Welsh Highland Railway

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News (28/1/22)

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Star Picture

 

This southerly archive view (10/12/17) shows Lyd and Earl of Merioneth on a snowy Winter working in Aberglaslyn Pass prior to the Fairlie's withdrawal in April 2018. Such a scene could be repeated on the Christmas Glaslyn workings. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera.

 

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 3/1/22)

Prince Charles Visit July 2003 (updated 5/1/22)

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

 

Still looking for FrontPage 2003

I am still looking for my lost copy of FrontPage 2003 to complete the migration of the website to the new computer which should result in better, more timely updates. Can anyone please lend me a copy or suggest a WYSIWYG alternative? Please contact by email address given above.

 

Coach No.24 complete 27/1/22

Replica Ashbury summer carriage No.24 left the paint shop to make way for other vehicles. After 20 years of service with only one visit to the workshop for a quick re-varnish in that time the carriage has seen major work, with all the gutters removed for resealing and in places being replaced due to rot. The roof lamp top bases have also been renewed and all the doors have been tended to with all the locks serviced. The outside has been fully rubbed down and repainted with paint supplied by the general manager (LMS Red). The inside the carriage has had several coats of paint on the floor, various areas of the wood graining has been renewed and all the interior signage has all be replaced. The coach was originally paid for by Mike Schumann as an example of the old NWNGR style that preceded the WHR. The coach is fitted with prototypical NWNGR roof ventilators.

 

This (27/1/22) Boston Lodge view shows the completed coach No.24 outside in the sun after removal from the Carriage Works to allow space for the next project. The coach was later stored in the Carriage Shed. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

WHR PW works 26/1/22

The listed Pont Y Cwt just north of Snowdon Street Crossing was inspected recently. The stone bridge appears to be in good condition. The inspection team had to go waist deep in the former Cwt Canal that Maddocks built from Llyn Bach to Tremadog to inspect the underside of the arch.

PW trains are working on the WHR presumably clearing lineside vegetation that scratches the sides of rolling stock. Criccieth Castle was working with a PW train near Bontnewydd Halt on 26/1/22.

 

North Wales Main Line 27/1/22

GBRF Class 68s Nos.68001/2 ran from Crewe Coal Siding to Valley Nuclear Electric siding on 27/1/22 with a path retention working hauling one empty flask wagon. Just in case we get any snow 37425/37716 ran top and tail with the low profile Beilhack snowploughs to Chester! Three days ago the working saw the larger DRS snowploughs in Chester bay with a pair of 66s. However the so-called 'snow-bomb' forecast for the end of January failed to appear and the month was mild and dry with record high temperatures recorded on some days!

Visiting North Wales on 27/1/22 the PM including Wylfa and Penmaenmawr quarries, he lent support to the quarries rail borne output and said the government was minded to assist a new developer of Wylfa B nuclear power station.

The Network map for the North Wales Metro includes the Trawsfynydd Extension of the Blaenau Ffestiniog Branch. Whether this is to Trawsfynydd Lake, the current terminus at the Nuclear waste transfer siding which would be a parkway station or an extension into the original Trawsfynydd station is unclear but there are farm buildings built on the sold off trackbed south of Trawsfynydd Lake Halt. The Metro Map also includes the NR Bangor/Caernarfon/Porthmadog line. The aspiration includes a through Amlwch-Porthmadog train as well as a Bangor-Caernarfon-Porthmadog service.

Another intriguing suggestion revealed by TfW's map is the potential to reroute Holyhead-Cardiff trains via a new curve at Shotton using the old Docks Branch formation. These trains could then use the Borderlands Line non stop to Wrexham and avoid Chester with its cramped layout which is unsuitable for reversing services such as this. See TFW North Wales Metro Map.

 

Second chance at Funkey cab 26/1/22

The F&WHR ran an auction for the sale of the fibreglass cab from Castell Caernarfon only for the winner to fail to complete the deal. So, to give everyone another chance, the F&WHR has decided to re-run the auction. Send your bid direct to us, via Messenger. The highest bid by midday on 11th February 2022 will win.  Just in time for someone's Valentine's Day present..?!? However, before you bid, please remember that you will need to collect the cab from Boston Lodge - and this must happen before the end of February. (We can lift it on to a flat back truck for you)

Note: The control desks are not included as they are going to be refurbished and reused. Of course you may just wish to make a donation to Railway Children.

 

Final stage of website migration

Your webmaster is reaching the final stage in migration of the website to the new Dell computer. However, Windows 10 does not like FrontPage 2000 and my 2003 version seems to have gone missing but is said to work on Windows 10. Can anyone recommend a suitable WYSIWYG web editor?

 

Moving Pictures No.59 25/1/22

Click on the YouTube link to watch 26 minutes 46 seconds of video with Iain Wilkinson covering the Wagon Tracks project. This video was published on 25/1/22 and is best viewed at 1080p with Chrome. This video was produced by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a professional 4K Betamax camcorder.

 

Mountain winter heat wave!

An extreme temperature inversion occurred on 24/1/22 when the summit of Y Garn overlooking Rhyd Ddu from the west was recorded as having a balmy temperature of 21C while the campsite below shivered at 1C. No wonder there is no snow on Snowdon!

 

Gowrie replica latest progress 2021

Gowrie was the last loco built for the NWNGR and only lasted 10 years in service from 1908-1918. The single Fairlie with a triple axle power bogies is the same wheel arrangement as Moel Tryfan/Snowdon Ranger. Many enthusiasts would have preferred a Moel Tryfan replica as this loco survived into WHR days and worked on the FR. Gowrie was unsuccessful on the NWNGR and was sold on in 1918 and believed to be broken up in the early 1930s The Gowrie Locomotive Trust is a Midlands based group that is raising funds for a replica loco and currently constructing the main frames of the power bogie having completed the trailing bogie frame several months ago. The loco is unusual for having no front running plate so the boiler and smokebox protrude from the power bogie saddle giving an ungainly appearance exacerbated by the tanks finishing next to the power bogie saddle.

Castings for many components have been received and some already machined. Patterns for the power bogie's coupled wheels have been finished and the order placed for them to be cast. Tyres have been ordered too. A new larger boiler has been designed to eliminate the reputation of the loco being a poor steamer. The carrier frames have already been lengthened to accept a longer firebox. The loco will be fitted with both air brakes and vacuum brakes and will visit the F&WHR. The group is still looking for funds to complete this £600,000 project. Contact Marion Allen, the group's treasurer with any donations. For more information see the Gowrie group's website.

 

L&BR progress

The Lynton and Barnstaple Railway in Devon has made more progress recently through Exmoor Associates (EA), the separate company that purchases sections of the trackbed for eventual use by the railway as it extends south to Barnstaple. The L&BR frequently exchanges locos with the F&WHR and Lyd has been there several times with Baldwin Lyn making a reciprocal visit to the F&WHR. The latest purchase is a 622 m section lies about 1 km to the south of Wistlandpound Reservoir between Hunnacott and South Thorne.

Mirroring the FR's problem with Llyn Ystradau, the building of Wistlandpound Reservoir in 1956, some 20 years after the L&BR closed, flooded the line. Consequently when this section of the line is reopened the railway will have to climb more steeply  from the south in order to reach the height of the dam and must therefore be moved off line and higher up the hillside to the east. This is the section purchased by Exmoor Associates. South of Hunnacott, Devon County council has used about 1 km of the trackbed for a local C class road (Twitchen Lane) to Narracott which will require a deviation running alongside the road. Sections of trackbed at Chelfham and Snapper are already in EA's possession. Completion of purchase of a second section of trackbed is expected shortly which will exhaust EA's funding. An appeal for additional funds is planned to support EA's trackbed acquisition programme. Se EA website.

The L&BR has planning permission to build a new station on the north side of Wistlandpound Reservoir, a popular country park, and is also purchasing by a shares offer the nearby former Blackmoor Gate station, currently The Old Station House Inn pub/restaurant, and convert to a station/depot/restaurant/car park. The site will be returned to railway use including a depot. For the latest on the B&BR see L&BR website.

 

More Cambrian Coast Expresses excursions

After the disappointment last season when a careless lorry driver hit Machynlleth station road bridge with his tipper up leading to cancellation of excursions, there are four from Pathfinder this year! The excursions will be hauled by NR's yellow Class 37s (aka Class 97) from Shrewsbury to Pwllheli.

Very few railtours will visit North Wales in the early part of the year with COVID suppressing the market.

Locos listed with an S prefix are steam engines, otherwise diesel locos.

Date Railtour Name From-To Promoter Loco
19/2/22 Settle and Carlisle Circular Telford-Carlisle pu Shrewsbury-Chester Statesman Rail TBA
13/4/22 The Devonian Pullman Bangor-Kingswear pu NWC Midland Pullman Midland Pullman Blue HST set
27/4/22 Severn Valley Enterprise Llandudno Junction-Brignorth pu NWC Saphos trains Diesel, steam from Crewe
13/5/22 Cambrian Coast Express Oxford-Pwllheli pu Banbury-Shrewsbury Pathfinder Diesel, 2x 97/3 from Shrewsbury
20/5/22 Cambrian Coast Express Bristol Temple Meads-Pwllheli Pathfinder Diesel, 2x 97/3 from Shrewsbury
12/8/22 Cambrian Coast Express Cardiff-Pwllheli Pathfinder Diesel, 2x 97/3 from Shrewsbury
13/5/22 Cambrian Coast Express Oxford-Pwllheli Pathfinder Diesel, 2x 97/3 from Shrewsbury

Loco: TBA=To be announced

pu=pick up locations e.g.. NWC = principle stations on North Wales Coast

Promoters:

Branch Line Society

InterCity

Pathfinder

Midland Pullman

Northern Belle

Pathfinder

Saphos Trains

Statesman Rail

Steam Dreams

West Coast Railways

Vintage Trains

 

GVR Chirk station appeal

The Glyn Valley Tramway group is attempting to raise £250,000 to rebuild the narrow gauge railway station on the west side of Chirk's NR station. Work has been underway since 2006 and volunteers have cleared growth from the trackbed as far the initial terminus proposed at Pontfaen. New volunteers have worked with hired equipment recently to clear the station site which was closed in 1935 and to passengers in 1933. The appeal will fund the rebuilding of the platform, station building and most importantly the retaining wall on the west side that prevents earth falling onto the site. the foundations of the station building have been excavated and are suitable for the replica building on the same site. Some platform edgings have been recovered from the rubble but many new ones will need to be cut. Talks are underway with NR about public access to the GVR station, possibly via NR's disabled access ramp to the Down platform. Initially, 2' 3" gauge track will be laid to allow visits by the two GVT coaches preserved (and regauged) on the TR (as well as visits by their locos or those at Corris!) but in the longer term the group might prefer the original gauge of 2' 4.5". Donations to the All Change at Chirk Appeal may be made via PayPal via thegvttrust@gmail.com GVR address.

 

Special Events and Service Trains 2022

The first four 2022 events have now been confirmed by the F&WHR, shown below in blue. On the basis of what has happened in previous years here is a speculative attempt to predict what other events (marked with a question mark) the F&WHR might offer in 2022, subject to COVID restrictions. This will be updated as hard information is received and dates confirmed.

<
1/1/22 Final Christmas Cwellyn/Christmas Glaslyn trains
17-27/2/22? Half Term Holiday trains? CANCELLED
March 26/3/22 Start of new season
Easter 16-18/4/22? Easter Bank Holiday Weekend Service
23/4/22 The Snowdonian
2-5/6/22? Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend services?
10-11/6/22 Rail Ale
July 22? Summer Season starts?
July 22? The Snowdonian Limited?
30-31/7/22 WHR 100 Dinas-South Snowdon (aka Rhyd Ddu)
29/8/22 Bank Holiday. End of Summer Season trains?
September 2022 WHR SuperPower?
8-9/10/22 FR Bygones Weekend event
30/10/22? Final trains of the season?
December 22? Santa Specials-Twice a day Caernarfon-Rhyd Ddu on 10-11/12/22, 17-18/11/22 and 22-23/12/22?
December 22? Christmas Cwellyn-Twice a day Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu until 1/1/23?
December 22? Christmas Glaslyn-Twice a day Porthmadog to Beddgelert 27/12/22 until 1/1/23?

 

Covid restrictions ease for F&WHR hospitality 21/1/22

Announcing a further easing of Covid Restrictions from 28/1/22, Mark Drakeford (Welsh First Minister) said that all restrictions on hospitality would cease from 28/1/22. This will ease operation of the F&WHR's Spooners Bar/Restaurant and De Winton Cafe as there will be no need for table service and the 2m spacing will go. He was confidence that the stronger Welsh measures to restrict transmission of COVID had led to COVID occurrence falling faster in Wales than elsewhere in the UK and he suggested the Prime Minister's populist approach was not 'following the science' and more to do with distracting people from Partygate. As regards future easing of restrictions, by mid February he hoped that restrictions would be back to Level Zero which would allow the F&WHR to operate more easily than it did last year and more in line with the TR/Llangollen Railway 'hop on/hop off' services etc.

