Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway

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News (22/7/24)

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Star Picture

No.590 safely tucked away at Gelert's Farm depot WHHR after loaded test trains between the FR and Beddgelert. It was intended the loco would feature in a launch event at the WHHR and in the WHR100 event at the end of June but the loco developed a hot box after several days of testing. This image is courtesy WHHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Welcome to Version 4 of this website, launched on 8/9/04 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.

 

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)

Caernarfon Cross Town Link  (updated 10/10/10)

 

Other pages

Phase 1 images (Updated 8/9/23)

Railtours 2023 (Updated 15/12/23)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Archived News Page (updated 4/7/24)

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

Snow Scenes (updated 17/12/23)

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

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

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

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

Video list (new 9/11/15)

Access to Phase 2 pages is currently being progressed.

 

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

Isengard@talktalkdotnet

This has been introduced as an anti-spam feature.

Disclaimer

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

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

 

Stop Press!!

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

New text in RED!

 

WHR timetables

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

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

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

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

Click here for John Sreeves Gradient profile courtesy of WHRS

Click here for Chainages and OS Map References

Timetables

2024 Timetable

Trains commence on Saturday 25/3/24 and continue until 31/10/24.

Click on the image to enlarge and click again to enlarge to full size where available. This image is courtesy the F&WHR. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

To compare with the archived 2023 timetables click here for upper half or here for lower half of the timetable.

 

F&WHR events 2024

SuperPower will return for 2024 as a weekend event but not on the Friday even though the FR's Bygones Weekend will again be a three day event. This replaces the low key WHR Society Members' Weekend last September to match the Society AGM so appears to be aimed at the general public as well and might feature appearances by both No.590, the WHHR's Baldwin and Russell given the disappointment when No.590 failed just before the Centenary of the WHR event. The WHR Members' Weekend in September 2023 was relatively poorly attended but the F&WHR's promised Baldwin did turn up at Dinas for cab rides. As last year, it seems the Snowdonian Limited has been dropped from the schedule but a rerun of The Snowdonian does occur on Saturday 21/9/24.

 

Date Event
1/1/24 Final Day of Festive Trains
10-11/17-18/24-25/2/24 Half Term Holiday Blanche cab rides at Caernarfon Station
29/2/24 Palmerston goes to Aberystwyth on display and August Gala
15-16/3/24 NLHF Boston Lodge Open Days with steam shuttle to Boston Lodge Halt
23/3/24 First day of 2024 Season
29/3/24-1/4/24 Cab rides at Caernarfon and Porthmadog over Easter weekend
6-7/4/24 Britomart and Hugh Napier visit Beamish 'Wheels of Industry' Gala
20/4/24 The Snowdonian
4-5/5/24 'Friends of the Ffestiniog' events at Porthmadog (standard WHR service)
6/5/24 Family Fun Day at Blaenau Ffestiniog with extra train to Tan-y-bwlch
11/5/24 Caernarfon Food Fair (connections available via The Harbourmaster)
18-19/5/24 Model Railway Workshop
27/5/24 FELINHELI Bank Holiday cab rides Caernarfon Station
28-30/5/24 TWThO The Cwellyn Half Term Holiday service
2/6/24 PTG Tour with James Spooner solo to Caernarfon and Lyd on the FR
7-8/6/24 Rail-Ale (Dinas with connecting shuttles)
20/7/24-31/8/24 Saturday cab rides at Porthmadog with VELINHELI or HUGH NAPIER
24-26/8/24 Palmerston running at VoR Rheidol Steam Festival
13/9/24 Palmerston photo charter at VoR
20/9/24 Palmerston last day at VoR 'Behind the Scenes' and cab rides at Aberystwyth
14-15/9/24 SuperPower and WHRS AGM involving extra trains and the launch of NG15 No.134
21/9/24 The Snowdonian II with K1
28/9/24 Trailffest (special train following runners)
4-6/10/24 FR Bygones Weekend (may involve additional services on WHR)
7-8/14-15/21-22/12/24 F&WHR Santa Specials Caernarfon-Rhyd Ddu/Santa's Grotto at Porthmadog
26/12/24-1/1/25 Festive trains on F&WHR

 

News Section

Timetable w/c 20/7/24

Click on the timetable to enlarge. Copyright F&WHR.

 

F&WHR 22/7/24

The Met Office reported Porthmadog was forecast an overcast day and temperatures of 14-19C. Monday's train service was five trains on FR (both Mountain Spirit/Woodland Wanderer and The Quarryman) and one WHR service (the Gelert Explorer). All three webcams were running today.

There was congestion at 10:10 as Merddin Emrys arrived with the 10:40 Mountain Spirit at the same time as Blanche needed to depart with it first Works Shuttle. The signaller could have run the FR train into the vacant WHR platform but instead the ECS arrived in the FR platform. The short shuttle rake waiting in the yard then had to shunt out of the yard and set back onto the short length of platform free at the end of the FR platform. The two coach rake was more than sufficient for the several blue tabard wearing guests who had booked onto the first Works Visit. The shuttle set off promptly at 10:15 for Boston Lodge Halt and must have shunted to Minffordd Loop or the Old Loco Shed as the main line through Minffordd was required by advertised services by 10:50. David Lloyd George hauled the Woodland Wanderer ECS into the WHR platform at 10:38 and promptly ran round, waiting for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit to clear The Cob first.

The Works Tour Shuttle was back around 12:20 and shunted to the yard at 12:25. Blanche detached and was used to shunt The Quarryman rake to the yard to clear the FR platform for later arrivals. DLG arrived back at 13:21 in the FR platform with the Mountain Spirit. Merddin Emrys arrived back at 13:46 in the WHR platform with the return working of the Mountain Spirit. The Fairlie swop took place while DLG waited in the loop.

At 15:28 Blanche swopped duties with Linda and took over the return working of The Quarryman leaving Linda to haul the afternoon Works Tour shuttle. At 17:12 Merddin Emrys ran round the returned Woodland Wanderer and departed with the ECS for the depot 3  minutes later. The shuttle emerged from the depot at Pen Cob Junction at 17:40 and then the loco propelled its rake back to Boston Lodge Halt to pick up the tour party. DLG ran round the returned Mountain Spirit in the FR platform at 17:50. The ECS was held as the Works Tour Shuttle was on its way back across The Cob. Linda arrived with the shuttle at 17:56 into the WHR platform and Fairlie departed with the ECS two minutes later, Linda completed its run round as soon as station limits were clear and the ECS Works Tour Shuttle departed at 18:05 to close the day's activities.

 

This view (22/7/24) shows Linda hauling the ECS Works Tour Shuttle away at 18:10 as the final movement of the day. The rake had been stabled in Boston Lodge for the afternoon after taking the guests to Boston Lodge Halt. Sentry box brake van No.3 can be seen behind the engine. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR taken on a digital camera.

 

KS4415 progress

Kerr Stuart No.4415 came to the WHR as a demonstrator over summer 1928 and is now the oldest UK diesel loco in existence. The preservation group is hoping to complete the loco by its centenary in 4 years. A short section of track on the Bryngwyn branch at Tryfan Junction or Rhostryfan station could be used to demonstrate the loco with a prototypical mixed train as it was in 1928. A public trial was held on the branch on 15/11/1928. Performance was said to be good on the short trains involved on the original Bryngwyn Branch tests.

The loco currently resides in the new Small Loco Shed and it is hoped that such prominence will generate extra donations from that exposure on Works Tours. The big castings for the governor and fuel pump are now to hand and the internal components are being made in order to complete the diesel engine. At this stage donations are still very welcome. Other parts of the engine that are currently being worked through are the injectors, the valve rockers and push rods, and the internals to go in the governor unit. The engine has been back since March and photos and details of reassembly are shown on the KS4415 Facebook page..

 

No.134 water tank logo

It appears that the tender of No.134 will carry a WHR logo in the style of that applied to No.87 where the initials in two languages cross each other bilingually. In the case of No.87 it is SAR crossed with SAS. SAR stands for South African Railways and SAS for Suid-Afrikaanse Spoorweg. In the case of No.134 WHR represents Welsh Highland Railway will be crossed with RHE or RHeilffordd Eryri.

 

Shuttle Works Visits timings

The three coach rake consists of a bugbox, a bogie coach and the Sentrybox brakevan No.3.

Porthmadog ECS arr 10:00
Porthmadog dep 10:10
Boston Lodge arr 10:15
shunt to refuge 10:20
Boston Lodge dep 12:15
Porthmadog arr 12:20
shunt to yard 12:25
Porthmadog dep 15:45
Boston Lodge halt arr 15:50
shunt to refuge dep 15:55
Boston  Lodge halt dep 17:50
Porthmadog arr 18:00
Porthmadog ECS dep 18:10

 

F&WHR 21/7/24

The Met Office reported Porthmadog was forecast a day of light cloud with sunny periods later and temperatures of 14-18C. Sunday's train service was two trains on FR (both Mountain Spirit) and three WHR services (two  The Aberglaslyn and a Gelert Explorer). All three webcams were running today.

The first train today was the ECS for The Aberglaslyn, hauled by No.130, which arrived in the WHR platform by 10:00. David Lloyd George arrived with the ECS for the Mountain Spirit at 10:10. DLG ran round at 10:18.

Blanche departed with the ECS  Woodland Wanderer rake at 17:14 for Boston Lodge. It may have been a late addition to Sunday's roster if the F&WHR had found more traffic on offer than they anticipated as there was no 14:50 Woodland Wanderer shown in the published timetable for Sunday.

The Mountain Prince arrived at 17:33 behind DLG and ran round at 17:50. The train departed ECS for the depot at 17:54 to close the day's activities.

 

No.590 on test at VoR 19/7/24

WHHR Baldwin No.590 was noted on test at Aberystwyth on 19/7/24. To the great disappointment of many enthusiasts in the WHR Centenary event last year the loco was withdrawn with a hot box just one day before being scheduled to appear on fully booked trains. This after it had run several 'test trains' for WHHR Members, some to Rhyd Ddu. It appears that negotiations with the VoR have seen restitution work progressed quickly since its arrival in Aberystwyth in the Spring. If running in progresses well and the problem does not re-occur, the loco may return to the WHHR railway in August and could be made avilable by them for SuperPower to make up for last year's disappointment.

For images see Facebook report.

 

The Snowdonian II 21/9/24

Demand for the Snowdonian in the Spring outstripped supply so the F&WHR has decided to repeat the experience on 21/9/24, replacing the Snowdonian Limited which normally runs as the second Snowdonian of the year.

 

Click on the advert to enlarge. Advert copyright F&WHR.

▪ So, two months from now, at 08:45 on Saturday 21/9/24, The Snowdonian II will steam out of Harbour Station, Porthmadog - heading first to Blaenau Ffestiniog, then running all the way to Caernarfon, before returning to Porthmadog. The 08:45 from Porthmadog gets back at about 18:10, allowing time for an evening meal in Spooners.

▪ Penrhyn Ladies LINDA and BLANCHE will be in charge of the train over the Ffestiniog Railway, before being joined by Double Fairlie JAMES SPOONER for the run to Caernarfon (from Pen Cob Junction). Having completed the outbound leg on the Welsh Highland Railway, LINDA and BLANCHE will be replaced by pioneer Garratt K1 - providing two contrasting types of articulated steam loco for the return to Porthmadog. It seems that rumours that No.134 would be available for haulage on the WHR for part of this trip this trip were unfounded as there is uncertainty as to when Kalahari will be completed and finished its running in trials.

▪ Paul Lewin comments: "No.134 may make some early moves this year and Superpower is a focal point. It will not be hauling public services this year but ‘might’ be seen on some test runs and Supporter's Specials. This a big job treading new ground. No.133 would only be restored if c£1m needed to do that job were somehow available."

▪ The Snowdonian II weekend includes an optional evening meal on the Friday and the opportunity to join a FREE tour of Boston Lodge Works on the Sunday. A light breakfast and buffet lunch on Saturday are included in the ticket price - with further refreshments available onboard the train from the Buffet Car.

▪ Tickets are still available for 'The Snowdonian II, so do not miss your opportunity to enjoy eighty miles of Welsh Narrow Gauge Railway in one day!
ℹ Follow the link below for further information and to book your place on the train:
https://www.festrail.co.uk/the-snowdonian-2/

----------------------------------------
Click the link below to see the F&WHR video round-up of April's The Snowdonian:
https://youtu.be/SbAK5bhNBrY

 

F&WHR 20/7/24

The Met Office reported Porthmadog was forecast a showery Saturday morning with temperatures of 11-20C but becoming overcast with heavier rain in the afternoon. Saturday's train service was three trains on FR (the 10:40 Mountain Spirit and the two Woodland Wanderer services). There was also one WHR train, the Gelert Explorer. All three webcams were running today.

The Harbourmaster was present in the WHR platform at 09:45. HUGH NAPIER was present in the yard offering cab rides at the same time. The ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit has arrived in the FR platform by10:15. Merddin Emrys arrived with the ECS for the Woodland Wanderer at 10:20 in the WHR platform.

