Welsh Highland Railway

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V4.4049

News (25/7/21)

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Star Picture

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

Route section pages

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

 

Phase 4 pages

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

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

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

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

Beddgelert Station Area (updated 30/6/07)

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

Aberglaslyn Pass (updated 2/7/07)

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

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

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

Porthmadog Cross Town Link (updated1/4/07)

 

Other pages

The 40km Dream Phase 1 (Updated 12/2/21)

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

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

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

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

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

Archived News Page (updated 1/7/21)

Snow Scenes (updated 25/11/20)

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

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

Volunteer Contact details page (updated 23/6/21)

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

Video list (new 9/11/15)

Access to Phase 2 pages is currently being progressed.

 

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

Isengard@talktalkdotnet

This has been introduced as an anti-spam feature.

Disclaimer

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

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

 

Stop Press!!

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

New text in RED!

 

News Section

WHR timetables

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

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

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

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

Click here for John Sreeves Gradient profile courtesy of WHRS

Click here for Chainages and OS Map Reference

 

F&WHR traffic 25/7/21

Porthmadog dawned sunny with a maximum temperature of 25C forecast, so a beach day. The Mountain Prince has been cut back to three afternoon trains to accommodate The Snowdonian special. All three trains were sold out before 09:00. The Snowdonian was due to leave at 10:00 for Blaenau Ffestiniog so it is uncertain why the F&WHR cancelled the 11:05. It is possibly a return path issue. There are still compartments available on the 13:40 Glaslyn Venturer. The morning train could not run as the set was being used for The Snowdonian special. there are compartments available on the Gelert Explorer on Sunday but Monday's and Tuesday's trains are fully booked.  

Upnor Castle crossed The Cob at about 08:20 to shunt the yard while steam was being raised at Boston Lodge. The driver had to walk to the signal box and set the points himself as the signalbox had not yet been opened. The loco eventually arrived in the yard at 08:29. At 08:43 the Glaslyn Venturer rake was hauled out of the yard onto The Cob and shunted back into the WHR platform, arriving at 08:48. Upnor Castle uncoupled immediately and returned to the FR platform at 08:51.

At 09:40 three England engines coupled to the front of the Glaslyn Venturer set which left at 10:00 with Palmerston piloting Welsh Pony and Prince passing Minffordd at 10:10. As the Glaslyn Venturer set was diagrammed on a public train at 13:40, the train was likely to be back from Blaenau at 13:00 after a 3 hour trip, to allow the rake to be cleaned before reuse. The Snowdonian arrived at Tan-y-bwlch at 10:46 and left within 10 minutes.

 

This westerly view at 10:10 on 25/7/21 shows Palmerston, Welsh Pony and Prince hauling The Snowdonian through Minffordd. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This westerly view at 10:46 on 25/7/21 shows Palmerston, Welsh Pony and Prince hauling The Snowdonian arriving at Tan-y-bwlch. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

At 12:25 Blanche departed Porthmadog with the C set passing Minffordd at 12:37 and the returning Snowdonian in the loop. The Snowdonian left the loop after a slight delay at 12:54 arriving in the WHR platform at 13:04 ready for the 13:40 Glaslyn Venturer. On the return journey the train was hauled by Welsh Pony and Prince. Palmerston appeared light engine coming across The Cob a few minutes later and may have been detached at Minffordd. Palmerston ran to the yard at 13:09. This was followed by Welsh Pony then Prince by 13:12 which allowed No.130 to enter the station and couple to the front of the Glaslyn Venturer.

Up at Tan-y-bwlch, Britomart was Dduallt pilot for a change and the 12:25 Mountain Prince departed Tan-y-bwlch for Dduallt at 13:33. Britomart had previously gone up to Dduallt with the ash train. Palmerston extracted the B set from the yard at 13:15 and shunted the rake to the FR platform for the 13:40 Mountain Prince at 13:18 before shunting to the watering point at 13:20. No.130 was coupled up by 13:22. The two 13:40 trains left on time simultaneously with the Mountain Prince in the hands of Welsh Pony passing Minffordd at 13:52.

 

This easterly view at 13:07 on 25/7/21 shows Welsh Pony running around the returned The Snowdonian with Prince still attached. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The 15:00 Mountain Prince arrived back in Porthmadog hauled by Palmerston and Prince into the WHR platform at 18:03. The pair ran round at 18:12. Palmerston worked to the fuel and watering point at 18:17 light engine while Prince was used to propel the rake to the seawall siding at 18:21. Palmerston came out of the yard and waited by the signalbox at 18:25 for a conference with the signalman about the disposal movements. Prince went to take water at 18:30 and the two locos coupled up at 18:35 before leaving for the depot at 18:38 to close the activities for the day.

Today is the last day of the Mountain Prince trains with the Woodland Wanderer taking over the Tan-y-bwlch operations offering up to six daily trains with no Dduallt extension. These trains run until 5/9/21 when the timetable is revised again. The TWThO Back to Blaenau service begins next week and is already fully booked from 27/7/21-19/8/21! The FSO Harbourmaster Porthmadog-Caernarfon train from Saturday 31/7/21 is already fully booked on that date but the Snowdonia Star also FSO Caernarfon-Porthmadog starting from 31/7/21 still has compartments available!

 

Llangollen Railway

Four MkI coaches (plus one spare) have had their fitness to run exams and are signed off ready to start loco hauled services in early August. It is expected that from 9/8/21 steam trains will operate to Carrog at weekends with green GWR 2-8-0 No.3802 (the only main line steam loco available) and a mix of DMU and loco hauled trains mid week using Class 26 No.26010 (as 5310 in green). Work was underway rebuilding the west end points at Glyndyfrdwy and rails for the work in Berwyn Tunnel were delivered.

 

F&WHR traffic 24/7/21

Porthmadog was set to have a milder day with sunny periods after a murky start and a forecast 25C maximum temperature. The running of The Snowdonian special, held over from last year, was disrupting schedules a little over the weekend. On Saturday the Glaslyn Venturer rake was used for a Porthmadog to Caernarfon return service. This was probably the first return service on the route since the start of the epidemic. All five Mountain Prince trains were bookable today indicating more holidaymakers were focussed on beach holidays.

The Glaslyn Venturer rake was shunted to the WHR platform by 08:45 and the diesel remained attached. No.87/130 left Boston Lodge by 09:03 and came across The Cob to couple to the rake providing double Garratt haulage. No.87 must have arrived light engine from Dinas on Friday. The locos shunted individually so that No.87 was inside and No.130 piloting.

 

This easterly view at 09:11 on 24/7/21 shows No.130 carrying The Snowdonian headboard shunting onto the front of No.87 to haul . Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This easterly view at 09:40 on 24/7/21 shows No.130 carrying The Snowdonian headboard piloting No.87 departing Porthmadog . Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The train left on time at 09:40 and Upnor Castle remained behind at the end of the WHR platform while the loco for the 10:00 Mountain Prince came across The Cob and coupled directly to the B set in the FR platform. Upnor Castle returned to the depot at 09:50. Prince left on time at 10:00. Welsh Pony was waiting at Tan-y-bwlch at 10:35 on Dduallt shunt duties. Prince arrived at 10:47 and Welsh Pony coupled up to the rear at 10:50, departing for Dduallt at 10:55.Blanche came over for the 11:05 and shunted the A set from the seawall siding to the FR platform. The train departed at 11:17, a record 12 minutes late, presumably delayed by late running passengers. Meanwhile Welsh Pony arrived back at Tan-y-bwlch at 09:23 with Prince.

Palmerston arrived light engine in Porthmadog at 11:45 to shunt the C set to the FR platform for the 12:25 Mountain Prince service. This train was sold out by midday but the two later trains still had free compartments. The train departed at 12:31, some 6 minutes late, presumably awaiting the late arrival of booked passengers. At 16:10 Palmerston left Porthmadog light engine for the depot but came back at 16:31 to shunt of the C set from the 12:25 back into the yard.

The return leg of The Snowdonian was due to leave Caernarfon at 14:20 and was expected to arrive in Porthmadog about 16:30 if travelling at normal linespeed. However, No.130 returned with the rake at 16:30 as expected but having dropped off No.87, probably at Dinas as it is needed for the Gelert Explorer on Sunday. At 16:45 the rake was propelled into the FR sidings as it was booked to do an afternoon trip on Sunday. The Garratt left light engine for the depot at 16:52.

Prince arrived with the B set at about 17:15 allowing Palmerston to drag the C set to Boston Lodge for programmed maintenance a few minutes later. Prince then ran round at 17:19 and propelled the rake to the yard at 17:30. The loco left light engine for the depot at 17:36. Welsh Pony arrived at 17:57 on the return working of the 15:00 with Blanche attached to the rear into the FR platform as the run round was clear with one rake previously taken to Boston Lodge.. This was unusual in that the Dduallt shunt loco returned with the train and the train engine had not run round at Tan-y-bwlch. At 18:06 Blanche propelled the rake to the seawall siding leaving Welsh Pony to coal and water ready for Sunday's The Snowdonian on the FR. Welsh Pony coupled to the rear of Blanche at 1812. The pair left light engine for the depot at 18:13. Unusually, Palmerston came back later in the evening to shunt stock, presumably ready for the following day's The Snowdonian to conclude the activities for the day.

 

This easterly view at 19:18 on 24/7/21 shows Palmerston back in Porthmadog performing an evening shunt of the C set presumably to prepare stock for Sunday's The Snowdonian. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Two of the three Mountain Prince trains on Sunday are sold out leaving the 15:00 the only one with compartments available. It is possible to add another train as only one set is OOU for The Snowdonian. Both Sunday's afternoon Glaslyn Venturer and the Gelert Explorer have compartments free.

 

F&WHR traffic 23/7/21

Friday was another hot day in Porthmadog with 29C forecast so another beach day for many holidaymakers. Five Mountain Prince trains are due to run today with the 11:05 and 13:40 already sold out. The next Glaslyn Venturer is on Sunday 25/7/21 and only the 13:40 will run. It is still bookable as is the next Gelert Explorer, also bookable on Sunday. No.87 will probably run light engine to Porthmadog today as it is needed to double head The Snowdonian special on Saturday. Various timetable alterations are being made to accommodate The Snowdonian on Saturday and Sunday with most passengers having retained their bookings from the cancelled 2020 trains as no booking advertising has been seen. On Saturday the special will run from Porthmadog to Caernarfon and back presumably using the Glaslyn Venturer set. On Sunday only 3 Mountain Prince trains will run as one rake or path may be used for The Snowdonian on a return journey from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Welsh Pony had arrived early for the 10:00 Mountain Prince and was already in the FR platform coupled up to the B set by 09:45. The train left on time with a well filled train passing Minffordd at 10:11. Moelwyn was already at Tan-y-bwlch at 10:15 waiting for its duties as Dduallt pilot.

Blanche arrived at Porthmadog at 10:38 to extract the A set from the seawall siding. The rake was shunted into the FR platform at 10:46 ready for the 11:05 Mountain Prince which made a start on time then stopped a couple of coach lengths along the platform and restarted at 11:07.

David Lloyd George arrived later and shunted the C set to the FR platform by midday for the 12:25 Mountain Prince which left on time. Upnor Castle was noted emerging with wagons from Minffordd yard in the afternoon. 

All five Saturday's Mountain Prince trains are bookable. Saturday's Snowdonian Special leaves Porthmadog at 09:40 and returns from Caernarfon at 14:20 presumably using the Glaslyn Venturer rake.

 

Welsh COVID rules

It seems some holidaymakers from England think Boris Johnson's 'Freedom Day' applies in Wales. Here is a gentle reminder that the rules are different in Wales.

CROESO I GYMRU • WELCOME TO WALES - it's a different country..! It's great to see all our visitors heading back into Wales for the summer holidays - but, please remember, our Covid rules are not the same as those in place 'across the border'. Currently, under Welsh Government guidelines, face coverings are still required in indoor public places - and on public transport - with a 2m social distancing rule still applying indoors. Please help us keep you, your family and all those around you safe while you're on holiday.

DO I NEED TO WEAR A FACE COVERING at the F&WHR..? We ask that visitors wear face coverings when using our station facilities and boarding the train. Once onboard you should wear a mask if travelling in one of our modern, saloon-style carriages on the 'Back to Blaenau', ‘Gelert Explorer’, ‘Glaslyn Venturer’, 'Snowdonia Star' or 'The Harbourmaster' services. If travelling in a family compartment on one of our heritage services - the ‘Woodland Wanderer’ and ‘Mountain Prince’ - masks are not mandatory once you have entered your compartment. Thank you in advance for your co-operation - we're all looking forward to the time when we can get back to a more 'normal' way of life, and by following the HANDS - FACE - SPACE guidelines we'll get there all the sooner...

 

F&WHR traffic 22/7/21

It was another hot sunny day at Porthmadog with 30C maximum temperatures forecast, so another beach day! Nevertheless the first three Mountain Prince trains were sold out with compartments still available on the 13:40 and 15:00, though it looked like people chose the Open coaches rather than No.21! The 10:15 Glaslyn Explorer was almost full showing 'Call to book' but there were plenty of seats on the afternoon working. The F&WHR's Porthmadog webcam was operating in a degraded mode showing low-res images in the morning that were still ghosting. 

No.130 arrived at 09:35 to extract the Glaslyn Venturer rake. The Glaslyn Venturer was propelled into the WHR platform at 09:48 but the run round was delayed for the arrival of the second loco. It appeared that the loco for the 10:00 Mountain Prince was going to be late for the second day running as it only left Boston Lodge at 09:50. Welsh Pony and Moelwyn arrived at 09:56 with the B set. This allowed No.130 to run round and couple to the Glaslyn Venturer at 10:03. Moelwyn and Welsh Pony ran round coupling up at 10:03 repeating yesterday's variation of the working timetable. The pair departed hauling the 10:00 Mountain Prince at 10:05, some 5 minutes late with Moelwyn leading. Upnor Castle passed Minffordd light engine at 10:17 heading for Boston Lodge after the Mountain Prince had passed. No.130 departed 3 minutes late at 10:18.

David Lloyd George turned up light engine and at 10:40 shunted the A set from the seawall siding to the FR platform at 10:44 for the 11:05 Mountain Prince departure. Welsh Pony's train arrived at Tan-y-bwlch 10:45 and Moelwyn uncoupled and ran round a few minutes later to the rear carrying the Mountain Prince headboard. Moelwyn coupled to the rear up at 10:52 and the train departed for Dduallt at 10:56. The Fairlie left Porthmadog on time at 11:05.

At 11:36 Blanche arrived to shunt the sidings for the 12:25 Mountain Prince. David Lloyd George and the A set was back in Porthmadog in the afternoon and the loco ran round and coupled to the rake at 14:49. The train left on time at 15:00 but was not fully booked. The returning 15:00 Mountain Prince seemed to stop at Boston Lodge to drop off Moelwyn from the rear at 17:45 before continuing to the station. David Lloyd George pulled into the WHR platform at 17:54 before running round and heading for the watering point. At 18:11 the Fairlie returned to draw the rake out of the WHR platform and propel it to the seawall siding. The loco left light engine at 18:21 for the depot bringing the activity for the day to a close. 

Tomorrow's services see two of the five Mountain Prince trains (11:05 and 13:40) fully booked. On Sunday just the afternoon Glaslyn Venturer is running at 13:40 and it still has compartments available as does the Gelert Explorer from Caernarfon.

 

F&WHR traffic 21/7/21

It was another warm sunny day at Porthmadog with 27C maximum temperatures forecast so another beach day! Five Mountain Prince trains were booked to run with two fully booked (12:25/13:40). The Glaslyn Venturer afternoon service has compartments available to book.

At 09:40 No.130 extracted the Glaslyn Venturer rake from the yard and shunted it into the WHR platform. Moelwyn was waiting unusually at the Trident signal and arrived in the yard at 09:43 to shunt the sidings and attach to the rear of the 10:00 Mountain Prince. Normally Moelwyn goes to Tan-y-bwlch light engine so it is ready at 10:45 for the arrival of the train. No.130 then ran round coupling up at 09:50 while the loco for the 10:00 Mountain Prince came across The Cob somewhat later than usual at 09:50. Welsh Pony shunted out of the sidings after watering at 10:04 and coupled to Moelwyn in the sidings. The pair shunted onto the Mountain Prince in the FR platform at 10:08 with the train departing a surprising 10 minutes late at 10:10, possibly the latest they have been! The Glaslyn Venturer left on time.

Blanche arrived at 10:27 to shunt the A set from the seawall siding to the FR platform for the 11:05 Mountain Prince service. The train was shunted into the platform at 10:35, half an hour before the departure, which was on time. David Lloyd George turned up light engine at 11:54 and shunted the C set to the FR platform before leaving on time at 12:25. The train arrived at Tan-y-bwlch at 13:20. Blanche was back at Porthmadog in the afternoon and ran round the A set at 14:41 for the 15:00 Mountain Prince.

At 18:12 Blanche was shunting the A set back to the seawall siding to dispose the stock from the returned 15:00 Mountain Prince service. The loco left light engine for Boston Lodge at 18:20 bringing an end to the activity of the day.

Thursday is a busy day with the first three Mountain Prince trains already sold out but there is room on the 13:40 and 15:00. Both of Thursday's Glaslyn Venturer trains have spare compartments but the Gelert Explorer is sold out with the next available compartments being on Sunday's train on 25/7/21.

 

F&WHR traffic 20/7/21

Porthmadog dawned warm again and cloudless with 26C maximum temperatures forecast so holidaymakers are probably going to the beach rather than the railway. The F&WHR has thus only offered three Mountain Prince trains today and only the 15:00 is available to book but this was partly due to the need to keep a rake for the special Blaenau-Tan-y-bwlch working in association with the Welsh Mountaineer excursion arriving at Blaenau Ffestiniog at midday.. The Glaslyn Venturer is also running today but the 10:15 is sold out and only the 13:40 has compartments free. The Gelert Explorer is fully booked until Thursday 22/7/21.

