Welsh Highland Railway

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Star Picture

This northerly view (19/9/17) shows No.87 being dragged from Boston Lodge to Dinas following failure on 16/9/17 with a frame problem. Vale of Ffestiniog provides the traction at 1040 approaching Summit Cutting at Pont Cae'r Gors. The weather had improved from that of the dismal SuperPower weekend. 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 EOS1300D 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

'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 3/12/18)

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 courtesy of Steve Harris/WHRS

Click here for John Sreeves Gradient profile courtesy of Steve Harris/WHRS

Click here for Chainages and OS Map Reference

 

Moving Pictures No.26 13/12/18

Click on the YouTube link to watch 23 mins 50 seconds of video covering Linda on a private Santa Special to Beddgelert and the arrival of No.130's boiler. Surprisingly there is no mention of Russell's visit to Beddgelert on 25/11/18, publicity for which seems to have been in the hands exclusively of the WHHR. This YouTube was published on 13/12/18 and was taken by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a professional 4K camcorder. It is best watched in 2160p 4K HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively, View on YouTube where all options are available.

 

WHHG work at Betws Garmon station 13/12/18

This northerly view (13/12/18) shows WHHG work taking place on Betws Garmon Halt. Stones have been recovered from inside the collapsed and robbed structure and the walls partially restored. The plan is to cap the walls with turf to minimise further deterioration. Voids excavated inside the building to recover brick and stone will likely be back-filled with slate waste or similar. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Stuart McNair (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

No.134's boiler leaves Dinas 12/12/18

This easterly view (12/12/18) shows No.134's boiler being lifted onto the Hughes lorry in Dinas North Yard for transport to Loughborough for assessment, after No.130's boiler had been removed. 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.

 

Blanche on private Santa Special 4/12/18

Every year a privately hired short Santa Special is run and normally goes to Tan-y-bwlch on the FR. This year the special ran to Beddgelert with Blanche in charge of the 3 coach train, which included the Observation Car No.152. The loco struggled in places on the 1 in 40 which had not been used for a few weeks so the railhead may have been rusty or covered in leaf mulch. This may have led to the decision to double head the FR's Beddgelert Santa Specials. The loco watered at the historic water tank at Beddgelert rather than the main water crane at the north end of the platform.

 

No. 130's boiler arrives Dinas 12/12/18

No.130's boiler arrived at Dinas on 12/12/18 and was craned into the frames which had been shunted out of the Loco Shed into the North Yard to ease the process by Vale of Ffestiniog. The Funkey is currently based at Dinas to assist the WHR Santa Specials whilst Castell Caernarfon is repaired. Local haulier Hughes Specialised Transport of Blaenau Ffestiniog was tasked with the job as a part of the F&WHR's policy of buying services locally. Two additional Hiab fitted lorries were required to unload the boiler. The boiler was suspended in mid air whilst the Funkey inched the frames into the correct position. Some parts had been removed as the boiler is a tight fit in the cradle frame e.g. blow down valves and washout plugs. For more images see F&WHR Facebook page.

The next stage is to fix the boiler to the frames. Holes must be drilled in the smokebox to attach it to the saddle. Then the boiler insulation and cladding must be added and all the copper pipework. The final stages include adding the turret and fitting out the cab.

 

This northerly view (12/12/18) shows No.130's boiler being lifted into the loco's frames in Dinas North Yard. Vale of Ffestiniog was in support to shunt the loco back to the Loco Shed. 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 westerly view (12/12/18) shows No.130's boiler being lifted into the loco's frames in Dinas North Yard complete with new bunker. Vale of Ffestiniog was in support to shunt the loco back to the Loco shed. 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.

 

This northerly view (12/12/18) shows No.130's boiler in the loco's frames in Dinas North Yard complete with new bunker. Vale of Ffestiniog was in support to shunt the loco back to the Loco Shed. 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.

 

Keith Holland has also provided a short film clip of the loco moving with boiler.

 

This northerly view (12/12/18) shows No.130's boiler in the loco's frames in Dinas Loco Shed complete with new bunker. No.130 will receive maximum effort to make it a working loco this season as No.87 has been withdrawn and the WHR has only two other Garratts, one of which will be withdrawn the following year. On the left is the Combination Car No.1001 being refurbished as a volunteer project. 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.

 

Waunfawr progress 12/12/18

This northerly view (8/12/18) shows Waunfawr Station building has now reached Eaves level in the initial breezeblock construction phase. Doors and windows spaces are now complete on all sides giving an idea of how the final building will look. Scaffolding is being erected to allow progress to be made with the roof. Planking has been delivered for the raised working platform. Three man are at work on the contract. Cladding with local stone, including smaller stones from the original building stored under the footbridge, will start later. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Dai Jones and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This westerly view (8/12/18) shows the scaffolding on the east elevation which has no doors. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Dai Jones and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Caernarfon Station views 8/12/18

This southerly view (8/12/18) shows the Exhibition area in Caernarfon Station building which serves as a waiting hall for Santa Specials during inclement weather, complete with 'Executive' toilets on right. The WHR moved out of Ty Seiont, the temporary building at the south end of the platform in early December in time for the Santa Specials. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Dai Jones and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8/12/18) shows the Exhibition area which serves as a waiting hall for Santa Specials during inclement weather, complete displays and seating for those waiting for the train. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Dai Jones and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This internal view of Caernarfon station (8/12/18) shows the shop stocked with books and toys. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Dai Jones and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This internal view of Caernarfon station (8/12/18) shows the entrance hall under the rotunda with an Xmas Tree welcoming the Santa Special travellers. Thought has been given to increased security after the break in at the temporary station earlier this year so a security camera has been fitted. There are still concerns about the glass panels along the front of the building though these are partly protected by bollards on the edge of the 'shared space' roundabout outside the station. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Dai Jones and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Rebranding of Heritage Gala 21-23/6/18

The Heritage Gala over the long weekend of 21-23/6/18 has now been rebranded as WHR: 'Past Present and Future Gala. It is planned that the Gala will include Russell and other guests. It is possible Welsh Pony may be complete by then as it has been requested for the Snowdonian Limited a few days earlier on 15/6/18. Many enthusiasts also hope that one of the VoR locos will come in return for the occasional visits by Palmerston to the line.

 

Santa Special Trains 8-9/12/19

The WHR Santa Specials ran from Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu over last weekend and No.143 was rostered to haul the train though no images have come to hand. It was a significant day in the history of the WHR. The 10.00 Santa Train departure was the first public train to leave the new Caernarfon station that was specially opened for the purpose. The Santa Trains, with eleven carriages, are the longest public trains ever to be run on the WHR. Both WHR and FR trains were double headed as a precaution about rusty rails and leaf mulch.