At 12:50 Linda was running round The Quarryman in the FR platform. At 13:10 No.143 was running round the Snowdonia Star in the WHR platform. Merddin Emrys was running round the return working of the Woodland Wanderer at 13:25 before shunting the rake to the seawall siding to clear the FR platform for the returning Mountain Spirit. Five minutes later the loco worked to the fuelling point. At 13:50 the Mountain Spirit arrived with the David Lloyd George on the front. The Fairlie swop took place with Merddin Emrys going on the front.

 

Summer ice cream at Porthmadog

This Summer, visitors to the F&WHR will have the opportunity to try out the new Ffestiniog ‘ Steam Coal’ Ice Cream from the Harbour Station platform Ice Cream stand, in collaboration with Mario's!
The F&WHR Catering Manager, Elwyn Edwards, said; “It is really important for us to serve local produce here at our catering outlets and choosing a Welsh Ice cream maker was top of my list. Mario's were happy to cater for my idea of steaming in with a brand-new product. It is actually a very tasty vanilla flavour, and something a bit different, which will hopefully raise a smile from passengers when they come to the new ice cream stand!”

 

Click on the advert to enlarge. Advert copyright F&WHR.

 

Customers will also be able to enjoy Mint Choc chip, Chocolate, Strawberry, Salted Caramel and a vegan option of Red Cherry sorbet.
Mario’s Jayne Burden said: “When we were asked to make something in fitting with the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways we jumped at the opportunity to adapt our luxury Welsh Ice Cream to fit the bill!”
The ‘Steam Coal’ Ice Cream has already been selling well and the locomotive crew certainly approve!

 

How a steam loco works courses start 26/7/24

'How a Steam Loco Works' experiences are running every Friday in August. The first  ‘HOW A STEAM LOCO WORKS’ is at 14:20 on Friday 26/7/24. Spaces will be reserved on the 14:20 Mountain Spirit to/from Boston Lodge for course participants from Porthmadog.

Come and have a go at driving a steam locomotive! These three-hour workshops give you a chance – in a small group – to learn more about how a steam loco works. Two of our friendly loco drivers/fitters with in-depth experience of building, maintaining and driving locos will take you through the way a steam locomotive works.
▪Participants will get to help prepare a steam loco, see it in action behind the scenes at our historic Boston Lodge workshops, receive information on ‘how it works’ and then have a go at firing and driving it in the works yard.
▪It is all very friendly and relaxed… an ideal experience if you are looking for something a little different. This makes an ideal gift for anyone with even a passing interest in locos, heritage, engineering or simply the challenge of driving an unusual vehicle.
▪Please Note: the nature of the workshop site and the locos themselves means that attendees must be able to walk across uneven surfaces and climb up and down onto the locos.
ℹ Full details and online booking available @ https://www.festrail.co.uk/workshop-how-steam.../
⚠ The F&WHR asks all attendees to read the information on the Workshop webpage carefully and watch the Safety Briefing video, before booking their tickets.
Unless specifically advertised all workshops and tours are for adults (16+).
--------------------------------------------------
INTERESTED, BUT CANNOT MAKE IT ON FRIDAY 26/7/24?
The courses ar running every Friday in August (plus Saturday 10/8/24) - book your place now, on a date convenient to you!

 

F&WHR 19/7/24

The Met Office reported Porthmadog was forecast sunny periods Friday morning with temperatures of 14-21C but becoming overcast in the afternoon with some drizzle. Friday's train service was three trains on FR (the 10:40 Mountain Spirit and the two Woodland Wanderer services). There was also one WHR train, the Gelert Explorer. All three webcams were running today.

The ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit was noted in the FR platform surprisingly early by 09:15. Upnor Castle was noted shunting the yard with a short train and brake van attached at 10:25. At 10:40 two Fairlies were noted shunting the yard and Merddin Emrys had coupled to the Mountain Spirit. The other Fairlie, David Lloyd George hauled the Woodland Wanderer out of the seawall siding and shunted it to the WHR platform.

 

Loco roster w/c 20/7/24

Things are looking busy, as the coming week should feature ELEVEN steam locos working on and around the F&WHR.
• On the Ffestiniog Railway: David Lloyd George and Merddin Emrys will share duties on the Mountain Spirit and Woodland Wanderer services, normally swopping duties at lunchtime TThS.
The Quarryman service from Blaenau Ffestiniog will be worked by Linda.
• On Saturday, Quarry Hunslet VELINHELI will be on footplate ride duties at Harbour Station.
• On Sunday, Blanche will be in charge of a private train to Tan-y-Bwlch.
LILLA has been rostered to work the Boston Lodge Tour specials on MWFO
...while HUGH NAPIER will be the loco used for an NLHF 'Have a Go' Workshop on FO
• Over on the Welsh Highland Railway, a busy week will see all three NG/G16s in action on the longer distance services - with Lyd in action on the TWThO trains to Rhyd Ddu.
• Locos will swap trains at Beddgelert twice this week as the Garratts move between different duties.
No.130 will start the week working from Porthmadog.
No.143 will start the week working from Caernarfon.
No.87 will take over from No.130 on Tuesday...
Check the captions on each loco portrait for further details of their individual workings...
--------------------------------------------------
NOTE: This information is provided in good faith, solely as a guide, but could be subject to change at any time.

 

Palmerston back in traffic on VoR 19/7/24

Palmerston has been at the VoR for some months as part of an agreement to undertake its 10 year boiler overhaul and then work special trains throughout August/September before returning to the F&WHR in October. Full details of Palmerston's planned activities on the VoR are given on the VoR Press Release. All of Palmerston's turns are bookable on the VoR booking page. The final day in service is Saturday 21/9/24 after which it will be prepared for return on a low loader to the F&WHR to attend the FR's Bygones event 4-6/10/24.

 

F&WHR 18/7/24

The Met Office reported Porthmadog was forecast sunny periods Thursday with temperatures of 15-21C. Thursday is a copy of Tuesday's train service ere with five trains on FR (The Quarryman and two each Mountain Spirit/Woodland Wanderer services). There are also the two through WHR trains. All three webcams were running today.

At 10:35 XX was running round with the Woodland Wanderer in the WHR platform but had to wait for the 10:40 departure of the Mountain Spirit behind James Spooner. At 11:40 Criccieth Castle was waiting in Tan-y-bwlch station for a return path to Minffordd Yard with the morning PW. The train was waiting the arrival of the Woodland Wanderer.

 

Virgin responds to Open Access request 18/7/24

Virgin Rail has responded to the North Wales Business Council request for Open Access services now the company is proposing to re-enter the rail market. The initial suggestions from Virgin do not involve any North Wales services so it is a good question to ask if Virgin is really serious about taking on Open Access North Wales trains. In addition to DMUs offered in previous years, Virgin could choose from the Class 68/Mk5 rakes recently sidelined by Northern if it wanted to make a splash with top quality express services with the latest stock. See Daily Post story.

 

F&WHR 17/7/24

The Met Office reported Porthmadog was forecast sunny periods Wednesday with temperatures of 14-20C. There are two trains on FR (The Quarryman and morning Mountain Spirit). There were four WHR trains with two The Aberglaslyn from Porthmadog, the Gelert Explorer and the new The Cwellyn service from Caernarfon. All three webcams were running today.

Blanche departed with the return working of The Quarryman at 15:28. Vale of Ffestiniog appeared to be shunting at Pen Cob Junction at 16:10 and propelled a short rake with a steam loco towards Minffordd. Another steam loco was noted in the Old Loco Shed area. No.130 arrived back from Beddgelert at about 16:15 with the return working of The Aberglaslyn.

 

This view (17/7/24) shows Linda hauling 4 empty B wagons and the Funkey. It is possible the train reversed into Minffordd Yard. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR taken on a digital camera.

 

Small engine shed populated

The small engine shed now houses a range of small locos, some of which are awaiting attention. The main purpose of the shed is to be running shed for such small locos rather than just a storage shed. The current inhabitants include KS4, Battery Electric No.2, Lilla, Hugh Napier, Welsh Pony (on wagon No.80), Nesta and Britomart.

 

NLHF Update YouTube 7/2024

Click on the YouTube link to watch 6 minutes 27 seconds of video with Dr Edwina Bell showing the latest progress with the Boston Lodge NLHF Project.. This video is copyright F&WHR and was published on 24/5/24. It is best viewed at 1080p with Chrome and was videod on a 4K camcorder by John Wooden (F&WHR).

 

Avanti in trouble!

With Labour set to renationalise the railways as franchises come up for renewal as advised in the King's Speech, Avanti is in their crosshairs! Avanti has already been in deep discussions with the Government after revealing 20% of its North Wales trains have been cancelled in recent times. The North Wales Business Council has called on Virgin Boss Sir Richard Branson to consider adding an Open Access service to North Wales in addition to his plans for the north west. The Virgin group ran the service until August 2019 when their joint bid with Stagecoach was judged 'non-compliant' over the issue of pensions.

 

Summer Saturday cab rides at Porthmadog

Holidays and weekends away are something we all look forward to - and summer school breaks are now just around the corner. If you are looking for a little extra family fun, the F&WHR is bringing back their popular footplate rides every Saturday for the next few weeks!
Come along to Harbour Station, Porthmadog between 10:00 and 16:00 on any Summer Saturday (from 20/7 until 31/8/24 inclusive) and you will find one of the smaller locomotives steaming through the station sidings offering footplate rides to all visitors - whether booked on a train or not.
The locos in use are planned to be VELINHELI for the first four weeks and LILLA for the last two - although LILLA will be used instead of VELINHELI if it is raining, as the large cab is nice and cosy and will keep you as dry as possible!
Both locomotives were built by the Hunslet Engine Co. of Leeds to work in North Wales' slate quarries - VELINHELI in 1886 for Dinorwic Quarry and LILLA in 1891 for Cilgwyn Quarry.
Footplate rides are free, although donations towards the cost of coal are always welcome. There is no need to book, simply turn up and take your turn to join the engine driver, when you can enjoy a taste of times past as you steam through the station in front of friends and family! At the moment there does not seem to be an offering at Caernarfon station in the school holidays which will leave the station silent for much of the day.

 

F&WHR 16/7/24

The Met Office reported Porthmadog was forecast sunny periods Tuesday with temperatures of 13-19C. There are five trains on FR (two Woodland Wanderer trains, two Mountain Spirit and The Quarryman). There were just the two through WHR trains. All three webcams were running today

The final train of the day, the return working of the Mountain Spirit, was back by 17:45, hauled by Merddin Emrys. The loco ran round at 17:55 before departing with the ECS 3 minutes later.

 

Increase in 30 mph 'exceptions'

Gwynedd has 85 'Exception 30mph zones', more than all the other North Wales Councils put together. Ken Skates, the Welsh Transport Minister, released new 20mph zone policies on 16/7/24 which will allow a greater number of 30mph exception zones throughout Wales. This will improve travel in North Wales for tourists. See Daily Post story for full details.

 

Boston Lodge tours launched Monday 22/7/24

The F&WHR is very excited to announce that the ‘behind-the-scenes’ Guided Tours of Boston Lodge will be officially launched next Monday, 22/7/24.
Thanks to the efforts of the F&WHR's NLHF team and external contractors, the railway is now able to expand the range of visitor experiences beyond train journeys, with an opportunity to enjoy the much-loved railways from a whole new perspective.
The Guided Tours - led by a passionate railway volunteers - will allow you to discover the fascinating story of the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways during a walk-around the historic, 200-year-old, Boston Lodge Engineering Works.
Your guide will help you discover how the railway shaped local landscapes and communities and influenced railway development around the world.
Learn how heritage skills developed through three different centuries are still used today to build and maintain steam locomotives and carriages.
See many of the large collection of famous steam locomotives at close quarters.

 

This view (13/7/24) shows Taliesin being reassembled by a volunteer working party assisted by staff. This well loved single Fairlie loco might appear in traffic this season after four years absence. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR taken on a digital camera.

 

Hear all about the iconic gravity trains, learn about when the site was a munitions factory staffed by women, and how the railway was saved by volunteers in the 1950s.
Running on various dates between July and October, the Guided Tours will start from Porthmadog’s Harbour Station and include an enjoyable train ride across The Cob embankment to/from the works.
⚠ Please note: Some restrictions apply - due to the nature of the ground surface and activities of a working environment.
ℹ Tickets for our Guided Tours are now available to book on our website: https://www.festrail.co.uk/boston-lodge-tours-and-workshops/

The shuttle departs Porthmadog 10:10 or 15:45 TThSX most weeks in July/August from Monday 22/7/24.

 

'How a steam loco works' launch

These visits to Boston Lodge will be on Fridays from 26/7/24 at 10:40 and 14:20 via a shuttle from Porthmadog.