A contributor has advised 'The mystery shunt that you observed today (20/7/21) with Upnor Castle was to put the top end observation car (No.101?) onto the back of the A set instead of No.113 which ended up in the corridor coach rake that was later shunted by Upnor Castle.' Prince later hauled this rake to meet the Welsh Mountaineer railtour at Blaenau Ffestiniog with Scots Guardsman.

 

This northerly view on 20/7/21 shows Prince arriving with the C set at Blaenau Ffestiniog carrying the Back to Blaenau headboard. Scots Guardsman waits departure from the NR loop tracks with the Welsh Mountaineer. Prince was to haul an excursion to Tan-y-bwlch and back for the passengers from the Welsh Mountaineer. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy Chris Parry (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Boston Lodge released a loco at 09:20 and No.130 arrived at 09:25 hauling its full 10 coach rake from the Carriage Shed directly to the WHR platform for the 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer departure. a second engine was released at 09:40 and came across The Cob. Merddin Emrys arrived at 09:47 with the B set from the Carriage Shed for the 10:00 Mountain Prince straight into the FR platform. The loco then ran round at 09:50. Upnor Castle arrived light engine from Boston Lodge at 09:50 and ran to the seawall siding to couple to the A-set to shunt later. Merddin Emrys departed on time at 10:00 and Moelwyn was already at Tan-y-bwlch at that time waiting for its Dduallt pilot duties. At 10:02 Upnor Castle emerged from the sidings to shunt the A set into a different siding without the Open Carriage on the rear. Second thoughts saw the rake returned to the seawall siding at 10:13. At 10:15 No.130 left on time for Beddgelert. Upnor Castle re-emerged at 10:19 with coach No.37 attached to the rear of the A set and propelled the rake to the FR platform for the 11:05 Mountain Prince service. The loco detached and continued to shunt the yard at 10:25 drawing an unknown 5 saloon rake out of the yard and shunting to the seawall siding.

At 10:41 Blanche arrived and connected directly to the 11:05 Mountain Prince rake in the FR platform. There was no 12:25 Mountain Prince train as services had been cut back to just 3 today and even then the 15:00 still had compartments free at midday. It was therefore surprising that Prince arrived in Porthmadog light engine at around 11:35 and ran into the FR platform. After coaling and watering the loco backed onto the C set and drew it out of the sidings at 12:25 heading off ECS in the path of the 12:25 Mountain Prince arriving in Tan-y-bwlch at 13.25. It left at 13:31 without Moelwyn on the rear and was probably meeting Scotsman Guardsman on the Welsh Mountaineer railtour in Blaenau Ffestiniog to offer the passengers a return trip to Tan-y-bwlch. Blanche ran round at Tan-y-bwlch at 13:38. Down at Porthmadog No.130 departed on time with the 13:40 Glaslyn Venturer.

Blanche arrived back with the return working of the 15:00 Mountain Prince at 17:55 in the FR platform. The loco ran round at 1805 and at 18:10 propelled the rake to the seawall siding. The loco then ran light engine to the depot at 18:15 bringing activity at Porthmadog to a close. 

The 15:00 Mountain Prince was fully booked by 13:30 and the second Glaslyn Explorer was busy offering compartments to people who had found out too late there were only 3 Mountain Prince trains today. As a result the 13:40 was showing the unusual message 'Call to book'. The Back to Blaenau trains are already fully booked for the first four weeks from 27/7/21 until 19/8/21!  

 

Back to Blaenau preparations

With services due to start next week, the F&WHR would like to offer a grateful thanks to their dedicated team of volunteers and staff who have been busy renovating Blaenau Ffestiniog Station. The team have been working hard to get the station ready in time for the return of steam trains from 27/7/21 with the Back to Blaenau service. An array of materials which were already in stock were used in the renovation project to keep costs low and thanks to their fantastic work, the station now looks as good as new. The work carried out by all volunteers and staff on this project and others across the railway is massively appreciated and plays an important role in keeping the railway steaming!

The F&WHR's Back to Blaenau service will run the full length of the Ffestiniog Railway from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog, with a break to enable passengers to explore ‘the town that roofed the world’. There is also a chance to discover the town's impressive slate sculptures, poetry band trail and selection of privately run shops, cafes and pubs. The train will then return through the Vale of Ffestiniog to the harbourside at Porthmadog, following the route of slate trains from quarry to coast. The F&WHR is very excited to be offering a service along the whole line of the Ffestiniog Railway and is pleased to return to Blaenau Ffestiniog. Nearly forty years ago, trains proudly steamed back into Blaenau Ffestiniog and now they will be doing so again for the first time in over 18 months. The ‘Back to Blaenau’ service will run TWThO from the 27/7/21-2/9/21.

The train is the 11:40 from Porthmadog arriving at Blaenau Ffestiniog about 13:00 and given the advertised hour in Blaenau, departing at 14:00 and arriving back in Porthmadog at 15:10 based on an overall journey of 3 hours 30 mins as advertised. However the departure time from Blaenau is STILL confusingly given as 14:45 which would make all these times incorrect. This popular train is already fully booked for the first 4 weeks from 27/7/21-19/8/21 and the first bookable train is on 24/8/21!

 

Vale of Ffestiniog

Following its gearbox problems and borrowing Castell Caernarfon's gearbox not much has been seen of Vale of Festiniog. It was noted at Caernarfon last Saturday shunting the Gelert Explorer set at Dinas.

 

Llangollen Railway update

The Llangollen Railway completed its first two weeks of FSSuO shuttle services to Berwyn last weekend. The turn up and go service has been supported by sufficient numbers that have allowed social distancing, coming from far and wide outside of the normal 50-mile catchment area. Ticket sales and donations have made a useful contribution to the railway's operating costs. Having completed trackwork in Berwyn Tunnel, the timetable will change from 23/7/21 and the DMU shuttle will be extended to Glyndyfrdwy. There will be 5 trains a day departing at 1 hour 15 minute intervals from Llangollen at 11:00, 12:15, 13:30, 14:45 and 16:00. Work is underway renewing the points at the west end of Glyndyfrdwy loop so run round is not currently available.

Assuming the Glyndyfrdwy pointwork is complete, it is expected that from 9/8/21 steam trains will operate to Carrog at weekends with green GWR 2-8-0 No.3802 (the only main line steam loco available) and a mix of DMU/Class 26 No.26010 (as 5310 in green) loco haulage on weekdays. This is good news for diesel enthusiasts who look forwards to seeing a specific daily diesel turn as with other successful heritage railways like the GCR. In other good news, it has been announced that Llangollen Railway has been awarded a £143,290 grant from the Wales Cultural Recovery Fund Phase 2, the purpose of which is to assist with salary and overhead costs during reopening. With concern about its web presence or rather absence, a new website for the Llangollen Railway Trust will soon go on line and hopefully show the timetable. The confusion seems to have been caused by the Company Administrator who retained control of the old official website and has refused to take it down.

 

Set Composition changes

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

A Set Comp No. B Set Comp No. C set Comp No.
No.6 Van 23 No.39 Open Not designated (Possible Open)  
No.2 Four wheeler (First) 22 No. 23 WHR Saloon 18-24 No.1 Zoo car 23
No.5 Four wheeler (Third) 21 No.21 Saloon 11-18 No.3 22
No.19 Bowsider 15-20 No.17 Bowsider 5-10 No.4 21
No.26 Saloon 9-14 No.12 Brake 3-4 No.24 NWNGR 14-20
No.22 Saloon 3-8 No.11 Brake 1-2 ?  
No.113 Brake 1-2     ?  
No.37 Open Not designated     No.10 Brake 1-2

 

F&WHR traffic 19/7/21

Porthmadog started the day warm and sunny again with maximum temperatures of 26C forecast. Two of the five Mountain Prince trains were fully booked but the 10:00, 13:40 and 15:00 were still bookable. There are no Glaslyn Venturer trains today but both of Tuesday's trains are bookable. The first three Gelert Explorer trains are fully booked until Thursday 22/7/21 suggesting additional services could be offered from Caernarfon with maybe a short out and back journey to Waunfawr/Rhyd Ddu using spare coaches. Many heritage railways are now opening up to 'turn up and go' traffic even though the F&WHR is persisting with its booking and timetable plans until at least 5/9/21. The G&WR is for example offering Day Rangers from any station from 20/7/21. Two of the three Tuesday Mountain Prince trains are full booked so it is possible the service may be expanded to five trains again later today as two locos are required for this level of service anyway.

Boston Lodge released a loco at 09:39 and Prince arrived at Porthmadog at 09:45 hauling the B set directly into the FR platform for the 10:00 service. Presumably the rake had had programmed maintenance at the Carriage Shed. The loco ran round and the train departed 30 seconds early, the first train noted to do so! Moelwyn was already waiting at Tan-y-bwlch at 10:05 for the Dduallt pilot duties. David Lloyd George turned up light engine at 10:50 for the 11:05 service and shunted the A set from the seawall siding to the FR platform arriving with 5 minutes to spare. The train left on time. Blanche arrived at Porthmadog light engine at 11:33 and shunted the C set to the FR platform at 11:40. The train left on time.

Prince arrived back in Porthmadog with the return working of the 13:40 Mountain Prince over half an hour late at 17:22. The train comprising of the B set arrived in the FR platform. At 17:35 the rake was propelled out of the station to Boston Lodge presumably for programmed maintenance. David Lloyd George arrived back with the return working of the 15:00 Mountain Prince service also about half an hour late at 18:19 into the FR platform. The loco ran round at 18:28 and propelled the rake into the seawall siding at 18:35 before departing for the depot at 18:38 and bringing activity at Porthmadog to a close.    

By midday both the 13:40 and 15:00 trains were still bookable so demand must be relatively low. In fact the Tuesday 10:00 is now bookable again possibly through cancellations so there has been no increase in Tuesday's 3 services. Its been a few weeks since the F&WR reduced its 5 a day Mountain Prince service and it is probably associated with beach weather. By the end of the afternoon only the 15:00 Mountain Prince was still bookable but with only 3 Mountain Prince trains running people has opted for the morning Glaslyn Venturer as the 10:15 was fully booked. The afternoon service was still bookable though. The Gelert Explorer is fully booked Tuesday and Wednesday but Thursday 22/7/21 still has compartments available.  

 

Llangollen Railway

The Llangollen Railway is continuing to offer its Friday-Sunday DMU service to Berwyn until the end of July (actually Sunday 1/8/21). The Llangollen Archive and Enthusiast website has been updated to 8/7/21 but does not contain a timetable. Some links are broken or lead to warning pages! The Llangollen Railway Trust website does not contain a timetable either but a recorded message detailing train services is on their phone line. From 23/7/21-1/8/21 the FSSuO DMU service will run Llangollen to Glyndyfrdwy (if the line is approved for use) on the hour. For the rest of August the service will consist of DMUs Monday-Thursday and 'steam' services FSSuO. There is no mention of diesel hauled services and the Trust seem to be missing a trick here as other successful heritage lines like the GCR/G&WR/SVR manage to have diesel days or diesel turns on steam days either to cater for diesel enthusiasts or to give the steam loco crews a break/early finish. Cover for 'hot weather' steam bans and steam loco failures will be offered by the main line diesel fleet of Class 26010 (as 5310 in green), 31271 and 47449 (as 1566 blue).   

 

FR Mountain Prince Working timetable

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

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

Any corrections appreciated.

* Following arrival at Tan-y-bwlch from Dduallt, the diesel detaches and attaches to next eastbound service (if any) and the steam loco runs round or returns direct to Boston Lodge light engine from the last train of the day.

 

F&WHR traffic 18/7/21

The temperature was set to reach 28C maximum on Sunday and the beaches were wedged with staycation holidaymakers as the weather was fine and sunny. Five Mountain Prince trains were available to book as well as the two Glaslyn Venturer trains.

Some shunting took place Sunday morning and the numbers booked only required a half size rake as with the previous time Sunday trains were tried. With a shorter rake a Garratt was not required. Lyd eventually being left with half a rake (5 coaches including the Observation car) of the Glaslyn Venturer train, departing at 10:17. Blanche departed on the 10:00 Mountain Prince and was noted at 11:25 at Tan-y-bwlch being piloted by Moelwyn returning from Dduallt. Prince shunted the 12:25 Mountain Prince into the FR platform at 11:25 a full hour ahead of departure time.

The week ahead is the final week of the Mountain Prince and Monday's 5 trains appear to be booking up more slowly than usual despite the large number of Staycationers in the Porthmadog area. This could be due to the fine weather forecast and holidaymakers preferring the beach to the railway. Nevertheless the 11:05 is already sold out. The F&WHR is being cautious and reducing the service to three trains on Tuesday with only the 10:00, 11:05 and 15:00. Tuesday's service could be expanded again if Monday's traffic exceeds expectations. Both Tuesday's Glaslyn Venturer trains are available to book but both Monday and Tuesday's Gelert Explorer are fully booked with Wednesday 21/7/21 being the first bookable date.

 

Snowdonian times 24-25/7/21

It has been officially confirmed that next weekend's Snowdonian is running but how anyone booked it is a mystery as there has been no booking site! The website has been really poor this year! Saturday's train leaves Porthmadog at 09:40 and returns from Caernarfon at 14:20. Sunday's FR trip is 10:00 from Porthmadog.

 

Moving Pictures No.53 17/7/21

Click on the YouTube window to watch 28 mins 27 seconds of video covering a loco round up. This YouTube was published on 17/7/21 (nominally 16/7/21) and was taken by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a 4K digital camcorder. It is best watched in 1080p HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on the YouTube link.

 

F&WHR traffic 17/7/21

Saturday dawned bright sunny and war. Three of the Mountain Prince trains were bookable, the 10:00, 13:40, 15:00. Black Rock Sands beach is wedged this morning with Staycationers with a forecast 31C maximum temperature forecast. Today's Gelert Explorer is fully booked as are Monday's and Tuesday's which suggests the F&WHR should operate the Gelert Explorer on Sunday 18/7/21. The train becomes FSX between 1/8/21-5/9/21. However both Sunday's Glaslyn Venturer trains are still bookable.

Blanche turned up at 09:45 and ran direct to the FR platform to haul the B set for the 10:00 Mountain Prince. The WHR platform was still occupied by the A-set unusually left the last night. Blanche left on time at 10:00. Merddin Emrys arrived at 10:25 and coupled to the A set in the WHR platform ready for the 11:05 Mountain Prince. The lightly loaded 10:00 arrived at Tan-y-bwlch by 10:45 and Moelwyn coupled to the rear for Dduallt pilot duties, leaving at 11:51. The Fairlie left on time and passed Minffordd at 11:16. Prince was coupled to the C set in the FR platform by midday for the 12:25 Mountain Prince which was sold out. The following two services were still bookable though. The train left on time and passed Minffordd at 12:35.

The 13:40 was sold out leaving prospective passengers the option of booking seats on the 15:00. Blanche departed 5 minutes late at 13:45. At 15:41 Prince shunted the C set back to the sidings before departing light engine for the depot at 15:50. Merddin Emrys arrived back with the B set in the WHR platform at 17:59. The loco uncoupled and ran round at 18:02 and after some examination, dragged the rake out at 18:24. After shunting the rake to the seawall siding (the WHR platform was needed by the Glaslyn Venturer on Sunday) the Fairlie departed for Boston Lodge at 18:29.

Four of the five Sunday Mountain Prince trains are bookable, with only the 13:40 sold out. Both Glaslyn Venturer trains have spare compartments too. There is no Sunday Gelert Explorer and Monday and Tuesday's trains are fully booked. The first bookable Gelert Explorer is Wednesday 21/7/21.

 

The Snowdonian Mystery

The Snowdonian has long been advertised to run on 24-25/7/21. As yet The Snowdonian website is still not offering any links to booking with just a week to go. The F&WHR website shows the Gelert Explorer rake OOU on 24/7/21 so it is available for the WHR leg of the trip. On 25/7/21 only 3 trains are shown operating on the Mountain Prince so one Heritage rake must be OOU for the FR leg. 

 

F&WHR traffic 16/7/21

Friday was  forecast a sunny afternoon with maximum temperatures of 26C forecast. All five Mountain Prince trains were fully booked with the 15:00 filling up  by midday. There is still room on Saturday's Gelert Explorer and both of Sunday's additional Glaslyn Venturer trains. If bookings continue to rise over the weekend with the start of the school summer holidays, there is the opportunity to add Glaslyn Venturer trains on Monday 19/7/21 as the train runs FSX from 20/7/21-5/9/21.

Lyd was on the 10:00 service waiting to run round at Tan-y-bwlch at 11:53 and Moelwyn was attached to the rear of the 11:05 hauled by Blanche, which departed at 11:55 for Dduallt. Meanwhile down at Porthmadog Prince shunted the yard at 12:00 to reverse onto the C set which it had previously shunted to the FR platform for the 12:25 Mountain Prince.

Upnor Castle crossed The Cob and arrived at Porthmadog at 13:20 hauling a single green brake coach, probably the recently delivered Pickering brake from the WHHR receiving rectification work. The loco arrived back light engine at 14:21 so it can only have visited Pen-y-Mount in that time. At 13:33 Lyd was running round for the 13:40 which left a few minutes late at 13:42. Meanwhile the 11:05 started its return journey from Tan-y-bwlch at 13:35. Upnor Castle left Porthmadog light for Boston Lodge at 14:30.