 

KMX in action on FR 20/1/22

Alex Spring, the F&WHR Infrastructure manager, has reported that following the top ballasting of the Boston Lodge to Rhiw Plas Bridge last week the KMX tamper-liner was in action finishing the job. The line now looks ready to take FR trains when they resume on 26/3/22.

 

This (20/1/22) view shows the tracked between Boston Lodge Halt and Rhiw Plas bridge tamped by the KMX tamper-liner and looking ready for passenger services when they begin at the end of March. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Alex Spring (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

A487 Caernarfon Bypass opening

Work on the A487 Caernarfon Bypass is nearing completion with an opening date of 27/1/22 suggested. The road has a number of alternating 3 lane sections like the dangerous A41 Whitchurch Bypass which allow overtaking manoeuvres in either direction but in different locations. The speed limits have been set after consultation with local Police Authorities and will see the limit on the 9.8km route at 40mph at the roundabouts and national speed limit (60mph) on the main sections as a 3 lane road is classed as a single carriageway. Traffic from the A55 to Porthmadog could expect to save up to 10 minutes making journeys for F&WHR passengers and volunteers faster and more reliable.

The bypass will run from the Goat roundabout at the A499/A487 junction in Dinas/Llanwnda towards the Plas Menai roundabout near Y Felinheli and will ease congestion on the A487 running towards Caernarfon, which includes a number of bottleneck sections. There are two negative aspects to the new road. One is that the road does not provide a direct link onto the A4085 to Beddgelert and such traffic would have to exit the bypass at Bont Newydd and use local roads to Cae Athro roundabout thus giving no time saving at all to such traffic. Another aspect is that the road does not appear to have been completed with passive provision for standard gauge reopening of the WHR route at the overbridge just north of Bontnewydd Halt despite requests from WHR engineers. It is possible the old road through Caernarfon will be renumbered as the A4085.

 

Gwynedd Council makes St David's Day a holiday

Gwynedd Council has voted to create a council holiday (as opposed to a Bank Holiday) for its staff on St David's Day 1/3/22. This will not apply to schools as teachers' contracts are governed by Westminster. Unfortunately the F&WHR will not be open on this day to offer services to local people enjoying this new holiday break.

 

Important Safety notice 18/1/22

F&WHR Announcement : Although we aren’t running passenger trains at the moment, we are very busy with engineering trains. These run unannounced and may appear at any time, travelling at up to 20mph through cuttings and on embankments. Please don’t be tempted to walk along the railway, as you may have very little warning of a train, and very few places to get out of its way when it appears.

 

F&WHR timetable 2022

The FR has responded to questions about its 2022 timetable which has still not appeared despite that of several other Welsh heritage railways being available for some weeks now. The statement confirms there will be no February Half Term Holiday trains or early season trains in contrast to most of the other heritage railways and previous year's F&WHR timetables. Maybe the F&WHR 'knows something the other railways don't'? The start of services on 26/3/22 comes just over 2 weeks before the Easter Bank Holiday 15-18/4/22 and covers the school's fortnight Easter break.

F&WHR statement:

It’s a crisp Winter’s day here in Porthmadog, but the days are growing lighter and we have some exciting news to share with you - our 2022 season will start on 26/3/22. We are finalising the details of our services, but trains will initially run in a similar style to 2021. However, we are planning to run more trains, with increased capacity, to Blaenau Ffestiniog. Our heritage carriages will continue to be used between Porthmadog and Tan-y-Bwlch on our popular, family-friendly ‘Woodland Wanderer’ trains.

Welsh Highland Railway services will also remain similar to last year; however, we aim make improvements to our facilities at Beddgelert station. We are looking at re-introducing ticketing for solo travellers, as well as travel from some intermediate stations - details of which will be announced in due course. We would like to thank you all for your patience, we are working hard to finalise our plans and hope to have tickets on sale soon..!

For the most up to date news, sign up to our Newsletter, via the link in the footer of our website.

 

The Y Cerdyn discount card may be coming back and through WHR single journeys may be possible. It may also be possible to join a train at Blaenau Ffestiniog. Hop on/hop off services are being considered too as offered on other Welsh heritage railways.

 

ROWG report 15/1/22

Not much is heard from the Rest of the World Gang recently but they have been busy on the FR. Ballast delivery has taken place all week on the Rhiw Plas to Boston Lodge Halt section with a rough top and line established in readiness for the KMX tamper/liner to start work next week.

 

This (14/1/22) view shows the tracked between Boston Lodge Halt and Rhiw Plas bridge now ballasted and ready for the KMX tamper. The area where the garage is used to be the turntable just east of the old Loco Shed. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Alex Spring (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Corris new loco needs support 15/1/22

The Corris Railway has stopped work on its new build Hughes Falcon locos due to the lack of funds. The railway is appealing for help to complete the new loco before its only steam loco is retired for its 10 year exam. The railway is busy extending its line from Maespoeth Junction to the south, a section robbed by road improvements to the A487. See Daily Post story.

 

WMWP report 15/1/22

There has been more progress with the Winter Major Work Programme on the FR. A contractor moved onto the second relay site in the woods above Rhiw Goch and has prepared 100m of formation ready for base ballast. In the last week the infrastructure team ran 15 trains to support these works, removing over 100 tonnes of waste material and delivering 150 tonnes of clean ballast. PW staff hope to relay a third site of 160m before services start in 10 weeks (FR 26/3/22). Alex Spring the PW Manager would like to thank all volunteers who have supported the WMWP so far and is looking forward to working with volunteers who have booked to join the team in the coming weeks.

 

This (14/1/22) view shows a tracked excavator with tipper attachment dumping spent ballast on an adapted DZ wagon having passed over two intermediate wagons. The wagons have end flaps to allow the excavator to pass from wagon to wagon and an end ramp. This helps on the constricted sites typical of the FR with no space for side loading. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Alex Spring (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Coach No.16 roof repair 13/1/22

The canvas roof of Brown Marshall coach No.16, one of the coaches with an end balcony, has developed a leak. The coach works is using a stretched plastic sheet to prevent further leakage. Lorry 'tautliner' side sheeting material has been used with the new covering which is stapled to the sides to preserve the original roof material.

 

This Boston Lodge view (13/1/22) shows No.16 receiving a new roof. the coach also appears to have been rubbed down ready for a repaint and will emerge with the same colour scheme. 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.

 

SMR will not run to Snowdon summit in 2022 (11/1/22)

The Snowdon Mountain Railway has announced that trains will only run as far as Clogwyn again this season. This is due to lack of maintenance on the upper section as staff have been unavailable due to COVID. The top section of the SMR usually opens late in the season as it requires more maintenance being subject to harsh weather conditions near the summit until late Spring. One positive piece of news is that the heritage steam trains will be back having been suspended in early 2020. See Daily Post story.

 

Caernarfon Station event 25/1/22

Caernarfon Station (Y Stesion) is to host a special meal offering for the Welsh equivalent of Valentine's Day (which will presumably also be celebrated). The meal must be booked in advance and costs £9.99 for three courses. See F&WHR Facebook page for details.

 

Progress with coach No.24

NWNGR replica Coach No.24 is currently in the coachworks receiving its top coat of paint, lettering etc.

 

This Boston Lodge view (11/1/22) shows No.24 nearing completion of paintwork and lettering in the paint shop. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Glenn Williams (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Shunting in Porthmadog

The difficulties of shunting trains up to the buffer stops in the sharply curved Harbour Station are illustrated in this FaceBook video. This is achieved by the guard in the rear of the train talking to the driver with a Motorola DP1400 walkie-talkie, to guide the train to a safe stop.

 

No early season trains?

There have now been several official statements that F&WHR trains will not recommence until 26/3/22 despite most of the other heritage railways in Wales offering Half Term holiday services in late February (see story below). The reasons quoted are maintenance. While track relaying currently has closed the FR to all but works trains, there seems to be nothing stopping operations on the WHR other than lineside vegetation clearance trains.

 

North Wales Main line news 10-12/1/22

Slate waste trains should soon start running from Glan Conwy Yard, which branches off the Llandudno Junction Yard headshunt under Queens Road bridge, to places such as Hope Cement works where the slate waste will replace fly ash from dwindling coal fired power stations. The concrete pad for the slate waste storage area has been completed and the area is being fenced in. The run round adjacent to the station looks complete but is quite short so might involve up to 8 shunting movements to fill a longer train and reverse it out onto the Up line by the signalbox. The yard is visible from trains on the Conwy Valley line when not bustituted! Road access to the new yard for lorry deliveries is via Ffordd Maelgwyn from the A470/A55 junction just east of Llandudno Junction and the loading point lies at the north end of the Glan Conwy industrial estate.

Due to failure of TfW to train sufficient staff and staff absences through COVID isolations, the loco hauled Holyhead-Cardiff trains were substituted by pairs of Class 153s this week. Some of these were wedged and dangerous considering the current COVID epidemic. Meanwhile 3 car class 175s were used on the Llandudno shuttle trains! Ridiculous!!

Cambrian Coast ERTMS fitted Class 37 No.97303 was operating on the Borderlands line on 11/1/21. The loco has had some cosmetic attention with white painted wheels and was named Dave Berry on 17/12/21 at its Coleham depot, Shrewsbury. With the Barmouth Bridge now open again, it cannot be long before the loco is seen in Porthmadog on PW workings or on the North Wales Coast. A pair are due to haul the replacement Cambrian Coast Express charter on 13/5/22 as last September's train was cancelled just before the Barmouth Bridge closure by a lorry driver who apparently drove away from the A487 Dyfi Bridge bypass works with his tipper up hitting the Machynlleth station road bridge!!

A NWC driver had to hit emergency brakes on 12/1/22 when children playing 'chicken' were observed on a footpath crossing between Rhyl and Prestatyn. Local BT Police visited the area and spoke to the children who were still playing near the crossing. 

 

Trackwork Volunteering 2022

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 2022 is fortnightly for the North Wales Track Gang in RED but details are still awaited for the ROWG in BLACK:

January   8-9/1/22   22-23/1/22  
February 5-6/2/22   19-20/2/22    
March 5-6/2/22   19-20/2/22    
April 2-3/4/22   16-17/4/22   30/4/22-1/5/22
May          
June          
July          
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.

 

WAG restrictions latest 7/1/22

Mark Drakeford (the Welsh First Minister) announced continuation of existing restrictions when speaking about the latest weekly COVID review on 7/1/22 as reported by the BBC. He was disparaging of 'experts' calling for easing of restrictions at a time when Omicron is rising sharply across Wales and criticised Boris Johnson as being 'paralysed by his cabinet and MPs' and being out of step with the Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the rest of Europe in not protecting the English adequately against COVID. The continuing Welsh restrictions give the F&WHR some certainty about how to plan its hospitality operations and any February Half Term Holiday/Easter train services it might run.

 

Snowdon weather 7/1/22

Snowdon Summit and nearby mountains will receive snowfall for today and the over weekend according to Met Office forecasts.

 

Complaints about Premier Inn locality description 7/1/22

The Daily Post has revealed that many criticisms have been made about the description of local attractions in the new Porthmadog Premier Inn's webpage. The motel will open on 14/6/22. Premier Inn bosses have said they will look at the locality description again. The description of the F&WHR station across the road from the motel is less than many might think appropriate given the F&WHR's popularity as a major tourist attraction.

 

F&WHR traffic 6-7/1/22

Harlech Castle was present stabled at Tan-y-bwlch at both 14:00 and 18:00 on 6/1/22. The same loco was present with the cherrypicker rake at midday on 7/1/22 and was present for some hours until leaving before 16:45.

 

This westerly view (7/1/22) shows Harlech Castle on the cherrypicker train at Tan-y-bwlch at 11:44. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This webcam image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

No.134 progress 6/1/22

Rail Advent has published a press release by Laurence Armstrong covering progress on NG15 No.134. The frames of the loco will be adjusted to accommodate the new design of the cab/tender cab interface.

 

The Apprentice BBC1

The opening captions for BBC1's Apprentice show feature clips from the F&WHR taken on 30/7/21, including a daredevil drone shot of No.130 approaching to be featured in one of the season's stories and some views inside Observation Car No.150.

 

F&WHR timetable update

A message on the F&WHR homepage shows that timetable planning is underway for the 2022 timetable. 'We are in the process of finalising our 2022 timetable at the moment. Please keep checking the website for updates, or alternatively subscribe to our mailing list at the foot of this page.' The only item for sale on the FareHarbor booking webpage is the Gift Card. Trains are set to run from 26/3/22 so it does not look like any Half Term holiday trains are planned despite every other Welsh Heritage railway (now including the Welshpool & Llanfair) offering such trains in February.

 

Snow in Snowdonia 5/1/22!