 

F&WHR 15/7/24

The Met Office reported Porthmadog was forecast sunny periods Monday morning with a weather warning for heavy rain midday until midnight and temperatures of 13-20C. There are four trains on FR (two Woodland Wanderer trains, a Mountain Spirit and The Quarryman). There was just one WHR train (the Gelert Explorer). All three webcams were running today and the signaller opened the box at 09:30.

First up was James Spooner with the ECS for the Mountain Spirit which arrived in the FR platform at 10:13. Run round came by 10:20. the ECS for the 11:10 Woodland Wanderer had to be held at Boston Lodge as it would conflict with the 10:40 departure. The Mountain Spirit eventually left at 10:47, seven minutes late. Criccieth Castle arrived with the FR mess van and some spoil trucks in the WHR platform at 10:55 while shunting was signalled in Harbour Station yard. At 11:00 Lyd propelled the Woodland Wanderer rake back into the FR platform having run round earlier. Lyd will transfer to Dinas on Tuesday ready for Cwellyn duties which commence Wednesday. Linda is likely to take over these duties by the end of the week from James Spooner, Merddin Emrys and Blanche. Lyd ran round at Tan-y-bwlch at 11:55.

The Quarryman passed through Tan-y-bwlch at 12:12 and Minffordd at 12:40, unusually hauled by Merddin Emrys.

 

Personal Message

I returned from a week long hospital visit on Saturday and will hopefully be able to provide a regular news service again from today. Thanks to all the readers who sent me best wishes for a speedy recovery. I lost 11.0 kg whilst in hospital!

 

F&WHR 14/7/24

The Met Office reported Porthmadog was forecast sunny periods all day Sunday with showers and temperatures of 11-18C. There are three trains on FR (two Woodland Wanderer trains and a Mountain Spirit) and one WHR train (the Gelert Explorer). All three webcams were running today.

Merddin Emrys arrived in the WHR platform at 09:56 with the ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit. James Spooner was running round the Woodland Wanderer in the WHR platform as the Mountain Spirit departed at 10:43.

 

School summer holiday leads to early start for The Cwellyn

With local schools starting the 6 week summer holiday in mid July, the F&WHR has decided to start the Summer Dated Cwellyn services earlier than anticipated. The service was due to run during August but will now start on Wednesday 17/7/24 with the 12:30 departure from Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu. The train returns to Caernarfon arriving back at 15:00. Trains will operate Tuesday-Thursday from 23/7/24 until the end of August providing a  cheaper lunchtime option on the WHR.

 

Staff special 13/7/24

A staff special working was run on the evening of Saturday 13/7/24 to say thank you to Young Rail Professionals who have been volunteering on the line this week. The working was probably from Porthmadog to Tan-y-grisiau with Blanche in charge. The train returned to Porthmadog arriving after 22:00 and the ECS returned to Boston Lodge at around 22:40 with lights ablaze as darkness fell!

 

NR substitutes diesel for NWC steam 14/7/24

Sunday's Liverpool Lime Street-Holyhead was diverted to Llandudno. Black 5 No.44871 that was due to run today was substituted by a Class 37 on the extra move to turn the train on the Chester triangle so the steam loco could lead in both directions.

 

Moving Pictures No.95

Click on the YouTube link to watch 26 minutes 39 seconds of video showing the delivery of Pixie and the refurbished Bodysgallen. This video is copyright F&WHR and was published on 24/5/24. It is best viewed at 1080p with Chrome and was videod on a 4K camcorder by John Wooden (F&WHR).

 

F&WHR 10/7/24

The Met Office reported Porthmadog was overcast all day Wednesday with showers and temperatures of 12-16C. There are four trains on FR (two Woodland Wanderer trains a Mountain Spirit and The Quarryman and 3 trains on the WHR, two The Aberglaslyn and a Gelert Explorer). All three webcams were running today.

At 12:10 Blanche ran through Tan-y-bwlch with The Quarryman while the Woodland Wanderer was stabled there waiting its return path. At 13:25 Garratt No.87 returned from the refuelling point and completed the run round in the WHR platform ready for the afternoon working of The Aberglaslyn. Lyd was running round the Woodland Wanderer at 13:25 as The Mountain Spirit approached across The Cob behind James Spooner. The new Fairlie went to refuel and water at 13:35 and completed the run round at 14:15. Departure with the ECS came 2 minutes later.

Lastly, the 15:25 return working of The Quarryman was prepared and shunted to the FR platform, departing on time behind Blanche. Up at Tan-y-bwlch at 15:35 the newly arrived Woodland Wanderer hauled by Lyd was drawn forwards and shunted into the westbound platform clearing the eastbound platform for the return working of The Quarryman. Lyd ran round and Blanche passed through at 14:05.

At 16:15, Vale of Ffestiniog was on test with a steam engine shunting back and forth across The Cob. At the end of the day No.143  returned on the final The Aberglaslyn which exchanged locos with No.87 that joined the Gelert Explorer back to Caernarfon.

 

Brecon result gives new opportunity for HoW line

One of the tighter constituency battles of the General election saw the Liberal Democrats win Brecon, Radnor and Cwm Tawe by a majority of about 1,500 votes. This was one of their 64 gains which gave them a powerful 72 seat pressure group in the House of Commons. The new MP David Chadwick gained the seat from the Tory incumbent, former Welsh Minister, Fay Jones who had been elected in 2019 GE after David Chadwick won the Recall by-election held over alleged Tory corruption issues. The new MP is keen to meet groups interested in seeing some progress with the Heart of Wales line. To achieve anything before the next election planning work needs to start now!

As previously noted one group is seeking to extend the TRAWS route to South Wales by an alternative route. This could provide a link from North Wales via the Cambrian Coast through Bangor, Caernarfon and Afon Wen. The new route utilises the Cambrian Coast Railway from Machynlleth to Caersws before providing a new curve at Moat Lane onto the former Mid-Wales Railway. After passing the summit at Pant-y-dwr the new route joins the Heart of Wales Line just south of Builth Road station. There is an opportunity for a new route between Rhayader and Llandrindod Wells so that traffic serves the major conurbation on the HoW line.

TfW current proposals see the timetable being cut to fewer trains and already this service is limited to a single car DMU. Travel to work/school/college opportunities may be lost if TfW go through with their cost saving measures. The new Mid Wales proposals would lead to an intensive service at the south end of the line through Llandeilo to Swansea/Cardiff.

 

F&WHR 9/7/24

The Met Office reported overcast conditions at Porthmadog on Saturday with rain in the morning and temperatures of 13-18C. There were five trains from Porthmadog and the two through trains on the WHR. The Garratt departed with The Harbourmaster at 10:05 and later the Mountain Spirit. At 10:34 James Spooner appeared in the WHR platform with the ECS Woodland Wanderer.

At 14:00 No.143 was present at Porthmadog on the Snowdonia Star return working. At 14:55 further shunting occurred with the Fairlie swop and Blanche off The Quarryman. The return working was shunted back into the FR platform by 15:10. Point maintenance was underway at 15:30.

At 15:45 Vale of Ffestiniog returned from Dinas delivering two B wagons full of ovoids. The rake was shunted back into the fuelling point. Blanche passed through Tan-y-bwlch at 16:15 with the return working of The Quarryman passing the afternoon Woodland Wanderer which had already run round by this time.

At 16:27 No.87 arrived with the return working of The Harbourmaster. The ECS departed at 16:35 for the depot. At 17:25 the Woodland Wanderer was shunted clear of the FR platform to the yard with the return working of the Mountain Spirit due shortly. The ECS departed after the Mountain Spirit arrived at 17:43. Run round came at 18:00 with James Spooner now on the Mountain Spirit having swopped duties at lunchtime. The loco departed with the ECS at about 18:03 to close the day's activities.

 

Alco Mountaineer report July 2024

July 2024 working party report-
The team this time has been consolidating their previous work.
The cab has been the focus on two fronts, more fittings has been added back in to further explore the ergonomics for the fireman. This included a visit from that days The Quarryman' fireman who said it would be ok to fire but if it was up to them they would prefer a higher shovelling plate. This will be an option going forward.
Mock ups of sliding side windows were also created as these would increase the side airflow through the cab on hot days.
The full size model of the ash pan has had its base built up to see how it fits into the frames. This is quite a large area as it turns out and has been designed by one of our young volunteers Gwion with advice from staff at Boston Lodge.
The smoke box saddle casting has had the last two studs removed. This required the use of the magnetic drill as they were rusted in. This leaves this area now clear.
Plans were to remove the brake shaft but due to other tasks taking longer it was decided to keep this till next time. Some cleaning and finding out how it came part was carried in preparation for next time.
Measurements were taken of the super heater flues to see if suppliers had the correct tools in stock.
There were also discussions involving the water tanks. Due to the historical importance of these we are planning to repair and retain them on the engine. Focus was on how to preserve them as they were coated with cold galvanising, which has been suggested by one of our volunteers. Thoughts were also given on how to improve access into the water space to the tanks. As at least the baffles and the supporting angles will need to be replaced. Thoughts are to add an access hatch in the centre on the back of each tanks between the baffles. This would increase the safety of working inside the tanks and also increase the pool of people able to do this as the filler holes are quite small.
Outside of the working parties we have also had a visit from the boiler inspector now that all the NDT testing has been completed. We are awaiting his report but have been informed that there's nothing to worry about.
Lastly, taking advantage of the afternoon sun on both days we helped the Glan-y-Pwll caretaker, who also works for the railways S&T depart to dismantle the GPO van at the back of his house as it was life expired.
That's all for this time.
Please find our appeal page on the Ffestiniog Railway Society web site.
https://www.ffestiniograilway.org.uk/.../mountaineer-appeal
We have our own website, where we have a selection of items for you to purchase to support the project.
https://www.alco1265.org.uk/
Finally if you would like to get involved please contact pbooth@ffwhr.com for more information on how you can do this and you can send a message on this page.
Team Mountaineer

 

Pixie relaunch 6/7/24

This archive photo from the early 70s shows the Rev. Teddy Boston and his beloved Pixie on the Cadeby Light Railway around the Rectory gardens. In Autumn 1970 your web editor was part of a group of students from Aberystwyth University Transport Society who were invited by Teddy to run both his garden and extensive model railway. The loco was recently restored at Boston Lodge and is now at the Richmond Light Railway. Photo credit RLR.

 

F&WHR 7-8/7/24

The weather on Sunday was overcast with temperatures 14-20C at Porthmadog.

 

Relaunch of No.2115 Bodysgallen
Glenn Williams, Carriage Works Supervisor provides a run-down of the overhaul/refurbishment of Pullman Carr. No.2115 Bodysgallen
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With Carriage No.2115 Bodysgallen re-entering service on Sunday the F&WHR thought you might like to see the extent of the work undertaken to bring the carriage back to a First Class standard.
No.2115 entered the carriage works late May/early June last year, to allow as much volunteer effort to strip the carriage as was possible. Luca who visits us once a year largely did this work, which included removing the exterior roof skin to allow the insulation to be replaced.
The carriage didn’t see much attention over the winter due to other demands but the seats continued to be worked on. The seats can only be removed from the carriage via a window opening with the window unit removed. The seats being in very poor condition needed stripping and then the frames completely rebuilding prior to being sent to our local upholstery firm. They arrived back a week before the carriage re-entered service.
The electrical system has been completely renewed, mainly due to a derailment which severed cables underneath some years ago, but while the outer skin was off it seemed a good idea to do the upper body too. It also now has the standard USB charging sockets just under the tables.
All the lower side panelling has been replaced, most being beyond repair due to water damage, with new black Walnut faced ply. The old window frames being of a poor design, using sealant rather than being welded at joints allowed water into the interior of the carriage causing significant damage to the veneers.
Most of the brass work has been professionally polished and then lacquered to maintain the shine. New light fittings installed in the two ends and overhauled and cleaned lights in the main saloon. The ceiling has been repainted and lined along with the upper black/gold cant rail. The remaining panels were carefully sanded/scraped prior to sympathetic repairs to the veneers and lots of varnish coats.
The end vestibule floors were very rotten and have been reinforced with a few extra bits of metal and now have the standard recycled plastic boarding fitted. Staff have also installed the same sound deadening board in the saloon, as they did with Obs No.150 this last winter, before the new carpet was installed.
There were numerous other jobs such as re-staining the end vestibules, including the new panels in these areas. Overhauling all the door locks and making them operate correctly. Fitting new door buffers and other door related jobs, just to mention a few.
One of the final finishing jobs was to fit the new antimacassars. These being stitched by a volunteer for us, to whom staff  are very grateful, before sending to the embroidery company to add the upholstery colour matched F&WHR garter too.
The team have worked very hard and produced some great work over the last 5/6 weeks to get the carriage finished. A big thank you to them all and the sponsor, Peter Campbell, and staff hope passengers enjoy riding in the coach for some years to come.

 

This view (7/7/24) shows the plaque affixed to Bodysgallen to celebrate the launch into service. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR taken on a digital camera.