 

This easterly view at 13:29 on 16/7/21 shows Upnor Castle returning the Pickering Brake coach to the WHHR presumably after minor rectification works. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Blanche pulled into the WHR platform at about 17:45. Usually this is only done if run round is not possible on the FR side with two Mountain Prince and the Glaslyn Venturer rakes present. The loco detached at 17:50 and paused in the run round loop for photos as passengers exited the station. Unusually the loco ran light engine to Boston Lodge at 17:55 leaving the Mountain Prince rake in the WHR platform overnight as there was no Glaslyn Venturer planned for Saturday.

Despite the start of the school holidays all five Mountain Prince trains were bookable on Saturday. Saturday's Gelert Explorer is now sold out but both Sunday's Glaslyn Venturer trains are still available to book. The F&WHR has benefitted from Staycationers' cautious holiday plans. Will Boris' so called 'Freedom Day' have an effect on peoples' holiday plans and will they start flocking overseas despite record COVID cases being registered which was just as bad as January's peak today (51,870!)?

 

F&WHR traffic 15/7/21

Porthmadog was sunny and mild on Thursday morning with a Maximum of 24C forecast. The Mountain Prince is fully booked today and only the 15:00 is available out of Friday's five trains. Despite being shown as fully booked yesterday, there is availability on both Glaslyn Adventurer trains today possibly due to cancellations. Today's Gelert Explorer remained fully booked no doubt partly due to coach party bookings.

The first loco to arrive today at 09:23 was unusually David Lloyd George which collected the Glaslyn Venturer rake and shunted it to the WHR platform. This is normally No130's duty. The Fairlie returned to the yard to shunt the rake for the 10:00 Mountain Prince to the FR platform. At 09:42 No.130 was noted emerging from Boston Lodge and shunting to the coal loading point on Boston Lodge curve where a section of fencing has been removed to allow the Loadall to lift coal into No.130's bunker. The loco headed for Harbour Station at 09:47 just as the Fairlie was moving the Mountain Prince rake into the FR platform. No.130 coupled up to the Glaslyn Venturer at 09:58 ready for the 10:15 departure. The Fairlie left on time and the Garratt left a couple of minutes late at 10:17.

At 10:20 another loco was released from Boston Lodge and came over The Cob. Blanche arrived at 10:25 and, after watering, it shunted to the seawall siding at 10:32, propelling the A set to the FR platform at 10:39. The train left on time at 11:05. up at Tan-y-bwlch Moelwyn attached to the rear and disappeared to Dduallt by 10:55 allowing David Lloyd George to run round at midday. By this time the afternoon Glaslyn Venturer was again fully booked.

Lyd left with the 12:25 Mountain Prince four minutes late at 12:29. Moelwyn arrived back at Tan-y-bwlch 13:39 with Lyd's train. Blanche arrived back about 17:45 directly into the FR platform as the Glaslyn Venturer had probably been taken to Boston Lodge for maintenance. The rake was being shunted to the seawall siding about 17:55 when the Porthmadog webcam live feed cut out until about 18:20.

Four of the five Mountain Prince trains on Friday are fully booked with compartments only available on the 15:00 train. Saturday's Gelert Explorer is now fully booked and the next train is on Tuesday, which has compartments available. Both of the Glaslyn Venturer extra trains on Sunday are bookable.

 

F&WHR traffic 14/7/21

Wednesday dawned fair at Porthmadog with a sunny periods and maximum temperatures of 22C forecast. Both today's and Thursday's Mountain Prince trains were fully booked as were both today's Glaslyn Venturer trains and today's Gelert Explorer. There were no seats available on the F&WHR today, possibly for the first time. The F&WHR has sensibly added two Glaslyn Venturer trains on Sunday 18/7/21. The next Gelert Explorer that can be booked is Saturday 17/7/21. However there is no additional Gelert Explorer on Sunday 18/7/21 despite 3 of the next four trains being fully booked. That service becomes FSX from 1/8/21 from when regular Sunday trains will run until at least Sunday 5/9/21.

At 08:57 Upnor Castle was shunting the yard and at 09:06 drew out the Glaslyn Venturer rake and shunted it to the WHR platform. The diesel detached at 09:11 and returned to shunt the yard where the three four-wheelers were removed from the C set at 09:17 as the Garratt approached from Boston Lodge light engine. No.130 ran directly to couple to the front of the Glaslyn Venturer via the WHR run round loop and was coupled by 09:26. Upnor Castle shunted a 'toastrack' open coach (the recently restored No.38?) inside the four wheelers but some problem led to the coach being hand shunted away.

Prince arrived light engine from Boston Lodge at 09:30 to couple to the B set in the FR platform for the 10:00 Mountain Prince which departed on time. Upnor Castle emerged from the yard at 10:09 and waited for a path back to Boston Lodge at 10:15, departing light engine. No.130 left a couple of minutes late at 10:17 with the 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer with headlights switched on.

Blanche shunted the yard at 10:38 and set back onto the A set in the FR platform ready for the 11:05 Mountain Prince. Surprisingly Boston Lodge released a third steam loco as early as 10:50 and David Lloyd George duly came across The Cob to shunt the yard arriving at 10:56 for the 12:25 Mountain Prince. Blanche left a couple of minutes late at 11:07. Shortly after it left the Fairlie returned from watering and coaling at 11:13 to shunt the C-set into the platform at 10:18. Toastrack No.38 had been added inside of the 3 four wheelers despite the earlier difficulties. This means that all three rakes now have an open toastrack style coach for the Summer peak timetable. The rake was shunted into the platform at 11:21, over an hour before departure on the 12:25 Mountain Prince! About midday a diesel loco reversed out of Boston Lodge propelling a PW train but was held near the trident signal for a while before going forward towards Minffordd. This was revealed to be Harlech Castle with the weed killer train. The train ran wrong line into Minffordd Loop arriving at 12:19 before presumably reversing into the yard there.

 

This westerly view at 12:18 on 14/7/21 shows Harlech Castle on the weed killer PW train arriving wrong line at Minffordd with headlights switched on, presumably to reverse into the yard. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Prince arrived back with the return working of the 10:00 at 12:50. No.130 arrived back from the 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer at 12:58. At 13:13 Prince ran round after fuelling/watering and No.130 followed suit at 13:18. It appeared the rake had stopped a little short as the front of the loco was beyond the ground signal. No.130 left on time at 13:40 on the Glaslyn Venturer seconds before Prince on the 13:40 Mountain Prince.

Blanche was in the FR platform at 6pm having run round and reversed the A set into the seawall siding. At 18:17 the loco left light engine for the depot bringing the day to a close.

The Mountain Prince is already fully booked on Thursday as is the Glaslyn Venturer and the Gelert Explorer for the second day running. Passengers may be turned away and the F&WHR may be missing out on income unless it adds extra trains on the WHR this Friday-Sunday. Blanche ran directly to the FR platform at 17:53 as the Glaslyn Venturer must have been removed to the depot for maintenance as it is not required Fridays. The Porthmadog webcam live stream was offline from 17:55-18:20.

Of the five Mountain Prince trains on Friday, only the 15:00 is still bookable. The next Glaslyn Venturer is on Sunday and both trains are bookable. The next Gelert Explorer on Saturday is now fully booked so the next available is Monday 19/7/21. 

 

WAG COVID update 14/7/21

The BBC reports that most COVID rules will be lifted in Wales on 7/8/21 unless the 'third wave' runs out of control. This may have an effect on the F&WHRS COVID timetable from early September and its ability to hold Galas, Santa Specials etc. Face masks will still be required in most indoor public places, except in hospitality businesses, such as pubs. Some rules will also be eased from Saturday 17/7/21 - allowing for six people to meet in private homes and holiday accommodation, and with social distancing outdoors no longer required by law. Nevertheless the North Wales Delta variant COVID surge continues and the Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford, has drawn attention to the potential pitfalls of opening up too early. The worse incidence of COVID is in Flintshire and Wrexham areas, not Gwynedd where the F&WHR are based.

 

Other railways COVID strategies

Most English main line companies will not require mask wearing on trains from 19/7/21, though London Transport will still require compliance with the mask rules due to crowding. Heritage lines have a range of different strategies. The recently re-opened Llangollen railway is Turn Up and Go (TUG services) but the DMU currently used has sufficient space to allow people to socially distance with the traffic on offer FSSuO. The G&WR are doing pre-booking only until 18/7/21 when the timetable/booking arrangements  will change. The SVR is also currently offering pre-booking only. The MNR advises pre-booking but limited TUG fares available on the day. Unlike the F&WHR many of these railways are advising future events and Santa Specials etc.

 

F&WHR traffic 13/7/21

Porthmadog started the day rather grey but mild with 23C and sunny periods forecast. Four of the five Mountain Prince trains are fully booked though the 15:00 was still available first thing. The next three Glaslyn Venturer trains are fully booked with the first available being the 13:40 on Wednesday. Four of the next five Gelert Explorer trains are fully booked with the first available for booking being Saturday 17/7/21. There is certainly a case for starting the Sunday service from 18/7/21 when many schools are already on holiday rather than 25/7/21.

Looking ahead, there has been an amazing response to the TWThO Back to Blaenau trains (The Quarryman name seems to have been quietly dropped) from 27/7/21 and the first 11 trains are fully booked with the first available being 12/8/21. In contrast none of the FSO Harbourmaster trains from Porthmadog or the Snowdonia Star trains from Caernarfon from 31/7/21 are fully booked, unsurprisingly as they offer a 7 hour day with 2 hours at either Caernarfon or Porthmadog for lunch. The Harbourmaster will pick up on the northbound journey and set down at Beddgelert on return in a change to the plan.

No.130 was on the sold out Glaslyn Venturer rake by 09:38 and David Lloyd George was shunting the yard. The 10:00 Mountain Prince was in the FR platform at 09:45. The Fairlie left on time whereas the Garratt left a few minutes late at 10:19. Blanche came over and shunted the A set for the 11:05 Mountain Prince coupling up in the FR platform at 10:47. The Lady left on time as the sun came out. Moelwyn was up at Tan-y-bwlch handling the Dduallt pilot duties as normal. Prince emerged from Boston Lodge at 11:20 and headed across The Cob to Porthmadog, arriving at 11:25 to shunt the 12:25 Mountain Prince to the FR. platform. The train was in the platform by 11:32, almost an hour before the planned departure and left on time at 12:25.

At 12:48 David Lloyd George arrived back from the 10:00 Mountain Prince. At 13:01, No.130 arrived back at Porthmadog with the 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer. The Garratt ran round at 13:08 and posed for photos in the sunshine before coupling up at 13:12. Blanche arrived back from the 15:00 service in the WHR platform at 17:54 as there was no run round available on the FR side with three rakes in the station. In an unusual variation of end of day activities, at 18:05 the loco propelled the rake past the king point on The Cob before uncoupling and entering the station light engine presumably to water and coal. The loco reappeared at 18:16 to couple to the rake left on The Cob and at 18:20 propelled it to Boston Lodge, presumably for routine maintenance.

By early afternoon the 15:00 Mountain Prince was fully booked and all Wednesday's Mountain Prince trains were fully booked no doubt leading to some disappointed potential passengers as both the Glaslyn Venturer trains on Wednesday were also fully booked as well as the Gelert Explorer!! This was possibly the first day that there wasn't a single compartment available on all three F&WHR services all day. Clearly as case for more train services.

 

This easterly view at 11:26 on 13/7/21 shows Prince arriving unusually with a white marker on its tender which might indicate light engine movement. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

TR coaches 13/7/21

The Tal-y-llyn Railway had ordered three new coaches from Boston Lodge works, following the recent completion of the Pickering Brake for the WHHR and coaches for the R&ER. The coaches will be built using a grant of £300,000 from the Coastal Communities Fund. The coaches will be of modern construction and have heating for winter use. The will allow the original 1865 stock to be preserved for special occasions.

 

North Wales Main line news

Training runs with Class 67s on Mk4 stock are continuing as well as the normal early morning Holyhead-Cardiff service e.g. 67017 in TfW livery on 6/7/21. On Saturday 3/7/21 the rake was used on a relief rather than an ECS back to Crewe for a programmed maintenance swop at the weekend. The TransPennine Class 68 loco hauled stock operating out of Scarborough may be looking for a new home after complaints about loco noise at Scarborough. Maybe TfW would like to invest in loco hauled Mk 5 trains from North Wales to Manchester and Birmingham International airports as previously. Some 20 of the 30 additional Mk4 coaches they recently purchased have been allocated to Swansea-Manchester services leading to accusations that North Wales is once again being forgotten about by the Cardiff based Senedd!

 

F&WHR traffic 12/7/21

Porthmadog started off a little damp on Monday with 20C maximum forecast and light showers. Of today's 5 Mountain Prince trains, only the 15:00 was available to book in the morning. Both of Tuesday's Glaslyn Venturer trains are sold out as is Wednesday morning's train. Three of the next four Gelert Explorer trains are sold out with Saturday 17/7/21 being the next bookable train.

Prince arrived at 09:29 and shunted the B set from the seawall siding to the FR platform  to form the 10:00. The train left on time with Open coach No.38 leading. This set had previously been without an Open coach. Boston Lodge released Blanche at 10:25 which arrived hauling the A set, presumably returning from programmed maintenance. The train ran directly to the FR platform and Blanche ran round at 10:40 after fuelling and watering. The loco coupled up shortly afterwards for the 11:05 Mountain Prince and left on time. Moelwyn was on Dduallt pilot duties and arrived back at Tan-y-bwlch with the 10:00 working at 11:16 with Prince on the rear.

Drizzle set in by lunchtime and condensation revealed another loco coming across The Cob at 11:35. David Lloyd George turned up at 11:39 to shunt the yard. The C set was extracted and propelled into the FR platform at 1150 for the 12:25 Mountain Prince which left on time. By midday today's 15:00 Mountain Prince was also fully booked so there are no spare bookable trains this afternoon.

The weather cleared up in time for the 15:00 Mountain Prince and Blanche was waiting ready at 14:50 having already run round. The train left on time passing David Lloyd George at Minffordd which arrived at Porthmadog at 15:28. The loco ran round at 15:45. Blanche arrived bach at 17:43 with the return working of the 15:00 Mountain Prince in the FR platform. The loco ran round minutes later and left light engine for the depot at 17:55. The signalbox was closed down at 18:00 bringing an end to the day's movements.

Four of the five Mountain Prince trains on Tuesday are fully booked with only the 15:00 bookable. Both of Tuesday's Glaslyn Venturer trains are sold out as is Wednesday morning's train. Three of the next four Gelert Explorer trains are sold out with Saturday 17/7/21 being the next bookable train.

 

WHR 'event' September 18-19/9/21

The F&WHR has confirmed there will be a small scale event to replace SuperPower with K1 in attendance. Many WHRS members would like to see Russell do the complete line with its new heritage rake including the recently delivered Pickering Brake. So far the original loco has not visited Porthmadog Harbour station nor the Beddgelert-Waunfawr section. Having the Baldwin currently stabled at Boston Lodge along, if it is fit to run, would make an excellent event.

 

This southerly view (6/19) shows Russell emerging from T4, the long Aberglaslyn tunnel during the Past, Present and Future event. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Michael Chapman and was taken on a digital camera, post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Timetable plans for rest of season

The General Manager has spoken about timetable plans: 'The current timetable will form the basis of our operations to the middle of September and depending on developments possibly to the end of the season. Extra trains may be added but pre-booking will continue.'

There certainly seems to be a need for extra trains, at least on the WHR this week, with many trains fully booked. Any changes will depend on WAG COVID advice due to be updated on Wednesday 14/7/21 but unlikely to be eased as fast as the Tories' so called 'Freedom Day' plans for 19/7/21 confirmed by Boris Johnson on 12/7/21.

 

Llangollen news

The Llangollen Railway has received a gift of 300 concrete sleepers from the SVR to help with its re-sleepering campaign. When complete to Corwen the Railway will be known as the 'Llangollen to Corwen Railway'.

Heritage DMU services are scheduled to run FSSuO to Berwyn hourly 10:00-16:00 with about 15 minutes wait there. From 23/7/21-1/8/21 trains will be extended to Glyndyfrdwy again with DMUs to the same timings apparently. From 3-31/8/21 the service will run daily with DMUs Monday-Thursday and steam haulage Friday-Sunday though it is unclear if these will be extended to Carrog within this period. It is also unclear why the Llangollen Railway Trust will not be using any of its 3 mainline diesel locos which have all passed their fitness to run exams as clearly the hauled stock is available during August. The railway can only rely on one steam loco.  

 

F&WHR traffic 11/7/21

Sunday dawned mild with a maximum temperature of 20C and rain forecast for the afternoon. All five Mountain Prince trains were bookable in the morning unusually. Possibly booking cancellations have occurred as yesterday the booking website showed today's 11:05 as fully booked.

David Lloyd George was provided for the 10:00 Mountain Prince service and was noted coupling up at 09:45 to the B set left overnight in the FR platform. The train left on time. Moelwyn was already waiting at Tan-y-bwlch at 09:55 for the Dduallt pilot duty having gone up earlier.

At 10:23 Boston Lodge released Blanche which arrived at Porthmadog at 10:30 to shunt the A rake from the seawall siding to the FR platform for the 11:05 Mountain Prince. Prince departed Porthmadog on time with the 12:25 and the C set, passing Minffordd at 12:35.

At 17:53 Blanche arrived back on the return working of the 15:00 Mountain Prince working directly to the FR platform as one of the rakes must have been removed for programmed maintenance. At 17:57 the loco ran round and took the A set to Boston Lodge at 18:00 presumably for programmed maintenance and bringing activities for the day to a close.

