Welsh Highland Railway

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Star Picture

This northerly view (19/9/17) shows No.87 being dragged from Boston Lodge to Dinas following failure on 16/9/17 with a frame problem. Vale of Ffestiniog provides the traction at 1040 approaching Summit Cutting at Pont Cae'r Gors. The weather had improved from that of the dismal SuperPower weekend. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS1300D digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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

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

 

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

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

Route section pages

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

 

Phase 4 pages

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

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

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

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

Beddgelert Station Area (updated 30/6/07)

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

Aberglaslyn Pass (updated 2/7/07)

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

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

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

Porthmadog Cross Town Link (updated1/4/07)

 

Other pages

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

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

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

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

Archived News Page (updated 9/1/18)

Snow Scenes (updated 31/10/15)

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

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

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

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

Video list (new 9/11/15)

Access to Phase 2 pages is currently being progressed.

 

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

Isengard@talktalkdotnet

This has been introduced as an anti-spam feature.

Disclaimer

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

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

 

Stop Press!!

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

New text in RED!

 

News Section

WHR timetables

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

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

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

Click here for Mike Schumann's Phase 4 TWA maps courtesy of Steve Harris/WHRS

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

Click here for Chainages and OS Map Reference

 

New PBSSR 1906 image?

A correspondent has sent your webmaster a copy print from a 1/4 plate dated 1906 showing construction of the retaining wall and long tunnel entrance in the Aberglaslyn Pass. There is a wealth of detail in the image which could stand some analysis. The image appears to be possibly from a set of contractor's photographs and was in the care of the architect John Hallam, languishing in a drawer for about 25 years before his grandson passed it on to your webmaster.

The reverse of the image has the pencilled inscription:

Retaining wall built in cement mortar 25ft high 6 ft wide at base
Aberglaslyn Pass
Portmadoc Beddgelert and South Snowdon Rly
Spring 1906
Enlarged from 1/4 plate

Click here to see a zoomable view of the pdf of the image courtesy John Sreeves.

 

This southerly archive view (1906) shows the presumed surveyor with theodolite checking construction of the PBSSR near the north portal of the long tunnel T4 in the Aberglaslyn Pass. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is an iPhone image of a pdf of a large photograph copy of the original copyright John Hallam taken on a plate camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

Some initial observations:

The end of the retaining wall nearest the tunnel entrance is braced with several 45 degree timber baulks, presumably as support while the concrete sets.

The man with the flat hat near the theodolite may be the contractor's surveyor.

A group of three men appears to be working to the top left of the tunnel entrance with possibly an air line from the top of the post with the ladder. The presumed airline originates to the left of the image draped along the top of the retaining wall. Another cable goes down the bank towards the river from the top of the pole.

The jubilee track has six skips on it presumably ready to start the tunnel construction. There is possibly another flat wagon in front of the skips which appears to have a tripod device on it.

Although the track appears to end a few metres beyond the further loop point, there is evidence that construction of the tunnel portal may have started as horizontal timbers, possibly to protect from falling rock, appear to have been erected just before the furthest timber baulk where there is possibly another man working.

The yard arm on the post carries a series of pulleys and a chain which are wrapped around the pole near its base.

Another chain passes from the end of the yard arm into the timber balks.

A steel girder appears to be protruding from the far end of the top of the retaining wall possibly indicating the line of the remaining section to be completed up to the tunnel mouth rock face.

Comments on the image in general, its provenance and what it reveals about the PBSSR construction are invited.

 

Rhyd Ddu improvements 14/1/18

This northerly view (14/1/18) shows further progress at Rhyd Ddu with new running in boards. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Keith Holland and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Caernarfon Station progress 12-15/1/18

Work started on the ducts joining the existing platform to the new building on 12/1/18.

 

This southerly view from the footbridge (15/1/18) shows progress with the new Caernarfon station. Ducts are being constructed from the existing platform alongside the new station building. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Stuart McNair and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view from the footbridge (15/1/18) shows progress with the new Caernarfon station. Ducts are being constructed from the existing platform alongside the new station building. The new ducts pass alongside the tracks between the new station building and the retaining wall to the right. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Stuart McNair and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

No.130 progress

The boiler is now essentially complete with the backhead now having been tacked together. The whole assembly will soon be started to be welded up after the inner firebox is stress relieved and inserted into the barrel section. See No.130 Facebook page for images.