 

This northerly view (9/12/18) shows No.143 with Vale of Ffestiniog in support inside departs Caernarfon at 10am. The Funkey did not seem to be doing much work so the heavy rain might have washed the rails clean. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Andrew Wither and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This easterly view (9/12/18) shows No.143 with Vale of Ffestiniog in support inside passes Tryfan Junction. The front coach seems empty, possibly a staff coach. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Andrew Wither and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This westerly view (9/12/18) shows No.143 with Vale of Ffestiniog passing Salem. The front coach seems empty, possibly a staff coach. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Andrew Wither and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This easterly view (8/12/18) shows the first of the FR's Santa Specials from Porthmadog to Beddgelert pilotted by Taliesin double heading with David Lloyd George passing through the Aberglaslyn Pass. Taliesin was to go on the front alone on the return journey. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Andrew Wither and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

It has been announced that the station will also be open for the Xmas Mince Pie Specials 27/12/18-1/1/19 to provide a warm dry waiting area before closing for completion. The shop booking office and toilets are open but the De Winton Cafe is not yet fitted out. The station will fully open in late March for the new season and the points moved north during the WMWP and track realigned to the extended platform to allow longer trains. This will mean the Half Term Holiday trains in February run from Porthmadog to Beddgelert (MFX from 16-28/2/19).

The FR Santa Special's ran to Beddgelert last weekend and ran back top and tailed by Taliesin and David Lloyd George. The train was almost full despite being early in the season. There is more availability on these trains than the Caernarfon trains since an extra carriage has also been added to these trains, requiring two locos to haul the train up the 1 in 40 to Beddgelert. The WHR Santa Specials are already sold out for the afternoon train of 16/12/18 and all four trains on the final weekend.

Last year the 9-10/12/18 Santa Specials saw snow around the WHR even in the Aberglaslyn Pass creating many Xmas scenes. See Snow scenes page.

 

This westerly view (9/12/18) shows Taliesin hauling the FR's Santa Special back to Porthmadog crossing Britannia Bridge in rather mild wet weather. 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.

 

This easterly view (9/12/18) shows David Lloyd George on the rear of  the FR's Santa Special back to Porthmadog crossing Britannia Bridge in rather mild wet weather. 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.

 

Porthmadog Beehives replaced by metal boxes

The wooden 'beehive' service equipment boxes on the platform at Porthmadog have been replaced by grey metal cabinets which may be more durable and protect the service equipment better.

 

BF&TR Society AGM 3/2/19

The AGM of the Blaenau Ffestiniog and Trawsfynydd Railway Society will take place on 3/2/19 in Cell B Cafe Bar Blaenau Ffestiniog at 2pm for accredited members. The new organisers of the Trawsfynydd Branch restoration project hope to relaunch the project with a new committee under the name Bala & Ffestiniog Railway Heritage Trust. Those interested may read the AGM notice at the organisation's Facebook website.

 

Caernarfon station update 7/12/18

This southerly view of the Caernarfon station entrance (7/12/18) shows the station opened for Santa Specials and the Xmas Mince Pie Specials. There seems to be a plastic covering over the rotunda. 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.

 

A Daily Post report celebrating the temporary opening Caernarfon station and Santa Specials also seems to show a plastic covering over the rotunda. No doubt the work to rectify this will be on the snagging list. See Daily Post story.

 

This internal view of the Caernarfon station entrance (2/12/18) shows paper being used to soak up a leak. It seems a small amount of water has come through the rotunda. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Arthur Bunce and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Welsh Transport minister explains delays and cancellations 29/11/18

The Wrexham.com website has given a full report by Ken Skates the WAG Transport Minister concerning the delays and cancellations experienced since Keolis/Amey took over from ATW in October. This has led to bustitution of the Blaenau Branch services that connect to the F&WHR. The main points he made are:

 

Snow report

After a cold snap Thursday/Friday, temperatures are set to rise again for the weekend of 15-16/12/18 which will see 2 daily Santa trains at both ends of the line to Rhyd Ddu and Beddgelert. While snow is forecast on the summit of Snowdon, no snow is forecast around the WHR.

With trains operating from Porthmadog to Beddgelert during the February school holidays (MFX from 16-28/2/19) and Porthmadog-Beddgelert weekend trips from 25/2/12, here are some useful resources to check if there is snow at the WHR.

First Hydro had four webcams in the Llanberis valley. These have been discontinued due to maintenance problems. An alternative webcam can be viewed at Snowdon webcam website. However, it should be noted that snow cover generally decreases from east to west.

Other useful resources include the A55 webcams (pages 7-13). The Treborth Interchange (Bangor) webcam can be helpful though it is nearer sea level than the WHR and also shows live traffic conditions if using this route to reach the WHR.

The WHHR webcams would show the rare sea level snow cover at Porthmadog. http://www.webcam.whr.co.uk/gelertsfarm/

The F&WHR Porthmadog webcam also shows rare sea level snow cover

The Meteorological Office provides a useful radar weather map covering the last 6 hours that shows the rain/snow coming into Britain and can be watched as an animation updated every 30 minutes. See Rainfall radar

The main Meteorological Office website also has a Snowdon Ranger page that shows the predicted weather for the Rhyd Ddu area for the next seven days.

 

Waunfawr progress report 7/12/18

This northerly view (7/12/18) shows a week's progress with the new Waunfawr station building. The internal breeze block walls will be clad in a local stone outer layer to provide a heritage look with traditional WHR yellow brick around windows and doors. It is possible the small stones original stones saved on pallets under the footbridge will be reused. access is via the formed yard behind the station building. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Stuart McNair (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Work starts on Caernarfon bypass

Martin Kressman reports: 'Work has started on the bypass with the controversial felling of mature oak tress adjacent to the Cibyn Industrial Estate. This is required to enable ground clearance work needed to construct a new Calor Gas operation at the Dwyfor Oils site. When this is complete the Calor Gas operation will move to the new facility to enable the old one to be demolished to make way for the road.'

Fence lines will appear soon and the new A487 which passes south of Caernarfon and west of Bontnewydd. The new alignment crosses the WHR by means of a bridge just north of Bontnewydd Halt.

 

East Anglian Group meeting 13/12/18

David Gander reports: Our final meeting of 2018 will be held this Thursday 13/12/18 and will be our traditional ĎMince Pies and Membersí Slidesí event where we welcome contributions from visitors. If you have any of your own pictures or film you would like to show, please bring them along on disk or USB stick.

We take a break in January and will then meet again in February 2019. We meet at the Six Bells Pub, 9 High Street, Fulbourn, Cambridge CB21 5DH. We meet up any time after 6-6.30pm and an evening meal is available in the restaurant or bar. Prices are reasonable. The meetings are usually held in the Function Rooms, accessed from the car park at the rear of the pub, and start around 8pm with a halfway break for coffee (£1.20 per person). We finish around 10pm.