 

Sunday morning's Gelert Explorer service rolled out of Caernarfon station with an additional carriage included in the train - Pullman Carr. No.2115 Bodysgallen after an ECS move to Dinas.
This was the carriage's first run following an extensive overhaul, refurbishment and repaint into the sumptuous, Victorian-inspired livery carried by all of the F&WHR's recently built First Class carriages.
Prior to departure a ceremony was conducted on the platform to mark the re-launch of Bodysgallen and to thank the sponsor, Peter Campbell, for his generous support of the work undertaken to return this popular carriage to service on the Welsh Highland Railway. The gathered guests and officials then took their seats in Bodysgallen for a return journey to Beddgelert.

 


This view (7/7/24) shows the new Bodysgallen standing outside Boston Lodge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR taken on a digital camera.


Bodysgallen was built in 1998 and after around twenty years of service was retired from the active fleet. However, it has always been a popular carriage with those who enjoy the traditionally-styled interior, so when funds became available it was agreed to complete a comprehensive rebuild to return it to its former glory. For a while it was regularly used as an ambassador, including wining and dining local dignitaries and WAG officials when grants were up for grabs.
The appearance of the carriage is yet another testament to the skills of the team at Boston Lodge. The overhaul included attention to various areas of the bodywork, a re-profiled roof, new carpeting, re-upholstery of the seating and a repaint into its fully lined and sign-written purple-brown livery, a variation on traditional 'Pullman brown'.
The F&WHR look forward to seeing the carriage in service for many years to come - providing additional First Class seating and accommodation for larger Group Travel parties.

 

Oswestry MP to redouble efforts to reopen branch line

With the all the results of the General Election now in the Liberal Democrats surprised themselves by winning 72 seats, a gain of 64 seats. One particularly strong performance in the General Election was the by-election winner of the Shropshire North constituency, Helen Morgan, who had strongly supported the reopening of the Gobowen-Oswestry rail link. With such a strong Parliamentary Party Group behind her the reopening may happen sooner than many think.

With Labour having such a large majority and a rail nationalisation/reopening strategy, Labour too will be looking for early success with its rail policy. Sadly, Labour has been told by officials that the cupboard is bare and major changes with rail investment will depend on raising funds from other pots that support the economy.

In the final days of the Tory Government there was a push to get North Wales Coast Electrification started along with sympathetic expansion of Chester, Llandudno Junction and Bangor stations. This may have been a final attempt to save the Tory seats in North Wales as no preparatory work had been done by ministers. It was a pointless effort, however, as the Tories lost every one of their Welsh seats. 

 

F&WHR 5-6/7/24

On Friday afternoon The Quarryman rake returned from maintenance at Boston Lodge to Glan-y-pwll and ran over an hour after its normal passenger service return path with Linda in charge.

 

TRAWS boost from PC

With Plaid Cymru winning all the West Coast of Wales constituencies from Caernarfon to Carmarthen the party is in a position to have a joint rail campaign of its MPs to promote the stalled TRAWS project between Bangor and Carmarthen. The party also won the Anglesey constituency and is in a position to promote the Bangor-Amlwch route from Gaerwen Junction. Bangor & Aberconwy and surprisingly Montgomery & Glyndwr were Labour gains covering Bangor and Machynlleth on the route. While having one party representing all the constituencies on the route may lead to a coordinated campaign to reopen the line, there is also a chance that Labour may seek to minimise PC's influence by blocking any attempt by PC to promote the project.           

 

Loco roster 6/7/24

The loco roster is back after a few week's absence. There is an interesting week ahead with EIGHT steam locos working passenger trains on the F&WHR.
On the Ffestiniog Railway: James Spooner, David Lloyd George and Merddin Emrys will be working out of Porthmadog on trains to Blaenau Ffestiniog, while Lyd will mainly be busy with trains to Tan-y-Bwlch.
Trains from Blaenau Ffestiniog will initially see Linda in charge, but then replaced by Blanche for the remainder of the week. Friday will see Lyd and Blanche swap trains at Tan-y-Bwlch, sharing duties on a special train (the 11;40 School Special from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Tan-y-bwlch
Services on the Welsh Highland Railway will be covered by NG/G16s Nos.87/130:
No.87 will start the week working from Porthmadog.
No.130 will start the week working from Caernarfon.
• The two locos will swap trains at Beddgelert on Wednesday, working from the opposite end of the line for the remainder of the week.
--------------------------------------------------
NOTE: This information is provided in good faith, solely as a guide, but could be subject to change at any time.

 

Personal Note 4/7/24

There will be some disruption to the website for a few weeks as your webmaster must go into hospital for some treatment. It may be possible to offer some reduced web news service over this period.

 

F&WHR 1-4/7/24

On 1/7/24 Vale of Ffestiniog hauled the afternoon Woodland Wanderer. See Paul Welton's Facebook video.

On 2/7/24 David Lloyd George hauled the ECS Mountain Spirit back to the depot at the end of the day.

On 3/7/24 Linda hauled The Quarryman from Blaenau Ffestiniog and No.130 on the Snowdonia Star.

Thursday 4/7/24 was to be a day of light clouds and sunny periods with temperatures of 12-16C at Porthmadog. The usual Thursday service applied with five FR trains (two Mountain Spirit/Woodland Wanderer and The Quarryman) and the two through WHR services. All three webcams were available today.

No.87 hauled the ECS for The Harbourmaster into Porthmadog around 09:30. Merddin Emrys was running round the Mountain Spirit at 10:10.

At 12:55 Linda was shunting the Quarryman out of the FR platform ready for later arrivals.

No.143 ran round after arriving on the Snowdonia Star and David Lloyd George was shunting the ECS Woodland Wanderer  which was shunted to the seawall siding to free up the FR platform.

Linda departed at 15;30 with The Quarryman.

First back at the end of the afternoon was No.87 on the return working of The Harbourmaster at 16:28. At 17:10 James Spooner pulled in with the Woodland Wanderer. Run round came at 17:20 and the ECS departed shortly afterwards. A few minutes later the Mountain Spirit arrived with DLG haulage.

 

Y Stesion Caernarfon food offering

May be an image of text that says "STESION STATION Eggs, 'The Station' Breakfast Egg, Sausage, Beans, 'Veggie' Breakfast Hash Browns, Beans, Breakfast Choice of Sausage, Bacon, Toast £4.00 Glamorgan Sub Sandwiches Cheese, Spring Onion Mayonnaise and with Mayonnaise Chicken Cheese and Rocket Vegan and Paninis (with any the above Mayonnaise or Quorn Burger with chips with chips and cheese Beans or Egg on toast Portion of Chips Gammon or Pork with egg and chips you to CHECK OUR 'DAILY SPECIALS' BOARD any dietary requirements, please member our allergen folder and make them aware when ordering, staff CAFFI DE WINTON STESION Santes Helen Helen's Road, Caernarfon,"

Click on the advert to enlarge.

 

Looking for a tasty treat before your train ride, a quick bite or a leisurely lunch? Caffi De Winton has something for everyone - come along and enjoy some freshly-prepared food from the kitchen!
Caffi De Winton is open daily from 09:00-15:00
Breakfast served 09:00-11:30
Lunchtime menu from 11:30 onwards.
Don't forget - the shop is also open daily, from 09:00-17:00, with a wide range of gifts and souvenirs for you to choose from.
'Y Stesion' is open to all visitors - you don't have to be travelling on one of the trains * - so why not pop in and take a break here when you're next in Caernarfon town...
* The F&WHR would love to see you on one of the trains as well. Visit festrail.co.uk/trains and click the link to 'Trains from Caernarfon' for details of all journey options from 'Y Stesion'.

 

Loco and carriage round up

Pullman Carriage No.2115 Bodysgallen is to return to service this weekend with a frosted glass carriage number in the door windows after over a year being sidelined at Boston Lodge. Carriage seats have been renewed.

Welsh Pony was moved to Boston Lodge and lifted to receive attention to the loose crank.

The machine to fit the larger boiler tubes in Taliesin has arrived and it is possible this loco may be completed this year or early next season.

Small diesel Criccieth Castle will emerge from BL Works soon having received some  attention. it will be used on shunting and ECS duties after prolonged work on the engine and air systems.

Following the acquisition of a new lower powered charger, one of the battery locos may emerge from Boston Lodge for testing.

K1 is to attend SuperPower in September but there is no news yet about Palmerston's return from the VoR (though it will be back in October for the FR Event) or whether No.590 will attend from the WHHR after failing just prior to its launch event last year.

 

F&WHR 30/6/24

Sunday was forecast to be a rainy overcast day with showery periods and temperatures of 11-16C. The weekly forecast suggests temperatures remaining at a damp 16C next week. Sunday's train service had just 2FR trains (10:40 Mountain Spirit trains and the 14:50 Woodland Wanderer) and the Gelert Explorer on the WHR. All three webcams were available today.

James Spooner hauled the 10:40 Mountain Spirit. Vale of Ffestiniog hauled the ECS for the afternoon's Woodland Wanderer.

 

This easterly view (30/6/24) shows Vale of Ffestiniog  running round after bringing the ECS Woodland Wanderer rake into the station. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR taken on a webcam.

 

F&WHR 29/6/24

Saturday was forecast to be a rainy overcast day with temperatures of 9-15C. The weekly forecast suggests temperatures remaining at a damp 16C next week. Saturday's train service had just 3 FR trains (both Mountain Spirit trains and The Quarryman) and the two through trains on the WHR. All three webcams were available today.

First up today was No.130 which arrived with the ECS for The Harbourmaster at 09:40. A Fairlie hauled the 10:40 Mountain Spirit and also the afternoon working. It was back by 17:30.in drizzle.

 

F&WHR 28/6/24

Friday was forecast to be a day with temperatures of 13-16C and sunny periods. The weekly forecast suggests temperatures falling to a damp 15C next week. Friday's train service had the usual one FR trains (10:40 Mountain Spirit) and the Gelert Explorer on the WHR. All three webcams were available today.

The Mountain Spirit was in the FR platform by 10:20. James Spooner ran round at 10:28 read for the 10:40 departure. There appeared to be an unadvertised Woodland Wanderer in the afternoon presumably hauled by the same Fairlie.

F&WHR 27/6/24

Thursday was forecast to be a day with temperatures of 13-16C and light cloud. The weekly forecast suggests temperatures falling to a damp 15C next week. Thursday's train service had the usual five FR trains (both Mountain Spirit/Woodland Wanderer trains and The Quarryman). There are also the two through trains on the WHR. All three webcams were available today.

James Spooner was noted arriving at Tan-y-bwlch at 15:20. at 15:43 it shunted the rake over to the westbound platform to clear the way for the returning The Quarryman. At 15:50 the Fairlie ran round. Linda arrived with the lightly loaded The Quarryman at 16:02.

 

This westerly view (27/6/24) shows Linda passing Tan-y-bwlch on the return The Quarryman. The stock of the Woodland Wanderer stands ready to return to Porthmadog behind James Spooner. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR taken on a webcam.

 

Work Experience draws to a close

Congratulations to the wonderful group of young people from Coleg Glynllifon (based just south of Dinas) who have recently been awarded Certificates in recognition of their work experience on the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways.
Between the group, they have completed an outstanding 800 hours of work experience from last November to May this year.
The railways' Work Placement Officer, Erfyl Williams said:
"It is our second year working with Coleg Glynllifon. It has been great to see the group's confidence growing each week.
"They have been able to develop their social skills and team building, as well as learning some practical lineside and trackwork skills.
"All of these things helps prepare them for the world of work."
If you would like to get involved in Volunteering visit out Volunteers page here: https://www.festrail.co.uk/volunteering/

 

F&WHR 26/6/24

Wednesday was forecast to be a day with temperatures of 14-22C and sunny periods. The weekly forecast suggests temperatures falling to a damp 16C next week. Wednesday's train service had the usual three FR trains (both Mountain Spirit train and The Quarryman). There are also the three trains on the WHR (two The Aberglaslyn trains and the Gelert Explorer). All three webcams were available today

First up today was No.143 with the ECS for The Aberglaslyn which arrived in the WHR platform at 09:40. The heavily laden Mountain Spirit departed behind Merddin Emrys at 10:40.

At 12:50 Blanche was running round The Quarryman and shunted the rake to the yard 7 minutes later as No.143 arrived with the return working of The Aberglaslyn. Linda arrived light engine from Boston Lodge at 13:11. No.143 returned to its train and ran round at 13:26. Linda was substituting for Blanche it seems as it shunted the yard at 13:34 and at 14:35 Blanche went light engine to the depot. Merddin Emrys arrived in the FR platform at 13:54 with the return working of the Mountain Spirit. At 15:10 Linda prepared the return working of The Quarryman.

 

F&WHR 25/6/24

Tuesday was forecast to be a day with temperatures of 15-21C and sunny periods after an overcast start. The weekly forecast suggests temperatures rising to a more seasonable 21C before cooling again by next weekend. Tuesday's train service had the usual five FR trains (both Mountain Spirit train and Woodland Wanderer trains and The Quarryman). There are also the two through trains on the WHR. All three webcams were available today.