 

WMWP 2017-18

The current works are focussed on the Moelwyn Tunnel on the FR where track had deteriorated due to corrosion. See F&WHR Facebook page for images.

 

Boston Lodge Update 12/1/18

This westerly view (12/1/18) shows progress with the new pointwork fan outside the Erecting Shop at Boston Lodge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Keith Holland and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Gerald outing 6/1/18

The WAG loco hauled Holyhead-Cardiff set is normally SSuX but is occasionally used for major sporting events e.g. International Rugby Games. On Saturday 6/1/18 it was advertised as running to the January sales in Cardiff with a return Sunday afternoon for people who wished to stay overnight in Cardiff. Late advertising saw the train lightly loaded and catering was not available on the outbound journey.

Arriva Trains Wales's 'Club 55' offer of cheap tickets for people over 55 re-started on Sunday 7/1/18 and runs until Saturday 3/3/18 to encourage tourist traffic during the lightly loaded off peak season. The price is from £27 return to anywhere on the ATW network with £1 off for railcard holder with and add-on fare for Northern of £2.50 e.g. Holyhead-Cardiff £27 return. The ticket cannot before 09:30 on Monday to Friday but there are no restrictions at weekends. Return travel must be within 8 days and all return travel must be completed by 10/3/18. The ticket can be purchased on the day of travel and break of journey is allowed. Passengers using ATW's booking site should insert ATWCLUB  into the 'Promo Code' field.

See ATW booking page for further details.

 

Baldwin No. 590 update 12/1/18

The WHHR is looking for more donations to complete Baldwin No.590. The loco is at the VoR Aberystwyth depot. See WHHR Baldwin Appeal.

 

This Aberystwyth view (1/18) shows progress with No.590. The Baldwin is currently at the Aberystwyth workshops on the Vale of Rheidol Railway. VoR No.7 can be seen being overhauled in the background. In the foreground can be seen the frames, tyres, new air pump, and pony truck for the Baldwin locomotive. A lot of work is being done at the moment preparing a complete set of drawings. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy WHHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

TRAWS Campaign bolstered by jump in passenger numbers

Passenger numbers have grown on the Aberystwyth route following increase in number of trains. This has encouraged the TRAWS campaign which hopes to reopen the West Wales coast route from Bangor to Carmarthen. The initial stage is the Aberystwyth-Carmarthen section which is currently subject to a full WAG Feasibility Study to report later this year. WAG has also confirmed that any new franchise will run trains from Aberystwyth into Birmingham with no need for a change at Shrewsbury. Recently free WiFi has been fitted to all trains working on the Cambrian Coast route. See Cambrian News report.

 

Interlocked signalling project 9/1/18

The S&T team are hard at work in the new infrastructure workshop at Minffordd building constructing two interlocked location cabinets for the Pont Croesor and Beddgelert starter signals. This the first major project that the new facility has been available for and modern workshops certainly make life easier for the staff involved.

 

This Minffordd view (9/1/18) shows progress with the new Pont Croesor and Beddgelert Location cabinets. These will interlock the starter signals at the two locations so that if one is green the other will be at red preventing two trains from entering the Aberglaslyn pass section. Some allowance must have been made for trains using the intermediate Hafod-y-llyn loop normally only used by Works trains or Winter timetable shuttles. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

No.134 report 9-10/12/17

This month volunteers tackled two ongoing jobs, the cylinder cladding and the cylinder cladding attaching bolt holes in the cylinders. For the cylinder holes, it was fortunate that during the weekend the railway was running its usual Christmas Santa Specials and so there was a duty diesel driver available who was able to extract the loco frames from out of No.2 road in the Carriage Shed at Dinas and put it over the pit in the now vacant No.1 road. This allowed volunteers to refurbish all the previously inaccessible holes on the underside of the cylinders. Some holes just needed cleaning out, other needed to be re-drilled and so were tapped. This just leaves a pair of holes on the top in each cylinder.

Whilst this was going on other members of the team were finishing off trimming and tidying the cylinder cladding to size. By the end of Saturday it was getting close to being ready to be rolled to shape.