With trains now over after a very mild Festive Season, snow came to the mountains of Snowdonia on 5/1/22. Snow was visible on webcams and Snowdon itself was forecast to have snow every day for the next four days. Work was underway with servicing the charging/watering points on Porthmadog platform.

Around midday Harlech Castle was present at Tan-y-bwlch with a PW train consisting of 3 DZ wagons with end flaps. Two excavators were loaded and the train set off presumably for the relay job at Rhiw Goch at 12:45. As well as relaying, the WMWP work will feature a shunt token at Tan-y-bwlch and, in addition, will ease wrong line departures, a feature of the Woodland Wanderer at the end of the day, which may continue into 2022.

 

This westerly view (5/1/22) shows Harlech Castle on the PW train at Tan-y-bwlch at 12:06. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This webcam image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Book Review 2021

A number of railway books were received as presents at Christmas.

1) The Class 37s by Mark V Pike

published 2021 by Key Books, Britain's Railway Series (Volume 23)

Softback £15.99 ISBN 978-1-80282-042-3

A highly illustrated history of the Class 37 in colour focussing rather more on the locos than trains in the scenery. The author has chosen Class 37s from his own travels and has sadly missed out the Cambrian and North Wales Coast routes, while covering South Wales, Scotland and his home patch in the south to excess. The text is in the form of extended captions which provide a wealth of detail. Most of the livery variations are shown including the Class 97/3 which ply the Cambrian Coast lines. There is a chapter about the travels of Caroline, the inspection saloon, railtours and heritage rail use of Class 37s.

2) Birmingham New Street Station Through Time by Mark Norton

published 2013 by Amberley Publishing, Local History Series

Softback £14.99 ISBN 978-1-4456-1095-5

A highly illustrated account in the form of extended captions covering the complete history of Birmingham New Street station with mostly black and white images. The booklet features much history starting from the original 'Grand Central' station which replaced Curzon Street, through the dimly lit smoky basement it became, to the plans for the modern day station under the recently redeveloped Bull Ring Centre, now known again as Grand Central. It there was a similar book about Snow Hill station, which your webmaster regularly travelled from to North Wales in the mid 50s, it would also prove an even more interesting read.

 

3) Unfinished Lines (rediscovering the remains of railways never completed) by Mark Yonge

published 2021 by Pen & Sword Transport

Hardback £30 ISBN 978-1-39901-853-1

This is a heavy book produced on art quality paper with much original research including many maps and plans. There are 19 chapters focussing largely on the south of England with much interesting detail on the works for the aborted 1880s First Channel Tunnel. Obviously many routes started but never completed have been missed out such as the Ruthin and Cerrig-y-drudion Railway your webmaster researched for Welsh Highland Heritage newsletter (Issues 91/93), the Sennybridge & Llangammarch Wells in mid Wales that crossed the Mynydd Epynt Pass visible on the ground as far as the Army's fake German training village near Tirabad. The author provides guidance to sites, though not always accurate, as when your webmaster tried to find evidence of the Birmingham & Oxford Junction Railway between Fenny Compton and Rugby, described by the author as being to the west of Fenny Compton. In fact the formation diverged from the existing Oxford-Birmingham route some 3 miles to the north of Fenny Compton. Best read alongside the on line NLS Maps 1900 resource, this makes a fascinating read of what might have been and in some cases nearly were e.g. the Great Western's connecting viaducts into Birmingham Curzon Street.

 

4) Railway Atlas Then and Now by Paul smith and Keith Turner

published 2020 (Third edition) by Crécy Publishing Limited

Hardback £20 ISBN 978-0-86093-698-5

This A4 format book of maps shows pairs of maps from 1/1/1923 on the left hand and 1/1/2020 on the right hand for comparison with closed routes greyed out. All standard gauge railways are shown and passenger carrying narrow gauge railways. As such the then recently reopened NWNGR section from Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu just makes the cut on the left hand page of Snowdonia but the Croesor does not. The modern map opposite covers the whole WHR but some criticism could be levelled about the straight line drawn on the map compared to the curvaceous route on the ground and the missing out of several halts on the route. There is a wealth of detail showing all the branches around the country that have been lost to Beeching Cuts by Tory and Labour alike. Private sidings, industrial estates and miniature railways are not shown. Sections of line that are now walking routes or converted to bypasses are identified. the keys at the bottom of each page are very useful as are the enlarged map pages for the areas with high densities of industrial railways.

 

Open carriage ECS 4/1/22

Three open carriages Nos.37-39 were noted heading towards Boston Lodge passing Penrhyndeudraeth on 4/1/22 ECS hauled by Harlech Castle.

 

Bron Madog relay 4/1/22

Upnor Castle headed up the FR today gingerly crossing the recently relaid Bron Madog section that still requires top ballast and tamping.

 

K1 ECS to Dinas 2/1/22

With the end of the Christmas Glaslyn workings, K1 took the rake back to Dinas on 2/1/22. It was noted passing Rhyd Ddu with the Observation Car No.152 Eryri Snowdonia on the north end. Facebook has a set of images courtesy of Nick Meredith. At some stage K1 will be going back to the SBR.

 

Porthmadog Premier Inn to open 14/6/22

Porthmadog's new Premier Inn, currently under construction opposite Harbour Station, is set to open on 14/6/22. It has air conditioned rooms, a lift and a Thyme restaurant. Free car parking is available for residents. See Premier Inn website for full details. The website suggests some rooms may be equipped as the more expensive Premier Inn Plus rooms with mini fridge, coffee machine etc. but there is no rate shown for this option. Prices at £96 per night in June are likely to be considerably above local hotels and B&B establishments.

 

Website disruption 3/1/22

There may be some website disruption over the course of the coming week as a new Dell computer has been purchased along with the One Drive 1Tb offer having exceeded the current 50GB One Drive limit with the completion of slide scanning from 1969-2003. So there may be some disruption to services as programs and files are transferred over. The website and email address will remain the same as the computers will operate side by side until transfers are completed and tested. All contributions are still welcome in the meantime.

 

K1 on video 30/12/21

K1 was caught on video by Matthew Hall who had kindly put his video on YouTube. It was a rather wet day and the loco failed later with firing problems but was back in traffic on 1/1/22. Click here for YouTube link. At the end of the video is a bonus clip of K1 from 18/9/21 during SuperPower.

 

December late hits (29-31/12/21)!

Thanks to Tom Waldren several images have come to hand of the train services over Xmas.

 

This northerly view 29/12/21) shows No.87 at Dinas heading for Rhyd Ddu on the first Christmas Cwellyn with the driver exchanging tokens. The rake consisted of 7 coaches and an Observation Car but the Funkey was not needed on the Christmas Cwellyn workings. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Tom Waldren and was taken on a phone camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (30/12/21) shows the A487 Caernarfon Bypass bridge just north of Bontnewydd Halt. The scaffolding was erected to protect workers doing landscaping as the road prepares to open in early 2022. Despite requests from WHR engineers the height of the deck does not look adequate for standard gauge clearances. If the Bangor-Caernarfon-Afonwen branch line is to reopen as current WAG long term plans suggest, possibly on this alignment, it will require excavating the formation by at least a metre at this location and the gradient of the WHR would have to be steepened through Bontnewydd Halt as a result. This would seem to be very short sighted of WAG. The span allows for agricultural access either side as well as the Lon Eifion and WHR. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Tom Waldren and was taken on a phone camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (30/12/21) shows the FR Funkey Vale of Ffestiniog drawing the rake out of the Carriage Shed into the bay platform at the start of the day. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Tom Waldren and was taken on a phone camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This easterly view (31/12/21) shows Merddin Emrys and Criccieth Castle substituting for the failed K1 on the 14:15 Christmas Glaslyn on the penultimate day of operations. In the background the new Porthmadog Premier Inn, due to open this Summer,  nears completion. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Tom Waldren and was taken on a phone camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Half Term Holiday trains?

There is nothing showing on F&WHR websites about Half Term holiday trains in late February despite other heritage railways, including the TR, BLR and LR in North Wales operating over that period. The Tal-y-llyn's calendar/timetable is particularly informative compared to the F&WHR's and the F&WHR could learn a thing or two about their presentation of information. The TR's calendar shows Half Term trains from 19/2/22 and weekend trains thereafter until a new season starts at Easter. The BLR's timetable shows trains from 17-27/2/22. The LR calendar shows trains from 19-27/2/22. In comparison here is the F&WHR's calendar offering.

 

How will COVID affect the F&WHR in 2022?

Mark Drakeford (the Welsh First Minster) has suggested the peak of COVID infections may come in late January based on medical modelling. With majority of infections being the easily spread Omicron variant, currently with well over 10,000 daily cases and a positive test rate of 37%, it is possible additional restrictions might be necessary in Wales. However, Boris Johnson has decided to make no further restrictions in England, following a more risky strategy. It its possible that the F&WHR might be able to operate its Easter services under the regulations as they applied at Christmas and a pre-Season service by late February might also be possible similar to that of 2019 Porthmadog to Hafod-y-llyn, possibly extended to Beddgelert.

 

Final Festive trains 1/1/22

The two final Christmas Glaslyn and Christmas Cwellyn workings were due to run today. The Christmas Glaslyn was sold out but seats were available on both Christmas Cwellyn trains on 1/1/22, the final trains of the Festive Season. There is no snow as it has been a record mild New Year according to the Met Office and today was forecast to have sunny periods and maximum temperatures of 13C in Porthmadog.

K1 was back today and was ready with the train early in the WHR platform by 10:00 for the fully booked 10:50 Christmas Glaslyn. The train left on time and arrived back early at around 12:55. The loco uncoupled and shunted to the watering and coaling point at 13:00 before running round the train and coupling up shortly afterwards.

 

This easterly view (1/1/22) shows K1 and departing Porthmadog with the penultimate Christmas Glaslyn, the 10:50 departure. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This webcam image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The train left on time around 14:15 and arrived back at 16:22. The ECS departed at 16:35 for Boston Lodge as there are no services planned in the near future. With that the signaller went home and the platform lights switched off marking the end of a successful Festive Season.

 

Main Line news

The recent Penmaenmawr stone train (20/12/21) was not a ballast train but a working of aggregate to Tuebrook (Liverpool) for Hanson Cement. There will be further workings in January. There is no news as yet about the Freightliner contract for NR ballast trains to the Crewe Virtual Quarry but Freightliner crews are now passed for the route after driver training for the recent PW work west of Llandudno Junction.

WAG has promised to reinstate trains from Llandudno to Liverpool Lime Street in 2022 via the reopened Halton Curve from Frodsham to Runcorn. Given the frequent overcrowding on the North Wales coast passengers long for a return of the loco hauled 'crowd buster' from Holyhead/Manchester which could run in future via Manchester Airport. The loco hauled Holyhead-Birmingham trains lost in 2000 are probably on their wish list as south Wales seems to get most of TfW's attention. With their recent purchase of redundant Mk4 coaches, North Wales passengers may feel it is unfair to allocate these solely to Swansea-Manchester services via Gloucester.

It is expected that the new battery/diesel hybrid Class 230 will be introduced on the Borderlands Line from May 2022 with 5 units (Nos.230006-10) allowing a half hour service in due course at peak times.

 

Christmas Glaslyn 31/12/21

The Christmas Glaslyn is fully booked today but both New Year's Day trains are available to book. Both today's pair of Christmas Cwellyn and tomorrow's were free to book this morning. The weather was better in the area on Friday with cloudy conditions and 11C forecast. Passengers managed to get to the railways despite various roads being blocked by floods from Thursday's downpour.

The signaller opened the box at 10:10 as people started to turn up for today's 10:50 departure. A steam loco emerged from Boston Lodge a few minutes later and came across The Cob. At 10:15 the locos entered the yard to extract the rake and proved to be David Lloyd George with Criccieth Castle following K1's failure on the afternoon service yesterday. The diesel was required as a Fairlie is limited to 6 coaches on the 1 in 40 to Beddgelert and this train has 7 coaches. At 10:25 the rake was drawn out onto The Cob then shunted back into the WHR platform. The locos uncoupled at 10:32 and ran round, coupling up to the front end at 10:38. The train departed on time at 10:50 with the diesel inside for insurance.

 

This easterly view (31/12/21) shows David Lloyd George and Criccieth Castle running round the Christmas Glaslyn rake Porthmadog ready for the 10:50 departure. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This webcam image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

It was planned to use Merddin Emrys and Criccieth Castle on the afternoon service but K1 should return on the final workings on Saturday. Meanwhile, up at Caernarfon the Christmas Cwellyn is rostered for No.87 today and tomorrow. Merddin Emrys turned up at 12:55 light engine from Boston Lodge and waited in the loop for the return of the morning train. David Lloyd George pulled in at 13:05 with Criccieth Castle inside showing they had reversed order when running round independently at Beddgelert. At 13:10 David Lloyd George departed for Boston Lodge light engine, followed by Criccieth Castle which shunted onto the rear of Merddin Emrys. The pair then ran round and coupled to the front of the rake a few minutes later ready for the 14:15 departure.

