WHR

Archived news 2003

V4.2 dated 11/8/09

New Year services

Many supporters will be hoping for snow over the Xmas/New Year period to ride in a Winter landscape and photograph the trains at Rhyd Ddu. Trains depart Caernarfon at 1030 and 1330 returning from Rhyd Ddu at 1155 and 1455. Trains will be steam-hauled until 1/1/04 and diesel-hauled until 4/1/04. A link is provided to the timetable website below. After the New Year services, there is a gap of 5 weeks until the February Half Term service (14-29/2/04) to allow gauge widening and other pw work to proceed uninterrupted, with the aim of raising speeds to 25mph in places. 

http://www.festrail.co.uk/timetables.htm

 

Snow-cams!

There are a number of useful websites with live refreshing web-cams that give nearby views that can confirm the presence of snow. With Rhyd Ddu at an altitude of 200m approx. snow lies several times a year on the upper reaches of the railway.

The railway's good friends Edison Mission Energy have two web-cams on top of Elidir Fach in the Llanberis Pass. These give views of Snowdon from the north and  Moel Eilio, above Betws Garmon from the east side. The second angle is perhaps most useful as it gives a view down to Llanberis village (altitude 100m approx.). If Llanberis has lying snow then it is likely there will be lying snow from Waunfawr to Rhyd Ddu. There are also weather station temperature reports for Llanberis and Snowdon Summit on this useful site.

http://www.fhc.co.uk/weather/live/

Another useful website for travellers by car are the A55 live web-cams. These several web-cams show traffic conditions and lying snow (if any). Perhaps the Britannia Bridge web-cam is most useful. These images are refreshed automatically every 5 seconds.

http://www.nwales-traffic.co.uk/english/road/cameras/default.asp

Finally, the Met Office has a Rainfall Radar animation that shows the last few hours of snowfall/rainfall movement. It is updated every hour.

http://www.met-office.gov.uk/weather/europe/uk/radar/#top

 

Xmas cheer

Reports from the WHR/RE show that the Santa Specials did very well and up on last year. Loadings are said to have beaten the FR's. Three trains a day were offered over 2 weekends, providing a 50% increase in seats. Trains only ran to Waunfawr. The WHR has helped pull the FR finances around and has lead to an estimated profit of around £100,000 for 2003.

 

WHR(P) works

Work is continuing to make good progress at Traeth Mawr Loop. The temporary loop is being built at a slightly lower level than the future continuation to Pont Croesor and will be shorter than the standard WHR(C) 200m loops. The footpath is going to switch from the southeast to northwest side at the north end of the loop.

Progress in December consisted of the completion of the farmer's access track and substantial work on the formation of the Traeth Mawr loop. All the topsoil has been stripped and set to one side and the area of the loop is now being graded to the correct levels. The extra width for the loop is clearly apparent on the ground.

The pile of slate waste that once covered the turnout for the WHR(P) terminus has gone. Good progress was made on the fencing between the trackbed and footway and long lengths of the orange temporary fence have been removed which improves the look of the place considerably.

Including the loop, the total length of works is 912m. a link is provided below to the website which includes photos updated to 26/11/03.

http://www.pontcroesor.co.uk/

Cycle trains

Two B wagons are to be converted to carry cycles. Presumably this will be by the addition of a cycle rack. One would be included in each rake. Except for the low season, the addition of these vehicles to the rakes will have to wait the extension of Caernarfon station loop.

The aim is to encourage tourist cycle traffic to use the railway for part of their journey. Mountain bikes are often seen on the Snowdon tracks from Snowdon Ranger and Rhyd Ddu at certain times of year but are banned at other times.

The railway is still in negotiation with SNPA and other authorities about providing a parallel cycle track between Rhyd Ddu and Beddgelert when this section is built.

 

Brake van coming

On 14/1/04, the ex-SAR brake van will start its journey from Durban to the UK. The bauxite liveried van has been donated by Sandstone Estates Railway and will arrive towards the end of February.

 

Prince goes home

Prince and coach No.10 left the railway around December 9/10th. after a programme of special trains chartered for photographers. An additional run to Rhyd Ddu was arranged on 16/11/03 (prior to the originally booked trips) because of worsening weather. The loco is going for a spruce up in Boston Lodge before being displayed at the NRM to commemorate the FR 50 event.

Meanwhile the ME2K group has established a website for Merddin Emrys (1879) rebuild. New tanks are being constructed over Xmas. The same jigs will be used to build new tanks for Earl of Merioneth when required so eliminating the 'space-age' look of this loco, which many consider disfigures it. A proposal has gone to the FR Board to rename the Earl of Merioneth as James Spooner after the scrapped double Fairlie (1872) of the same name that took part in the WHR opening tests. The fourth original double Fairlie Livingston Thompson (1885) resides at the NMR but is returning to the Fr from December 2004 to October 2005 to celebrate the FR 50 event. This loco ran as Taliesin in early FR revival days.

http://www.merddin-emrys.co.uk/

 

K1  and Harold news

There has been some re-organisation of personnel in the K1 project. It is hoped to finish the loco in 2004 and have it available for lighter services. It may be available for the WHR Gala but Boston Lodge paid work is required as the heavy rebuild of Merddin Emrys and paid outside contracts take priority.

Meanwhile it has been reported that Harold has failed. Boston Lodge fitters have been unable to resurrect this little green diesel shunter following its repatriation from the WHR. An appeal has been launched for a new power unit for this useful loco. Tony Willmore is seeking donations towards the £2000 cost of repairs.

 

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This view (22/11/03) shows K1 nearing completion in Boston Lodge works. Volunteer work is proceeding and it is hoped paid work will resume in 2004. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Mike Schumann and is a digital image.

 

Beddgelert Footpath works

Work was underway in November/December finishing off the footpaths near Bryn-y-felin bridge. Work took place last summer to improve some sections of the Fisherman's Path in the Aberglaslyn Pass itself. 

 

Volunteer projects progress

Work has started on various projects, firstly volunteers have started to sand down and paint all the station benches and lampposts and other sundry paintwork that was starting to show wear. Good progress has been made on a couple of days cutting back lineside growth and digging out drainage ditches below Hendy and replacing some crossing timbers which have rotted. Loads of brambles, small trees and other assorted green stuff has been chopped and pulled up between Dinas and Tryfan Junction.

Work started in December on the hole left by them retaining wall collapse at Caernarfon. The contractor has erected a fence on the town side of the track so that the site can be worked even when trains are running. This will probably go on into the New Year.

John Wooden been working on the on train PA system and now have all four saloons are working nicely and also the Pullman. These systems have previously never worked.

 

Tryfan Junction Halt progress

With Tryfan Junction Halt fenced off from the line last Summer work proceeded to clear the interior from 7/10/03. Four members of the WHR Heritage Group cleared the 'gents' area. A tiled floor was revealed and, surprisingly, the drainage was still found to work!

A further session on 27/11/03 revealed toilet closets and a room with a slate slabbed floor at the front of the building with original pw materials stored. The final 'room' is likely to be cleared on 19/1/04. It is eventually hoped to re-roof and restore the building to railway use.

 

No.134

The boiler lift has now been scheduled and is due to occur during the first two weeks of April next Spring. During the light evenings next year a major effort can be made on cleaning the chassis up and finding any faults.

Now that Prince has returned home to Boston Lodge, Team Wylfa have been told that all efforts will be made to shunt the tender chassis into the goods shed so that they can pick up where the previous 134ers left off. This is good news as they were in danger of running out of things to refurbish!

The group is still looking for volunteers for work in a nice dry, well lit Dinas shed on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. The aim will be to lift the frames, run the bogies out, refurbish and correctly refit. It is believed that the rear is currently the forward and vice versa.

The next job will be to refit all the brake gear and have the tender chassis completed before the boiler lift. As for the tank / bunker…… various options are being looked at but obviously there is currently no money to do any actual work. It will be a homework design job ready for when money becomes available.

 

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This Autumn view shows one of the wheelsets from the tender of No.134 following removal in the Goods Shed. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Jim Comerford and is was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

'590' appeal

The WHR(P) has launched an appeal for funds to help rebuild the NRM Baldwin No.794 as No.590 which ran on the WHR. No.794, a part of the never completed Bressingham WW1 trenches railway project, was repatriated from India around 1985, where it worked on a sugar plantation. The loco is without a boiler and will require substantial funds to complete. One of the original side tanks of '590' survives at Gelert's Farm.

 

Caernarfon retaining wall collapse

On 3/11/03 a section of the retaining wall above the railway collapsed just south of Lon Parc footbridge on the approaches to Caernarfon Station. It is below the last house going south from the station. The wall is about 7m high and the hole is about 10m wide and the debris fell just short of the railway, which keeps to the west edge of the formation at this point. Your web editor had noticed the bulge on 30/10/03.

 

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This northerly view (4/11/03) shows how close the landslip of 3/11/03 came to the line. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright WHLR taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Two pieces of wall weighing about 1.5 tonnes each remained suspended but completely cracked through. Charles Cooke was appointed as the contractor and intended to stabilise the wall and dislodge the two loose sections before Friday. If this work had not been done there was a risk that trains would have been cancelled this weekend.

The initial proposal was that the contractor had to remove two sections of the steel fence adjacent to the entrance of Lon Eifion to gain access to the worksite. It was intended to put down some sub-base to gain access over the track with an excavator. A concreted-in post would also be removed but will be replaced at the completion of the works. That entrance would only be open to allow access by the contractor whilst that section of railway is under possession. The contractor has also requested permission to place his cabin in the corner of the station car park by the pile of walling stone.

 

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This southerly view (4/11/03) shows how close the landslip of 3/11/03 came to the line. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright WHLR taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

GCC intends to stabilise the wall midweek to allow trains to run at weekends and over Christmas. The wall will be rebuilt during the 6 weeks in the New Year when trains do not run. It will take several weeks to do a final repair.

Luckily the lease says that the retaining wall belongs to the Council though the RE has to provide access. The contractors are going under the railway at the old St. Helens Road bridge then via a new ramp up onto the railway formation behind Tescos and along the east side of the wide formation. They will be working Monday to Friday repairing it.

 

Dinas Plans

Proposals for the layout at the north end of Dinas Carriage shed are still being finalised but it looks probable that two LEFT hand points will now be needed. One is already completed and a right hand point had been started but it looks now that another left hander is required. Most work is being done by the Black Hand gang. The points will hopefully connect both carriage shed roads to the head shunt at the North end before next season.

The proposals will simplify shunt manoeuvres at the start of each day and cut out the need for a diesel pilot (usually Castell Caernarfon). The train engine will run into the headshunt (presumably cleared of pw vehicles) and shunt back into the Carriage Shed. It will attach to the north end then propel the set into the 'release road' as current practice, finally exiting the yard onto the main line.

Plans for a Dinas shunt token are nearing completion. At the moment, when the two train service is in operation, the second loco cannot be disposed to the Loco Shed until the section to Waunfawr has been cleared. To protect the shunting movements it is proposed to have indicators protecting Dinas from the Waunfawr direction and the Caernarfon direction. These will not technically be Home signals. Final arrangements are still being discussed with HMRI. 

The RE would like a signal west of the A487 road bridge and north of Dinas Farm crossing, using a simple white light probably. This would then be extinguished when the shunt token is withdrawn and therefore failsafe. The token would have keys to both the North and South yards attached. It will not be possible to withdraw the token when any train is in a section APPROACHING Dinas. The RE is hoping that the Black Hand Gang will be involved in installation.

 

Hudson flat appeal

At the end of August, the WHRS East Anglian Group acquired four Hudson flat wagons from the Imperial War Museum at Duxford. The IWM has disposed of its 2 foot gauge collection and the WHR(P) has in turn benefited from a Baldwin (see below).

The useful Hudson wagons will be used behind  Dolgarrog, or Harold, on the rebuilding of Phase 4 to Beddgelert and beyond. Good progress is being made by a small group of members, but more help is needed. So far, the timber decking has been stripped and this will all have to be renewed. One wagon has had its wheels and axleboxes removed, its roller bearings dismantled for refurbishment, and its frame de-rusted and repainted. Also on site are 9 skips built by Allen's of Tipton, and these may also find a use on the WHR works in due course.

If you can help, our next working party will be held on Saturday next, 8/11/03, from around 09.00 onwards. The location will be member Rob Blackmore's site at Horseheath, between Cambridge and Haverhill. Remember to bring sandwiches and a flask!

Directions: From Cambridge direction, leave the A11 at the Fourwentways junction, following the A1307 towards Haverhill. Pass the villages of Great Abington and Linton, and you will eventually come to the village Horseheath which is actually located off the A1307 on a "passing loop". Ignore the village, but look out for a minor road on the right, signposted Shudy Camps and Camps End. Head for the water tower, which is a local landmark. Follow the road around and Rob's site is on the right, immediately under (but just before) the water tower.

 

Volunteer Appeal

THE LONG OVERDUE UPGRADING AND MAINTENANCE OF THE OPERATING RAILWAY STARTS NOW.

Pete Hugman and John will be working at Dinas all winter to reduce the maintenance back log on the railway that we have used for the last six years. YOUR help is needed.

We hope to have one or both of us on duty every day during the Winter, including the weekends but please book. So please come and join in. Here are some of the tasks that we would like to tackle.

 

Dinas:-

Construct and install points at north end of Carriage shed.

Install shunting token system at Dinas.

Paint + maintain station buildings and toilets.

Paint + maintain lamp posts.

Paint + maintain station name boards and benches.

Construct new catering stores.

Caernarfon - Waunfawr :-

Maintain ditches and crossings. Cut back and clear brush.

Remove graffiti, clean and replace signs - the detail for this above covers two pages!

Finish Waunfawr passenger access, paint fence, erect signage.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO HELP PLEASE CONTACT Pete Hugman on 07880 792065  or volunteer@dinas.gioserve.com

 

Winter Track Maintenance programme

Altogether there are 21 curved locations requiring gauge widening, totalling some 1.5km. There are 25 level crossings that need some sort of attention to meet with HMRI requirements before 18/2/04 when the 2004 season starts.

Plas-y-nant bridge is to be re-sleepered with tapered sleepers. The original batch, stored in the shed at Plas-y-nant, cracked in the heat before they could be installed. UB101 near Clogwyn-y-gwin, needs its handrails removed, transported to Dinas for galvanising, then refitted. There are also three culverts which need the headwalls extended to retain ballast better.

Cedric Lodge is appealing for tools as apparently the existing set were 'Millennium Commission materials' and have been withdrawn from use until Phase IV!

For further information or to advise the organisers you would definitely like to come contact :- 

Dafydd Thomas - 01248 681019

Paul Bradshaw - 0151 427 2880

Paul can also be contacted by e-mail - paul@bradshaw-web.me.uk

Cedric Lodge - 01286 650681

 

Winter Coach Maintenance

Following completion of the Xmas/New Year train service, coaches No. 2090 and FR No. 113 are going to Boston Lodge on the 6/1/04 for painting, upgrade and general maintenance. It seems No. 113 is here to stay on the RE until new coaches are built. The FR/RE Chairman has suggested a new coach similar to No.2090 is required with room for Guard's compartment, trolley store, and space for luggage/rucksacks and cycles.

With the ex-SAR Guard's Van No. 3172 due to arrive in the near future, some attention will need to be given to this vehicle. With its vacuum braking, it will run in demonstration freight trains, leaving latterly used No.1001 to stay with the pw train.

When Caernarfon station platform is extended No. 3172 could be used as a bicycle carrier, though with no corridor connection. The vehicle is one of 24 built in 1971/2 but saw little use after 1973 and was latterly stored at Port Elizabeth in a line of nine. They are slightly taller and wider (over lamp brackets) than the Winson coaches but are about 4m shorter.

 

Good Traffic figures for October

School Half Term saw good traffic flows on the RE with typically over £1000 a train being taken. Trains were often filled and the open coach proved popular on the sunny days to people well wrapped up! Traffic figures have been above last year for most of the summer except the week prior to opening, when people 'in the know' obviously delayed their visit. 

 

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This easterly view (30/10/03) at Rhyd Ddu shows No.143 ready to depart with a snow-clad Snowdon behind. Traffic figures have remained buoyant all Autumn. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The final day of steam operation was 30/10/03. There had been snow during the week on the mountains. An evening steam Halloween trip on 31/10/03 was fully booked, running to Waunfawr in association with the Snowdonia Parc pub Halloween buffet. 

On 30/10/03 No. 143 had no problem with the first train of the day despite the wet rail and leaf mulch! Trains are still operating on a Stop & Proceed basis at the level crossing just before Snowdon Ranger Halt. Calls were made at both Bontnewydd and Snowdon Ranger Halts. It was noted that the former worksite at Snowdon Ranger has been restored to a field.

 

Winter timetable

It is hoped to run 2 steam trains a day in the period 26/12 to 1/1/04 and with diesel until 4/1/04. The four train weekend service finished on 19/10/03 but the two train diesel hauled service continues until Xmas. The Santa Trains have been expanded to three per day this year on 13-14/12 and 20-21/12 at 1030/1230/1430 as potential bookings had to be turned away last year. The service terminates at Waunfawr.

A disappointment has been the dropping of the proposed all-year round weekend services in January/February due to intensive pw works to finally fettle the line for 25mph running. There are no services for the five weeks between 4/1/04 and 14/2/04, but to be fair the FR has now recognised that there are two weeks that cover half term holidays at the end of February. A mid week service commences 23/3/04 but misses out Mondays and Fridays!

 

Loco news

No. 143 hauled trains on 30/10/03 with No.138 in pieces in the loco shed. The main body is sheeted outside while the north end engine unit has been detached and disassembled inside the shed. The wheelsets have been removed from the frame and progress was being made on 30/10/03.

Prince remains in Dinas Goods Shed as of 30/10/03. The loco has been chosen to represent the FR/WHR at the NRM for 10 days next Spring Bank Holiday and should generate some welcome publicity. The two NG15s have acquired some identification with laminated replica number plates attached. Castell Caernarfon was yard pilot and Upnor Castle was depot pilot while Conway Castle was at Plas-y-nant with the pw train. K1 was noted outside Boston Lodge due to pressure of space.

 

Counter competition results

The counter reached 300,000 on 28/10/03 just before 1300. The winner will receive a Merddin Emrys mug. This loco was used on the test trains on the WHR in the 1920s.  The results are as follows....

Phil King WINNER!                        300002

David Jones (WHR guard)               300006

Peter Excell                                      300007

Adrian Parker (Italy)                        300022

Simon Atkinson                                300052

 

Unusual angles!

Your intrepid webmaster has walked the full length of the line many times with permission since undertaking this marathon task of recording the Phase 3 project and has come across a few interesting angles. Here are a few from the August operations to whet your appetite. All three views are from public footpaths.

 

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Venture who dares! This northerly view (8/03) shows the view south from Bryn Gloch bridge. Here No.143 hurries north with the last train of the day at Bryn Gloch. Even campers have been harangued by the campsite owner for waving at or taking pictures of trains! Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This evening shot at Salem l/c is only available for a few months of the year when the sun sets in the northwest. This southerly image (8/03) shows the l/c to the right. Here No.143 hurries north with the last train of the day. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This westerly view catches No. 143 at Bron-y-fedw Isaf farm. Make sure you don't walk through the farmyard! In the background is Llyn Cwellyn. This shot is best taken in the morning with the sun in the southeast. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Progress 'Down South'

There has been considerable progress with the WHR(P)'s extension north from Pen-y-Mount, though there is concern about funding. Work has reached the 900m point where a loop is to be constructed. It had been hoped that the scheme might be completed and opened next July but now engineers are not so sure. The WHR(P) is the FR's subcontractor for this section and all work is being done to FR engineering standards.

The shortfall seems to be about £30,000 and with half the monthly subscribed income going to Consultants, the WHR(P) is looking for donations/help to ensure completion of the railway in 2004. John Kerr is the contact for any donations. By agreement with the FR, the WHR(P) is not allowed to compete for grant funding.

For full details of progress see the Pont Croesor to Pen-y-Mount page.

 

SR weekend report

The weekend of 27-28/9/03 was the Steam Railway magazine event. Extra trains were laid on including the Prince shuttles between Caernarfon and Dinas and some re-enactments of the Royal Train run. No freight trains were run.

Numbers attending proved a little disappointing, with staff reporting traffic as little better than a normal weekend. Indeed, even some of the Prince's shuttles were not full. More people were line-siding though, with expensive camera equipment.

 

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This southerly view (27/9/03) shows No.138 waiting for its return duty at Rhyd Ddu as seen from the site of the future station building. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This southerly view (27/9/03) shows No.138 in the Gwyrfai Gorge rounding the last curve into Plas-y-nant with the Pullman car next to the loco. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Track gauge widening at Salem

Team Wylfa were diverted from their NG15 - No.134 Project work onto track clips again on 16/10/03. The team was asked by the trackworks gang if they could sort out 2000 '0+', 2000 'M2' and 160 'M1' clips ready for the gauge widening exercise due to take place on the sharp curves around Salem during the first week of November. Between them, the volunteers managed the task in one evening and all are now bagged and labelled, on pallets, in bags of 50 ready to go.

 

WinterActive Report 11-12/10/03

Sadly, there was less interest than expected in the WinterActive programme and the early morning 'Driver Experience' freight trip with Castell Caernarfon was withdrawn with no takers at £295. The event was advertised late but there was a leaflet drop on the trains for the SR magazine event two weeks earlier. There was a similar situation on the FR with surprisingly no takers for the steam hauled freight trips priced at £200.

 

NG15 project revived

Team Wylfa has reactivated this project in a small and 'no cost' way. So far they have weatherproofed the 2 locos, especially No. 134, which had quite a lot of openings created from the previous work done. The group is now concentrating on No.134 proper. The first job is to catalogue all the components (using a copy of the official Anglo Franco-Belge book) and noting which have been refurbished and any that are missing.

The team would welcome some input from the previous NG15 volunteers who know more readily where they were up to. The previous group lost interest when they were asked to move out of the Loco Shed 3 years ago as both roads were required by the FR for day to day maintenance.

Volunteers have been pleasantly surprised at just how many parts have already been overhauled but there is still a long way to go. Tuesday /Thursday evenings will usually find the group at Dinas. As the evenings and weather close in, the group will most likely be moving indoors to the loco shed and machine shop. They will be starting to clean up and overhaul more of the components from now on.