A job started this month was refurbishing the tender axle boxes. A start was made on the Saturday and at the end of the day some of these had been thoroughly cleaned and made ready to be collected to be taken to Boston Lodge. The remainder being done on Sunday. There is some wear on the inside of the boxes and so this will need to be built up and then machined to the correct size.

On the Sunday once the cladding was ready it was hoped to have had a go at rolling it and so a few trials were run with off-cut material. However it proved a little trickier and so progress was slow. Hopefully next month will see it completed.

Progress in 2017 has been satisfying, if as always seemingly a little slower, than hoped. Together with the work completed this year on the pony trucks, and with a number of jobs going on in the background the group should be able to get them under the loco to give a complete rolling chassis early in the new year. Working party dates are 20-21/1/18, 17-18/2/18 and 17/18/3/18

For full report and images See No.134 website for full details and images.

 

No.130 news,

Dinas Works was undertaking more complex pipe bending during December with new flanges being welded on. Pipe bending is nearly complete.

 

Kerr Stuart No.4415 report 27/12/17

On this final working party of 2017 some of the team were at Boston Lodge having a fairly relaxed day doing a bit of house keeping. They had a tidy up in their stores, patched up a broken window that was letting the weather in, and took a few more measurements for the gearbox frame. The Group already has dates set for working on No.4415 through January and February, so there will be more progress to report in the New Year.

 

WHR 2018 timetable published

The WHR timetable for 2018 is now available on the F&WHR website and follows the pattern of recent years but with a considerable reduction in peak Red timetable days, down from 70 to 55! Although the number of WHR service has contracted over a number of years, the shoulder loading in the Autumn have improved and so there are an increase in the number of Red timetable days in September.

Following the Orange timetable Hafod-y-llyn shuttle early season trains from& MTFX 2-22/3/18, the 2018 season kicks off properly on 24/3/18. although peak service over the Easter, Beer Festival and May Day Bank Holidays are similar cutbacks begin with the Whitsun Half Term holiday cut back from 6 Red days to 3. However, 11 days (Mondays and Fridays) see no service during the period April-June, up from 9 last year.

In July the cut backs continue with 16 Red timetable days reduced to 13. August sees the greatest cut back with 31 peak days last year reduced to just 18 this year with Fridays (thought to be a travelling to holiday day) and the weekends now offered Yellow timetables. In contrast September sees and increase with 7 peak timetable days rather in place of four last year. In fact the peak timetable continue TWThO into the second week of September leading up to SuperPower on 14-16/9/18.

The yellow timetable becomes discontinuous from 30/9/18 with 6 days (Mondays and Fridays) missing in October, although the full week is offered for Half Term. As the Autumn Half Term extends into November for some schools, the Yellow timetable continues into November as last year, until 3/11/18. Timetables for the period 4/11/18-1/1/19 will be published later.

 

Caernarfon Station progress 7/1/18

This southerly view from the access (7/1/18) shows progress with the new Caernarfon station. The North Wales Track Gang is removing the northern loop point for repositioning further north. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Stuart McNair and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view from the footbridge (7/1/18) shows progress with the new Caernarfon station. The northern end loop point can be seen having been removed. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Dai Jones and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view from Segontium Terrace (7/1/18) shows progress with the new Caernarfon station. The headshunt and points at the northern end loop point have been removed as they will be repositioned further north. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Dai Jones and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view from the footbridge (7/1/18) shows the North Wales Track Gang altering track in the loop at Caernarfon station after removing the north end points. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Dai Jones and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view from the footbridge (7/1/18) shows progress with the new Caernarfon station. The headshunt and points at the northern end loop point have been removed as they will be repositioned further north. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Dai Jones and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view from the footbridge (7/1/18) shows progress with the new Caernarfon station at the end of the day. The curved sections of the loop and main line have been removed and will be relaid straighter alignment. Temporary fencing has been erected for the diverted footpath. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

BF&TR latest 3/1/18

The Blaenau Ffestiniog and Trawsfynydd Railway project is on hold after Network Rail wrote to the company and suspended the licence to access the trackbed on 17/8/17 pending an investigation. The report, following an investigation after a bridge near Trawsfynydd was damaged last August, has confirmed the suspension. Volunteers were hoping to restart clearance works in mid-January but will now be unable to access the trackbed. There are hopes that a reconstituted volunteer group/company under new management may be able to negotiate a new licence with Network Rail. See Daily Post story. The incident referred to was reported in the Daily Post on 25/10/17. See Daily Post story.