 

This easterly view (31/12/21) shows Merddin Emrys and Criccieth Castle departing Porthmadog with the Christmas Glaslyn on the 14:15 service. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This webcam image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

There appeared to have been a movement across The Cob back towards Boston Lodge at 15:55 but the 14:15 train arrived back at 16:22 as booked with the steam loco leading the diesel loco. The rake was shunted to the yard promptly at 16:29 and the pair departed for Boston Lodge at 16:37 light engine.

 

Barmouth Bridge reopens 30/12/21

NR has reopened the Cambrian Coast Line on 30/12/21 following completion of Stage 2 (of 3) of the listed viaduct's refurbishment. The bridge will be closed again for a further 3 months from September-December 2022. See Daily Post story.

 

Christmas Glaslyn 30/12/21

It was a rainy mild day at Porthmadog with temperatures of 11C maximum. The train was back from the morning run by 13:05 and the loco had run to the fuelling point leaving the rake in the platform. At 14:00 K1 emerged from the yard and ran round the train. The train left on time at 14:15. At 16:20 it did not appear to have returned and at 16:38 Criccieth Castle passed light engine heading towards Beddgelert. The platform lights remained on and the signalbox was still manned indicating a recovery operation was underway.

It seems the loco's fire was the problem and K1's crew called for assistance. Passengers were warm and dry in heated carriages and KitKats were issued. The train arrived back in Porthmadog at 17:55, about 100 minutes late, piloted by Criccieth Castle. At 18:00 the diesel removed K1 and propelled it into the WHR loop at 18:05 before returning to couple to the train and dispose the stock to the station yard at 18:12 leaving K1 in the loop. The shunt was complete at 18:20 and the diesel ran round K1, departing at 18:30, propelling the failed loco to Boston Lodge.

 

This easterly view (30/12/21) shows K1 departing Porthmadog northbound with the fully booked 14:15 Christmas Glaslyn, with the headlight blaring in the dismal conditions. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This webcam image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This easterly view (30/12/21) shows K1 dumped in the WHR run round at Porthmadog while Criccieth Castle shunts the rake to the station yard ready for the following day's service. The diesel had rescued the service from the Beddgelert area arriving in Porthmadog about 100 minutes late. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This webcam image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This afternoon's train was fully booked despite the dismal weather and the tomorrow morning's 10:50 is also fully booked. The remaining three services are still bookable. The four remaining Christmas Cwellyn trains running tomorrow and 1/1/22 are all bookable. There must be some question about the use of K1 on the remaining four Christmas Glaslyn services tomorrow and New Year's Day but the F&WHR could provide a double engine or two small locos to do the duty.

 

Christmas Glaslyn working timetable

Location Time Time
Boston Lodge dep light 10:05  
Porthmadog arr light 10:10  
Porthmadog ECS shunt 10:20 ex-10:50
Porthmadog dep 10:50 14:15
Beddgelert arr 11:50 15:15
Beddgelert dep 12:05 15:30
Porthmadog arr 13:05 16:10
Porthmadog dep ECS 14:15 16:20
Boston Lodge arr ECS   16:25

This is a work in progress. Any amendments gratefully received. The train will be COVID cleaned at Porthmadog between the first return and the departure on the next service.

 

Christmas trains booking up 29/12/21

Today was the first of the Christmas Cwellyn trains and the afternoon working was fully booked. Trains also operate twice a day on the following three days including New Year's Day. The Christmas Glaslyn starts its second set of runs tomorrow and runs twice a day for the three days up to and including New Year's Day. Both trains on 30/12/21 are sold out and the morning train on 31/12/21 is sold out too. It is possible there may be late cancellations so it is always worth checking the F&WHR Booking website.

 

K1 Cold Turkey staff train 29/12/21

During a track inspection today the PW Supervisor Alex Spring was able to catch K1 on a staff special. Unusually the train seems to have run to Rhyd Ddu as the video seems to be at Pont Cae'r Gors. This was the traditional 'Cold Turkey' Xmas staff working to say thank you for all their efforts over Christmas which may explain why it was extended to Rhyd Ddu. This was also a good opportunity test of K1 prior to use on the Christmas Glaslyn for six trains timetabled over the period 30/12/21 to 1/1/22. A video of the shunting in Porthmadog Yard in preparation for the Cold Turkey working is also available on the Friends of F&WHR Facebook page.

 

February Half Term holiday services?

Welsh Heritage Railways are already releasing plans for 2022 subject to COVID restrictions. The BLR are advertising trains from 17/2/22 over the 2 weeks staggered Half Term Holiday. The TR is offering services from 19-27/2/22. Neither the LR nor the F&WHR has yet made any announcements about Half Term Holiday trains, a period when snow is most likely on the two railways. The F&WHR will have to decide soon if it is to offer a Half Term service. The General Manager has suggest that the current 'book in advance' model will continue into 2022 but that 'turn up and go/hop on-hop off fares' might be considered too. This could be achieved by reserving one coach per train for such passengers. It is also currently very expensive for single passengers to travel on the F&WHR, unless FRS/WHRS members, as they have to book a compartment for two.

 

Llangollen cancels Mince Pie Specials 22/12/21

Following the WAG announcement of restrictions from 26/12/21, the Llangollen Railway has cancelled its extensive Festive Train programme due to run over Xmas Bank Holiday and New year period as it cannot comply with the new regulations. Pre-booked passengers will be refunded when the office reopens from 4/1/22. The Tal-y-llyn Railway is continuing with its plans for Festive trains which run until 3/1/22. The SMR is closed for Winter as is the BLR. The F&WHR is continuing with its COVID compliant plans and all eight Christmas Cwellyn trains (29/12/21-1/1/22) and six Christmas Glaslyn trains (30/1/21-1/1/22) currently have space. However it seems snow is unlikely over the period with unseasonably mild temperatures forecast, even on Snowdon Summit!

 

Christmas Auction for Railway Children (1/1/22)

These Boston Lodge view (25/12/21) show the old grp cab of Castell Caernarfon which is up for auction. Click on the images to enlarge. These images are copyright Paul Lewin (F&WHR) and were taken on a digital camera. Images post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

A message from Paul Lewin (F&WHR GM) Well here is an interesting thing for Christmas. We have built a new cab for Castell Caernarfon. The old one was just about to go in the skip last week. It occurred to us that someone might like it. So as it is Christmas we thought we would sell it to the highest bidder. The proceeds will go to the Railway Children charity. They look out for and help street children the world over including children in the UK that run away from home. They help children at times when help is truly needed. So the plan is….send your bid to me by personal message or email. The highest bid by midday on the 1/1/22 will win. However before you bid please remember that you will need to collect the cab from Boston Lodge and this must happen before the end of January. We can lift it on to a flat back truck. The control desks are not included as they are going to be refurbished and reused. Of course you may just wish to make a donation to the Railway Children.

 

Snow Scenes from 2010

It has been a while since it was possible to video/photograph the WHR with lying snow when trains are running. Global warming and reduced Winter services have led to no images coming to hand in recent years so here is a set of videos and photos from 2010 when trains last ran with good snow cover for several days.

 

Caernarfon in the snow 18/12/10!

A heavy snowfall on 17/12/10 saw some 6 inches of snow around the WHR, even in Caernarfon. The Santa Trains from Caernarfon to Waunfawr on 18-19/12/10 were set to run in a winter wonderland as cold sunny weather was forecast for the weekend! Trains depart Caernarfon at 1030/1230/1430. Any photos would be welcome.

However a message on the FR website stated that the 1030 train is cancelled and Facebook/twitter links confirm the cancellation. The 1230 train will however run!

'Regrettably the 10.30 train today from Caernarfon has had to be cancelled. A combination of track conditions and staff shortages due to weather conditions has caused this. We will continue to monitor the situation throughout the morning and post updates here, therefore please keep checking. You can also monitor the situation on our Facebook or twitter pages if required. Contact the booking office on 01766 516070 for further information.'

 

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These northerly views (18/12/10) show No.138 running south alongside Rhostryfan Road with several inches of snow, presumably on the 1430. Click on the images to enlarge. These images are copyright Daniel Kirkman and were taken on a digital camera. Images post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This northerly view (18/12/10) shows the snowbound Caernarfon. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Daniel Kirkman and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Santa Specials 19/12/10

All day brilliant sunshine and six inches of snow were present on the WHR on 19/12/10 and all three Santa Specials ran. The mode of operation is as follows. Castell Caernarfon draws the rake out of the Carriage Shed and shunts it into the southbound platform. No.138 arrives from the Loco Shed runs past the train and shunts onto the front of the rake. The assemblage then departs for Caernarfon at about 1000. At Caernarfon, No.138 runs around and waters so the rake is double headed uphill to Waunfawr. At Waunfawr, No.138 runs around and leads the rake back to Caernarfon with the Funkey on the rear. For the ECS at the end of the day, the rake stops adjacent to the Carriage Shed and No.138 shunts off to refuel. The Funkey drags the rake into the headshunt and propels it back to the Carriage Shed. Finally No.138 shunts to the Loco Shed.

There are two more days of operation on 22-23/12/10 and the Caernarfon Station shop is open for business all day. Snow is likely to lie on the ground on those days as some 15cm was present on 19/12/10 with little sign of melting and forecast temperatures not rising until 22-23/12/10. The main roads are clear and your editor had no problem driving 200 miles along the A14/M6/M56/A55 route.

 

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This northerly view (19/12/10) shows the snowbound Dinas with Castell Caernarfon at 0954 having drawn the ECS out of the sidings. The Funkey's cowcatcher is an effective snow plough! Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This southerly view (19/12/10) shows the snowbound Dinas with No.138 running into the station from the Loco Shed. The Garratt's cowcatcher ploughs a strip almost 6 feet wide! Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This northerly view (19/12/10) shows No.138 reversing onto its train at Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This northerly view (19/12/10) shows the No.138 departing ECS for Caernarfon at 1005 from the southbound platform. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This northerly view (19/12/10) shows the snowbound Dinas with the second Shotton loco ready to depart for LOROL. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This northerly view (19/12/10) shows the snowbound Caernarfon with No.138 taking water at 1022. The Garratt ran around the first train of the day to lead Castell Caernarfon to Waunfawr. The Funkey's cowcatcher is an effective snow plough! Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This northerly view (19/12/10) shows No.138 running around the Santa Special. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This backlit southerly view (19/12/10) shows No.138 shunting onto the Santa Special. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This northerly view (19/12/10) shows No.138 coupled up to the Santa Special at 1037, a few minutes late from the booked 1030 departure time. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

138_BWH19-12-10Cae Moel in snow.jpg (151879 bytes)

This westerly view (19/12/10) shows No.138 double heading Castell Caernarfon passing Cae Moel on the Santa Special at 1059. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This southerly view (19/12/10) shows No.138 running around after taking water at Waunfawr at 1126. There was about 20cm of snow here and the points needed to be unblocked to close properly to complete the run round at the north end. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This southerly view (19/12/10) shows No.138 coupled up to the Santa Special, ready to depart Waunfawr. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This southerly view (19/12/10) shows No.138 departing Waunfawr at 1141. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This southerly view (19/12/10) shows No.138 having arrived at Caernarfon with time to run round before the 1230 departure despite the earlier late running. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This southerly view (19/12/10) shows No.138 running around the Santa Special at 1215, ready for the 1230 departure time. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This northerly view (19/12/10) shows the No.138 at Hendy Crossing at 1237 with the second train of the day. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This easterly view (19/12/10) shows the No.138 at Rhostryfan Road at 1345 with the second train of the day. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This southerly view (19/12/10) shows the No.138 at St. Helen's Road at 1404 with the second train of the day. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This northerly view (19/12/10) shows the No.138 at St. Helen's Road at 1435 with the final train of the day, which left on time. Local lads with their sledges offer a friendly wave. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

138_BWH19-12-10The Mount cutting in snow W.jpg (121983 bytes)

This westerly view (19/12/10) shows the No.138 at The Mount cutting at 1453 with the final train of the day. Conway Castle sits in the depot headshunt. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This easterly view (19/12/10) shows the No.138 at The Mount cutting at 1545 with the final train of the day. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Santa Specials 19/12/10

Click on the YouTube box above to watch 57 seconds of video of No.138 approaching Cae Moel on 19/12/10 in the snow, working the first Santa Special of the day. The YouTube clip is best watched at 1080p HD standard. This video was taken by Barrie Hughes on a Panasonic SD700 HD camcorder and is best batched in Chrome which offers 1080p HD settings.

 

Santa Specials 23/12/10

Click on the YouTube box above to watch 1 minute 15 seconds of video of No.138 accelerating away from Plas Bodaden on 23/12/10 in the snow, working the first Santa Special of the final day of operation. The YouTube clip is best watched at 1080p HD standard. This video was taken by Barrie Hughes on a Panasonic SD700 HD camcorder and is best batched in Chrome which offers 1080p HD settings..