There is a charge of £2 per meeting for Group members, £3 for non-members. Fulbourn is easily accessible from the A14/M11 corridors and is served by Stagecoach bus Citi 1 (This bus runs every 30 minutes until 23.36, via Cambridge railway station where it arrives at 00.05) Car parking can be busy but there is space available on Church Lane, a 3-5 minute walk to the pub

You are most welcome to join us. We meet on the third Thursday of the month (excepting December when itís the second Thursday), with meetings held until May Ė with a break in January.

 

No.130's/No.134's boiler movements 7/10/18

By 5/12/18 No.130's boiler cradle was having its final coat of paint in anticipation of the boiler arriving on Wednesday 12/12/18.

No.130's boiler was finished by 7/12/18 and has departed the works of Northern Steam Engineering, Stockton, and is on its way to Wales Many thanks to Adam Dalgleish and his team in completing this challenging task. It may be a bit behind schedule but it looks like a superb job has been done. When it arrives at Dinas it will be craned into the frames this week. The return load will be No.134's boiler.

Pete Randall adds: 'The boiler off No.134 will be going to LMS in Loughborough for overhaul on Wednesday 12/12/18. The lorry bringing the new boiler for No.130 from Stockton will take it and one crane will do both lifts at Dinas. The NG134 Group will be working our socks off this weekend at Dinas (to get the boiler ready for departure-Ed).'

By 9/12/18 No.130's new cab was nearing completion. Window frames are being added as well all of the other detailed features. The whole cab will then be shot blasted to remove all of the rough edges and mill scale before a first primer is applied. It is planned to lift the boiler onto the cradle on 12/12/18.

 

Heritage Gala update

There has been some progress with plans for the Heritage Gala weekend 21-23/6/19. The weekend will feature a varied timetable of historic trains, including locomotives and carriages that worked on the railway prior to its closure in 1937, including Hunslet 2-6-2T Russell, the sole surviving locomotive built for the original PBSSR. Planning for the event is still at an early stage, but it is intended that heritage trains will be running in the section of line between Minffordd, Porthmadog and Beddgelert, during the intervals between regular passenger trains. This will provide an opportunity to experience the development of narrow-gauge railways over the past century. Welsh Pony may also be available, if completed in time, as it has already been announced that it has been requested for the Snowdonian Limited a few weeks later on 15/6/19.

 

Extra carriage added to Santa Train

With only two trains per day rather than three last year, demand has been high for the available places on WHR Santa Specials. The trains had been made longer than previous years to provide a similar number of seats. However, demand has been such that an extra coach needs to be added to WHR trains that run from Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu. Some trains are already fully booked. Weather is cooling down over the weekend from the recent mild spell to more typical December weather with snow on Snowdon. See F&WHR Santa page for full details.

 

Panoramic TfW coaches for North Wales?

TfW is to examine the possibility of panoramic coaches for North Wales to attract tourists to the delights of Snowdonia. Already lower density seating has been ordered with seats matching window spacing. This further step might include glass sections in the roof as used on Swiss scenic railways.

 

WHR micro ETS signalling authorised 3/12/18

On 3/12/18 an order was signed by the F&WHR to equip the WHR with micro-ETS. The system which uses a secure internet connection, has been in trial use between Pont Croesor and Beddgelert and avoids the use of lineside cabling which is subject to disruption in adverse weather conditions and potential theft. The system will use the redundant ETS equipment bought from Irish Railways several years ago. It is hoped that installation of the system will bring improved safety and operational flexibility to the WHR. The system has been developed with provision for the new starter signals being installed along the WHR.

Micro-ETS was developed by Roland Doyle, ex- Manager of WHR Construction Ltd. under the brand name HighRail. For full details on the Micro-ETS system see Roland Doyle's article on the WHR Society website.

 

No.130 progress 1/12/18

At Dinas, the hard work of plumbing up the lubrication system is well advanced. The copper and flexible pipework to connect up the system is being fitted and eventually primed with oil. One engine is about 75% complete whilst the other is just 50%. For images see No.130 Facebook page.

 

KS 4415 progress October/November 2018

The restoration of Kerr Stuart No.4415, the experimental diesel shunter that spent time on the WHR in 1928/9, saw more progress during the Autumn.

Volunteers were all kept busy over the ever popular Victorian Weekend (5-7/10/18), but they managed to squeeze in a bit of work on KS4415 in too. More fabrication of parts for the gearbox frame was carried out and the broken crankshaft from the McLaren engine has been boxed up and sent off. The crank is going to Farndon Racing in Coventry, who are going to measure it up and make a new one. This marks a big step forward for the MDB4 rebuild project and hopefully by the time the new crank arrives the Group will be able to turn their full attention to the engine. Until then there are a few jobs left to do on the chassis. Hopefully KS4415 will take a starring role in Heritage Galas/Victorian Weekends in the future.

On 21/10/18 the big piece of steel cut to make a new plate for the clutch and gearbox bearer to rest on was being worked on. The original was too wasted to be reused and it had been modified at some point. This weekend volunteers machined the steel accurately to size, drilled and riveted a piece of angle to it, and managed to get a coat of paint on everything. The area under where the plate fixes was also cleaned and painted and these jobs get the Group a step closer to refitting the gearbox.

On 3/11/18 volunteers were at Boston Lodge focusing on fabricating the new gearbox frame. The blocks they had machined and drilled a few weeks ago were welded in place and the assemblies were cleaned up and painted. The side that clamps over the layshaft was a good fit, but the other side has to sit over a tapered cast iron bearing. Due to the taper it was difficult to measure and know exactly how far up the taper the clamp would sit. Once it was offered up volunteers realised the hole would need to be opened out, so they did that on the horizontal borer. Other work carried out included painting the couplings and refitting the front one so it is in before they install the gearbox.

The KS4415 Group like to thank the Ffestiniog Railway Society Bristol Area Group for their generous donation of £1000 towards the project. Details of how to donate can be found by following this link.

On 25/11/18 the chassis was dragged out into the open again at Boston Lodge by works shunter Moel y Guest. Work taking place over that weekend saw an attempt at fitting the gearbox back in the frames. As should be expected, there were a number of issues that came up and, despite making some good progress towards sorting everything out, volunteers decided to leave the gearbox out and make a modification to the frame at our next working party. It will be a long job, abut they do not want to rush it o r cut corners. See picture captions for more details on KS4415 Facebook page. Further details of progress and images are also available on the KS4415 Blogspot.

 

Santa Specials 2018

WHR Santa Specials run over the next three weekends 8-9/12/18, 15-16/12/18 and 22-23/12/18. Trains leave Caernarfon at 1000 and 1340 and run to Rhyd Ddu. There are only two trains a day this year but they are record length trains with 11 coaches providing about the same number of seats as last year's three daily trains. This allows staff to have a lunch break. It is possible trains will run in the snow as last year. However the weather has warmed since the November cold snap. Passengers are to be greeted at the new Caernarfon station building, in use for the first time.