 

Welsh Covid measures announcement 14/7/21

With a sharp increase in UK COVID infections in the last few days reported by the BBC, Wales will reveal its COVID strategy going forwards on Wednesday 14/7/21 but the Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford, suggested on Saturday that restrictions will not be eased as quickly as in England where Boris Johnson has suggested there will be a so called 'Freedom Day' on 19/7/21, where all rules would be scrapped much to the concern of virologists and health officials! Reported by the BBC, the Welsh First Minister said that even if the Covid Alert level fell to Zero face masks would still be required on trains, buses, taxis and in health venues as well as possibly in retail areas in Wales. The highest rates of infection in Wales are in Flintshire and Wrexham on the UK border where many commute to work in Liverpool and Manchester.

 

F&WHR traffic 10/7/21

Saturday turned out to be cloudy but mild at Porthmadog with sunny periods and 20C maximum temperatures forecast. Two of today's Mountain Prince trains were still bookable in the morning, the 13:40 and 15:00. The Glaslyn Venturer has not been extended to run on Sundays so the next bookable days are Tuesday 13/7/21 (only the 10:15 train is bookable). The Gelert Explorer is fully booked for the next three days (TWThO) so is not bookable until a week hence on Saturday 17/7/21, clearly a need for additional services on the WHR!

David Lloyd George turned up at 09:43 to shunt onto the B set left in the FR platform and departed on time at 10:00. Merddin Emrys came over at 10:35 and shunted the A set from the seawall siding to the FR platform for the 11:05 service which left on time. Prince hauled the 12:25 with the C set which left on time. Moelwyn was as usual Dduallt pilot for the day.

Merddin Emrys arrived back with the 15:00 Mountain Prince at 17:46 in the WHR platform. The Fairlie ran round at 17:49 and propelled the rake to the seawall siding. Merddin Emrys shunted to the watering/coaling stage at 18:05 and departed light engine to the depot at 18:17 bringing the day's activities to a close.

The 11:05 Mountain Prince is already sold out Sunday as usual but the other four trains are bookable. The next Gelert Explorer that is bookable is Saturday 17/7/21 while passengers for the Glaslyn Venturer will have to wait until Wednesday 14/7/21 now as both trains on 13/7/21 are now fully booked. This demonstrates that there is clearly a need for additional WHR services.

Four of Monday's five Mountain Prince trains are already sold out with only the 15:00 available to book. Tuesday's Glaslyn Venturer is already fully booked and Wednesday's 10:15 is too. Coupled with the fact that three of the next four Gelert Explorer trains are fully booked and compartments are not available until Saturday 17/7/21 there is now clearly suppressed demand for WHR trains and much needed income is being turned away on the WHR by not increasing the days of operation of services.

 

B&FR progress 6/7/21

The Bala & Ffestiniog Trust has placed a booking for diggers and dumpers to utilise as part of its ongoing works at Llan Ffestiniog Station to help achieve its long term aim of restoring the station. Naturally this comes at a cost and future phases will involve further costs to achieve the aim of tidying up the site at Llan Ffestiniog and ultimately building a new station building there.

We need your help to make this happen and there are many ways you can do so.  One of those ways is the Timber for a Tenner fundraiser which is standing at just under £2,000 currently. If all 1600 members of this page were to offer £5 a month (1 sleeper every 2 months) plus gift aid for 12 months we would raise £120,000 and comfortably take a big dent out of our target of £144,000 for the fund. This fund is a general fund to enable the Trust to carry out its works, reaching the £140,000 target will enable the trust to carry out all of the works necessary at Llan Ffestiniog short of building the station buildings themselves. This would result in a site that is easy maintenance as well as prepared for the building of a station when the appropriate permissions are obtained.  It would also enable the trust to get electricity and water / waste connections on the site for the siting of a camping coach which will generate an income for the Trust moving forward.

With the support of the members this could all be achieved within the next two years subject to fundraising efforts. Please give generously to be a part of a new dawn for Llan Ffestiniog and the wider line.

https://www.balaffest.org.uk/main.php?page=t4t

 

F&WHR traffic 9/7/21

Friday started off grey again and was forecast to remain so with a maximum temperature of a mild 19C. All five Mountain Prince trains except the 15:00 are fully booked today. The Gelert Explorer has availability on Saturday 10/7/21. As of Friday there is no sign the Sunday Glaslyn Venturer with a reduced rake experiment will be repeated. The next service will be on Tuesday 13/7/21 and the afternoon service is already fully booked.

Harlech Castle came over The Cob with a ballast hopper at 08:45 and stopped at the king point, awaiting the opening of the signalbox. At 08:50 it worked through the WHR platform with the hopper in tow. At 09:07 the train headed north along the WHR. Welsh Pony arrived with the B set from Boston Lodge maintenance by 09:43 but the weather had become murky and damp. The loco ran round at 09:48 for the 10:00 Mountain Prince departure which left on time with good condensation! Moelwyn was waiting at Tan-y- bwlch for Dduallt pilot duties.

 

This easterly view at 09:07 on 9/7/21 shows Harlech Castle with ballast hopper wagon in tow setting off towards Beddgelert. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Blanche arrived light engine at Porthmadog at 19:25 to shunt the A set from the seawall siding to the FR platform. The train left on time in improving weather. At 11:30 Prince left Boston Lodge to shunt the yard and for the 12:25 Mountain Prince. The England engine shunted the C-set to the FR platform at 11:43....well over half an hour before departure time! the train departed on time with a good crowd watching the departure. The 15:00 Mountain Prince was sold out by midday with no other trains to mop up any other prospective passengers as the Glaslyn Venturer does not run today.

At 13:13 Welsh Pony was running round ready for the 13:40. The train was back at 15:50 and the stock was left in the FR platform. The loco was disposed to Boston Lodge, departing at 16:55. Blanche arrived back at 17:52 and ran round at 17:58 to shunt the rake to the seawall siding. The loco left light engine for the depot at 18:17 to conclude movements for the day.

By the end of the day two of the five Saturday Mountain Prince trains are already sold out but the Saturday Gelert Explorer was available. There are no signs of any attempt to run additional Glaslyn Venturer trains at weekends so Tuesday 13/7/21 is the next service.

 

Boston Lodge Garratt fuelling

Thanks to James King for the following clarification: 'The resident Garratt is still stabled in the dedicated Garratt siding off the Bottom Yard. Normally, when full-line working is happening, all Garratt refuelling is done at Dinas – Garratts burn larger coal than is used on the smaller FR engines. Under the current operating routine, a supply of ‘larger’ coal is maintained in the Top Yard at Boston Lodge. A panel of the fence between the yard and the running line has been removed, close to Plas Smart, and the Garratt is taken up there as required, where the Load-all can refill the bunker from the nearby coal pile. As the bunker holds up to five tons, and the runs are relatively short and lightly loaded at present, refuelling is not a daily occurrence – and this routine will not be necessary once full-line working is resumed.'

 

FR open coach No.38

The final FR Open Coach No.38 will soon be ready to add to the C set. The coach has been refurbished and repainted and new number transfers were applied 7/7/21. The reappearance of this coach in traffic will mean all three Mountain Prince sets have an Open coach for use on Summer services.

 

Llangollen reopening 9/7/21

The Llangollen Railway opened today using a Class 108 DMU to run the shuttle trip to Berwyn and back. Track through Berwyn Tunnel needs to have a little work done on it to restore the alignment because of tight clearances. After that pointwork at the west end of Glyndyfrdwy station loop needs some attention before the steam or diesel loco hauled stock can be used because of the run round (neglecting Deeside Loop). While the locos have been passed fit, the coaching stock also needs fitness to run exams. The railway is appealing for volunteers particularly with PW/C&W experience. The Trust hopes to have the service restored to this location by the end of July and then some minor work on occupation crossings may allow trains to Carrog by early August. This will also allow a ballasting train to run to the new Corwen station allowing track to be tamped and the eventual opening of the Corwen terminus. The LlR has one main line steam loco and 3 main line diesel locos with which to run loco hauled services in a few weeks time. Trains run hourly from 11:00 Friday-Sunday this weekend. See Llangollen Railway Facebook page or the Unofficial Llangollen Facebook page.

 

This easterly view 9/7/21 shows the first public train run by the Llangollen Railway Trust approaching Berwyn, the current limit of operations. Loco hauled trains must await the completion of trackworks in Berwyn Tunnel and refurbishment of pointwork at the west of Glyndyfrdwy loop to allow run round moves. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Peter Evans (Chester) and was taken on an iPhone, post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Tories' coal plans threaten Heritage Railways 6/7/21

The BBC reports from the F&WHR (including a short video) how the Tories plans to eliminate coal burning may destroy Heritage Railways. While the Tories say the Act does not apply to 'heritage vehicles', concerned peers are trying to insert cast iron guarantees into the Bill. Lord Bradshaw, a Liberal Democrat peer and former railwayman, said: "Steam locomotives, in particular, and the associated steam engines employed elsewhere are generally now maintained to the highest standards by the most enthusiastic people and they bring lots of tourists into the most remote areas of the country".

Lord Faulkner of Worcester, a Labour peer and the president of the Heritage Railway Association, said he wanted a ministerial assurance that the heritage steam sector "will be permitted to continue to burn coal". The final UK coal opencast sites producing steam coal will be closing down soon including Ffos-y-fran in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales, which supplies much of the Heritage Rail movement.

 

F&WHR traffic 8/7/21

Thursday 8/7/21 started off a little grey at Porthmadog with forecast sunny periods and 19C maximum temperatures. The Mountain Prince was fully booked and even two of Friday's five trains are already sold out. Both of today's Glaslyn Venturer trains are also sold out suggesting additional services could be run over the weekend as they were last Sunday. As it is the next booked Glaslyn Venturer is not until Tuesday 13/7/21 and one of those trains is already sold out. The Gelert Explorer is sold out today but compartments are available on Saturday.

The Porthmadog signalman was noted opening the Porthmadog signalbox at 08:45 and at 09:15 No.130 was seen passing Boston Lodge light engine, presumably from the Old Loco Shed area. It is uncertain why the loco is not maintained at the dedicated Garratt siding at Boston Lodge beside the Small Engine Shed. The loco disappeared into Boston Lodge and collected the Glaslyn Explorer rake of coaches, presumably from programmed maintenance as they are normally stabled in Porthmadog Harbour station overnight, and arrived in the WHR platform at 09:28 for the 10:15 departure.

Welsh Pony emerged from Boston Lodge at 09:45 and came across The Cob light engine to shunt the yard at 09:50. The B set was shunted to the FR platform at 09:58 for the 10:00 Mountain Prince that left a few minutes late at 10:03. No.130 left a few minutes late at 10:19. Blanche was being released from Boston Lodge at 10:20 and arrived at 10:25 to shunt the yard for the 11:05 service. The A set arrived in the FR platform at 10:35, a half hour before departure time. Moelwyn was up at Tan-y-bwlch waiting for the 10:00 to arrive.

The sun came out before the 11:05 left several minutes late at 11:11. By midday the C-set had been shunted into the FR platform by Prince ready for the 12:25 Mountain Prince. The train left on time. Welsh Pony arrived back at 12:48 ready to be cleaned for the 13:40. The Glaslyn Venturer arrived back at 12:57 with ten coaches including service cars next to the Observation cars, a feature not seen on the Gelert Explorer. No.130 detached immediately running round at 13:00. At 13:29 Welsh Pony also ran round ready for the 13:40 departure. Unusually No.130 left on time with Welsh Pony departing a minute later.

Blanche arrived back at 14:05 with the A set ready for the 15:00 departure. Run round was completed at 14:32 and the train departed 5 minutes late at 15:05. The loco returned at 17:37 running straight into the FR platform for the second day running. Maybe another rake is at Boston Lodge having programmed maintenance. Blanche ran round at 1757 and shunted the rake to the seawall siding before leaving light engine for the depot at 18:05.

By the end of the afternoon four of the five Friday Mountain Prince trains were sold out with only the 15:00 bookable. Despite the high level of bookings on other services the F&WHR is so far resisting repeating the Sunday Glaslyn Explorer for the next two weekends. The service becomes FSX from 20/7/21 so there will be Sunday trains from Sunday 25/7/21. Compartments are also available on Saturday's Gelert Explorer.

 

F&WHR traffic 7/7/21

The weather was quite damp on Wednesday. No.130 was noted shunting the Glaslyn Venturer rake to the WHR platform at 09:20 and running round at 09:39 as Welsh Pony arrived for the 10:15 Mountain Prince service. Merddin Emrys hauled the 11:05 train and was noted arriving back on the final train of the day at 17:52 into the FR platform, rather unusually. This was because No.130 had taken the ECS from the afternoon Glaslyn Venturer to Boson Lodge for programmed maintenance rather than stable it at Porthmadog, blocking the run round loop. At 18:08 the Fairlie ran round its train and shunted the A-set to the sea wall siding before departing at 18:15 light engine to the depot to complete the day's activities.

 

F&WHR traffic 6/7/21

Your webmaster visited the F&WHR to travel on the Gelert Explorer on 6/7/21. The small car park opposite the station costs £5 for the duration of the trip and can be paid by contactless card. Another car park is situated a little further south charging £2 a day and of course the Harbour car park is available a little further away.

 

This westerly view 6/7/21 shows No.87 being prepared at Dinas to shunt the Gelert Explorer rake before the ECS to Caernarfon. The loco is carrying the interchangeable Gelert Explorer train name board on its running plates on both sides.  Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Keith Holland and was taken on an iPhone, post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This westerly view 6/7/21 shows No.87's bilingual running pate train name Fforiwr Gelert/Gelert Explorer. The loco is carrying the interchangeable Gelert Explorer train name on its running plates on both sides. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Keith Holland and was taken on an iPhone, post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The station host checked me in (but did not ask to check my WHRS Membership card) and advised about the train formation and the train pulled in hauled by No.87 at 11:30. Three coaches arrived with many people who had booked bus tours. Three of the coaches in the centre of the train were reserved for these people. Those who had ordered hampers were advised to collect them at 10:45 but they were in fact issued from 10:30.

 

This southerly view (6/7/21) shows No.87's arriving at Caernarfon at 10:32. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera, post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view 6/7/21 shows No.87's bilingual running pate train name Fforiwr Gelert/Gelert Explorer. The loco is running round at Caernarfon. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on an iPhone 8, post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This easterly view (6/7/21) shows No.87's train nameplate at Caernarfon. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera, post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The train left at 11:00 and had no problem with its 11 coaches, in fact it seems it could have hauled a couple more if traffic demanded. Speed was deliberately kept down to 15mph maximum to conserve coal and give passengers more time to view the scenery. Most passengers wore masks as requested and very few went to the window to hang out and take photos of the train rounding curves. The train stopped at all the loops to collect tokens and a combined token when one engine was in steam as today might seem a good idea in future.

At Dinas the North Yard headshunt was vacant other than Romanian coach No.2060, the water carrier and a B wagon. There was no sign of missing coaches 2040/2042 which might have been expected in the rake. No.2115 Bodysgallen was also nowhere to be seen. A PW train with the ex-SAR brakevan was present in the North Yard as well as the well wagon. The depot contained ex-Shotton Steelworks shunter Bill. NG15 No.134 was thought to be in the Goods Shed but there was no sign of PW shunter No.9.

 

This northerly view (6/7/21) shows Bill in the Dinas shed at 15:38. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera, post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

At Plas-y-nant there was a brief stop to pick up a PW worker. The halt seems to have been finished by the North Wales Track Gang to a good standard with even a notice board proclaiming that train services do not set down or pick up due to the special COVID timetable. The General Manager has suggested the current pattern of bookings and services will persist all season into the Autumn. The food service may never be the same again, he said, meaning the pre order hamper 'picnic' system may be here to stay. I found the hamper very sustaining.

Rhyd Ddu sidings looked rusty and unused with no rail vehicles stabled. After the heavy overnight rain the skies cleared and there was lunchtime sunshine. Arrival at Beddgelert was on time and almost of the passengers visiting Beddgelert. There were reportedly large queues for the ice cream parlour. I stayed on the platform to record the run round which came about 15 minutes or so after the arrival. The loco filled up with water before coupling up. The little station shop was open for teas/coffees/snacks and memorabilia.

 

This southerly view (6/7/21) shows No.87 having arrived at Beddgelert. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera, post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (6/7/21) shows No.87 running round at Beddgelert at 12:55. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera, post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (6/7/21) shows No.87 having coupled up to the north end of its train at Beddgelert at 13:13. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera, post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Staff prepared hot water for the two buffet cars for teas and coffees and delivered them on trolleys. People began to drift back by 14:00 after being warned of the expensive taxi ride if they missed the 14:15 departure (the infrequent S4 bus service also runs Beddgelert to Caernarfon!) and by 14:15 the train was ready to go. This required several restarts with the train having to set back a yard or so each time to get the pistons in the correct position. Starting on the 1 in 40 is never easy and often requires sand. Arrival back at Caernarfon was on time at 15:47. The passengers dispersed quickly to the three Alpine Tour buses or the car parks.

 

Gelert Explorer working timetable

Station Outbound Return
Dinas ECS 10:15 16:30
Caernarfon 10:30 a 16:15
Caernarfon 11:00 d 15:50
Dinas a 11:15 15:40
Waunfawr 11:40 15:20
Plas-y-nant 11:55 15:10
Rhyd Ddu 12:15 14:55
Beddgelert 12:45 14:15

 

Gelert Explorer rake 6/7/21

Coach (from north to south) Compartments
2152 Gwyrfai A-E
2091 1-4
2044 5-10
2045 11-16
2047 17-22
2046 23-28
2040 29-34
2090 47 Extra large
2048 new 65-70
2043 42-46
2100 Glaslyn F-J

Coaches unused : 2040/2042/2060 the Romanian coach which may account for the strange gaps in the compartment numbering system from 34-46. Nos. 2040/2042 alone could account for the 12 gap in possible compartments and are currently stored at Boston Lodge New Carriage Shed. As regards No.2048, this new coach has recently been transferred from the Glaslyn Venturer and that rake make have a different system for numbering compartments. No.2048 has wider door and a foldaway seat for PRM wheelchair compliance.