 

Click on the YouTube box above to watch 1 minute 7 seconds of video of No.138 accelerating away from Hendy crossing on 23/12/10 in the snow, working the first Santa Special of the final day of operation. The YouTube clip is best watched at 1080p HD standard. This video was taken by Barrie Hughes on a Panasonic SD700 HD camcorder and is best batched in Chrome which offers 1080p HD settings.

 

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This northerly view (23/12/10) shows No.138 with Castell Caernarfon at 1042, just south of Hendy Crossing, on the first train of the final day of Santa Specials. No.138 was substituting for the booked K1. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This westerly view (23/12/10) shows No.138 with Castell Caernarfon at 1105, at Plas Bodaden, on the first train of the final day of Santa Specials. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This southerly view (23/12/10) shows No.138 at 1127, running around at Waunfawr, on the first train of the final day of Santa Specials. Exiting the car park in the snow can be tricky as it gets very icy! Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This northerly view (23/12/10) shows No.138 at 1128, pausing for refreshments whilst running around at Waunfawr, on the first train of the final day of Santa Specials. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This northerly view (23/12/10) shows Castell Caernarfon at 1156, on the rear of a Santa Specials. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This northerly view (23/12/10) shows No.138 at 1255, running a little late after a stop near the Carriage Shed, on the second train of the final day of Santa Specials. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This westerly view (23/12/10) shows No.138 at 1329, arriving at Waunfawr, on the second train of the final day of Santa Specials. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This easterly view (23/12/10) shows No.138 at 1403, running a little late, on the second train of the final day of Santa Specials. This area has become overgrown reducing photographic opportunities. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This northerly view (23/12/10) shows No.138 at 1444, departing Caernarfon a little late, on the last Santa Specials of 2010. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Xmas Service 27/12/10

The Xmas service started on 27/12/10 with snow still on the ground at Caernarfon and No.138 paired with Castell Caernarfon. With the line blocked at Goat Tunnel and the loop out of action at Beddgelert, No.138, ran around to the rear of the train at Rhyd Ddu and the Funkey led the rake downhill. An attempt to water at Beddgelert was unsuccessful as the valve was jammed, despite the locos chimney being placed under it for 10 minutes! Passenger numbers were relatively light (despite the alpine snowclad scenery), although the roads to Caernarfon were clear.

 

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This northerly view (27/12/10) shows No.138 with Castell Caernarfon at 1100, departing Caernarfon with snow still lying on the ground though thawing fast. No.138 was substituting for the booked K1. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This westerly view (27/12/10) shows No.138 with Castell Caernarfon at 1119, passing Cae Moel with snow still lying on the ground though thawing fast. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This northerly view (27/12/10) shows No.138 with Castell Caernarfon at 1145, passing Salem with snow still lying on the ground. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This northerly view (27/12/10) shows No.138 with Castell Caernarfon at 1151, passing Castell Cidwm with snow still lying on the ground. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This northerly view (27/12/10) shows No.138 with Castell Caernarfon at 1206, approaching Rhyd Ddu with snow still lying on the ground. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This northerly view (27/12/10) shows Castell Caernarfon at 1255, arriving at Beddgelert with snow still lying on the ground. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This southerly view (27/12/10) shows No.138 at 1301, having arrived at Beddgelert on the rear end of the train as the loop was out of use due to icing of the point mechanism. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This northerly view (27/12/10) shows No.138 at 1304, with the driver trying to open the valve on the water crane at Beddgelert. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This northerly view (27/12/10) shows No.138 at 1308 at Beddgelert, with the chimney placed under the valve on the water crane to try and warm and free the valve (unsuccessfully). The loco had to water at Rhyd Ddu. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

WHR snow scenes 28/12/10

FR diesel Harlech Castle broke through the icicles in the tunnels whilst making a line inspection trip form Porthmadog to Beddgelert on 28/12/10, the first visit by the loco to the WHR. While the service train did not progress beyond Beddgelert again, Harlech Castle departed south just before No.138 returned north from Beddgelert.

 

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These northerly and southerly views (28/12/10) show Harlech Castle stabled in the northbound track at Beddgelert with snow rapidly thawing. Click on the images to enlarge. These images are copyright Barrie Hughes and were taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Images post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This southerly view (28/12/10) shows No.138 with Castell Caernarfon at the other end of the train, ready to depart Beddgelert with snow still lying on the ground, though thawing fast. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.

 

On the return journey, a points problem at Waunfawr saw the train stopped by the TOTP cabinet and then run through Waunfawr wrong line, possibly to water.

 

Happy Christmas!

Your webmaster wishes all readers a Happy Christmas and a successful 2022. Watch out for the special Xmas Edition tomorrow!!

 

Christmas Cwellyn/Glaslyn services

This northerly view (22/12/21) shows K1 and No.87 approaching Castell Cidwm in an advert for Festive Trains. K1 is currently based at Boston Lodge so is more likely to be seen on the Christmas Glaslyn services. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Chris Parry (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

At the end of 23/12/21 the loco and carriages of 2021's final Santa Special train are being tucked up in their sheds for the Christmas break but they will not be there for too long. The trains were a sell out this year justifying the WHRS pushing the F&WHR to allow them to be run. After all the family Xmas celebrations there will come a time when people need a break from the TV, Xmas games, food and drinks. The F&WHR can help with that as they are running their seasonal scenic Christmas Cwellyn trains again from Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu from 29/12/21 to 1/1/22. In fact, there will be two trains each day, departing at 10:45 and 13:45 - perfect for those who like an early start, as well as for those who enjoy a little 'lie-in'! So, why not book your tickets now for a revitalising train ride through the beautiful scenery of Snowdonia. It is a great way to get rid of those post-Christmas Day blues! Further information and links to online booking available at festrail.co.uk/Christmas. On 24/12/21 all 8 Christmas Cwellyn trains had compartments free. The F&WHR will also be running Christmas Glaslyn trains hauled by K1 from Porthmadog to Beddgelert and return on the 30/12/21-1/1/22, departing at 10:50 and 14:15. All six trains had compartments free to book. The Met Office weather forecast suggest there will be snow on the mountains of Snowdonia over the Xmas weekend perhaps creating an alpine backdrop for the Festive Season Trains.

 

Moving Pictures No.58 20/12/21

The latest moving picture shows K1's first Christmas Glaslyn run on 18/12/21. For some reason the train stopped briefly at Nantmor and struggled to get the 7 coach rake restarted on the 1 in 40 there but made it to Beddgelert after severe slipping. The suspected reportable incident referred to below must have happened on the way back and information received from walkers in the Aberglaslyn Pass suggests the train was stopped just south of Sheepfold Cutting (aka Corlan). Although the Saturday afternoon and all Sunday services were cancelled, it is to the credit of the F&WHR that the Christmas Glaslyn service operated normally on 22/12/21 after the rear four coaches of the train were recovered on 19/12/21 (see below).

 

Click on the YouTube link to watch 17 minutes 4 seconds of video covering K1 and No.130 on Santa Specials. The video has a new title sequence.. This video was published on 20/12/21 and is best viewed at 1080p in Chrome or on YouTube. This video was produced by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a professional 4K Betamax camcorder.

 

F&WHR traffic 22/10/21

The Winter Solstice was on 21/12/21 and longest night that followed saw freezing temperatures with clear skies across much of the UK but with rain and 9C maximum temperatures forecast at Porthmadog. Snow is forecast on the mountains from 25/12/21.

At 08:57 Upnor Castle arrived light engine from Boston Lodge. The loco set off towards Beddgelert at 09:00 presumably on a proving run to check the line is clear in advance of the 10:50 Christmas Glaslyn.

 

This easterly view (22/12/21) shows Upnor Castle light engine departing Porthmadog northbound at 09:00, presumably on a proving run. Snow is forecast on the mountains from 25/12/21. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Chris Parry (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The signalman turned up at 09:30 to open the box in preparation for the shunting before the 10:50 Christmas Glaslyn departure. Steam was visible at 09:41 in Boston Lodge with shunting into the Carriage Shed. K1 emerged from the Carriage Shed at 10:05 and crossed The Cob light engine at 10:10 to extract the rake from Harbour Station yard 10:10. At 10:20 the 7 coach rake was hauled onto The Cob and shunted into the WHR platform by 10:23 with Observation Car No.152 Eryri-Snowdonia on the front for the Gold passengers. K1 ran round at 10:28 and had coupled up by 10:32 as passengers joined the train.

 

This easterly view (22/12/21) shows K1 running round. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy the F&WHR webcam. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Departure was delayed until 11:08 by passengers arriving late. Seemingly, some of the cast of Aladdin were present to wave the train away with Widow Twankey visible at least!

 

This easterly view (22/12/21) shows K1 departing with the 10:50. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy the F&WHR webcam. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The train arrived back at 13:06 with the weather having turned rainy by midday. The loco immediately uncoupled and shunted to the yard to coal and water while the rake was subject to COVID compliant deep cleaning. The loco remerged from the yard at 13:25 and ran round its train before coupling up at 13:30 ready for the 14:15 departure which was on time. This in turn arrived back from Beddgelert at about 16:10 and the rake was disposed to Boston Lodge, promptly departing at 16:16 as it would not be required again until 30/12/21 when the Christmas Glaslyn trains will run until 1/1/22.

 

Christmas Glaslyn working timetable

Location Time Time
Boston Lodge dep light 10:05  
Porthmadog arr light 10:10  
Porthmadog ECS shunt 10:20 ex-10:50
Porthmadog dep 10:50 14:15
Beddgelert arr 11:50 15:15
Beddgelert dep 12:05 15:30
Porthmadog arr 13:05 16:10
Porthmadog dep ECS 14:15 16:20
Boston Lodge arr ECS   16:25

This is a work in progress. Any amendments gratefully received. The train will be COVID cleaned at Porthmadog between the first return and the departure on the next service.

 

WHR Santa Specials fully booked

This easterly view (19/12/21) shows No.130 and Vale of Ffestiniog hauling the afternoon Santa Special around Ffridd Isaf curve into Rhyd Ddu in Winter sunshine. No sign of any snow! The Funkey has been added regularly to assist in case of adhesion problems. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Chris Parry (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The remaining four WHR Santa Specials on 22-23/12/21 are currently fully booked. There may be some last minute cancellations so it is still worth looking at the Fare Harbor website. Six of the 8 remaining Christmas Glaslyn trains are free to book except the 10:50 on 22 and 30/12/21. All 8 Christmas Cwellyn trains are also free to book.

 

COVID latest 22/12/21

WAG has increased restrictions saying there can be no attendance at sporting fixtures from 26/12/21 to prevent super-spreader events. Meanwhile there has been more 'dither and delay' from the Prime Minister according to the national press with no additional preventative measures before Christmas despite dire warnings from Government scientists. While the rest of Europe imposes much stricter rules including lockdowns nothing has been announced other easing the 10 day isolation rule.

WAG met 21/12/21 to consider and announce additional measures and these might include precautions that could affect Hospitality and Tourism. It has been reported that these could include measures to restrict restaurants to serve outside only and a two week 'circuit-breaker' lock down, possibly from 28/12/21, which would definitely affect the planned Christmas Cwellyn/Glaslyn services.

On 22/12/21 Mark Drakeford, Welsh First Minister, announced changes that will affect the F&WHR as Wales moves to Alert Level 2 from 26/12/21. The 2m rule returns and no more than six can meet in a group in Spooners. Spooners must provide table service which will hit its buffet offerings. Face coverings must be worn except when eating/drinking and contact details must be taken. Close contacts of people who have COVID will no longer have to self isolate provided they have been fully vaccinated. Instead they must take lateral flow tests to prove they are free of the illness. On the positive side WAG is granting business rate relief next financial year. The F&WHR business rates will be cut to 50% of normal in 2022-2023 but relief will be capped at £110,000 per business.

 

Barmouth Bridge update 22/12/21

Walkers will get a Christmas bonus when an iconic railway bridge footpath temporarily reopens over the festive period. The 900-yard long Barmouth Viaduct will be open from Christmas Day until 9/1/22 for pedestrians. The Grade II* listed structure has been undergoing a £30m restoration since September, but engineers found it to be in a much worse condition than anticipated. The walkway will close again on 10/1/21 and reopen in mid-February. The longer closure of the walkway will allow Network Rail to repair and replace any elements of the walkway and hand rails of a safety critical nature. The railway works were extended by 17 days and are on track to be completed with the bridge reopened to trains on 29/12/21.

During 2022, the bridge will be closed from Sunday, 11/9/22 to Sunday, 11/12/22 to allow the next phase to be completed. Network Rail will replace the formerly opening girder spans of the viaduct and the associated track. They will also be upgrading the track at the north and south end of the viaduct. TfW will be providing rail replacement services during the railway closure and passengers are advised to check before travelling.

