Welsh Highland Railway

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Star Picture

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

Route section pages

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

 

Phase 4 pages

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

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

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

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

Beddgelert Station Area (updated 30/6/07)

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

Aberglaslyn Pass (updated 2/7/07)

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

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

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

Porthmadog Cross Town Link (updated1/4/07)

 

Other pages

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

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

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

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

Archived News Page (updated 1/2/18)

Snow Scenes (updated 31/10/15)

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

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

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

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

Video list (new 9/11/15)

Access to Phase 2 pages is currently being progressed.

 

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

Isengard@talktalkdotnet

This has been introduced as an anti-spam feature.

Disclaimer

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

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

 

Stop Press!!

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

New text in RED!

 

News Section

WHR timetables

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

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

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

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

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

Click here for Chainages and OS Map Reference

 

No.9 on coal train 20/2/18

It seems Baguley 0-6-0 DM No.9, nominally the Dinas PW shunter, seems to have come into its own after being shedded at Boston Lodge since last September for a repaint and further small modifications to its diesel engine. After hauling rail to Dinas for the Caernarfon headshunt extension it returned to Boston Lodge on 20/2/18 with a two wagons of coal for Boston Lodge.

 

This northerly view (20/2/18) shows No.9 hauling two coal wagons from Dinas to Boston Lodge at Bryn-y-felin. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Sean Thomas and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Linda and Blanche on Beddgelert trains 20/2/18

This westerly view (20/2/18) shows No.9, on the coal train from Dinas, passing Porthmadog Harbour station during the morning where Linda and Blanche await departure on the 1115 to Beddgelert. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (20/2/18) shows Blanche and Linda, double heading at Bryn-y-felin on the 1225 from Beddgelert. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Sean Thomas and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Merddin Emrys was swopped from Beddgelert services to haul the PW train with Criccieth Castle from Minffordd to Moelwyn Tunnel with three fully loaded ballast wagons. It seems to be 'All change' on the roster this week! See F&WHR Facebook page.

 

North Wales freight Class 88 21/2/18

A Class 88 was paired with the normal Class 68 on the Nuclear Electric Valley flasks working on 21/2/18. The locos are superficially similar to the Class 68 but will operate off 25kV as well as having a 950 HP Caterpillar C27 diesel engine. The locos concerned were No.68005 and No.88008 passing Prestatyn at 0830. They will return early this afternoon.

 

Blanche hauls WHR PW wagons 19/2/18

Linda had been working on the Moelwyn Tunnel relay but, with track now relaid and the loco now hauling the Half Term Holiday WHR trains, Blanche is now hauling 500 tonnes of ballast to the site using the ex-SAR wagons purchased for tracklaying on the WHR. Some 25 trains hauling two 10 tonne ballast wagons are needed to complete the job over the next two weeks with at least two trains a day most days on the FR. The loco roster is now caught up with reality with Linda and Earl of Merioneth hauling the remaining Half Term Holiday trains to Beddgelert MFX until 23/2/18.

 

Click on the YouTube link to watch 5 mins 39 seconds of video covering Half Term Holiday trains with Linda wearing its demountable tender cab double heading with Earl of Merioneth. This YouTube was published on 16/2/18. This video was taken by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a professional betamax camcorder and is best watched in 1080p HD in Google Chrome browser.

 

Also see related Linda and Earl of Merioneth on Half Term Holiday Trains YouTube dated 11/2/18.

Also see Blanche on 19/2/18 starting from Minffordd on heavy PW train on F&WHR Facebook page.

 

No.134 report 17-18/2/18

There were reduced numbers of volunteers at February's working party due to illnesses and members of the team being away, one in South Africa! This weekend volunteers were asked to fit the Armstrong Oiler pads to the main axleboxes on the loco as these had been ordered and had arrived. All this is aimed at making the frames easier to move around the site to where it will be easier for the team to work on. This involved dropping the frame tie-bars underneath the axleboxes, then removing the plate that holds the axlebox keeps in place. The oiler pad was then fitted after soaking in oil and the keep topped up with oil before refitting. Volunteers managed seven of the eight axles on the Saturday. The eighth was done on Sunday as the team had to move the frames a short distance to clear a crank counterweight out of the way as it prevented access to get the spanners in to remove the retaining plate.

With this done the team spent the remainder of the day establishing the whereabouts of the various components for the Krauss-Helmholtz truck's pivot side control spring. It was known that the springs needed replacement and, after this investigation, there is now a full listing of what will be need to be made to complete the truck's control side springs.

See No.134 website for full details.

 

No.130 update 16-20/2/18

By 16/2/18 the superheater header Bolts for both No.130 and USATC No.2253 (also owned by Peter Best) are finished and waiting in their boxes to be delivered to Stockton where Adam Dalgleish is making No.130's new boiler.

By 17/2/18 the fireman's side injector was mostly complete. There has been a little more progress and the first section of small bore pipework that needs fitting in the form of the slacker pipe take-off. Also, the steam valve has been prepared and is ready to fit. This is a high pressure ball valve that has proved successful on other WHR Garratts.

By 19/2/18 the first couple of slide bars were being assembled. The inner cylinder and valve covers have been fitted to allow the bars to be aligned. The assembly of the motion should speed up now.

By 20/1/18 the valve rods and valve heads were coming together plus the recently overhauled brake tables. There are not that many parts to refurbish or make now so work is now mainly assembly.

For images see No.130 Facebook page.

 

KS4415 report 10/2/18

Volunteers spent another few days spent at Boston Lodge working on 4415 and have produced the new parts needed for the vacuum pump. The pump/exhauster is a 500cc motorcycle engine and is worked by a chain and sprocket drive coming from one of the loco's gearbox shafts. It works by drawing air in from the train pipe, attached to where the carburettor would normally be, and exhausting it through a valve screwed into the head of the cylinder. The inlet valve acts as a non-return valve for the vacuum pipe and the exhaust valve is blanked off to stop air entering the system from that side of the engine.

The pattern for the coupling bosses has been finished, so volunteers will be sending that to the foundry in the next week or so.

For images see KS4415 Facebook page.

 

Trawslink awaiting Feasibility Study report 9/2/18

Trawslink, the organisation promoting the reopening of the Bangor-Carmarthen rail link, is awaiting publication of the £300,000 Welsh Assembly Feasibility Study into Phase 1, the Aberystwyth-Carmarthen Link at the end of February. The Feasibility Study, which began last September, is examining on-line improvements as well as new routes avoiding the Gwili Steam Railway south of Lampeter and follows a Scoping Report published on the Trawslink website. Some 99% of the route is clear of development with the only major difficulty being the approach to Aberystwyth where housing occupies the trackbed. It may be possible to find a route through the housing on spare land closer to the harbour or bore a tunnel under Constitution Hill and approach the station from a point further east than the old junction area now occupied by the VoR. However a flat crossing of the VoR will be necessary similar to Cae Pawb on the WHR.

The BBC reported on 9/2/18 that poor North-South transport links in Wales were an impediment to the development of the Welsh economy by impeding tourist traffic.

 

Gwyrfai progress 17/2/18

The framework of the new WHR Observation coach No. 2101 Gwyrfai was wheeled out into the open at Boston Lodge on 17/2/18. Some volunteers felt that the name Seiont was more appropriate. The Afon Seiont is the river that emerges in Caernarfon harbour.

 

This Boston Lodge view (17/2/18) shows the frame of Gwyrfai as seen from the Observation end. The new pointwork leading to the erecting shop is visible in the foreground. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Norman Bond (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This Boston Lodge view (17/2/18) shows the frame of Gwyrfai as seen from the side. The new pointwork leading to the erecting shop is visible in the foreground. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Norman Bond (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Snow report 19/2/18

Temperatures are set to drop this week for the final week of the Purple timetable Half Term trains MFX Porthmadog Beddgelert. By next weekend sunny cold weather is forecast to predominate and the snow covered mountains will look suitably alpine.

 

Shed gossip 13/2/18

In the absence of a recent Shed Report this column has been compiled from a number of sources.

