible during these challenging times. While safety has been the primary focus of planning, the company has also worked hard to design a service that allows passengers to enjoy many of the fantastic features that the Welsh Highland Railway has to offer. This new look ‘Summer’ service will undoubtedly be different to what many expected at the start of the year, but the F&WHR is determined to make it an enjoyable experience for all visitors.

During the new Welsh Highland Railway booking process passengers will be able to purchase a selection of Food and Drink Hampers which will be added to passengers order and will be available for pick up at Caernarfon Station on the morning of your visit. The F&WHR is introducing this new Hamper Service as there will be no catering service available on board the trains. Further information on this Hamper Service will be available soon. Detailed information on the reopening of the Welsh Highland Railway is provided in the service information segment below. There will be many queries regarding the reopening, the F&WHR encourage potential passengers to read this thoroughly, and visit the comprehensive FAQ page on the website, prior to emailing or calling Harbour Station offices.

The reopening service will operate on the Welsh Highland Railway - from Caernarfon to Beddgelert. There will be no other train services between Beddgelert and Porthmadog at present. This new service will run daily, with one trip per day. Trains will depart from Caernarfon Station at 11:00, arriving at Beddgelert Station at approx. 12:45. Visitors will have a 1hr 30mins visit at Beddgelert, enough time to comfortably visit the village and its famous ice cream shop, before returning on the 14:15 train which will arrive back at Caernarfon Station at approx. 16:00.

The total journey time will be approximately 5 hours, including the 1hr 30mins layover at Beddgelert. All journeys start and finish at Caernarfon. Tickets must be booked in advance. Passengers cannot join (or alight from) trains at any other station, halt or request stop. Please arrive at Caernarfon Station, 30 minutes before your departure time. This will allow enough time for passengers to purchase refreshments, pick up their Hampers and select their seats.

Online Booking Only

Another key feature of the Welsh Highland Railway reopening is that tickets will only be available via online booking and cannot be purchased at the Booking Office. Online ticket sales will go live on the F&WHR website from 13/8/20. The F&WHR will initially release tickets for trains running between 18/8/20 and 19/9/20. During the initial days of the new service the F&WHR will review demand and look to extend advance bookings through to a later date. The WHR will be using segregated seating arrangements on WHR carriages to help maintain social distancing. Each carriage will have a certain amount of seating bays, half of which will be available for passengers to sit in. Once passengers have selected their seating bay they must remain in these seats for the entire return journey.

Ticket prices start from £40 per adult, with a minimum booking of two adults. Tickets for each additional adult will cost £40, while the fare for each child will be £2. NOTE: there is a maximum of 6 people per seating bay. If you are a solo traveller, you must still pay the £80 fare for the seating bay. During the booking process you will also be able to purchase a selection of Food and Drink Hampers which will be added to your order and will be available for pick up at Caernarfon Station on the morning of your visit.

Further information on this service will be made available soon. Tickets will be sent via email and must be presented to the Station Host or Train Guard for inspection prior to boarding the train. Alternatively, passengers can print the tickets at home and bring them to the station. The tickets will display passengers details and the number of travellers. They will not include any details of seat numbers or carriage compartments, which passengers will be free to choose upon arrival.

Safety Measures at the Stations

The safety of visitors, staff and volunteers has been the company's principal concern during the planning process for reopening WHR services. The company has introduced measures and procedures throughout the railway to maintain the safety of all. Upon arrival at Caernarfon Station, routes into, through and out of the station will be clearly signed. It is important that all visitors adhere to these routes, while also maintaining social distancing. Café De Winton at Caernarfon Station will be open to passengers and the general public, offering food and drinks which can be taken on board for the journey. NOTE: there will be no catering service on these trains.

There will be one route to the trains - through the Main Station Entrance. Caernarfon Station Shop will be open and asked to use ‘contactless' payments whenever possible, to limit the use of cash being circulated and handled by staff in WHR facilities. The WHR is also requiring visitors to wear face coverings during their visit. Complimentary masks will be available at Caernarfon Station if you do not have your own. Hand sanitiser stations will be provided in the station. The F&WHR advise passengers to use these prior to boarding the trains to reduce potential contamination. Social Distancing signs will be in place to manage queues for the toilet facilities at both Caernarfon and Beddgelert stations.

