WHR

The 40 km Dream

Archive Page

 from November 1997

V4.3 updated 15/9/20

with images to 24/12/97? 

 

This page is organised as a timeline updated from Episode 11, November 1997.

 

The 40km Dream Phase 2

This is the  part 2 of a regular series covering the history and images concerning Phase 2 of the construction of the WHR, initially prior to the start of this website. Hopefully those who are housebound through Covid-19 social distancing (like your webmaster) will find it an interesting read. The title '40 mile Dream', featured on websites and magazines, comes from the idea that when the WHR, length when complete approximately 25 miles, is added to the FR, the total length of the narrow gauge network approaches 40 miles. The WHR element is 40.2km so, as the WHR is a metric railway, the title of this story is the '40 km Dream'!

 

The 40km Dream Episode 13

January 1998

The Public Inquiry in Caernarfon came to a close in January after some 4 weeks of gathering evidence. Work continued on the WHR to improve the ride with tamping allowing 25 mph in future. The Stop and Proceed operation at Hendy Crossing was examined to see if it could be replaced by a speed restriction in consultation with the Railway Inspectorate. Work was underway to make the carriage connections fit for passengers to use which would also permit trolley sales when the line extended to Waunfawr. A full year's timetable was planned for 1998 with trains starting for the Easter holidays and continuing to the Autumn Half Term holiday, with thoughts given for eventual Santa Trains and an Xmas service as on the FR.

The boiler of No.143 was due to be completed at Ian Riley Engineering at the ELR by the end of January after some delay waiting for bottle ended superheater flues from the manufacturer. The boiler was to be placed on its cradle frame on return to Dinas on accommodation bogies as work is still underway at Boston lodge on the on the power bogies. The loco was to be reassembled by volunteers and it was hoped the loco would be complete by April, supporting No.138 on the Easter services and hopefully not requiring a spare loco from the FR. The reassembly of K1 had started at Tyseley Loco Works at the BRM but progress depends of volunteers and funds. a new boiler is under construction at Winson Engineering and the loco may be back in steam before the end of 1998.

On the FR, the Funkey diesel was nearing completion, to be named Vale of Ffestiniog, and it was hoped could be in use from Spring1998. The loco resembles a miniature BR Class 58 has acquired new cabs and the power unit and bogies have been overhauled at Boston Lodge. Along with the unaltered Castell Caernarfon, the loco was purchased from the Port Elizabeth Cement Co. South Africa, but has been cut down to meet the FR tunnel profiles. National Power has sponsored much of the work and it is hoped to have a NP Class 59 and the Funkey side by side in Blaenau Ffestiniog at some stage.

An abortive project to build a 2' gauge line on the trackbed of the closed Scarborough & Whitby line at Robin Hood's Bay, a popular north east coast tourist spot produced an unexpected benefit for the WHR. An enthusiast had purchased five steam locos from Port Elizabeth SAR arriving in the UK in mid-January at Tilbury Docks. The locos went into store on arrival when the project folded whilst the locos were on the high seas. NG16s Nos.87/115/130 along with NG15s Nos.133/134 were to be available for purchase if any sponsor would like to support the WHR.

Final agreement was reached in early January after solicitors checked the FR/WHRL (64 Co.) agreement of 30/11/97.

FR Chairman Mike Hart said he was 'delighted' that agreement had finally been reached and that everyone should work together for the benefit of the WHR project. The WHLR had consequently withdrawn its opposition to the granting of the WHR LRO.

 

The 40km Dream Episode 12

December 1997

The Millennium Fund had granted the FR 4.3 million on the assumption the FR would reopen the WHR throughout but the reopening of Dinas-Porthmadog had aroused local opposition and become subject to a Public Inquiry which started on 9/12/97 in Caernarfon. Some 372 objections had been raised and a similar number of letters of support had been received. As a consequence the Inquiry would continue into late January.

Conservation groups, farmers and Gwarchod representing some of the local community were against the plan even though the scheme was reopening a railway that had never been formally abandoned and was essentially, except for rails, in place as a vacant trackbed. Evidence of the scheme's worth to the local community was presented as the railway as more than 9,000 had travelled on the short 3 mile Caernarfon-Dinas line during its very brief 3 week opening in October/November. Caernarfon's shops and cafes had benefited from increased tourism brought about by the opening of the railway and the town supported the extension of the railway to Porthmadog. The FR estimated that if the full route was permitted to be opened it could attract as many as 200,000 visitors per year and increased employment, both permanent and seasonal.

One of the main objectors to the routes reopening south from Dinas was the Snowdonia National Park Authority whose Planning Committee members voted against withdrawing their objections even though the railway forms part of the Local Plan!! There was concern from environmental groups that as the area already has the largest concentration of outdoor pursuits in Europe, another railway would do even more environmental damage in terms of pollution.

The NFU had also raised objections. Farmers had been using the trackbed for access without permission since the closure for over 50 years. Some 15 of its members had enclosed sections of the trackbed into their fields claiming the trackbed was not maintained by the Official Receiver and they had not purchased the land. Now they were saying they should not be forced to give it back! The Ramblers Association objected that parts of the route were a permitted path near Rhyd Ddu and in the Beddgelert Forest and Aberglaslyn Pass.