No.87 is being patched up to be used as spare until its boiler certificate runs out, probably due to the lack of a Funkey for rescue. On Tuesday 13/2/18 the water tank part was separated and lifted with the wheels removed. No.130 is unlikely to be ready for this season as it will be sometime before the boiler arrives, then the loco needs finishing with steam and lubrication lines, cladding, cab, etc. Vale of Ffestiniog is OOS due to being driven with brakes on (apparently!) hence the requirement for a Lady to cover PW duties during the Moelwyn Tunnel relay, due to a lack of operational vacuum braked diesels.

NG15 No.134 continues to make slow progress with a reduced volunteer team. This is the second time that some volunteers have lost interest the project due to an apparent lack of commitment from the F&WHR management. However, with all three Garratts due to be in the works for their 10 year boiler/major overhaul in the next three years it is heartening to hear that the F&WHR Company definitely do want an NG15. This loco can pull full size WHR rake. The problem is that all of the current NG16 overhauls are coming thick and fast one after the other and there is no spare capacity to help the NG15 team with major work. This means it is likely to be another couple of years at the earliest before No.134 becomes a priority again although volunteers will continue to plod on with its restoration once a month.

 

Caernarfon Station progress 7/2/18

This northerly view (7/2/18) shows the Caernarfon platform site being cleared prior to the construction of new platforms. The Portacabins have now been cleared from the site of the new headshunt between the new station building and the retaining wall on the right. This was a snowy day and wet snow can be seen accumulating around the site. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Stuart McNair (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Cold Turkey special 28/12/17

Prince and Lyd hauled the annual 'Cold Turkey' working from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog on 28/12/17. The December 2016 working operated on the WHR.

 

This southerly view (28/12/17) shows Prince and Lyd, double heading the Cold Turkey Special ready to return from Blaenau Ffestiniog. The early December snow had disappeared by this time. Prince carries the jokey old 'Festiniog Railway Temperance Society headboard' which makes an occasional light-hearted appearance on such trains. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Sean Thomas and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Linda and Earl haul Beddgelert trains 13/2/18

Although rostered for Lyd and Earl of Merioneth, Linda substituted for Lyd on 11/2/18, 13/2/18 and, it is understood, on 14/2/18. The roster for the week commencing Saturday 17/2/18 has not yet been published. These Purple timetable trains continue MFX until 25/2/18, covering school Half Term holidays.

 

This northerly view (13/2/18) shows Linda, replacing the rostered Lyd, double heading Earl of Merioneth on the 11:15 Porthmadog-Beddgelert service in the Aberglaslyn Pass with the snowy mountains in the background. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Sean Thomas and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (13/2/18) shows Earl of Merioneth double heading Linda, replacing the rostered Lyd, on the 12:25 Porthmadog-Beddgelert service at Bryn-y-felin with the snowy mountains in the background. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Sean Thomas and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Prince to haul Heritage Specials on August Sundays

The F&WHR is to launch a 'Journey to the Past' special train to run on Sundays in August (5/8, 12/8, 19/8 and 26/8). It is currently planned to run the train from Dinas to Rhyd Ddu with a couple of heritage coaches hauled by Prince. The train is being run in conjunction with WHHG who are proud of their restoration of Tryfan Junction station. After an introductory talk at Dinas, the train will call at Tryfan junction, where the train will pause to allow passengers to visit the restored station buildings and maybe have a cup of tea before continuing to Rhyd Ddu. Although a timetable has not yet been published the train will not arrive back too late for people to drive home. A packed lunch will be included. The F&WHR hope to run this service every year if successful.

Your webmaster has been promoting the idea of short intermediate workings on the WHR for many years. Running one or two 12 coach trains a day each way sees a three hour gap between departures at Caernarfon even in the peak timetable and if people miss trains with traffic congestion on the A55 they may walk away. Similar small trains have been run in the past e.g. the short lived evening 'Fish and Chip' specials to Rhyd Ddu hauled by Castell Caernarfon. This service was poorly patronised after limited promotion.

 

No.130 update 9-15/2/18

By 9/2/18 No.130's annular door plate was being machined and the flanged insert was in position. The door hinges were well on too so a finished door plate and door will be hung shortly.

By 13/2/18 The loco's cylinders and valves have had a really good de-coke and all passage ways are clean and ready to shortly accept the valves and pistons.

All 4 die blocks are being replaced with new die blocks and by 15/2/18 these were being machined. Most of the motion is now complete and ready to reassemble. One of the next jobs will be re-fit the inner cylinder and valve covers so that the slide bars can be assembled and aligned.

 

WHRS goals

After raising almost £2 million towards restoring the WHR and funding new carriages, the society is considering new goals. Permanent station buildings are needed at Waunfawr and Beddgelert on the concrete foundations already provided. More coaches are needed to complete the two 12 coach rakes and release older FR coaches currently used to strengthen the rakes. On the loco front the NG15 project makes slow but progress.

On the Heritage side, a WHR/NWNGR set could be an aim along with recreating locos. There is an independent project to build a replica Gowrie but parts of Moel Tryfan exist and a 'heavy rebuild' reconstructed loco could haul short distance, low capacity, trains such as the 'Journey to the Past' workings being trialled this year as well as historical re-enactments as suggested by many members/supporters including your webmaster.

 

SuperPower plans 14-16/9/18

This year the theme is articulated locos both large and models. It is hoped to mark the 21st birthday of the railway with a major event including at least one visiting loco. Dave Kent is leading the planning and appealing for models.

 

On-line sales

Online sales are being expanded to include Afternoon Pullman Teas, vouchers for standard class travel and being able to nominate a train that the passenger wishes to catch. See Booking webpage.

 

Censorship of F&WHR media

The WHRSoc has advised care about what is published on emails, Facebook, Twitter etc. and similar outlets so as not to damage the F&WHR. Recently the BF&TR Facebook pages have been witness to much contentious discussion about the future of that organisation after NR pulled the plug on the project as run by Colin Dale.

One of the first acts of the new Marketing Officer of the F&WHR has been to formulate a Social Media Policy which they ask all employees and volunteers to adhere to. If any comments are detrimental to the company they will be removed from the media controlled by the F&WHR. Examples quoted include loco failures, 'exclusive' stories for major publications and detrimental arguments/discussions.

 

Rail delivery for Caernarfon 15/2/18

With both Funkeys out of action it fell to WHR's PW shunter, ex-Australian sugar cane 0-6-0 DM No.9, to haul essential PW material from Minffordd to Dinas. This included new rail for this weekend's relaying of the extended Caernarfon headshunt to accommodate 12 coach rakes against the newly completed platform face. After this weekend's works trains 15-18/2/18 further WHR works trains are planned 3-16/3/18 and it is planned to complete the headshunt over the period 3-16/3/18 in time the new season on 24/3/18.

 

This easterly view (15/2/18) shows No.9, nominally the Dinas PW shunter but based at Boston Lodge since September, hauling a PW train to Dinas passing Porthmadog Harbour station during the morning. 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.

 

Special Train for WHRS Founder Members

The WHR Society is 25 years old and this will be celebrated over SuperPower 2018 (14-16/9/18). A special train is planned for Founder Members (unfortunately not your webmaster as I joined in 1995 when physical work on the WHR project started). Another special could be the recreation of the original train that ran 21 years ago with No.138 and the original Winson built carriages (some now altered).

 

SuperPower plans

The WHR hopes to have at least a Mallet to add to the attractions of the articulated loco themed SuperPower this year, maybe Jatibarang No.9 which visited the railway in 2011, featuring at SuperPower and staying until December 2011. See Statfold Barn website.

Last year's planned special loco, the L&BR's Lyn did not turn up due to late delivery to the L&BR. Many supporters will be hoping that Lyn will turn up this year, especially after the announcement that Lyd will be going to the L&BR Gala at the end of September. Last year's SuperPower seemed to be a damp squib in more ways than one with no special loco and heavy rainfall plus No.87's failure on Saturday.