If you want to come and join the group, call on Clive Briscoe's mobile to confirm the team will be there on 07974-927027. It is usually switched off during the day at work but you can always leave a message and he will get back to you.

 

Prince into October

Prince is to stay at the RE (WHR) until October with news of its participation in the WinterActive programme (in conjunction with a simultaneous event at the FR). With No.138 being disassembled, the duties on 11-12/10/03 will see Prince hauling two 'Royal Specials' from Caernarfon at 1150 and 1445. No. 143 will haul the other two round trip trains.

 

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This northerly view (27/9/03) shows Prince at Dinas shunting one of its shuttle trains with the former Royal Train coaches in tow. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

There will be a diesel freight trip with Castell Caernarfon (if booked by October 6th by someone willing to pay for the privilege). This will be the first of what is hoped will become regular Driver Experience freight turns. Tel. 01766 516024 for the Booking Office.

For full timetable details click here

Prince is also involved in the special event this weekend. After the 0915 from Caernarfon round trip (0930 from Dinas Sunday) it does a series of three Caernarfon-Dinas shuttles with the 'Royal Train' (Coaches Nos. 24/23/10) at 1240, 1410 and 1540. There are no freights this weekend.

For full timetable click here

 

Volunteer appeal

Roland Doyle has made an appeal for volunteers to help the permanent staff clean up the railway. There is much rubbish along the line with spare rails and sleepers etc. to be picked up. There will be a big bonfire party on November 5th following a week long clearance bash.

TRACKWORK VOLUNTEERS' WEEK 1-9 NOVEMBER

Calling all new and experienced volunteers to come and help with numerous tasks that still need to be done before HMRI's next visit.  

1-2 November - preparing for clearing the line from Rhyd Ddu to Waunfawr.

3-5 November - clearance trains Rhyd Ddu - Waunfawr.

6-9 November - numerous other tasks.

Don't think that you can't do anything because you think its all heavy physical work, far from it. There are a thousand and one jobs to be done, painting, gardening, general tidying up, fixing doors, maintenance of tools and the list just goes on and on.

For further information or to advise the organisers you would definitely like to come contact :- 

Dafydd Thomas - 01248 681019

Paul Bradshaw - 0151 427 2880

Paul can also be contacted by e-mail - paul@bradshaw-web.me.uk

Cedric Lodge - 01286 650681

The railway will then officially be handed over to the FR assuming all the snags identified by the HMRI have been cleared up. One snag that already has been fixed is the 10mph speed limit across Betws Garmon bridge for double headed Garratts.

 

AGM news

The AGM of the WHRS was held on 13/9/03 at a rather crowded venue at Bontnewydd. The WHRS raised the £15,000 cost of the Betws Garmon bridge and has committed itself to raise funds for the Snowdon Ranger Halt waiting shelter.

The General Manager reported that the August income for the RE (WHR!) at £85,000 was twice that budgeted for. He appealed for additional helpers to make a success of the Steam Railway Readers Weekend (27-8/9/03) when a similar timetable would be run. The income from this would help fund a marketing effort to promote the RE as a 'World Class' tourist attraction.

It will take about £12m to finish the basic line to Porthmadog but all the extras, like three train sets and five steam locos, plus proper station facilities will cost another £6m. One of the 'frills' it is hoped to introduce is a full Silver Service 'Wine & Dine' train based on additional Pullman cars.

A decision on funding for the extension to Porthmadog could come around Xmas but before the project starts an Environmental Survey is needed. This could cost about £10,000 just for the section to Beddgelert and maybe the WHRS could fund this so that a prompt start could be made on Phase 4 in 2004 given funding.

The RE is seeking 'gifts' of £11m with £1.25m hopefully to come from members. If all the Gift Aid Forms of the current membership are completed, that £1.25m reduces to £1m, or well under £500 each over the 3 year length of the project - due for completion in 2007. There is still some discussion about whether the project can be completed in one big 'hit' or a number of bite-sized chunks such as Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert.

Planning permission is in hand for the Caernarfon Station extension. This will allow 9/10 coach trains but unfortunately take up all available car parking space. The wooden station building will be capable of being erected elsewhere if a more permanent building is eventually erected. More halts could follow and the possible Plas-y-nant Halt has already seen a local pressure group raising funds.

 

Busting at the seams!

That was an appropriate description of the Super Power Weekend on the RE (WHR) on 13-14/9/03. Trains were packed and, with hot weather, it was uncomfortable for some. A band of Morris Dancers complete with Welsh Dragon also journeyed from station to station by train.

There were a few complaints from passengers not able to get seats but most enjoyed the ride and scenery. Running three freight trains and offering only 4 round passenger train trips, when the peak service offered six, was perhaps a mistake. In comparison, the GCR Gala offered only 2 freights and over 10 passenger trains (but to be fair they do have double track)!

The shortage of coaches led to short trains and contributed to overcrowding but, with coaches costing £80,000 each, that problem will have to wait. More immediately, many believe Plas-y-nant loop should be completed as a priority to allow trains to pass and time to be made up on the long section from Waunfawr to Rhyd Ddu.

Some, including a WHR Director, believed Quarry Hunslet Velinheli would double head with Prince on the final train of the day on Saturday but it was not to be. Prince arrived alone with two coaches at Rhyd Ddu, making a fine sight climbing the stiff gradient with stentorian gusto. The return service was extended to Caernarfon as so many people had not been able to catch the last train back.

 

WHR(P) report

The WHR(P) is hoping to open its 1 km extension to Traeth Mawr in July 2004. Good progress is being made by clearance and fencing gangs who have reached the site of the proposed temporary run-round loop. The trackbed is being formed with sand and reinforced with slate waste and rolled flat.

Beddgelert Farm works is to receive a Baldwin loco from Duxford. This will be restored to the same condition as No. 590 that operated on the WHR. It will carry the number '590'.

 

Rhyd Ddu opening

The WHR opened to Rhyd Ddu on 18/7/03. The first train of the day was Caernarfon Castle which operated light engine on a proving run. The second train was the 1030 'Special' for invited guests who had contributed to the project (though not your webmaster!). Take up was less than expected (perhaps short notice) so the FR offered seats  to the public on this first run at a £5 supplement. The day started damp and cloudy but was warm and sunny by the time the special arrived at Rhyd Ddu.

 

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This southerly view (18/8/03) shows Caernarfon Castle doing the proving run in the path of the first diesel hauled departure from Caernarfon. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The train was followed by a troop of photographers from Waunfawr to Rhyd Ddu. Following arrival at 11.30, the passengers detrained and the train reversed out. It then returned at speed, bursting through a banner across the line in the platform for all to photograph to universal cheering and clapping.

Two small groups of protestors waved banners at Castell Cidwm and Glan-yr-afon. Outside broadcast TV cameras covered the opening in detail. The second train at 1150 was packed and various delays led to the last train running an hour later (still packed). It also ran an hour late the second day and was still packed. This proves the preparedness of people to travel on an evening 1730 departure! On the third day it was 30 minutes late and again over an hour late on Thursday due to No.143 experiencing brake problems and being substituted at Dinas by No. 138. 

Many people are joining/leaving the train at Rhyd Ddu and the last train is noticeably empty on leaving Rhyd Ddu. Rhyd Ddu car park (and its northern extension alongside the station entrance) have been almost full every day.

The trains runs at up to 20mph on the long straight section from Tan-y-ffordd to Tros-y-gol. There is a 'Stop & Proceed with caution' order at Snowdon Ranger level crossing (at least for few weeks). By the third day, people were beginning to use the halt (inform guard/stick hand out!).

Passengers were very appreciative of the spectacular views on offer and the open coaches were very popular despite cool weather. Some came back a second time! Coach parties have increased in number and have run to Rhyd Ddu. 

Hot drinks were running out on the buffet. There is clearly a need for an ice cream van or something similar at Rhyd Ddu. The Cwellyn Arms is sometimes able to offer all-day food (but phone to check!). When the weather is clear, their beer garden offers an excellent view of both the final 5 minutes of the WHR's climb to Rhyd Ddu and the Snowdon Mountain Railway's approach to the summit.

 

Completing the Rhyd Ddu loop

The weekend of 16-17/8 saw a large volunteer force completing the loop at Rhyd Ddu so that a diesel pilot was not required. All the test trains had been completed by Saturday night. Progress was so good that Sunday was used to complete the pw siding to the same length as the headshunt although no buffer stops were fitted as the intention is to press on to Beddgelert and Porthmadog!

 

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This southerly view (17/8/03) shows Dolgarrog arriving with its FR wagon in tow from last minute pw work down the line. Taxi-2 is the first loco to use the new run round connection while Harold is stabled in the pw siding. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This northerly view (17/8/03) shows Taxi-2 shunting back into the pw siding whilst Dolgarrog waits on the arrival line. In the future, when longer trains are run, the platform will be extended to the south through this location and the points and siding will be repositioned. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

There was a good crowd of volunteers, some who had come in response to the appeal on this website. The WHLR has been commissioned by the Fr to maintain Phase 3. There is some completion work to do involving ballast and super-elevation.

 

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This northerly view (17/8/03) shows volunteers at the headshunt surrounding Roland Doyle WHLR manager (yellow jacket) celebrating the end of Phase 3 with arms extending pointing to Phase 4 and Porthmadog. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The connecting track was left un-ballasted and additional work in required here to level and tamp the loop. The same evening additional signs had to be erected at Waunfawr and digital images sent to HMRI to prove compliance with their list of requirements. Conway Castle was left stabled against the stop block at Waunfawr, Upnor Castle and the pw train was in the Plas-y-nant loop and the other three locos were locked in the Rhyd Ddu pw siding.

 

WHR on TV/video

S4C (and S4C Digital) featured the latest update to the WHR story on 8/9/03 at 2030 called 'For the Love of Steam-III'. The earlier two programmes will also be screened FTLOS-I (covering South Africa and Caernarfon-Dinas) at 1350 on 6/9/03 and FTLOS-II (covering Dinas-Waunfawr) at 1345 on 7/9/03. Helen Williams-Ellis of Beca Films has directed all three films. It is anticipated the video will be much longer than the half hour broadcast.

 

Tests 15/8/03

On Friday 15/8/03, No. 138 set out from Dinas at 0700 with a dry run before the final HMRI test train. It departed from Dinas a second time at 0900, picking up the Inspector at Waunfawr. The day was warm and sunny but with some cloud. I caught up with the train at Salem at 0930 as, fortunately for me, the inspector was checking every level crossing.

 

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This southerly view (15/8/03) shows No.138 at Plas-y-nant with its six coach rake returning to Dinas after the final HMRI test. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This southerly view (15/8/03) shows No.138 (plus Conway Castle to assist with the run-round) with the final HMRI test train tackling the steep gradient south from Castell Cidwm. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Once the gradient was met on the approach to Plas-y-nant and south from at Castell Cidwm, the restarts offered some interesting slipping action which added to an unexplained squeak from the front right piston. The train finally arrived at Rhyd Ddu around midday.

After arrival in the platform the train reversed out of the station and No.138 detached and ran forwards into the incomplete run round loop. Conway Castle, which had been coupled inside No.138, hauled the train back into the platform. No. 138 then shunted out and coupled onto the north end for the return run.

 

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This northerly view (15/8/03) shows No.138 shunting into the run round loop at Rhyd Ddu while Conway Castle hauls the rake back into the station. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This northerly view (15/8/03) shows Conway Castle hauling the final HMRI test train back into the Rhyd Ddu station after the train had shunted out to release No.138. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This southerly view (15/8/03) shows No.138 shunting back onto the inspection train in Rhyd Ddu platform. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This southerly view (15/8/03) shows No.138 passing Snowdon Ranger Halt with the return working of the inspection train. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This westerly view (15/8/03) shows No.138 (plus Conway Castle at rear) with the final HMRI inspection train returning through Salem. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This northerly view (15/8/03) shows No.138 (plus Conway Castle at rear) with the final HMRI inspection train rounding the curves at Tros-y-gol. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The pw gang had just started on the south end point for the future works train siding and the loop was due to be completed this weekend by volunteers in advance of services. Sleepers were laid out by Team Wylfa on the evening of 14/8/03.

 

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This southerly view (15/8/03) shows the pw team laying the point in the run round loop for the pw siding. About three lengths of rail need to be connected between this and the already positioned headshunt point in the distance. The isolated section of track in the distance to the right of the headshunt will form the pw siding. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The Inspector returned to Waunfawr by car whilst the train made a non-stop run back to the station. At Waunfawr, Conway Castle uncoupled from the rear and returned to pw duties to the south. The test train waited for the service train to arrive at 1250 before departing for Dinas.

 

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This southerly view (15/8/03) shows No.138 (plus Conway Castle at the rear) with the final HMRI test train having returned to Waunfawr. This scene will be commonplace from 18/8/03 as northbound trains wait to cross southbound trains at Waunfawr. Some trains will continue to pass at Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Tests 12/8/03

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This southerly view (12/8/03) shows No.143 with its six coach rake ready to leave Rhyd Ddu on the return working of the double headed Garratt test. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The long waited for double headed Garratt hauled test to Rhyd Ddu happened on the evening of 12/8/03. The train left Dinas at 1815 arriving at Rhyd Ddu at 2005. Garratt No. 143 led No.138 with both FR coaches, a saloon, two opens and No.23. The six coach rake left Waunfawr at 1900 and, after a brief stop at Snowdon Ranger, worked to Glan-yr-afon Viaduct.

 

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This southerly view from the train (12/8/03) shows Nos.143/138 hauling the double headed Garratt test through LC47 between Castell Cidwm and Snowdon Ranger. Although the train was quite light for this amount of power, the acceleration from the speed restrictions, coupled with the fierce 3-mile climb to the summit of the Nant-y-Betws Pass, is said to have been quite 'musical'. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Ian Butters taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Testing of the viaduct involved detaching the coaches just north of the viaduct and running the pair of Garratt onto the viaduct for both static deflection tests and dynamic tests at line speed. With the viaduct passing its test, the train proceeded to Rhyd Ddu. Following arrival in the platform at Rhyd Ddu, the train was shunted out and No. 143 detached. This loco ran into the run round loop (still incomplete). No. 138 then hauled the rake into platform and No.143 coupled onto the front of the return working, which was top and tailed to Dinas.

 

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This northerly view (11/8/03) shows Nos.143/138, having detached from their train just north of the viaduct, standing on the viaduct for a deflection test.. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Ian Butters taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Test trains

Caernarfon Castle hauled the first 6 carriage test train to Rhyd Ddu departing Dinas at 06.30 on 11/8/03. At Waunfawr Conway Castle was attached to the rear of the train to be used for the return journey as the run round at Rhyd Ddu is still incomplete. There are up to 20 PSRs and TSRs (permanent and temporary speed restrictions) and as the speed warning signs were not yet erected, Pete Gray also joined the train at Waunfawr to provide advice as to the location of speed limits.

 

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This northerly view (11/8/03) shows Caernarfon Castle with saloons edging its way carefully through the platform at Snowdon Ranger Halt on clearance tests with WHLR manager Roland Doyle officiating. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Anthony Siddall taken on a Kodak DC240 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The train was taken slowly through the platform at Snowdon Ranger Halt and Rhyd Ddu while Rowland Doyle checked the clearances between the carriages and the platform edge. Both platforms were given the all clear.

 

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This northerly view (11/8/03) shows Caernarfon Castle with saloons edging its way carefully through Rhyd Ddu platform on clearance tests with WHLR manager Roland Doyle officiating. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Anthony Siddall taken on a Kodak DC240 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The journey time is taking about 30 minutes because of the TSRs but as the track is further tamped during this week, it is hoped the raise the speed limits of some of the TSRs in order to achieve the time table time of 25 minutes. The train arrived back at Dinas just before 09.30 after dropping off Conway Castle at Waunfawr followed by Caernarfon Castle having to run round the train.

 

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This southerly view (11/8/03) shows Conway Castle with saloons at the north end of Rhyd Ddu station near LC64 leading the return trip to Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

An appeal from Roland Doyle.

 

COULD AS MANY VOLUNTEERS AS POSSIBLE TURN UP ON THE WEEKEND 16/17 AUGUST TO ASSIST IN GETTING THE RAILWAY OPEN TO THE PUBLIC ON 18th AUGUST, ESPECIALLY THOSE FAMILIAR WITH TRACK LAYING. WE ARE AIMING TO COMPLETE THE RUN-ROUND LOOP AT RHYD DDU. THIS WILL ALLEVIATE THE NEED TO HAVE A DIESEL STANDING MOST OF THE DAY AT RHYD DDU AND OF COURSE IT LOOKS MUCH BETTER.

THERE ARE ALSO A LOT OF OTHER JOBS TO BE DONE NOT ALL NECESSARILY INVOLVING HEAVY WORK.

THOSE WHO CAN COME PLEASE CONTACT JAN WOODS BY TELEPHONE - 01248 830200 OR E-MAIL :-

                                           jan@welsh-highland.demon.co.uk

 

Progress to 9/8/03

During the course of the week all the bent rails in the Salem curves from LC35 to LC38 have been replaced and the track ballasted and tamped. Attention now switches to the section from Plas-y-nant to Snowdon Ranger where some final aligning, ballasting and tamping are necessary. Some three lengths of rail are also needed to complete the loop at Rhyd Ddu by joining the run-round to the headshunt point but it is not essential to complete this for the opening of the line.

Dolgarrog was involved with gauge widening duties at Salem on 8/8 and Harold was parked at Rhyd Ddu. Level crossing work is now concentrated on the Salem section as it is important that all are finished by the final HMRI visit on 15/8/03. Whistle boards went up on 7/8/03 and a set of some 20 permanent speed limit signs (5-25 mph) is being constructed at Dinas. In contrast to earlier painted signboards, these are welded steel lettering (as used by BR) to be painted yellow for high visibility.

 

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This westerly view (29/7/03) shows Upnor Castle at Plas-y-nant loading the ballast wagons. The footpath (visible foreground) to the future halt is now controlled by a locked gate next to the line (left). This is sure to be a photographic vantage point when the line opens. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

It has been decided that Caernarfon Castle and the Pullman car will primarily form the 28 'running in' trains. The special workings started on Saturday evening 9/8/03 and also ran on Sunday evening. Meanwhile, Conway Castle apparently returned to Dinas on 9/8 for attention to a fuel tank leak. It was back in action on 11/8/03 on test trains. Clearance runs with modern stock/Garratt may be towards the end of the week followed by the Garratt hauled special by Friday.

The WHLR is beginning to lay off staff as the work comes to a close and some volunteers who have been on long term pw duties have now left the project. Some staff will be retained to form the nucleus of a full time pw gang.

 

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This easterly view (8/8/03) shows the track gang at Plas-y-nant on the occasion of the departure back to Dinas of a volunteer (centre) who has put in several weeks with them. Some are off to new jobs this week as the track nears completion. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

For several weeks now the Goods Shed has been used for storage, preparation and disposal of the loco for the first/last train of the day. This allows the Dinas to Waunfawr section to be used by pw trains or tests trains for an extra hour each end of the day.

 

Volunteer Appeal for bolt tighteners 6/8/03

Team Wylfa have been brought out of retirement and will be working again Thursday evening (7/8/03) out on the track. The priority is tightening track clips. If you can come and wield a spanner (or even drive the Geismar motorised bolt tightener) then please come and join us. If you cannot manage an evening but have time spare during the day, please call Jan Woods at Dinas (see below) for an update and she will tell you where the track gang are working.

It is crucial to get all the hundreds (thousands?) of clips tightened so we can open to the public and start earning some revenue. Even an odd hour volunteering would probably see a track panel's worth tightened and bring us nearer opening.

There will be a 'Team Wylfa' notice on the Waunfawr Station notice board at the footbridge entrance from about 18:45 telling you where we will be. Summon our attention from the road first and DO NOT walk along the track to meet us unless we direct you as there will be a works train in section.

Jan Woods has also made an appeal (6/8/03) for additional volunteers who would be happy to clear ballast and tighten bolts over the next two weeks. These would be welcome at any time, even if only for a few hours.

Contact Jan Woods at Dinas for information on volunteering: Phone 01286 830200 (office hours), fax 01286 830630, or email

jan@welsh-highland.demon.co.uk

 

WHR Rhyd Ddu Public Opening Date

Official statement

The visit of HRH Prince Charles on 30/7/03 to the Welsh Highland Railway was a great honour for us all and a most enjoyable day that we will never forget. With that satisfactorily behind us, we have now reviewed when best to open the Railway to Rhyd Ddu to public train services. That has been a difficult decision, balancing the finishing work we have yet to do against what jobs might be left until the winter closure period. Our engineers have thoroughly reviewed the remaining tasks and in their considerations had to take into account the need to finish grant funded work sooner rather than later.

 

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This northerly view (29/7/03) shows Prince with Royal Test train stabled in Rhyd Ddu platform. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

With all this in mind, a completion programme has been compiled for the work and statutory approvals process. Assuming HMRI are able to complete their evaluation of the Railway and satisfactorily conclude the approvals process within the proposed time frame, we will open the extension to Rhyd Ddu to the public on Monday 18th August. That is about a week after we had hoped, but we believe opening can realistically be achieved by that date.

 

Royal Inauguration 30/7/03

All went as planned with Prince Charles, wearing special red gloves and a new cotton overall, driving Prince from Snowdon Ranger to Rhyd Ddu. The rain kept off unlike the two previous days. Bunting, crowds and flags greeted the prince at all the stations. Prince broke through a Welsh flag at Rhyd Ddu and Prince Charles was welcomed by the Llan Rug brass band. He unveiled a slate plaque to commemorate the event before he left. Although Conway Castle was used for shunt release, Prince returned to Dinas without the double heading seen the previous day.

 

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This northerly view (30/7/03) shows Prince being driven by Prince Charles, arriving at Rhyd Ddu and breaking through the Welsh flag. The loco is bedecked with headboard with the addition of flags since the previous two runs. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Chris Price taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Diary 28-9/7/03

28/7/03

Having dropped the caravan back in Northamptonshire I made the 200 mile trek back to Dinas and saw Prince being prepared for a clearance run. The loco duly left at 1705 and I made my way to Waunfawr to await its departure on the  extension (in pouring rain!). When confirmation was received from FR control and assurance that the pw team locos were locked in sidings, Prince set off slowly up the Nant-y-Betws Pass.