Safety Measures on board the trains

WHR carriages will be deep-cleaned using ‘Zoono’, a long-lasting disinfectant surface sanitiser which offers up to 30 days of protection. All carriages will be thoroughly cleaned at the end of each day, ensuring they are safe and ready for passengers to enjoy upon arrival. Visitors will be able to choose their seats when boarding the train. Passengers must use their chosen seats for the duration of the return journey. The WHR are requiring visitors to wear face coverings during their time on board the train. Complimentary masks will be available at Caernarfon Station if you do not have your own.

Loyalty Cards and Gift Vouchers

Due to the financial difficulties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the company is regrettably unable to offer Loyalty Card discounts on the train services currently. All holders of ‘Y Cerdyn’ will receive a 6-month extension to their scheme as a result of this decision. Please note both ‘Y Cerdyn’ and the ‘Eat and Drink’ card can still be used for discounts in F&WHR catering outlets. Gift Card holders will be unable to apply their discount when booking online. However, they can activate their Gift Card by calling the Booking Office. Society members (WHRS and FRS) can reserve tickets by calling the Booking Office. ATOC card holders can purchase discounted tickets by calling the Booking Office on 01766 516024.

2020 Timetable Leaflets

The F&WHR is aware that a large amount of the WHR's 2020 printed timetable leaflets are still in circulation. Due to current circumstances the company must ask that you ignore its contents as the timetables are now void and the WHR ask potential passengers to use their website for the latest information. Special Event listings in the leaflets are under continuous review and, while many have unfortunately been cancelled, future events are being monitored in accordance with Welsh Government advice. Further announcements on these events shortly.

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

 

North Wales main line

On 12/8/20 a PW train top and tailed by No.70805/9 arrived at Llandudno Junction from Crewe at 0643 and headed up the Conwy Valley line into the possession at 0745 to remove spoil.

GBRf continue to run occasional Valley flask trains to retain their experience even though Wylfa is now completely defuelled. Nos.68001/3 were noted with 1 flask en route to Valley on 13/8/20.

NR's yellow HST test train made a Crewe-Holyhead trip on the afternoon of 13/8/20.

 

F&WHR movements 13/8/20

A diesel and two coaches headed north through Porthmadog on 13/8/20 on the WHR. Blanche was on the first train and No.5 was on the third train setting off from Porthmadog at 1211. They passed at Minffordd at 12:25. Linda arrived at Porthmadog at 13:43 with the second train of the day to form the 14:20 after sanitising.

 

K1 shines at Statfold 9/8/20

This view shows K1 hauling saloon coaches on the Statfold Barn railway on 9/8/20. The loco made much smoke in traffic. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy Keith Holland and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This view shows K1 being prepared for service on the Statfold Barn railway on 9/8/20. The loco took the sharp curves with ease. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy David Faircloth and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

K1 is based at the Statfold Barn Railway and was the subject of an Open Day on 9/8/20. The loco ran with saloon coaches and it was left to people to socially distance within the coaches in a sensible way (maybe a lesson for the potential WHR reopening). Saloon coach Carrabasset was also noted at the SBR. The new custodians have guaranteed that it will visit the F&WHR for events, possibly this year.

 

F&WHR operations 8-11/8/20

The 3 coaches stored in the WHR platforms were still there throughout the period. They have, however, reportedly been parked foul of the WHR loop point preventing any train going onto the WHR. This in itself is very unusual for the F&WHR which is usually meticulous about stabling its trains.

On 8/8/20 No.5 hauled the first train of the day. On 9/8 Blanche was on the 10:00, Linda was on the 11:05 train and Prince on the 12:10 train. On 10/8/20 Linda was noted taking a rake back to Boston Lodge at the end of operations presumably for routine maintenance.

On 11/8/20 a diesel loco, possibly Upnor Castle, was noted connected to the east end of the WHR rake which had been moved to the loop line. By midday it was gone and the rake was back in the WHR platform. Prince was on the first train and Blanche on the second. No.5 was on the third train of the afternoon but did not leave until 15:40, some 15 minutes late, as it required a quick trip across The Cob for attention. This caused some reaction to other services despite the alacrity of the departure (breaking the self imposed speed limits!) and meant in turn that Prince on the 13:15 was held at Minffordd until 15:51 to cross the late working. The train eventually arrived at Tan-y-bwlch at 16:19 allowing Blanche to depart on its return journey at 16:22 after a swift hand over of the token. blanche passed Minffordd at 16:48 and arrived back at 17:00. Had the WHR platform been clear Prince could have run into there instead of being delayed. As it was, Blanche finally arrived back at Porthmadog at 16:57 and at 17:07 shunted its rake to the yard before departing for Boston Lodge at 17:13. Up at Tan-y-bwlch No.5 ran round at 17:12 and, being the last train of the day with no need to propel, the train was left with doors open in the platform and departed at 17:24.