 

F&WHR traffic 5/7/21

Monday started mild with sunny periods forecast at Porthmadog and 17C maximum temperatures. On Monday morning four of the five Mountain Prince trains are sold out today, with only the 15:00 available to book and three of the five already fully booked for tomorrow. Both Glaslyn Venturer trains have space Tuesday-Thursday but the Gelert Explorer is fully booked Monday-Wednesday with coach parties and compartments free from Thursday 8/7/21.

Prince hauled the 10:00 Mountain Prince departing on time. At 10:45 David Lloyd George was shunting the A set from the seawall siding to the platform for the 11:05 which left on time and arrived in Tan-y-bwlch at 11:45. Moelwyn was coupled to the rear by 11:50. Merddin Emrys arrived at Porthmadog at 11:50 and shunted the C-set to the FR platform by 12:00 ready for the 12:25.

 

F&WHR traffic 4/7/21

Sunday dawned mild and grey in Porthmadog with 18C maximum temperature forecast. Five Mountain Prince trains were offered today and already two are fully booked (11:05 and 13:40). The 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer is showing 'Call to book' message. The rake has been reduced to half size which can be pulled by a small engine presumably as an experiment this Sunday. If successful, two more Sunday trains could be run before the service becomes FSX from Sunday 25/7/21 to cope with anticipated School Summer Holiday Staycations. The Gelert Explorer from Caernarfon does not run until Monday 5/7/21 and there are still compartments available. The Porthmadog webcam was still giving after image problems for the third day.

Lyd was already in the WHR platform at 09:25 with a reduced rake of the Glaslyn Venturer consisting of 5 coaches and Observation Car No.152 next to the loco. Prince was also already present on the B set in the FR platform for the 10:00 Mountain Prince and left on time, passing Minffordd at 10:12 with a well loaded train. Lyd left on time with the General Manager driving.

 

This easterly view at 10:16 on 4/7/21 shows Lyd with shortened rake for today's experimental Sunday Glaslyn Venturer. The reduction in the length of the rake may be for timing load reasons on the 1 in 40 approach to Beddgelert though the train was still not shown as full even with only half the seats available. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Merddin Emrys left Boston Lodge at 10:30 and arrived at 10:38 before shunting the A-set from the seawall siding to the FR platform. The train was in the platform by 10:45 some 20 minutes before the 11:05 departure time and left on time. At 11:43 David Lloyd George arrived to shunt the rake for the 12:24 into the FR platform. The train departed on time and passed the returning 10:00 service with Prince at 12:34. Prince left Minffordd at 12:38 and arrived at Porthmadog at 12:45. Prince ran round at 13:00 and coupled up to the 13:40 Mountain Prince.

Lyd returning with the half size Glaslyn Venturer rake at 13:02, a little later than normal which is surprising considering the shortened rake. The 13:40 was Glaslyn Venturer was sold out unsurprisingly with only half the number of compartments available on the shortened rake. Within 5 minutes the loco had detached and was at the coal and watering point in the station yard. Lyd ran round at 13:!4 and was coupled up for the 13:40 departure at 13:18. Prince departed on time and Lyd a few minutes late at 13:45.

Up at Tan-y-bwlch Moelwyn arrived back at 13:27 in the rain with the 12:25 and the Fairlie detached promptly. Merddin Emrys arrived back at Porthmadog at 17:51 in the WHR platform, promptly detached and ran round. The stock was propelled to the seawall siding by 18:00. At 18:06 the loco ran to fuel/water in the yard before leaving light engine for the depot at 18:14, bringing the day's activities to a close.

Two of Monday's five Mountain Prince trains are fully booked. The Glaslyn Venturer is free to book from Tuesday however the Gelert Explorer is now fully booked for the next 3 trains until Thursday 8/7/21. Since 5 of the next 7 trips are fully booked thought might be given to adding a service on Monday 12/7/21 rather than starting the regular Monday trains on 19/7/21 as currently planned.

  

F&WHR mid season update 3/7/21

Click on the YouTube window to watch 13 mins 38 seconds of video covering a 'Half Year Report' on the F&WHR by General Manager Paul Lewin. This YouTube was published on 3/7/21 and was taken by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a 4K digital camcorder. It is best watched in 1080p HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on the YouTube link.

 

Friday ballast drop 2/7/21

This westerly view at shows Harlech Castle with a ballast drop on the sharp curve leading onto the Deviation just east of Dduallt Halt. Apparently heat earlier in the week had caused expansion creating voids as the rails pushed out to a greater radius.. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Vale of Ffestiniog fails 28/6/21

After heavy use on the flange lubrication runs to Dduallt until 28/6/21 when its transmission was noted getting hot, the loco was failed a few days later after a test run part the way across The Cob on 2/7/21. The gearbox has been removed by 3/7/21 and the identical gearbox from Castell Caernarfon is being fitted. The railway desperately needs a heavy duty rescue loco! Castell Caernarfon itself has been out of action for over 4 years since May 2017 and its refurbished gearbox has not been used since return to Dinas 13/9/17 from Llewellin Gears of Bristol as the loco has been having a very long slow refit.

The failure of Vale of Ffestiniog calls into question why Castell Caernarfon has been of such low priority for the last four years, though it is confined to the WHR. It wasn't until 16/4/19 after the Beddgelert run-through incident that Castell Caernarfon moved up the priority list. Until Vale of Ffestiniog is repaired it seems likely the F&WHR will have to keep both Fairlies in light steam to rescue the heavy service trains on the WHR. Staff are working urgently this week to repair Vale of Ffestiniog and it was hoped the loco might be back in traffic next week.

 

Gala News

There will be no SuperPower event this year over the WHR AGM weekend of 18-19/9/21 though K1 will be present for a few weeks to offer variety of traction. However there will be a small FR event over the weekend of 8-10/10/21. No mention has been made of The Snowdonian due to take place 24-27/7/21 and the webpage does not give access to any booking details/portal.

 

Llangollen reopening from 9/7/21

With the completion of tracklaying over Dee Bridge, the Llangollen Railway aims to open a limited service from Llangollen to Berwyn from next Friday 9/7/21. The PW team will move on to completing essential trackwork in Berwyn Tunnel and servicing fishplates etc. to Deeside loop, then Glyndyfrdwy and finally Carrog over coming weeks, allowing the line to be reopened in stages once passed fit for use. Corwen station is still under construction with work now focussed on the station buildings on the island platform.

Trains will run on Friday, Saturday & Sunday departing from Llangollen hourly from 11:00 until 16:00. On the evening of Friday 9/7/21 there will be two additional departures at 19:00 & 20:00 to coincide with the start of the Llangollen International Eisteddfod and the Illumination of the Town Bridge taking place at 21:00. This will probably be a steam service with one train in steam.

 

F&WHR traffic 3/7/21

Saturday began grey with drizzle forecast and even a thunderstorm with a maximum temperature of 18C. Of the five Mountain Prince trains running on Saturday. Compartments were available on the 10:00, 13:40 and 15:00 at the start of the day. Saturday's Gelert Explorer is fully booked but compartments are still available on Monday 5/7/21. Both the morning and afternoon Glaslyn Venturer trains on Sunday are bookable and it is hoped this might be the start of regular Sunday workings if sufficient tickets are sold to at least cover the cost of running the service. The Tan-y-bwlch and Minffordd webcams were restored to public use by the morning but the Porthmadog webcam was still showing problems with images smeared out every few seconds possibly due to lagging/frame loss.

Prince was released from Boston Lodge at 09:43 and came over The Cob to couple directly to the B set in the FR platform as usual. When it arrived at 09:49 it was clear it was dragging Moelwyn over. The train left on time with the diesel piloted the train to Tan-y-bwlch where it was to run round and attach to the rear for the Dduallt shunt. Normally Moelwyn would have gone up light engine earlier.

 

This westerly view at 10:13 on 3/7/21 shows Moelwyn, with headlight illuminated because of dull weather, piloting Prince on the 10:00 Mountain Prince. Moelwyn normally runs light engine to Tan-y-bwlch before the passenger train. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

At 10:20 Blanche was released from Boston Lodge and arrived at 10:27 to shunt the A set from the yard to the FR platform at 10:37 about half an hour before the booked departure time of 11:05.before. David Lloyd George departed with the C-set at 12:25. By this time only the 15:00 has space. At 12:50 Prince arrived back with the returning 10:00. After fuelling and watering the loco ran round and coupled up at 13:28 for the 13:40 service.

Prince arrived back with the 13:40 Mountain Prince at 16:50. The rake was left in the platform and the loco returned to the depot light engine at 16:58. Blanche arrived back in the WHR platform 17:51.After shunting the rake to the seawall siding and watering the loco left light engine for the depot at 18:15 to bring the day's movements to a close.

Three of the five Mountain Prince trains are still bookable on Sunday as are both Glaslyn Venturer trains. The next Gelert Explorer on Monday 5/7/21 has compartments available.

 

June loco roster

Date 10:00 MP 10:15 GV 11:00 GE 11:05 MP 12:10 WW

12:25 MP

13:15 WW

13:40 MP

13:40 GV 14:20 WW

15:00 MP

15:25 WW Dduallt shunt Notes
1/6/21 Prince DLG+ME 87 Blanche Palm Prince DLG+ME Blanche Palm X  
2/6/21 Prince DLG+ME 87 Blanche WP Prince DLG+ME Blanche Palm X  
3/6/21 WP 130 87 Blanche Prince WP 130 Blanche Prince X  
4/6/21 Prince 130 X ME WP Prince X ME X X  
5/6/21 WP ? 87 Blanche X WP ? Blanche X X  
6/6/21 WP X X Blanche X WP X Blanche X X Final Woodland Wanderer
7/6/21 Blanche X X ME X Blanche X ? X X Lyd on PTG tours to Dinas/WP + Palm to Blaenau
8/6/21 Blanche 130 87 DLG X Blanche 130 DLG X X  
9/6/21 Blanche 130 87 ME X Blanche 130 ME X Moelwyn  
10/6/21 Blanche 130 87 DLG X Blanche 130* DLG X Moelwyn *DLG from Pont Croesor on return
11/6/21 WP X X Blanche ME WP X Blanche X Moelwyn  
12/6/21 X ? 87 X 12:25 X ? X X Moelwyn  
13/6/21 Blanche X X DLG X Blanche X X X ?  
14/6/21 X X X DLG ME Blanche X DLG X Moelwyn  
15/6/21 ME 130 87 Blanche X ME 130 Blanche X Moelwyn  
16/6/21 ME 130 87 Blanche DLG ME Blanche DLG X Moelwyn  
17/6/21 Blanche * 130 87 DLG ME Blanche DLG ME X Moelwyn * Moelwyn on rear
18/6/21 X X X WP Blanche ME X WP X ?  
19/6/21 WP ? 87 Blanche DLG WP ? Blanche X ?  
20/6/21 WP X X Blanche ME WP X Blanche X Moelwyn  
21/6/21 Blanche X X DLG WP Blanche X DLG X UC  
22/6/21 Blanche 130 87 ME Lyd Blanche 130 ME X Palm  
23/6/21 ME 130 87 DLG WP ME 130 DLG X Moelwyn  
24/6/21 WP* 130 87 DLG Lyd DLG# 130 Lyd X Moelwyn * Moelwyn pilot out and  # back
25/6/21 Blanche X X DLG ME Blanche X DLG X Moelwyn  
26/6/21 WP 130 87 Blanche Lyd WP 130/87 Blanche X Moelwyn Garratts swopped at Beddgelert
27/6/21 Lyd X X Blanche Prince VoF X Prince X Moelwyn Vale of Ffestiniog for Lyd failure
28/6/21 Prince X X Blanche WP Prince X WP X Moelwyn  
29/6/21 Blanche 87 130 ME ? Blanche 87 ME X Moelwyn  
30/6/21 DLG ME+Lyd 87 Blanche Prince DLG ME+Lyd Blanche X Moelwyn 87 light to Dinas

 

F&WHR traffic 2/7/21

Friday dawned mild and sunny at Porthmadog with 18C maximum temperatures forecast. Four of the five Mountain Prince trains were fully booked with only the 15:00 with compartments available. The webcams were still experiencing problems with both Minffordd and Tan-y-bwlch webcams out of action and the Porthmadog webcam still dropping frames every few seconds. Sadly for people wishing to book trains, the F&WHR Booking website displayed 'Resource Limit Reached' occasionally for the first time so people would have been deterred from booking or have to telephone to book seats. It looks like the F&WHR need a better internet connection/computer system as passengers may be lost. The experimental Glaslyn Venturer on Sunday 4/7/21 could be repeated on the two subsequent Sundays if loadings are profitable before becoming FSX from 25/7/21. The Gelert Explorer is fully booked until 5/7/21 and half the trips in the following two weeks are already fully booked!

Prince was coupled up to the B set in the FR platform by 09:45 and departed several minutes at 10:06. Blanche was released from Boston Lodge at 10:23 and arrived at 10:29 to shunt the A -set from the seawall siding to the FR platform. The train was in the platform at 10:35, half an hour before departure on the 11:05 and left on time. At 11:30 David Lloyd George was released from Boston Lodge and shunted the yard at 11:40 to extract the C- set. It left on time at 12:25.

Prince arrived back in the FR platform with the return working of the return working of the 10:00 Mountain Prince at 12:54. The train was cleaning and prepared for the 13:40 working which left on time passing Blanche at Minffordd. Blanche pulled into the FR platform at 14:07 with the return working of the 11:05. The final train, the 15:00 Mountain Prince was fully booked by now. At 16:07 Vale of Ffestiniog emerged from Boston Lodge and crossed The Cob to the Trident signal before reversing into the depot again at 16:16, perhaps shunting a really long rake of coaches?

At 16:48 Prince arrived  back in the FR platform with the return of the 13:40. After leaving the rake in the platform Prince left light engine for the depot at about 17:00. At 17:45 Moelwyn arrived unusually piloting Blanche with the return working of the 15:00 into the WHR platform. Normally the loco comes down light engine an hour before this. The two locos uncoupled promptly and ran round together and propelled the rake to the seawall siding at 18:00 before departing light engine to the depot at 18:04 to conclude the day's movements.

 

This easterly view at 17:45 shows Moelwyn piloting Blanche on the return of the 15:00 Mountain Prince. Moelwyn had been Dduallt pilot and it was usual for the loco to come down attached to the passenger train. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Tomorrow's five Mountain Prince trains are mostly free to book except the 11:05 which is sold out. there are compartments available on both Sunday's Glaslyn Venturer trains but the Gelert Explorer is fully booked until Monday 5/7/21.

 

Main line trains 30/6/21-1/7/21

The Class 230 is still on test on the Borderlands Line. A small fire under one in Wrexham on 1/7/20 was put out by staff although fire engines attended as a precaution.

The NR Class 37s (97303/4 top and tail) operated a 23:10 Machynlleth-Pwllheli Derby NR test train via Pwllheli overnight 30/6/21-1/7/21. such trains regularly patrol NR tracks checking for track faults.

Green LSL Class 40 No.40013 carrying the number D213 Andania was on a Bangor-Bristol Temple Meads excursion departing Bangor 07:40. Despite the 2000HP power of the loco several minutes were lost on the climb to Whitmore Summit and the green machine was down 12 minutes by Stafford having been routed over the slow lines. The train was back on time by Bristol.

 

This northerly view (1/7/21) shows D213 Andania (40023) ECS leaving Bristol Temple Meads for stabling after depositing its passengers. Notable on the right are the cleared land where Bristol Bath Road loco depot was situated and beyond cleared land where the rail connected Post Office sorting office lay. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright John Rawlings and was taken on a quadcopter cam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Covid surge latest

The chances of any further relaxation of Welsh Covid regulations now seems remote as First Minister Mark Drakeford considers the latest Delta variant figures. Gwynedd in particular is seeing a surge in cases according to the Daily Post report. Many more school's are also seeing whole classes of children sent home than in the January peak when one pupil tests positive. From 3/7/21 vaccination centres in Wales will offer a 'no appointment necessary' walk-in service to any adult over 18. Some 75% of adults in Wales under 50 have now had their first vaccination.

 

F&WHR traffic 1/7/21

Thursday 1/7/21 dawned a bit grey but mild in Porthmadog with sunny periods and temperatures of 17C maximum forecast for the afternoon. The five Mountain Prince trains were fully booked except for the 15:00 service. The morning Glaslyn Venturer showed the strange message 'Call to book' but the Gelert Explorer from Caernarfon was fully booked until 5/7/21.

It looked like a repeat of Thursday with Merddin Emrys shunting through the WHR loop onto the front of the Glaslyn Venturer at 09:35. Prince arrived light engine and coupled directly to the B set in the FR platform at the same time. However one difference was that the loco used to shunt the Glaslyn Venturer out to the WHR platform was David Lloyd George instead of Lyd. The Fairlie ran round at 09:42 and became pilot loco providing a two Double Fairlie haulage to Beddgelert. Prince departed on time at 10:00 as did the two Fairlies at 10:15.

 

This easterly view (1/7/21) at 09:42 shows David Lloyd George running round to pilot Merddin Emrys on the 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer substituting for No.87. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The Porthmadog webcam was again showing signs of lag and missing frames as it did yesterday while the Minffordd and Tan-y-bwlch cameras were off line all day again. Its seems the F&WHR's webcam system has become unreliable of late maybe due to large numbers of customers using the bandwidth on the F&WHR's computers for booking tickets.

Blanche was released from Boston Lodge at 10:35 and came across The Cob for the 11:05 Mountain Prince. The loco shunted the A rake from the seawall sidings at 10:42 to the FR platform and departed on time. At 11:20 Welsh Pony was released from Boston Lodge and arrived at 11:28 to shunt the C-set for the 12:25 Mountain Prince.