FR Santa Specials run Porthmadog to Beddgelert at 1100 and 1415. See F&WHR website for details.

 

Snow report 3/12/18

With warmer weather forecast until the weekend, only the mountain tops are forecast to receive fresh snow on Friday 7/12/18-Sunday 9/12/18 for the first Santa weekend.

 

Russell test trip YouTube 25/11/18

Mark Herbert of the WHHR has published a YouTube of Russell's test run to Beddgelert on 25/11/18. Click on the YouTube link to watch 21 mins and 42 seconds of video published 27/11/18.

 

No.134 November update

Recent working parties have been doing a substantial amount of work on the boiler and its associated components and fittings. This has included the cleaning out of the foundation ring, removal of handrail brackets, painting the outside of the boiler as well as refurbishment of components such as the main steam pipe, chimney etc. This work was to prepare the boiler ready for it to be sent away for overhaul, a landmark day for the project as this is the largest item for the loco and one that was still needing attention. Most of the effort spend on November's working party was also directed towards the boiler and its components.

The first job was the superheater header. Volunteers had cleaned and painted this last time and so this weekend (17-18/11/18) the team re-cut and lapped in the seating for the ends of the superheater tubes. Other boiler components worked on included the regulator stuffing box and gland. Both were cleaned and in the case of the stuffing box, also painted. The J-pipe also saw attention as this was still in situ in the boiler. This was duly removed and cleaned and also measured for the thickness of the casting. It is not unusual to see wear on the inside of the bend in the pipe and this was the case here with it down to a thickness of around 55% compared to the rest of the casting. Whilst the ultra-sonic thickness tester was to hand volunteers were also asked to measure the smokebox thickness as part of the Group's understanding of what the level of work would be needed on it.

Several of the team also cleared access to the boiler itself by moving/removing the various railway orientated bits and pieces that had accumulated round it over the years - as has been seen in the various photos of the boiler over the last few months. This is now clear to give unhindered access to the boiler by the vehicle that will come to collect it.

See NG15 website for images.

 

TRAWS news 26/11/18

TRAWS, the campaign to reconnect North and South Wales railways via the Cambrian Coast, reports that Aberystwyth Town Council has reaffirmed its support for the Aberystwyth-Carmarthen reopening, recently subject to a feasibility report. The scheme will require a new tunnelled approach to Aberystwyth that joins the existing Cambrian Coast line near Llanbadarn after crossing the VoR.

 

Blaenau Signal Box sign auction

The Bala & Ffestiniog Railway Heritage Trust, which is taking over the former BF&TR project, may bid for the 'Festiniog Station Signal Cabin' sign which is up for postal auction.

 

Waunfawr station progress 26/11/18

This northerly view (26/11/18) shows a week's progress with the new Waunfawr station building. The internal breeze block walls will be clad in a local stone outer layer to provide a heritage look whilst giving a smooth inner surface. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Stuart McNair (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Russell test run press releases 27/11/18

WHHR Press release

Members of the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway in Porthmadog, working with colleagues from the F&WHR Highland Railway are pleased to announce the only surviving WHR steam locomotive, Russell built by the Hunslet Engine Company in 1906 will be running on a section of the original Welsh Highland Railway in 2019! Russell successfully completed a gauging and inspection run on the 25/11/18 along part of the original line of the Welsh Highland Railway. This represents the first time the locomotive has travelled along this section since 1937, when it was on its way to Dinas to be locked away at the closing of the line.

 

This northerly view (25/11/18) shows the WHR(P)'s Russell taking the crossover at Pen-y-Mount before heading to Beddgelert. This is the first stage in the preparation of the locomotive for its possible participation in a Heritage Weekend involving the two railways in June 2019. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Michael Chapman (WHR(P)) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The run was made possible owing to the close working relationship between the two railways in preparation for Russell to appear at a special event in 2019 to celebrate the heritage of the Welsh Highland Railway. As part of the Welsh Highland Heritage Weekend between Friday 21-23/6/19 Russell will be working between the replica 1920s WHR halt at Pen-y-Mount, to Pont Croesor and on to Hafod-y-Llyn. Russell ran on another section of the line in 2000 when it ran from Caernarfon to Waunfawr. This will be the first opportunity for it to stretch its legs with a longer run since it was restored in 2014 to as close as possible the condition as-built in 1906, at a cost of over £350,000 all covered by private donations.

 

This northerly view (25/11/18) shows the WHR(P)'s Russell arriving at Pont Croesor. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Michael Chapman (WHR(P)) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (25/11/18) shows the WHR(P)'s Russell arriving at Hafod-y-llyn hauling WHR stock. Initially, this seems to be the proposed limit of Russell's running in the event Heritage Weekend Gala 21-23/6/19. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Michael Chapman (WHR(P)) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Mark Seale from the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway is project-managing the joint event on behalf of the WHHR and said: 'It was important for us to make sure that Russell was fit and well before we made a final commitment to participating in the event. We are aware that many railway enthusiasts are very keen to see Russell running up the line and this is something that we ourselves have wished for, for some time. The inspection run went very well and we are very excited to be supporting the event; we believe that working together we can make a valuable contribution and make the event in June a spectacular weekend. The primary goal for the inspection run was to ensure that Russellís rather special design of pony truck and running gear will negotiate the curves of the re-instated railway and ensure that enough movement from the trucks is evident on the tightest curve. Whilst the inspection run took place F&WHR engineers were invited to take a closer look at the locomotive. The locomotive team at the WHHR will now have the winter to prepare the locomotive.'

 

This northerly view (25/11/18) shows the WHR(P)'s Russell threading the tunnel's in the Aberglaslyn Pass. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Michael Chapman (WHR(P)) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (25/11/18) shows the WHR(P)'s Russell threading the tunnel's in the Aberglaslyn Pass. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Michael Chapman (WHR(P)) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (25/11/18) shows the WHR(P)'s Russell making slow run-pasts on the tight curves at Bryn-y-felin, while being inspected by staff, to see if the pony trucks performed acceptably. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Michael Chapman (WHR(P)) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Graham Farr, the Chairman at the WHHR added: 'This is another important milestone in the evolving WHR story. It demonstrates how Russell operated by the WHHR in Porthmadog can be used to complement and support the further development of the re-instated railway. WHHR members are looking forward to working with our F&WHR colleagues. Hopefully this will be a first step and the WHHR looks forward to operating more heritage trains beyond our station at Pen-y-Mount in the future.'