Letters from NR to the Colin Dale, the BF&TR Company chairman, dated 2/1/18 have been posted on the project's Facebook page along with the disappointment of supporters at the current situation and the hopes of a restart in due course.

 

No.130 progress 2/1/18

Progress has been made with all the side rods during December. See No.130 website for full details and images.

 

Happy New Year!

Your webmaster would like to wish a happy and successful New Year to all readers.

 

Caernarfon station progress 31/12/17

This northerly view from Segontium Terrace (31/12/17) shows progress with the new Caernarfon station. The first layer of the roof is complete. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Dai Jones and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view from Segontium Terrace (31/12/17) shows progress with the new Caernarfon station. The first layer of the roof is complete and the temporary stairs can be seen on the right. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Dai Jones and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view from Segontium Terrace (31/12/17) shows progress with the new Caernarfon station. The first layer of the roof is complete with the temporary stairs for construction workers to access and complete the roof early in 2018.. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Dai Jones and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Final Trains of the Green timetable 1/1/18

New Year's Day sees the final Mince Pie Specials and the end of the 2017 season. No.138 is diagrammed for today's WHR trains and Linda and Taliesin on the FR service. Trains resume with the Lilac timetable MFX 10-25/2/18 covering the two weeks of the local and national Half Term holidays. These trains operate Porthmadog to Beddgelert at a time when snow is most likely in North Wales.

 

BF&TR concerns 31/12/17

Various concerns have been raised on Facebook about the governance of the Blaenau Ffestiniog and Trawsfynydd Railway Company. The container on site at Maentwrog Road yard appears to have been removed. An AGM is due early in 2018.

 

Gowrie project latest 27/12/17

Gowrie was an original 0-6-4T Single Fairlie NWNGR/WHR loco built in 1908 and sold in 1918. A project has been formed to reconstruct an uprated version of the loco.

Paul Stock wrote on the Gowrie Project website: On the 12/12/17, a meeting was held between the project leaders, Martyn Ashworth, Alan Freebury, John Taylor and myself, at which the final details of the company registration were discussed and agreed upon. The forming of the company is necessary for the sale of shares in the loco. Of the shares themselves, 979 will be issued, reflecting the works number of the loco and will be available for £600 each with various instalment options available. Barring any major cost increases or unforeseen circumstances, this will provide the necessary working capital to complete the build. Surprisingly, without them yet being advertised or even available, the number of them allocated has already reached double figures.

We have a combined fundraising event and Model Railway Exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester on the 28/4/18 at which people will be given the chance to meet the team and learn how to get involved. There will also be 20 predominantly narrow gauge layouts in attendance with societies and trade support.

On completion of the build, the loco is intended to be dual braked to facilitate running on both Welsh Highlands (F&WHR and WHHR-Ed) and take advantage of several of the invites from other lines. Given the build in interest in the project and momentum, it seems that Gowrie is set for a bright and varied working life. Those wishing to pre-register for shares are invited to contact me either through the project page on Facebook or via email and your details will be passed to the appointed treasurer as soon as they are available.

Many WHR supporters will consider it a pity is a pity that Moel Tryfan, the last single Fairlie working on the WHR, does not have a similar  rebuild group.

Mike Hart OBE F&WHR Director said "There is no doubt that with the experience the Group have built up having rebuilt a number of derelict narrow gauge locos at its Derbyshire workshops they have the skills necessary to embark on a new build project. We look forward to the opportunity of seeing Gowrie operate on both our railways at special events and provide the opportunity of comparing this long lost Hunslet designed articulated loco with our single Fairlie Taliesin. I'm delighted to have been invited to help kick the project off by buying the first share in the loco".

The Gowrie Project is entirely independent of F&WHR and an initiative of the group of engineering volunteers who are currently completing the complete reconstruction of a Hunslet WW1 4-6-0, which will be visiting F&WHR probably in 2018.  See War Office Hunslet website.