Many members will also hope that Russell might be invited. It has been many years since the loco was invited to the WHR and it has never hauled trains on the full route. Recently there has been a visit to the WHR Beddgelert train service by WHHR supporters (14/2/18) when Earl of Merioneth and Blanche (replacing the rostered Lyd) hauled the train, so relationships seem to be improving. There is still the air braked issue and Russell would have to pilot a F&WHR vacuum braked loco or haul its own coaching stock and an air-braked rescue loco would have to be provided. See WHHR Facebook page. The WHHR members had a whip round and raised £120 for the Welsh Pony fund.

 

Moving Pictures No.14 14/2/18

Click on the YouTube link to watch 26 mins 24 seconds of video covering mostly FR news a trip on the footplate of Linda to unload new rails for Moelwyn Tunnel and a visit to London King's Cross to see the F&WHR publicity machine in action. This edition was published on 22/1/18. This video was taken by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a professional betamax camcorder and is best watched in 1080p HD in Google Chrome browser.

 

Caernarfon station progress 14/2/18

This northerly view (14/2/18) shows workers laying the new platform edge kerb stones. It is hoped the North Wales track Gang will be able to complete the relaying this weekend. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Stuart McNair (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (14/2/18) shows new track alignment being constructed through the former headshunt area as seen from the temporary stairs to the work on the roof of the new station building. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Stuart McNair (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (14/2/18) shows completion of the new platform edge kerb stones through the former headshunt area at the end of the day. The additional length of platform from the footbridge to the nearer end of the kerbstones will accommodate the two extra coaches and allow 12 coach trains in the platform. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Dai Jones and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (14/2/18) shows the end of the new platform kerbing, which is slightly dropped down as a ramp for staff assisting with the run round. It is hoped the North Wales track Gang will be able to complete the relaying this weekend. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Dai Jones and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Snow report 13/2/18

Sleet and snow is forecast for the Snowdon ranger area so the mountains above Beddgelert should be covered in snow at some stage. The Tan-y-bwlch webcam was showing sleet this morning. The weather forecast for the week ahead shows temperatures rising slightly in the area and no chance of snow at the height of the railway. However the Purple timetable continues MFX until Sunday 25/2/18 so there are more chances to experience the WHR in the snow even though temperatures generally rise towards the end of the month as Spring comes in.

 

Caernarfon Station progress 12/2/18

Work on completing the platform and, subsequently, tracks is underway ready for the start of the new season on 24/3/18.

 

This northerly view (12/2/18) shows the new platform edging appearing. this extends up to the station building. The disabled access alongside the retaining wall has been reinstated. Once the platform edge kerbs have been laid the north Wales track Gang will be back relaying the platform road points and extended headshunt in time for the start of services on 24/3/18. 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.

 

Kings Cross display 9-12/2/18

Quarry Hunslets Hugh Napier, Velinheli and replica four wheel Ashbury Carriage No.10 were on display at King's Cross in mid-February over Half Term (10-18/2/18). The display promoted tourist visits to Snowdonia through videos and promotional literature. A short video on the F&WHR Insider Facebook page shows Velinheli arriving at King's Cross overnight 9-10/2/18.

 

This westerly view (9/2/18) shows Hugh Napier on the forecourt at Kings Cross with St. Pancras station in the background just prior to unloading at Kings Cross. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Paul Lewin and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (12/2/18) shows Hugh Napier, Ashbury Carriage No.10 and Velinheli at King's Cross as seen from the balcony of the new concourse restaurants. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Alan Frewin and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (12/2/18) shows Velinheli, Ashbury Carriage No.10 and Hugh Napier at King's Cross as seen from the balcony of the new concourse restaurants. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Alan Frewin and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Caernarfon Track realignment 9/2/18

Work is underway on extending the headshunt and realigning track for the new arrangements at Caernarfon station.

 

This northerly view (9/2/18) shows new local stone being delivered to the site. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Dai Jones and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (9/2/18) shows new track alignment being constructed through the former headshunt area. Ballast has been stockpiled to the left. A foundation is being formed for the new extended platform edge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Dai Jones and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (9/2/18) shows the new station building which does not seem to have advanced much the roof went on in mid January. The site offices and disabled access appear to have moved. A small shelter on the left appears to have been erected to protect the workers from the weather. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Dai Jones and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

July derailment report

A report in Steam Railway No.474 (December) details the outcome of an internal inquiry in the minor derailment of Bodysgallen on 31/7/18 and has been made available to the RAIB. The leading bogie of Bodysgallen derailed at low speed on the 1000 from Caernarfon on a curve close to Rhyd Ddu station. A member of staff in the adjacent service coach heard a loud crash and applied the brakes. The six passengers in the coach were unhurt and were moved to adjacent coaches. The derailed vehicle was uncoupled and the remaining 8 coaches were moved into Rhyd Ddu station. Services resumed the next day after the coach was recovered to Boston Lodge and the track had been tamped.

The coach was inspected and found to have damage to the brake rigging and its bogie pivot location tube was broken. There was minor impact damage to sleepers. The RAIB decided not to investigate, asking for a copy of the F&WHR's internal report. The report found no faults with the carriage nor excess track cant for the 10mph speed restriction at this location. Several sleeper voids and a poorly aligned joint are thought to have been contributory factors.

Your web master has noted that the sharp curves and misaligned joints in the pointwork at the north end of Rhyd Ddu might be due to forcing the alignment to fit right hand running through platform loops. Jolting has been experienced in this area before in Observation Car Glaslyn but this might be due to snatch in the couplings. A campaign is underway to alter the couplings to reduce this problem.

 

F&WHR wins HLF 'Skills for the Future' grant 9/2/18

The F&WHR has been awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund 'Skills For the Future' grant to develop a Heritage Skills Trainee Programme to run for two years from September 2018 to August 2020. The company is therefore looking to recruit a ‘Trainee Programme’ Manager to manage the HLF Skills For the Future Trainee Programme. A key purpose of the Trainee Programme is to increase the diversity of the candidates and successful applicants for the trainee positions. The successful candidate will have experience of working in the Education or Training sectors and will also have extensive knowledge of the heritage railway sector. This is a fixed term post from February 2018 to August 2021.

The programme hopes to induct 10 trainees per year over six skill areas.

 

Boston Lodge improvement

The £4.5 million Boston Lodge upgrade project is well underway. Completion the pile wall project, managed by Brel Ewart of Whitehouse Construction of Ashbourne, Derbyshire, has created a large area for construction of the new Carriage Shed in 2018/9. The project entailed installing a double pile wall up to 10m deep and 6m apart. The design was agreed with Natural Resources Wales who refused to allow the more obvious extension of the rock armoured Cob alongside Boston Lodge because it would have intruded into the Lleyn Peninsula and Sarnau Special Conservation Area.

When completed two FR rakes and the WHR rake that starts from Porthmadog will be accommodated in the new sheds. The 1980s shed can only cover 8 coach rakes in the two roads and is not aligned correctly to make best use of the new land area available. The new three road shed on the seaward side will have room for a complete WHR set and two FR sets without the need to split them, covering 30 carriages in all. The shorter two road shed to be constructed on the Coach Works side will have room for a further 10 coaches.

After completion of the new Carriage Sheds, work will turn to a new 3 road shed for the smaller FR locos between the recently completed Heritage Carriage Shed and the Garratt pit road which will in turn become the new Garratt shed. Work will eventually turn to the Erecting Shop upgrade, which will have an over head crane servicing 6 sidings. there will also be a new 3 road double Fairlie Shed on the site of the existing Small Engine Shed. Part of the existing Carriage Shed's floor has been strengthened so that lifting work can be done while work is underway on the Erecting Shop building.

 

East Anglian Group meeting 15/2/18

David Gander reports: Our first meeting of 2018 will be held this Thursday 15/2/18 when we welcome back Christopher Jones who will be talking to us on the ‘Festiniog Railway Double Fairlie Engines’.

In April – on Thursday 19/4/18 – Peter Lee will be talking to us about the ‘Death of a Railway – the Chemins de Fer du Calvados’.