 

This southerly view (25/11/18) shows the WHR(P)'s Russell arrived at Beddgelert. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Michael Chapman (WHR(P)) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (25/11/18) shows the WHR(P)'s Russell at Beddgelert with the test team including members of the WHHR and the F&WHR's engineering departments. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Michael Chapman (WHR(P)) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (25/11/18) shows the WHR(P)'s Russell watering at the original WHR water tank that Russell will have used in the 1930s. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Michael Chapman (WHR(P)) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

F&WHR General Manager Paul Lewin comments: 'The 21-23/6/18 will be THE narrow gauge event of the year. 2019 is looking like being an epic year for the WHR 21 years on from the first trains running out of Caernarfon. Not only will we see the opening of two new stations we will also enjoy visiting locos that will go a long way toward recreating so many Welsh Highland heritage scenes of years gone by and some fascinating additional visitors too. The first visiting loco we can announce following the successful test last weekend is NWNGR locomotive Russell in the care of our friends at the WHHR. Keep a close eye on the press in coming months as we hope to announce further attractions for this long summer weekend.'

'I would like to add at this point that we have really enjoyed working with the team at WHHR on the technical tests. We are looking forward to sharing the pleasure of seeing Russell in action with our many supporters and friends.'

 

This southerly view (25/11/18) shows the WHR(P)'s Russell returning to Beddgelert Farm depot, pausing at Pont Croesor loop. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Michael Chapman (WHR(P)) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

See Michael Chapman's Flickr page for more images.

On 27/11/18 at 11am the F&WHR released a Press Statement that duplicated the WHHR's statement.

 

Peace breaks out? 25/11/18

This easterly view (25/11/18) shows the WHR(P)'s Russell arriving at Beddgelert hauling WHR stock, including NWNGR coach No.9 and the ex-VoR BR re-liveried brake van No.M135, for the first time since the railway closed on 5/9/1936. This secretive run successfully completed a gauging and inspection test on the WHR to Beddgelert, under the auspices of WHHR and Ff&WHR engineering and operating staff. This is the first stage in the preparation of the locomotive for its possible participation in a Heritage Weekend involving the two railways in June 2019. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Michael Chapman (WHR(P)) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

After the disappointment of the Hunslet Gala, when Russell did not appear, there is great news on the Russell front.

Paul Lewin (F&WHR General Manager) reports: 'Today (25/11/18) we completed a test run with Russell on the WHR. This was a success and our thanks go to the WHHR team. There will be more information in the coming days about plans for an event next year. In the mean time I know many of our teams wish to share some images from today. Thank you for you patience.'

Should negotiations reach a successful conclusion Russell will hopefully appear at the new Heritage Gala event 21-23/6/19. Many enthusiasts have waited over 20 years for this event and it is sure to draw huge crowds.

 

Click on the YouTube link to watch 2 mins 27 seconds of drone coverage video showing the WHR(P)'s Russell's test run to Beddgelert. This YouTube was published on 25/11/18 and was taken by Will Stratford using a drone camera. It is best watched in 2160p 4K HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively, View on YouTube where all options are available.

 

Snow reports

Snow reports will begin from 1/12/18. Snow is forecast for Rhyd Ddu on 27/11/18 if there are any PW workings about. Last year there was snow on some Santa Special days at Rhyd Ddu in December. However, weather is warming again later in the week.

 

Final Day of Prince workings to Hafod-y-llyn 24/11/18

Today is the final day of Prince workings from Porthmadog to Hafod-y-llyn WThSO. There may be snow on the mountains given the recent cold snap. Spooners is offering Winter Warmer comfort food. Trains depart Porthmadog at 1115 and 1405.

 

This westerly view (21/11/18) shows Prince backing onto a Hafod-y-llyn working in Porthmadog Harbour 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.

 

This northerly view (21/11/18) shows Prince hauling a Hafod-y-llyn working departing Porthmadog. 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.

 

Black Friday deals available on books until 27/11/18

The F&WHR is offering £15 off The 40 mile Railway and Fairlie Locomotives. The offer is available in shop or on line and at Warley Exhibition this weekend with prices reduced to £15 and £24.95 respectively. The Caernarfon booking office/shop will be open from Thursday-Saturday 1000-1600 on the lead up to Xmas for purchase of Santa special tickets etc. The Santa Special passengers will be able to use the new Caernarfon station building.

 

TfW chaos 20/11/18

There have been many complaints about Transport for Wales service reductions caused by wheel flats etc. this Autumn. Some jokers have rearranged the TfW acronym into a less than complimentary version of the initials. The Conwy Valley service has been bustituted with a slow bus service and no trains have operated for over a week and may not return until January. Wrexham-Bidston Borderland services appear to have been cancelled from Monday and the MANWAG may not appear next week either. Some services have been combined together and now, possibly for the first time, there is a Holyhead-Aberystwyth/Pwllheli service, via Birmingham International! The obvious solution to hire in loco hauled stock does not seem to have filtered through to the management levels of TfW. It will be some time before the new Class 230 is available as they have only just started test running on the Bedford-Bletchley service.

TfW has apologised and has stated over 25% of its trains out of service. See Daily Post report.

 

Work to start before Xmas on Caernarfon-Bontnewydd Bypass 19/11/18

Work will start within weeks on the A487 Caernarfon-Bontnewydd Bypass that runs from the end of the Y Felinheli Bypass at Plas Menai east of Caernarfon to the Goat Roundabout south of Dinas at Llanwnda. The route will cross the WHR just north of Bontnewydd Halt by means of a bridge and is an alternating side 3 lane road with intermediate roundabouts. The £135m 6 mile scheme will be opened by Spring 2021. Sadly there is no junction with the A4085 Beddgelert Road. See Daily Post report.

 

Work starts at Waunfawr 19/11/18

This northerly view (19/11/18) shows the start of work on the new Waunfawr station building, now fenced off with Heras fencing. The temporary wooden buildings are visible in the background. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Stuart McNair (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Bala & Festiniog Railway Trust launch

The successor organisation to the BF&TR, seeking to reopen the Blaenau Ffestiniog to Trawsfynydd Lake Halt branch, has published details of its forthcoming AGM now that the accounts of the previous support group have been sorted out. Network Rail asked the previous organisation to stop working on the project at the end of last year when it became clear work was not being done in accordance with the terms of the licence. Essex businessman Colin Dale, the previous promoter of the project, died in July.

The new group's AGM will be on Sunday 3/2/19 at 2pm with notices to be sent out to members in January. The Steering Committee proposes to launch the new organisation as a Trust and has secured the original Bala & Festiniog Railway seal to use as part of its logo. The eventual depot could be at Maentwrog Road or Trawsfynydd Lake, where the nuclear waste transhipment siding lies. The group has also constructed a new website where those interested can join the group.

The group has been made aware of trespass on the railway and, even though the line is disconnected at Blaenau Ffestiniog, reminds visitors that they should keep outside the boundary fence as it is still and offence to walk the route. Some sections near the summit of the Cwm Prysor Pass are however a public footpath. See BF&TR Facebook page.

