Welsh Highland Railway


Construction News (updated 22/3/01)

Images updated from 18/2/01

Click here for new images


Welcome to Version 3 of this website, launched on October 29th 2000 with news about work on Phase 3 of the WHR scheme. In addition to this Stop Press page and a Phase 1/2 page, there are 8 location pages, covering the Phase 3 works between Waunfawr and Rhyd Ddu, Aberglaslyn and (soon) the Porthmadog Works. Finally, there are pages showing the Task Ahead beyond Rhyd Ddu and views of Snowdon.


Official WHR Track Appeal

If you have been interested enough to visit this site, perhaps you would like to contribute to the Track Appeal? Due to cost inflation and unexpected contingencies, the relative value of the Millennium Commission Grant has dropped from 50% to 40%. The WHLR is relying on donations to fill the gap and get the scheme completed to Rhyd Ddu by Easter 2002. Click on the track link below and make things happen faster!

Waunfawr>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Rhyd Ddu


Or Volunteer and lay some track!

Phone Jan Woods on 01286 830200 for full details


Stop Press page


Jump ahead or follow the links at the end of each page

Caernarfon-Waunfawr (updated 1/1/01)

Waunfawr-Betws Garmon station (updated 20/1/01)

Betws Garmon Bridge-Salem Bridge (updated 13/1/01)

Salem Bridge-Plasynant Bridge (updated 1/1/01)

Plasynant Halt- Castell Cidwm (N/A)

Castell Cidwm to Glanyrafon (N/A)

Glanyrafon Viaduct-Rhyd Ddu (N/A)

Aberglaslyn Works (updated 6/1/01)

Pont Croesor-PenyMount (N/A)

Task Ahead Page (updated 1/1/01)

Snowdon Page (updated 11/3/00)

PBSSR Works Historical Page (updated 20/1/01)


If you would like an automated announcement of site updates,

please email me by clicking here


There has never been any intent by myself to suggest that the views on these pages represent the views or opinions or policy of the FR, the WHR 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!

 Garratt in the Snow!


This southerly view (30/12/00) shows No. 143 departing Waunfawr in the snow on the first train of the day. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes. Slide scanned at 200 dpi using Olympus ES10 and iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology.


This northerly view (30/12/00) shows Garratt No. 143 approaching the Seiont Bridge in Caernarfon on its climb to Waunfawr in snow up to 20 cm deep. The well loaded three coach train is not an ideal load for the powerful Garratt so the loco produces an unusually large cloud of smoke in these cold conditions. The train was running 40 mins late. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes. Slide scanned at 200 dpi using Olympus ES10 and iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology.


Video Offer

This website is offering an amazing video of the weeks leading up to and including the Opening Day for the Dinas-Waunfawr section in August 2000 and you can help the project by purchasing it as all funds go to the WHRS! Already all the proceeds to date m, some �300, have been donated to the WHRS.

The video includes: -

Works trains with Upnor Castle, the Stephcomatic tamper and Conway Castle, the first appearance of 143 on the line, taken at EVERY public roadbridge, the first carriages up the line, the first steam test train, opening day trains, PLUS a long clip of a ride on the train taken with good condensation!

Please send a blank E180 cassette, return postage and packing and a �10 cheque donation to the WHRS Ltd.. The video is amateur quality hand held on 8mm camcorder as so don't expect professional quality. No money back if dissatisfied!



In addition to an hour of entertainment from the opening period, there is a further hour of bonus unedited recording featuring both the WHR in the sun, the FR (Taliesin's first outing on Heritage train) and the Cambrian Coast line in the sun from the August Bank Holiday.




This southerly view (30/12/00) shows Garratt No. 143 approaching Caernarfon at the Seiont Bridge on the first train of the day. The tracks have not been used and are still covered by snow up to 20 cm deep. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes. Slide scanned at 200 dpi using Olympus ES10 and iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology. 