Prince arrived back at 12:47 with the return working of the 10:00 Mountain Prince. The Glaslyn Venturer arrived at 12:56 and the two Fairlies went separately to the fuelling and watering point at 13:07 and 13:09. At 13:30 passengers on the platform were given the treat of seeing Merddin Emrys shunt through the WHR run round track whilst David Lloyd George headed from the watering point towards The Cob. Both were coupled onto the front of the train by 13:35 ready for the 13:40 departure. Both Glaslyn Venturer and Mountain Prince trains departed simultaneously probably for the first time at 13:40 in sunshine.

At 17:40 a Garratt loco, possibly No.87 returned from Dinas, was noted waiting for a path back to Boston Lodge next to the signalbox while Blanche was noted crossing The Cob with the returning 15:00 service. It seems the loco might have arrived light engine from Dinas and watered in the yard. Blanche arrived in the WHR platform at 17:49 and the loco ran round shortly afterwards once the Garratt had cleared the shunt limit. The rake was shunted to the seawall siding at 18:00 before the loco left light engine for the depot at 18:05 bringing the day's activities to a close.

On Friday 2/7/21 the first two of five Mountain Prince trains are already sold out. A pair of Glaslyn Venturer trains will be offered on Sunday 4/7/21 for the first time. There are no Gelert Explorer trains until Saturday but the first train with free compartments is not until Monday 5/7/21.

 

WHHR reopens from 29/5/21

The WHHR opened weekends from 29/5/21 SSuO with four trains a day throughout June. Advance booking was recommended. Russell celebrated its 115th birthday and the newly delivered replica Pickering Brake No.12 was in use. In July the train service is amended to WThSO until 15/7/21. See WHHR website for full details.

 

Cambrian Railways arrival 14/6/21

With the Cambrian Heritage Railway Oswestry at last having some Mk1 coaches, after purchase from the Llangollen Railway, having a loco to pull them with must have come high on the agenda! No.73129 was purchased from the G&WR recently and arrived at Oswestry on 14/6/21. This 600HP loco saw much use on tracklaying trains on the Broadway extension opened a few years ago. Now at the G&WR it will be able to haul 7/8 Mk1's (no ETH). The loco will retain BR blue and be refitted with City of Winchester nameplates and a buffing plate to make it compatible with buckeye fitted Mk1 coaches. The CHR is intending to extend train services for a couple of miles to Weston Wharf where they have built a new station and installed a Mk3 catering coach as a facility. The railway is hoping to staff the coach with volunteers. A tamper will arrive in July and after a ballast drop will be tamping the extension and the five points installed over 4 days. A further proposal is to construct the former Down Main platform track creating a three track station at Oswestry.

The railway now has 3 Mk1 coaches including No.3950 which has returned from loan to another heritage railway. The railway has been closed since December 2019 but hopes to reopen late summer this year.

 

F&WHR traffic 30/6/21

Porthmadog had a bright start to Wednesday with a warm 24C maximum forecast in the afternoon. Four of the five Mountain Prince trains were fully booked with compartments only available on the 15:00 service. Both Glaslyn Venturer trains today are fully booked for the first time but both trains on Thursday are still bookable. No.87 ran light engine early to Dinas to haul the 11:00 Gelert Explorer as No.130 was having attention to its motion. The loco only arrived in Porthmadog on Saturday. The need for a spare Garratt or heavy haul diesel like Castell Caernarfon has never been greater as Dinas is without a spare loco to haul the Gelert Explorer.

The Gelert Explorer from Caernarfon is fully booked until 5/7/21 suggesting more services should be added from the north end of the line now as the WHR must be turning away prospective passengers! Some additional trains will be run with Mondays added in July except 12/7/21 and Friday 30/7/21. During August the Gelert Explorer become a 5 day a week FSX service as the Snowdonia Star through service takes over FSO from Saturday 31/7/21-Sunday 4/9/21. On Saturday 24/7/21 the set seems to be reserved for The Snowdonian special run on the WHR though booking details have yet to be released. 

The day saw an interesting development on the traction front with Merddin Emrys and Lyd coming over early, presumably together. The Fairlie parked in the WHR loop while Lyd went to collect the Glaslyn Venturer rake from the yard and shunt it to the WHR platform at 09:26. Merddin Emrys then coupled to the north end and Lyd ran round and coupled as pilot loco. This is presumably a test run for Lyd after its failure in traffic on the Mountain Prince on 27/6/21. Lyd carried the new Glaslyn Venturer headboard.

 

This easterly view (30/6/21) at 09:38 shows Lyd and Merddin Emrys on the 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer substituting for No.87. This gives Lyd a trial run after its release from works following failure on Monday. The loco is sporting its new headboard. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

David Lloyd George was noted coming over from the depot at 09:45 and coupled to B set in the FR platform at about 09:50 ready for the 10:00 Mountain Prince departure that left on time. At 10:40 Boston Lodge released Blanche for the 11:05 Mountain Prince. The loco ran to the seawall siding at 10:48 and collected the A set to shunt into the FR platform by 10:55. Prince arrived about 11:40 and shunted the C set to the FR platform, departing on time with the 12:25 Mountain Prince passing the returning 10:00 service at Minffordd.

David Lloyd George arrived at Porthmadog with the return leg of the 10:00 at 12:50 but the F&WHR Railcam was stuck on 12:50 for some hours until about 15:30. Meanwhile up at Tan-y-bwlch Moelwyn was coupled to the rear 12:25 service at 13:14 for Dduallt pilot duties. The 15:00 Mountain Prince hauled by Blanche paused at signals for a couple of minutes at Minffordd awaiting entry to the loop. Prince passed towards Porthmadog at 15:18 with the return working of the 12:25 once the loop was clear.

At 16:24 Merddin Emrys and Lyd arrived back at Porthmadog in the WHR platform with the return working of the 13:40 Glaslyn Venturer. The Fairlie immediately shunted to the fuelling point to fuel and water for its next workings. Lyd remained attached to the rake to shunt it to the sidings. The shunt move took place at 16:34 with a few minutes to spare before the return of the 13:40 Mountain Prince booked for 1645. Lyd shunted to the fuelling point at 16:41 while the returning 13:40 hauled by David Lloyd George approached over The Cob arriving at 16:45. Merddin Emrys and Lyd departed light engine for the depot at 16:52. Blanche left for the depot a few minutes later at 17:03.

Blanche arrived back at 17:53 and promptly ran round before shunting its rake to the sea wall siding at 18:06. The loco left promptly afterwards light engine for Boston Lodge bringing the day's activities to a close.

Although five Mountain Prince trains will run on Thursday, only the 10:00 and 15:00 currently have compartments available. Both Glaslyn Venturer trains are available to book tomorrow but the Gelert Explorer from Caernarfon is fully booked until 3/7/21.

 

Llangollen resurrection 29-30/6/21

A crucial piece of Llangollen Railway PW is being completed that should see the line ready for approval for passenger trains at the end of July. The track has been relaid over the Dee Bridge and gauged. The check rails have been laid out and need to be welded on 30/6/21 and fitted. The green liveried Class 108 and Class 109 Wickham DMUs were prepared for service though it is hoped the diesel locos and hauled stock will be used rather than DMUs!

 

F&WHR traffic 29/6/21

Porthmadog dawned cool with sunny periods and a maximum temperature of 17C forecast.

Blanche left Porthmadog a few minutes late on the 10:00 Mountain Prince passing Minffordd at 10:13. Meanwhile No.87 was ready for its first trip on the 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer replacing No.130 which will haul the Gelert Explorer. The two locos exchanged duties on 27/6/21. The train left at 10:17. Moelwyn was stabled at Tan-y-bwlch waiting for Dduallt pilot duties.

 

This easterly view (29/6/21) at 10:16 shows No.87 ready to depart on the 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer. The fireman is seen moving coal forward ready for the 'right away'. No.130 swopped duties with No.87 on the Glaslyn Venturer on Saturday as part of a Wedding Reception run from Porthmadog to Beddgelert, giving the Gelert Explorer passengers two different haulages! Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Merddin Emrys emerged from Boston Lodge at 10:40 and ran straight to the sea wall siding at 10:46 to shunt the A set to the FR platform by 10:54 ready for the 11:05 Mountain Prince. The train left on time.

In the afternoon Blanche departed at light engine for the depot at 16:58 after bringing the 13:40 back to Porthmadog in the sunshine. Merddin Emrys pulled into the WHR platform at 17:48 in strong sunshine. The loco ran round and shunted its rake to the seawall siding several minutes later before going to water/coal at 18:05. The Fairlie departed light engine for the depot at 18:16 to close the day's activities.

 

This easterly view (26/6/21) at 17:47 shows Merddin Emrys arriving in the WHR platform with the return working of the 15:00 Mountain Prince. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

On Wednesday 30/6/21 three of the five Mountain Prince trains are already fully booked with just the first and the last having compartments available. Only the 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer is bookable as the afternoon train is already fully booked. The Gelert Explorer from Caernarfon is fully booked until Monday 5/7/21.

 

F&WHR traffic 28/6/21

Monday 28/6/21 dawned mild with sunny periods at Porthmadog, maximum temperature 21C. The 11:05 and 12:25 Mountain Prince trains were fully booked but compartments are available on the other three trains. Compartments have become available on the Gelert Explorer on 29/6/21 which is other fully booked until 3/7/21. All this week's six Glaslyn Venturer trains are currently bookable.

At 09:45 Prince was released from Boston Lodge and came over The Cob to couple up to the B set stabled in the FR platform. The train departed a few minutes late at 10:04. Blanche arrived at 10:45 to shunt the yard bringing the A set from the seawall siding into the FR platform for the fully booked  11:05 Mountain Prince which departed on time. Welsh Pony departed on time at 12:25 Mountain Prince hauling the C set, passing Minffordd at 12:35. This is the first time two England engines have been out in a while hauling the Mountain Prince trains.

Welsh Pony arrived at Tan-y-bwlch at 13:11 and Moelwyn coupled to the rear a few minutes later. The train departed for Dduallt at 13:19 allowing Blanche to run round its train minutes later. Prince departed Porthmadog on time at 13:40 with its second trip of the day. Blanche arrived back at 17:57 with the return 15:00 Mountain Prince and ran into the FR platform, the run round being clear as Glaslyn Venturer rake was out of the station on flange lubrication duty. the loco ran round at 18:03 and shunted the rake to the seawall siding at 18:11 and promptly departed for the depot light engine at 18:12 to bring a close to the day's services. Normally the B set is left in the FR platform overnight for the 10:00 departure but this was not the case today. Vale of Ffestiniog arrived at Tan-y-Bwlch with the Glaslyn Venturer rake at 18:52 on flange lubrication duties with Moelwyn coupled to the rear and departed for Dduallt at 19:09, arriving back at 19:22.

The Glaslyn Venturer rake must be returned to Porthmadog after a second run of flange lubrication duties planned for this evening. The rake must be in Porthmadog by 09:45 for the 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer departure on Tuesday. Three of the four Mountain Prince trains are available on Tuesday with just the 11:05 and 12:25 fully booked. All the Glaslyn Venturer trains for this week are bookable, perhaps reflecting their position near the bottom of the booking page even after the Woodland Wanderer and Back to Blaenau trains which do not run until the last week of July! The Gelert Explorer is fully booked until 3/7/21. 

 

F&WHR traffic 27/6/21

Sunday dawned bright with sunny periods forecast at Porthmadog and a maximum of 21C. All Mountain Prince trains except the 11:05 had space today.

Lyd shunted onto the B set in the FR platform by 09:45 ready for the 10:00 Mountain Prince which departed on time. Blanche came over to shunt the yard at 10:27 and draw out the A set for the 11:05. The rake was shunted into the FR platform by 10:45 and left on time. Prince was prepared for the 12:25 which was sold out. The loco turned up at 11:40 to coal and water before shunting the C set to the FR platform from 11:49. The 12:25 left on time and arrived at Tan-y-bwlch at 13:15. Moelwyn was coupled to the rear at 13:18 and the train set off for Dduallt at 13:23 allowing Blanche to run round at 13:35.

Meanwhile down at Porthmadog Lyd ran round at 13:27 onto the B set in the FR platform to form the 13:40 Mountain Prince, which was sold out soon after midday. The train left on time. At 15:36 Blanche was shunting in the platform which did not depart with the 15:00 Mountain Prince until 15:45, some 45 minutes late after an earlier operational problem. The train passed Minffordd at 15:56. The train passed Prince at Minffordd which had an extended wait in the loop for some reason, possibly associated with the late running trains this afternoon before departing for Porthmadog at 16:12. Prince arrived at Porthmadog at 16:19 some 49 minutes late. Prince shunted its rake to the yard at 16:31 and headed for the depot light engine at 16:34.

Meanwhile up at Tan-y-bwlch Moelwyn arrived back with Vale of Ffestiniog on the rear at 16:26 some 80 minutes late revealing that Lyd had been the cause of the afternoon's disruption. This was the first diesel substitution of the season. There was no sign of Lyd. Blanche arrived at 16:37 and at 16:45 set off for Dduallt at 16:45 with Moelwyn on the rear. Vale of Ffestiniog ran round at 16:47 as soon as Blanche's train had cleared the shunt limit.

 

This westerly view (27/6/21) at 16:37 shows Blanche arriving at Tan-y-bwlch with the late running 15:00 while Vale of Ffestiniog is on the rear of a diesel substituted 13:40 following a problem with Lyd. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Blanche arrived back at Tan-y-bwlch at 17:09 some 45 minutes late and ran round at 17:26 with people returning to the train after a shorter break than normal. Vale of Ffestiniog passed through Minffordd at 17:24 and arrived at Porthmadog at 17:34 some 70 minutes late. Vale of Ffestiniog hauled the Glaslyn Venturer rake out at 17:46 towards Blaenau Ffestiniog passing Minffordd at 17:54. Blanche left Tan-y-bwlch at 17:37 and passed the Funkey ECS working departing Minffordd at 18:02. Blanche eventually arrived in Porthmadog' s WHR platform at 18:10, some 20 minutes late. As the Glaslyn Venturer rake had been removed Blanche could have run round in the FR platform but stuck to its diagram. Due to congestion caused by late running Moelwyn was left at Tan-y-bwlch.

Blanche ran round at 18:15 but was held at the king point for several minutes. The loco eventually shunted the rake to the seawall siding before heading off light engine to the depot at 18:35. Meanwhile the Funkey arrived at Tan-y-bwlch at 17:26 and Moelwyn attached to the rear. The driver was kept waiting by the guard for several minutes until 17:35 for the right away which was surprising for an ECS train. The train was on flange lubrication duties, between Minffordd and Dduallt which continued until Vale of Ffestiniog's transmission became hot. The train came back down, presumably only to Minffordd as it then went back up the hill, passing Penrhyndeudraeth about 20 minutes after going down. The train did three runs in all, the final one coming down past Penrhyndeudraeth at 9.40pm and stabling at Boston Lodge before bringing the day's activities to a close.

 

This westerly view (27/6/21) at 18:25 shows Vale of Ffestiniog arriving at Tan-y-bwlch with an ECS working. Moelwyn was attached to the rear before the train eventually proceeded presumably to Glan-y-pwll Carriage Shed. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Monday's 11:05 is already fully booked but the other four Mountain Prince workings have compartments available. The TWThO twice a day Glaslyn Venturer is bookable for weeks to come. The Gelert Explorer from Caernarfon is fully booked until Saturday 3/7/21 indicating additional trains from this end of the line might garner much needed revenue.

 

Traction review 27/6/21

The addition of Lyd to the fleet in early June has seen some use of the L&B replica loco on Mountain Prince services this week. Prince has not returned to service after visiting the SBR two weeks ago. Palmerston has also seen little use although it did turn up as the Dduallt shunt pilot on 22/6/21. This is normally a Moelwyn duty but Upnor Castle has also stepped in occasionally. Whilst usually going up light engine before the first service to prove the route, on 24/6/21 Moelwyn was attached to the rear of the first train, the 10:00. The Dduallt shunt loco appears to travel light engine back from Tan-y-bwlch immediately after its last duty arriving back at Boston Lodge about a hour before the service train departs Tan-y-bwlch.

Welsh Pony and Blanche have made up the bulk of the small engine haulages with increased use of both Fairlies over the last few weeks. No.130 acquired a train name headboard Glaslyn Venturer on the west side running plate facing passengers at Porthmadog. This will help passengers select their train when both Mountain Prince and Glaslyn Venturer are in the platforms at the same time at 10:00 and 13:40. It seems No.87 has swapped duties with No.130 on 26/6/21 as the Wedding Reception special saw the locos exchanged at Beddgelert from the Gelert Explorer.

While No.130 has performed well, No.87 had a problem on 9/6/21 and No.130 was detached from the returning Glaslyn Venturer at Pont Croesor to rescue it. By that time No.87 should have been almost back in Caernarfon as it departs Beddgelert before the Glaslyn Venturer arrives! In the end it was not needed but David Lloyd George was steamed and rescued the Glaslyn Venturer from Pont Croesor. The need for a large diesel loco is illustrated as Vale of Ffestiniog may not be able to haul the Gelert Explorer rake unassisted. It is well past time to complete the rebuild of WHR's Funkey Castell Caernarfon! So far the F&WHR has been lucky in having sufficient small engines available for traffic and always in light steam as standby locos.

 

Comparison with L&BR

The L&BR which often exchanges locos with the F&WHR is offering a turn up and go service rather than pre-booking like the FR&WHR. With the staycation this year both railways are benefiting from increased visitors to the tourist areas where they are located. Both railways see Mondays and Fridays as low traffic days so do not offer a service on those days (FR does offer a daily Mountain Prince but all other trains do not operate). The L&BR is advertising special days in advance including its September Gala 25-26/9/21 but the F&WHR has yet to commit to SuperPower 17-19/9/21 though states that K1 will visit from the SBR this Autumn.