 

Victorian Gala suggestion

If the F&WHR is determined to go ahead with the Victorian Gala feeling is growing amongst WHR Society members that it should be expanded to include the WHR as they have cancelled SuperPower. This would spread out the crowds more and enable it to be more COVID compliant. K1 could be invited to run on the WHR as well as the WHHR's Russell. With the Baldwin stabled on the F&WHR since last October No.608 it would be possible to recreate some historical tableaux reprising the role of the WHR's No.590 and giving photo opportunities at Beddgelert and in the Aberglaslyn Pass.

 

WHHR reopens 13/8/20

While there is surprisingly no news yet about reopening the WHR from Caernarfon given the GM's statement to HR Magazine that there might be WHR trains by the end of August, the WHHR is reopening ThSO from 13/8/20 until 29/8/20. WHHR trains will be diesel hauled in COVID compliant 'compartments' and include a trip to Pen-y-Mount, a Museum visit and miniature railway ride (if available). The cafe and shop are also open. The WHHR seems to have had difficulty getting volunteers as it is only operating 2 days a week on a trial. Trains operate at 10:00, 11:15, 13:00 and 14:15. A maximum of 50 person per train will be allowed using all the WHHR coaching stock.

Available fares (all for one return trip only) Adult £10.25, Child £4.95 (under 3s free), Family (2 adults and maximum 2 children) £27.00 (and local residents' concessions). Prospective visitors are strongly encouraged to make advance email reservations no later than 24 hours before scheduled departure. Contact details below.

Payment by CARD ONLY please, at the WHHR booking office and shop, no later than 20 minutes before the scheduled departure time.

To reserve a ‘compartment’ please email info@whr.co.uk at least 24 hours before scheduled departure with, for each household/social group, lead name, mobile phone number, details of tickets requested, and total number of persons (including children and under 3s) within the group (most ‘compartments’ have a maximum capacity of 5 persons but some have more).

Some of this information is also requested in support of the Welsh Government/National Health Service COVID-19 Test, Trace, Protect (TTP) arrangements. All of the information collected will be retained securely and destroyed within 21 days of the date of the visit. None will be passed to any other party.

‘Compartments’ not reserved 24 hours before departure, and reserved ‘compartments’ not claimed and paid for 20 minutes before departure, will be released for general sale. Again payment by card only please, accompanied by a request for TTP information.

 

Mainline news

There was major disruption of the Cambrian Coast Line 8-9/8/20 due to a failure of axle counters. The ERTMS system is now showing its age and inability to work reliably in the salty coastal air of the area. In addition there is no portable unit for visiting traction cutting out the large number of excursions that used to visit the area and bolster the local economy. Something needs to be done about this urgently as NR has reneged on promises to the local community and excursion operators it has now been 10 years since the Cambrian Coast Express steam operation run by WCR and visiting excursions hauled by NR's yellow Class 37s have been few and far between.

On 7/8/20 VivaRail's Class 230 No.230006, on test on the Borderlands Line, was loaded with 33 tonnes of weights at Wrexham to simulate a full passenger load and run over the steep gradients either side of Buckley Junction. There were no problems reported in the dry conditions of the day though the unit does whine as it did in its previous life as a D train in LT days.

Class 37s Nos.37099/254 were on an NR test train on The Borderlands line on the first week of August. On 7/8/20 ROG locos Nos.57312/37884 worked a trail train to Birkenhead North to see if Class 507/508 units could be removed from MerseyRail by this route.

 

Late August spectacular!

F&WHR Manager Paul Lewin has confirmed that it was hoped to get all three England engines out on the F&WHR at the end of August with the return of Palmerston. The loco has received repairs to axleboxes and cross heads at Boston Lodge but was back on its wheels by early August. There may be an event around the August Bank holiday to celebrate having three England locos available at once.

 

Resumption of WHR services moving forward?