Ballasting has been completed earlier in the day on the Rhyd Ddu approaches but a section north of Snowdon Ranger still required attention. Guard rails had been added to Glan-yr-afon Viaduct outside of the running rails. Both Prince and No.138 hidden in Dinas Goods Shed carried cast headboards.

 

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This northerly view (28/7/03) shows Prince, having detached from its train, stabled at the south end of Rhyd Ddu station to have water pumped from a bowser. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This northerly view (28/7/03) shows Prince being replenished with water pumped from a bowser at the south end of Rhyd Ddu station. The driver reported the 3 mile climb up the Nant-y-Betws Pass was a hard task for the loco even with three coaches and it was essential to take water. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Due to there being no run-round loop or shunt engine at Rhyd Ddu, once Prince was watered from a pump and bowser, the train was propelled back down the Pass. The use of Prince and heritage stock was determined by the incomplete levelling of the track. The older coaches had more travel in their suspension than the modern stock.

 

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This westerly view (28/7/03) shows Prince propelling its rake back to Waunfawr at LC35 at Salem. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This westerly view (28/7/03) shows Prince with coaches Nos.24/23/10 alongside the swollen Afon Gwyrfai at Tros-y-gol propelling the rake back to Waunfawr to run around. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This northerly view (28/7/03) shows Prince propelling its rake back to Waunfawr at LC24, just south of Waunfawr. Note the professional looking ballast shoulders the new ballast regulator Daffodil has formed on this section. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

29/7/03

Guard rails were added to Plas-y-nant bridge outside of the running rails. Until 1400, there were extensive pw operations with ballast and tamping of the northern approaches to Snowdon Ranger halt.

 

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This southerly view (29/7/03) shows Dolgarrog at Plas-y-nant propelling FR wagon 92. All three small diesels were in intensive use on trackwork/level crossings etc. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This northerly view (29/7/03) shows the two pw trains with Upnor Castle and Conway Castle just north of Snowdon Ranger returning to Plas-y-nant to clear the line for the practice run for the Royal Train. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This southerly view (29/7/03) shows Upnor Castle at Plas-y-nant propelling a ballast wagon into the siding. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

When these were finished, all the pw stock was sidelined at Plas-y-nant except for Conway Castle, which hurried south light engine to stable in Rhyd Ddu loop (currently a siding). Finally, Prince was noted stabled in the Down road at Waunfawr ready for a practice run with a royal representative on board.

 

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This northerly view (29/7/03) shows Prince with coaches Nos.24/23/10 waiting for the right of way at Waunfawr with No.143 arriving behind with the afternoon train. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This northerly view (29/7/03) shows Prince being watered at Waunfawr for the climb ahead. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This westerly view (29/7/03) shows Prince with coaches Nos.24/23/10 north of OB71 (Castell Cidwm). Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This westerly view (29/7/03) shows Prince with coaches Nos.24/23/10 north of OB71 (Castell Cidwm). Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The train stopped briefly at OB71 and near Caeau Gwynion, where a football sized rock was found placed on the line! There was a further pause at Snowdon Ranger where Prince Charles was to take the controls the following day.

 

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This northerly view (29/7/03) shows Prince with coaches Nos.24/23/10 pausing at Snowdon Ranger halt. Driver Tony chats with newly qualified fireman Rob Bishop (17) from London. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The sound of the train whistle echoing in the valley was thrilling as the short 1920s style train worked hard climbing to Rhyd Ddu.

 

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This northerly view (29/7/03) shows Prince with Royal Test train arriving at Rhyd Ddu. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

While Prince was watered, Conway Castle shunted the rake around the corner past LC55. Prince then worked to L55 then back into the loop/siding. Conway Castle propelled the coaches back into the platform and Prince joined the front of the train.

 

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This southerly view (29/7/03) shows Upnor Castle hauling the train out of the station to shunt release. Prince, having detached from its train, is visible in the distance stabled at the south end of Rhyd Ddu station to receive water pumped from a bowser. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This northerly view (29/7/03) shows Prince, arriving in the run-round track having shunted back over the level crossing behind the loco. Also visible in the background beyond the level crossing is Upnor Castle with the rake. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This southerly view (29/7/03) shows Prince with Conway Castle and coaches Nos.24/23/10 leaving Rhyd Ddu for Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This easterly view (29/7/03) shows Prince and Upnor Castle immediately south of Waunfawr returning the practice run to Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Tracklaying Progress chart 11/8/03

Section

Chainage

Start chainage

End chainage

Total (m)

Target (m)

% complete

Waunfawr to Betws Garmon

5877-7000

5877 

7000

1123

1123

100%

Betws Garmon to Cae Hywel

7000-7900

7900

7010

900

900

100%

Tros-y-gol to Plas-y-nant

7900-9100

7900

9040

1200

1200

100%

Plas-y-nant to Castell Cidwm

9100-10000

9100

10000

900

900

100%

Castell Cidwm to Snowdon Ranger

10000-11300

11300

10000

1300

1300

100%

Snowdon Ranger to Glan-yr-afon

11300-12590

11300

12590

1290

1290

100%

Glan-yr-afon to Rhyd Ddu

12590-14495

14495

14495

1905

1905

100%

Rhyd Ddu station

14495-14875

14829

14495

334

380

88%

Total laid (Rhyd Ddu opening)

Includes

loop

(200m est.)

8952

9200

97%

Figures include Rhyd Ddu, but exclude temporary track at Rhyd Ddu. The start of new track north from Waunfawr has been confirmed. The start of permanent track south from Plas-y-nant has been re-stated at Ch.9126 and the future loop (for now a siding) has been excluded. The split at Castell Cidwm has been restated at Ch.10000.

 

Diary 20-27/7/03

Some people have been wondering where I've been the last week as there have been no updates during that time. Well, I was camped at Waunfawr making the next WHRS charity Construction Video and recording images of the action for the website! Here is an abridged account of those 8 days for all those who had withdrawal symptoms!!

20/7/03

Ballast train noted between Salem and Tros-y-gol near LC35. No ballast lining immediately south of here to LC38 as this section may have bent rails replaced before the public service starts. A ballast train was operated at 1800 with Upnor Castle.

21/7/03

Early morning ballast train noted at Bryn Afon LC37.

All three small diesels located at Plas-y-nant siding showing Dolgarrog as well as Taxi-2 have worked through from the Snowdon ranger section. Harold and Taxi-2 work south and Dolgarrog works north over Plas-y-nant bridge.

 

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This southerly view (21/7/03) shows Harold, Taxi-2 and Dolgarrog all stabled in the siding at Plas-y-nant preparing for a hard days work at different locations. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Conway Castle and tamper work on ballast south of the Water Works near LC32. This was filling in a gap in ballast while progress south was subject to correcting the alignment at OB62, Pont Cerrig-y-rhyd. 

 

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This southerly view (21/7/03) shows Dolgarrog at Plas-y-nant setting off north for work with a small excavator on the ex-MOD ramp wagon No.333. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

In afternoon Taxi-2 worked right through to Rhyd Ddu to collect small excavator on DZ wagon and stable on Ffridd Isaf curve.

22/7/03

0800 ballast working with Upnor Castle completing the lining as far as LC35 where the bent rails commence.

A string of 5 rails was constructed on the straight north of OB62 to get better fishplate joins. This was lifted with 6 RRMs and deposited in the 2 foot at Plas-y-nant bridge to replace the easterly rail of the temporary track across the bridge.

Tamper came through OB62 Pont Cerrig-y-rhyd and across the bridge to Plas-y-nant. Curves through OB62 were aligned and ballasted.

Taxi-2 at Rhyd Ddu worked with a scaffold platform to lop overhanging branches. At 1730 there was a ballast drop near Salem with Upnor Castle and a final working from Caer Moel dump is stabled at OB62 overnight effectively finishing ballasting north of Plas-y-nant.

23/7/03

Upnor Castle and ballast train held at OB62 as Plas-y-nant bridge not ready. It has been decided to use flat sleepers for the time being at Plas-y-nant rather than the tapered sleepers which have been stored on site (30mm higher on east rail for super-elevation of curve on bridge). The tapered sleepers have shown signs of splitting. This curve will now be subject to a low speed limit until the matter is re-visited.

Taxi-2 was at work with the mini-excavator on the DZ wagon with fill also on the wagon widening the narrow embankment at Ch.14400 just short of Rhyd Ddu.

Harold was on l/c duties south of Snowdon Ranger with all l/cs on this section reported as finished.

 

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This southerly view (23/7/03) shows Harold at LC51 propelling Mike Hart's braked truck on level crossing duties. The footpath is now diverted to run on the west side of the track in front of the old station building to LC51. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The easterly rail over Plas-y-nant bridge was fixed in position but remained to be joined at the south end at 1700. This work must be finished tomorrow as the tamping and ballasting must be completed to allow for an HMRI visit on Saturday 26/7/03.

Caernarfon Castle and B wagons went south for a short distance from Waunfawr with the tree lopping train at 1800.

Some GTRM staff have been appointed to strengthen the pw team.

24/7/03

Taxi-2 still working on widening just north of Rhyd Ddu. Additional widening has taken place west of LC44 as the track has been shifted 50cm to north to give and even curve out of the OB71 at Castell Cidwm.

Harold was on l/c duties at LC61 near Clogwyn-y-gwin.

Another string of 5 rails was carried onto Plas-y-nant bridge by 6 RRMs, this time from the loop straight. This formed the western rail across the bridge. Temporary rails were removed and then the link-up completed at 1700 in the pouring rain. The tamper and Conway Castle's train then came over the bridge for the first time and Upnor Castle propelled its train up to the bridge for a ballast drop immediately north of the bridge. This presaged the start of a frantic ballasting effort with up to three runs before and after passenger operations every day.

Fencing has gone up at the level crossing at Plas-y-nant bridge. This is the future access to the halt. Initially fitted with barbed wire, this was replaced by normal wire the next day!

 

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This southerly view (24/7/03) shows Conway Castle propelling the tool van and the mess coach and dragging Daffodil over Plas-y-nant bridge for the first time. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This southerly view (24/7/03) shows the tamper coming over the bridge for the first time. The tapered sleepers (see foreground) have been set aside due to cracks. The flat sleepers do not allow super-elevation and so there will be a speed limit on the bridge and the tight curve south of it that gives access to the right hand running line in Plas-y-nant loop. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

25/7/03

Ballast runs with Upnor Castle dropped ballast right through to far end of loop, though getting a good 'top' in the loop was difficult with the undulations caused by continued subsidence.

A second pw team has been hand ballasting from a newly delivered FR wagon (No.92) north from Snowdon Ranger. There is still a fence across the track to allow cattle to cross at the old LC45 just south of Castell Cidwm and the new LC45 further south remains to be completed.

Harold is refuelled at Rhyd Ddu.

26/7/03

Upnor Castle hauls a ballast train north to collect ballast from the pile just north of Waunfawr at Cyrnant at 0800 and returns south full at 0830.

Conway Castle and tamper are at Plas-y-nant and all three small locos at Rhyd Ddu.

Owing to misinformation from the night before and no mobile signal in the Nant-y-Betws Pass, I miss the visit of Prince to Plas-y-nant and Ty'n-y-weirglodd cutting.

 

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This northerly view (26/7/03) shows Prince with heritage rake rounding the curve on the rock ledge into Plas-y-nant. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Ben Fisher taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The rake consisted of Nos. 23/10. Once the rake was propelled to Plas-y-nant, Conway Castle helped shunt release Prince so that it could lead back to Dinas.

 

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This westerly view (26/7/03) shows Prince in Ty'n-y-weirglodd cutting. The tamper team engineer is indicating to Prince's driver not to come any closer! Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Ben Fisher taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The tamper made it through OB71 with 2 inches to spare later in the day!

Ballast workings with Upnor Castle continue into the evening dropping ballast at LC45-46 on the Castell Cidwm-Snowdon Ranger section.

27/7/03

Upnor Castle starts early on Sunday morning with a Cyrnant trip at 0715 and 0815, passing Waunfawr southbound fully laden at 0748 and 0845. Each trip takes a round hour even with 25mph running on the good sections of track. It seems with all these loads going into the final 1 km section leading to Snowdon Ranger, that the track can be readied for a Royal Train right through to Rhyd Ddu on 30/7/03....just!

John Sreeves bravely goes to stand under UB51 at Betws Garmon to check deflections under loaded ballast hoppers!! 

 

The Grand PW Shunt!

On 5/7/03, the WHR was witness to the Grand PW Shunt, the movement of the pw train from Rhyd Ddu to Betws Garmon by road. As the track had a 400m gap at Castell Cidwm, there was no alternative but to move the whole train to Betws Garmon and work south from there.

Due to a problem with the availability of the lorry transport, the movement all took place on 5/7/03 and your correspondent (getting up at 5am and covering the 200miles to Rhyd Ddu in record time!) was able to record the event for posterity. This was 'last chance saloon' for this website as the pw rake had been stationary for the previous month at weekends.

First activity was the loading of wagon DZ1423 at Betws Garmon ramp. This had been delivered to Betws Garmon by an early morning working with Caernarfon Castle. Conway Castle, the Rhyd Ddu pilot loco, then shunted it into the arrival line at Rhyd Ddu and prepared to load the mess van up the Rhyd Ddu ramp onto the lorry. This done in a round trip of an hour with gravity unloading at Betws Garmon. Next in line for the 'Loco Motion' lorry was Conway Castle.

 

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This southerly view (5/7/03) shows Conway Castle shunting the mess coach up the ramp ready for departure to Betws Garmon ramp. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

While waiting for stock to be transported, the pw gang was busy tamping Snowdon Ranger platform with Upnor Castle, two ballast wagons, the regulator and the tamper. By 1230, the tamping had been finished and the more northerly of the two hoppers was filled. With the lorry now waiting at Rhyd Ddu for the first hopper, the rake set off for Rhyd Ddu at a fast pace before coming back to ballast and plough the platform with the remaining full wagon.

 

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This northerly view (5/7/03) shows the Loco Motion lorry delivering Upnor Castle to the Betws Garmon ramp. To the right is the Head of Steel from Bryn Gloch now complete over the Betws Garmon bridge. With the completion of the pw delivery on 5/7/03, the ramp was due to be removed and the track slewed and joined to that from Bryn Gloch on 7/7/03. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This northerly view (5/7/03) shows Duncan Milner and his son James removing the link-span after Upnor Castle had rolled down the ramp. The team had made several journeys between the two ramps. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Finally, the remaining stock ran up to Rhyd Ddu in the afternoon. At 1500 the second ballast wagon was propelled onto the lorry. An hour later it was Upnor Castle's turn with enough room for Daffodil too! Finally, the lorry returned to Rhyd Ddu to load the tamper at 1700 at the same time as the WHR(P) Barclay shunter was being unloaded off its Hyab lorry.

 

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This westerly view (6/7/03) shows the diesel mechanical WHR(P) loco loaned to the WHLR (Barclay No. 554 of 1970) being unloaded at Rhyd Ddu station whilst the tamper was being loaded. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Progress to 27/7/03

Excellent progress was made over the several days to Saturday 26/7/03. Work had been held up by track laying at Plas-y-nant but a marathon effort to replace the temporary track over the bridge saw the final link up at 1700 on 24/7/03. An intensive pw operation began with up to three pw runs from the ballast dump just north of Waunfawr both before and after public services. On Sunday 27/7/03 these passed Waunfawr at 0715 and 0815 northbound!

The tamper squeezed through OB71 at Castell Cidwm on 26/7/03 and pw gangs have been working with the 3 small locos south of OB71. One pw team has been laying ballast between OB71 and Snowdon Ranger from a small wagon and getting the cross level right by hand in advance of the tamper. This will speed things up on this section. FR wagon No.92 has been brought over to help.  

In preparation for the Royal Visit, Prince arrived at Dinas on 26/7/03 (presumably in steam) and was immediately trialled to Plas-y-nant with two coaches (Nos.10/23) carrying the HMRI l/c inspector from Waunfawr. The loco is due to haul the Royal Train but further tests, including a run to Rhyd Ddu are likely before 30/7/03. The loco ran as far as Ty'n-y-weirglodd cutting where the tamper was in action at LC44. It then propelled back to Plas-y-nant where Conway Castle helped the shunt allowing Prince to lead back to Dinas. Some sections were taken at 5mph.

Following operation of the Royal Train on 30/7/03 (preceded by Caernarfon Castle as shunt loco) there will be a further intensive operation to get the track right for the public service, which is now likely to start on 9/8/03. One area of concern is the bent rails through Salem. However, north of Tros-y-gol and south of Snowdon Ranger the pw train has been noted operating at up to the 25mph line speed proposed for the route.

  

Progress to 17/7/03-the final link-up

Desperate measures were in order to complete the line through OB71 by 17/7/03 so that the HMRI team could see a complete line during their inspection visit on 18/7/03 and travel on it on a diesel hauled special with Harold and a DZ wagon. This loco will be light enough not to move the track before it is tamped. In order to give a flavour of the event here are some verbatim reports from Team Wylfa and Roy Woods (WHRS magazine editor) that catch the sense of excitement of this major milestone in the history of the project.

 

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This easterly view (17/7/03) shows Harold meeting WHR(P) loco Taxi-2 at LC44 late in the evening in pouring rain. The weather did not however dampen the spirits of the volunteers from Team Wylfa or the permanent track gangs. Loco drivers shake hands as the two locos clunk buffer beams over the 'Golden Spike'. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright WHLR courtesy Jan Woods taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Team Wylfa report

It's done! Your Team Wylfa correspondent was there helping lay the final length. We joined the track gang just as the final length was being laid, just after 1830 (17/7/03). At 2010 last night, the final fishplates were clamped just west of the level crossing (LC44). At 2030 FfR's 'Harold' came south from Plas y Nant to meet WHR(P)'s 'Taxi 2' coming from Rhyd Ddu nose to tail over the joint and for the team photos. Shortly after offloading timbers for the crossing, Taxi 2 and bogie wagon became the first train from Rhyd Ddu through the section since the demolition train in 1941.

 

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This easterly view (17/7/03) shows Team Wylfa celebrating at LC44 as the locos meet. From left to right are Clive Briscoe, Martin Baker and Andy Lomax. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Clive Briscoe taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Roy Woods report

At 2030 on 17/7/03, the last rail joint was cut and fish-plated near Castell Cidwm - thereby completing through track from Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu.  It was an historic occasion celebrated with fish and chips all round.  This marks not only the reinstatement of the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railway but also fulfils its dream of reaching Caernarfon.

The "Golden Joint" was ceremoniously cut by Colin Burtt and his track gang, witnessed by Mike Schumann (volunteering with the Gang) and Jan Woods from the Dinas Project Office. After several days of blazing sunshine with temperatures soaring to over 30 degrees Centigrade - today the heavens opened and torrential rain poured onto Snowdonia.  This did not perturb the stalwarts of the Track Gang who continued into the evening undaunted.

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This southerly view (19/7/03) shows the track now complete south of OB71. The RRMs are visible in the foreground and the cut rails further on show where the splice took place. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Chris Price taken on a Fuji Finepix 6800 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.


At the completion of the work, Ffestiniog Railway locomotive 'Harold' and on-loan WHR (P) Barclay locomotive met and the drivers shook hands.  This meeting was a symbolic gesture bridging not only a gap in the track but a gap across the years and across Companies. The Forty Mile Dream draws nearer.

Tracklaying news and HMRI visit

On 16/7/03 both TG1 and Paul Bradshaw's teams worked together. They first shifted the Pandrol clipped rail under OB71 approx. 5m south, to project from the south end of the bridge. A further two panels on metal sleepers then made the closure to the rails coming down from Snowdon Ranger. Another panel was laid out from the north end of the bridge, part on the Pandrol clips under the bridge, part on metal sleepers. A modified fishplate was used under the bridge with the wrap-around part usually under the rail removed.

 

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This westerly view (19/7/03) shows the track now complete west of OB71. Click on the image to enlarge. The final alignment has necessitated the removal of the concrete cess inspection pit which collects the overflow from a field spring to the right. This image is copyright Chris Price taken on a Fuji Finepix 6800 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

On 17/7/03 both gangs again worked together. Formation works at LC 44 were completed during the day and 3 panels were laid west towards LC44 from the one projecting from under OB71. Another panel was laid west across LC 44 and a final one east from the rails coming from Plas-y-Nant. The final closure was just to the west of LC44, taking place about 8pm at Ch.9920 approx.

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This northerly view (17/7/03) shows the cutting of the final rail splice just west of LC44. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Clive Briscoe taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

The Barclay loco 'Taxi-2' and DZ wagon came through OB71 from the south and were stabled at Plas-y-Nant overnight on 17/7/03 along with Harold. A shunt in the morning of 18/7/03 saw Harold and the DZ going to Waunfawr then taking HMRI up to Rhyd Ddu. Presumably the pw train was moved out of the way to Waunfawr as well as it has not yet passed OB62. Later it was back at Tros-y-gol stabled for the weekend.

So far at Salem the tamper has ventured to the straight just before OB 62 (Pont Cerrig-y-rhyd) where the North Wales Track gang was replacing bent rails last weekend. The track needs aligning and packing under OB 62 before a width clearance check can be made under the bridge with the tamper.

 

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This southerly view (19/7/03) shows all the pw stock stabled at Tros-y-gol. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Chris Price taken on a Fuji Finepix 6800 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

At Rhyd Ddu, the point on the run round loop has been positioned just south of the platform and work was in hand on 18/7/03 to complete the link between the run round and the headshunt on wooden sleepers. The headshunt itself has not yet been laid. Fence posts have been erected for the back of the platform and would appear to be the circular type to have wire stapled to them. These are a temporary measure and will be removed when the platform is completed to full width when the railway runs through to Beddgelert.

 

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This easterly view (19/7/03) shows the complex level crossing for the Snowdon Path at the south end of Rhyd Ddu station (LC65). This is now complete with large safety areas (left) for the cyclists and walkers and all the warning signs required by the HMRI. The road crossing has been moved slightly to the right and is now square to the formation. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Chris Price taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

As a result of the HMRI visit on 18/7/03 a long list of tasks has been identified which must be finished in the next 10 days before the Royal Visit. Please contact Jan Woods at Dinas on 01286-830200 and volunteer to help get the line finished.