 

Italian Night at Spooners (23/12/21)

The week before Christmas is always a rush, with so many things to do. So, why not take some 'time out' this Thursday evening? Come along to Spooner's, between 17:00 and 20:00, and enjoy a taste of the Mediterranean - Italian style - accompanied by your choice from a selection of our drinks from the bar. Spooners will have a selection of Pizza, Pasta and Antipasto available - served Buffet style - for only £9.95 per person. Why not have a drink with your meal for just £11.95? (Drinks offer includes a Pint of Lager/Cider / Ale, a175ml Glass of House Wine or a Soft Drink.) If you have any allergies or dietary requirements, please ask a member of staff for our allergen folder and make them aware when ordering.

 

Boston Lodge on TV

ITV's latest Coast & Country features a good piece on Boston Lodge approximately 16 minutes into this programme originally broadcast on 20/12/21.

 

Main Line news 20/12/21

North Wales freight has made a welcome return after several years absence with the reopening of the Penmaenmawr stone loading terminal. The first train ran on 20/12/21 with GBRf 60087 hauling the train to Penmaenmawr in the morning. The inbound working 6D60 was 23 JNA wagons from Tuebrook Sidings to Penmaenmawr Quarry. Several photos and a video are available on the Railways of North Wales Facebook page. The last stone traffic from Penmaenmawr was almost 10 years ago. GBRf hauled the Wylfa flask traffic from Valley Nuclear Electric until the final fuel rods were removed on 18/9/19. Other than the occasional route learner, there has been no freight traffic on the North Wales Coast Line in the last two years. The stone train left 156 minutes late in the dark after experiencing problems with the conveyor belt during loading. As a result only 17/23 wagons appeared loaded on 6K22 the 14:23 Penmaenmawr to Tuebrook.

Following concerns about Class 67 availability No.67015 was given preventative attention at Holyhead over the weekend and ran as a normal passenger train to Cardiff on 20/12/21 as the 05:33 to Cardiff after a little difficulty cold starting before dawn.

TfW intends to introduce an emergency timetable from 22/12/21 to deal with anticipated staff absences during the surge in COVID Omicron cases. See TfW website for more details. Under fire for overcrowding on the North Wales Coast, TfW has said it will redeploy coaching stock released by the 10-15% cuts it is implementing to strengthe2/21

Sunday dawned bright and sunny at Porthmadog with temperatures up to a mild 10C at midday. At 09:15 a train left Boston Lodge and at 09:22 it was noted to be Upnor Castle propelling a DZ wagon with 3 staff. The train crossed Britannia Bridge and was presumably heading for the site of yesterday's problems in the Aberglaslyn Pass that led to the cancellation of Saturday afternoon's Christmas Glaslyn train. Sunday's two trains were also cancelled leading to a substantial loss of income from the 3 trains as well as upset to the refunded passengers. This is almost unprecedented in recent times on the F&WHR except after storms or derailments. There is still no indication of the nature of the problem.

 

This easterly view (19/12/21) shows Upnor Castle propelling a PW wagon towards Beddgelert departing the WHR platform at 09:22. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR webcam. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

At 12:16 Upnor Castle reappeared dragging a four coach rake with Observation Car No.152 on the rear. Presumably this is the rake recovered from yesterday's incident. Given the 3 hours needed, the rake is likely to have been recovered from Beddgelert/Aberglaslyn Pass, which implies passengers may have been bussed back from there to Porthmadog on Saturday morning or returned in a special working. It has been suggested that K1 could haul a fully loaded seven coach train to Beddgelert but it is not known if the Christmas Glaslyn was loaded to seven bogies on Saturday morning. The train later departed at 12:26 for Boston Lodge.

 

This easterly view (19/12/21) shows Upnor Castle hauling the wagon and four coaches of the Christmas Glaslyn into the WHR platform at 12:16. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR webcam. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Despite the problems with the Christmas Glaslyn, the WHR Santa Specials operated as normal over the weekend, though without any snow on the mountains in the unseasonable high temperatures and strong sunshine. No.87 was paired with Vale of Ffestiniog again on the Saturday afternoon working. All six remaining WHR Santa Special trains are fully booked as of Sunday though the odd cancellations may mean it is still worth looking for bookings. All eight of the Christmas Cwellyn trains from Caernarfon are still bookable and seven of the remaining eight Christmas Glaslyn trains are bookable with just the 10:50 on 30/12/21 fully booked.

 

COVID questions 19/12/21

The Government has confirmed the COVID Omicron epidemic is accelerating out of control and the Cabinet was meeting on Sunday to consider the evidence and scientific advice and what additional measures might be necessary. Several newspapers seemed to have been briefed that stronger measures might indeed be needed to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed after Xmas and the Health Minister said on Sunday that he could not rule out such measures BEFORE Christmas. Holland entered a strict lockdown and both Germany and France took strong action to prevent the importing of Omicron from the UK by restricting inbound passengers. It seems another 'circuit break lockdown' might be possible. The next WAG review is on Christmas Eve and may produce stronger measures than those already advised to be implemented from Boxing Day. Any such restrictions may affect the F&WHR's Christmas Cwellyn/Christmas Glaslyn trains planned between 28/12/21 and New Year's Day.

 

Sunday Roast at Spooners (19/12/21)

Don't forget - Spooner's popular Sunday Carvery is on the menu on 19/12/21! You can't beat a traditional Sunday Roast dinner, especially when you don't have to cook it yourself. So why not take it easy on a Sunday - come to Spooner's and let us look after you! Carvery served between 12:00 and 16:00. Phone the F&WHR on 01766 516032 to reserve a table.

 

Operational difficulties 18/12/21

Saturday afternoon's Christmas Glaslyn was cancelled after operational difficulties just before departure time! This is most unusual on the F&WHR as normally there is a spare loco in steam or a main line diesel to cope with a loco problem. There seems to be uncertainty about Sunday's trains too as this website went to press!

The official F&WHR statement is as follows:-

'This afternoon's Christmas Glaslyn train from Porthmadog to Beddgelert has been cancelled due to operational difficulties. Pre-booked passengers are being contacted by the Booking Office, with a refund of their payment. We will provide further information regarding Christmas Glaslyn trains on Sunday 19/12/21 as soon as details are available.'

The F&WHR also removed the two trains on 19/12/21 from its FareHarbor booking app although trains on 22/12/21, 29-31/12/21 and 1/1/22 are still avilable to book

A further announcement two hours later said:-

'Unfortunately, we are unable to sort out our operational problems today. This means that we will have to cancel the Christmas Glaslyn trains planned to run on Sunday 19/12/21. Once again, pre-booked passengers are being contacted by the Booking Office, with a refund of their payment. It is expected that the Christmas Glaslyn trains will run as planned on 22/12/21, 30-31/12/21 and 1/1/22. Santa's Christmas Carriage Grotto at Harbour Station and the Santa Trains on the Welsh Highland Railway are unaffected and will continue as planned.'

This situation is bound to have caused some consternation amongst passengers, some of whom may have travelled hundreds of miles from Midlands and North West to see the F&WHR in Winter. Temperatures on Snowdon Summit reached 12C today and there is unlikely to be any snow but snow on the summit is forecast for 23/12/21. If the problem is with K1 and the FR is short of a loco for the Christmas Glaslyn there is always a spare Garratt at Dinas! Maybe the problem was with Cae Pawb NR Crossing or the points at Beddgelert? It seems strange there are no details and this sometimes means a reportable incident has occurred.

 

F&WHR traffic 18/12/21

It was a sunny sunset on 18/12/21 with some shunting of the Carriage Sheds at Boston Lodge possibly with Criccieth Castle noted at 15:45 when the webcams were back in action. There was no sign of steam disposal in Boston Lodge. The temperature at Porthmadog was 10C, mild for the time of year.

 

F&WHR website problems 18/12/21

After the F&WHR's Fareharbor ticket sales went down for a while on Friday afternoon all three Webcams were also down on Saturday so enthusiasts could not watch the departure of K1 on the first of the Christmas Glaslyn services. The problems extended to all three webcams. The F&WHR seems to be experiencing ongoing technical problems with its website. It is also possible the F&WHR has switched off its webcams in response to the difficulties experienced on Saturday with the Christmas Glaslyn, following cancellation of the afternoon working, as they have also switched off comments on their Facebook page (see above).

 

COVID cancellations affecting hospitality and tourism 18/12/21

The Welsh population seems to be responding to Mark Drakeford's (the Welsh First Minister) suggestion that people reduce their social contacts over Christmas. Hospitality has been particularly hit with many people cancelling meals out. Your webmaster has cancelled a planned Christmas get together with his family who live in North Wales. Due to a few cancellations the Santa Specials have availability on the 13:00 on Sunday 19/12/21 as of Saturday afternoon but returned tickets for later dates were quickly resold.

 

Oswestry Earthquake 17/12/21

The Liberal Democrats overturned a huge 23,000 Tory majority to win the North Shropshire by-election by 6,000 votes on 16/12/21. This has implications for rail in the area. The Tories will need to win this seat back and must make good on Boris Johnson's promises to electrify and extend London trains to Shrewsbury and to restore the Gobowen-Oswestry branch.

 

New COVID rules 17/12/21

The new WAG COVID rules are basically to follow the 2m rule and to have separate entrances and exits in businesses. These come into effect in Wales on 27/12/21 and should not be onerous for the F&WHR to instigate as this is what they were doing earlier in the year.

 

FR trackwork 16/12/21

Alex Spring (F&WHR PW Manager) reports about the section between Boston Lodge and Rhiw Plas bridge:-

'Nearly done, after just over five weeks hard slog by the close of play tomorrow (17/12/21) we will have a complete railway again having prepared just over 250m of formation, re-ballasted and relaid the track using plastic sleepers. The opportunity was also taken to improve the water supply and drainage to the cottages and 75m of track drainage was lowered such that is now below sleeper level. After a well earned Christmas break work will resume, delivering 400 tonnes of ballast and lifting and lining the track. A big thanks to the PW team and volunteers that have worked tirelessly to get us this far.

 

Power bogie returns to Dinas 14/12/21

The second refurbished power bogie off No.138, the front unit, has returned to Dinas by lorry. This is destined to go under No.143 which is the next loco to be restored. It was not possible to transfer via rail as the pony truck tends to derail when not loaded by the boiler frame. Also the section to Pont Croesor was under a PW possession in preparation for the regular Christmas Glaslyn services from18/12/21.

 

This southerly view (14/12/21) shows the second refurbished power bogie from No.138 leaving Boston Lodge for Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Paul Lewin (F&WHR General Manager) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Broken WHR starter signal

Recent storms have exacerbated wood rot and led to the WHR starter signal bracket collapsing and being secured in place awaiting fresh wood. This signal normally controls ECS trains from the WHR platform working onto The Cob which will now be given the right away by traditional green flag.

 

COVID shock 16/12/21

WAG is set to make an announcement about changed COVID rules on Friday after a record number of people were reported infected on Wednesday with 78,610 new cases across the UK and 88,376 on Thursday. In some places like London, Manchester and the Scottish Lowlands the Omicron infection is approaching 50% of the new cases, doubling every 2-3 days. In North Wales schools are shutting early for Christmas on Friday. Some 62 cases of the Omicron variant have been identified in Wales but more than a third (23) of them are in South Wales (Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan). Already cancellations and staff absences are affecting hospitality and tourism across the UK. Any new COVID measures might impact the F&WHR Santa Specials and Christmas Cwellyn/Glaslyn trains.

 

Cold snap forecast for Christmas trains 16/12/21?

The recent misty mild spell is coming to an end today according to the Met Office forecasts. Temperatures are set to drop to 5C maximum this weekend and down to 3C maximum by the final Santa Specials on 22-23/12/21 bringing a higher likelihood of snow, at least on the peaks.

 

First Christmas Glaslyn to run Saturday 18/12/21

The first Christmas Glaslyn service will run on Saturday 18/12/21 hauled by K1. The 10:50 service will take a short break at Beddgelert for watering and run round before returning to Porthmadog 2.25 hours later ready for deep cleaning before the afternoon working. Seats are still available to book on all four trains this Saturday/Sunday. The Christmas Cwellyn service from Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu runs for the four days from 29/12/21-1/1/22.

 

No.150 repaint

FR Observation Car No.150 has emerged from Boston Lodge after a partial repaint. WHR Ashbury replica coach No.24 has taken its place.

 

This southerly view (15/12/21) shows No.150 after emerging from the Paint shop at Boston Lodge. 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.

 

F&WHR services in 2022 16/12/21

The Daily Post has reported on the F&WHR plans to cautiously increase services next year whilst still 'living in the shadow of COVID'.

 

Spooners' Curry night 16/12/21

This week's themed evening brings the warming tastes and smells of curry and spice back to Spooner's. Come along and enjoy an Indian Buffet, accompanied by your choice from a selection of drinks from the bar. Spooners has a variety of curries available from 17:00 to 20:00 - served Buffet style with rice and sundries, for only £9.95 per person. Why not have a drink with your curry for just £11.95?(Drinks offer includes a Pint of Lager / Cider / Ale, a175ml Glass of House Wine or a Soft Drink.) If customers have any allergies or dietary requirements, please ask a member of staff for the allergen folder and make them aware when ordering.