 

WMWP 17/11/18

Good progress has been made during the Winter Major Works Programme at Boston Lodge. The Young Rail Professionals Group has been volunteering with the tracklaying of new points and plastic sleepers near the headshunt at the south end of Boston Lodge Carriage Shed. Some work was necessary to break out the rails from the concrete at the end of the existing Carriage Shed to align them with the new pointwork.

 

This northerly view (17/11/18) shows volunteers from the Young Rail Professionals Group laying points alongside the Heritage Carriage Shed. Two new points are included in the relay of six turnouts which will presumably give access to the new Carriage Shed to be constructed on the seaward side of the existing Carriage Shed on the left of this view. 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 southerly view (17/11/18) shows volunteers from the Young Rail Professionals Group laying points near the southern headshunt at Glan-y-mor. Two new points seen will presumably give access to the new Carriage Shed to be constructed on the seaward side of the existing Carriage Shed on the right of this view. There should be enough room in the headshunt for a Garratt loco. 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.

 

Santa Trains on the WHR

Santa Specials are to run on the WHR from Porthmadog to Beddgelert and Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu this December. The dates are 7-8/12/18, 14-15/12/18 and 22-23/12/15. The increasing success of the Caernarfon train has meant that for the second year trains are extended to Rhyd Ddu to allow more time for Santa to visit children on the train. Two trains will run at 1000 and 1340. In addition work may have started on the new Waunfawr station building in December. The Porthmadog workings are at 1100 and 1415. See F&WHR website for full details. Last year there were snowy scenes on some Santa specials with snow down to low levels and it is possible the six days of operation will again overlap with cold snowy weather this year.

 

20% of TfW trains hit by leaf fall

TfW has had to cancel 20% of trains due to so many DMUs being damaged by wheel slip. Trains have also been short-formed. Rail Head Treatment Trains have been running but the weather conditions and leaf fall seems to have overwhelmed this protective measure. One in five Transport for Wales trains is damaged by leaves on the track and out of service. See Wales Online website.

 

No.130 progress 14-24/11/18.

By 14/11/18 the new cab was over 50% complete at Dinas. The carrier plates for the wooden roof have been fixed and the wood purchased. Shortly the new window units will be trial fitted. Most of these have the glass fitted now.

By 19/11/18 WHR staff had constructed a dual purpose box to house the speedometer and to fit the lighting controls. No.130 will have a front and back LED light, plus a cab light, all driven from a battery. The control box will make the lighting controls very easy for the crews to use.

On 21/11/18 the second trial steaming of the boiler was held in advance of the formal out of frames steam test on 23/11/18. All went very well and the boiler was taken up to blowing off point several times. There were minimal weeps and the regulator works well.

On 23/11/18 the boiler passed its out of frame steam test witnessed by the inspector from British Engineering.

By 24/11/18 the header brackets had been made, drilled and bolted in position. The brackets will be riveted in position on Monday 3/12/18. Then the header can be permanently fitted using the brass ring. Finally, the elements will be fitted to complete the steam circuit.

For images, see No.130 Facebook page.

 

Heritage weekend 21-23/6/19

A new development for 2019 is the staging of a 'WHR Heritage Weekend' over 3 days (Friday-Sunday) in June next year. No details are to hand yet but enthusiasts hope that historic locos and trains that operated on the WHR will be made available, including possibly F&WHR's own Prince, Palmerston, Taliesin and a static Princess. Welsh Pony might be available if completed in time. Visiting locos could include Russell (from the WHHR) and Baldwin No.778 (possibly running as WHR No.590) from the Leighton Buzzard Light Railway. The F&WHR management has been encouraged by the success of the Heritage trains run in August to Tryfan Junction and Rhyd Ddu, which will operate again in August 2019.

 

The Snowdonian 13/4/19

Next year's The Snowdonian will run between Porthmadog-Blaenau Ffestiniog and Caernarfon with Lyd and Lyn (from L&BR) double heading on the WHR. The £200 cost includes breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea and a Friday evening visit to Boston Lodge Works. The Snowdonian Limited will run on 15/6/19. This train will run non-stop on the WHR, Garratt hauled from Boston Lodge and Welsh Pony has been requested if completed in time on the FR section. Bookings are open and First Class is already sold out. See Snowdonian website to book.

 

NG15 No.134 boiler to be repaired

No.134's boiler is being prepared for departure to be refurbished in December. It will travel on the same outbound lorry that will be returning NG16 No.130's new boiler. The bottom end of the loco is not far off complete after many volunteer monthly work parties over the years. The tender frame needs a new front drag box but the bogies and braking are almost complete. A new tank/bunker are sitting on No.133's tender chassis which only fit for moving it around slowly. It should not take long to pull it all together when the boiler returns. It is hoped the boiler work will reinvigorate the monthly work parties and the rest of the loco will be ready to accept the boiler when it returns. See NG15 No.134 Facebook page. Working Party dates are 17-18/11/18, 8-9/12/18, 19-20/1/19, 16-17/2/19 and 16-17/3/19.

 

Moving Pictures No 25 (12/11/18)

Click on the YouTube link to watch 29 mins 13 seconds of video covering end of season Autumn Gold scenes, Halloween trains and a dedication ceremony for the new War Memorial at Tan-y-bwlch to remember those F&WHR employees who lost their lives serving for their country in wars. This YouTube was published on 12/11/18 and was taken by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a professional 4K camcorder. It is best watched in 2160p 4K HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively, View on YouTube where all options are available.

 

No.130 boiler passes hydraulic test (10/11/18)

On 10/11/18 the new boiler for No.130 passed its cold hydraulic test at 380 psi (twice its normal working pressure) at the Stockton factory on Teeside. It is hoped the boiler will be delivered to the WHR soon so that assembly of No.130 can be completed for the 2019 season.

The basic structure of the new cab was complete by the same date. See No.130 Facebook page for images.

 

Prince for Hafod-y-llyn workings (10/11/18)

The Hafod-y-llyn Orange timetable sees two trains a day at 1115 and 1405 WThSO from Porthmadog. A small engine is sufficient for the duty as the line is level with 1 in 40 gradient beginning just beyond Hafod-y-llyn. Prince has been allocated for trains until 15/11/18.

 

WMWP 9-11/11/18

The Winter Major Works Programme has now started in earnest now that the end of season has seen a reduction in services. Embankment reconstruction in the Pont Croesor area was completed in time for the SWTO train service to Hafod-y-llyn on 10/11/18. Of interest to ex-Deviationists (such as your webmaster!) is rock trimming on the FR at Moelwyn Tunnel North Portal, which has been completed. The concrete foundation for the long awaited portal stonework has been cast. Many see this as the final completion of the Deviation Project. Next week volunteers start building the North Portal. Also on the FR at Whistling Curve the track has been lifted and formation is being prepared for new plastic sleepers.