 

Prince Charles to open WHR

It has been announced that Prince Charles will open the WHR to Rhyd Ddu on 30/7/03. Timetables will be announced on 21/7/03 subject to HMRI approval.

 

PLANNING FOR PHASE 4

Official statement 

Once public trains are running to Rhyd Ddu the WHR will put in hand steps to arrange a party to celebrate the success of all they have achieved to date with the team, probably around the Super Power weekend in September. Clearly the construction of the WHR does not stop at Rhyd Ddu. Already the WHR(P) have started constructing the line northward to Pont Croesor and the WHR's task is to raise the funds to complete the gap. The Directors are working on plans to do just that.

First, there will still be work to finish off the first three phases to ensure the WHR is a first class railway with all the finishing touches e.g. station buildings. Second, the WHR are planning the steps needed to enable the WHLR to construct the rest of the railway. This involves the planning, engineering, organisation and legal matters which are ongoing.

Third, the cost of building the remainder of the line on through to Porthmadog must be funded. The WHR project has received much support in various discussions with a number of sponsors and we are confident that a package or series of packages can and will be put together over time. Unfortunately, the Millennium Commission are unable to support a further phase of construction. The funds required are substantial and the demand on their limited available funds is high, in fact too high to enable them to help us too at the same percentage level of support as for Phases 1 to 3.

So, the Directors will continue to build on the help they have been offered from other sources and clearly this private sponsorship and continued help from Welsh Highland Railway Society will be key to success. The WHR are delighted to have reached Rhyd Ddu and, after a well earned breather, the team will set to in order to provide the enhancements to the railway as opened to provide a high level of service. The Directors will continue to plan and obtain funding to extend the line southwards.

 

Progress to 17/7/03

At OB71 work is nearing completion. The concrete slab laid by Jones Bros. was not absolutely level and it was necessary to grout under the plates to make up the differences to provide a level bearing surface.

 

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This northerly view (13/7/03) shows the special base plates fitted under OB71. The rail clipped to the base plates were temporary, helping to hold the base plates in position as they were screwed down. The steel plates are set at 70cm intervals and were fitted on the morning of 13/7/03. Pandrol type clips hold the plates to the rail. The plates are screwed into three holes pre-drilled into the concrete by Celtest. During the afternoon of 13/7/03, the holes were blown clear with a compressor and the three bolts set in a flexible compound in the holes. The gauge frame now shows adequate clearance through the bridge. The space under the sleepers will be filled with a filler material that will provide some resilience. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Paul Bender taken on Canon 20 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The original illustration showed the track higher than its final level. This helped the holding down bolts to be positioned vertically in their holes while the epoxy resin set around them. The track was subsequently lowered so that the grout layer to be added under the plates was a minimum of 20mm thick.

 

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This vertical view (16/7/03) shows the special base plates fitted under OB71, now with 20mm of grout supporting them. The additional rails will presumably be check rails. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Ben Fisher taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.


The trackwork connection to the south is being done on the morning of 16/7/03 whilst the formation through LC44 was dug out so that the rail head from the north can be extended and the final link completed. Team Wylfa laid out most of the final sleepers either side of the bridge on 15/7/03. The permanent track gang planned to start work on LC44 early in the morning on 16/7/03.

The temporary rails are to be unclipped and slid out half way. The other set of rails will be added and joined in the middle of the bridge. The final task is to join up the 2 sections either side. A Golden Fishplate is expected to be driven on 17/7/03, thus completing a through track between Caernarfon and Rhyd Ddu for the first time since the 1941 demolition train ran.

 

Progress to 13/7/03

Conway Castle was at Betws Garmon with two loaded hoppers on 12/7/03. It did not move all weekend. Upnor Castle was at Tros-y-gol with Daffodil, the tool van, the mess coach and the tamper. They did not move all weekend.

 

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This southerly view (12/7/03) shows Conway Castle standing at Betws Garmon station with the loaded pw hoppers. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Volunteer action was concentrated at Salem, where sections of track had become distorted and were being replaced with new straight(er) rail!

 

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This northerly view (13/7/03) shows the distorted track at Salem. Volunteers were replacing this and realigning the section to allow this section to be tamped and lined during the coming week. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

With the necessity of remedial measures, it will now be impossible to run a steam train on 18/7/03 for the HMRI inspection. The HMRI have asked that certain signs at l/cs be moved to 2.5m from the track. There is also the section through Pont Cerrig-y-rhyd to Plas-y-nant to be correctly relaid/aligned. The management are still hopeful for an opening on 30-31/7/03.

 

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This northerly view (12/7/03) shows the diesel mechanical loco Harold on loan from the FR stabled in the recently lengthened Plas-y-nant siding. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

There has been no further tracklaying progress towards OB71 but materials are stored on the access track for completion of the gradient up from the bridge and the ballasting.

 

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This easterly view (12/7/03) shows the Head of Steel from Plas-y-nant just short of LC44. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This westerly view (12/7/03) shows the Head of Steel near LC44 from Castell Cidwm bridge. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Geotextile has been laid either side of the bridge under the ballast as it is understood this may still be a damp spot in winter. The new steel base plates were laid through the bridge on 13/7/03 and screwed down to the concrete with a resilient compound in the drilled holes. The rails used (see Star Picture above) are only temporary to get the alignment correct. There will be a joint under the bridge when the track is completed by 14/7/03. It is the intention to complete the gap by 17/7/03 at the latest in view of the HMRI visit.

 

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This southerly view (12/7/03) shows check rails now laid on base plates across Betws Garmon bridge. On this date they were still to be screwed down. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

A group of six loco drivers walked the route from Rhyd Ddu to Waunfawr on 12/7/03 for route familiarisation purposes and said they were very impressed with the views from the line.

Level crossing work continues south of Castell Cidwm and Rhyd Ddu level crossing was effectively finished on Saturday with Brian Humphries grading the approaches. The triangle section anti-sheep grids remain to be fitted. A new nail gun has speeded up the process considerably. The track boards of the level crossings are made to a new design that eases removal to allow maintenance tamping in the future.

Rhyd Ddu south point was fitted by 11/7/03 and the track ramp was removed. There is room for about 40m of track south of the left hand point. Neither the run round nor the pw siding are essential to the opening of the railway as a Caernarfon Castle shunt operation could be maintained for a few weeks as happened at Waunfawr with Phase 2 opening.

 

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This southerly view (13/7/03) shows the headshunt point at Rhyd Ddu. There appears to be 40m clear south of the point, enough for two locos. A pw siding may be laid to the right of the view with another left hand point off the run round track. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Team Wylfa are appealing for help on Tuesday and Thursday with level crossing signs (see below for contact info.).

 

Progress to 10/7/03

The first two wagons full from Cyrnant left on 9/7/03 before the start of public services whilst total possession was available. The Caer Moel dump had been used in the previous 2 days of ballast runs. No ballast trains were expected over the weekend.

 

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This northerly view (5/7/03) shows the ballast train being loaded at LC51 at Snowdon Ranger with Upnor Castle in charge. This was the last day of ballast work on this isolated section of route before the pw train moved to Betws Garmon by lorry to work south from there. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

At Rhyd Ddu, the panels of temporary track formerly leading to the rail stack at the south end were lifted on 9/7/03 during the evening, along with the unloading ramp on the track closest to the car park. Work on creating the formation for the headshunt, crossover and PW siding started on 10/7/03, using the two left hand points in store at Rhyd Ddu.

A decision has been made to stick with the existing steel sleepers in the platform and avoid changing to wood as previously advised. Even though wooden sleepers are in stock and would look better in a station, avoiding the change will save vital time in the race to finish the track and open by the end of July.

At Castell Cidwm, Celtest pressure washed under the bridge on 9/7/03 ready for the final protective coating to be applied to the cut surfaces of the concrete to finish their job. The gap in the trackwork is now estimated to be 10 panels (about 180m), after track gangs laid a further two panels on 9/7/03 (one each side of the bridge) taking the southern Head of Steel to Ch.10060. The northern Head of Steel is just short of LC44 (Ch.9900 approx).

 

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This northerly view (5/7/03) shows the diesel mechanical WHR(P) loco loaned to the WHLR (Barclay No. 554 of 1970) at Ffridd Isaf curve with DZ 1423 in tow. Llyn Cwellyn is visible in the background. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Plas-y-Nant siding was completed on 10/7/03. It has a total length of 9 panels (162m), 8 of which are useable. The siding runs from the point at LC41 to about UB66. This is over half the future length of the loop when completed for Phase 4.

 

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This northerly view (6/7/03) shows the siding under construction at Plas-y-nant. When Phase 4 is constructed this will be extended southwards to become the northbound track of the passing loop. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The pw train has made good progress south from Betws Garmon throughout the week. It has now passed Bryn Gloch and on 9/7/03 was noted immediately south of Cae Hywel bridge with Upnor Castle in charge.

It now seems that tracklaying may be completed early next week with the final join being formed at Ch.10000 at Castell Cidwm road bridge (OB71). A clearance test programme could then start before the HMRI visit on 18/7/03, though much remains to be done on level crossings and culvert headwalls. 'Team Wylfa' report they have completed enough clips to complete the tracklaying programme as of 10/7/03.

 

Progress to 8/7/03

There had been some concern that the tamper would not fit through OB53, the new main road bridge at Betws Garmon, but it did venture across UB51 on 7/7/03 for clearance tests under Pont Betws. It was found to foul at the top on two projecting stones on the original NWNG (southern) side of the bridge. Stonemasons trimmed these back on 8/7/03 and the tamper will now go through - just! The humps in the ballast between UB51 and UB52 were raked out yesterday and the tamper team worked on both sides of the river bridge UB51 on 8/7/03.

The Head of Steel was just 2 lengths short of LC44, the farm crossing to the west of Castell Cidwm bridge on 8/7/03, and these two panels should go in on Wednesday morning. Celtest are still drilling the concrete bridge trough for the sleeper fixings and need access along the trackbed east for the remaining 100m east of LC44 to OB71. So there will be a short pause before staff can finally join the two halves of the railway.

 

An evening possession enabled Conway Castle and the ballast wagons to run down to Caer Moel on 7/7/03 to start clearing the ballast dump left from Phase 2. It is intended that a series of early morning and evening possessions will allow both this and the Cyrnant ballast dumps to cleared. The ballast will be used for tamping and lining south from Betws Garmon, saving lorry movements.

 

Progress to 7/7/03

The tracklaying gang slewed the ski-slope to make the connection at Betws Garmon on 7/7/03. The first loco across the river bridge was Harold, with RRMs and the braked Hudson flat that was formerly behind Dolgarrog (moved by Hyab lorry from Snowdon Ranger on 5/7/03). TG1 then moved back to Plas-y-Nant and continued laying south towards OB71 at Castell Cidwm. Over 92% of track had been laid by 6/7/03 discounting the Plas-y-nant loop, which will not be completed as part of this phase of tracklaying.

 

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This southerly view (7/7/03) shows the level crossing team completing LC46 at Caeau Gwynion with Dolgarrog and the ramp wagon. This image is one of a series taken by Roger Dick during his final visit in his role as consultant to the Millennium Commission. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Roger Dick taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The small hump between UB51 and UB52 will be taken out in the next few days. The temporary track over UB64 will also be replaced by permanent track. The base plates for OB71, the main road bridge at Castell Cidwm, have been painted and are now ready for Celtest to fit to the concrete by drilling holes in the slab base. This is only a temporary answer to the problem at this bridge and a 10mph speed restriction will apply, not the ideal solution with an extensive 1 in 75/90 gradient immediately south of the bridge.

 

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This southerly view (22/6/03) shows the East Anglia Group celebrating the successful linking of the track through Snowdon Ranger at 1545 at Ch.11350, with Mark Neilson (extreme left) leading TG3. Also present, (left to right) John Ewing, Howard Stukey, Bob Turner, Jon Barlow, Mathew Wellman, Michael Oshaughnassy, John Hopkins and David Wilcox. With thanks to Colin Burt TG1, Bob Gartside, Richard Fryer, John Sreeves and a special thanks to Peter and Joan Garthwaite of Betws Inn for loan of tea making facilities. Volunteers were allowed to remove their safety helmets as they were standing on the level crossing. Over 75% of the track has now been laid. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Progress to 6/7/03

All the pw stock was transferred from Rhyd Ddu to Betws Garmon on 5/7/03, following the delivery of DZ1423. The ramps at each location will now be removed. This will allow the completion of the points, headshunt and siding at Rhyd Ddu.

The WHR(P) Barclay shunter was delivered on time at 1700 on 5/7/03 complete with 'on loan' labels and Gelert's Farm 'shed code' on its buffer beams! After a little shunting in the platform, it set off with the single DZ wagon for Snowdon Ranger. FR staff have also managed to resurrect Dolgarrog so this will mean two fitting out trains in action on the isolated Castell Cidwm to Rhyd Ddu section.

Good track progress has seen a total of 30 lengths laid south of Plas-y-nant siding point, taking the Head of Steel to Ch.9694. Meanwhile, the Head of Steel at Castell Cidwm is at Ch.10078 leaving a gap of some 384m to complete the railway. This is likely to be done by 11/7/03.

 

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This northerly view (6/7/03) shows the Head of Steel at Ch.9694, south of Plas-y-nant. Over 50% of this section has now been completed. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This southerly view (6/7/03) shows the Head of Steel approaching Ty'n-y-weirglodd cutting. This area is now fully fenced. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Various outstanding stonemason jobs on the culverts and cesses plus the level crossing work will delay stock clearance proving of the line for a further week but it is hoped to run a double headed test train with both Garratts for the HMRI on 18/7/03. This would lead to an opening around July 30th. if all is satisfactory. No.138 has just had its brick arch renewed in preparation, whilst No.143 is currently handling the passenger turns.

OB71 was finally clear on the afternoon of 6/7/03 with Celtest cutting out the concrete haunches that had proved foul of the loading gauge. They will now drill and fit the base plates into the concrete floor slab. Following completion of the track through the bridge, it is hoped that the tracklaying gang will be able to lay through the bridge by Friday and complete the link at Ch.10078, just south of the bridge.

 

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This easterly view (6/7/03) shows the Celtest works complete at Castell Cidwm bridge. Track will be bolted direct to the concrete floor slab that braces the abutments. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This westerly view (6/7/03) shows Celtest has cut out the concrete haunches that were foul of the loading gauge. The heavy waste blocks are being cut up for removal. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Tracklaying progress 3/7/03

Five panels (90m) were laid northwards off Betws Garmon river bridge on 3/7/03, to close the gap with the track to Waunfawr. However, the two sections are not yet connected, as the track from Waunfawr is still slewed just north of the station building to form the 'ski-slope' to unload the tamper train etc on Friday pm and Saturday am.

 

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This northerly view (5/7/03) shows the track laid north of Betws Garmon bridge past the site of Betws Garmon station. The ramp and the stock moved by lorry the same day are visible in the background. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The intention is that track gangs will then slew the track back and make the connection early on Monday morning, whilst the tamper team have a possession at Waunfawr station in order to re-marshal all the tamper train stock into the correct order.

 

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This southerly view (5/7/03) shows the Head of Steel at Betws Garmon station with the ramp and lorry visible to the right. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The tamper team worked out of Snowdon Ranger on 3/7/03, with Conway Castle standing by the farm crossing north of the station whilst the ballast hoppers were being loaded. Dolgarrog was moved further down the line towards Castell Cidwm. The platform end fence at the south end had to be removed as it was foul of the loading gauge of the tamper.

Paul Bradshaw's team laid track as far as the southern point at Plas-y-nant by the evening of 3/7/03. The point is to be moved to one side and not installed and the loop will not be laid as part of the present tracklaying programme. By 3pm on 4/7/03, track was already over 100m south of this point and heading south rapidly towards Castell Cidwm.

There is presently a three panel siding off the northern point. This might be extended later so that it can stable the whole of the of the tamper train. It will be the only point where shunting can occur during the daytime to reorganise the order of the pw train/tamper when passenger trains are running at Waunfawr.

Five more panels (90m) were added from the Head of Steel at Caeau Gwynion to a point immediately to the south of Castell Cidwm bridge on 2/7/03. A company called Celtest are currently trimming the concrete under the Castell Cidwm road bridge. This work has stopped further progress here. A similar operation took place during Phase 2 at the Rhostryfan road bridge.

 

New loco for Rhyd Ddu

Yet another diesel loco will be seen at work on Phase 3 construction work next week. Thanks to our friends at WHR(P) one of their Barclay 3 tonne diesels is being shipped up to the currently isolated OB71 - Rhyd Ddu section to haul the fencing contractor's material train, replacing the small Simplex Dolgarrog that has a broken drive chain. The Barclay loco will be the only diesel loco on that section until the remaining track is joined near Castell Cidwm in a week or two.

 

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This southerly view (5/7/03) shows the newly delivered WHR(P) shunter at Snowdon Ranger having worked its first test train on this section from Rhyd Ddu. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Barclay 554 'Taxi-2' was moved on Saturday afternoon. Information about the WHR(P)'s two Barclay locos can be found at:
http://www.whr.co.uk/enthus/stock/barclay.html and http://www.cleeve.com/whr/barclay/

 

'Race-the-train' Special

The Eryri Harriers are holding their sixth annual race-the-train event on 23/7/03. There is an evening special train for spectators at £2.00 a return ticket around 7pm from Caernarfon.

 

'Team Wylfa' appeal for volunteers

Team Wylfa - a group of engineers from the power station on Anglesey have now been at work on Tuesday and Thursday evenings for a few weeks. Roland has now organised a second track gang to work during the day and they simply haven't enough track clips to keep them going. On Tuesday and Thursday evenings we will be at Dinas making up track clips from about 7pm.

For the record, each track panel has 24 sleepers which requires 24 sets of clips. A set comprises: Type '0' with lug; Type '0' without lug; Type '2' / 'M2' and Type 'M8'. So, we need about 1000 of each making up to complete the gaps in the track. If you can't make it in the evening, turn up at Dinas during the day and someone will show you where the track clips, bolts and spring washers are. Even the odd hour spent will speed up tracklaying. If you can make it, phone Jan at Dinas on 01286-830200 or Clive Briscoe on 07974- 927027 (On answerphone 08:30 - 17:30)

 

Progress to 29/6/03

Volunteers reached UB51 on 29/6/03 with Harold in action carrying rails between Plas-y-nant and the Head of Steel. Good weather saw the gang complete 9 lengths, drag a pair of rails onto the bridge and complete the closure with a short length. Over 84% of the track has now been laid.

 

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This northerly view (29/6/03) shows the North Wales Group completing the track between OB53 and UB51 at Betws Garmon. Harold was used to shunt rails to the head of steel. By the end of the weekend, track had reached the bridge at Ch.7010. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This northerly view (29/6/03) shows the North Wales Group completing the track onto UB51 at Betws Garmon. The rails on the bridge are not screwed down onto their base-plates. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

With 50 staff now in action excellent progress is being made. The tamping/lining train currently in operation from Rhyd Ddu to Castell Cidwm will complete its work through Snowdon Ranger by the mid-week and be transferred by lorry back to Betws Garmon on 4/7/03. On 27/6/03, the ballasting operation was approaching Snowdon Ranger from the south.

It is intended to complete the bridge tracklaying at UB51 on 30/6/03. The loading ramp slew at Betws Garmon will then be restored to plain line and connected up to UB51 to give the pw train a long section to work on to Plas-y-nant. This will leave only 86m of temporary track to be completed at Plas-y-nant and the section south of there to Castell Cidwm. Track gangs will be advancing south from Plas-y-nant during the week and hopefully the train will be able to tamp and line the track right through to Castell Cidwm by mid-July.

 

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This northerly view (28/6/03) shows the temporary track completed across Plas-y-nant bridge. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

On 28/6/03, the permanent staff were slewing the track straight using a theodolite and walkie/talkie south from Plas-y-nant. Permanent track has been extended north to Ch.9126 and a reverse curve put in the track in order to be correctly aligned when approaching the bridge. No progress has been made with the trackbed immediately north of Castell Cidwm bridge yet.

At Rhyd Ddu the station access has received its slate fines access ramp from the future site of the station building. LC51 has been moved slightly south to make it square to the line. Dolgarrog is being used to deliver the level crossing contractor to remote sites to complete level crossings on this section. A new design of easily removed l/c fittings is being used, presumably to make future tamping through the l/cs easier.

 

Opening end of July?

A large party is planned for all involved in the rebuilding during the Articulated Weekend in September. The WHLR is working towards opening the WHR to Rhyd Ddu during the last few days of July. The management cannot yet be specific as there is much to do and some unexpected jobs are bound to crop up.

The plan is that the minute HMRI approval is given and the necessary (30ish) test trains have run, the service will be extended to Rhyd Ddu. If all goes as planned, the first public trains to Rhyd Ddu might start in the week July 26-31 with some celebration at that time. As the month of July progresses, the time slot for the opening date will be narrowed down.

 

Progress to 27/6/03

The track over Tros-y-Gol bridge was linked up on the morning of 27/6/03 and two further panels were laid at Bryn Gloch, nearly to the A4085 overbridge. This would leave just the Castell Cidwm gap and the Betws Garmon bridge as the final track gaps to be filled (though there are 5 temporary lengths at Plas-y-nant).

Harold is moving rails down from the Plas-y-Nant stockpiles two pairs at a time, one set of RRMs in front of the loco and one set behind. The loco is now starting OK after some attention to the fuel pump on-site by Boston Lodge a few weeks age.

A further 9 panels will get to the river bridge UB51 at Betws Garmon and it is hoped that the North Wales gang will complete this during the course of the weekend 28-29/6/03. Two track gangs will be working from Monday, TG1 from 6am to 3pm, and Paul Bradshaw's team probably 11am to 8 pm. Paul's volunteer gang has been working late this week.

 

New loop at Beddgelert Forest?

This website promoted the advantages of a new loop at Beddgelert Forest Halt some time ago. The WHLR is now definitely considering a loop at the location. This loop would be extremely useful being half way up the difficult-to-work sharply curved 1 in 40 incline from Beddgelert station to the summit. If trains run into difficulties on this section, e.g. wet rail/forest leaf mulch etc, then late running reactions on other services can be minimised.