No.143 departed on time on The Harbourmaster. James Spooner was present at 10:30. on the Mountain Spirit. Merddin Emrys pulled in at the same time with the Woodland Wanderer and promptly ran round.

No.130 arrived at 12:35 with the Snowdonia Star.

 

F&WHR 24/6/24

Monday was forecast to be a day with temperatures of 13-18C and sunny periods after an overcast start. The weekly forecast suggests temperatures rising to a more seasonable 21C before cooling again by next weekend. Monday's train service had two FR trains (the the 10:40 Mountain Spirit train and the 1:50 Woodland Wanderer and just one WHR train, the 11:30 Gelert Explorer. All three webcams were available today.

The ECS for the Mountain Spirit arrived at 1:05 behind James Spooner with cab roof removed. The loco then went to fuel and water. At 13:45 Vale of Ffestiniog had brought the Woodland Wanderer rake over to the WHR platform and was waiting in the WHR run round for the return working of the Mountain Spirit to arrive. James Spooner pulled into the FR platform at 13:54. The loco uncoupled and went to fuel and water while the Funkey coupled to the rear of the race to take the ECS away. The Funkey ECS turn seems to be a regular duty on days when there is only one Mountain Spirit/Woodland Wanderer.

At 14:15 the Fairlie worked out of the yard to couple to the Woodland Wanderer. The ECS left at 14:19 and the Fairlie coupled up to the Woodland Wanderer. The train left on time at 14:55. At the end of the day James Spooner was running round the returned Woodland Wanderer at 17:18.The ECS left at 17:23 to close the day's activities.

No.143 arrived back at Porthmadog at 16:22 having swopped duties with No.87 at Beddgelert which returned to Caernarfon on the Gelert Explorer this afternoon. The ECS departed at 16:37. Lyd arrived back at Porthmadog at 17:00 in misty conditions.

 

Brecon election result sets new challenge for Heart of Wales line

The reformed Brecon Constituency produced one of the tighter Lib Dem gains of the record 72 seats (including 64 gains) the party won in the General Election. The party's new MP for the Brecon, Radnor and Cwm Tawe seat David Chadwick has a majority of just under 1,500 votes over former Conservative Welsh Office Minster Fay Jones. She had previously won the seat back in 2019 GE from David Chadwick who won the Recall by-election in the earlier parliament following corruption allegations concerning the former Tory MP.

One of the new MPs campaign themes is support for the Heart of Wales Line from Shrewsbury to Swansea via many small mid-Wales towns such as Llandrindod Wells. Recently TfW has cut back on services on this line which is operated by a single car DMU for much of the day. Many travel to work/school and back operations are now impossible or very difficult to achieve under TfW's new timetable. The new MP will be looking to coordinate a number of interest groups who wish to develop railway centred ideas. One recently floated idea is to alter the TRAWS Scheme for a North-South rail link, south of Aberystwyth to Carmarthen. The new suggestion is to reopen the almost totally undeveloped vacant trackbed of the former Cambrian/Mid Wales Railway from Moat Lane Junction to Builth Road Junction. This would allow trains from the Cambrian Coast (and potentially the North Wales Coast via Bangor-Caernarfon-Afon Wen) to travel to Swansea/Cardiff via a new curve at Moat Lane (Caersws) over the Summit of the line at Pant-y-dwr and rejoining the NR Heart of Wales route at a new Builth Road  Junction. This new route would also clearly  strengthen services on the south end of the HoWL. Work on planning any new proposal should start now in order to have any chance of completion within this 5 year parliament.

 

70th Anniversary of start of new FR

Following on from the example of the Tal-y-llyn Railway a few years before, 1954 saw a similar preservation group take over the moribund FR. Today, the F&WHR is celebrating another milestone in the railway’s long history… the 70th Anniversary of the takeover of the Ffestiniog Railway by a partnership of Alan Pegler as Chairman, a new Company Board and volunteers in the Ffestiniog Railway Society!
On the 24/6/1954, the old Ffestiniog Railway board made way for Alan Pegler and his associates. The FR Society started to mobilise its pioneer members, who had eagerly been awaiting this historic event, and they have worked in close partnership with the company ever since.
Later that year, a group of young people made their way through the brambles towards the old Engine Shed at Boston Lodge, opening the doors and embarking on an adventure to restore the Ffestiniog Railway. The rest, as they say, is history! To mark this special occasion, the F&WHR has filmed a celebratory video to showcase what the Ffestiniog Railway means to the volunteers, members and staff.
Watch the celebratory video below: https://www.festrail.co.uk/ffestiniog-railway.../

 

F&WHR 23/6/24

Sunday was forecast to be a day with temperatures of 12-19C and sunny periods after a dull start. The weekly forecast suggests temperatures rising to a more seasonable 21C by next week after a cold start to summer. Sunday's train service was the normal Sunday with one FR trains (the the 10:40 Mountain Spirit train and one WHR train, the Gelert Explorer. Today there were gravity train tests on the FR around midday with Merddin Emrys. All three webcams were available today.

James Spooner hauled the ECS into the FR platform at 10:05 ready for the 10:45 departure.

 

Saturday Gravity Trains

A set of images has been published on Facebook covering Saturday's Gravity trains which operated in the sunshine. Click here to see images.

 

F&WHR 22/6/24

Saturday was forecast to be a day with temperatures of 14-16C and sunny periods later. The weekly forecast suggests temperatures rising to a more seasonable 21C by next week after a cold start to summer. Saturday's train service was the normal Saturday with three FR trains (the the 10:40 Mountain Spirit train, the 14:50 Woodland Wanderer and The Quarryman. there are also the two through WHR trains. Today there were gravity train tests on the FR in the morning afternoon and afternoon. All three webcams were available today.

The first arrival was a mystery arrival at 09:10 to shunt the yard where a rake had been left the night before. By 09:40 the ECS for The Harbourmaster arrived behind No.143. Linda was noted passing through Minffordd at 10:00 taking The Quarryman set back to Blaenau from Boston Lodge where it had received its regular maintenance. At 10:15 Merddin Emrys arrived with the ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit.

Blanche passed through Tan-y-bwlch light engine at 11:28 returning from Glan-y-pwll The Quarryman rake to Blaenau Ffestiniog after maintenance. Meanwhile down at Porthmadog at 12:20 blanche was coupling up to the slate waggons, ready to haul them to Dduallt. The train left at 12:25 as the No.130 pulled in with the Snowdonia Star. Five minutes later the loco ran to the fuelling point to tank up with water.

 

Tories North Wales Coast Electrification problem confirmed

The BBC has confirmed the problem the Tories are having with the proposed North Wales Coast electrification. Their research shows the scheme has not got off the starting blocks! See BBC News story which largely confirms the news story in these pages from last Tuesday. Speaking at Friday's launch of the Tory Party manifesto in Wales, Sunak confirmed that the electrification scheme 'would happen' assuming he is re-elected. There is no clarity from Labour about the scheme yet.

Another difficulty for the Prime Minister were the Tory MPs and officials who have been referred to the Betting Commission over betting on the General election date. The Tory candidate for Montgomery has apparently apologised but Central Office seems to think his chances are now 'toast'. Liberal Democrats held the seat until relatively recently and also won control of Powys Council in the last round of local elections which matches the constituency area..

 

Blue Pullman railtour 22/6/24

The Nanking Blue Midland Pullman HST 43055/9 ran from Holyhead to the Cumbrian Coast today having arrived in Holyhead yesterday ECS. Starting the railtour from Holyhead allows Irish passengers to join a railtour.

 

F&WHR 21/6/24

Friday was forecast to be a day with temperatures of 12-16C and sunny periods later. The weekly forecast suggests temperatures rising to a more seasonable 21C by next week after a cold start to summer. Friday's train service was the normal Friday with just one FR trains (the the 10:40 Mountain Spirit train and one WHR train (The Gelert Explorer) though there were gravity train tests on the FR in late afternoon. All three webcams were available today.

David Lloyd George was on the well loaded 10:40 Mountain Spirit departure. The train had arrived back by 14:00 and the loco detached to refuel and tank up before running round. However at 14:20 the loco departed unexpectedly light engine for the depot leaving the ECS in the platform.

Click on the Facebook video link to see Moelwyn returning to the depot after the gravity train on Friday evening with thanks to Jonathan Flood.

 

F&WHR 20/6/24

Thursday was forecast to be a day with temperatures of 11-18C and sunny periods. The weekly forecast suggests temperatures rising to a more seasonable 21C by next week after a cold start to summer. Thursday's train service was the normal Thursday with 5 FR trains (the 10:40 Mountain Spirit train and The Quarryman) and the  two through WHR services. All three webcams were available today.

At 09:55 No.143 was ready in the WHR platform for The Harbourmaster and David Lloyd George was running round the 10:40 Mountain Spirit in the FR platform. Merddin Emrys arrived a with the ECS for the Woodland Wanderer in the WHR platform at 10:35.

Merddin Emrys ran round at Tan-y-bwlch at about 12:00 and Blanche passed through on The Quarryman at 12:13.

No.143 returned with The Harbourmaster at 16:22 so no Garratt swop today. The ECS departed at 16:30.

 

Cardiff-Blaenau Ffestiniog railtour 19/6/54

The Snowdonia Statesman arrived in Blaenau Ffestiniog top and tailed by 47593 Galloway Princess and ScotRail 47712 Lady Diana Spencer. Passengers had about 3 hours in Blaenau and could have had a trip on the FR to Tan-y-bwlch as has sometimes been organised in the past.

 

Cambrian Railways Headquarters refurbishment

The imposing Oswestry station building, the former headquarters of the Cambrian Railways, is being restored subject to almost £1m being offered in grant money by the local council. Work might be finished by next spring. See Shropshire Star story.

 

F&WHR 19/6/24

Wednesday was forecast to be a day with temperatures of 9-18C and sunny periods. The weekly forecast suggests temperatures rising to a more seasonable 21C by next week after a cold start to summer. Wednesday's train service was the 2 FR trains (the 10:40 Mountain Spirit train and The Quarryman) and three WHR services with two The Aberglaslyn and the Gelert Explorer from Caernarfon. All three webcams were available today.

First up today was No.87 with the ECS for the 10:15 The Aberglaslyn which arrived in the WHR platform by 09:30. The ECS for the Mountain Spirit arrived at 10:00 behind David Lloyd George. Both trains departed on time.

The Aberglaslyn was back by 13:10 and No.87 exited the yard at 13:10 to complete the run round of its train for the 13:40 working.

Three days of testing Gravity Trains
▫ FOUR GRAVITY SLATE TRAINS,
▫ FIVE STEAM LOCOS
▫ and
▫ ONE DIESEL
This coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday features one of the Gravity Train team's 'training and competency' weekends, when a series of gravity runs are made with the F&WHR's unique collection of slate waggons. This provides an opportunity for experienced brakesmen to practice their skills - and for new recruits to learn the methods and demands of running a gravity slate train.
Listed below are the planned diagrams for the three days - with one gravity run on Friday, two on Saturday and one on Sunday.
The Friday afternoon/evening run features three small Hunslet locos hauling the waggons to Dduallt, while Blanche and Merddin Emrys are in charge of the waggons on Saturday and Sunday respectively. When the waggons arrive at Pen Cob on Friday and Saturday, they will be propelled across the Cob to Harbour Station by diesel shunter Moelwyn.


ℹ The Gravity Slate trains pass through...
• Tan-y-Bwlch
around 10 minutes after leaving Dduallt
• Penrhyn
30-35 minutes after leaving Dduallt
• Minffordd
35-40minutes after leaving Dduallt
Come along and see them for yourself or keep an eye on our webcams @ https://insidemotion.co.uk/webcams/
--------------------------------------------------
FRIDAY:
⚠ PLEASE NOTE: Friday's plans may well change, with timings moved 10 minutes earlier..!
'Anti-gravity' Slate Waggons
(with Hugh Napier, Britomart and Velinheli)
• 16:10 - Pen Cob to Tan-y-Bwlch - 16:45
• 17:00 - Tan-y-Bwlch to Dduallt - 17:10
Gravity Slate Waggons
• 17:20 - Dduallt to Pen Cob - 18:05
• 18:10 - Propelled to Port by Moelwyn
Light Engines
(Hugh Napier, Britomart and Velinheli)
• 17:35 - Dduallt to Tan-y-Bwlch - 17:45
• 18:05 - Tan-y-Bwlch to Pen Cob - 18:35
--------------------------------------------------
SATURDAY:
'Anti-gravity' Slate Waggons
(with Blanche)
• 09:00 - Porthmadog to Tan-y-Bwlch - 09:35
• 09:50 - Tan-y-Bwlch to Dduallt - 10:00
Gravity Slate Waggons
• 10:10 - Dduallt to Pen Cob - 11:00
• 11:05 - Propelled to Port by Moelwyn
Light Engine (Blanche)
• 10:30 - Dduallt to Tan-y-Bwlch - 10:40
• 11:20 - Tan-y-Bwlch to Porthmadog - 11:50
'Anti-gravity' Slate Waggons
(with Blanche)
• 12:25 - Porthmadog to Tan-y-Bwlch - 13:10
• 13:20 - Tan-y-Bwlch to Dduallt - 13:30
Gravity Slate Waggons
• 13:40 - Dduallt to Pen Cob - 14:25
• 14:30 - Propelled to Port by Moelwyn
Light Engine (Blanche)
• 14:00 - Dduallt to Tan-y-Bwlch - 14:10
• 14:25 - Tan-y-Bwlch to Minffordd - 14:45
• 15:05 - Minffordd to Porthmadog - 15:15
--------------------------------------------------
SUNDAY:
'Anti-gravity' Slate Waggons
(with Merddin Emrys)
• 11:00 - Porthmadog to Tan-y-Bwlch - 11:45
• 11:55 - Tan-y-Bwlch to Dduallt - 12:05
Gravity Slate Waggons
• 12:15 - Dduallt to Minffordd - 12:50
Light Engine (Merddin Emrys)
• 12:35 - Dduallt to Tan-y-Bwlch - 12:45
• 12:50 - Tan-y-Bwlch to Porthmadog - 13:25
NOTE: This information is provided in good faith, solely as a guide, but could be subject to change at any time.