 

Caernarfon station progress 27/12/17

This northerly view from Segontium Terrace (27/12/17) shows progress with the new Caernarfon station. The first layer of the roof is complete. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Stuart McNair (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Snowy scenes for Mince Pie specials 27/12/17-1/1/18

Although there was widespread snow in the Midlands on 27/12/17, North Wales only experienced snow at higher levels. Green timetable trains operate from Dinas to Beddgelert twice a day at 1015 and 1335 with a 30 minute break at Beddgelert. A return service from Beddgelert departs at 1200 with a 25 minute break at Dinas.

Martin Kressman reports: There is snow down to about 500m on Snowdon (on 27/12/17-Ed) just in time for the WHR post-Christmas trains.

 

Saphos Rail bookings from 3/1/18

Saphos Rail, the booking arm of the new steam-hauled TOC Loco Services Limited at Crewe, opens for business on 3/1/18 after several trial runs to Llandudno and Holyhead, including the BNFL Valley triangle. The trips mostly start from Crewe, the TOC's base, however one starts from Bangor. There are two North Wales Coast Expresses, a number of circular Welsh Marches tours and some other tours, 18 in all, planned for 2018. The company is testing the waters with a 50% reduction in fares for the first year. 'Pay on the day' or part journeys are not allowed.

The company's website also links to its sister company Statesman Rail which runs Fellsman trains on the Settle and Carlisle.

 

Season Greetings

Your webmaster would like to wish a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all readers.

 

Mince Pie specials 27/12/17

The F&WHR will be running two return trains a day from 27/12/17-1/1/18 between Dinas and Beddgelert. The FR will be running trains from 26/12/17. Originally the reason given for the lack of trains on the WHR on Boxing Day is that the NR Machynlleth signalling centre is closed and cannot release Cae Pawb. However, with trains only running Caernarfon to Beddgelert there is now no reason why WHR Boxing Day trains cannot run!

No.138 will be hauling trains on the WHR and Linda and Blanche will be paired on trains from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog. Spooners will be open every day except Xmas Day.

 

Boston Lodge update 23/12/17

A fan of 3 points leading to the Erecting Shop at Boston Lodge is being replaced over Christmas. The old points had been increasingly difficult to operate and had been causing derailments. The FRS has provided the funding which was not within the budget for the Sustainable Railway Project. The points appear to be on the new plastic sleepers. The BRELL team who are doing the new sea wall/Carriage Shed extension lent their excavator which was very helpful. See F&WHR Facebook page for images.

 

BF&TR propose Phase 2 Cwm Prysor Extension 23/12/17

The Blaenau Ffestiniog and Trawsfynydd Railway is thinking of a further phase in the redevelopment of the route towards Bala. A feasibility study has been commissioned and will begin at the yard at Trawsfynydd Station and continue to a roadside terminus at the summit of the Cwm Prysor Pass on the A4212. It is around seven miles long and similar to the first phase. However track terminates at Trawsfynydd Nuclear Power Station siding and there is no ballast either. It is interesting that the Feasibility Study apparently does not cover the section between the Nuclear Power Station siding and Trawsfynydd station yard.

The land may have been sold off by the BR Residuary Board to local farmers but is largely clear except for a farm shed just south of the power station. Three or four small bridges may need replacing but the rest of the civil engineering is thought to be in good condition.

The line runs along a 2 mile rock cut ledge high above Cwm Prysor with incredible views and the curved Cwm Prysor viaduct near the summit will be the cream on the cake! A T&WO may be necessary to re-acquire land for the route. This is a longer term project after the initial section to from Blaenau to Trawsfynydd is opened. The Society will be holding an AGM and election early in the New Year. Volunteer parties will resume work on Phase 1 in mid January.

 

BF&TR news 21/12/17

The 2-HAP unit No.4311 resident at the Electric Railway Museum, Coventry, has been taken off the market as a deal has been reached that will see it move to a new home in the North of England in a matter of weeks rather than the Blaenau Ffestiniog & Trawsfynydd Railway where it was to have been used as hauled stock. This means the Crowdfunding Campaign for the 2HAP has now closed after just £1390 was raised. This is the second campaign for rolling stock for the BF&TR that has failed.