 

Progress to 25/6/03

Tracklaying gangs are making progress northwards from Caeau Gwynion l/c (LC45) towards the ballast boundary near Castell Cidwm bridge (OB71). They completed the 300m from Ch.10420 to Ch.10140 on the morning of 25/6/03. The pace of work has increased and work was underway at this location on an evening shift at 1830 on 24/6/03. Tracklaying has now reached over 80% of the total necessary.

Staff laid temporary track connecting the rail stack at Plas-y-Nant to the bridge on the afternoon of 25/5/03. Thursday should see Harold in use taking rails from the Plas-y-Nant rail stack northwards for laying on the straight leading to Tros-y-Gol bridge. The track at Tros-y-gol bridge was completed by the morning of 27/6/03, filling another gap.

A solution to the problem of Castell Cidwm bridge is in hand. The track can be laid through OB71 on steel base-plates bolted direct to the concrete floor to obtain greater vertical load gauge clearances required by the new larger rolling stock (e.g.. Caernarfon Castle). This has been achieved by doing away with the 20cm depth of the sleepers. The base-plates have been made and are currently in store Dinas yard.

A team of HMRI visited on 24/6/03 and made the usual list of tidy up jobs that must be completed before the railway opens. A volunteer gang is continuing to do the signage at the 33 level crossings between LC22 (Waunfawr campsite crossing) and LC65 (Snowdon path crossing Rhyd Ddu).

Volunteers are now needed to help get the railway open for the school Summer Holiday traffic. Please contact Jan Woods at Dinas on 01286 830200 (office hours), or email jan@welsh-highland.demon.co.uk.

 

Progress to 22/6/03

The main progress has been the linking of track through Snowdon Ranger Halt on 22/6/03. Rails were dragged south from the 2 foot north of LC51 by running the rollers around the 18m lengths as they moved over the sleepers. Finally rails were bolted down northwards from the platform end towards the level crossing and south on steel sleepers from LC51 until they met with a short closure length at Ch.11350 where the current footpath crosses the line.

 

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This southerly view (22/6/03) shows the completed track through the platform and past the old station building. The footpath from the station access to LC51 is to be diverted to run parallel with the track on the west side past the old station building with fencing separating it from the track. This will form a good photographic vantage point in the future. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Meanwhile UB51 had the waybeam plinths poured on 18/6/03 and the next day the bearing plates were grouted in. The beams were bolted down by 20/6/03 and the sleepers clipped to the beams by midday on 22/6/03.

 

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This northerly view (22/6/03) shows the sleeper deck on UB51 completed on 22/6/03. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Ballasting has been finished from UB52, the flood relief channel, through OB53, Pont Betws. It will be possible to lay track through here to complete the link between Betws Garmon and Cae Hywel next week.

 

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This northerly view (21/6/03) shows the trackbed ballasted between UB52 and OB53 south of Betws Garmon. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Metric measures used by the engineers in building the railway have been adopted for naming locations. Mike Schumann, the WHLR's engineer, was busy fitting black enamelled cast oval plates to bridges, level crossings etc on 21-2/6/03. These start at 20.00 for the Footbridge OB1 in Caernarfon station. This allows 20 km work of space for the FR if this is ever changed.

 

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This easterly view (21/6/03) shows the new location plate fitted to UB56 at Cae Hywel. This places the bridge at Ch.12.48 from OB1 at Caernarfon. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Locations already fitted include UB51 and UB56. It is hoped these location markers will make it easier for staff reporting problems as there are 127 level crossings to learn the names of otherwise!

Much work remains to be done on crossings and signage. A volunteer gang has much of this in hand and progress is being made north from Rhyd Ddu. The ramp wagon has been moved to Rhyd Ddu and Conway Castle is hauling it working with the builders who are doing additional finishing works. One task is to widen the embankment around Ffridd Isaf curve which currently would not allow safe detraining of passengers.

 

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This northerly view (21/6/03) shows the construction of LC64 immediately north of Rhyd Ddu. This is the location where the former loco shed and rail store were situated. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Progress to 20/6/03

With the first train crossing the viaduct on 18/6/03, the ballast train could gain access to the 1km section onwards to Snowdon Ranger Halt. The train on the viaduct shots were re-enacted on 19/6/03 for official photographs to be taken for posterity. It was hoped the ballast train could proceed north from 23/6/03.

 

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This northerly view (19/6/03) shows the short 25m gap in track in the cutting immediately north of the viaduct In the foreground is the track completed this week across the viaduct, while in the background is the track from Snowdon Ranger. Click on the image to enlarge. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright WHLR, courtesy Jan Woods. Image taken on a digital camera, post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

On the morning of 19/6/03, the track was finally completed across the viaduct and the tamper made its way across as a light weight machine to test the bridge strength. The girders hog or arch upwards slightly in the middle by design. Every third sleeper has a base-plate that attaches the rail to the bridge.

One rail was surveyed and screwed down then the other rail spaced out from that. The curve north off the bridge needed to start on the bridge to avoid exceeding minimum radii requirements. The track therefore swings up to 25cm to the west on the final few sleepers at the north end of the bridge.

 

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This southerly view (19/6/03) shows the tamper working its way onto the bridge, now replete with rails. the bridge hogs slightly in the middle by design. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright WHLR, courtesy Jan Woods. Image taken on a digital camera, post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This northerly view (19/6/03) shows Upnor Castle, propelling Daffodil, working the first train over the Glan-yr-afon viaduct since 1941, following the tamper, now safely over the span. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright WHLR, courtesy Jan Woods. Image taken on a digital camera, post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This southerly view (19/6/03) shows Upnor Castle, propelling Daffodil, working the first train over the Glan-yr-afon viaduct since 1941, consisting of ballast wagons and mess van. However, the tamper had the honour of being the first item of rolling stock across the viaduct. WHLR Manager Roland Doyle almost looks pleased! Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright WHLR, courtesy Jan Woods. Image taken on a digital camera, post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This southerly view (19/6/03) shows Upnor Castle propelling the ballast wagons and mess van south away from the viaduct at the end of the test. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright WHLR, courtesy Jan Woods. Image taken on a digital camera, post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Tracks were joined to the north of the Glan-yr-afon Viaduct on the morning of 20/6/03 and there is now continuous track from Rhyd Ddu to Snowdon Ranger Halt. Both regular staff and volunteers will be laying track at Snowdon Ranger Halt this weekend, so the track should be joined up at LC51 with the next section to Castell Cidwm by Sunday/Monday. Volunteers are invited to come along and help.

 

Progress to 15/6/03

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This easterly view (15/6/03) shows all the stock working on the Rhyd Ddu to Glan-yr-afon section stabled securely for the weekend on Ffridd Isaf curve. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Work was reaching a conclusion on the shuttering for the waybeam supports at UB51 over the weekend. A concrete pour is due here on 18/6/03.

 

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This northerly view (14/6/03) shows the completed bridge as seen from LC30, just south of the bridge. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Work was also underway firming up the trackbed with slate waste between UB52 and OB53. This section had been vibrator rolled during the previous week and ballast might be laid by 20/6/03.

 

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This northerly view (14/6/03) shows work has been underway to strengthen the trackbed with rolled slate waste between the flood channel bridge (UB52) and Pont Betws (OB53). Ballasting could follow before the end of June. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

There was no further progress at Plas-y-nant and the loop track will be the last item to be laid. The Plas-y-nant bridge, UB64, still needs its sleeper deck fitting. The start of the permanent track has now been identified as Ch.9140, with the point considerably to the north of the location shown in the TWO maps.

 

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This northerly view (15/6/03) shows the point at the north end of Plas-y-nant loop. This has been placed considerably to the north of the location indicated in the TWO maps. In the background, behind the RRMs, is the short track gap onto the Plas-y-nant bridge. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Glan-yr-afon viaduct was completed on 14/6/03 with all of the timber decking being screwed down to the waybeams. The steel cage erected when the FR took ownership of the route from the Official Receiver (for insurance purposes) was ceremoniously cut down at midday on 14/6/03. Track could be completed over the viaduct by 20/6/03 and the bridge could see its first train since 1941!

 

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This northerly view (15/6/03) shows the completed viaduct. The grids have no kicker plate as originally intended. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The ballast train has visited the south end of Glan-yr-afon Yard as indicated by the slip burrs on the rails! Top ballast has reached this point though sleeper nuts have been loosened to allow tamping. These will be tightened by a Geismar air tool as one of the last jobs.

The permanent gang had laid track across the yard on a bank up to a metre high and well back from the wall that supports the edge.

 

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This southerly view (15/6/03) shows the completed track across Glan-yr-Afon Yard. The trackbed was built up by over a metre in places and swung to the east away from the edge of the retaining wall to improve the lifetime of this structure. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Over the weekend volunteers laid track to within a length of the viaduct, with the Head of Steel now at Ch. 12699.

 

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This northerly view (15/6/03) shows the Head of Steel just north of LC57, just over a length short of the Glan-yr-afon Viaduct. Track may be laid over the viaduct itself by 20/6/03. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

At Rhyd Ddu, two right hand points are now stored at the south end as the siding is apparently going to be fitted from the start.

Snowdon Ranger platform has been finished with yellow warning strip (high speed trains pass this platform!) and the ballasting will be linked up with the north end on 16/6/03. It has been decided to use wooden sleepers in this platform.

 

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This southerly view (14/6/03) shows the completed platform with slate fines ramp at Snowdon Ranger Halt. Wooden sleepers are to be used in the platform itself and are seen stacked on the north end of the platform. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Dolgarrog is stored on the track just north of the station. This loco will come into its own on all the small finishing jobs, when the ballast train has passed.

 

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This northerly view (14/6/03) shows the sheeted loco Dolgarrog stabled north of LC51 at Snowdon Ranger with the ramp/transporter wagons. Rails laid in the '2-foot' are for completing the track gap at Snowdon Ranger. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

It is intended to lay track over Glan-yr-afon viaduct and through Snowdon Ranger this week, allowing the ballast train to work to Castell Cidwm bridge, now finished by Jones. The l/c for Caeau Gwynion farm was completed by 14/6/03.

There is also progress at Porthmadog with the trackbed now extending 210m north of Pen-y-mount and a further 180m cleared north of that. The WHR(P) team are using Chainage 0 based on Pen-y-Mount l/c (LC121 Ch.33550 approx.).

 

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This northerly view (14/6/03) shows the basic clearance of the former trackbed at a point approx. 390m northeast of Pen-y-Mount. The original ballast and sleeper spacings are evident. Clearance continues as far as the two telegraph poles in the distance. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Progress to 8/6/03

Preparations for ballasting have begun at Glan-yr-afon. Presumably this means that the viaduct works are now completed and the missing 364m can now be placed and track laid from Ch.12552 to Ch.12916. This will allow the ballast train, currently rapidly advancing down the Nant-y-Betws Pass, to continue on the next section to Snowdon Ranger.

At Snowdon Ranger, the ex-MOD transporter No. 333 has been moved to the north end of the station at Ch.11350 (current footpath access). This pair of 4 wheel wagons consists of a ramp and carrier. While it was on the ballast last weekend, it is hoped to rail it this week. The vehicle will be used to carry small tracked excavators to complete culvert wing walls and ballast retaining walls between Snowdon Ranger and Glan-yr-afon.

There are also several level crossings to complete around Snowdon Ranger though a start has been made. The rail stack was being cleared last weekend with a view to completing the ballasting and tracklaying through Snowdon Ranger Halt to LC51. Presumably, 'Dolgarrog's' shed, adjacent to the old station building, will also be removed.

 

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This southerly view (29/5/03) shows start of work providing a permanent level crossing at LC53. The summit of Snowdon is visible to the left. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

UB51 details

The bridge is designed to carry any of the locomotives currently in use or projected in double-headed formation. Dynamic effects relating to 25mph running are allowed for. The NGG16 Garratt locomotives are 2-6-2 + 2-6-2 arrangement, weigh 61.5tonnes and are 48’ 5.25” long. The railway has two SAFB 2-8-2 NG15 tender locomotives which are to restored for future use. These weigh 67.8t and are 54’3” long.

The veteran K1 locomotive (actually an amalgam of K1 and K2), which will be restored to working order later this year, weighs 34t, but has the heaviest axle loads of any of the FR’s or WHR’s stock at 8.75tonnes. All possible permutations of double heading with either locomotive leading in either direction had to be considered, and the net result was equivalent to about half of Network Rail’s standard bridge loading.

Following delivery to Waunfawr on 13/5/03. Assembly was very rapid, as these types of bridges are designed to be put together during overnight possessions. The whole job from delivery to assembly was completed in just over 10 hours. Assembly on dry land was the preferred method, in order to avoid the need to erect scaffolding and to provide safer working conditions for volunteers and fabricators to finish the work. The weight of the whole bridge when assembled was 35 tonnes, and this was lifted into place over the Gwyrfai River on 5 June 2003.

 

UB51 craned in at last

Possibly the most significant event in the history of Phase 3 of the restoration of the WHR was achieved on 5/6/03 (two days late) when UB 51 was craned onto its abutments at Betws Garmon. The trackbed is now complete all the way from Waunfawr to Rhyd Ddu barring some finishing at Castell Cidwm bridge (the final item of Jones Bros. contract).

 

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This northerly view (5/6/03) shows the bridge being craned into its abutments. Disregard the date on the shot! Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Mike Hart taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This northerly view (5/6/03) shows the grey painted bridge being gently let down onto its bearing pads. Disregard the date on the shot! Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The bridge is not quite finished yet but has its walkways and rail bearing waybeams complete. Some welding and concreting work remains to be completed around the bearings before track can be laid, possibly by the end of June.

 

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This northerly view (5/6/03) shows the view from UB52 with the bridge now in place. The walkway grid is clearly visible but the wooden sleepers have still to be bolted to the waybeams. Disregard the date on the shot! Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Mike Hart taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This northerly view (4/6/03) shows the bridge abutments nearing completion, the day before the bridge was craned in. The waybeam plinths are nearing completion with rebar cages completed and wooden formwork visible on the both banks. Concrete remained to be poured in this view. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Jon Marsh taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The bridge was successfully set in place around midday on 5/6/03. A 100 tonne Demag telescopic crane was hired at a charge of £6,400 for the day. It weighed around 200 tonnes plus when set up for the lift with balance weights of approx. 100 tonnes for stability. These were necessary because the crane was positioned between the station building and the girders and had to lift the 35 tonne bridge and move it to a greater radius, increasing the moment on the crane arm to almost double the original value.

Painting of the bridge structure was completed a day before the lift. The job started in the morning and took several hours to complete, attracting a considerable audience of local people.

 

Ballasting train operations begin north of Rhyd Ddu

Another major event has been the linking of the track at Rhyd Ddu North (presumably on 2/6/03) and the commencement of ballasting and tamping operations down the Nant-y-Betws Pass. By 5/6/03, the ballast train had worked to Ch. 13900, just south of Clogwyn-y-gwin incline. Both Conway Castle on the downhill end of the ballast train and Upnor Castle on the uphill end of the ballast regulator Daffodil have seen use beyond Ffridd Isaf curve and UB112.

The permanent track gang seems to have achieved about 600m in four days if the figures are consistent. A further 1 km of track is available to the track gap in Glan-yr-afon Yard and this seems possible in the next week or so. It is hoped that the 400m gap from the yard to the completed track from Snowdon Ranger, north of the viaduct, will be completed by this time allowing the ballasting train to proceed without delay towards Snowdon Ranger.

Ballasting was also underway north from the south end of Snowdon Ranger Halt from 5/6/03 by the contractor constructing the halt. The trackbed through the halt will be completed by the weekend though vehicular access may still be needed at the north end for the completion of the shelter.

The fence posts have now been cut down to 1.5m and wire fencing applied with a wooden bar top. The contractor chose to use some over-length posts because, they were not sure what total length of post was required for the job, the platform being built on fill. The halt shelter is currently being detail designed.

The platform is 3m wide at its northern end as far as the southern end of the shelter and then narrows to 2.5m for the rest of its length. No plans have been made for a siding at this location though there may be space for one at some future date.

 

Tracklaying at Plas-y-nant

Good news from the North Wales track gang is that 9 panels of permanent track have been laid at Plas-y-nant. Once the left hand point here was placed in position correctly at Ch. 9150 approx, the gang laid a length to the north between the two rail stacks. A further temporary length was laid north of this to Plas-y-nant compound to facilitate the transfer of the RRMs from the Plas-y-nant to Cae Hywel section. Progress was in advance of expectations and got ahead of surveyor's pegs.

 

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This southerly view (6/03) shows the track laid south from Plas-y-nant. Progress was so fast that the tracklaying got ahead of the surveyor's pegs and veered to the west. This had to be corrected and produced the kink in the track halfway along the loop. Rail has been laid in the right hand running (westerly) track through the loop. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Jon Marsh taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Eight panels were laid south of the point along the main line, which is the westerly or right hand track, as viewed from Plas-y-nant. This corresponds to about 170m of track laid and the project has now laid around 75% of the track in total. The remaining track consists of short gaps at Glan-yr-afon viaduct, Snowdon Ranger station, the long section from Caeau Gwynion farm access through Castell Cidwm bridge to Plas-y-nant, a short gap across UB64 at Plas-y-nant, short gaps at UB56 (Cae Hywel) and UB51 (Betws Garmon).

 

Progress to 31/5/03

Work on the bridge at Betws Garmon is reaching a conclusion. Brunswick Ironworks were completing bolting of the waybeams and edge angles to support the walkways to professional standards. Volunteers are completing the painting of these items. The walkways remain to be fitted.

Work was underway on 29/30 May drilling the abutments to fit the bearing plates on both sides of the river. On 31/5/03 rebar was being worked into the north abutment to provide a re-inforced concrete plinth (one on each abutment) to support the ends of the rail bearer waybeams.

 

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This northerly view (28/5/03) shows the bridge nearing completion. The waybeams are mostly bolted in place and the angle supports for the walkway grid have been bolted to the side girders. These additions still require paint. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The track just north of Betws Garmon station has been formed into a ramp so that the pw train and locos could be delivered to Rhyd Ddu.

 

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This northerly view (28/5/03) shows the track diverted to the west and formed into a ramp immediately north of Betws Garmon station so that the pw train vehicles could be loaded onto a transporter for their journey to Rhyd Ddu. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Some surveying was underway at Plas-y-nant on 28/5/03 to correctly position the point and get the curve onto the bridge correct. The North Wales Gang was laying track from Plas-y-nant from a point between the two rail stacks south towards Castell Cidwm. As the point is a left hand point, the volunteers will initially lay the right hand southbound track. It appears the easterly track will be retained as a siding, locked out of use, until required for operational reasons when the line extends to Beddgelert.

Private contractors have work well underway at Snowdon Ranger Halt and the Halt was at an advanced stage of completion by 30/5/03. The platform is on the west side of the line from Ch.11366-11427.

 

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This southerly view (26/5/03) from the public footpath shows work on the platform nearing completion. The gap in the fencing is the location of the future waiting shelter. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The platform edging had been completed by 29/5 and the platform rolled level ready for tarmac, which was completed by 31/5/03. The concrete foundation for the platform shelter had also been cast at Ch.11378 towards the north end of the Halt. The platform is about 2.5m wide and approximately 60m long with a slight curve.

 

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This northerly view (29/5/03) shows the platform at Snowdon Ranger nearing completion. The platform was tarmaced the following day. Temporary track has been removed to allow contractors access. The nearest length of rail does not have the correct amount of ballast yet as it was inclined to the rail store. There is enough room behind the platform for a short siding facing north with a point to the left of the view. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Work continues at Glan-yr-afon Viaduct. All the handrails are now complete and the four waybeams have been bolted down and painted. A continuous sleeper deck is being laid along the waybeams from the south end as on the other bridges. The scaffolding is being removed from the south end to allow the walkway grid to be fitted.

 

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This northerly view (29/5/03) shows the Glan-yr-afon Viaduct. Handrails are complete and scaffolding is being removed so kicker plates (angle iron attached at the base of the handrails) and walkways can be fitted. The continuous sleeper deck is being built across the viaduct from the south. Access at the north end is still blocked. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright WHLR, courtesy Jan Woods, and taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

By 26/5/03, the track at Rhyd Ddu had been extended across the level crossing (LC65) and the arrival line had also been joined to the point. Initial pw work saw the existing track straightened, levelled and aligned, then ballasted and tamped. Track was also extended to the Head of Steel at Rhyd Ddu north and only required the fishplates on 31/5/03.

 

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This northerly view (28/5/03) shows the short gap in the track at Rhyd Ddu North. Once these rails are joined, perhaps on 2/6/03, the ballast train will be able to start down the Nant-y-Betws Pass. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The company that does the computer analysis for the route had some problems about the alignment into Rhyd Ddu and this has now been taken 'in house'.

 

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This southerly view (28/5/03) shows the completed track past the famous rock, which will now clearly remain in situ. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The ballast train arrived on 22/5/03 and includes both hoppers, tool van, mess coach No.1001, tamper, ballast regulator, Upnor Castle and Conway Castle. The south end of the run round line was formed into a ramp to unload the rolling stock, all of which was stabled on the same track.

 

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This northerly view (26/5/03) shows the temporary ramp build at the end of the run round track at Rhyd Ddu South to offload the pw train vehicles. This may be retained in the short run to allow stock to be transferred back to Dinas for attention if a problem occurs. n the background, Conway Castle is seen in the run-round loop with pw stock behind it. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The stock made its first move on 28/5/03 and was shunted onto the arrival line as the first working over the Rhyd Ddu l/c (LC65). Upnor Castle is assigned to Daffodil duties while Conway Castle hauls the ballast train.

 

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This southerly view (28/5/03) shows all the stock, except for the tamper, now stabled in the arrival line. This allowed the run-round line to be straightened and levelled prior to ballasting the following day. Adverse cant approaching the platform on the arrival line, corrected the following day, caused a few nervous moments during this shunt! Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The following day saw several movements of ballasting, ballast regulation and finally tamping. Additional staff were taken on 28/5/03 and it was hoped the train would set off down the Nant-y-Betws Pass towards Snowdon Ranger from 2/6/03. Saturday morning work might be undertaken if the timescale proves tight.

 

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This northerly view (28/5/03) shows Upnor Castle and the ballast regulator Daffodil at Rhyd Ddu l/c (LC65). Track was laid around the corner to a point just one length short of joining up with the mile of track to Glan-yr-afon Viaduct. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Adventure Week success

Traffic during the WHR Adventure Week was up on the same week last year. Although advertising was limited, trains carried useful numbers, considering some will delay their annual visit until July when the route is hopefully open to Rhyd Ddu. Linda coped admirably with her load of five coaches (2 opens, a saloon, the FR's Obs/Brake No.11 and WHR No.23) and could be heard chuffing all the way from Dinas to Tryfan Junction! In fact the driver was keen to take 6 coaches!!