 

FR locos at SBR 26/6/21

This easterly view (26/6/21) shows Lilla and K1 inside Statfold Barn's display shed around the turntable. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Mark Hambly and was taken on a digital camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Will The Snowdonian run this year?

The Snowdonian was cancelled last year because of COVID. The Snowdonian website still has no details about booking even though the train is due to run on 24-25/7/21 in just 4 weeks time! The absence of major timetable changes casts doubt on the possibility that the trains will run. The website says the WHR leg will be on Saturday and the FR leg on the Sunday. However, the Glaslyn Venturer rake is not booked to run on Saturday 24/7/21, so its possible to use this rake for The Snowdonian. On Sunday 25/7/21 The Glaslyn Venturer set is currently shown as only available for the afternoon service at 13:40 so could be booked for use on The Snowdonian. with a run from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog and back in the morning. As regards the Mountain Prince all of July's five daily trains are planned on Sunday's except Sunday 25/7/21. This might indicate a rake of heritage coaches being set aside for The Snowdonian as only two rakes are needed for the advertised 3 train service.  

 

North Wales main line 26/6/21

TfW livery Class 67 No.67025 and its Mk4 rake were used as a Saturday Crewe-Bangor Relief train on 26/6/21. Also No.67008 with today's 1K67, 1005 Holyhead-Crewe which was the first run of the Mk4s in passenger service between Chester and Crewe. The Holyhead-Cardiff train sets do not run at weekends and is available for general spot hire use if not undergoing maintenance. Previously 1D68 has been an ECS turn to allow or a set swap at Holyhead for maintenance purposes. This was an innovative way to use the set swap to provide a better service for passengers. Well done TfW.

The ugly Class 179 appeared on the NWC for the first time on 25/6/21 with No.179002 apparently covering all the branches and noted running to Blaenau Ffestiniog. This train has a central end door reminiscent of southern region EMUs but on the positive side this will make it easier for passengers to transfer to another coupled unit when trains are crowded and for buffet trolleys to serve the whole train.

 

F&WHR traffic 26/6/21

Saturday started out grey and mild at Porthmadog with sunny periods and 19C maximum forecast. All five Mountain Prince trains remained bookable this morning but the Gelert Explorer from Caernarfon was fully booked until 3/7/21

Welsh Pony left on time hauling the B set with the 10:00 Mountain Prince. Moelwyn was already waiting in the westbound platform at Tan-y-bwlch for Dduallt shunt duties at 10:00 presumably having come up light engine earlier. Blanche turned up at 10:31 to shunt the A set from the seawall siding to the FR platform ready for the 11:05 Mountain Prince. The train left on time and was sold out by departure time.

Both Lyd and No.130 came over about 12:00. Vale of Ffestiniog turned up with an empty B wagon in tow at 12:09 and ran through the WHR platform road for Boston Lodge. This was presumably a returned wagon from the WHR loco ash operation out of Dinas. The 10 coach Glaslyn Venturer rake was hauled out by No.130 at 12:18 and reversed into the WHR platform. This delayed the departure of the 12:25 a little which left with the C set at 12:29 behind Lyd.

 

This easterly view (26/6/21) at 12:09 shows Vale of Ffestiniog arriving from Dinas with an empty B wagon while No.130 shunted the Glaslyn Venturer set to the WHR platform. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

With The Cob now clear No.130 shunted the rear four coaches to the yard and then ran around the remaining 6 coach rake in the WHR platform. This special train up the WHR appeared to be a private booking for a wedding reception as Observation Car No.152 was adorned with a label 'Alex and Zanna Just Married'. The loco ran round to the front of the train at 12:40 before departing presumably for Beddgelert at 12:58. Meanwhile Welsh Pony arrived back at 12:55 with the returning 10:00 service for the 13:40 service.

 

This easterly view (26/6/21) at 12:40 shows No.130 running round preparing to haul the wedding special. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

At 16:29 the wedding special rolled back into Porthmadog with No.87 on the front indicating a loco swap at Beddgelert. So No.130 must have continued back to Dinas with the Gelert Explorer. At 16.33 the loco collected the four coaches detached at midday and shunted them back onto the rake in the WHR platform to reform the Glaslyn Venturer 10 coach rake before shunting the completed rake back to the yard.

 

This easterly view (26/6/21) at 16:28 shows No.87 arriving in the WHR platform from Beddgelert with the truncated Glaslyn Venturer set from the wedding reception. It seems the loco had been exchanged with No.130 at Beddgelert to give No.130 a turn on the Gelert Explorer and No.87 on the Glaslyn Venturer. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Welsh Pony arrived back at 16:49. One in the FR platform No.87 could shunt the rake from the WHR platform to the yard at 16:50 and departed light engine for the depot at 16:56. Meanwhile Welsh Pony left light engine for the depot at 17:08.

All except the 11:05 Mountain Prince trains have compartments free tomorrow.

 

Lilla and Britomart at Statfold 25/6/21

Lilla and Britomart arrived at the Statfold Barn Railway from the F&WHR on Friday in readiness for the Quarry Hunslets 150+1 event on 10-11/7/21.  They are expected to operate the passenger service on the “high level” line, with Lilla at one end of the train and Statfold paired with Britomart at the other. See Statfold website for full details.

 

Moving Pictures No.52 25/6/21

Click on the YouTube window to watch 30 mins 47 seconds of video covering Lyd's special PTG Tours train on the WHR 7/6/21, Palmerston and Welsh Pony double headed to Blaenau Ffestiniog and Prince and K1 at the Statfold Barn railway. This YouTube was published on 25/6/21 (nominally 16/6/21) and was taken by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a 4K digital camcorder. It is best watched in 1080p HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on the YouTube link.

 

F&WHR traffic 25/6/21

Friday dawned grey and mild at Porthmadog with a chilly damp day forecast 13C maximum. All trains are sold out today except the 10:00 Mountain Prince. All five Mountain Prince trains on Saturday and Sunday were still bookable this morning. The Gelert Explorer is fully booked for several days ahead and the first available compartment is now available on 3/7/21! Surely time to start adding extra trips for this MFSuX service?

Steam was noted being raised at Boston Lodge at 09:47 and Blanche arrived to couple onto the B set left in the FR platform at 09:47. This train was to form the 10:00 Mountain Prince which left a quarter of an hour late at 10:15 after some problem was resolved. The rain set in later and David Lloyd George arrived by 10:35 to refuel and water before shunting the yard at 10:50. The A set was dragged out of the seawall siding at 10:55 and shunted to the FR platform in time for the 11:05 Mountain Prince departure which left on time.

Merddin Emrys left Boston Lodge at 11:35 and came over to shunt the C set for the 12:25 Mountain Prince departing 6 minutes late at 12:31. The train arrived at Tan-y-bwlch shortly after 13:05 and departed for Dduallt with Moelwyn on the rear about 15 minutes later allowing David Lloyd George to run round at 13:25. At 14:40 the Fairlie remerged from refuelling/watering at Porthmadog to run round and couple up to the 15:00. This was fully booked by now and left on time. At 15:51 the C set was shunted back into the yard and Merddin Emrys departed for the depot shortly afterwards.

David Lloyd George arrived back at Porthmadog on the return working of the 15:00 at about 17:45 and ran round its train in the WHR platform by 17:51. The rake was shunted to the seawall siding while other locos were being disposed of at Boston Lodge. The loco went to refuel and water at 18:01 before departing light engine for the depot at 18:10 to close the day's activities.

Four of the five Saturday trains are available with only the popular 11:05 fully booked. Compartments have become available on the Gelert Explorer on Saturday 26/6/21 but otherwise the train is fully booked until the following Saturday 3/7/21. Next week's Glaslyn Venturer are all bookable.

 

New Summer services from 24/7/21

The Summer is well and truly upon us here at the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways! Whilst the weather has been mixed as it often is here in North Wales, there has been nothing but excitement around the Railway as we have welcomed visitors back for peak season! Since reopening back in April, our four experiences along both the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways have proved hugely popular with visitors, and it has been a joy to see people enjoying their visit with many trains fully booked more recently. We are now at a point where we can begin to offer a greater variety of services and we are delighted to announce that we will be introducing 3 new experiences in July! These will be the; Back to Blaenau/The Quarryman, The Harbourmaster and Snowdonia Star services.

Details of each of these services are noted below:

Back to Blaenau/The Quarryman will run the full length of the Ffestiniog Railway from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog, with a break to enable passengers to explore ‘the town that roofed the world’. A chance to discover its impressive slate sculptures, poetry band trail and selection of privately run shops, cafes and pubs. The train will then return through the Vale of Ffestiniog to the harbourside at Porthmadog, following the route of slate trains from quarry to coast.

We are very excited to be offering a service along the whole line of the Ffestiniog Railway and are pleased to return to Blaenau Ffestiniog. Nearly forty years ago, trains proudly steamed back into Blaenau Ffestiniog and now we are doing it again for the first time in over 18 months.

The Back to Blaenau/The Quarryman service runs Tuesday to Thursday from 27/7/21-2/9/21 departing Porthmadog at 11:40 and returning after a 1.5 hour break in Blaenau Ffestiniog (some sources say 1 hour) at 14:45.

The Harbourmaster will run the full length of the Welsh Highland Railway, from Porthmadog’s Harbour Station, travelling 25 miles ‘coast to coast’ across the foothills of Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) to Caernarfon. Here, passengers can enjoy a break to explore the historic town with its impressive castle, ancient town walls, narrow streets and views across the Menai Strait. The train will then head back to Porthmadog - past meadows, moors and mountains as it travels through Snowdonia. The train departs at 09:40 and after a 2.5 hour journey gives at 2 hour break at Caernarfon before departing at 15:10 for the return journey.

A First class ‘Gold’ and a pre-order collect & go hamper service is available on this service.

The Harbourmaster service runs Fridays and Saturdays from the 31/7/21-4/9/21.

Snowdonia Star will also run the full length of the Welsh Highland Railway, but starting from Caernarfon Station, giving an option for passengers joining from the North Wales Coast. Arriving in Porthmadog, passengers will have time to explore the coastal town with its wide High Street and busy harbour and enjoy the facilities at Harbour Station. The train will then return to Caernarfon, to complete a ‘Grand Day-Out’ enjoying the dramatic scenery of the beautiful Snowdonia National Park.

A First class ‘Gold’ and a pre-order collect & go hamper service is available on this service.

The Snowdonia Star service celebrates the dedication of  the Welsh Highland Railway Society and the hard work and support of its members in the rebuilding of this railway from Caernarfon back to Porthmadog.

Since the opening of the first section of track to Dinas in 1997, embankments have been rebuilt, bridges replaced stations constructed and track laid. Supporters have paid towards buildings and bridges, carriages and even locomotive restoration, such is their love for this very special railway. The work was completed in early 2009 when the final piece of track was laid and fitted with the golden bolts to complete the track and connect with the Ffestiniog Railway.

The Snowdonia Star service runs Fridays and Saturdays from 25/7/2-4/9/21 the service departs 10:00 from Caernarfon and has a 2.25 hour journey with a 2 hour break in Porthmadog, departing at 14:15 for the return journey.

Full information regarding these new services will be available on our website: https://www.festrail.co.uk

The Booking site will be opening bookings for these services from 10:00 on 24/6/21. Tickets will be available for these services between 24/7/21 July and 5/9/21.

The priority for all these services will be to keep all staff, volunteers and visitors safe. Note: Your group must consist of people who are in your bubble and who you are permitted to travel together with according to Welsh Government guidance applicable at time of travel.

The detailed FAQs page on our website will help with many of your questions.

Ticket prices will vary depending on your choice of experience; and work on the basis that you must first purchase a compartment or seating bay in order to travel. This seating bay is cleaned before travel and is then yours for the duration of your visit.

Most compartments and seating bays hold up to six passengers but if you are a party of more than six, please telephone our booking office on 01766 516024 to make your booking.

Please Note: If you are unable to book online, have special or disability requirements, or you simply need help with your booking, please phone to book on 01766 516024. The Booking Office is open 09:00 – 17:00 daily.

 

WHRS Members’ Travel

Whilst the F&WHR still need to make as much as possible from every train, we recognise the huge contribution the societies have made to keeping the railways going – both financially and through volunteer help at all levels. Current travel privileges for members are as follows:

Annual members will be entitled to book a standard class compartment/seating bay on their member railway at no charge. This covers two people. Any additional people in the compartment pay full individual ticket price as appropriate for that train. They may also book a compartment on the other railway at a 50% discount to cover two people travelling. Again, extra people in the compartment pay the full individual ticket price. This can be done through our online Buy Now gateway. You will need your membership number with six numbers and prefixed by the letter F – e.g. F123456 for Ffestiniog Society members or W – e.g. W001234 for Welsh Highland Society members.

Family memberships with more than two members will need to telephone the booking office to book their ticket. 01766 516024.

Life members will be entitled to book a first class or standard class compartment on their member railway at no charge. This covers two people. Any additional people in the compartment pay full individual ticket price as appropriate for that train. They may also book a compartment on the other railway at a 50% discount for two people travelling. Again, extra people in the compartment pay the full individual ticket price. This can be done through our online Buy Now gateway. You will need your membership number with six number and prefixed by the letters FL – e.g. FL001234 for FRS life members or WL – e.g. WL000123 for WHRS life members.

 

Other services from 24/7/21-5/9/21

The Summer timetable extends from 24/7/21-5/9/21 over the School Summer Holidays, following which an Autumn timetable, still in planning, will apply. With the new Snowdonia Star service seemingly using the Gelert Explorer rake on Fridays and Saturdays, the Gelert Explorer will not run those days from 31/7-4/9/21 but has now been expanded to run FSX 25/7/21-5/9/21. Similarly the Glaslyn Venturer rake will seemingly be used for the Harbourmaster service Fridays and Saturdays 31/7/21-4/9/21 but has now been expanded to run FSX 25/7/21-5/9/21.

The FR's Back to Blaenau/The Quarryman service is a bit of a conundrum as it is operating Tuesday-Thursday, the same days as The Glaslyn Venturer but offers a Pullman/Observation option. It must use some of the spare coaches from the stored fleet of modern coaches at Glan-y-pwll/Boston Lodge but in absence of another Observation car, this suggests one will be taken off the Glaslyn Venturer rake.  

The Mountain Prince runs daily until 25/7/21 with 5 trains a day showing as planned for most of the July timetable. It is then replaced by The Woodland Wanderer from 26/7/21 to 5/9/21 for the School summer holidays. This is currently showing as 4 planned daily trains but the previous Woodland Wanderer timetable showed six trains. More may be added according to demand.

 

F&WHR traffic 24/6/21

Thursday started off a grey day at Porthmadog but the weather will be a mild 17C with sunny periods. All Mountain Prince trains are fully booked today and all except the 15:00 fully booked Friday. This afternoon's Glaslyn Venturer is sold out. The Gelert Explorer is fully booked until 3/7/21. The F&WHR Booking website has already been expanded to show the new Summer services (see above) in anticipation of their start from 24/7/21 for the school Summer Holiday peak season. Tickets for these Summer Services can be booked from today at 10:00. Of the original service names proposed only the Snowdonia Star retains its name.

Moelwyn and Welsh Pony left Porthmadog double heading the 10:00 Mountain Prince while No.130 waited on its train in the WHR platform for the 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer. Normally the Dduallt shunt loco would have gone up to Tan-y-bwlch light engine before the 10:00. David Lloyd George turned up about 10:35 to shunt the 11:05 which left on time. Lyd arrived at 11:35 to shunt the 12:25 to the FR platform departing a few minutes late at 12:28 with the C set.

David Lloyd George arrived back at Porthmadog at 18:00 with the returning 15:00 Mountain Prince but unusually piloted by Moelwyn for possibly the first time. The two locos detached independently and ran round with Moelwyn going on shed and the Fairlie shunting the rake to the seawall siding and departing promptly at 18:19 for the depot bringing activity at Porthmadog to a close.

 

This easterly view (24/6/21) at 18:00 shows Moelwyn and David Lloyd George double heading the return working of the 15:00 Mountain Prince. This is a most unusual move as the diesel normal returns light engine. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Trains on Friday continue to be busy with all but the 15:00 Mountain Prince sold out. The Gelert Explorer is fully booked until 1/7/21 and there are no Glaslyn Venturer trains until 29/6/21 being they are TWThO but they are still bookable.

 

Snowdonia Star/Castle Star services

The F&WHR GM Paul Lewin has mentioned that through services from Caernarfon to Porthmadog (Seren Eryri/Snowdonia Star) and vice versa (Seren Castell/Castle Star) are likely to resume later in the Summer. Summer started on 21/6/21 and the proposed start of these services is likely to coincide with the school summer holidays and any future easing in COVID restrictions due around the same time in late July. With much of the WHR stock used in the current WHR services, the question must be asked which stock will be used or will be current WHR services be replaced? The FR rake used on the Glaslyn Venturer could be used on a Porthmadog-Caernarfon train but what could be used on a Caernarfon-Porthmadog train except the existing Gelert Explorer rake or additional FR modern coaches from Glan-y-pwll or Boston Lodge storage with COVID complaint compartment screens fitted.

 

F&WHR traffic 23/6/21

Wednesday turned out to be a bit grey with forecast maximum of 15C and showers later. All five Mountain Prince trains are fully booked and the first three of Thursday's five trains are also fully booked. Both Glaslyn Venturer trains today are fully booked for the first time but Thursday's trains are both bookable. With such high demand for these WHR services, maybe the timetable should be increased from TWThO to additional days? The Gelert Explorer is also doing very well and is fully booked for the next 6 trips so Saturday 3/7/21 is the next available day. This is another example where additional trains might make sense (see Star services above).