Paul Lewin, F&WHR General Manager has responded to Heritage Railways magazine explaining that 'WHR services might restart in August'. Other North Wales railways like the Bala Lake Railway and Snowdon Mountain Railway are using saloon coaches with social distancing by taking intermediate seat bays out of use. The Appeal has raised £400,000 towards operating costs but may have to be relaunched with essential costs incurred over coming months. If the WHR adds a second revenue stream based on Caernarfon this might relieve the F&WHR's plight considerably. The General Manager's argument is that a saloon coach may carry 'as few as 6 or 8 people instead of 36 and not enough to pay for the coal'. However, other North Wales railways are operating with groups each end of a saloon which could increase the number considerably plus the two open coaches do not need to be compartmentalised as they are open space. Although the General Manager had hoped for a small WHR event in September, this mid September event was cancelled on 29/7/20.

The company is looking now towards a possible service 'later' on the WHR between Caernarfon and Beddgelert when Government guidelines have eased though this is not essential considering how the other North Wales tourist railways have restarted services with saloon type stock. A Beddgelert service could run twice a day with a full length train and two opens, offering more seats than the FR even if operating each saloon as two virtual 'compartments', with one at each end of the coach. One essential would be the erection of an awning at Beddgelert as at previous galas on the concrete station foundation serving hot food, drinks, crisps, sandwiches, cakes etc.

As a precursor to this the F&WHR is sounding out the willingness of volunteers to tidy up stations and halts and to act as platform hosts. In order to comply with the strict new safety regulations they will have to firstly complete a 'Covid-19 Return to Work Questionnaire', view a safety video and also read the Company's 'Coronavirus Covid-19 Safety Policy'. Social distancing will have to be strictly adhered to along with wearing of face masks, hand sanitising and other disinfecting methods. Volunteers will not be permitted to travel together in a crew bus or pickup truck. Only one person will be permitted to drive to the worksite in one of the above with tools etc. Others will be required to use their own transport. As the situation at stations will be different to what used to be the normal set up, especially at Caernarfon where a one-way system will be in place, there is also a request for 'Platform Hosts' to help with giving information and guidance to passengers.

It is possible that the WHHR is in discussion with the F&WHR about running its trains to Pont Croesor/Hafod-y-llyn or even through the Aberglaslyn Pass to Beddgelert from their Tremadog Road terminus as the F&WHR is not using this section nor does it seems have any plans to in the near future. The WHHR has compartment stock and could very easily run a WAG COVID compliant service along the lines of the current FR operation. Running around at Beddgelert, even though it is on a steep gradient, is not a problem as the F&WHR has done this many times before when the WHR was first extended to Beddgelert and also during previous SuperPower galas. Allowing the WHHR to operate such a service over the WHR might further cement the much improved cooperation between the two companies of recent years.

 

WHR news

Some people who booked the very popular Pullman Teas due to start 22/4/20 have accepted vouchers for future travel rather than cancellation refunds. This has helped the F&WHR considerably at £175 per couple. All WHR coaches except the two open coaches are stored safely under cover awaiting reopening, keeping their batteries fully charged. It is hoped that No.130 will soon be complete and will take the place of No.138 for its 10 year re-boiler work. No.138's final year of boiler certificate has been wasted. It is hoped No.138 can be ready by the start of 2021 as No.143 will need to be re-boilered that year on the 10 year cycle.

WHR Funkey Castell Caernarfon is in Boston Lodge Carriage shed and the design of a new cab and control system is underway with the aim of returning the loco to service in 2021 after some 5 years OOU.

The WHR AGM will take place through a Virtual Meeting this year to comply with WAG COVID restrictions. The meeting format will be on line using Microsoft Teams software. Registration for members who wish to 'attend' the meeting must be made by 31/8/20 to awilkinson@crhe.uk giving full name, postal address email address and WHR membership number.

 

Moving Pictures No.43 7/8/20

Click on the YouTube window to watch 25 mins 48 seconds of video mostly covering the F&WHR's Covid Specials. This YouTube was published on 7/8/20 and was taken by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a professional 4K camcorder. It is best watched in HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on YouTube link.

 

Tickets released for September but why no WHR trains (7/8/20)!?

The F&WHR has today (7/8/20) released tickets for the 11:05 and 14:20 FR trains ONLY throughout September. There is however no sign that the F&WHR is catering for those that wish to travel on the WHR. A previous article on this webpage has suggested how the F&WHR might go about catering for those that wish to travel through the Aberglaslyn Pass to Beddgelert or from Caernarfon to Waunfawr in a similar operation to that being conducted on the FR.