 

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This northerly view during the May 2003 Adventure Week shows Linda with coaches No.23, Opens Nos.2002/3, a saloon and FR Observation/Brake No.11. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright FR. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Linda was required for driver experience courses on the FR on Saturday 31/5/03 and was withdrawn from service at Dinas at 1230 on Friday after working the first train of the day. This was normally worked by No.138. No. 143 took over Linda's diagram for the rest of the day. Linda was soon on the low loader and was safely back on FR metals by the afternoon. The chimney was capped and lagged during transit to prevent the cool air draft stressing the still hot boiler too much.

Stanhope performed well on 'drive an engine' duties at Dinas but had leaking tubes. It was proposed to run Stanhope to Waunfawr one evening after hours. No.143 emerged from Dinas shed and performed well (it is reported) hauling No.138 (dead) and the full rake as a test of its ability.

David Lewin's miniature railway steam loco Sgt. Murphy was in action on the Down platform at Dinas for the three days of the Bank Holiday weekend, giving rides to children sitting astride its two 'coaches'.

 

Linda arrives at Dinas

Linda and brake/observation coach No.11 arrived at Dinas on Friday with a coal wagon and Stanhope. Coach No.100 proved too big to fit on the low loader. No.100 had been refurbished at Boston Lodge with new electrics to be compatible with WHR stock.

Upnor Castle, Conway Castle and pw stock were moved to Rhyd Ddu on Thursday 22/5/03 (in heavy rain). Linda is due to haul its first public service at 11.15 on 24/5/03 as part of the WHR Adventure Week. Incidentally, this also represents the first use of Moel Tryfan's wheels (as used under Linda's pony truck) on the WHR since the 1930s if you accept the small transgression of Blanche's pair in 1977 in the area of Dinas loco shed!

 

Upnor Castle move

The movement of Upnor Castle and its ballast/tamper train to Rhyd Ddu occurred on 22/5/03 along with Conwy Castle. The train was in action at Rhyd Ddu during the WHR Adventure Week giving all the more reason to visit! WHLR staff were completing tracklaying at Rhyd Ddu during the three days prior to delivery.

 

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This northerly view (18/5/03) shows Upnor Castle and the pw train stabled at Betws Garmon station. These several vehicles will be moved to Rhyd Ddu by 22/5/03. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This southerly view (18/5/03) shows Conway Castle stabled at the north end of Betws Garmon station with the pw train behind. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Progress to 18/5/03

Tracklaying has progressed at Rhyd Ddu with the final fitting of the north point and the completion of the run-round track to the point on 18/5/03. The run round was also extended southwards by two short lengths to ease the delivery of Upnor Castle by the end of May.

 

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This southerly view (18/5/03) shows the completed pointwork at the north end of Rhyd Ddu and the run-round line being connected to it. The left hand point produces a sharp curve for entry into the platform road (left) as this is a temporary feature until the station becomes a through station. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

At Snowdon Ranger, the track gang removed the temporary track at the south end of the Halt, formerly used as a rail loading area. This is to allow the construction by contractors of the platform for the Halt. When work on the platform and building are finished in June, track will be laid along the face of the platform to link with the separate section of track that runs north from Snowdon Ranger North site.

Jones Bros. has ballasting through Plas-y-nant and their remaining task is to complete Castell Cidwm bridge and ballast the approaches either side.

 

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This southerly view (18/5/03) shows the completed ballasting at the north end of Plas-y-nant. The ballast step shows where the wooden sleepers fitted on the bridge will terminate. The railings to the right denote the new private footpath that crosses the side of the bridge. Sleepers have been laid on the formation in preparation for imminent tracklaying in this area. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This northerly view (18/5/03) from the north end of Plas-y-nant loop shows the completed ballasting and the rail stack and sleepers ready to be laid. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

UB51 was receiving the first of two coats of epoxy grey paint at Betws Garmon. When painting is finished this coming week, the waybeams will be drilled and fitted. The bridge will be craned onto its abutments w/e 8/6/03.

 

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This southerly view (18/5/03) shows the grey epoxy paintwork underway on the bridge girders at Betws Garmon station. In view from right to left are the remains Betws Garmon station building, the Head of Steel, the girders and OB53, Pont Betws road bridge. The ballast bed here is almost a metre deep. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This easterly view (18/5/03) shows the westerly bridge girder with the weld bead clearly visible in the centre of the view. The protrusion on the lower side is the base that will be in contact with the plinth on the abutment. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Work is now completed on OB53 at Pont Betws. Jones Bros. has cleared the site.

 

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This northerly view (18/5/03) shows the completed concrete haunch supports for OB53 and the cast base from the south face of OB53. A deep drain has also been constructed through the bridge and the area is now dry. These structures will stabilise the original NWNGR bridge abutments which have seen some excavation of the foundations to increase the depth of the formation for the increased loading gauge. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Planning permission has been received for the station building at Rhyd Ddu. It will be a slate roofed building.

 

UB51 arrives!

The massive 12 tonne bridge girders destined to form the main structural elements of UB51 at Betws Garmon were unloaded at Waunfawr Yard from an articulated lorry on the morning of 13/5/03. Both the main girders, cross members and the four full length waybeams are finished in red oxide undercoat.

Caernarfon Castle was moved to Waunfawr with four flat wagons (the bar-connected pairs) to carry the girders and cross members to Betws Garmon, where track was specially extended close to the bridge. This meant that all three 'mainline' diesel locos were present in the station possibly for the first and last time!

The crane and first lorry carrying main beams arrived spot on at 7.00am. The second lorry carrying waybeams and cross members followed close behind. It was held in a lay-by up the road until the yard was ready to receive it. Unfortunately, slinging took longer than expected and the first train of the day was delayed by 15 minutes while WHLR staff and volunteers frantically cleared Waunfawr station limits of three locos, tamper, plough, ballast wagons and other assorted stock.

 

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This southerly view (13/5/03) shows the construction rolling stock (including Upnor Castle) in the arrival line at Waunfawr. All the construction stock was stabled here while the beams were shunted to Betws Garmon to leave the line clear. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright WHLR, courtesy Jan Woods. Images taken on a digital camera, post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Firstly, all the stock on the new extension was moved into the Waunfawr arrival platform while Caernarfon Castle shunted two of the flats into the run round loop so as to be near to the crane.

 

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This southerly view (13/5/03) shows the crane transferring the massive main beams from the articulated lorry to a pair of bar-coupled flat wagons just north of the main road bridge at Waunfawr. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright WHLR, courtesy Jan Woods. Images taken on a digital camera, post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The crane then transferred the girders onto the flat wagons, close to the main road bridge. Conway Castle was then stabled in the arrival track with the remaining flats presumably to carry the cross girders. Caernarfon Castle subsequently propelled the two main girders and the waybeams to the south end of Waunfawr loop before handing over to Upnor Castle.

The Funkey has been used because of the steep gradient at the north end of the station. The line is relatively level from Waunfawr to Betws Garmon and the heavy load was well within Upnor Castle's capabilities.

 

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This southerly view (13/5/03) shows both Upnor Castle and Conwy Castle in action with flat wagons at the north end of Waunfawr. The rake on the left carries the main girders with the four new RSJ waybeams on top. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright WHLR, courtesy Jan Woods. Images taken on a digital camera, post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This northerly view (13/5/03) shows Caernarfon Castle with B barrier wagon propelling the two flat with girders and waybeams through the run-round loop at Waunfawr. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright WHLR, courtesy Jan Woods. Images taken on a digital camera, post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This southerly view (13/5/03) shows Caernarfon Castle propelling the main girders and waybeams towards Betws Garmon at the south end of Waunfawr station. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright WHLR, courtesy Jan Woods. Images taken on a digital camera, post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Caernarfon Castle then departed ( 15 mins late) for Dinas to haul a Wallace Arnold special. Upnor Castle then propelled the bridge train to Betws Garmon after Conway Castle had shunted the rakes. The latter loco stayed with the pw gang at Waunfawr.

 

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This northerly view (13/5/03) shows Upnor Castle propelling the main girders and waybeams towards Betws Garmon at Tan-y-ffordd l/c. A B-wagon, ballast wagon and the other pair of flats wagons were also in the rake. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Jon Marsh. Images taken on a digital camera, post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

At Betws Garmon, the westerly girder was erected first and the cross beams were bolted to it to make best use of the crane hire. Volunteers participated in this job. The easterly beam was then slung into place and bolted to the crossbeams.

 

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This northerly view (13/5/03) shows the unloading of the first girder at Betws Garmon station. The four new steel waybeams are visible to the right. The easterly girder is visible on the train at this stage. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright John Sreeves. Images taken on a digital camera, post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This southerly view (13/5/03) at Betws Garmon shows the westerly bridge main girder erected close to the bridge abutments at an angle to the alignment. The crossbeams are in the process of being bolted on, each supported by wood packing. The easterly girder is visible lying on its side in the bottom left of the view. In the background are the abutments and Pont Betws. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Jon Marsh. Images taken on a digital camera, post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Assembly of the bridge at Betws Garmon went very well, and all the bolts fitted the pre-drilled holes first time. Ordinary 22mm diameter bolts were used to draw the components together and give some rigidity to the structure. Later, these will be replaced with high strength friction grip bolts of the same diameter, precision torqued to make the permanent connections.

There is some fabrication work remaining to do, namely to drill holes in the top of the cross members and bolt down the four longitudinal way beams in the final position. Each of these connections will need four 16mm diameter HSFG bolts, 96 in total. Then the mesh walkway and its supporting edge angle can be fitted and the whole lot painted.

All components arrived already shot blasted and primed to make on- site painting easier. The total weight of the assembled bridge will be 35 tonnes when it is lifted into place. Only then will the sleepers, base plates and rails be fitted. This sequence of construction avoids the need to have scaffolding over the river.

Other work remaining to be done before this can happen includes setting the bearing plates, and construction of short concrete plinths at either end to support the ends of the way beams.

 

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This northerly view (13/5/03) shows the completed 35 tonne bridge on wood packing at Betws Garmon station. the waybeams are not in their final positions. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright John Sreeves. Images taken on a digital camera, post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Progress to 11/5/03

Track has been laid as far as Caeau Gwynion l/c (LC46). As this is the main farm access, the l/c must be laid in a single session at the convenience of the farmer without disrupting his business.

 

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This southerly view (11/5/03) shows the Head of Steel at LC46, Caeau Gwynion l/c. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Harold has been delivered at Plas-y-nant to work on the Plas-y-nant to Betws Garmon (South) section. The loco was to have been used by volunteers over this weekend but they were unable to start it. Tracklaying at Tros-y-gol was to have filled the gaps either side of the river bridge. Instead, volunteers worked straightening the alignment just south of Glan-yr-afon Yard.

Work continues at Waunfawr South and the south loop point was still awaiting completion of its automated sprung mechanism and approach lights on 11/5/03. As a result of this, both Conway Castle and Upnor Castle were present in the headshunt on 10-11/5/03. Upnor Castle and the ballast train will move to Rhyd Ddu shortly.

The new Betws Garmon bridge girders are likely to arrive in the coming week and be moved from Waunfawr to Betws Garmon. Four flat wagons are to be used for this manoeuvre.

At Plas-y-nant, the trackbed is now complete for the full length of the loop and has been ballasted. The south end of the bridge approach has also been ballasted. The north end loop point has been positioned on the trackbed and the formation is now complete past both rail stacks.

 

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This northerly view (11/5/03) shows the completion of ballasting the Plas-y-nant loop. The north end loop point has also been placed in position. The thickness of the ballast bed is reduced under the point to allow for the wooden sleepers. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This southerly view (11/5/03) shows ballast has been laid to Plas-y-nant through the whole length of the loop and Jones Bros. work is now finished as the double piles of sleepers have been laid on the ballast. The rail stack for this section ism visible on the right and the north end loop point is visible in the distance. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Level crossing information poles are being erected at Tros-y-gol.

At Rhyd Ddu, the northern loop point has been moved off the formation to allow the ballast to be adjusted for wooden sleepers. The southern loop point has also been delivered to the site.

 

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This northerly view (9/5/03) shows the unloading of the point at the south end of Rhyd Ddu station. The point will need to be reversed before assembly. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Jon Marsh. Images taken on a digital camera, post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

At Bryn-y-felin, wing walls have now been constructed to the abutments and proper ramps built up, though not surfaced. The bridge was back in use on 10/5/03. On the Porthmadog side, the wing walls join with the WHR bridge abutments.

 

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This easterly view (10/5/03) shows the completed footbridge and approach ramps at Bryn-y-felin. The abutments on both banks have received wing walls. The approach ramp on the near bank joins up with the WHR formation and there will be a footpath crossing here to access the main road. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Waunfawr South works

WHLR staff and volunteers have been re-aligning and tamping the south end of Waunfawr loop this week before fitting the automatic point mechanism. With the point out of action, the Funkey diesel Caernarfon Castle has been stabled there as shunt loco in an operation similar to that seen when Waunfawr was opened before the completion of the loop in 2000.

The south end point has been clipped 'oou' and when service trains arrived with No.138, the steam loco detached short of the station and ran forwards into the run round loop. The Funkey then pulled the train into the platform and the steam loco shunted onto the rear. This meant the WHR had steam on Tuesday and Wednesday when normally it would have been diesel hauled. Normal operation may have been restored on Friday.

The procedure for tamping is as follows. Staff have to go out ahead of the tamper, dig holes in the ballast and place pot shaped jacks under the rail. The rail is then jacked to the correct level by eye and then the tamper goes through its cycle. The pot jacks are then removed from the rear and placed in front of the tamper as it goes along.

The tamper is not able to tamp points, so that has to be done manually with a generator and a pair of Kango ballast tampers. By Wednesday, staff had properly aligned and tamped both tracks as far as the south end point. It was proposed to tamp the headshunt on Thursday. The track south of there to Betws Garmon is mostly finish tamped. The foot crossing has been replaced.

 

Loco repairs

The two Garratts were stopped for repair at the end of Easter to prepare for the Adventure Week. As of 27/4/03, No.138 was out of service with a reoccurrence of an oil tank leak. The new steam pipe recently fitted to the front power bogie of No.143 has not seated properly and leaks. The loco was withdrawn so the power unit could be detached for a third time. This has meant trains after Easter were diesel hauled for a short period.

No.138 was back for the Spring Bank Holiday weekend with a re-welded tank and the burner transferred from No.143 (currently under repair). The loco steamed well and loadings were good, being consistently up on last year despite the absence of the Rhyd Ddu extension. Coach No.23 was added to the rake on both the Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday.

 

Progress to 2/5/03

The trackbed was surveyed to Caeau Gwynion l/c (LC46) by 2/5/03 ready for weekend tracklaying volunteer parties. Some 2/3 of all track required for opening to Rhyd Ddu has now been laid (see updated table below).

It has now been confirmed that all the bent rail has been delivered back to sites south of Waunfawr ready for the final tracklaying push in the next two months. Volunteers have slewed almost 400m of track in the section north from UB56 to the Waterworks l/c (LC31) by up to 300mm (about 1 foot) to the east to form a better alignment onto UB56. This section will become one of the longest straights on the railway so far.

The former De Winton bridge girder destined for the south face at Pont Betws will now be stored as a museum piece following the confirmation that it has been impossible to build an appropriate ledge for it on the new bridge. The girder currently resides at Betws Garmon. The south face of the bridge is much less visible from public areas. The north girder has already been erected.

With the impending departure of Upnor Castle to points nearer Rhyd Ddu, Boston Lodge works shunter Harold was delivered along with a hydraulic bucket shovel loader to Betws Garmon on 1/5/03. There is some uncertainty about the actual location the loco was unloaded and Plas-y-nant or Glan-yr-afon have also been mentioned. The green ex-sewage works shunter was used to extend track during Phase 1 in 1997.

At Betws Garmon station track has been extended by 2 lengths (36m) south from the former Head of Steel to Ch.6955 by volunteers so that the bridge girders can be unloaded, on their rail journey from Waunfawr Yard, as close to the bridge as possible. The girders are expected in mid May. They will be moved before the start of services, first thing in the morning when the railway can be temporarily designated a construction railway.

While a relatively small crane can handle the main girders, a huge 100 tonne crane, the like of which has not been seen on the project before, will be required to lift the heavy completed bridge into place. Despite this, the railway will still be saving £60,000 on the cost of the bridge.

By 1/5/03, Jones Bros. had finished laying in the re-inforced base slab through OB53 (Pont Betws). The west side support to the abutment is complete but the east side remains to be done. This bridge will be finished in a few weeks time. On the same date, OB71 (Castell Cidwm road bridge) had a full base slab and gauging checks were being made in the completed south half. The haunch supports were still required in the north half but rebar cores were present.

Volunteers laid track north from Snowdon Ranger to Ch.10628 by 1/5/03, advancing some 6 lengths (108m since close of play on Monday). The start of this section has been corrected to Ch.12306 just south of the level crossing at the north end of Snowdon Ranger.

The crossbeams for UB95 (Glan-yr-afon Viaduct) were all in place by 1/5/03. Work will now focus on fitting the four waybeams and the handrails/kicker plates.

By 28/4/03, the temporary access ramps on both sides of the Glaslyn footbridge at Bryn-y-felin were removed to make more permanent access following the temporary opening of the bridge at Easter.

 

Tracklaying to 2/5/03

Following completion south from Snowdon Ranger to within 3 lengths of the Glan-yr-afon viaduct, tracklaying switched to the section north from the Halt. Good progress was made by 18/4/03 with both permanent staff and volunteers laying track. Over half the track has been laid on this section and the hope is that tracklaying can be extended onto the Castell Cidwm to Plas-y-nant section when the Castell Cidwm bridge is complete.

Every 100m completed completes just over 1% of the track required to be laid to open to Rhyd Ddu. TG1 has completed temporary track across UB64 at Plas-y-nant and, after Easter, will be filling the gaps around UB56 at Tros-y-gol. If Jones Bros. quickly finishes the drainage work and reinforcing work at Pont Betws, track can then advance right up to UB51, Betws Garmon bridge.

 

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This northerly view (17/4/03) shows the short gap between the track south from Snowdon Ranger and the new track laid in the current push to the north from the green loco shed. Platform edgings are on site. Snowdon Ranger Halt will have a platform and shelter in the space to the left. Track will not be laid on this short gap until the platform for the halt is completed. The section of track in the foreground is temporary track formerly used to load rail from the stockpile. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The Castell Cidwm to Glan-yr-afon section has been split into two rows as tracklaying has been started from two different points. Currently active areas of the table are shown in bold red. The position of the Plas-y-nant headshunt and the length of the loops have been estimated from map data. There has been some additional tracklaying in Betws Garmon station in recent months, which was previously unaccounted. Track now finishes right by the station building at Ch.6919. Temporary track at Tros-y-gol has been removed and the north end of the track is now Ch.8080.

 

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This northerly view (17/4/03) shows the short gap immediately north of LC33 at Tros-y-gol bridge. The former Cae Hywel base of Jones Bros. (right) has been cleared and landscaped, though the Caernarfon Water Main pipes have not yet been removed (far right). This track gap is expected to be completed shortly after Easter. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Access Problems

A Reminder to all volunteers and supporters of the Railway.

Whilst the Railway is being constructed, the whole of the trackbed from Waunfawr to Rhyd Ddu is a Construction Site and therefore access is strictly limited to those persons who are authorised by the General Manager of the Welsh Highland Light Railway Limited. We realise that supporters are keen to see progress, especially now that we are in the final stages, but please do remember that construction sites can be dangerous places.

There are certain locations where a specific access agreement has been agreed with local landowners to enable work to be carried out at specified times for a limited period. These agreements are vital to enable the work to be carried out for the Railway to be opened and earn money without further delay. Persons who selfishly go on to private land and driveways to gain access to see a particular bit of the track put these agreements at risk of being withdrawn thus causing a serious delay to opening the Railway.

Therefore please keep away from these sensitive areas if you have not been given permission. You can follow progress via the internet web sites and of course when we’ve completed the task you can ride the train and see it all. There is another way to see work in progress, come and volunteer on getting the line open, not all the work involves heavy lifting, see the articles on volunteering in this issue!

Dafydd Thomas and Roland Doyle.

Web Editor's note.

On a few occasions I have myself noted several supporters/enthusiasts on the trackbed without agreed permission or, indeed, safety wear. In all cases my own visits and arrangements are agreed in advance and put up on the web as soon as possible thereafter. With such detailed coverage on this and other websites, surely there is no need for trespassing? Please use an OS map and keep to the footpaths and existing Common Land if you wish to view the railway independently. Responding to requests, I hope to publish a map of public footpaths for this purpose as I did for Phase 2.

 

Progress to 28/4/03

Upnor Castle has returned to the Waunfawr-Betws Garmon section and was noted at Tan-y-Ffordd l/c (LC28) on 26/4/03. The straight north of this looks excellent with the top and shoulders up to BR standards.

The experience gained here has led to a programme to complete the whole section back to Waunfawr. Consequently, on 28/4/03, LC24/25/26 were ripped out so that the tamper and plough can work through these locations. The l/cs will then be rebuilt.

It has been confirmed that on completion of this section in mid-May, the loco, two ballast wagons, tamper, plough and mess van will move to either Rhyd Ddu (south) or Plas-y-nant to complete the trackbed alignment north from whichever location is chosen.

 

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This northerly view (28/4/03) from LC25 shows Upnor Castle hauling 'Daffodil' the ballast plough, ripping out the level crossing as these need to be tamped. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Jones Bros. work is nearing completion on the Plas-y-nant loop widening. The southern half of the loop has now been ballasted in a northerly direction from the former end of ballast at Ch.9500. The south end loop point has now been laid on the ballast at Ch.9500. The rock used to build up the now stable embankment has come from the Cae Hywel site compound which has now been returned to field. The embankment had sunk by almost a metre due to the collapse of a buried peat layer several metres down.