 

F&WHR 18/6/24

Tuesday was forecast to be a improving day with temperatures of 8-15C and sunny periods later. The weekly forecast suggests showers and sunny periods with temperatures no better than 18C by mid Summer's Day. Tuesday's train service was the normal 5 FR trains (both  Mountain Spirit trains and Woodland Wanderer trains and The Quarryman) and the two through WHR services. All three webcams were available today.

Vale of Ffestiniog was noted shunting at Pen Cob Junction at 08:30 while steam was being raised in the yard. The Funkey turned up in the station yard light engine at 08:45 to shunt the coal wagons. The signaller opened the box at 09:00 and assisted as the Funkey propelled two empty B wagons out onto The Cob. The train departed for Dinas to collect coal at 09:14 as the ECS for The Harbourmaster was being prepared in Boston Lodge. No.87 hauled the ECS into the WHR platform at 09:22. The Harbourmaster departed on time as David Lloyd George hauled the ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit into the FR platform at 10:05. Run round came at 10:15.

Up at Tan-y-bwlch Harlech Castle waited with the works train for the Mountain Spirit to pass and  the Woodland Wander to arrive before continuing towards Minffordd Yard. No.143 was on the Snowdonia Star and was standing in the WHR platform at 13:50. This must have passed the 14:05 return working of the Snowdonia Star at Pont Croesor. The station was very busy at 14:35 with the Funkey and two loaded coal wagons standing in the WHR platform. DLG was standing in the FR platform and Blanche was shunting around The Quarryman in the yard.

The Funkey propelled the coal into the fuelling point at 14:40. At 14:53 DLG departed with the Woodland Wanderer having performed the Fairlie swop. The Funkey departed light engine at 15:04 for the depot after The Cob section had cleared. The final lunchtime working was Blanche which shunted The Quarryman back into the FR platform for the 15:25 return working.

The first of the returnees was No.143 at 16:24 departing ECS for the depot 10 minutes later. DLG arrived with the Woodland Wanderer at 17:00. The open coach was shunted to the seawall siding at 17:20 and the ECS was shunted into the yard at 17:30 with the Mountain Spirit approaching from Minffordd. This seemed a strange move as the Mountain Spirit could have run into the WHR platform. There does seem to be a reluctance to use the WHR platform possibly because of the necessary light engine movements to the refuelling and watering point. Merddin Emrys arrived back at 17:40 allowing the ECS Woodland Wanderer to depart with the ECS a minute later. The ECS departed at 18:00 to close the day's activities.

 

North Wales Coast Electrification 'dead in the water'

The £1billion Tory scheme to electrify the North Wales Coast seems to have died with the announcement of the General Election. The scheme was Sunak's idea of what he could do for Wales once HS2 was cancelled north of Birmingham. A report in Rail Magazine indicated no progress has been made since last October's announcement. Indeed the Welsh Government is showing little interest in the scheme which is no surprise given they have moved all but one Holyhead-Cardiff Class 67 working to the Swansea-Manchester route and left the North Wales coast as the Cinderella Line! This despite the North Wales transport Commission report recommending electrification in its December Report.

As electrification projects of this size are 'reserved items' rather than WAG responsibilities, the UK Transport Minister takes lead in such schemes and has added nothing since 23/2/24 when he said it was 'too early to say anything new'. Now we are in the election period Ministers are in 'purdah' so any announcement will have to await a new Government after the General Election.

There seems to be a consensus that Phase One must be a sympathetic rebuild of Chester station complete with the redualling of Gresford Bank into Wrexham General. Chester has so many different services it seems no one is taking a lead so here is a role for the North Wales Coast Transport Commission to push the scheme forwards.

 

F&WHR 17/6/24

Monday was forecast to be a day of light cloud with temperatures of 9-16C with Britain still suffering from the 'arctic Summer'. The weekly forecast suggests showers and sunny periods with temperatures no better than 17C by mid Summer's Day. Monday's train service was limited to just two FR trains (10:40 Mountain Spirit trains and the 14:50 Woodland Wanderer) and just one WHR service, the Gelert Explorer. All three webcams were available today.

Merddin Emrys hauled the ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit by 10:00 and the loco was running round at 10:05. The lightly loaded train passed through Tan-y-bwlch on time. The loco was used to shunt coal wagons in the yard in advance of a Dinas coal run on Tuesday

It seems Vale of Ffestiniog brought the ECS Woodland Wanderer into Harbour Station just after the Mountain Spirit returned. The loco then shunted to the yard at 13:50 and coupled up the Woodland Wanderer to return it to the depot. The ECS departed at 14:04. Merddin Emrys coupled to the front of the train ready for the 14:50 departure. The lightly loaded train arrived in Tan-y-bwlch at 15:28. It was at least warm enough for a few people to sit in the open carriage.

 

Palmerston photo charter Friday 13/9/24

Palmerston, currently under repair at the VoR, will be ready for a photocharter on 13/9/24. Full details including contacts are available here.

 

F&WHR 16/6/24

Sunday was forecast to be an improving day of sunny periods with temperatures of 11-16C with Britain still suffering from the 'arctic Summer'. Some violent hail showers occurred across North Wales on Saturday. Sunday's service was limited to just one FR train (10:40 Mountain Spirit trains hauled by James Spooner and one WHR service, the Gelert Explorer. All three webcams were available today.

 

Volunteer Buffet stewards needed

Do you love trains and enjoy providing excellent customer service? The F&WHR is looking for enthusiastic volunteers to join the team of on-train Buffet Stewards. The team meets and greets passengers, serves refreshments, provides information and sells guidebooks' If you would like to get involved, get in touch with the F&WHR at volunteer@ffwhr.com. Buffet services are provided on some trains but may be extended to more services. See F&WHR On Train Catering.

 

Royal Cheshire County Show 18-19/6/24

Come and see the F&WHR at the Royal Cheshire County Show, Tuesday 18-19/6/24. The Royal Cheshire County Show ground is situated at Tabley, near Knutsford on the A556, approximately 1.5 miles from Junction 19 of the M6. Staff be manning Stand No.34 in Row C4 - just a short walk from the Main Ring. As well as being able to find out more about the trains and services, there is a special offer that is only available for visitors to the show. So, come along and say "Hello!" - the F&WHR would love to see you there!

 

F&WHR 15/6/24

Saturday was forecast to be a mixed day of sunny periods and showers chilly 9-14C with Britain still suffering from the 'arctic Summer'. Some violent hail showers occurred across North Wales. Saturday's service was limited to just 3 FR trains (two Mountain Spirit trains and The Quarryman) and the two through WHR services. All three webcams were available today. No. 87 was on The Harbourmaster at 10:00 in the WHR platform and Merddin Emrys arrived with the ECS for the Mountain Spirit as the train departed.

 

F&WHR 14/6/24

Friday was forecast to be an improving day of sunny periods with temperatures of a chilly 9-14C with Britain still suffering from the 'arctic Summer'. Friday's service was limited to just one FR train (the 10:40 Mountain Spirit) and no trains on the WHR. All three webcams were available today.

James Spooner hauled the Mountain Spirit on Friday passing Minffordd with a heavily laden train at 10:55 in mixed weather conditions.

 

Moving Pictures No.94 14/6/24

Click on the YouTube link to watch 14 minutes 7 seconds of video showing the Beer Festival and progress with the NG15 No.134 project. This video is copyright F&WHR and was published on 24/5/24. It is best viewed at 1080p with Chrome and was videod on a 4K camcorder by John Wooden (F&WHR).

 

F&WHR 13/6/24

Thursday was forecast to be a deteriorating day of increasing cloud and rain with temperatures of a chilly 12-14C with Britain still suffering from the 'arctic Summer'. Thursday's service was the standard 5 FR trains (both Mountain Spirit/Woodland Wanderer and The Quarryman) and two through trains on the WHR. All three webcams were available today.

First up was No.87 with the ECS for the 10:05 Harbourmaster arriving in the WHR platform at 09:40. No.87 must have arrived with a Garratt swop at Beddgelert yesterday afternoon off the Gelert Explorer, replacing No.130. Linda and Merddin Emrys arrived with t he ECS for the Mountain Spirit at 09:58 into the FR platform. The pair ran round each other and then round their train at 10:12 with Linda piloting the Fairlie. It is not certain why Linda was required to assist today. Maybe the train is heavily laden or possibly Merddin Emrys has a steaming problem. Merddin Emrys was running round Woodland Wanderer at 10:48 in the WHR platform having arrived before the Mountain Spirit's departure. Departure came on time as the rain set in for the day.

No.130 departed with the Snowdonia Star at 14:07 in the rain and wind. James Spooner was running round the Woodland Wanderer in the FR platform. Blanche complete with tender cab was shunting the seawall siding at 14:20 as the afternoon Mountain Spirit departed with James Spooner. Merddin Emrys was shunting the Woodland Wanderer back to the FR platform after the Fairlie swop. At 15:00 Blanche shunted The Quarryman back to the FR platform.

Up at Tan-y-bwlch Merddin Emrys ran round the Woodland Wanderer at 15:50. Blanche arrived on The Quarryman at 16:05. No.87 arrived back again on the Harbourmaster at Porthmadog at 16:35 and Merddin Emrys hauled in the Woodland Wanderer at 17:00. The ECS Harbourmaster departed for the depot at 17:02. The Fairlie ran round the Woodland Wanderer at 17:10. The final arrival was James Spooner at 17:30 hauling the return working of the Mountain Spirit.

 

F&WHR 12/6/24

Wednesday was forecast to be a day of light cloud with temperatures of a chilly 10-13C with Britain still suffering from the 'arctic Summer'. Wednesday's service was the standard 3 FR trains (both Mountain Spirit and The Quarryman) and three on the WHR with two The Aberglaslyn and one Gelert Explorer. The signaller opened the box at 09:10. All three webcams were available today.

First up today was No.130 which arrived on the ECS for The Aberglaslyn shortly after 09:30. James Spooner was on the Mountain Spirit which left on time at 10:40. The Garratt departed at 13:43 for the afternoon The Aberglaslyn. and the Fairlie left a little later with the Mountain Spirit. At 14:30 Blanche shunted The Quarryman rake back into the FR platform ready for the 15:25.

 

No.134 nearing completion

This northerly view (11/6/24) shows No.134 nearing completion at Dinas Depot. It seems the loco only needs the cylinder covers to complete a very tidy job! This loco will see a period of testing on the WHR to see how it performs (including running in reverse tender first). The loco carries its number American style either side of the headlight. The tender cab appears to be missing in these images. Cowcatchers have been fitted to the front and to the rear of the tender for working in reverse. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR taken on a digital camera.

 

There will be a report on No.134 in the next edition of Moving Pictures YouTube due on Friday 14/6/24. The May Working Party report and images can be found here. For more images or to make a donation click here.

 

New TRAWS suggestion

The recently mentioned alternative route for the TRAWS project to reconnect North and South Wales via Talerddig, Llanidloes and the Heart of Wales Line from Builth Road has a problem at Llanidloes where the A470 runs for 1 km along the trackbed through the existing station site in a similar way to Welshpool. However, unlike Welshpool, there is no room to accommodate both road and railway and if the railway were to return then the A470 would have to divert around the east side of the town in an expensive new bypass.

To reduce costs of rebuilding the reinstated rail route street running has been suggested with a single track set in tarmac through the Llanidloes station site and the A470 traffic light controlled like a tramway section to prevent conflicts between trains and traffic. There is no need for a passing loop in the station area. A loop could be provided 1 km away where there is no interaction between the trackbed and the A470. With modern train braking profiles and dwell times, it is estimated that traffic lights might be on red for about 5 minutes every 2 hours depending on the level of service.