The new owner is a well respected figure in the railway preservation movement with both the expertise and the resources to restore the 2 car unit back to passenger carrying standard. The unit was purchased privately in 1998 and taken to Coventry where the owner spent hundreds of man hours restoring it. Following the closure of the ERM and with the unit in need of fresh restoration, the owner decided he could no longer devote the time to it and put it up for sale.

 

Caernarfon station progress 20/12/17

This northerly view from Segontium Terrace (20/12/17) shows progress with the new Caernarfon station. Work is about to start on the roof and so safety rails have been added. A temporary access stairway was added later. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Stuart McNair (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Amlwch line reopening?

The Welsh Assembly Economy and Infrastructure Secretary has indicated that the Amlwch Branch might be a good candidate for reopening. A volunteer group has been clearing the line with NR's permission. See Daily Post report.

 

Sorry for delays 20/12/17

Your webmaster has been recovering from a bad cold and chest infection so apologies for the lack of updates. Normal service is resumed today.

 

Santa Special update 19/12/17

There are still tickets available for Santa Specials on Friday 22/12/17 but Saturday 23/12/17 is now fully booked. Contact booking office for details on 01766 516024. Locos in use continue to be Lyd and Earl of Merioneth on the Porthmadog-Beddgelert Santa Special and No.138 on the Dinas-Rhyd Ddu Santa Special.

 

Boston Lodge progress 15/12/17

Phase 1 work will be completed on time for Christmas holiday on 22/12/17. This includes the work to strengthen the embankment at Boston Lodge and stabilise the land. Piling work has been completed and ground levels are being brought up to final level using the available material on site (rock excavated to create space for the Heritage Carriage Shed). The whole area is still a construction site and so remains off limits to any railway staff who have not received a site induction and to members of the public. The foreshore clear of the worksite remains open to the public. See also F&WHR story. The following images have been approved by site contractor BRELL.

 

This easterly view from the foreshore near the west end of Boston Lodge (15/12/17) shows backfilling of the new sea defence works. The seaward pile wall is complete and the space between that and the landward pile wall has now been backfilled. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Ian Hartill (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view from the foreshore near the south end of Boston Lodge (15/12/17) shows toe protection of the new sea defence works. The seaward pile wall is complete and rock has been placed to protect the base of the wall from wave action. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Ian Hartill (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view from the south end of Boston Lodge (15/12/17) shows the large space now available for the new Carriage Shed to accommodate both WHR and FR rakes. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Ian Hartill (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

No.130 news roundup 13-21/12/17

On 13/12/17 No.130's rear power bogie was shunted into the Dinas Shed by the Dinas Pilot. It is now a rolling chassis. By 21/12/17 the stainless steel doubling plate has been fabricated and inserted into the smokebox. Hopefully, the whole smokebox area will be completed early in the New Year. See No.130 Facebook page for video/images.

 

Santa Specials run as normal in snow 10/12/17

Although the SVR had to cancel Santa Specials on Sunday due to the weather, the WHR offered normal services with very snow building up at Rhyd Ddu and Beddgelert. The mountains around Rhyd Ddu and Beddgelert had a good covering and the lying snow lead to Xmas Card scenes. Bacon baps were available at the Dinas cafe. Any photos would be welcome for publication as your webmaster cannot get there because of a dose of flu, this after religiously getting the flu jab!

For images of trains in the surprisingly light snow at Rhyd Ddu on Saturday 9/12/17 see WHR fan Facebook page.

There was much more snow on Sunday 10/12/17 and it did produce some Xmas Card scenes in both the Aberglaslyn Pass and at Rhyd Ddu.