 

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This southerly view (28/4/03) shows the double track ballast laid to UB66, just over halfway along the Plas-y-nant loop. The yellow lines on the rolled slate fines indicate the guidelines for the ballast bed. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Work on the two remaining overbridges by Jones Bros. is progressing well. Having completed the drainage at OB53, the contractor is now putting in a re-inforced concrete base between the abutments. The same is being done with OB71 at Castell Cidwm. The latter bridge is already half complete and the gauging profile has been used before the second half of the bridge is finished as it is on a curve.

 

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This northerly view (17/4/03) of the south face of Castell Cidwm bridge (OB71) shows Jones Bros. work nearing completion. A re-inforced concrete base and some side cladding is going in to ensure the abutments remain stable. The gauge profile is visible as the cladding needs to be checked with the bridge on a curve. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright WHLR, courtesy Jan Woods taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Tracklaying was completed to Ch.10736 by 28/4/03 by WHLR staff. Over half this section has now been laid.

 

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This northerly view (28/4/03) from LC47 shows the Head of Steel on that day as laid by TG1. Track has reached Ch.10736 with Caeau Gwynion farm visible to the right. The final 18m length was cut short to 12m so that the fishplates would not be fitted on the level crossing where maintenance would be difficult. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Porthmadog Progress

Work came to a stop for a short while on 27/4/03 after an extended track bash through the Easter holidays north of Cynfal l/c (LC120). The excavator was removed on 28/4/03. Good progress has been made given the small team and limited finances. The fenced haul road now extends north onto the Creasy embankment to Ch.33250 approx. Some 300m of trackbed north from Pen-y-mount have now been completed with sub-base.

 

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This southerly view (28/4/03) from Ch.33250 approx. shows the southern limit of clearance for the haul road south of Cynfal l/c (LC120) on the Creasy embankment. The previous trackbed was quite narrow and the common design standards with the northern section have required the build up of the embankment to the left with compacted sand. Surveyor's level posts have been erected but these do not currently carry Chainages. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Open Access

The deadline for proposals to extend Open Access around the railway has now passed. The original proposals can be viewed on the Countryside Commission for Wales website. You may contact CCW by email for further details.

Open Access plans for North Snowdonia were available at the Countryside Commission for Wales website from 28/2/03. This covers the railway from Caernarfon to Beddgelert and an area around Porthmadog. The deadline for comments on Open Access to land near the railway was 28/5/03. The definitive maps that follow consultation will allow access on unimproved pasture, open moorland and existing common land.

A similar exercise for the area covering the route south of Beddgelert last year saw little improvement in access from the WHR point of view, e.g. the National Trust land above the railway north of Nantmor as the only Open Access areas on this section of the railway. This affords no more access than is effective at the moment.

 

Open Access proposals

The area from Caernarfon to Dinas will be dealt with in October 2003 but is unlikely to provide any improved access. Although Dinas to Waunfawr falls within the current proposals, the fully navigable maps show no areas of open access close to the railway.

From Waunfawr to Aberglaslyn, the high moorland is shown as proposed open access (POA) or existing common land. These areas close in on the railway as it goes south, especially at Salem. The first area where there is adjacent POA is the 200m from Ch 8700-8900 on the west hillside above the railway north of Pont Cerrig-y-rhyd.

The next POA area is below the railway for the full length between Ch.13500-14500 (Clogwyn-y-gwyn to Rhyd Ddu). Perhaps disappointingly, the open moorland above the railway on this length is not proposed but individuals can lobby the CCW by email.

There are no proposals which impinge on the route to Beddgelert but access in the Beddgelert Forest is already granted. South of Beddgelert, the whole of the hillside above the main road on the west side of the Aberglaslyn Pass is a POA area, from south of Bryn-y-felin to opposite the long tunnel. This will afford good views of the trains on the opposite side of the pass from above. The east bank has already been approved in the Merioneth Area Open Access plans.

There are no POA areas on the Porthmadog section relevant to the WHR.

 

Betws Garmon bridge (UB51) news

Welding of the extensions to the main girders was completed by 24/4/03 at the Rotherham works of Whiteley Read Engineering Ltd. These weigh just under 12 tonnes each after modification. Work is now underway on the 6 original 4m long cross members. If all the work continues to go to plan, the bridge will be delivered to Betws Garmon and assembled on dry land week ending 10/5/03.

The strong 0.65 tonne cross members are being modified for the WHR gauge. As with the other bridges, web stiffeners (gussets) are being welded in where the four RSJ waybeams will rest on them (+/-280mm and +/-650mm from the centreline). Work was finished on the girders and crossbeams by 25/4/03. The same factory then started on the construction of four new waybeams, which will run the full length of the bridge. The completed steelwork will go to a shot-blasting and priming works before moving to the WHR.

 

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This view (24/4/03) shows gussets being welded onto one of the six cross-members at Rotherham. The beams are about 4m long and former BR bolt holes are visible. Click on the image to enlarge. The upper flange clearly tapers to each end but this will be the lower surface as the beam is upside down in this view. This image is copyright Mike Hart taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Minor realignment made at Rhyd Ddu

The track alignment at the north end of Rhyd Ddu station has being reassessed to see if a slight adjustment can be made within the existing limits of deviation and without further excavation. As a result, the WHLR has avoided cutting out any of the large rock that lies between the old and new formations just north of LC65 (the Snowdon Path). This rock has some local significance with names carved into the side that faces the old route.

 

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This northerly view (17/4/03) from LC65 (the Snowdon Path access) shows sleepers now laid on the formation and fence poles erected (left). The area to the left could be an extension to the car park. The large bright rock above the nearest fence pole lies between the new and old formation and is marked with a green line approximately 30cm into the rock for trimming to provide clearance. If the track can be slewed a foot to the right, this work can be avoided. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Glan-yr-afon Viaduct news

Plans for the new deck across Glan-yr-afon Viaduct (UB95) have now been finalised and work will be completed, hopefully during May. The contractor is replacing the original corroded wrought iron cross girders with new steel ones at greater spacings. These will carry four longitudinal steel waybeams and an open grid metal walkway as on the other bridges. There will be angle iron running the length of the bridge on both sides to support the outer edges of the walkway grid and which will also function as a kicker. The new handrail will be supported from the ends of the transverse beams as before.

 

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This southerly view (17/4/03) shows the new scaffolding arrangement on Glan-yr-afon Viaduct. The main girders are now fully painted and staff are seen preparing for the imminent arrival of the new cross members that will rest on the upper surface of the two main girders. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Progress to 21/4/03

Tracklaying volunteers have advanced the railhead north from Snowdon Ranger to Ch.10711 after laying 16 lengths over the Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday (19-21/4/03). Over half of the section to Castell Cidwm has been completed in the few weeks since tracklaying started on this section in early April (see updated Tracklaying Progress Table below).

At Rhyd Ddu, the points for the north end of the loop have been placed roughly in their final position, though still split in their two halves. These points will be automated but the south end point will be operated by a manual siding lever for the present. The lever was noted stored on the site of Snowdon Ranger platform on 17/4/03, presumably removed from the recently automated point at Waunfawr North.

 

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This southerly view (17/4/03) from LC65 (the Snowdon Path access) shows the north end loop point roughly in place at Rhyd Ddu, with the old formation to the right. Tracklaying has been halted at the near end of the platform (visible in distance) on both arrival line (left) and run-round line until the position and alignment of the point is finalised. Left hand running will be the norm here while the station remains a temporary terminus. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Tamping/Lining plans

It has now been confirmed that the tamping train will move to one of the isolated sections of track when the team has finished gaining experience on the Betws Garmon section. The straight alongside the main road was noted in fine fettle south of LC25 on 17/4/03. Upnor Castle was observed in the engine shed at Dinas receiving attention on the same day, presumably in preparation for its stay away from home.

The Bryn Gloch to Plas-y-nant section seems to be the most likely section to receive attention as the two gaps in this will soon be finished. This section is almost 2km long. The pw train might consist of the brakevan, two ballast wagons, tamper, a bogie wagon, the ballast plough and Upnor Castle or Conway Castle.

 

Pont Betws progress

Jones Bros. were digging ditches through the bridge on 17/4/03 and apparently laying re-inforced concrete foundation slabs within the bridge slot. This work is essential to allowing the track to be laid north from Bryn Gloch as the bridge dip collects water at the moment. Rails have been laid in the 'two foot' at Bryn Gloch ready to extend north to UB51.

 

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This northerly view (17/4/03) shows Jones Bros. excavating the drainage ditch to clear the pool that collects under OB53. The water will drain to the right. In the background two ballast wagons can be seen at Betws Garmon station. These are being used in conjunction with the ballast plough. The UB51 bridge gap is also visible and will be filled in early May. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Wagon news

Four of the repainted B wagons have received lettering and numbering. The wagons' lettering has been painted in white using a mask. All wagons carry SAR designations although some were bilingual in Afrikaans and carried SAS. A start has been made on repainting a fifth wagon leaving the sixth wagon for later.

 

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This easterly view (17/4/03) shows two of the completed B wagons with white labelling stabled in the bay platform at Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

UB51 Betws Garmon bridge progress

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This image (16/4/03) taken in a Rotherham engineering works, shows alterations being made to both of the new beams intended for UB51. The girder extensions will now be welded on, using coded welders, after it was found that surface irregularities in the 300mm steel plate would not permit the earlier plan of using bolted splicing plates. The end nearest the camera has been prepared for welding. The metre long extension piece is visible to the right, which after trimming square will be welded onto the end of the girder lying down. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright John Sreeves taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

In the image above, the right hand beam is standing upside down and welding of the extension piece at the far end was in progress. The large blocks projecting from the top flange at either end will be where the beam will be supported on bearings. The vertical fins are web stiffeners which will be on the outside face as viewed when the bridge is assembled.

The other beam is on its side, to the left of the view, with the top facing to the left. Shear plates are visible on the web, which will form the bolted connection with the cross girders. It has been decided to do away with the concrete trough deck sections that were originally fitted to the bridge.

The beam extensions are attached by full-penetration full-strength butt welds, being done by experienced and certified welders in preference to bolting. This change was necessary because surface irregularities and fabrication distortion discovered in the beams would have made it difficult to achieve a tight fit sufficient for bolted splice plates.

The bridge girders were delivered around the end of April. The beams came shot-blasted and painted in primer from Rotherham. Due to their length, they were to Waunfawr Yard, as access to Betws Garmon station site or the UB52 access on the south side of the river would be impossible for such a long load. The beams were then propelled, one at a time, either end resting on a flat wagon to the railhead at Betws Garmon. At Betws Garmon, it is planned to fully assemble the bridge on dry land with cross-members connecting the two beams. From this point on, construction will probably proceed as at Tros-y-gol with four RSJ waybeams bolted to the top of the cross-members. Galvanised steel grids will then be fitted to provide a walkway either side and the bridge will be painted. The completed bridge will then be craned into position, which should negate the need to install any scaffolding across the river. A continuous sleeper deck will be added with provision for outside check rails once the bridge is in place.

 

New April issue of timetable

The new timetable was issued in time for Easter with separate leaflets for the WHR and FR. The WHR version has a section covering the existing line up to the end of August 'just in case' and a section covering the Rhyd Ddu extension from July 1st. although passengers are encouraged to ring for confirmation of opening. There is no longer any intention to open part-way to Plas-y-nant. Day Rangers for the full line cost £14.

The former version shows six steam workings to Waunfawr from 26/7/03 starting from 1030. The final round-trip departure is at 1600. Mondays and Fridays however see a reduced service with only 3 steam workings. The Spring mid-week service continues with 2 diesel services until 16/6/03 when three steam services are provided (MFX).

The Rhyd Ddu service could kick off as early as 1/7/03 with four round-trips between 1030 and 1445. At weekends, all of these services will be steam hauled but the second and fourth departures will be diesel hauled in the mid-week. Surprisingly, Mondays and Fridays until July 18th. see only two services and these will be diesel hauled.

From 29/7/03, the peak service operates with six trains a day (TWThO) starting with the 0850 diesel working. This an experiment to tap the northbound traffic from the Beddgelert area with a 1000 return departure from Rhyd Ddu. The peak timetable may disappoint some as the previous version suggested six trains a day for some 37 days from late July and including the whole of August, whereas the peak service will now only operate for 17 days.

The third trip at 1150 is also diesel hauled but changes to steam on its return. Both Dinas and Waunfawr loops are used for passing. The final round trip is at 1630. There may be the facility to run additional unadvertised diesel-hauled late afternoon/early evening services (as last year) as a 1445 final round trip on August weekends seems rather early.

 

Progress to 18/4/03

Conway Castle was trialled successfully with the ballast plough on 14/4/03. In one day, it is reported to have done the equivalent of two weeks' worth of work by the track gang. The plough builds up ballast shoulders ready for tamping using the new tamper and slewing by more traditional means!

 

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This easterly view (17/4/03) shows Conway Castle stabled with the newly delivered ballast plough at LC24, south of Waunfawr station. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

A full sleepered deck has been provided for Tros-y-gol bridge. Track will be laid to join with this from the north just after Easter.

 

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This southerly view (17/4/03) shows the newly laid track over Tros-y-gol bridge on a fully sleepered deck. Galvanised steel grids provide walkways either side. Track will advance from the south to join these two isolated lengths just after Easter. Fencing now separates the railway from the access track on the south side of the bridge. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

On 16/4/03, TG1 was switched from working north from Snowdon Ranger to laying temporary track over Plas-y-nant bridge. This will allow rails to be carried from the Plas-y-nant stockpile to complete the short gaps either side of Tros-y-gol bridge. The rail will then be fed into the trackbed north from Bryn Gloch to Betws Garmon.

To allow for the curve on the bridge, a taper up to 30mm thick has been cut from the sleepers to be used when the permanent deck is finally fitted.

 

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This northerly view (17/4/03) shows the completion of temporary track south over Plas-y-nant bridge. The link will be used to move rail from the Plas-y-nant stockpile to fill the three gaps to the north. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Jones Bros. was busy on 17/4/03 trucking in spoil and completing the formation for the loop at Plas-y-nant.

 

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This westerly view (17/4/03) shows Jones Bros. completing the loop embankment north of Plas-y-nant to full width and height. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Track was laid north from Snowdon Ranger to Ch.10099 by the end of the day on 18/4/03. Dolgarrog is being used to ferry rails from Snowdon Ranger to the Head of Steel.

 

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This northerly view (18/4/03) shows Dolgarrog propelling RRMs carrying two rails north from the rail store visible in the foreground towards the Head of Steel. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Work was in progress on the Glan-yr-afon viaduct on 17/4/03. Holes were being drilled in the top of the girders ready to receive the new cross members.

Work on the footbridge at Bryn-y-felin was completed on 17/4/03 allowing its opening on 18/4/03 for the Easter Bank Holiday. The approaches need some finishing on both banks of the Afon Glaslyn. The bridge has been finished with a wooden gate at the west end.

 

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This easterly view (17/4/03) shows workers completing the wooden deck and handrails for the bridge. The approaches were loosely finished so that the bridge could be opened on the following day, Good Friday, for Easter visitors. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Opening set for June 30th

Excellent progress with fine Spring weather has seen the FR provisionally set June 30th for the opening to Rhyd Ddu. However, this has been at the expense of not opening the Plas-y-nant section as hoped for the May 26th Bank Holiday week.

The weeklong event will see an FR loco visit the line that has not previously been to the WHR (possibly Linda). There will be an exciting timetable with both Garratts in steam. Two additional coaches may be brought up from Boston Lodge.

Also envisaged are open-top double deck bus rides to observe the section rapidly reaching completion. Another visiting loco will be Stanhope (an ex-Penrhyn Kerr Stuart loco) from the West Lancs. Light Railway, presumably for driver experience shunting at Dinas. There will be an audiovisual presentation at Dinas and other attractions.

 

Progress to 12/4/03

Points at the south end of Waunfawr were due to be automated by 13/4/03. A cabinet location and wiring has also been established on a new concrete base under the footbridge, presumably for platform electrics. The north end points at Rhyd Ddu will also be fitted with automatic points soon. Plas-y-nant loop will only be fitted as a siding for the time being with the points clipped out of use.

Jones Bros. has swung into action at OB53 (Pont Betws road bridge), completing the drainage, trackbed and ballasting to UB51, which is itself expected before the end of April. Ballast and sleepers have also been laid south from UB56 at Tros-y-gol to the Head of Steel.

At Plas-y-nant, ballast has been delivered and the scaffolding on UB64 (Afon Gwyrfai bridge) has been removed following the completion of painting on this structure. At OB71 (Castell Cidwm road bridge), shuttering and rebar has appeared, presumably for the underpinning of this final bridge. Now the site is properly drained, this could be a quick job as was Pont Cerrig-y-rhyd (OB62).

Work started on 11/4/03 to lay track north from Snowdon Ranger towards Castell Cidwm as the permanent staff were completing the section south to Glan-yr-afon viaduct in the same week.

 

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This northerly view (17/4/03) shows the Head of Steel at Ch.12552 in the reverse curve approach to Glan-yr-afon Viaduct. The track has been left some three lengths short of the viaduct to allow for any adjustment in levels when the viaduct deck is completed. In the background is a fine view of Llyn Cwellyn and Castell Cidwm rock buttress. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The loco shed for Dolgarrog was turned around and moved to a point to the east of the trackbed centreline, opposite the old station building. Temporary track was laid to the level crossing, past the north end rail store previously established and joined up to the isolated 10m section of permanent track laid across LC51 a few weeks ago.

Track was extended 3 panels to the north by volunteers over the course of the weekend. A further 3 panels were added by TG1 on Monday making 108m of progress. A Bank Holiday weekend bash is planned by the North Wales Group for Easter (and fortnightly thereafter). Contact North Wales Gang: Dafydd Thomas, Tel. 01248 681019, email dafthom@theatrgwynedd.co.uk.

The new yellow painted ballast plough was delivered to Waunfawr headshunt by 10/4/03 by Conway Castle, which was still stabled there 2 days later. This will be trialled on the section to Betws Garmon over coming weeks and will then advance up the pass as soon as the track is laid over UB51.

 

Progress to 10/4/03

Track passed UB90 and the adjacent level crossing LC56 immediately to the south by 6/4/03. With the WHLR track gang TG1 now poised to complete the track to Glan-yr-afon viaduct by 11/4/03, volunteers are due to start laying track north from Snowdon Ranger on 12/4/03.

Two lengths of rail were laid across UB56 on 4/4/03 and the adjacent l/c (LC33), with the joint in the middle of the bridge. Also the point at Rhyd Ddu (north end) has been laid in place on the formation and the painting appears to have been finished on UB64. Re-rolled rail has also been delivered to Plas-y-nant for laying when the subsidence in the loop has been stabilised.

At Bryn-y-felin, the abutments for the new footbridge have been cast about 5m north of the site of the railway bridge. The new girders were reported erected on the new abutments by 10/4/03.

On 8/4/03, the ex-BR bridge girders for UB51 were recovered from a site near Sheffield. There were four matching long side beams on site. The WHLR are using two and extending them using sections cut off the other two beams that are not required. A Roadrailer grab and trolley were used to transport the rough cut extension pieces around the overgrown sidings to be loaded onto a lorry. It appears oxy-acetylene cutting equipment had been used to make these oversize. They will be accurately cut to length at the contractor's works.

The beams have been moved by lorry to a heavy engineering facility near Rotherham where they will be altered to suit the Betws Garmon site. The bridge is expected to be delivered to the WHLR just after Easter. Alterations to the bearing plinths will be made by the WHLR before the girders arrive.

 

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This view (8/4/03) shows one of the two approx. 2m sections cut off the unwanted pair of girders, loaded on a Roadrailer in the abandoned NR sidings near Sheffield. Both main girders and the two extension pieces were subsequently moved to Rotherham on a lorry for alteration. The completed bridge will be delivered to the WHLR just after Easter. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright WHLR, courtesy Mike Hart, taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The new ballast plough was rolled out on 7/4/03. By 9/4/03 it had been painted by volunteers in construction yellow safety livery with black trimmings.

 

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This southerly view (7/4/03) shows the roll out of the newly completed ballast plough from Dinas workshop. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright WHLR, courtesy Jan Woods, taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Pont Betws (OB53) completion

Jones Bros. has now been allocated the final job of providing drainage through the rebuilt main road bridge, Pont Betws, at Betws Garmon. The dip in the trackbed here frequently collects a sizeable pool 40cm deep. The new drains will discharge to the ditch on the east side of the alignment north of the bridge. This work will be finished as one of their final contract completion duties in the Spring allowing the trackbed to be ballasted to UB51 in preparation for the completion of track over the soon-to-arrive river bridge.

 

UB51 news

The girders and deck for Betws Garmon bridge (UB51) were purchased from Network Rail in March and will now be moved from its storage site to a heavy engineering company in Rotherham on 8/4/03. It is likely that the job of altering the structure will proceed quite quickly and the bridge could be delivered to Betws Garmon around the end of April. The girders are to be cut and splicing plates of a similar thickness added with high tensile steel bolts to attach the section removed from the two spare girder to extend opposite ends of the purchased girders.

 

Progress to 30/3/03

Two vertically curved beams have been delivered to Bryn-y-felin, just south of Beddgelert, for the new footbridge and were stored on the trackbed west of the old Afon Glaslyn railway bridge. There appeared to be no further work done on the foundations.

 

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This southerly view (30/3/03) shows the newly delivered light blue painted beams (right) resting on the old trackbed. A temporary wooden footbridge has been built over the beams for footpath access. The 20m (approx) beams will be placed on foundations to be constructed roughly where the excavators are parked. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Work at Castell Cidwm is nearing completion. The cutting has been excavated south of the bridge and the formation is now complete and drainage installed. This allows tracklaying to proceed north from Snowdon Ranger through the bridge.

 

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This southerly view (30/3/03) shows the completed cutting at Castell Cidwm. The location was a temporary freight terminus in NWNGR construction days. The cutting has been provided with drainage on both sides, now covered by slate waste. Apparently, a formerly buried electric cable is draped across the ground and requires removal or diversion. In the distance can be seen sleepers recently laid by volunteers up to the boundary of works completed by WHLR direct labour contracts. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This northerly view (30/3/03) shows the completed cutting north from Castell Cidwm bridge. Drainage has been provided both sides of this wet location, especially from the spring on the right. The levels and alignment need to be altered slightly at the level crossing in the distance. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

On 30/3/03, permanent staff completed the ballast gap over UB90 in preparation for the tracklaying to proceed to Glan-yr-afon Viaduct from the Head of Steel at Ch.12138 from 31/3/03. Scaffolding on Glan-yr-afon viaduct is being removed. The scaffolding being removed is that used for all the work carried out on and underneath the two main girders i.e. strengthening & painting etc. It is hung from the top of the bridge, and now has to be removed so that the deck, handrails etc. can fitted. Track should be completed over the viaduct and meet up with track from Rhyd Ddu in Glan-yr-afon yard in April.