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

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

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

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

 

Snow report 8/2/18

With temperatures rising snow rapidly melted at Porthmadog and rain has been forecast for the start of the new Purple timetable Porthmadog-Beddgelert trains on 10/2/18. However snow is forecast for 11-13/2/18 for the Snowdon Ranger area so the mountains will have a suitably alpine appearance.

 

No.130 update 6-8/2/18

By 6/2/18 the base plate of the smokebox was rolled and cut to size for the top of the smokebox. Later, the bolt holes were drilled and the chimney hole cut out. Then it was trimmed and put in the smokebox for trial fitting. This finishes off the boiler barrel.

By 8/2/18 A new regulator handle has been made and trial fitted with the regulator rod and stuffing box. All went together pretty much first time. Also the J pipe and regulator valve in the dome have been fitted. See No.130 Facebook page for images.

 

Lyd and Lyn at the L&BR Autumn Gala

The L&BR Autumn Gala on 29-30/9/18 will feature both Lyd and the new Baldwin replica Lyn in steam. With two replica L&BR locos and four replica L&BR coaches, which incorporate original parts, it is hoped the Gala will draw the crowds despite the line being only 1 mile long. This will be Lyd's fourth visit to the L&BR and it is hoped Lyn will visit the WHR in 2018 as was promised last year but did not happen because of late delivery to the L&BR.

 

Cambrian upgrade 5/2/18

NR is relaying some 6km of rail between Newtown and Aberystwyth in a £7.25 scheme to introduce more continuous welded rail. The line will be closed overnight 17-18/2/18 and 10-11/3/18 with buses replacing trains on late evening trains. See BBC News story.

 

Mainline news

Other mainline news includes the resumption of almost daily flask traffic from Wylfa via Valley Nuclear Electric Siding after a hiatus in early January. Green mainline engines have also put in appearance recently with No.37057 stabled at Bangor on an NR test train on 31/1/18 and the new Loco Services Ltd. (TOC) test runs with D1944 (No.47501) on an attractive liveried 'blood and custard' test train. Saphos Trains will be launching their services. This TOC, based in Crewe, has just acquired two Deltics (Nos.55016/22), which may feature in mainline tours along the North Wales Coast or Marches lines.

Saphos Trains already has 4 of its 12 trains offered in 2018 fully booked, not surprising since they have reduced some fares by over 50% to get an entry into the market. e.g. £45 Standard Class, now fully booked on some trains as are guaranteed window seats for two/guaranteed dining window seats for two. However some seats for North Wales/Marches trains are still available.

Class 60 made a return to the NWCL on 31/1/18 when No.60026 was noted on a PW train at Rhyl. Arriva used their Gerald service for a Six Nations Rugby Tour Saturday Special to Cardiff powered by No.67016 on 3/2/18. On the Cambrian a 97/3 (37) was noted heading north through Barmouth hauling a tamper the same week.

 

KS 4415 report 3/2/18

KS 4415 is the pioneer narrow gauge diesel that was trialled on the WHR and FR in 1928-29 before being returned to the manufacturer as Colonel Stephens could not afford it, despite it success. Further work has been done by the volunteer draughtsman on supports for the heavy gearbox.

The original arrangement for holding the gearbox was a weak design, and has broken in the past. This modification is necessary because there are high forces transmitted through the gearbox when in use, and even if repaired the original feet and clamps they would probably just break again. The new design uses the original studs to fix to the gearbox and clamps around the layshaft. This is an ideal solution, as it does not involve major modifications to the gearbox or surrounding frame and does not prevent restoration of the original arrangement in the future if that was desired. See KS4415 Facebook page.

 

Beddgelert Signals near completion 7/2/18

This southerly view (7/2/18) shows the new starter signals with a fresh covering of snow at Beddgelert. The new signals are lit RED with one for both RH and LH running lines but testing is underway and the YELLOW aspects are yet to be lit. Similar signalling work is underway at the Pont Croesor end of the section and must be ready for the start of the season on 10/2/18. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright John Savage (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Beddgelert new signals in the snow 6/2/18

The Beddgelert-Pont Croesor Signalling Project team hopes to have the scheme completed and commissioned by Saturday 10/2/17 for the start of the Half Term holiday timetable despite the snow that fell on Beddgelert today.

 

This northerly view (6/2/18) shows the new starter signals in the snow at Beddgelert with one for both RH and LH running at the start of the day. New barriers at the platform ends have also been installed recently. The one on the right protects an area where the platform edge moves away from the track but it is unknown why this feature was built in that way. Similar signalling work is underway at the Pont Croesor end of the section and must be ready for the start of the season. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright John Savage (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (6/2/18) shows the new starter signals at Beddgelert with one for both RH and LH running lit at the end of the day. The snow has largely melted and the works train is in the siding with Mess Coach No.111 and a B wagon. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright John Savage (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (6/2/18) shows the new starter signals at Beddgelert with one for both RH and LH running lit at the end of the day. The snow has largely melted but the hills are still dusted. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright John Savage (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Snow has also turned up at sea level at Porthmadog on 6-7/2/18. The new Porthmadog webcam is working, if a little unfocussed, after being replaced following last year's lightning strike. However higher temperatures and rain are forecast before the Half Term Purple service from Porthmadog to Beddgelert starting Saturday 10/2/18. See Porthmadog webcam.

 

K1 news

Cedric Lodge has been leading a small team who have continued work on this iconic loco which is stored in the Dinas Carriage Shed now that one rake is held at Boston Lodge in order to start the day at Porthmadog. Last year the fire grate and front tank were removed. The loco was occasionally moved outside the Carriage Shed and work began in the firebox to grind off the ends of the old tubes. Work should resume before the Spring on knocking the old tubes out to allow a boiler inspection, the first stage to recertification.

 

Coach No.1001 update

The Tuesday Engineering Gang at Dinas has been working on the ex-Chattenden and Upnor Railway Combination Car No.1001 which is used as a Mess Car on WHR PW trains. Work includes:

Work programmed for 2018 includes :

 

Caernarfon Station round-up 2017

With work continuing on Caernarfon station in the new year for completion Summer 2018 the progress during 2017 was as follows:-

Following site clearance in December 2016, James Cyf, a contractor who worked on rebuilding the WHR was invited to do the preliminary work on town's main sewer diversion. Where necessary rock was crushed and back-filled into the trench. Griffith Contractors then diverted the sewer with bypass pumps while connections were made. In accordance with the policy of using Welsh contractors, MPH of Mold were soon on site but soon discovered the gas main had not been diverted as the Gas Utilities plans claimed and this cost the F&WHR an unbudgeted sum of almost £100,000. MPH has been responsible for alterations to both Chester Station/Business Quarter and Stoke-on-Trent stations in recent contracts. They left whilst the Gas company rerouted the gas main away from the site and under the road.

In July/August some ground improvement works took place with auger drilling and back filling with stone which was then vibrated to make a solid stone column. Eventually it was possible to make foundations and erect steel during the Autumn and add the floor, upper story and finally the roof over the New Year.

The Rotunda area will be finished in red and off-white ceramic tiles and attention is being given to fixtures and fittings.

 

PW report 2017

The track data base has been cleared up to eliminate recording errors. The WHR was tamped using the KMX during the early morning shifts over the Summer months and once the daily service finished it was possible to spend whole days tamping. For the second Winter in a row the WMWP is focussing on the FR, including the new track through the Moelwyn Tunnel, rail for which was delivered to Dinas. This is being laid on the new plastic sleepers.

Fencing at Hafod-y-llyn has been renewed. This wet area in the Traeth causes wood to deteriorate quickly. Better posts have been used with a guaranteed life of 15 years. Larger work has gone out to contract but a mix of volunteer and paid staff has done the rest.

Trees have been cut back and the canopy of trees on the steep gradient between Bryn Gloch and Trosgl past the campsite are being attended to as leaf fall here causes trains to slip. the railway will be flailed again in 2018 to prevent bushes scraping the sides of coaches and obstructing views. It is hoped the railway will not become a green trench like happened to the upper reaches of the FR at one time.