 

Heart of Wales railtour 7/9/24

LSL is promoting the SugarLoaf and Stormy Push Pull under its InterCity brand featuring Class 37/4s in top and tail mode over the Heart of Wales line on 7/9/24. The train runs from Crewe calling at Shrewsbury passing over Sugar Loaf Summit and the Swansea District Line with a 2 hour stay at Cardiff. The train returns via Gloucester and Birmingham New Street To Shrewsbury and Crewe. The train will reverse on the Maindee triangle so the rear 37/4 leads on the return journey.

 

F&WHR 11/6/24

Tuesday was forecast to be an overcast day with temperatures of a chilly 5-14C with Britain still suffering from the 'arctic Summer'. Tuesday's service was the standard 5 FR trains (both Mountain Spirit, Woodland Wanderer and The Quarryman) and both through trains on the WHR. All three webcams were available today.

No.130 was on The Harbourmaster today and had arrived with the ECS by 09:40. Merddin Emrys hauled the ECS for the 10:10 The Harbourmaster into the FR just before the Garratt left with a friendly wave to the webcam from the driver. The Fairlie ran round by 09:19 and coupled up. James Spooner turned up with the ECS for the Woodland Wanderer at 10:35.

Up at Tan-y-bwlch at 11:20 Harlech Castle was stabled in the loop with the early morning PW train as Merddin Emrys passed with the Mountain Spirit. The PW train waited for the Woodland Wanderer to arrive at 11:45 before returning to Minffordd at 11:50. James Spooner then ran round. Down at Porthmadog at 13:00 Blanche was shunting The Quarryman to the yard to free up the FR platform for the next arrival. Five minutes later No.87 was running round the Snowdonia Star having tanked up with water from the fuelling point. At 13:25 James Spooner was running round the recently arrived Woodland Wanderer and shunting it clear of the FR platform to leave space for the return working of the Mountain Spirit.

James Spooner arrived back at 13:50 into the FR platform and detached to refuel and tank up with water while Merddin Emrys completed the Fairlie swop, coupling to the other end at 13:58 to form the 14:20 Mountain Spirit. The new Fairlie worked out of the yard to shunt the Woodland Wanderer out of the seawall siding after the 14:20 had departed. James Spooner departed at 14:55, At 15:05 Blanche started shunting to prepare the 15:25 return working of The Quarryman reversing the rake into the FR platform at 15:15 and departing on time.

The first of the returnees was No.130 which arrived back just before 16:30. The ECS had departed for the depot just 5 minutes later. The Woodland Wanderer was next and the ECS departed behind James Spooner at 17:39. Merddin Emrys departed with the Mountain Spirit ECS to close the day at 17:53.

 

National Volunteers' Week 2024

The F&WHR would not be able to run their trains without the support of their loyal band of volunteers. Everywhere you look around the railway, you will see people who have chosen to come and work with permanent staff during their spare time, retirement or holidays - and the F&WHR is forever grateful for their dedication.
They come from all walks of life, from all around the world, to do an enormous number of tasks - some in the public eye, some behind the scenes - all of which ensure that the F&WHR can provide our visitors with a quality experience, on and off the trains.
Engine Drivers, Firemen, Guards, Signallers, Station Hosts, Gardeners, Handymen, Skilled Craftsmen - the list goes on and on. Each brings their own special talents and personalities with them. Some come to teach others, many come to learn, but all are welcome - and, once work is done for the day, it is great to socialise together as one big family! Indeed special trains to Tan-y-bwlch are sometimes run to Tan-y-bwlch tea room in the evening at the end of a week to say thank you.
So, in recognition of #NationalVolunteersWeek, the F&WHR would like to say a hearty "Thank You !" to all their volunteers for their efforts over the years - from the early preservationists back in the 1950s, through Deviationists (such as your webmaster in his teens) to the present day.
If you would like to get involved or find out more about volunteering with the railway, send an email to volunteer@ffwhr.com and someone will get back to you with further information. For images of volunteering see Festrail Facebook page.

 

F&WHR 10/6/24

Monday was forecast to be a day of sunny periods with temperatures of a chilly 9-15C. Monday's service was just 2 FR trains (the 10:40 Mountain Spirit and the 14:50 Woodland Wanderer). There was also just one train on the WHR (the Gelert Explorer). All three webcams were available today. The Mountain Spirit was hauled by Merddin Emrys again and was heavily loaded being it was the only FR train available today for those that had limited flexibility about days they could travel.

First up was Harlech Castle which entered the WHR platform with the Romanian Ballast wagon No.4023 at 07:40. The short train advanced to the starter at 07:45 and departed for the WHR at 07:51. At 13:13 Vale of Ffestiniog hauled the ECS for Woodland Wanderer rake into the WHR platform before shunting to the yard light engine. James Spooner arrived at 13:53 with the returning Mountain Spirit. The Funkey then extracted a spare carriage from the seawall siding at 13:55 which was taken to Boston Lodge. The Funkey returned to collect the ECS Mountain Spirit at 14:20. Meanwhile, the Fairlie had refuelled, tanked up with water and shunted onto the Woodland Wanderer which departed on time after the ECS had left.

 

F&WHR 9/6/24

Sunday was forecast to be an overcast day with temperatures of a chilly 8-13C. Sunday's service was just 1 FR train (the 10:40 Mountain Spirit). There was also just one train on the WHR (the Gelert Explorer). All three webcams were available today. The Mountain Spirit was hauled by Merddin Emrys again and was heavily loaded being it was the only FR train available today for those that had limited flexibility about days they could travel.

 

Corris Southern Extension YouTube June 2024

Work started planning the southern extension of the Corris railway into the Snowdonia National Park in 2003 but had to wait for planning permission, fund raising and material so construction did not start until 2015. The railway now has all the fill material it needs to complete the project. Another 2 years of delay has recently been incurred in building the stream bridge at the south end of the worksite. While the Highway Authority would have paid for the bridge, the SNPA planning authority was not happy with the design so the Coedwig Bridge is now the last problem in completing this first stage of the Corris Southern Extension.

Work has started south of the bridge to build an area where a run round loop can be constructed. Later phases will see the railway extended along its roadside shelf to Pont Evans level crossing and finally to the Forestry Commission Car Park near Tan-y-coed giving a total length of 2.75 miles. This will become the main starting point as there is very limited car parking at Corris. Ideally the railway should continue on its roadside shelf to the next level crossing near Pantperthog where the tourist attraction The Centre for Alternative Technology lies just across the river bridge. There is currently no plan to extend to an exchange station in Machynlleth (6 miles) in the NR Yard, the original terminus of the steam line, which would require an expensive new bridge across the Afon Dyfi.

 

Click on the YouTube link to watch 15 minutes 14 seconds of video showing progress with the Corris Southern Extension. This video is copyright Corris Railway and was published on 24/5/24. It is best viewed at 1080p with Chrome and was videod on a camcorder by Corris staff.

 

The extension to Pont Evans is about 600m in all and an area for a run round loop south of the Coedwig bridge has already been created. Permission to cross the minor road at Pont Evans level crossing T Junction will be sought in due course after the railway has gained experience operating over the 1 in 30 section to Coedwig Loop. The Corris Railway is still seeking donations to help with its extension and full details can be found here.

 

Hand-drawn map by Edwin Lambert. December 2020

Map courtesy Corris Railway.

 

North Wales Coast Sea defence works

Following concerns about rising sea levels and storms cutting the North Wales Coast Line and flooding both houses and holiday camps between Rhyl and Llandulas a study reported areas of concern and gave options. A contract has now been given to Jones Brothers of Ruthin who helped reconstruct the WHR. A report in New Civil Engineer reveals the £13m contract and what is entailed between the Foryd Estuary and Pensarn which will see the sea wall raised by about 75cm. The sea wall along this area of coast was constructed about 100 years ago by Whitley Bros. relatives of your webmaster. The narrow gauge railway equipment (including skips) used in the 1920s was dumped at Rhosesmor Sand and Gravel whose quarry provided the aggregate. The railway equipment was still present at Rhosesmor around 1960. The quarry area has since been landscaped.

With rising sea levels and more frequent storms local authorities are trying to prevent another disaster like the Towyn sea incursion of 1990 which flooded homes and cut the Chester-Holyhead line for several days. See BBC story.

 

F&WHR 8/6/24

Saturday was forecast to be a day of sunny periods with temperatures of a chilly 6-15C. Saturday's service was a reduced version of the standard Saturday service with just 2 FR trains (the Mountain Spirit train and The Quarryman). There were also the two through trains on the WHR and the Beer Festival shuttles between Caernarfon and Waunfawr. All three webcams were available today.

Merddin Emrys was on the Mountain Spirit passing through Tan-y-bwlch at 11:17. James Spooner arrived with a 10 coach ECS which  included the Woodland Wanderer in the FR platform at 11:12 even thought no public train was booked. The loco ran round at 11:30 and departed at 11:33 passing through Minffordd at 11:45. This special was being run in association with Vintage Trains Ffestiniog Express which had S7029 Clun Castle and 47773 top and tail from Dorridge to Blaenau Ffestiniog. The steam loco was left at Llandudno Junction for some reason. Maybe the Conwy Valley is not passed for Castles? Presumably the participants are having a ride to Tan-y-bwlch being due in at Blaenau Ffestiniog at 13:04 and destined to leave at 16:10.

Blanche arrived at the signalbox light engine at 12:00 and shunted the yard 5 minutes later. No.143 arrived with the Snowdonia Star at 12:28 while No.130 was on The Harbourmaster. No.143 ran to refuel and water in the yard at 12:32. Linda arrived with The Quarryman at 12:54 and Blanche shunted out of the yard, immediately coupled to the rear and shunted the rake to the yard to clear the platform for the returning Mountain Spirit. The Garratt emerged from the yard at 13:00 to run round its train ready for the return journey. Linda shunted out of the yard at 13:20 light engine before heading to Boston Lodge. The Ladies had exchanged duties on The Quarryman as Blanche shunted the yard and coupled to The Quarryman. Meanwhile the Fairlie shunted the first 5 coaches to the seawall siding. Blanche propelled The Quarryman into the WHR platform. The Fairlie brought 5 coaches back to the rake in the FR platform. This strange manoeuvre was apparently because a coach had seized brakes and the rake was partly blocking the point allowing The Quarryman to exit the yard.

At 14:15 the excursion was stopped at Tan-y-bwlch so that participants could avail themselves of refreshments at the cafe. Blanche departed on time from Porthmadog for Blaenau Ffestiniog with the return The Quarryman and Merddin Emrys left with the ECS for Boston Lodge shortly after.

 

F&WHR 7/6/24

Friday was forecast to be a chilly overcast day with temperatures of 11-14C. Friday's service was the standard Friday service with just 1 FR train (10:40 Mountain Spirit) and the Beer Festival shuttles between Caernarfon and Waunfawr on the WHR. All three webcams were available today.

The only train today was hauled by a Fairlie. As a result the train was heavily laden departing Tan-y-bwlch at 11:27. James Spooner was noted hauling the ECS back to the depot at 14:25 to close the day's activities.

 

F&WHR 6/6/24

Thursday was forecast to be a chilly day of sunny periods and showers with temperatures of 9-14C. Thursday's service was the standard Thursday service with 3 FR trains (two each Mountain Spirit and Woodland Wanderer plus The Quarryman) and the two through WHR trains. All three webcams were available today.

First up was Garratt No.130 which arrived with the ECS 10:05 Harbourmaster at 09:22. The loco was carrying a white disc on the front and departed on time. James Spooner arrived shortly afterwards in the FR platform with the ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit and ran round at 10:20. Harlech Castle was waiting at Tan-y-bwlch with the morning PW train to pass the morning public trains.

Linda pulled into Porthmadog at 12:49 with The Quarryman, not long after the No.143 arrived with the Snowdonia Star. The Garratt emerged from the yard at 12:55 to complete the run round. Linda shunted its rake to the yard at 13:00, clearing the FR platform for later arrivals.

 

NLHF Boston Lodge progress 2/6/24

Click on the YouTube link to watch 7 minutes 9 seconds of video showing progress with the NLHF Boston Lodge refurbishment project. This video is copyright F&WHR and was published on 24/5/24. It is best viewed at 1080p with Chrome and was videod on a 4K camcorder by John Wooden (F&WHR).

 

Fitting out of the Small Loco Shed continues with buffer stops fitted and large diameter water pipe routed through the roof space. Locos can be filled up with water in the shed in future. The fan of sidings outside the shed has been levelled and all the point rodding fitted. Fitting out the new shed is nearing completion.

 

Earl of Merioneth display 5/6/24

Earl of Merioneth was taken to Glan-y-pwll headshunt on 5/6/24 with a freight train made up of B wagons and FR wagons and a brake van and  posed against the slate tips. Upnor Castle was present to assist with shunting. There are some photos by Dave Thurlow on the Friends of F&WHR Facebook page. The train was later returned to Boston Lodge for storage. The General Manager states that the next step is for the loco to go on display but that options remain open.