 

Santa Specials fully booked 15/12/21

The WHR Santa specials were fully booked by Wednesday afternoon. Those people who missed the boat might still find it worth looking for late bookings as there are occasional cancellations. The FareHarbor booking website was down on Wednesday afternoon for a while but all Christmas Cwellyn/Glaslyn services except the 10:50 Christmas Glaslyn on 30/12/21 are free to book.

 

Caernarfon station Christmas opening hours

'Y Stesion' will be open daily until 23/12/21 and from 29/12/21-1/1/02. On days without trains - the shop and Caffi De Winton will open from 09:00 to 15:00. On days with trains (18-19/12/21, 22-23/12/21 and 29/12/21-1/1/22) - the station will open from 09:00 to 17:00.

 

Porthmadog Harbour station Christmas opening hours

 

Main Line news 14-15/12/21

Work is underway refurbishing the stone conveyor at Penmaenmawr ready for the resumption of stone trains from these sidings next year. It is 10 years since stone trains last worked out of Penmaenmawr stone terminal.

Saphos Trains Christmas White Rose dining excursion ran from Llandudno Junction to York on 15/12/21. The train was top and tailed to Chester by 47593 Galloway Princess looking fine in revised livery and 47853. No.46100 Royal Scot replaced 47593 at Chester with 47853 remaining on the rear to York and arriving 8 minutes down. The train ran ECS from/to Crewe.

 

Garratts on Santa Specials 14/12/21

No. 130 and No.87 hauled the Santa Specials on Saturday 11/12/21 with No.130 on the morning turn. The roster was duplicated on Sunday. Vale of Ffestiniog assisted inside on all workings. Bookings remain high with compartments only available on one of the 8 remaining services as of 13/12/21, the 09:15 on 22/12/21. However, the booking situation remains fluid as by the afternoon of 14/12/21 cancellations had released compartments on the 13:00 on 18/12/21 whereas the 22/12/21 is now fully booked. There were just 5 Santa Special compartments available this morning so it is still worth looking for late bookings.

Most of the Christmas Cwellyn/Glaslyn services are still available to book. The 10:30 Christmas Glaslyn on 30/12/21 is the first to be fully booked but all 8 Christmas Cwellyn services are still available. After a mild week, next weekend is currently forecast to be misty with 5C maximum temperatures at Caernarfon and more potential for snow on Snowdon on Sunday. Any photos of the Santa Specials would be welcome.

 

This northerly view (11/12/21) shows No.130 being prepared for the morning service on the first Santa Special of the season. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image is copyright Tom Waldren and was taken on a phone camera.

 

This northerly view (11/12/21) shows No.87 and Vale of Ffestiniog pausing alongside Dinas depot on the afternoon Santa Special. The diesel was provided for assistance as the conditions were very wet at times. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image is copyright Tom Waldren and was taken on a phone camera.

 

This northerly view (12/12/21) shows Vale of Ffestiniog drawing the ECS into the platform at Dinas while the steam loco attaches to the north end. The diesel was provided for assistance as the conditions were very wet at times. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image is copyright Tom Waldren and was taken on a phone camera.

 

This northerly view (12/12/21) shows No.130 carrying a 'Merry Christmas' headboard and Vale of Ffestiniog inside ready to depart Caernarfon on the morning Sunday Santa Special. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image is copyright Tom Waldren and was taken on a phone camera.

 

This northerly view (12/12/21) shows No.130 running round at Rhyd Ddu while Vale of Ffestiniog remains attached to the rear of the Santa Specials. The diesel would dispose of the stock later in the afternoon. It appears to have been wet and windy at Rhyd Ddu! Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image is copyright Tom Waldren and was taken on a phone camera.

 

Former 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.

 

Main Line news 14/12/21

Class 67 No.67015 hauled the 06:45 Cardiff-Holyhead on 14/12/21 and was on the rear after reversal at Chester.

 

Omicron emergency

After the Prime Minister sombre declaration of an 'Omicron emergency' in a special TV broadcast late on Sunday evening 12/12/21, Mark Drakeford, Wales First Minister, has responded. Some press commentators see the announcement from Boris Johnson as more of the 'too little, too late' Tory response to COVID or a distraction to the Tories' current 'Partygate' problems in the face of an important by-election in North Shropshire (Oswestry). A statement was later released by Mr Drakeford saying WAG was stepping up the booster programme in Wales and warned that the country was facing a 'serious situation' and more measures could be introduced. Such measures could potentially impact the remaining F&WHR Santa Specials and Christmas Cwellyn/Glaslyn services.

 

End of the slide scanning project!

Phew!! With the final set of the Prince of Wales slides scanned (shown above) that represents the end of your webmaster's slide scanning project which has encompassed over 30 years and 10,000 slides since January 1970.The Sigma SA300 SLR used until June 2002 developed a cracked base by its battery compartment which would not latch shut as a result rendering the camera unusable. With digital technology looming, a Samsung Digimax 230 was purchased which was used for a few years. However the resolution at 2MP did not match that of slides and a Jessops Centon DF300 was purchased and used for the few weeks of slides leading up to Prince Charles visit before reverting to the Samsung and CF cards again and avoiding the cost of film. Due to the cost of the cards and their small memory the images were downloaded to floppies, some of which have unfortunately corrupted and an external drive that was also used failed. As the Samsung Digimax 230 restarted its picture labelling at 1 every time it was used, a lot of sorting out of these images and cross referencing with the WHR archive will be required before publication on this website.

For the final six months of 2004 a Concord eyeQ 3340z 3.1MP compact was used but with limited functions. At least it had SD card storage which was becoming cheaper. Finally the Kodak DX6490 4MP was purchased from 29/1/05 offering results close to slides and with excellent autofocus.

 

K1 on test 13/12/21

After some attention at Boston Lodge K1 made a loaded test run up the Aberglaslyn Pass on Monday 13/12/21. There were 8 coaches in the ECS representing a heavy load for K1 on the 1 in 40 representing a loaded 7 coach train (the normal timing load). With both operational Garratts currently at Dinas, it has been confirmed that K1 will be used on the Christmas Glaslyn workings.

 

Main line news

Work on protecting the coastline at Old Colwyn has been at a stop for much of the Autumn because of a lack of suitable large rocks. This despite the nearby quarries at Penmaenmawr and Llysfaen! The rock armour protects the promenade, the North Wales Coast line and the A55. Deliveries are set to resume before Christmas. Failure to protect the coastline in 1990 caused the railway to be swept away in storms between Rhyl and Abergele and many houses flooded. See BBC Towyn Flood story.

 

First Santa Specials 11/12/21

The first Santa Specials were due to leave Caernarfon today, a rainy day with temperatures up to 12C in the Caernarfon area. Bookings have been brisk in the last few days with this weekend's trains fully booked. In fact eleven of the twelve trains offered are now fully booked with only the morning train on Wednesday 22/12/21 available though sometimes cancellations provide the odd compartment available on other days so its always worth looking. Sadly, it is unlikely there will be much, if any, snow on the mountains this weekend to provide an alpine seasonal backdrop at Rhyd Ddu where the trains run round.

WHR Santa special working timetable

Location Time Time
Dinas dep ECS 09:00  
Caernarfon arr ECS 09:15 ex-09:15
Caernarfon dep 10:00 13:45
Rhyd Ddu arr 11:00 14:45
Rhyd Ddu dep 12:00 15:45
Caernarfon arr 13:00 16:45
Caernarfon dep ECS 13:45 17:00
Dinas arr ECS   17:15

This is a work in progress and subject to amendment.

 

Mark Drakeford's 'Xmas lockdown' controversy 11/12/21

Mark Drakeford has refused to deny he called for a Christmas lockdown on Wednesday in a phone conversation with Tory Minister Michael Gove and the leaders of Scotland and Northern Ireland. A report in the Right Wing Guido Fawkes Blog spread the leaks. The Welsh First Minister said that leaking stories of private phone calls was a Tory distraction technique at a time when the media is focussed on Boris Johnson's problems. With the Tories tipped to lose the North Shropshire by-election to the Lib Dems on Thursday 16/12/21 and suffering a huge drop in public support over recent revelations it is possible they might welcome such distractions! If WAG does go ahead with its own lockdown in the face of rapidly rising COVID figures this could adversely affect the F&WHR's plan to run Christmas Cwellyn/Glaslyn trains during the festive period. On 4/12/21 the area around Caernarfon/Bangor had some of the highest COVID rates per thousand residents in Wales even before Omicron struck.

Despite it not being a legal requirement, WAG strongly advise that both employees and customers wear a face covering indoors in pubs and restaurants. This advice applies unless they are exempt or actively eating, drinking. The BBC reports that WAG will review COVID threats week by week and that rules could change very drastically if the outbreak spiked.

 

North Wales main line news (12/12/21)

Six train services are set to start running in North Wales from Sunday 12/12/21. These include additional services on the Cambrian Coast Line, the Borderlands Line and the Heart of Wales Line. Sadly there are no additional loco hauled trains on the North Wales Coast Line. See Daily Post story.

Station usage figures have shown Pont-y-pant on the Blaenau Ffestiniog branch is one of the least used stations on NR. This might be due to the lack of ramblers during COVID who used to get off at the stop. See Daily Post story.

 

Spooners Festive afternoon teas 10/12/21

Spooners was busy preparing Festive Afternoon Teas for several bookings on 10/11/21. These are available Monday's excepted throughout December and can be prepared for individuals, couples or groups of friends, family or work colleagues. Costing £10.00 per person, they include sandwiches, mince pies, scones and mini homemade cakes with tea/coffee. Please note - Festive Afternoon Teas cannot be booked on the day, as items are freshly baked/prepared for each reservation. Please book - at least 24 hours in advance - by phoning 01766 516032. Come along and treat yourselves to a relaxing afternoon tea in Spooner's - and get your festive celebrations off to a tasty start!

 

Santa Specials booking well 10/12/21

It seems the F&WHR got away lightly with Storm Barra and there is no disruption to services planned for this weekend. Nine of the 12 Santa Specials are now fully booked with availability restricted to the morning train on Sunday 12/12/21 and both morning and afternoon trains on Wednesday 22/12/21 (presumably a day people could not get off on holiday). There have been a few cancellations (possibly people worried about the new COVID Omicron wave) so it is worth checking trains to see if availability reappears. All trains will operate with the same WAG COVID security as previously with compartments/facemask rules and cleaning between each service. All of the Christmas Cwellyn/Glaslyn trains are still available to book.

Santa's Christmas Carriage Grotto will be appearing at Porthmadog for an additional day. It is now available at 10:00, 11:00, 13:00, 14:00 or 15:00 on 18-19/12/21 and 22-23/12/21. The Grotto Coach may be shunted into the station as in previous years. To book any of these services click on the Festrail Christmas link. It is possible to combine a booking on the Christmas Glaslyn with a visit to the Santa's Christmas Grotto Coach on 18th ,19th and 22/12/21.

 

Spooners' Bingo night 10/12/21

Thursday was French Night at Spooners and Friday 10/12/21 will be Bingo Night. Spooners is starting their Friday Night Bingo sessions this Friday. Come along and enjoy a fun evening with friends and family. Bingo cards will be on sale from 19:30 to 19:45 and the games start at 20:00. Tickets cost £2 for three games and bingo dabbers are available at £1 each. There will be cash prizes and a number of special offers on drinks and cocktails. The F&WHR are looking forward to welcoming customers to Spooner's - and remember, the Bar Menu is available on Friday evenings with hot food served from 17:00-20:00, so why not have a tasty meal before the fun starts!

 

WAG COVID announcement 10/12/21

Speaking on 10/12/21, Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said that case numbers were currently low in Wales at the moment but WAG would have to act quickly if numbers rise quickly and steeply as is happening in England and Scotland.

 

MOEL Y GEST refurbishment 9/12/21

The Boston Lodge works diesel pilot, trusty Hunslet shunter MOEL Y GEST, has been receiving some refurbishment over the last couple of months. A service, de-sludge plus repair of the fuel tank, fitting of an extra horn button, removal of redundant pipes as well as substantial body repairs around the back lower half of the cab, have been followed by a full repaint of the cab interior and external bodywork.

 

This Dinas view (9/12/21) shows the refurbishment of Hunslet diesel shunter MOEL Y GEST nearing completion at Boston Lodge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera .

 

Storm Barra hits North Wales 7/12/21

NR in connection with TfW are insisting on a 40 mph speed restriction and extended journey times over Tuesday and Wednesday 7-8/12/21 as Storm Barra hits North Wales. With 70 mph winds likely tress and other debris may fall across the track and setting a speed limit of 40mph gives trains more time to stop if they drivers see an obstruction ahead. One gust at Aberdaron on the Llyn peninsula topped 86mph and heavy seas hit The Cob. In fact it appears all TfW trains to Blaenau Ffestiniog are cancelled!