Of these options the Caernarfon WHR operation would have less impact on the FR operation as it draws on the North Wales Coast tourists rather than the area around Porthmadog. It is possible the FR operation may only be catering for the immediate holidaymakers around Porthmadog/Cambrian Coast and ignoring those at the north end of the line who used to join the train at Caernarfon which is, at the very least, over half an hour's drive from the North Wales Coast. Ignoring these potential passengers, who might be carried economically/safely on the WHR may affect the F&WHR's overall profit this year and depress the WHR operation in years to come without an expensive marketing effort!

An economical operation of the WHR from Caernarfon to Waunfawr might include one Garratt in steam (and Vale of Ffestiniog in reserve or a pair of smaller diesels) which could use economical amounts of coal at lower speeds and lower gradients than the FR! As the FR has been using open coaches this week and coaches with two doors there cannot be objection to similar operation on the WHR with deep cleaning between services on return to Caernarfon. Any spare bogie coaches from the FR might be used along with Semi-Opens Nos.2020/1. Existing WHR saloons could be used with a 'compartment party' each end of the coach. There might be no need for any compartment dividers as the intermediate seats could be marked Not For Use. A suitable length train could be formed up at Dinas with sufficient saloons according to demand and to save fuel. A ten saloon coach train could accommodate an effective 20 'compartments' with an additional 9/10 on the two semi-Open coaches offering more seats than the current FR option.

A pop up food outlet at Waunfawr in the station building could offer hot drinks/cakes/crisps/sandwiches/soft drinks etc. much the same as last year's Journey into the Past trains. The high quality toilets there will be sufficient for passengers needs along with the De Winton cafe at Caernarfon and high quality toilets there. Caernarfon station also has a large covered area where additional seats/tables mighty be provided for those waiting for their train with takeaways or wanting to eat before/after their train. As the train does not need to move at Waunfawr it can be its own refuge from bad weather with just the loco running round.

The WHR Society has dug deeply into its coffers to help keep the F&WHR going through these difficult times. It is incumbent on the F&WHR management to consider services on the WHR if they can be operated economically and COVID safely and not just retreat into a 'little FR' mentality as shown by the poster below and various comments about the 'white elephant across Britannia Bridge' that have appeared on social media recently!

 

The current emblem of the 'Festiniog Railway 2020'....notice NOT the F&WHR 2020! Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

F&WHR activity 2-7/8/20

On 2/8/20 the Vale of Ffestiniog was noted taking a service car back to Dinas for storage, the first WHR train in a while. The coaching stock in the WHR loop was subsequently repositioned in the WHR platform and Criccieth Castle, previously attached to the east end, was no where to be seen. The rake was still there on 7/8/20.

On 5/8/20 No.5 was a little late departing and passed Minffordd at 10:20 with 2 bugboxes and 4 saloons. Linda also departed a few minutes late at 11:08.

On 6/8/20 a change in policy seems to have occurred with open coaches being added to some rakes. The open coaches do not seem to have compartment separators as they are deemed 'open spaces' with free flowing air, unlike compartments.

No.5 was on the 10:00 service and was noted shunting at 11:01 at Tan-y-bwlch with 5 coaches (1 Open) and two bugboxes about 10 minutes after arrival. Perhaps in response to the lateness of the previous day diesel shunter Moelwyn was sent to Harbour station to shunt the 11:05's train into the platform before returning to Boston Lodge. Blanche arrived at 10:36 and departing for Tan-y-bwlch at 11:06.

Linda arrived to shunt the third train to the platform at 11:30 which consisted at 3 bugboxes, 1 Open and 3 bowsiders. In the background, Moelwyn re-emerged from Boston Lodge dragging three coaches and Prince on the rear. The cavalcade set off at about 11:35 with Prince leading passing Minffordd at 11:46 and Tan-y-Bwlch 1235 where the train continued towards Blaenau Ffestiniog at 12:40.

Meanwhile Blanche had arrived at Tan-y-Bwlch at 11:53 and, as is now standard practice, shunted the rake into the other platform by 12:07 after No.5 had departed with the return of the first train at 11:56. No.5 and Prince must have passed at Rhiw Goch loop.

Moelwyn returned with its cavalcade at 13:21 before departing for Porthmadog at 13:24. This move blocked the usual early repositioning of the third rake in the platform until sometime later but all was ready by 1343.

Blanche arrived back at Porthmadog at 13:43 and, as usual, its rake was sanitised for the 14:20 departure.

On 7/8/20 No.5 hauled the first train departing at 10:02 with two bugboxes leading five bogies including Carnforth brake coach No.113 and open coach No.37 on the rear. This returned to Porthmadog at 12:37 for a deep clean before forming the 13:15 departure.