Read the Guestbook for some independent reviews. Currently dispatch is same week.


Email me for further details.


Check out the clip list for further information.

Clip List


Back Soon!

This website will be back in action soon, following a fatal accident to the computer! It crashed!! Thanks to all the worried correspondents who thought I'd had a fatal accident! Now I've downloaded my website to my new computer, I'll be able to get up and running soon!

In the meantime, ballasting is proceeding south from Waunfawr and six track panels have been laid already. More news and pictures at the weekend.


Services resume after Winter break

This northerly view (18/2/01) shows Mountaineer arriving at Waunfawr, passing under the footbridge, construction of which had started a week earlier. The spans over the tracks were in place but the links to the step abutments at each end had not been completed. Installation of the platform steps had started at this time from the island platform. The three-coach train running over this weekend was the first after the winter break. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes. Slide scanned at 200 dpi using Olympus ES10 and iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology.


Mess coach test runs

The Chattendon coach underwent trial runs on 15/1/01 with the line under total possession. The coach is destined to operate as the mess coach for the railway and will play a vital part in the extension of the line to Rhyd Ddu. The coach may also feature as a brakevan in the Freight Weekend planned for the Spring.


New rail ordered

The WHLR has ordered about 2 km of new rail from South Africa to the same pattern as the existing rail (ex-Donnybrook line). Reduced handling costs will balance the difference between the cost of new and recovered rail. The rail will be provided in 30 kg/m in 18 metre lengths as previous. The rail will fit the existing sleepers, fastenings and fishplates.

Some 300 sleepers were recently delivered in addition to 1500 fishplates. Deliveries will commence in batches from late February and will initially restock 32 track panels borrowed by the FR for their winter maintenance programme. The new rail will be laid south from Betws Garmon pw base. Two further deliveries are expected later in the year.


No. 143 runs final snow trains!

Garratt No. 143 will run the final trains of the year with four inches of snow covering the landscape. Boxing Day saw Mountaineer used but it developed piston problems on 27/12/00 and was withdrawn. Caernarfon Castle was used on the 28/12/00 and its cow-catcher was effective as a snowplough, levelling the snow ahead of the train.

However, the Funkey's batteries misbehaved in the cold conditions on 29/12/00 and Upnor Castle made one of its rare sorties on passenger services. No. 143 has been warmed up ready for use on the final 3 days of the Winter Season passenger service and performed well on 30/12/00 despite a 40 minute late start.


Russell for Rhyd Ddu opening?

Autumn saw discussions with the WHR (Porthmadog) about booking Russell for the Rhyd Ddu opening in 2001. After the successful performance by this loco in the September Gala, it is hoped that Russell crews will want to come back for a 12 mile run up the bank!

With a Merddin Emrys Appeal launched in 2000, the possibility arises of having a double Fairlie for the Rhyd Ddu-Porthmadog opening, if the loco is returned to steam for Spring 2001 (possibly using Earl of Merioneth's power bogies). There is a kit of parts for one power bogie but a second would need to be manufactured, if Earl's could not be spared. Even if Merddin Emrys is not completed in time, the loco could re-enact the event for the Rhyd Ddu-Porthmadog opening in 2005/6.


Additional open coach ordered

Alan Keef Ltd. has won an order for an additional open coach to the same design as the existing open. The coach will be delivered for the Summer 2001 season. The existing Open has proved very popular and a second one could be marshalled at the other end of the train, as passengers like to be near to the loco. The same company will be providing another Open coach for the new rake for the Rhyd Ddu opening in Spring 2002. Boston lodge will be providing refurbished SA bogies for the coaches.

On 27/10/00, coach No. 2040 was in the locoshed being fitted with heating/lighting for a winter service. Coach No. 2041 followed and was back in the rake on 8/11/00. The Guard's coach was the next to be completed. Over Xmas, the three coach Winter set was adorned internally with Xmas decorations.


NG15 restoration?