 

This northerly view (9/11/18) shows the strengthened embankment just south of Pont Croesor with track relaid with fresh ballast and tamped. This is part of the original sand embankment built for the Croesor Tramway and was undermined by badgers who have been moved on with a special licence. 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 (9/11/18) shows the strengthened embankment with the original borrow pit now cleared to act as a field drain. 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.

 

Last weekend volunteers had a brief respite from trackwork and supported the Armistice service at Tan-y-Bwlch by organising the display of the WW1 rolling stock in the siding there, including Mountaineer (with smoke issuing from chimney!) that hauled trains in the early years on the WHR. The pace accelerates this weekend when the F&WHR welcomes a party of 19 from the Young Rail Professionals to the railway to lay track at Boston Lodge at the recently levelled south headshunt of the Carriage Shed. This includes new pointwork, presumably for the new Carriage Shed to be built on the recently reclaimed land.

 

This westerly view (11/11/18) shows Mountaineer and Moelwyn as part of a tableaux of First World War trench railway stock at Tan-y-bwlch to commemorate the armistice and dedicate a memorial to those that fought and died from the FR &WHR company staff. The smoke issuing from the chimney is probably an oily rag as this loco has been sidelines at Glan-y-pwll depot for many years. 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.

 

Caernarfon building completed 3/11/18

This southerly view (3/11/18) shows the completion of the station at Caernarfon on the day the Practical Completion Certificate was issued and security fencing was removed. Work has been underway for some time fitting out the structure. Unfortunately work stated across the road on rebuilding the triangle site with artisan workshops etc so the area still looks like a building site. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Stuart McNair (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

TfW wraps applied to WalesRail trains 12/11/18

The Transport for Wales fleet run by KeolisAmey, is slowly acquiring its new livery with internal upgrades and new external bilingual Envision print wrap etc. The £40 million investment will see the existing fleet being finished in the new TfW livery, both internally and externally. It will take 12 months to complete the fleet. Work is taking place at Alsthom's Chester depot to upgrade the fleet of 127 DMUs. The weekend makeover takes place at the same times as programmed maintenance to minimise disruption to services. See North Wales Chronicle report which includes a time lapse sequence of a train being refurbished.

 

Bow Station works starts in November 24/10/18

Work on the new Bow Street station a few miles outside Aberystwyth started on 2/11/18. The £7.95 transport hub will be useful as a park and ride for Aberystwyth where parking is difficult, especially at holiday times. Tracks will be levelled throughout the new station site, which is not on the original Bow Street station site. See Cambrian News story.

 

Slide scanning

Apologies for gap in updates. Slide scanning has now reached the 1990s are soon your webmaster's archive of never before published WHR construction photos will be available. The increased scan rate comes from having a second four slide magazine that the Minolta DiMage Scan Dual III (as well as a spare scanner, just in case!...one failed after 2,000 slides were scanned!!). So the second set of slides can be cleaned and prepared whilst the first is being scanned. Some of the slides appear on the North Wales Coast Railway website that also covers Cambrian Coast and narrow gauge news each week. Others appear on the Railways of North Wales Facebook page (members only).

 

Orange Timetable starts 10/11/18

The WHR's main season trains finished on Saturday 3/11/18, however FR trains continued until 8/11/18. The WHR's Orange timetable starts on 10/11/18 and trains runs from Porthmadog to Hafod-y-llyn SWThO for 3 weeks until 24/11/18. Trains depart at 1115 and 1405 and the timetable advises that they can only be joined at Porthmadog. See F&WHR website for details and the Low Season timetable poster is available here. The service is hauled by small FR locos and turns back at Hafod-y-llyn as they cannot handle the load on the 1 in 40 north of that point.

 

Three Garratts 5/11/18

This northerly view (5/11/18) shows three Garratts at Dinas as seen from South Yard. Left to right are Nos. 143/138 and the frame of No.87 after removal of the boiler and superstructure for its 10 year overhaul. Ex-Shotton Steelworks shunter Bill is works pilot. 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.

 

Winter Major Works Programme 5/11/18

The WMWP has commenced and, with a very busy few months ahead, the PW team has started work. The track at the rear of Boston Lodge Carriage Shed was lifted on 5/11/18. Three new points will be installed and operational by Christmas allowing access to the new extended Carriage Shed when construction starts in the future. Some 200 tonnes of Minffordd quarries ballast as been delivered and 700 new plastic sleepers drilled and awaiting loading for delivery to the site.

 

This northerly view (5/11/18) shows the headshunt lifted alongside the Heritage Carriage Shed at Boston Lodge. Three new points will be installed here with eventual access to the new Carriage Shed to be constructed on made ground to the left of the existing carriage shed. 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.

 

No. 130 Update 1-7/11/18

By 1/11/18 the final blanking plates had been fitted plus the dome nuts tightened and are all downwards now for neatness. The boiler is being painted in gleaming red. It cannot be long now before the hydraulic test.

By 2/11/18 the boiler backhead was now complete and the Boilermakers plate applied. The final wash out plugs of the foundation ring was made and the remaining plugs fitted.

By 3/11/18 work on the boiler was nearing completion. All of the wash out plugs drilled, tapped and inserted and the smokebox end is finished until the hydraulic test is complete. Then the header and elements will be added.

By 6/11/18 the cab roof was being constructed back at Dinas.

 

Garratt failure blights final days of Autumn service 1/11/18

On 1/11/18 the 10:00 train from Caernarfon did not depart until 11:00 hauled by diesel Vale of Ffestiniog, presumably after the Funkey was rushed up from Porthmadog. The return train to Caernarfon - the 14:15 ex-Porthmadog - was also be diesel hauled. The 10:00 ex-Caernarfon and 14:15 ex-Porthmadog trains was to continue to be diesel-hauled until further notice until the end of the timetable on 3/11/18. The incident emphasises the need to have a mainline diesel at Dinas capable of hauling a full rake. Castell Caernarfon's return to service cannot come quickly enough as it has now been out of service for about 2 years.