The tree canopy is also an issue between Caernarfon and Dinas, around Cae Wernlas Ddu and at Salem and, as well as restricting views, leaf fall causes adhesion problems in the autumn with slipping and braking issues.

 

SuperPower 2018

'Articulated Large and Small' is the theme for this year's SuperPower (14-16/9/18) and it is hoped to have articulated locos for all gauges from 600mm down including model engineering societies. It is obviously hoped to have the three Garratts in service and the Fairlies if they can be spared from the FR. The AGM on the Saturday night 15/9/18 will celebrate 25 years of the WHR society.

Last year's SuperPower was thrown together at the last minute when it became clear that the L&BR's Baldwin replica Lyn would be unavailable. The L&BR only received the loco on 11/9/17. The loco was named and operated trains for an invited guests on 29/10/17. However pointwork at the temporary Killington Lane terminus proved inadequate and the public trains hauled by Lyn will not start on the LBR until March following their replacement. See L&BR Lyn update. Now that Lyn has bedded in, many WHR supporters hope the loco will come to the WHR this year in return for the many visits Lyd has made to the L&BR.

 

Titbits

The Dinas station approach bungalow now has tenants providing the society with an income stream until it is time to make the premises available for volunteer accommodation in August/September this year. There will be single and twin bedrooms with shared bathroom/kitchen/lounge.

As many predicted Brexit worries depressed traffic on the WHR with figures 15% down in June. 2018 may not be any better as Brexit inflation is running at 3%, way ahead of wages and families are feeling the pinch and being more cautious about second holidays to UK locations such as Wales in addition to the foreign beach holidays. There was a little improvement in July and August and the Autumn shoulder traffic looked good last year.

The temporary Caernarfon station shop in Ty Seiont suffers from not being next to the station entrance but those that do make it there usually spend a lot. the building will continue to be used in 2018 until the new station building is finished.

An A4 booklet 'Steaming through Snowdonia' was offered last August in place of TLC and were available for collection from ticket offices.

Due to the depredations of sheep, rabbits and even seagulls, the planters at Beddgelert may be moved to other stations, such as Pont Croesor or Snowdon Ranger where those problems to do not exist. The Waunfawr gardens are improving again after some years of decline.

The North Wales Track Gang has moved seats onto the platform and fixed down at Caernarfon from the former waiting area. The Tryfan Junction station yard was cleared and covered with slate waste ready for a wagon display. A new fence has been build by the Memorial Garden at Rhyd Ddu and during August work was completed on the signalling chambers for the new Beddgelert-Pont Croesor Signalling Project.

The Rest of the World Gang has removed the recently laid track from the Heritage Carriage shed. The loose chippings were found to allow dampness to enter the shed which is not appropriate for the storage of heritage coaching stock. The floor is being concreted and the track bolted directly to the floor via plates which have already been welded to the rails. Upnor Castle has been based at Dinas again and was used by the ROWG on a works train with ex FR coach No.1111 and the SAR whilst adjusting the cant at Tro Ffridd, the curve near Rhyd Ddu, in early September.

 

Loco report 2017/18

No.138 joined the stud again mid-season and the three Garratts shared duties. This was just as well as Castell Caernarfon was still not available and its reassembly will wait a while as it has been decided to re-bush some parts of the bogies. It is just as well there were three Garratts as on one occasion No.87's grate failed and the whole brick arch collapsed. This was swiftly repaired the following day as individual bricks are pre-cast and in store. No.87 will be due a 10 year boiler exam at the end of 2018 season along with a re-tube. The loco has covered over 100,000 miles in its 9 years in traffic. The frame crack in the leading power bogie during SuperPower rather spoilt the proceedings and matched one repaired in the rear power unit last year. The loco is now 80 years old and is showing its age. If the frames need replacing they can be as parts of No.140 may fit but at what stage would the loco be renumbered as No.140?

No.87 was back in traffic for a few weeks before the end of the season after a boiler exam in September. It will be withdrawn after SuperPower for the boiler work. Some work will be done on its boiler cradle and brakes while it is disassembled at Dinas.

An incident with No.138 saw a weld fail so the valve rod and combination lever came apart and the lever was bent. The lever was bent back and the loco was back in traffic the next day. With No.138/143 being due for their 10 year service in successive years it has been decided that the workload at Dinas in such a small space is inadequate. Already the volunteers rebuilding NG15 No.134 have been moved out and the group has, for a second time, lost many of its active volunteers.
So it was decided to order boiler repairs for the two spare boilers from No.140/129 externally. The two boilers were removed on 15/8/17. It is hoped that when the boilers return they can be swapped during the Winter off season.

Yellow liveried Australian diesel No.9 left for a repaint in Boston Lodge and it was hoped the loco would stand in for Castell Caernarfon but it remained at Boston Lodge into the New Year!

 

Gwyrfai News

There will be eight Observation seats with a low-waisted end of the coach and 16 seats in the main part of the coach. The seats will be like those in the FR's No.150 rather than the Pullman style seats in Glaslyn. Glaslyn will be altered to the same seating plan, making both sets more identically bookable on the Merac ticket system, which has proved less flexible than hoped e.g. it has not been possible to give Members' discounts. The glass end will be flattened compared to Glaslyn, where the complex curve in three dimensions cracked at one stage. There will be end doors on both sides close to the Observation window presumably for emergency access. The coach appears to be numbered as No.2152 rather than No.2101 following the number sequence of the other Observation Car Glaslyn No.2100.

 

Coach report 3/4/18

Glenn Williams, the new Carriage Works Supervisor reports:

Change is never an easy thing, but this year that’s what we in the Carriage Works face. Norman, who built the present team and pushed us to achieve so many things, has retired. We thank him for all he did to build the Carriage Works into what it is now. My first job is to ensure continuity and that means continuing with the Winter program, capital based work and supporting the volunteer projects.

So far this year we have repaired Nos.103/108/121 which were damaged mid-season last year. No.110, which was going to be a simple de-rust and paint, has become a rather bigger job with the need to replace the window rubbers.

The WHR's Winson Engineering built No.2042 is making steady progress with new window liners installed ready for hopper windows which replace the Beclawat windows. These had, after 20 years started to fail and were inaccessible for maintenance. New doors are presently being fitted, the old ones being not well made and so rather rotten. New seats and tables like the ones installed in last year’s No.2091 are also being built entirely by volunteers.

FR Obs No.152 nears completion and Super Saloon No.120 makes good progress.

The steel frame for WHR Observation carriage Gwyrfai is almost complete but will not enter the Carriage Works for a few months yet due to the quantity of other outstanding jobs presently in the workshop.

Volunteer projects presently include Ashbury No.21 which is nearing completion but needs painting, and Carnforth Carr No.113 which is having a Guards' area and toilet installed in the old first class compartments.

I am looking to form a new group of young volunteers who may not necessary have an interest in carriages but would still like to help the railway, learn new skills from joinery to painting or lining and enjoy being in a group. With Carr No.21 nearing completion we are looking towards the next big volunteer project likely to be a replica of the NWNGR Ashbury brake vans which would allow the forming of a proper NWNGR vintage set for the first time. I’m looking to form this new group to meet one weekend a month. So why not join Team Glenn, Y or whatever we finally call it. If you are interested contact me on gwilliams@ffwhr.com or, if you would like to, just come for a few days mid-week.

 

This Boston Lodge view (3/2/18) shows the 20 year old Winson build coach No.2042 receiving heavy maintenance with new doors, seating, tables and replacement of the Beclawat windows. 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.

 

This Boston Lodge view (3/2/18) shows new seating for Winson built coach No.2042, which is receiving heavy maintenance. 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.

 

This Boston Lodge view (3/2/18) shows volunteer project Ashbury built coach No.21 receiving heavy maintenance. The coach needs painting. 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.

 

This Boston Lodge view (3/2/18) shows the frame for new coach No.2101/2152 Gwyrfai. 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.