No.130 was running round its rake in the WHR platform at Porthmadog by 09:30 for the fully booked 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer. Meanwhile steam was being raised in Boston Lodge for the 10:00 Mountain Prince. Merddin Emrys turned up at 09:46 and coupled to the B set already in the FR platform. The Glaslyn Venturer departed at 10:19 after waiting for 3 late arriving passengers. By 10:20 Moelwyn was back on duty at Tan-y-bwlch waiting for Dduallt pilot duties.

David Lloyd George turned up at 10:42 to extract the A set from the seawall siding for the 11:05, leaving on time. Merddin Emrys set off from Tan-y-bwlch for Dduallt at 10:48 with Moelwyn coupled to the rear, arriving back at 11:13.

By midday the weather had closed in and it was raining in Porthmadog. Welsh Pony left on the 12:25 Mountain Prince with the C set on time, passing Minffordd at 1238 with much condensation due to the damp weather. No.130 arrived back at Porthmadog at 12:59. The loco ran round at 13:04 ready for the 13:40 afternoon Glaslyn Venturer. The 13:40 Mountain Prince left on time, as usual slightly before the Glaslyn Venturer which departed at 13:44. David Lloyd George departed on the 15:00 Mountain Prince at 15:03.

David Lloyd George arrived back with the 15:00 Mountain Prince at 17:47 and ran round 5 minutes later. The rake was propelled to the seawall siding by 18:00 and the loco disposed to the depot after watering, leaving at 18:15.

The F&WHR has responded to the demand at Porthmadog as all five Mountain Prince trains on Thursday are fully booked and three of Friday's five are also fully booked. So additional trains have been laid on at the weekend with five trains on Saturday and Sunday. A change to the bookings page now sees all trains from Porthmadog on the same page and both Glaslyn Venturer trains are shown as available on Thursday. Saturday 3/7/21 is the first bookable date on the Gelert Explorer with the 5 trains before that fully booked so surely time to consider additional trains from Caernarfon?! Seven trains are operated from Porthmadog on some days and just one 4 days a week from Caernarfon.

 

F&WHR traffic 22/6/21

Tuesday was a fine day at Porthmadog with temperatures of up to 19C. There are still compartments available on the 15:00 Mountain Prince today but possibly for the first time both the Glaslyn Venturer trains today are sold out. The Gelert Explorer is fully booked until Saturday 26/6/21.

No.130 made it across The Cob drawing its rake from the Carriage Sheds into the WHR platform at 09:58, just minutes before the booked departure of the 10:00 Mountain Prince hauled by Blanche, which departed on time. The 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer had a good crowd of passengers. This train left at 10:17 and steam was being raised in Boston Lodge for the 11:05.

Merddin Emrys arrived at 10:34 to shunt the yard and prepare for the 11:05 departure. The 12:25 was hauled by Lyd for the first time departing at 12:29.

The F&WHR's webcam live stream failed briefly at about 13:10 to all three webcams simultaneously for a few minutes as Vale of Ffestiniog rolled past the recently arrived No.130 in the WHR platform via the through line light engine heading west. Lyd was arriving at Tan-y-bwlch during the failure. The Dduallt shunt engine at Tan-y-bwlch appeared to be a steam loco for the first time and Palmerston was duly noted on the duty at 13:22 instead of a diesel.

 

This westerly view (22/6/21) at 13:22 shows Palmerston on the rear of the 1225 Mountain Prince instead of the normal diesel. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Down at Porthmadog No.130 returned from the watering point at 13:27 and ran round to attach to the west end of the train. As usual at 13:40 Blanche departed slightly before the similarly timed Glaslyn Venturer which left at 13:44. Meanwhile Palmerston with Lyd on the rear arrived back at Tan-y-bwlch at 13:45. Lyd ran round at 14:45.

 

This westerly view (22/6/21) at 13:22 shows Lyd running round the 1225 Mountain Prince ready for the return journey from Tan-y-bwlch. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The sun came out in the afternoon and Merddin Emrys arrived back at Porthmadog at 17:45 with the A set and ran round promptly to shunt the rake to the yard. Upnor Castle arrived light engine at 17:53 and made its way to the yard just before the shunt into the seawall siding at 18:00. After detaching the Fairlie ran back to the siding at 18:05 to allow the diesel to depart with two empty Bocoal wagons for Minffordd Yard. However, the train unusually passed Minffordd via the eastbound loop at about 18:15, rather than reversing into the yard. The Fairlie went to water at 18:07 before departing for the depot at about 18:20 bringing activity to a close for the day.

All five Mountain Prince trains are due to run on Wednesday 23/6/21 and all trains except the 15:00 are sold out. While Wednesday's Gelert Explorer is fully booked. Some compartments on Thursday's train have become free but Saturday's are now sold out. The Glaslyn Venturer is becoming more popular with Wednesday morning's train already sold out, however there are seats on the afternoon train.

 

F&WHR traffic 21/6/21

Its officially Summer, but Monday dawned grey and mild (Max 17C) at Porthmadog with plenty of tourists around. Today's Mountain Prince trains are fully booked today.

David Lloyd George hauled the A set on the 11:05 leaving Porthmadog on time. Blanche was on the 10:00 and had arrived back in Tan-y-bwlch from Dduallt by 11:20 with Upnor Castle leading. The Fairlie departed Tan-y-bwlch at 11:54. Down at Porthmadog Welsh Pony arrived light engine from Boston Lodge at 12:00 for the 12:25 with the C set.

Welsh Pony departed Tan-y-bwlch at 14:50 with the return working of the 12:25. Meanwhile down at Porthmadog David Lloyd George ran round at 14:46 ready for the 15:00 Mountain Prince which departed at 15:03 but came to a stop at Minffordd signals before entering the loop at 15:14. Welsh Pony left the loop at 15:16 and arrived in Porthmadog about 10 minutes later. The loco ran round at 15:34 and shunted its rake to the yard before leaving for the depot at 15:41.

Blanche arrived back at Porthmadog at 16:48 on the B set with the return working of the 13:40. After running round and disposing of the rake to the yard, the loco left light engine for the depot at 17:00. David Lloyd George arrived in the WHR platform at Porthmadog with the final train of the day at 17:54. After running round and shunting the rake to the yard at 18:05, the loco left for the depot at 18:24, one of the latest departures, bringing the day's activities to a close.

Tuesday-Friday's timetable currently shows five Mountain Prince trains available. The first four on Tuesday are sold out but there are compartments available on the 15:00. Three trains are already sold out on Wednesday too. The Gelert Explorer is available Saturday 26/6/21 and the Glaslyn Venturer is available Tuesday to Thursday this week for both the morning and afternoon trains.

 

F&WHR traffic 20/6/21

Sunday was a sunny mild day at Porthmadog with temperatures of 19C maximum but a little breezy at first. Sunday's trains are fully booked though there is availability on the Mountain Prince on Monday afternoon services but there is no 10:00 service currently booked for Monday. The Glaslyn Venturer has availability from Tuesday-Thursday which can mop up passengers when all five Mountain Prince trains are fully booked. The Gelert Explorer has now had Wednesdays added until the end of the timetable on 23/7/21 and trains are booked up to Wednesday 23/6/21. While the service is now MFSuX, additional Monday services have been offered on 5/7/21 and 19/7/21.

Welsh Pony departed Porthmadog on time with the 10:00 on the B set passing Minffordd at 10:11. Upnor Castle was on duty for the Dduallt shunt at Tan-y-bwlch in place of the normal Moelwyn, which presumably has maintenance at the weekends. At 10:30, Blanche was released from Boston Lodge and the loco arrived to shunt the yard at 10:35. The A set was propelled into the FR platform at 10:45 and departing on time.

Merddin Emrys was provided for the 12:25 and it departed Porthmadog at 12:28 with the C set. It was raining by the time it arrived in Tan-y-bwlch around 13:15 where Blanche was detached from the 11:05 and waiting to run round.

The 15:00 arrived at Tan-y-bwlch at 15:50 and, wasting no time, Upnor Castle was coupled up at 15:52. The train departed for Dduallt at 15:58. Welsh Pony ran round at 16:09 ready for the return working of the 13:40 which departed Tan-y-bwlch at 16:17. It arrived back in Porthmadog at 16:54. After shunting the rake to the yard, the loco departed for the depot at 17:04.

Blanche arrived back at Porthmadog with the return working of the 15:00 at 17:56 in the WHR platform. The rake was shunted to the FR yard at 18:15 and the loco dispatched to the depot at 18:20 to conclude the day's activities.

By the afternoon, the Gelert Explorer is now fully booked for the remainder of June except for 26/6/21 with the first compartments available on 1/7/21. Monday's Mountain Prince has been increased to the full five trains with three of those already sold out. Five trains will be offered M-F next week but only propose two on Saturday at the moment! The Glaslyn Venturer however is still available twice daily TWThO.

 

North Wales suffering COVID third wave?

WAG's first Minister Marl Drakeford is anxious that North Wales appears to be suffering a third wave of COVID caused by the Delta variant with some of the highest rates of infection being seen in the Conwy district, possibly imported from the hotspots around Manchester by people with second homes in North Wales. It is for this reason that Mark Drakeford is delaying any further announcement about relaxation of COVID rules for 4 weeks until just before the F&WHR's Summer timetable is announced. This puts the F&WHR in a difficult position with regard to its proposed reopening to Blaenau Ffestiniog where it views the platforms as being too narrow for social distancing. Any further relaxation of the current compartment booking procedure also seems unlikely in this environment limiting the number of people that can be carried unless additional trains are put on both of the WHR services.

 

Llangollen news

One small part of the Llangollen Railway has reopened with news that Carrog station's 5532 Shop and Tea room is reopening with hot and cold food Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays 09:30 to 16:00. As of 14/6/21 Class 31 No.31271 has been passed fit for service and Class 47 No.47449 has also been started up. Steam engine No.3802 has also passed its 'ready to run exam' so the LlR has 3 locos to chose from to run its initial services in a month or so's time as well as its DMU fleet. The railway has enough coaches to run two rakes though initially it may choose to run compartment stock with a compartment booking system and no intermediate stops like the F&WHR/GCR/G&WR etc.

Davy, the ex ICI Class 08 lookalike private shunter, has now arrived at Shakerstone. The railway still aims to reopen for the school holidays towards the end of July if at all possible. Small 0-6-0 Austin 1 is off for a season of hire duties at Midsomer Norton and Foxcote Manor is at its new home base of WSR but may visit its old home at Llangollen sometime. It seems that some of the coaches removed from the LlR had never actually run on the railway but had been used as store rooms.

 

F&WHR traffic 19/6/21

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

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

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

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

 

More Historic Railway structure destruction

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

Map of Structures

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

Previous Map of structures

 

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

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

 

WAG COVID restrictions latest 18/6/21

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

 

F&WHR traffic 18/6/21

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Sarah Green by-election victory 18/6/21

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

 

F&WHR traffic 17/6/21

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

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

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

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

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

 

F&WHR traffic 16/6/21

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

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

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

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

 

Spooners fully booked 15-16/6/21

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

 

WHRS donations via Amazon Smile

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

 

F&WHR traffic 15/6/21

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

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

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

 

F&WHR traffic 14/6/21

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

F&WHR traffic 13/6/21

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

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

 

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

 

No.87 10/6/21

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

 

F&WHR traffic 12/6/21

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

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

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

 

Caernarfon Castle progress 12/6/21

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

 

F&WHR traffic 11/6/21

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

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

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

 

F&WHR traffic 10/6/21

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

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

Blanche also arrived at 09:35 from Boston Lodge to shunt the yard for the 10:00 Mountain Prince. After Blanche arrived No.130 shunted the Glaslyn Venturer rake to the WHR platform and ran round ready for the 10:15 departure which came at 10:17. At 10:28 David Lloyd George arrived and extracted the rake from the seawall siding and propelled it into the FR platform for the 11:05 Mountain Prince departure. Meanwhile up at Tan-y-bwlch Moelwyn was waiting for Blanche to arrive which came at 10:40. The train arrived back from Dduallt at 11:12 hauled by Moelwyn with Blanche on the rear.

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

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

 

F&WHR traffic 9/6/21

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

YouTube of Delivery of DMU No.158824 to Barmouth 9/6/21

Network Rail closed the Cambrian Coast immediately east of Machynlleth to raise a bridge and prevent frequent flood closures. Unfortunately one of the Class 158s based at the depot (No.158833) developed severe wheel flats so a replacement was brought in from Cardiff. The only place this could be done apparently was Barmouth which saw a unit being brought from Cardiff over the route of the long closed Ruabon-Barmouth line with the assistance of the Police who stopped traffic for a while as they do for delivery of wind turbine components.

 

Click on the YouTube window to watch 23 mins 8 seconds of video covering the delivery of DMU No.158824 to Barmouth by Allelys through the narrow streets of Barmouth. Video taken on a digital car cam and published 9/6/21. It is best watched in 1080p HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on the YouTube link. Video courtesy Priest Abnormal Load Services.

 

Priest Abnormal Load Services assisting Allelys has released a video showing the negotiation of bends through Barmouth, travel along one way streets the wrong way and right angled junctions. A second YouTube, published on 19/6/21, shows the unloading process. In some locations the assistant had to attach a rear control module to manually set the steering rear wheels of the trailer through tight spots and chicanes past parked cars.

 

Click on the YouTube window to watch 8 mins 5 seconds of video covering the speeded up unloading of DMU No.158824 at Barmouth by Allelys in the station yard. Video taken on a digital car cam and published 19/6/21. It is best watched in 1080p HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on the YouTube link. Video courtesy Priest Abnormal Load Services.

 

Main line news

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

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

 

Glaslyn Venturer working timetable

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

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

*Train engine may come over earlier to shunt yard.

 

Prince at Statfold YouTube 8/6/21

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

 

F&WHR traffic 8/6/21

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prince moves to Statfold Barn 7/6/21

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

 

TfW Mk4 announcement

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

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

 

Llangollen appeal for volunteers

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

 

F&WHR traffic 7/6/21

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

This easterly view (7/6/21) shows Lyd with the PTG tour running round at Caernarfon. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Paul Lewin (F&WHR) and was taken on an iPhone camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

NG15 boiler report

Laurence Armstrong reports:

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

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

 

Weed killer train 7/6/21

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

 

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

 

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

 

North Wales Main line 7/6/21

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

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

 

F&WHR traffic 6/6/21

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

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

 

North Wales Track Gang 5-6/6/21

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

 

Woodland Wanderer working timetable

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

 

Set Composition

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

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

 

F&WHR traffic 5/6/21

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

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

No.87 was on the Gelert Explorer.

 

F&WHR traffic 4/6/21

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

F&WHR traffic 3/6/21

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

Moving Pictures No.51 2/6/21

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

 

F&WHR traffic 2/6/21

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Llangollen Railway will be 'smaller' in future

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

 

F&WHR traffic 1/6/21

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

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

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

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

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

 

Gelert Explorer working timetable

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

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

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

 

North Wales Railtour news

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

Date Railtour Name From-To Promoter Loco
1/5/21 North Wales Coast Express Tyseley-Llandudno Vintage Trains S7029/47773
1/5/21 Llandudno Statesman Ely-Llandudno Statesman Rail LSL Class 47
3/5/21 Victorian Day Pullman Skegness-Llandudno West Coast Railways WCR Class 47/57
3/5/21 Settle and Carlisle Circular Bangor-Carlisle Statesman Rail LSL Class 47
19/5/21 The Snowdonia Statesman Hull-Blaenau Ffestiniog Statesman Rail LSL Class 47?
31/5/21 North Wales Coast Express Worcester-Holyhead Saphos Trains Steam
1/7/21 The Bristol Forty Bangor-Bristol Saphos Trains LSL D213 (40013)
18/7/21 North Wales Coast Express Liverpool-Holyhead Railway Touring Company Various steam/diesel
20/7/21 The Welsh Mountaineer Preston-Llandudno-Blaenau Ffestiniog Railway touring Company Steam
20/8/21 The Cambrian Coast Express Bristol Parkway-Pwllheli Pathfinder Class 67 and Class 97/3

Promoters:

Pathfinder

Saphos Trains

Statesman Rail

West Coast Railways

Vintage Trains

 

Gradient graph

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

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

 

Special Events and Service Trains 2021

1/1/21

Final Mince Pie special CANCELLED

13-21/2/21

Half Term Blue timetable Caernarfon-Porthmadog CANCELLED

26/2/21-26/3/21

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

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

27/4/21

Main Season Spring service starts

24/7/21 Summer Season starts

24-25/7/21

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

17-18/9/21? SuperPower with K1
12/21? Santa Specials
27/12/21-1/1/22? Festive Specials

 

Trackwork Volunteering 2021

Volunteering is currently organised differently due to the Covid-19 outbreak. We have a mix of weekend and weekday working parties. The Black Hand, Tuesday Gang and Rest of the World Gangs will be very glad to accept your help. Contact the relevant organiser to let him know when you plan to join us. Please do not just turn up as that makes it difficult for us to plan ahead.

The programme for 2021 is fortnightly for the North Wales Track Gang in RED but details are still awaited for the ROWG in BLACK:

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

August

 

 

 

 

 

September

 

 

 

 

 

October

 

 

 

 

 

November

 

 

 

 

 

December

 

 

 

 

 

^ Bank Holiday weekend

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

WW-Working week Saturday-Thursday

The Tuesday Gang expects to be operating most Tuesdays.

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

Contacts

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

Tuesday Gang:

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

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

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

 

Site development

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

 

Comments

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

 

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

Maps & Plans and links

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

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

Click here for the Mail Order web page

Click here for the Official WHR website

Click here for Official WHHR site

Click here for FR Company websites

Click here for Welsh Highland Heritage Group

 

V4.4049 updated 25/7/21