It is possible the WHR will be hit by the storm with high winds bringing down trees and power lines just before Santa Specials start this weekend. As regards the WHR Santa Specials, three of the six days are now fully booked, with only the three morning trains left available on 11th,12th and surprisingly 22/12/21. All the Christmas Cwellyn/Glaslyn trains are currently available to book.

See Wales Online story.

 

Beddgelert 'Frontier' station concept

It seems likely that the F&WHR will be continuing to operate its 'Frontier Service' like the FR/WHR of old with trains from Caernarfon and Porthmadog travelling to Beddgelert. However this model does not currently provide a through service as it was designed to ensure that two trains did not meet there in order to reduce crowding on the platforms and comply with WAG's COVID regulations. The ticketing arrangements were for return services only and anyone who wanted to make a through journey would find it very expensive, have a long wait at Beddgelert and have to return to their starting point by bus or taxi.

When Phase 3 to Rhyd Ddu was under completion planning permission was sought for a station building in the car park area just outside the footpath crossing but this was later abandoned in favour of a more significant station building at Beddgelert. In fact as Phase 4 developed, the concrete foundation for the Beddgelert station building was completed right next to the current wooden station building. There were some objections from Beddgelert residents that had the station building gone ahead it would abstract revenue from local businesses. This despite the substantial climb up to the station from the car park and the fact the trains would have brought additional visitors to the village.

If the Frontier station business model is here to stay then surely the F&WHR must look to provide a permanent building on the current foundation at Beddgelert. This should provide facilities for a trainload of people who might arrive and descend into Beddgelert during their hour or so break. While the train itself can provide shelter during its layover in case of inclement weather and the existing toilets seem just about adequate, a cafe and shop might be helpful in the longer term.

 

Omicron hits Wales 7/12/21

The Tories confirmed that 4 cases of the new highly infectious Omicron variant of COVID have been found in Wales (of 336 cases nationwide) confirming that Omicron is spreading within the community independently of any imported cases from overseas. The BBC website anticipates Wales may introduce new rules shortly. The Welsh Health Minister Eluned Morgan revealed that WAG expected a COVID surge in January (see BBC report) but all Welsh adults will be offered booster vaccinations by the end of January. Various plans are available if the NHS in Wales is overwhelmed, potentially including lockdowns. It is possible these might impact the F&WHR's festive train services but Mark Drakeford, the Welsh First Minister, has said he does not expect any drastic measures to affect retail and entertainment over Xmas.

 

FR relaying 4/12/21

FR tracklaying continues from Boston Lodge to Rhiw Plas bridge. Plastic sleepers are being used and second hand 75lb/yard ex-MOD rail. See F&WHR Facebook page for images.

 

Llangollen Santa specials 4/12/21

Santa Specials began running at Llangollen on 4/12/21 with steam loco No.3802 in charge. They run at weekends and 22-24/12/21. See Llangollen website for details. The railway is running festive Mince Pie specials 27-28/12/21 and 3-4/1/22.

 

Cambrian Heritage railway trial runs 13-20/11/21

In preparation for the 2022 season the Cambrian Heritage Railway has run some passenger trains to its new southern terminus at Weston Wharf. With the Pacers having been moved from Gobowen to Oswestry they were available for a Members Special on 13/11/21 before the AGM. The following weekend a special was run to Weston Wharf for a brewery visit for 20 plus members of North Shropshire CAMRA. Next year a timetabled service is planned between Oswestry and Weston Wharf on operating days.

 

Good Santa Special bookings 4/12/21

With just a week to go before the first Santa Specials run, two days (19/12/21 and 23/12/21) are already fully booked as are all six afternoon trains. Four of the 6 morning trains are still available to book excepting those two dates. All the Christmas Glaslyn/Christmas Cwellyn trains are still available to book.

 

No.143 update 3/12/21

Paul Lewin (F&WHR General manager) has kindly provided this update on No.143:

'As requested an update on No.143 following last week's update on No.138. No.143 was expected to be available for service for its last season in 2020. It passed annual inspection without problems in February 2020. The expected out of service date being late September. The boiler insurers changed their rules at this time and subsequently told us that the boiler needed immediate withdrawal for inspection and hydraulic test. Whilst we knew that rules were changing to make the ten year ticket run from hydraulic test our previous arrangement was ten years from steam test. This arrangement served us well without problem for the last twenty years. Fighting this decision was futile as by the time the situation was understood there was only a few months left to the expected withdrawal. We now re-hydraulic our boilers with lagging in place immediately before steam test to gain the full ten years of service. For No.143 though this meant a quiet and unmarked end to 9 years service following the outstanding efforts of Tony Williams and the Dinas team to put it in the best of order.

So in 2020 all attention went to completing No.130 whilst No.87 hauled the limited train service. Knowing that we urgently need a third Garratt in service to back up the other two we set about a plan to use the best parts of No.138 and No.143 to achieve a working loco as soon as possible. It is important to remember that most of our Garratts have seen parts interchanged over the years. We decided to take the completed boiler ex No.129 from Puffing Billy in place of the current boiler which was previously in No.140. The cradle frame from No.143 has been overhauled. It is the cradle frame which determines the number the loco carries. The power units under No.143 are fit for a further five years service. If pressed these units were to be deployed again. However we took the opportunity in 2020/21 to completely overhaul the very tired units from No.138. This included a new cylinder on the rear unit. Again due to the foresight of Tony Williams we had a new casting ready. The rear unit was brought to the loco in September 2020, the front unit should make the same journey from Boston Lodge this month.

The cladding, cab, bunker and tank from No.143 are all to be reused as they are all in good condition. There is a new smokebox with this boiler and largely new spark arrestor gear. The old SA parallel chimney is good to go again which means the casting for an original shape chimney on hand will be used on No.138. New steam pipes replace the very thin old ones. The loco will be painted in the Splendid Brunswick green livery carried in the previous ten years of operation whilst No.138 will carry LMS red.'

 

This Dinas view (3/12/21) shows one of the newly completed steam pipes for No.143. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image is copyright Paul Lewin (F&WHR) and was taken on a phone camera.

 

Main Line news 2/12/21

No.67008 failed on the 11:33 Holyhead-Cardiff on 2/12/21 and No.56096 was borrowed from the RHTT to rescue it from Rhyl. Furthermore No.67015 on the 11:22 Cardiff-Holyhead was cancelled for unexplained reasons at Chester and went forward as ECS.

Freightliner's recent driver training on the North Wales Coast was explained when No.66547 was noted on PW duties on 5/12/21 returning to Chester. The line had been closed west of Llandudno Junction for PW work.

 

Minffordd Xmas fair postponed

Due to unforeseen circumstances the F&WHR has had to postpone this weekends’ Ffair y Nadolig/Gweithdy Christmas Fair to Friday 10/12/21 through to Sunday 12/12/21. The F&WHR apologise for any inconvenience caused, but please come along from Friday 10/12/21-Sunday 12/12/21, 10:00 - 16:00. The F&WHR looks forward to seeing you then!

 

Harbour station shop opening

The Harbour Station Gift Shop has been closed for stock-taking and an update to the EPOS system, but will opening the doors for four days to give customers a chance to pop in and clear some of the items off their Christmas Present list. So, from Thursday 2/12/21-Sunday 5/12/21 the shop will be open from 10:00-16:00 - come along and see our latest items for sale, toys, gifts, books, DVDs etc. While customers are here they can also visit Spooner's for a tasty treat, a warming lunch, evening meal or a traditional Sunday Carvery lunch. It's a great place to take time out and relax with food and a drink or two.

 

Barmouth Bridge closed until 29/12/21

NR has apologised after investigations recently found additional timbers needed replacing in the 154 year old viaduct, currently being refurbished. Train services had been set to resume on 12/12/21 but will not now restart until 29/12/21 at the earliest (assuming no other critical problems are found). A further 3 month closure is intended next Autumn to complete the restoration of the Grade II* listed structure. See Cambrian News story. See NR statement. The Daily Post has images of the extent of the damage.

 

Pork barrel politics in Oswestry by-election 1/12/21

It seems the Tories are running scared of losing the North Shropshire seat in the by-election on 16/12/21 after the bookies showed the Lib Dem candidate running a close second. The by-election was brought about by the resignation of Tory MP Owen Patterson over concerns about his paid lobbying and the issue on the doorstep seems to be Tory sleaze in general. In a campaigning visit to support the Tory candidate, the Rail Minister suggested that an announcement about the electrification of the Wolverhampton-Shrewsbury line with through services to London could appear 'in the New Year'. He further suggested that following the current £50,000 Feasibility Study into reopening the remaindered Oswestry-Gobowen branch, the line could be reopened by 2024! This despite the need for a jacked box tunnel under the A5 to replace the existing level crossing!! The Lib Dem candidate has also given her support to reopening of the Oswestry branch and green transport solutions such as extending electrification of the rail network. See Shropshire Star report.

If the Oswestry project were to go ahead the branch would be operated by a TOC into a reconstituted bay platform at the north end of Oswestry station, keeping its services separate to the Cambrian Heritage Railways operation out of the main platforms. The rail route could possibly be operated as a shuttle from Gobowen bay platform using the new Class 230 Borderlands trains or as an extension of the enhanced Borderlands service with every other operating to Wrexham Central/Oswestry alternatively. Other possibilities include Chester-Oswestry or the new Liverpool-Chester service extended to Oswestry.

It is possible the Oswestry branch might be reopened in two phases with the first being Gobowen to Park Hall Halt where there is an orthopaedic hospital adjacent to the station. The Highways Authority will not allow reinstatement of the existing level crossing of the A5 used until 1988 by stone trains from Blodwel Quarry and this is the reason for the expensive jacked box tunnel under the trunk road. Other works include repairs to an underbridge and a busy level crossing just north Oswestry station into an industrial estate based on the former Cambrian Works and Depot.

A cynical view of the electors' options would be for the Lib Dems to win the by-election then the Tories would have to carry through their pork-barrel promises in order to win the seat back at the next General Election!

 

Mexican Night at Spooners 2/12/21

As the wind whistles in from the North Pole, Spooners is heading across the Atlantic to the warmer country of Mexico for their themed evening this Thursday 2/12/21. Spooners has a tempting selection of food available between 17:00 and 20:00. So come along to Spooner's for some tasty treats with a Central American flavour - accompanied by your choice from a selection of our drinks from the bar. Spooners will have a selection of Mexican dishes and Antipasto available - served Buffet style - for only £9.95 per person. Why not have a drink with your meal for just £11.95..? Drinks offer includes a Pint of Lager/Cider / Ale, a175ml Glass of House Wine or a Soft Drink.

A temporary road closure across The Cob applies until 8/12/21. Customers driving to Spooner's from the Minffordd/Penrhyndeudraeth direction should be aware that the Cob has been closed to road traffic to allow the installation of a new 11kv cable to the Premier Inn site, across the road from Harbour Station. A diversion is in place along the Porthmadog Bypass and back through the centre of town. There are a couple of signs along the High Street stating the road ahead is closed. However, there is still access to our Car Park for Spooner's patrons, so have no worries about driving past them. We're definitely open for business (Mondays excepted) with doors opening from 10:00. Click the link to see details of our Opening Hours - https://bit.ly/SpoonerHours. For those arriving by bus - there will be no bus service through Minffordd for the duration of the road closure. Passengers are advised to walk to the bus stop across the road from the old Bron y Garth Hospital. When returning to Minffordd, you should catch your bus from the stops at Y Parc in the High Street.

 

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 2022

The first four 2022 events have now been confirmed by the F&WHR. On the basis of what has happened in previous years here is a speculative attempt to predict what other events (marked with a question mark) the F&WHR might offer in 2022, subject to COVID restrictions. This will be updated as hard information is received and dates confirmed.

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1/1/22

Final Christmas Cwellyn/Christmas Glaslyn trains

17-27/2/22?

Half Term Holiday trains? CANCELLED

March 26/3/22

Start of new season

Easter 16-18/4/22? Easter Bank Holiday Weekend Service
April 23 The Snowdonian

2-5/6/22?

Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend services?

10-11/6/22

Rail Ale

July 22? Summer Season starts?
July 22? The Snowdonian Limited?
30-31/7/22 WHR 100 Dinas-South Snowdon (aka Rhyd Ddu)
29/8/22 Bank Holiday. End of Summer Season trains?
September 2022 WHR SuperPower?
8-9/10/22 FR Bygones event
30/10/22? Final trains of the season?
December 22? Santa Specials-Twice a day Caernarfon-Rhyd Ddu on 10-11/12/22, 17-18/11/22 and 22-23/12/22?
December 22? Christmas Cwellyn-Twice a day Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu until 1/1/23?
December 22? Christmas Glaslyn-Twice a day Porthmadog to Beddgelert 27/12/22 until 1/1/23?

 

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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

 

V4.4156 updated 28/1/22