The Boston Lodge Newsletter has aired the question of an official project to rebuild the NG15 for medium weight trains for the opening to Rhyd Ddu. This would give the line four working locos including 138/143 and K1 and allow Mountaineer to return to the FR. No. 133's tender has been stripped to the frames and is stabled in the headshunt with painted red headstocks marked 'Dinas'.


Tamper finally ready to work

The Yorkshire Engines tamper has had a new hydraulic pump fitted and everything now seems to work (crossed fingers!). Trials were to be held in late November. Following extensive kango work by track gangs until the end of November, it is expected the unit will be out over December levelling and lining the Dinas-Waunfawr section.

However, the unit has not seen any use by the end of December. The Stefcomatic has returned to the FR.


Waunfawr Footbridge arrives

The large footbridge for Waunfawr station arrived in sections on November 24th and was stored near Dinas Goods Shed awaiting painting. It will be erected in January while passenger trains are suspended. It connects the two halves of the caravan site and has steps down to the island platform. The concrete bases were constructed in June.

Also in North Yard are re-inforced concrete slabs being cast for culverts on the Waunfawr-Betws Garmon section.


Winter Service after all!

Services will restart in the February half term holiday (17-25/3/2001).


Betws Garmon progress

Work has commenced on Contract 3A at Betws Garmon. Triact (Colwyn Bay) has been appointed and was at work in late October on site clearance. The bridge was removed on 2/11/00 and a start is to be made on sheet piling in the around the abutment sites so that work can proceed during the fish spawning season. Piling was finished by the end of November. The bridge girders are being stored at Dinas for possible reuse (how about a turntable?).

The new bridge will be a similar design but 17 metres span, compared to the existing 15 metres span. However, the flood relief openings immediately adjacent will be removed. Posford Duvivier is designing the new structures, which will go out to tender soon. Triact was back on site on 15/1/00 building new abutments and dealing with the adjacent flood relief arches and formation.

Progress depends on the completion of the Hyder works to divert the Caernarfon water main from the trackbed to a new route following the main road (expected to start 2/1/01). This work started on 15/1/00 and will deal with the water main through the whole of the Bryn Gloch area. Manweb will be moving electricity services and subcontractors will deal with sewage/water mains etc. The new bridge in the Bryn Gloch campsite may be left until September as a courtesy to the caravan site owner so as not to disturb the summer season.


This southerly view (16/12/00) shows the trackbed south from Betws Garmon station at Ch. 7000. The bridge was removed on 2/11/00 and will be replaced by a new bridge as soon as Hyder has removed the water main from the trackbed. Piling protects the abutments so work can continue without disturbing fish during the spawning season. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes. Slide scanned at 200 dpi using Olympus ES10 and iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology.


Phase 3 Plans

The general principle is to avoid heavy vehicles on the trackbed as these led to deterioration in drainage in the Dinas-Waunfawr section and a mudbath! Expensive rock imports were required to firm up the trackbed again. A rail-based solution is also preferred, as there is poor access to the trackbed beyond Ch. 10,000. JCB's will be largely banned from the trackbed and most of the work will be done by 360o crawler excavators, supported by small dumpers.

As much work as possible will be done after the basic track has been laid, bringing in materials by rail. The majority of culverts will be strengthened and refurbished as a more economic solution than total replacement.

The work is split into several sections.

Click here for contract split, list of works and chainages of sections.

Section 3B is first off the mark. This is the section from Waunfawr to Betws Garmon station. The 1.1km length from the headshunt at Ch. 5870 to Ch. 7000 will be constructed by direct labour. GCC officials will be consulted about the 'type of finish of works' eg. stonework. Work will started in mid November.