 

This easterly view (10/12/17) shows No.138 hauling the Dinas-Rhyd Ddu Santa Special rounding Ffridd Isaf curve in snowy conditions. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This westerly view (10/12/17) shows No.138 hauling the Dinas-Rhyd Ddu Santa Special approaching Rhyd Ddu in snowy conditions. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (10/12/17) shows No.138 hauling the Dinas-Rhyd Ddu Santa Special entering Rhyd Ddu in snowy conditions with Merry Christmas headboard. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (10/12/17) shows No.138 hauling the Dinas-Rhyd Ddu Santa Special at Rhyd Ddu in snowy conditions. Santa can be seen walking down the platform! Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Meanwhile the Porthmadog-Beddgelert Santa Special ran after a track inspection by Lyd. In previous snowy years large icicles have formed in the four tunnels, particularly Goat Tunnel. After finding no problems, the loco returned to Pont Croesor to pilot Earl of Merioneth to Beddgelert. Pont Croesor loop is currently out of use so the return working from Beddgelert is performed using Lyd as the train locomotive, retaining Earl of Merioneth on the rear, which then hauls the set back from The Cob into the more sheltered Porthmadog Platform 1 rather than the WHR Platform 2. The same pair of locos is rostered for the remaining Porthmadog-Beddgelert Santa Specials.

 

This northerly view (10/12/17) shows Lyd on an inspection working before piloting the Porthmadog-Beddgelert Santa Special descending the Nanmor bank. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (10/12/17) shows Lyd double heading Earl of Merioneth with the Porthmadog-Beddgelert Santa Special ascending the Aberglaslyn Pass. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

East Anglian Group meeting 14/12/17

Our final meeting of 2017 will be held this Thursday 14/12/17 and will be our now traditional ‘Mince Pies and Members’ Slides’ event where we welcome contributions from visitors. If you have any of your own pictures or film you would like to show, please bring them along on disk or USB stick.

We take a break in January and will then meet again in February 2018.

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

There is a charge of £2 per meeting for Group members, £3 for non-members.

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

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

Merry Christmas to all WHRS members and friends!

 

Snowy Santa Specials 9-10/12/17

With snow forecast from 8-10/12/17 in the WHR area, both the Dinas-Rhyd Ddu and Porthmadog-Beddgelert Santa Specials will experience snowy conditions as they head into the mountains. Unfortunately your webmaster has family events to attend this weekend but any snowy scenes would be welcome for publication. Some trains had already sold out by 5/12/17.

A coal train ran from Dinas to Porthmadog on 8/12/17 and was noted passing Pont Cae'r Gors hauled by Vale of Ffestiniog with a dusting of snow around the summit but the mountains nicely coated in snow. A F&WHR statement on the F&WHR Facebook confirms Santa trains will run as booked with no snow issues.

 

This southerly view (8/12/17) shows Vale of Ffestiniog hauling four coal wagons just south of Pont Cae'r Gors from Dinas to Porthmadog. Snow can be seen on Moel Hebog above Beddgelert. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Michael Rowe and was taken on a quadcopter camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Saphos Rail

Jeremy Hosking's new TOC based in Crewe is running test trains along the North Wales Coast. See Saphos trains website. A route learning ran on 9/12/17 (1224 off Llandudno and returning 1438 off Valley Nuclear Electric) from Crewe featured newly painted D1944 (47501) and 47805. The stock was left in Llandudno and one loco ran to Valley Nuclear Electric for the staff to learn the triangle. This working should also run the following week on 16/12/17. While it had been hoped to launch steam services in December the booking website has been taken down and it is hoped to run steam and diesel hauled trains from the Spring on the North Wales coast and Marches lines. It is hoped some of these tours may include WHR options but the coach link from Bangor is a disincentive.

 

No.130 update 4/12/17-12/12/17

By 4/12/17 work had taken place on the front power unit coupling, steering springs and loco springs, which were being assembled. Most of the individual components have been either made or refurbished now, so progress is accelerating.

By 5/12/17 work had started on the lubrication system with the first signs that the plumbing is about to happen soon. The first two oil pots have been restored and fitted. There are many more to fit in the coming weeks/months but it is a symbolic start.

On 7/12/17 the brake stretcher was being machined at Dinas.

On 8/12/17 there was more progress with the large bore plumbing on the cradle. A newly fabricated pipe along with new flanges was ready to assembly and there is much to be completed on these tasks now.

By 10/12/17 there was encouraging news from Stockton with the boiler. The dome cover rivets have now been fitted and the J pipe bracket is re-riveted. The backhead gusset stay is complete and the backhead is in place on the boiler with the gauge frame pads fitted and the boiler steadying bracket riveted on. The smoke box angle ring is fitted with as many rivets as can currently be put in due to access. The main steam pipe - J pipe clamp has been overhauled with new bolts made. The new main steam pipe (J pipe) end has been machined, and also the adapter for the main steam pipe to main internal steam pipe. Dalgleish are currently working on drawings for components for the smokebox and have received samples of washout plugs with the rest now on order.