The 11:05 was hauled by Prince which shunted the rake from the yard at 10:45 and departed on time. Again there were 5 saloons and an open coach, probably No.38, next to the loco and brakes Nos.11/12 on the rear. This passed Minffordd at 11:20.

The 12:10 also departed on time hauled by Blanche with 3 bugboxes, open No.39, NWNGR coach No.24 and three other saloons.

 

Tan-y-bwlch inside seating 3/8/20

In association with WAG's relaxed advice to cafes, the F&WHR decided to offer inside seating at its Tan-y-bwlch cafe in addition to the awning seating from 5/8/20 with hand sanitising at the door. Spooners also has interior seating open from the same day.

 

North Wales main line news 3-7/8/20

On 3/8/20 37099/37254 ran top and tail to Bidston.

The Llangollen Steam Railway reopened on 1/8/20.

On 7/8/20 NR's yellow Class 37 No.97303 was noted heading for Holyhead light engine.

ROG locos Nos.57312/37884 were noted on a Birkenhead North-Chester (via Wrexham), possibly a route learner in association with possible deliveries of VivaRail Class 230 units to the Borderlands Line.

Click on the link below to watch the NR auto-ballaster at Porthmadog early in the morning of 3/8/20, courtesy Andrew Goodwin (WHHR).

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

 

WHHR news 2/8/20

Andrew Goodwin advises: Porthmadog Station bookshop and Russell Café are open 10:00- 14:00 Wed-Sat, although trains will not restart for a few weeks.

Coaches are being made COVID compliant before the start of services.

 


This northerly view shows Gelert at Pen-y-Mount at a small ceremony attended by a few members to mark the 40th Anniversary of the start of the WHHR services. The loco is adorned with the original plaque from 1980. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy Andrew Goodwin (WHHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Spare coaches on the move 1/8/20

The rake of three FR corridor coaches stored in the WHR platform was moved to the WHR loop line on Friday afternoon by Blanche at 1717 after it had arrived back from the 1525 service. Harlech Castle was stabled at the east end on the afternoon of 1/8/20 but it was not attached to the 3-rake carriage set. The loco seemed to be part of some works set: it was attached to an out-of-service corridor carriage which was being used/had been used as a mess vehicle, judging by the empty mugs left about inside, and the plug-in urn on one of the tables. Also attached to this rake was a flat-bed vehicle, as used for excavator transport, but no signs of any excavator in the locality, or any track staff about. It appeared there was no 1525 service again on Saturday 1/8/20 as forecast.

 

North Wales mainline 1/8/20

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

 

The 40km Dream Episode 17

May 1998 Part 3

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The 40km Dream Episode 16

April 1998 Part 7

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The 40km Dream Episode 15

March 1998

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

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

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

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

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

 

The 40km Dream Episode 14

February 1998

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Meanwhile at Dinas later that day....

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Gradient graph

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

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

 

Special Events 2020

1/1/20

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

15-23/2/20

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

26/2/20-26/3/20

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

28/3/20

Main Season Easter service starts POSTPONED

18/4/20

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

2/5/20

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

9/5/20

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

5-7/6/20

WHR Beer Festival POSTPONED TO 4-6/6/21

19-21/6/20

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

27/6/20

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

20/7/20 Restart of limited services with virus compliant protection measures on FR ONLY six times daily all week
13/8/20 Restart of limited services on the WHR with an 11:00 once a day TWThSO service to Beddgelert with hampers

11-13/9/20

SuperPower Cancelled/WHR Virtual AGM 12/9/20 (may feature Baldwin No. 608 and K1) POSTPONED TO Sept 2021

12/9/20

WHR Society Members Day. Two special trains between Porthmadog and Beddgelert with No.5 (Welsh Pony)

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

9-11/10/20

Bygones Weekend (includes some WHR events and naming of Welsh Pony at Dduallt)

 

Trackwork Volunteering 2020

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

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

January

 

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

1-2/8/20

 

15-16/8/20

 

29-30/8/20

September

 

5-10/9/20WW

 

 

26-27/9/20

October

 

10-11/10/20

 

 

24-25/10/20

November

7-8/11/20

7-11/11/20WW

 

21-22/11/20

 

December

1-2/12/20

15-16/11/20WW

 

 

29-30/12/20

^ 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

 

V4.3876 updated 23/9/20