Section 3A is the next section along the line. This covers approx. 300 m from Ch. 7000 to Ch. 7300, the boundary of the Snowdonia National Park (SNP). Hyder (Welsh Water) are expected on site in November to divert the Caernarfon water main off the trackbed to follow the main road. Triact has been appointed for the railway works in a contract worth �250,000. This will include a new river bridge (UB51), minor changes to the main road bridge (OB53) and a new access bridge (OB54) to the Bryn Gloch caravan site.

No work can proceed in the SNP Authority area south of Sec. 3A until the Aberglaslyn Works are complete (as required by the T&W Order). Work started on 1/11/00. The contract includes rock work and tunnel repair to a value of �200,000 approx.

Work should be completed by end of January, thus allowing work to start on the Bryn Gloch-Rhyd Ddu section, early in the New Year.

A new footbridge will also be erected 4 metres north of Brynyfelin Bridge. This has received SNPA planning permission. It will be opened for the 2001 tourist season. 

The remaining 8.5 km of trackbed to Rhyd Ddu will be tackled as follows.

The section from Bryn Gloch Caravan site to Glanyrafon viaduct (UB95) will be contracted out.

There are two further river bridges across the Afon Gwyrfai at Salem (UB 56) and Plasynant (UB64). Underpinning jobs are necessary for road bridges at Betws Garmon (OB53), Pont Cerrig-y-rhyd (OB62), just south of Plasynant loop, and at Castell Cidwm (OB71). These bridges will be let as 3 parcels.

A training agency in Birkenhead has offered to complete the three replacement bridges to coded welding standards. It is yet to be decided whether to take up this kind offer.

Detailed design work and tendering is underway for the Glanyrafon viaduct. This bridge is too weak. The abutments require new bearing seating plinths (bearing believed to be seized) and the two main wrought iron girders are not strong enough to take the potential maximum loading of a double headed Garratt train. The viaduct must therefore be strengthened by modification or supplemented by additional/replacement beams. This is part of a design and build contract.

The 2.9 km section from Glan-yr-afon Ch 12700 to Rhyd Ddu station throat Ch 14600 will be done by direct labour by WHLR Ltd. itself.

At Rhyd Ddu, a separate contract will be let for the station itself. This involves a slight diversion of the route to the east as the trackbed is currently occupied by GCC's car park and toilets. The 400 m diversion swings sharply east then angles gently back towards the existing formation, which it will rejoin at the headshunt at approx. Ch 15000. The station will feature a relatively narrow 200 m island platform as, unlike Waunfawr, the station building will not be on the platform. It will be at the north end, near the GCC toilets, between the existing trackbed and the end of the new platform.

A footbridge will connect to the platform, which will feature waiting shelters and flowerbeds. There will be room for a 150m and a 60 m sidings on the old formation from a point near the headshunt, facing Beddgelert. These will be needed for stabling a passenger train and for works trains for Phase 4. The buffer stop will be around Ch. 15200 along the straight to Pitt's Head, although if the funding comes through as expected, there may never be a buffer stop!

Progress on the running line

The water tower at Waunfawr was erected on its wooden cradle on 25/8/00 and looks resplendent in its crimson paintwork. The Bank Holiday weekend saw the fittings being added but it was not working for the Gala weekend. The mains water feed was still to be connected when viewed on 23/12/00. Eventually trailable points will be installed both ends but at the moment a FPL controls the northern loop exit point. The footbridge will be placed in January, but the station buildings await funding. 

The buffer stop still needed to be reattached to the headshunt at South Yard on 27/10/00.

There is a possibility of laying track at the south end of the carriage sheds with two points to join into the headshunt.

Service Locos

Mountaineer worked 16/12/00.

Mountaineer worked 26/12/00.

Mountaineer worked 27/12/00 but developed problems.

Caernarfon Castle worked 28/12/00 but developed problems.

Upnor Castle worked 29/12/00.

No. 143 worked 30/12/00.


Click here for Phase 3 map

Gradient Profiles

Click here for a simple gradient profile

Click here for a more detailed engineering gradient profile



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Page Version 3.16 dated 23/3/01