 

WHR coach policy

By the end of 2018 the F&WHR's Carriages Steering Group hopes to have the two rakes used on the WHR up to a common standard. Saloon No.2047 and Brake/Toilet No.2091 (ex No.2041) were in service on 14/5/17 and were the latest stage in this project to form common rakes. The new WHRS sponsored Pullman Observation Carriage Gwyrfai (variously numbered as No.2101/2152), will appear in 2018/9 though the recently completed frame is not due in the Carriage Works until later this year.

When Gwyrfai appears the WHR rakes will be reformed so that the seating pattern allows the booking office to book the same seats in either set. Both sets will be formed as a 9 coach core with Observation car, Service car, five standard saloons, a semi-open and a Brake/Toilet. During 2018 three of the saloons will be non standard as they will include Romanian coach No.2060 and FR coaches Nos.116/122. The new Boston Lodge sea wall Carriage Shed that may appear in 2018/9 will allow more freedom in set formations as currently No.2060, with its greater height, has to be at the Caernarfon end of a rake because of the low roof in the existing Carriage Shed.

Nos.2060/122 will remain in use until the mid 2020s but the plan is to build another saloon No.2048? soon after 2018 to allow No.116 to return to the FR. This would have panoramic windows, rubber secondary suspension like No.2047 and buggy/wheelchair space. This would allow three of the five saloons on each set to have buggy/wheelchair space.

General improvements to the coaching stock continue e.g. the replacement of windows on No.2060 completed last July. All coaches have had roller bearings fitted and there is an ongoing programme to improve the drawgear to cut down on slack and 'snatch' between coaches when starting.

Use of Heritage coaches Nos.23/24 to strengthen the rake to 10 coaches has been common in recent years but the lock-ups are not popular since passengers are concerned they may not be able to get off at intermediate destinations/be served by the trolley/visit the toilet. They often run empty or carry bicycles since the demise of the early bicycles provision in converted B wagons Nos. B1848/B1899 (B2202/1) between 2004 and 2011.

In future the F&WHR will experiment with shorter 9 coach rakes and leave Nos.23/24 in secure storage in Boston Lodge Heritage Carriage shed. If strengthening the rakes becomes essential a portion (e.g. 2/3 coaches) of slightly older FR coaches may be used if available, otherwise Nos.23/24 will be called upon. When the new Caernarfon station opens it will finally accommodate the originally planned 12 coach rakes so adding up to three coaches to the standard 9 coach rake will be possible, thereby adding 100 seats to the train.

The Heritage coaches are valued by the enthusiast market and will receive a facelift after they are no longer used in the standard E and F sets on the WHR. They might even revert to the former half door style as originally built at that time. This will allow genuine NWNGR and original WHR rakes to be formed for SuperPower/Vintage Weekend and other Gala events. With Ashbury replica No.21 nearing completion, the next volunteer project will be to recreate one of the two NWNGR Brake composites. These were the first carriages used on the NWNGR and also the last, as one of them, stripped to its underframe, was used in the demolition train. Even larger Heritage rakes could be formed in collaboration with the WHHR if they made their brakes and running gear compatible.

 

BF&TR project death knell?

It is uncertain when the AGM of the Blaenau Ffestiniog and Trawsfynydd Railway Volunteers Society will be, however the final accounts are currently being verified. The Cambrian News has taken soundings of the situation and explained how NR withdrew the licence to clear the line when a volunteer drove a heavy road excavator along the track and damaged an underbridge as it drove over the bridge. See Cambrian News story.

 

Coaching/wagon stock report 2017

With the retirement of Norman Bond coaching stock news has been a little thin on the ground but now that Glenn Williams has been appointed to Carriage Works Supervisor it is hoped regular reports will be made available. Norman Bond will continue as a volunteer leader of Team X coaching stock volunteers. Following the release to traffic of the two WHR coaches in May in time for the Spring Bank holiday, work resumed on ex-Romanian coach No.2060. This coach had been left to the end as 3 windows had misted up following loss of their double glazing seal. All windows were removed and new sealing rubbers fitted with treatment and painting of rusted areas. The coach was back in service on 1/7/17.

In Spring 2017 one of the DZ flat wagons was altered at Boston Lodge with DZ height sides and drop sides door flats at the ends and the central third of the sides. This the second conversion and there are now six similar wagons in the fleet that have been found so useful in infrastructure work. The new pair have been given the wagon code BZ. There are at least another two DZ flats unsuitable for use on the main line that might be converted after Welsh Pony is completed. Work can then start on new carriage underframes and the boiler for the new double Fairlie James Spooner.

 

Winter Major Works Programme

The excavating of the spent ballast was completed from Moelwyn tunnel at the end of January with the excavator appearing from the southern portal on 1/2/18. Over the Spring and Summer last year more work took place on the WHR so that the WMWP could be concentrated on the FR this Winter.

Other work includes:

Some discussion has also taken place about the operation of the NR crossing at Cae Pawb.

 

WHR signalling programme

The planned upgrade of all stations on the WHR is now underway with initial works on the Beddgelert-Pont Croesor section.

The plan is as follows:

Normal operation mode will be similar to the FR's Minffordd and Tan-y-bwlch automatic loop system:

This system has been designed to work with the existing Staff and Ticket system, Micro-ETS or any other future token system.

The North Wales Track Gang installed some of the signal bases last Autumn and fencing while a local contractor installed the cross platform works and hundreds of metres of ducting required for the cables ready for installation and commissioning of the scheme in January and February in time for the start of Half Term services on 10/2/18.

 

Caernarfon station report

Last Spring the project was held up by 3 months due to a gas network company error. Their records said they had repositioned the gas main under the road when the St Helens Road roundabout diversion for the tunnel entrance was done in the 1990s. In fact that work was not done and the F&WHR was thus faced with a large bill for diverting the 14" main over some tens of metres. Some redesign work was examined to reduce the building's footprint so that a diversion could be avoided but those changes were less than ideal so the original plans went ahead and the gas main was diverted.

Initial plans are for the cafe is to be named 'De Winton' to celebrate the link with the coffee pot locos built locally. However it will not be on the scale of Spooners, being more akin to a coffee shop.

 

Boiler work 2017

The two Garratt boilers that are currently being rebuilt at contractors are No.7017 ex No.143 and No.7111.

 

KS4415 news 31/1/18

No.4415, the historic Kerr Stuart diesel demonstrator trialled on the WHR in the 1928-9, has seen further work this week. Volunteers have been working on the Blackburne motorcycle engine that will be the donkey engine for starting the McLaren diesel engine. The aluminium casting for one half of the crankcase had a crack around the main bearing, and the bearing itself was very worn. Volunteers TIG welded it up (Tungsten Inert Gas welding prevents oxidation which can be a problem with metals such as aluminium), reamed it out, and made a new bearing. T&L Engineering has returned the heads for both Blackburne engines after boring them out to suit the new pistons. For images see KS4415 Facebook page.

 

Valentine special offer

A special Valentine Tea is being offered on Saturday 17/2/17 (a few days after Valentine's Day!) with a £99 for two afternoon tea Pullman experience on the 1420 from Porthmadog to Beddgelert. The afternoon tea experience is a recent development and must have proved popular. A bottle of Prosecco is available for an additional £17.95. See F&WHR story.

 

Snow reports 1/2/18

With the Half Term Purple MFX Porthmadog-Beddgelert timetable rapidly approaching 10-25/2/18, attention returns to snowfall as February is probably the most common month for lying snow around the WHR. Daytime temperatures are dropping to a maximum of 2oC during the week ahead and heavy snow is forecast on Tuesday 6/2/18 around Snowdon Ranger Youth Hostel. Beddgelert, however, is forecast to see just a few snow showers as it is a bit lower. Nevertheless the mountains will no doubt put on a fine display of Alpine scenery.

 

Tuesday Gang 24/1/18

Tony Baker reports: The Tuesday Gang is still operating under Dave Firth at the moment while Tony Baker is indisposed. He hopes to be back soon. They have spent this year so far assisting permanent staff at Boston Lodge with installing and fettling new sets of points.