Your webmaster visited the Inquiry 22/12/97 and made some observations:

At Dinas 'Llanfair', a 3' gauge De Winton of 1895 was in evidence weighing 5 tonnes. It had previously worked at Penmaenmawr Quarries and had been purchased for 500 as an exhibit. The 0-4-0 loco 'coffeepot' loco has 2 vertical cylinders and a Stephenson Link motion. No.143's boiler was due for return at the end of the year. Components of the former Southam water tank were on site and a curved roof and tank support columns had been delivered.

 

This northerly archive view (22-24/12/97) shows the complete Loco Shed tracks at Dinas with a flat wagon on the newly commissioned easterly shed road carrying two ex-SAR buffer stops. The Loco Shed is on the site of the original WHR Carriage Shed. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This easterly archive view (22-24/12/97) shows a PW train being loaded in the depot headshunt which curves into the WHR cutting under the A487. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (22-24/12/97) shows the completed track layout at Dinas South Yard with the rake of coaches stored in the very temporary siding curving into the yard and the Loco shed headshunt on the left. The building on the right stands on the site of the WHR Loco Shed and was becoming a machine shop. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (22-24/12/97) shows Upnor Castle on a PW working at Caernarfon. The train is returning to Dinas with RRM's connected at the rear by a long towing bar. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (22-24/12/97) shows Upnor Castle on a PW working departing Dinas possibly the next day as seen from Ty'n Llan Road bridge. The train is returning to Caernarfon propelling RRM's connected at the front by a long towing bar. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly archive view (22-24/12/97) shows Upnor Castle on a PW working crossing Hendy Crossing. The train is returning to Caernarfon with ballast wagons on the rear but no sign of the RRMs. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (22-24/12/97) shows Upnor Castle on a PW working at Caernarfon. The staff are laying the water tower siding and loose rails are being moved from the loop track as seen from Segontium Terrace. Sleepers have been laid out ready to receive the rails which are being slid over from the left. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly archive view (22-24/12/97) shows Upnor Castle on a PW working at Caernarfon with rails being laid for the water tower siding as seen from Segontium Terrace in the later afternoon sunshine. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is scanned from a slide copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Sigma SA300 camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The 40km Dream Episode 11

November 1997

Following the preliminary meeting on 28/10/97 between WHLR officials and DoT officials the format of the Public Inquiry was agreed and the date set for the start on 9/12/97 in Caernarfon. It was expected the Inquiry would last until late January. the Inquiry was ordered by the new Labour government and will ultimately be a decision to be taken in the spring by the Secretary of State for Transport. If the order is approved the WHLR will have the right to reopen the 22 miles from Dinas to Porthmadog along with powers of compulsory purchase. Letters of support (including one from your webmaster) and objections were invited from interested groups and the WHLR was invited to discuss mitigation with objectors.

Railtrack has withdrawn its objection to the WHR reinstating its former level crossing of the Cambrian Coast line at Cambrian Crossing (likely to be renamed to avoid confusion as there are so many similarly named crossings on the Cambrian Coast line). Agreement has been reached for the crossing to be controlled by signals with electronically interlocked catch points on the narrow gauge. These will be interlocked with controls for adjacent level crossings.

Since the Caernarfon-Dinas section was opened traffic on this short line has been better than the FR envisaged with 18361 single journeys made by some 9200 passengers. Alco Mountaineer returned home to the FR at the end of the season after seeing little use with No.138 hauling most of the trains except when there were problems with the oil burners. Yorkshire Engines took delivery of the ex-Chattenden & Upnor Combination coach and some spare ex-SAR bogies. When work is complete the coach will be used on the Works Train for the extension of the WHR to Porthmadog. On the trackwork side, the opportunity was taken to tamp and tweak the alignment of the railway to improve running speeds to the eventual line speed limit of 25 mph. Initially trains had operated at 15 mph.

AIRPS Chairman and solicitor David Morgan chaired a meeting between the FR and WHR (P) in Warrington starting on 20/11/97 aimed at resolving the ongoing dispute between the two railways. A further meeting at Harbour Station on 30/11/97 confirmed arrangements subject to examination by solicitors for the two parties. The WHR Ltd (aka 64 co.) was to build the track as far as Pont Croesor and beyond depending on their finances. They would run trains on this section until the FR reached there. The WHRL agreed not to compete for grant monies against the FR. Once the line from Caernarfon to Porthmadog was complete the WHRL would have guaranteed access over this section subject to certain provisions:

The agreement also envisaged the possibility of FR trains terminating at Tremadog road as there was still some uncertainty about the Cross Town Link. Access charges were still to be agreed.

The dispute about the name Welsh Highland Railway was resolved as the whole line will become the WHR when complete but until that time the northern section will be known as the WHR(Caernarfon) and the southern section as WHR(Porthmadog). This was too late however for the printing for the 1998 season's trains.

 

 

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