 

Events 2018/9

1/1/18 Final day of Mince Pie Specials
10-18/2/18 Hugh Napier and Velinheli on display at Kings Cross
10-25/2/18 Purple timetable Porthmadog-Beddgelert MFX
3-15/3/18 Orange timetable Porthmadog to Hafod-y-llyn MTFX
14/4/18 The Snowdonian
12/5/18 Caernarfon Food Festival (Extra services)
18-20/5/18 Rail-Ale 14th Annual Beer Festival based at Dinas
9/6/18 The Snowdonian Limited- a limited stop re-run of The Snowdonian
16-18/6/18 Hugh Napier at Bala Lake Railway steam gala
21/6 and 23-4/6/18 Palmerston at Bala Lake Railway
22-25/6/18 Hunslet 125 Gala celebrating Blanche and Linda's 125th Birthday
9/7/18 Special timetable for Railtour
5-26/8/18 Sundays Journey to the Past special Dinas-Rhyd Ddu with Prince and two heritage coaches with an extended stop at Tryfan Junction for refreshments, including packed lunch
10-11/8/18 Lilla to Visit Shrewsbury Flower Show Quarry Park, Shrewsbury
14-16/9/18 Lyn to visit SuperPower (WHR AGM 15/9/18)
29-30/9/18 Lyd visit to L&BR Gala
29-30/9/18 Lilla to visit Buckfastleigh on the SDR
5-7/10/18 FR Victorian Weekend (includes some WHR events on 5/10/18)
31/10/18 WHR Halloween Train
8-9/12/18 WHR Santa Specials (Caernarfon-Rhyd Ddu and Porthmadog-Beddgelert both twice a day)
15-16/12/18 WHR Santa Specials (Caernarfon-Rhyd Ddu and Porthmadog-Beddgelert both twice a day)
22-23/12/18 WHR Santa Specials (Caernarfon-Rhyd Ddu and Porthmadog-Beddgelert both twice a day)
27/12/18-1/1/19 WHR Mince Pie Specials (Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu twice daily)
13/4/19 'The Snowdonian' with Lyd and Lyn
17-19/5/19 Rail-Ale 15th Annual Beer Festival based at Dinas
15/6/19 The Snowdonian Limited-a limited stop re-run of The Snowdonian
21-23/6/19 WHR 'Past Present and Future'-details awaited, possibly including Russell
4-25/8/19 Sundays Journey to the Past special Dinas-Rhyd Ddu possibly with Prince and two heritage coaches with an extended stop at Tryfan Junction for refreshments, including packed lunch
4-6/10/19 FR Victorian Weekend (may include some WHR events)
7-8/12/19 WHR Santa Specials (routes to be confirmed)
14-15/12/19 WHR Santa Specials (routes to be confirmed)
21-22/12/19 WHR Santa Specials (routes to be confirmed)

 

Mainline news

There will be a series of railtours both to and from North Wales in 2018 while de-fuelling and removing contaminated material from Wylfa Nuclear Power Station will continue for another year at least providing the only freight traffic on the route. In recent years steam on the North Wales Coast/Blaenau Ffestiniog has declined and steam on the Cambrian disappeared due to NR reneging on its promise to provide a mobile ERTMS unit. Railtours are diesel hauled unless otherwise specified. It is good to see a few railtours starting from Bangor but sad to see nothing on the Cambrian again!

14/4/18 'North Wales Coast Express' Crewe to Llandudno/Holyhead (steam throughout on main line) from Crewe Saphos Rail.

28/4/18 'The Ynys Mon Express' Leicester to Holyhead (steam) Tornado UKRT.

2/6/18 'North Wales Coast Express' Crewe to Llandudno/Holyhead (steam throughout on main line) Saphos Rail.

14/6/18 'Three Peaks' Private charter Crewe to Bangor

15/6/18 'Three Peaks' Private charter Bangor to Ravenglass and Fort William

12/7/18 'The Conwy Valley Explorer' Dumfries to Betws-y-coed (47/57 throughout) West Coast Rail.

19/7/18 'The Royal Windsor Express II' Bangor (and stations to Chester) to Windsor West Coast Rail.

22/7/18 'The North Wales Coast Express' Manchester Piccadilly-Llandudno/Holyhead steam throughout on main line) RTC.

24/7/18 'The Welsh Mountaineer' Preston to Blaenau Ffestiniog (steam) RTC.

4/8/18 'The William Shakespeare' Bangor (and stations to Crewe) to Stratford-on-Avon (steam throughout) Saphos Rail.

30/8/18 'The Conwy Valley Explorer II' Harrogate to Betws-y-coed (47/57 throughout) West Coast Rail.

29/9/18 'The Ynys Mon Express' Leicester to Blaenau Ffestiniog/Holyhead (Tornado) UK Railtours

13/10/18 'North Wales Coast 40' Crewe-Blaenau Ffestiniog/Holyhead (40013/D213 Andania) Saphos Rail

17/10/18 'The Pendle Dalesman III' Bangor (and stations to Chester) to Carlisle (steam Hellifield-Carlisle) West Coast Rail.

19/10/18 'Tenth Anniversary Tour' Chester to Blaenau Ffestiniog/Holyhead (Tornado) Private.

3/11/18 'Ruby Venom' Trackbash Crewe to Borderlands Line with WCR Class 33 Branch Line Society

 

Trackwork Volunteering 2018

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. 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 2018 is as follows:

January 6-7/1/18 13-18/1/18WW 20-21/1/18    
February 3-4/2/18 10-15/2/18WW 17-18/2/18    
March 3-4/3/18 10-15/3/18WW 17-18/3/18   31/3/18-^
April -1/4/18   14-15/4/18^   26-27/4/18
May   12-13/5/18 19-24/5/18WW 26-27/5/18  
June   9-10/6/18   23-24/6/18  
July   7-8/7/18 14-19/7/18WW 21-22/7/18  
August   4-5/8/18   18-19/8/18  
September 2-3/9/18 8-13/9/18WW 16-17/9/18   29-30/9/18
October     13-14/10/18   27-28/10/18
November 3-8/11/18WW 10-11/11/18   24-25/11/18  
December 1-6/12/18WW 8-9/12/18      
January 5-6/1/19 12-17/1/19WW 19-20/1/19    
February 2-3/2/19 9-14/2/19WW 16-17/2/19    
March 2-3/3/19 9-14/3/19WW 16-17/3/19   30-31/3/19
April     13-14/3/19   27-28/4/19
May   11-12/5/19 18-23/5/19WW 25-26/5/19^  
June   8-9/6/19   22-23/6/19  
July   6-7/7/19 13-18/7/19WW 20-21/7/19  
August 3-4/8/19   17-18/8/18   31/8/19-
September -1/9/198 7-12/9/19WW 15-16/9/19   29-30/9/19
October     12-13/10/19   26-27/10/19
November 2-7/11/19WW! 9-10/11/19   23-24/11/18 30-/11/19WW!
December -5/12/19WW! 7-8/12/19      

^ Bank Holiday weekend

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

WW-Working week Saturday-Thursday

The Tuesday Gang expects to be operating most Tuesdays.

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

Contacts

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

Tuesday Gang:

Contact Tony Baker for details. Phone: 01492 874579 Email: SPUDDY43@aol.com

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

Rest of The World Gang (ROWG):Paul Bradshaw Phone: 01766 770034 Email: pbradshaw@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.

 

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!

 

Gradient profile.JPG (319064 bytes)

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.

 

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

 

V4.3699 updated 14/12/18