 

SuperPower 2018

It is 21 years from the Press Launch of the WHR Project on 15/1/97 when Castell Caernarfon raced a JCB to break a banner for the start of works. There will be a big celebration at Superpower this September and an announcement will be made soon.

Your webmaster is currently scanning his old slides (an estimated 10,000 up to going digital in 2002) to reveal never before seen views of those frantic few months construction by Mowlem and then tracklaying by volunteers. Passenger trains started operating between Caernarfon and Dinas from 11-12/10/97 and officially from the Opening Day on 13/10/97.

John Hopkins adds: This was less than 3 weeks before the opening of the second and, arguably, most crucial (TWO) Public Inquiry into the proposals and was a very astute move by FRC to demonstrate its determination to complete the restoration of the WHR. This must have made an impact upon local politicians and opinion, and the Inspector.

 

Pont Croesor-Beddgelert signalling project 31/1/18

The WMWP on the WHR is limited to the token interlocked starting signals as the main focus of infrastructure activity. Work is nearing completion at the Porthmadog end of the Pont Croesor loop and next week attention switches to the Beddgelert end of the loop. See earlier story (22/1/18).

 

This southerly view (31/1/18) shows the extensive ground work required at Pont Croesor due to the soft ground of the former Glaslyn Estuary. The home signal foundation is nearing completion at the Porthmadog end of the loop. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (31/1/18) shows the extensive ground work required at Pont Croesor due to the soft ground of the former Glaslyn Estuary. The right hand running line departure foundation for the starting signal is complete at the Porthmadog end of the loop. 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.

 

Work to start on WHHR Baldwin at Easter

This easterly archive view (1920-30s) shows the WHR's No.590 at Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy Michel Chapman (WHHR) and was taken on a film camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Once Sir Haydn has been completed for the TR by the VOR at Aberystwyth, work will begin in earnest on the IWM's Baldwin No.794, being restored for the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway, probably at Easter. The loco will carry running number No.590, which was the number carried by the WHR's Baldwin scrapped in 1942.

Completion is due for 2019 and various parties hope that the F&WHR and WHHR can come to an agreement to allow both this loco and Russell access to the WHR for SuperPower 2019, at the very least, allowing historical tableaux at Beddgelert to be reprised, despite the air braking issue. There was a big donation to the Baldwin Fund recently following an appeal on Facebook and Twitter. See more or donate on the WHHR's Baldwin appeal webpage.

 

The Betws Garmon WHHG project

The Welsh Highland Heritage Group is working on a project to conserve the remains of Betws Garmon station building. The building is too close to the running line so a station platform cannot be provided despite it being within easy walking distance of the Bryn Gloch Caravan Site. In the longer term a halt at Bryn Gloch by the Waterworks is preferable as it already has footpath access but the site owner seems implacably opposed to any halt on his land despite the attraction for his customers.

The WHHG propose to have a contractor restore the station building walls with fallen stone/bricks sorted by volunteers. The walls will be capped with soft turf, an approach adopted by Historic England for similar remains. See WHHG website for more details.

 

Locomotive fund appeal launched by FRS 29/1/18

The Festiniog Railway Society has launched a 'Locomotives Old, Locomotives New' appeal to raise funds for completion of Welsh Pony and the new Fairlie James Spooner. Some £43,000 is needed to complete Welsh Pony. The project appears to have stalled with no news on the Welsh Pony Facebook page since 15/11/17. New parts are also required for James Spooner to avoid robbing Earl of Merioneth, which may be kept for restoration in its own right.

See Railway Herald news page for full details.

 

No.130 news 24-27/1/18

By 24/1/18 No.130's headlights had neatly been converted to have bright LED lamps in them. They are low voltage and will be driven by a 12V battery at each end. They have been all wired in with IP65 waterproof connectors and a water-proofed switch on the under side of each box. By 27/1/18 the fireman's side injectors fitted to the cradle. Considerable creative thinking has gone into getting good injectors for No.130 and with great help from the NGG 15 team, a good accommodation has been reached.

By 27/1/18 the fireman's side injectors have fitted to the cradle. Considerable creative thinking has gone into getting good injectors for No.130 and with great help from the NGG15 team, a good accommodation has been reached.

See No.130 Facebook page for images.

 

KS4415 news 21/1/18

No.4415, the historic Kerr Stuart diesel demonstrator trialled on the WHR in the 1928-9, will be 90 years old this year. The weekend of 20-21/1/18 was the first proper 2018 Working Party on the loco. The main jobs were fitting the middle section of the cab floor and doing some modifications to the brake gear.

Volunteers have deviated from the original design here slightly, because the plate was originally riveted on, but we have decided to screw it down, so it can be removed again to gain access to the new drawgear and coupling pin. While the team are trying to be as true to the original design as possible, they thought this was quite a sensible modification. The job was problematic because the cab floor is fairly thin plate and the heads of the countersunk screws were too deep for it. They have to be flush, because they will be a trip hazard if they stand proud. In the end they turned the heads down and cut a new slot in them.

The front brake stretcher was badly worn and, in the time since the brake gear was assembled, it is has become apparent that the brake blocks were slack on it. This created a danger of them wobbling from side to side and potentially missing the wheel tread. The solution was to weld a strip of steel to the front face of the brake stretcher, so that the block is forced to sit tighter against it.

Finally, volunteers took some more measurements for the new strengthening frame they are designing for the gearbox. See No.4415 Facebook page for details of progress and images.

 

No.9 update 28/1/18

The WHR PW shunter diesel No.9 (Baguley 0-6-0DM Works No.2395 of 1953) has been resident on the FR since 1/9/17 and was recently noted shunting stock in Harbour station on 25/1/18. This ex-Australian sugar cane loco was supposedly obtained for use on the WHR but seems to have migrated to the FR, which leaves the WHR without a powerful diesel loco until Castell Caernarfon is reassembled. It is out of gauge for the FR beyond Rhiw Plas bridge

 

Quarry Hunslets at Kings Cross 26/1/18

Hugh Napier and Velinheli will be on display at Kings Cross from 10/2/18-18/2/18 to promote tourism in North Wales. This is the latest in a series of promotional visits to Paddington and Kings Cross over recent years. See F&WHR news story.

 

Boston Lodge improvements 24/1/18

To allow the construction of a larger joint FR/WHR Carriage Shed, it has been necessary to move Pen Cob junction further out along The Cob. The PW team was busy on 24/1/18 at Boston Lodge laying in the new junction. Shortly after Linda had moved off shed for the Moelwyn Tunnel WMWP relay, possession was taken of the main line and one panel of track removed. It took a little over six hours to lay the two points that form the new Pen Cob junction crossover. The possession was released just after 16.00 and Linda returned to the works. The junction will remain clipped OOU until next winter when the turnouts that will form the fan for the Carriage Shed will be installed and the headshunt completed. this work was originally programmed for 23/2/18-2/3/18.

 

This easterly view (24/1/18) shows progress with the new Pen Cob Junction. One track panel was removed to allow the crossover to be installed. The track on the right will become the new headshunt. In the background work can be seen on levelling the ground for the new Carriage Shed between the seawall and the existing carriage shed. This ground has only just been built up and will be left to settle over a period of time before final levelling and work on a new Carriage Shed begins maybe in 2019. However, it looks as if the point could have been moved slightly further west in order to make better use of the land released by the wave wall and new seawall for the Carriage Shed fan. This may be a perspective effect. 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.

 

North Wales freight news 24/1/18

Freight on the North Wales coast line has declined to just the Wylfa nuclear flask traffic. This itself is now declining as the nuclear power station has been closed for over two years since 30/12/15 and de-fuelling must be reaching an end. The first flask traffic of 2018 ran on Monday 22/1/18 hauled by Nos.68018/001 and was followed by a second working on 24/1/18 with Nos.68002/15. This may be the last year of freight on the North Wales coast despite attempts to find new traffic such as slate waste removal from Blaenau Ffestiniog, the rail served quarries at Penmaenmawr and the construction of Wylfa B (now known as Wylfa Newydd), which will apparently use a new dock to bring in construction materials rather than rail.