 

F&WHR 5/6/24

Wednesday was forecast to be a chilly day of sunny periods with temperatures of 7-13C. Wednesday's service was the standard Wednesday service with 3 FR trains (one each Mountain Spirit and Woodland Wanderer and The Quarryman) and the three WHR trains (two The Aberglaslyn and the Gelert Explorer). All three webcams were available today. Photos of Sunday's PTG specials would be welcomed.

By 10:00 No.143 was present in the WHR platform with The Aberglaslyn. At 10:05 Merddin Emrys was running round the Mountain Spirit in the FR platform. Harlech Castle was present in the westbound platform at Tan-y-bwlch with the early morning PW train returning to Minffordd and waiting to pass the Mountain Spirit. Linda pulled into Porthmadog at 12:50 with The Quarryman. Five minute later The Aberglaslyn returned and the Garratt immediately detached and shunted to the yard to refuel and tank up with water. Linda ran round its train and shunted the rake to the yard to clear the FR platform for the return of the Mountain Spirit. The Garratt shunted out of the yard at 13:17 to rejoin its train for the afternoon working.

Vale of Ffestiniog brought in the ECS for the afternoon Woodland Wanderer at about 14:20 as there was no morning working and Merddin Emrys emerged from the yard to couple to the rear. The Funkey shunted to the yard and at 14:45 it took the ECS from the Mountain Spirit back to the depot. The last loco of the lunchtime rush came as Linda shunted its rake back to the FR platform for the return of The Quarryman at 15:00.

 

This easterly view (5/6/24) shows Vale of Ffestiniog bringing the ECS rake for the afternoon Woodland Wanderer into Porthmadog. Merddin Emrys can be seen approaching the rear to couple up. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR taken on a webcam.

 

Corris visitor arrives 4/6/24

The oldest surviving Corris loco has joined the newest there this June. The 1878 built No.3 Sir Haydn will visit from the Tal-y-llyn Railway where it has been since 1951 following closure of the original Corris Line. It will be in action alongside Falcon No.10 completed in 2023. There is a Gala on 15/6/24 where all three locos including Tattoo No.7 will be in action.

 

Rail-Ale Festival 7-8/6/24

It is less than 48 hours until the doors open for the F&WHR's two-day real ale festival at Dinas Station, near Caernarfon...
The list of beers, ciders and perries has just been released by the festival organisers and is now available to download from https://bit.ly/RA24-Tasting-Notes.

As well as the 58 Beers, 23 Ciders and 4 Perries on offer at Dinas, there are a further 10 Beers on tap at the Snowdonia Parc in Waunfawr. Don't forget, you can make use of the Festival Shuttle trains to travel between Caernarfon, Dinas and Waunfawr! More details and advance tickets available from the festival website @ rail-ale.com

 

F&WHR 4/6/24

Tuesday was forecast to be an overcast day with heavy rain at times but clearing up in the late afternoon with temperatures of 6-15C. Tuesday's service was the standard Tuesday service with 5 FR trains (both Mountain Spirit and Woodland Wanderer and The Quarryman) and the two through WHR trains. All three webcams were available today. Photos of Sunday's PTG specials would be welcomed.

The first train today was the ECS for the 10:05 The Harbourmaster hauled by No.143 which arrived in the WHR platform at 09:14 in the rain. At 10:05 James Spooner pulled into the FR platform with the ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit as the WHR service departed. The loco ran round at 10:20. Merddin Emrys with the ECS for the 11:10 Woodland Wanderer pulled into the WHR platform at 10:25.

No.130 arrived with the Snowdonia Star at 12:24. The loco detached and shunted to the yard to refuel and tank up with water a few minutes later. The loco returned to the train at 12:50. Linda arrived on The Quarryman at 12:55 and the Garratt ran round its train. At 13:10 Linda coupled to the rear of its train and shunted its rake to the seawall siding clearing the platform for later arrivals. Merddin Emrys pulled in at 13:20 with the return of the Woodland Wanderer. The loco ran round 10 minutes later to shunt the rake clear of the platform to the seawall siding for the return of the Mountain Spirit. James Spooner arrived at 13:54 with the return Mountain Spirit to complete the lunchtime arrivals.

The Fairlie swop took place just 2 minutes after the arrival and the 14:20 was ready to depart. The 14:05 return Snowdonia Star started on time but came to a sharp stop before resuming at 14:11 for an unknown reason. James Spooner shunted light engine to the WHR platform and propelled the Woodland Wanderer into the FR platform at 14:38. Vale of Ffestiniog arrived light engine in the FR platform at 14:47 as Linda shunted the yard, Vale of Ffestiniog departed with the Woodland Wanderer at 14:57. James Spooner must have been substituted and this may have been the first time. At 15:07 Linda shunted the return The Quarryman rake out of the yard and departed in a torrential downpour at 15:35 to complete the lunchtime activities. The footplate staff could have done with the demountable cab or the backsheet in this poor weather.

Up at Tan-y-bwlch the Funkey pulled the rake forwards at 15:45 and propelled them back into the westbound platform at 15:49 leaving the eastbound platform clear for The Quarryman.

 

New TRAWS route proposed

A new route for the proposed TRAWS North Wales-South Wales rail service has been proposed which involves less new construction and may garner more political support that existing plans via Aberystwyth. The proposers are taking advantage of the focus on Welsh politics caused by the General Election to gather support for the scheme. Instead of reopening Aberystwyth-Carmarthen with its expensive new tunnel exit from Aberystwyth, the route uses a section of the Cambrian east from Machynlleth to join the Mid Wales railway from the former Moat Lane Junction near Caersws to a junction on Shrewsbury-Swansea Central Wales Line at Builth Road which is then followed to Swansea.

The section to be restored between Moat Lane Junction and Builth Road Junction is much shorter than Aberystwyth-Carmarthen and also less developed. It also avoids reversals at both Machynlleth and Aberystwyth. Reinstated loops might be required at Caemmaes Road, Llanbrynmair and Caersws with a new curve onto the Mid Wales at the site of Moat Lane depot near Caersws. The Mid Wales route through Llanidloes would be reclaimed from the current A470 bypass and the A470 rerouted around the east of the town via a new bypass. South of here the trackbed is largely clear via a summit of over 1000 feet at Pant-y-dwr before the route enters the Wye Valley. Rhayader comes next and then there is junction with the existing Central Wales Line just south of the existing Builth Road station where a new station would be required. There is an opportunity to construct a deviation of about 10km between Rhayader and Llandrindod Wells to serve one of the few centres of population in this area but it would require a short tunnel around the north of Rhayader. Additional loops might be required on the Central Wales between Builth Road and Llanelli depending on the frequency of service..

The proposers must be hoping that candidates for Montgomeryshire and Brecon & Radnorshire might campaign to reopen the rail route to reconnect a North-South rail route within Wales. Both of these seats were held until recently by Liberal Democrats who will be campaigning hard to reclaim them from the Tories.

 

F&WHR 3/6/24

Monday was forecast to be a day of sunny periods at first and light cloud later at Porthmadog with temperatures of 13-15C. Monday's service was for just two FR trains with the morning Mountain Spirit and afternoon Woodland Wanderer and one WHR train, the Gelert Explorer. All three webcams were available today. Photos of Sunday's PTG specials would be welcomed.

The ECS for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit arrived behind James Spooner (with cab roof fitted) at 09:54. The loco ran round 10 minutes later.

 

Llangollen diesel gala 1-2/6/24

The Llangollen Railway had its first Diesel & Industrial Gala of the new regime at the weekend. 08202 arrived from the AVR at Bitton (for a 12 month stay) had its first trip out along the line on the 15:40 shuttle to Glyndyfrdwy. It was very popular!

 

PTG Tour images 2/6/24

Mark Lewis has published an excellent set of photos of the PTG Tour from Sunday 2/6/24. See Facebook story.

 

F&WHR 2/6/24

Sunday was forecast to be a day of sunny periods at Porthmadog with temperatures of 12-18C. Sunday's service was for just one FR trains with the morning Mountain Spirit as special trains would be operating for PTG Tours. No public services were operating on the WHR. A train was signalled out of the FR platform at 08:00 and Vale of Ffestiniog emerged with a four coach train with an Observation car on the rear at 08:09. This was a planned visit to Boston Lodge for the PTG Tour group. Returning to Porthmadog the PTG Tour was booked to go to Caernarfon with James Spooner, the locos first solo trip to Caernarfon. After a prompt return to Porthmadog the PTG Tour will be taken to Blaenau Ffestiniog behind Lyd followed by a booked meal at Spooners with guest speakers. All three webcams were available today. Photos of Sunday's PTG specials would be welcomed.

 

This easterly view (2/6/24) shows James Spooner ready to depart on the PTG Special to Caernarfon. The 5 coach train is probably part of The Harbourmaster rake as  the Mountain Spirit rake is in use later this morning on a public service train. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR taken on a webcam.

 

James Spooner coupled to the rake presumably at Boston Lodge Halt (and the Funkey was dropped off) to haul it back to Porthmadog at about 09:30, departing for Caernarfon in sunny weather at 09:37. For those staying in Portmerion PTG had organised a champagne and croissants meal in the Observation Car at some stage during the day. The afternoon Mountain Spirit was cancelled on Sunday to free up the path for the PTG Special.

The public service train for the 10:40 Mountain Spirit arrived ECS at about 10:10 and the loco was noted running round at 10:15. The train returned to Porthmadog at 13:50 and Merddin Emrys ran round at 14:05. The ECS departed at 14:09 for the depot.

The PTG special took water at Rhyd Ddu and Waunfawr on return where it got a good dousing! The weather was fine so the cab roof was detached for the whole journey. The return working of the PTG Special arrived in Porthmadog at about 15:45 and the loco detached and went to the yard to refuel and water. Meanwhile, Lyd which had also been watered in the yard shunted to the front of the four coach train. The train departed at 16:10 for Blaenau Ffestiniog.

 

This easterly view (2/6/24) shows Lyd passing through Minffordd with its 4 coach PTG Special in sunshine, heading for Blaenau Ffestiniog. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. Image copyright F&WHR taken on a webcam.

 

The train arrived back from Blaenau Ffestiniog just before 19:00 and was promptly signalled for a propel movement out of the FR platform. The train left at 19:09 with Lyd propelling the four coach rake across The Cob to Boston Lodge to close the day's activities.

 

F&WHR 1/6/24

Saturday was forecast to be a day of sunny periods at Porthmadog with temperatures of 8-19C. Saturday's service was for 3 FR trains with the morning Mountain Spirit, afternoon Woodland Wanderer and The Quarryman from Blaenau Ffestiniog. The two through WHR trains will also run. The reduced Saturday service is because the F&WHR believes that the Spring Bank Holiday traffic will have started going home by this weekend. Sunday's PTG special on the FR is rostered for Lyd on the FR and James Spooner on the WHR All three webcams were available today. Photos of Sunday's PTG specials would be welcomed.

 

Help wanted for Beer Festival

It is now only a week away from the legendary RailAle 2024! Tickets and times are available at www.rail-ale.com
To help prepare for the event, the WHR Society needs some extra help! Here is a message from Dafydd Thomas for anyone who might be able to support:
“We will be doing the last jobs to prepare Dinas for the Real Ale Festival next Wednesday & Thursday, 5-6/6/24 and could do with a little extra help, if you can only do half a day, it would be gratefully received.
We will kick off from 08:00 on Wednesday morning but would be glad to see you there at anytime up to 17:00.
We also need some help clearing it away on Monday, 10/6/24. If you can help, please contact me at dthomas@crhe.uk for further details.”

 

Beer Festival shuttles

There will be diesel hauled shuttles on both Friday and Saturday 7-8/6/24 probably hauled by Caernarfon Castle. Most will operate between Caernarfon and Waunfawr but some of the lunchtime turns will turn back at Dinas. Trains continue until almost midnight both days.

 

Click on the image to expand. Friday shuttles. This image is copyright F&WHR

 

Click on the image to expand. Saturday shuttles. This image is copyright F&WHR

 

Trackwork Volunteering 2024

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

The programme for 2024 is fortnightly for the North Wales Track Gang in RED but details are still awaited for the ROWG in BLACK:

January   13-14/1/24      
February          
March          
April          
May          
June          
July          
August          
September          
October          
November          
December          

Bank Holiday weekend

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

WW-Working week Saturday-Thursday

The Tuesday Gang expects to be operating most Tuesdays.

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

Contacts

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

Tuesday Gang:

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

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

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

Gradient graph

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

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

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.

 

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Maps & Plans and links

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

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

Click here for the Mail Order web page

Click here for the Official WHR website

Click here for Official WHHR site

Click here for FR Company websites

Click here for Welsh Highland Heritage Group

 

V4.4926 updated 22/7/24