By 12/12/17 the reverser and hand brake bracket, both now fully refurbished, has been fitted and are now permanently in place.

For images see No.130 Facebook Page.

 

Rhyl trackwork complete

NR is upgrading and rationalising trackwork at Rhyl and upgrading signalling. This is part of a longer term £50m upgrade which will see semaphores replaced as far as Llandudno Junction by Summer 2018. Normal Sunday services will now resume making easier public transport access to the WHR. See NR website.

 

WHR Santa Specials run to Rhyd Ddu 1/12/17

The WHR Santa Specials are to run from Dinas to Rhyd Ddu this year, a 45 minute ride. The round trip train ride takes about 1 hour 30 mins giving plenty of time for Santa to meet the children and the loco run round at Rhyd Ddu. This also provides six days on which it may be possible to take photos of WHR trains in the snow as Rhyd Ddu is the highest station on the line. A contractor has been working at Rhyd Ddu to paint the lamp posts. Platform seats are also presently being refurbished in advance of the trains. See F&WHR website for full details and booking forms.

 

This northerly view (1/12/17) shows the new lamps and a contractor painting the Rhyd Ddu lamp standards. Snow can be seen on Moel Eilio above Waunfawr. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Keith Holland and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Events 2018

1/1/18 Final day of Mince Pie Specials
10-25/2/18 Purple timetable Porthmadog-Beddgelert MFX
3-15/3/18 Orange timetable Porthmadog to Hafod-y-llyn MTFX
14/4/18 The Snowdonian
12/5/18 Caernarfon Food Festival (Extra services)
18-20/5/18 Rail-Ale 14th Annual Beer Festival based at Dinas
9/6/18 The Snowdonian Limited- a limited re-run of The Snowdonian
22-25/6/18 Hunslet 125 Gala celebrating Blanche and Linda's 125th Birthday
9/7/18 Special timetable for Railtour
14-16/9/18 SuperPower (WHR AGM 15/9/17)
5-7/10/18 FR Victorian Weekend (may include some WHR events)
31/10/18 WHR Halloween Train
8-9/12/18 WHR Santa Specials (routes to be confirmed)
15-16/12/18 WHR Santa Specials (routes to be confirmed)
22-23/12/18 WHR Santa Specials (routes to be confirmed)
27/12/18-1/1/19 WHR Mince Pie Specials (to be confirmed)

 

Mainline news

There will be a series of railtours both to and from North Wales in 2018 while de-fuelling and removing contaminated material from Wylfa Nuclear Power Station will continue for another year at least providing the only freight traffic on the route. In recent years steam on the North Wales Coast/Blaenau Ffestiniog has declined and steam on the Cambrian disappeared due to NR reneging on its promise to provide a mobile ERTMS unit.

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

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

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

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

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

 

Trackwork Volunteering 2018

Keeping the permanent way, in particular, and the infrastructure in general, fit for trains to run is an essential task. Volunteers have a lot to offer by assisting with this. We have a mix of weekend and weekday working parties. The Black Hand, Tuesday Gang and Rest of the World Gangs will be very glad to accept your help. Contact the relevant organiser to let him know when you plan to join us. Please do not just turn up as that makes it difficult for us to plan ahead.

The programme for 2017 is as follows:

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

^ Bank Holiday weekend

WW-Working week Saturday-Thursday

! Dates for November and December 2018 are provisional pending preparation of the Winter Major Works Programme for 2018-19.

The Tuesday Gang expects to be operating pretty well every Tuesday.

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

Contacts

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

Tuesday Gang:

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

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

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

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

 

Gradient graph

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

 

Gradient profile.JPG (319064 bytes)

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

 

Site development

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

 

Comments

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

 

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

 

Maps & Plans and links

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

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

Click here for the Mail Order web page

Click here for the Official WHR website

Click here for Official WHHR site

Click here for FR Company websites

Click here for Welsh Highland Heritage Group

 

V4.3565 updated 13/1/18