 

Moving Pictures No.13 22/1/18

Click on the YouTube link to watch an unusually short 11 mins 41 seconds of video covering mostly FR news but with a progress report about Caernarfon and work under in Dinas works. This edition was published on 22/1/18. This video was taken by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a professional betamax camcorder and is best watched in 1080p HD in Google Chrome browser.

 

Beddgelert-Pont Croesor signalling progress 22/1/18

John Savage reports: The loop project is installing Token Interlocked Starter Signals at each of the WHR loops - Beddgelert and Pont Croesor this winter - the others will follow in due course once the time can be freed up. There is no interlocking between the individual loops other than the single line staff, and provision has been made to tie in to MicroETS as and when it is installed. There will be signals provided at both ends of both platforms at each loop, with selection of a normal or wrong line departure made via a plunger in the Ops Office, where the token initiation switch will also be. The starter signals will be Ladybirds with red/yellow lights at top and bottom, so if a signal is 'On', it will show red lights, but 'Off' is the same as the current home signals and Tan-y-grisiau starters (yellow lights top and bottom). Each starter will also have a central white light to indicate whether the local shunt token has been withdrawn, and give authority to pass up to the Limit of Shunt boards only.

The Home signals are also being adjusted to have the red lights top and bottom if the Shunt token is out, and the home signals will become approach lit - an approaching train striking a treadle will cause them to illuminate. This means that the permanently lit signals you see as you approach Pont Croesor (and Rhyd Ddu in future) along the road will in future appear to be unlit unless a train is actually approaching.

Pont Croesor will have some tie in to the crossings as well, so there is only one token key switch to clear the signals, which will in turn arm the crossing, though initiation of the crossing will still be by the plunger at the Caernarfon end of the platform.

Testing will be done in the first week of February with a view to commissioning Beddgelert in time for the service there on the 10/2/18. Pont Croesor loop is currently clipped OOU, as it was when we did the crossing works, and the signalling there will be commissioned between the 5-9/3/18, assuming all goes well. As yet there are no set dates for the other loops.

 

This southerly view (22/1/18) shows progress with the new Pont Croesor and Beddgelert loop signalling project. Location battery cabinets were delivered by Criccieth Castle on a works train and lifted into position on a new concrete base roughly in position of the old WHR Goods shed at Beddgelert (see story 9/1/18). 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.

 

Dinas update 22/1/18

No.143 had a steam test in January after blocked tubes had been cleaned out and other light maintenance. This loco may haul the Purple February Half Term services MFX 10-25/2/17 from Porthmadog to Beddgelert, a time when North Wales can experience heavy snowfall. No.87 was on the wheel drop having maintenance.

 

No.134 news 20-21/1/18

Well, the first working party of the year was a relatively quiet affair, as it usually is, with illnesses and people not being available. The Welsh weather was also not at its best being cold wet and windy. However - it has to be said the NG15 team did complete one of the main ongoing jobs to the satisfaction of all. That job was the rolling of the main part of the new cylinder cladding.

The sheet steel had been cut to shape during the December Working Party but still needed rolling. After a bit of learning on how to use the sheet metal rollers, the bending was duly completed for the cladding for both cylinders during the course of the weekend. There might still be some need for slight tweaking to be done but by and large the fit is quite good as it is. A smaller piece of cladding is needed on the underside, from the drain cocks to the frames. These were bent as well. However, they need a bit more thought and adjustment to get them to fit in and round the new drain cock valves as the valves are larger than the originals.

Whilst two of the team were rolling the cladding the rest of the team were refurbishing the last few holes to secure the cladding in place to the cylinder castings. This was not the most straightforward of jobs to do (and was why these were left until last!) as volunteers had to remove the running plates in the area on each side. That in turn meant the team had to remove the two mechanical lubricators! Then of course they put it all back together again once the holes were done. Volunteers drilled and tapped four holes on each side! It was noticed that in fact there were no holes whatsoever in the top on the left hand cylinder as if it has never had any cladding there at all. The team is already convinced the right hand cylinder had been replaced, and are now beginning to think the left hand cylinder could be a replacement as well.

Working party dates for February and March are 17-18/2/18 and 17-18/3/18. For full details and images see No.134 website.

 

No.130 news 16/1/18

The superheater header bolts are ready for delivery to the boilermakers at Stockton. See No.130 Facebook page for full details and images.

 

Caernarfon station progress 15/1/18

This northerly view (15/1/18) shows further progress at Caernarfon station with much activity apparent. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Keith Holland and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Boston Lodge update

Spoil from the FR's Moelwyn Tunnel relay with new ballast, plastic sleepers and rails (part of the Winter Major Works Programme) is being used to raise the level of the land in Boston Lodge where the new joint FR/WHR Carriage Shed will be constructed. A rock breaker is also breaking up the larger rocks left from the clearance of the Heritage Carriage shed site. The Alco (used in the early days of the new WHR) is now stored in the Heritage Carriage Shed along with some other stock. See F&WHR Facebook page.

Work was underway in the Coach Works on the overhaul of coach No.2046 (built in 2013-14) and constructing the body of the new Observation Coach Gwyrfai No.2151 (previously No.2101). A volunteer led project was underway to reconstruct WHR Ashbury's coach No.21 is making good progress. It will be finished in green and ivory reprising the use of sister coach No.22 is early FR days and run on new original pattern bogies.

 

TRAWS Link progress

TRAWS Link Cymru has revealed that the feasibility study into the reopening of the Aberystwyth-Carmarthen rail link will report in February. This is Stage I of the longer term aim to complete the Cambrian Coast route from Carmarthen to Bangor. See TRAWS website.

 

New PBSSR 1906 image?

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

The reverse of the image has the pencilled inscription:

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

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

 

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

Some initial observations:

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

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

A group of three men appears to be working to the top left of the tunnel entrance with possibly a retaining chain from the top of the post with the ladder. Maybe the post had been moved along to nearer the portal as the work on the retaining wall advanced south. Another retaining chain can be seen hanging loose in left of the image draped along the top of the retaining wall. Another chain goes down the bank towards the river from the top of the pole.

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

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

The yard arm on the post carries a series of pulleys and a chain which are wrapped around the pole near its base. this may have been used for lifting blocks and placing in the retaining wall.

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

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

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

 

Rhyd Ddu improvements 14/1/18

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

 

No.130 progress 13/1/18

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

 

Caernarfon Station progress 12-15/1/18

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

 

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

 

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

 

WMWP 2017-18

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

 

Boston Lodge Update 12/1/18

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

 

Baldwin No. 590 update 12/1/18

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

 

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

 

TRAWS Campaign bolstered by jump in passenger numbers

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

 

No.134 report 9-10/12/17

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Interlocked signalling project 9/1/18

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

 

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

 

WHR 2018 timetable published

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

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

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

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

 

Caernarfon Station progress 7/1/18

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Gerald outing 6/1/18

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

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

See ATW booking page for further details.

 

No.130 news 4/1/18

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

 

BF&TR latest 3/1/18

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

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

 

No.130 progress 2/1/18

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

 

Final Trains of the Green timetable 1/1/18

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

 

Happy New Year!

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

 

Events 2018

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

 

Mainline news

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Trackwork Volunteering 2018

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

The programme for 2017 is as follows:

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

^ Bank Holiday weekend

WW-Working week Saturday-Thursday

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

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

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

Contacts

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

Tuesday Gang:

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

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

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

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

 

Gradient graph

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

 

Gradient profile.JPG (319064 bytes)

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

 

Site development

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

 

Comments

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

 

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

 

Maps & Plans and links

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

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

Click here for the Mail Order web page

Click here for the Official WHR website

Click here for Official WHHR site

Click here for FR Company websites

Click here for Welsh Highland Heritage Group

 

V4.3588 updated 21/2/18