 

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This northerly view (30/3/03) shows the completed laser graded ballasting over UB90. The cladding of the abutments has been completed and the farmer's quad bike successfully negotiated the underbridge for the first time this day. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

At Rhyd Ddu, the platform has now been tarmaced.

 

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This northerly view (30/3/03) shows the completed platform at Rhyd Ddu, now tarmaced. Two further panels of track were laid in the loop (left) the previous weekend. The loop runs away from the rear edge of the platform. There has been no progress with the loop point at the north end. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

On 30/3/03, the second coat of three was being applied to Plas-y-nant bridge. There is still no progress on completing the levels or ballasting in Plas-y-nant loop.

 

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This southerly view (30/3/03) shows the completed bridge at Plas-y-nant, still with scaffolding until paintwork is completed. The formation beyond is still not completed to the correct levels or ballasted. The near walling has been built up to support the ballast. Application of the final undercoat on the bridge girders was proceeding during the weekend. Although the footpath grids have been added to the cantilevered footpath on the west side, they will not be added either side of the track until the paintwork is completed. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Tracklaying Progress to 23/3/03

The tracklaying gang changed wooden sleepers to steel ones under the bridge at Pont Cerrig-y-Rhyd (OB62). Apparently the Railway Inspectorate do not require check rails here. The volunteers then went on to dismantle the temporary track (including the point) at Rhyd Ddu North, where the siding for the 'loco shed' was located. This is now ready for the ballast for the finished track to be put in. Presumably, the left hand point will be moved to one end or the other of the Rhyd Ddu run round loop. Finally the volunteer team laid 2 panels of track in the Rhyd Ddu loop.

The WHLR permanent staff have continued the Head of Steel to Ch.12138 (LC55). Sleepers were laid out all the way from Ch.12320 to Glan-yr-Afon Viaduct. Some sleepers have also been laid out intermittently on the section between Snowdon Ranger and Castell Cidwm. About one third of this length, previously ballasted, has now been sleepered. Volunteers were using a quad bike to shift 7 sleepers at a time where the packs were too far apart.

 

UB56 completed

On 24/3/03, the completed deck of UB56 was swung into place on the newly constructed abutments. First the deck was shifted from its alignment on the trackbed immediately north of UB56 to a position on the riverbank west of the abutments. Finally it was dropped into place on the new abutments.

 

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This easterly view at Tros-y-gol shows the refurbished deck lying on its new abutments. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright WHLR taken using a digital camera courtesy Jan Woods. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The trackbed can now be ballasted on the two approaches to UB56 and track can be completed from Bryn Gloch to Plas-y-nant over the two Gwyrfai bridges. This focuses attention on the completion of the Betws Garmon bridge.

 

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This southerly view (30/3/03) shows the completed bridge at Tros-y-gol. Four sleepers have been bolted to the north end of the waybeams. Walkway grids have been bolted to the cross members either side of the running line. The bridge has now been finished in light grey with the epoxy two-pack primer and an undercoat (three coats in all). Beyond the bridge can be seen the completed embankment ready to be fenced off from the new road access. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Progress to 22/3/03

Rhyd Ddu platform has been tarmaced. There is no back (western) edge to the platform on the future Up (sb) arrival line and this may be fenced on a temporary basis.

At Castell Cidwm bridge (UB71) Jones Bros. is excavating the formation south from the bridge to the required extra depth (1m). The formation in this final missing section will soon be completed.

At Plas-y-nant bridge (UB64), the painting of the girders is complete and the ballast support walling on the northern approach has now been made up to the correct height. Scaffolding remains on the bridge for the time being.

The southern embankment approaching UB56 at Tros-y-gol has now been built up to the required height.

 

Work starts north from Pen-y-mount WHR(P)

Planning Permission was granted on 17/3/03 for the long-awaited Pont Croesor Extension. The permission relates to detail, but was mandatory before any substantial work could start. However, work over the last 18 months has seen the old trackbed cleared of gorse, rubbish and overhanging trees, which will allow an immediate start on the main engineering work.

Construction started on the last week of March and will continue at Easter and throughout the Summer. The proposed extension is just short of two miles in length and will be opened in two stages. This will take the Porthmadog end of the Welsh Highland from its existing terminus at Pen-y-Mount, across Traeth Mawr, to the river crossing of Pont Croesor.

 

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This northerly view (30/3/03) from Pen-y-mount LC shows excavation of the sandy embankment to provide a haul road. This is re-inforced with slate waste from a pile at Pen-y-mount. Over 100m of trackbed has been rough graded to Cynfal LC (seen in distance) and the remaining Japanese Knotweed has been excavated. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The work is being undertaken entirely by volunteers from the WHR(P), who have been running heritage trains to Pen-y-Mount since 1981. Funds for this extension have to be provided from the company’s own resources. Under an arrangement with the Ffestiniog Railway the company has agreed not to compete for grant aid with the reconstruction work at the Caernarfon end.

The WHR is now being rebuilt from both ends. By agreement with the FR the WHR(P) plans to run its historical WHR locomotives and carriages over the whole system, when complete. As these are air braked, similarly air braked 'thunderbird' diesel locos will need to be stationed at locations such as Beddgelert and Dinas to cope with breakdowns as the WHR(C) fleet is vacuum braked.

 

Betws Garmon River Bridge - UB51

The redundant Network Rail (ex Railtrack Plc) fabricated steel bridge structure destined for Betws Garmon is now the property of WHLR Ltd. The dismantled bridge structure will be removed from its present location and taken to a heavy engineering works in Yorkshire for various modifications - including adjusting the overall length of the bridge to suite it's new location (see below for details).

It is planned that the modification work will be completed during April for delivery and installation at Betws Garmon, possibly in late April or early May. This could then facilitate opening to Plas-y-nant at the end of May if the two other river bridges and remaining gaps in track are completed.

WHLR Ltd are extremely grateful for the tremendous amount of design work that volunteer structural design engineer John Sreeves has undertaken on the bridge structure in support of the project.

 

Progress to 19/3/03

Good weather has allowed rapid progress with painting of UB56 at Tros-y-gol. The bridge has recently received its new cross members. This bridge is nearing completion and can be craned back onto its recently completed abutments in late March/early April, allowing track to be completed across the bridge.

 

Progress to 16/3/03

By 15/3/03, tracklaying had crossed LC54 at Ch.11960 near Bron-y-fedw Isaf. Some 200m has been completed by the permanent staff in the course of the week. A further 200m of track is ballasted and ready to lay as far as LC55 near Bron-y-fedw Uchaf. However with UB90 nearing completion, ballast may be completed between UB90 and LC55, allowing the rail to be laid towards Glan-yr-afon Viaduct. With progress so good in this area, it is possible teams will be switched to laying track north from Snowdon Ranger LC51.

On 14/3/03 the deck of UB90 at Bron-y-fedw Uchaf was poured. When this deck is complete by the end of March, ballasting will be completed over the bridge and track can be laid uphill to the Glan-yr-afon Viaduct.

 

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This westerly view (14/3/03) shows preparations being made to pour concrete into the completed shuttering and steel reinforcing bar cage for the new deck of UB90 at Bron-y-fedw Uchaf. The concrete transporter is visible in the background with a delivery boom fitted with a conveyor belt. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright WHLR taken using a digital camera courtesy Jan Woods. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

UB56 south abutment was completely clad by 15/3/03 though the embankment leading to it from the south needed to be reinstated. Jones Bros. will then ballast the short section on the straight south of the bridge. The cross members of the bridge deck still need replacing.

UB64 at Plas-y-nant was being painted by volunteers over the weekend of 15-16/3/03. The trackbed has been made up level just north of the bridge but local stone wall and the cladding of the concrete lintel on the north abutment need finishing. Jones Bros. was on site too tidying up on Saturday morning.

Rhyd Ddu station platform is soon to be tarmaced. A ramp was built onto the platform at the south end by 7/3/03. A tarmac machine was present the following weekend (15/3/03).

The ballast plough is nearing completion in Dinas workshops. This heavy duty device will plough and regulate the ballast shoulder as the track is lined and tamped.

 

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This view (14/3/03) shows the new ballast plough under construction in Dinas workshops, standing on a short length of temporary track. The heavy steel I beams look most incongruous on the small diameter wheels used on RRMs. These I beams are welded into a chassis which gives the vehicle considerable weight. The plough should save much labour in coming months. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright WHLR taken using a digital camera courtesy Jan Woods. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

WHR Adventure Week proposed

If the hoped for opening to Plas-y-nant comes about in May, it is propose to have a WHR Adventure Week from 24/5/03 to introduce the new line to the public. The special event is to help people understand the challenge, romance and adventure of the WHR. It could take a similar form to last year's Super Power event but with more information concerning the potential of the route to Rhyd Ddu and onwards.

Plans will be put together in April following the appointment of additional staff for this purpose. If the opening to Plas-y-nant is delayed or combined with the opening to Rhyd Ddu, the event will probably be moved back to coincide with the new times.

 

Bryn-y-felin footbridge progress

Work started on the Bryn-y-felin footbridge in February. The new footbridge is to be built a few metres upstream (north) of the railway bridge.

 

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This easterly view (8/3/03) shows excavation on the west bank of the Afon Glaslyn. The new abutment for the footbridge will be between the excavator and the spoil bank to the left. There is a matching excavation on the east bank. The railway abutments are visible to the right. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

UB90 nears completion

UB90 near Bron-y-fedw Uchaf is nearing completion. The widened underbridge will allow the farmer to move his quad-bike across the line without using the adjacent level crossing. The abutments are now complete and formwork has been laid to contain the new concrete deck while the concrete is poured. Steel rebar is on site and will be placed this week. It is hoped the deck will be poured by 14/3/03.

The steel handrails are at Snowdon Ranger and will be fitted on completion. The trackbed gap at this location can then be ballasted. This is timetabled to be completed to allow tracklaying to smoothly advance towards Glan-yr-afon Viaduct.

 

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This northerly view (12/3/03) shows the rebar lattice for UB90 nearing completion. The concrete may be poured within the next few days. In the background is Llyn Cwellyn. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright WHLR taken on a digital camera courtesy Jan Woods. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Plas-y-nant Halt pledges

Following a challenge from the WHLR, activists are reputed to have raised pledges of some £2000 from local residents towards the cost of a 70m platform at Plas-y-nant. There is a possibility that the work to allow trains to call there will be completed this year. On the downside however, completion of the loop ballasting (as observed on 9/3/03) awaits the WHLR's satisfaction that the Jones Bros. widening works at Plas-y-nant loop are stable. More rockfill may be required.

 

Progress to 9/3/03

Despite appalling weather, good progress was made with tracklaying over the weekend of 8-9/3/03. Tracklaying advanced to Ch.11788, just south of LC53.

 

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This southerly view (9/3/03) shows good progress with tracklaying south from Snowdon Ranger. This view shows LC53 and sleepers laid out to LC54. A new design of level crossing deck has been called for that can be tamped. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

In addition, the WHLR trackwork gang has laid a 10m length of rail across LC51 at the north end of Snowdon Ranger on 28/2/02. This isolated section of wooden sleepered track had to be laid in a single day possession to avoid disruption to the farm further up the hill. A new stock of wooden sleepers has been delivered to Dinas for the river bridges and overbridges where check rails will be required. Spares can be used in stations for cosmetic reasons.

A further rail stack has been established just south of the level crossing LC51 to allow track to extend to the north towards Castell Cidwm. The permanent staff are programmed to lay five panels (some 90m a day) from now on.

 

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This northerly view (9/3/03) shows a single 18m section of wooden sleepered track laid across LC51 at the north end of Snowdon Ranger Halt. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The loco 'Dolgarrog' and its container 'loco-shed' has been moved from Rhyd Ddu to Snowdon Ranger. It now occupies the trackbed at Ch. 11389, immediately south of the rail stack at the site of the halt. The loco was noted operating on 6/3/03 and over the subsequent weekend. Rails were delivered to the Snowdon Ranger north location on 6/3/03.

 

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This northerly view (9/3/03) shows the loco Dolgarrog and match truck returning to its shed after a very wet and cold weekends' work south of Snowdon Ranger. In the background is the original Snowdon Ranger station building. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The footbridge addition to UB64 at Plas-y-nant has now been completed and handrails are now being added. The deck of the footbridge is an open grid. There has been no further progress with the rail deck of the bridge but supplies of wooden sleepers have now arrived at Dinas.

 

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This northerly view (9/3/03) shows the addition of a footpath on the east side of the Afon Gwyrfai bridge at Plas-y-nant. The deck consists of galvanised steel grid panels. The uprights and hand rails are formed from steel sections and strip. A step up in the foreground leads to slightly higher section of footpath that runs along the west side of the south abutment. This will join the platform access footpath at the crossing for the platform to be constructed on the west side of the formation for southbound trains. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Upnor Castle operated to Dinas on 7/3/03 and a token cabinet was delivered to a newly concreted foundation under the footbridge at Waunfawr. The loco and stock was later noted stabled beyond Waunfawr headshunt all weekend.

The seasonal waterfall just north of OB62 that was falling onto the trackbed at Pont Cerrig-y-rhyd was noted as having a catch-pit by 8/3/03.

 

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This northerly view (9/3/03) shows the work done to catch the waterfall just north of OB62. The sleepers may have to be shortened or offset to fit against the concrete basin. The land to the left above the railway for some 200m to the north is proposed for 'Open Access' on the recently released CCW maps. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Cladding at UB56 'Cae Hywel bridge was nearing completion by 7/3/03 and the cosmetic local stone pier had been constructed under the centre of overflow span. Work was also evident on cladding the south abutment and river pier.

 

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This westerly view (9/3/03) shows progress made with the south abutment of UB56, despite exceptional flooding. The steel piling appeared to have been removed. A central cosmetic pier in local stone has been placed under the flood channel span. The south abutment has been clad in local stone. Work on cladding the river pier is nearing completion. Local stone lintels will bridge the two flood channels and further stone will be built up on them to disguise the concrete deck. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Volunteer coach repairs at Dinas have been terminated for the time being but the final situation will be determined by the newly appointed FR General Manager Paul Lewin. Wagon work at Dinas continues however.

Work on the water main diversion at Castell Cidwm appeared complete by 7/3/03 except for some concreting of the new north valve.

 

Progress to 26/1/03

The base slab of the south abutment of Tros-y-gol bridge was cast on 24/1/03 and included a space of some three metres between the river pier and the land abutment. The coffer dam was flooded on 26/1/03 but, fortunately, the concrete had set the previous day.

Track was laid in the platform run-round loop at Rhyd Ddu (4 lengths north from a point 36m south of the south end of the platform) plus an additional length at the north end of the platform in the arrival line. Tracklayers are awaiting the final surveying of the point position before completing the arrival track.

The volunteers main task was sorting bent from useable rails (some 16 man-days!). The bent rails are going to Wolverhampton on 29/1/03 and the first straightened batch will be returned the same day for tracklaying north from Snowdon Ranger.

 

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This northerly view (16/2/03) shows the progress from 26/1/03 in decent light. The layout of the station is now clear, though uncertainty about the position of the north end point is obstructing progress. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Plas-y-nant bridge has had most of the weak wrought iron cross members removed by gas-axe. One cross member was left each end to hold the beams in place while new steel cross members are added.

 

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This northerly view (26/1/03) shows the south bank of the Plas-y-nant bridge courtesy of a special site visit authorised by the WHLR and Jones Bros. All the cross members have been cut out except for two at either end to retain the spacing of the main girders. The main girders have been clipped down to their original bearing plates with two sliding clips on each side at either end of both girders. It is expected the new steel cross members will be bolted in during February and the whole bridge de-scaled and painted. New waybeams will be fitted and the bridge will probably have a complete walking deck for safe access. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The track over UB 56 and UB 64 is to be carried on four steel waybeams, formed from standard I beams. Two will be located approximately under the rails and two more will support the sleeper ends. The closely spaced sleepers will be bolted through base plates directly to the waybeams.

There will be check rails outside the running rails. A timbered walkway will be provided between the outside waybeams and the main bridge girders. On UB64 the beams will be discontinuous and positioned in a 'three-penny bit' format to accommodate the curvature of the track alignment within the straight bridge structure.

South of Plas-y-nant the trackbed is ballasted from Ch.9480 at the south end of the loop to Ch.9818 at the east end of Ty'n-y-weirglodd cutting. The trackbed to the east towards Castell Cidwm bridge is rolled and marked out ready for ballast. Some fencing is required between Ch.9500-9600 approx.

 

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This northerly view (26/1/03) shows the south end of Plas-y-nant loop courtesy of a special site visit authorised by the WHLR and Jones Bros. The south end loop point is visible to the right. It had been placed on the side of the trackbed at Xmas ready for fitting when Jones Bros. complete this section. The ballast was laid on this section in December from Ch.9480 approx. towards Castell Cidwm. There is a short gap in the ballast bed of 100m approx. before it resumes on the north side of LC42 on the westerly loop track. The easterly track remains as a plant road for access. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The Shape of Things to Come!

Bruce Brayne has combined an image of No.143 on its train with an image of the Aberglaslyn Pass to produce a montage view of the railway as it may be in 5 years time, running through to Porthmadog.

 

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This northerly montage view shows No. 138 (in 1997 livery) running southbound in the Aberglaslyn Pass approaching the entrance to the long tunnel to Nantmor. This image is copyright Bruce Brayne, Ben Fisher and Barrie Hughes. Image displayed at 96dpi.

 

Progress to 19/1/03

UB64 at Plas-y-nant had scaffolding added on 18/1/03. The scaffolding provides a wooden deck just below the main beams allowing access to replace the cross members and waybeams and repaint the bridge.

The two man working party of 18-19/1/03 replaced the temporary panel at Tros-y-gol with a permanent panel, extending the track by 18m to the north. The group then went on to place some of the sleepers in the run round (westerly) trackbed alongside the platform at Rhyd Ddu.

The base of the southern abutment at Tros-y-gol has been concreted but was underwater on 26/1/03, though surrounded by piling. This new abutment will probably feature two overflow channels as at Plas-y-nant.

 

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This northerly view (26/1/03) shows the south end of the Tros-y-gol bridge. Although flooded, the white concrete foundation slab and its exposed rebar uprights can just be made out. This structure will be finished during February, floods allowing! On the north bank a similar excavation can be seen for the north abutment. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

TV appearances!

The Discovery film crew who filmed the Ffestiniog last year did a program on Double Fairlies as part of a series called "Trainspotting". The series begins on Saturday 1st Feb at 9pm on Discovery Home & Leisure (Sky Digital Channel 133) and will run every Saturday. The producers intend to film the WHR and the new route to Rhyd Ddu as part of a second series.

 

More ballasting near Bron-y-fedw Uchaf

WHLR subcontractors are continuing to extend the ballast bed north towards Snowdon Ranger from Glan-yr-afon Viaduct. Progress had reached UB92 by 6/1/02 and a few metres short of UB 90 by 16/1/03. Ballasting was completed back to Snowdon Ranger w/e 23/2/03.

The structure of UB90 is being renewed with the north abutment replaced by a clad re-inforced concrete structure. The WHLR could not afford to rebuild this sheep creep itself but, in a deal with the farmer, the underpass is being widened from 1m to 2.5m to allow quad bike access. The farmer in turn has allowed excess soil to be tipped on his land. He has also allowed the use of a slate waste tip for which planning permission had to be obtained. The slate waste was used to firm up the trackbed and to build up the ramps to level crossings. UB90 should be complete by March.

 

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This southerly view (21/1/03) shows ballast bed extending north towards the viewpoint near Bron-y-fedw Uchaf farm. The surrounding mountains were dusted with snow but there have been no large accumulations this year so far. In the background can be seen the limit of ballast at LC56 (Ch.12300 approx.). It appears that the south abutment, visible above the concrete and made from local stone, is sound and will be re-used. Click on the image to enlarge. This view is copyright Roger Dicks. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Progress noted to 12/1/03

On 12/1/03 the following progress was noted.

Work was underway on the Waunfawr south point to make it an automated point like at Dinas.

Tracklaying had reached LC40 at Ch.9040, just short of Plas-y-nant bridge.

 

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This northerly view (26/1/03) shows the Head of Steel at LC40 (Ch.9040 approx.), just short of the rock wall approaching Plas-y-nant. The tracklaying team ran out of rail here in early January. Sleepers have been laid right up to Plas-y-nant bridge. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The cladding of UB64 at Plas-y-nant appeared complete and the bridge deck supports had been removed. The bridge is now resting on the original bearing plates fixed to the new concrete abutments.

Ballasting had reached the south end of Ty'n-y-Weirglodd cutting and was visible from Castell Cidwm bridge at Ch.9800 approx. and is apparently complete from the south end of Plas-y-nant loop, though there is no further progress ballasting the loop itself. The formation south of Castell Cidwm bridge was marked out for excavation for the first time to the boundary with the completed trackbed at Caeau Gwynion farm. The Ch.10000 marker is just to the south of the bridge and a water main crosses under the trackbed at this point.

There was no sign of any concrete work at the Tros-y-gol river bridge, though the south abutment is now completely surrounded with piling.

 

Glan-yr-afon Viaduct Progress

All the web stiffeners to the main girders are now in place on UB95 (Glan-yr-afon viaduct) and the next activity there should be painting the structure. There are additional transverse beams to be placed across the main beams. These will carry the longitudinal wooden waybeams but will not be fitted until modifications can be made to the scaffolding.

Painting is now underway. The scaffolding will then be adjusted again to allow fitting of the waybeams, walkway decking and handrails. Closely spaced timber sleepers will be screwed down to the waybeams. Sleepers have been retained for the three river bridges and the viaduct and, sadly, this did not leave any spare for Rhyd Ddu station.

Work is scheduled for completion on 7/3/03 allowing the tracklaying teams access at Easter following opening to Plas-y-nant. Following removal of the scaffolding, ballast will be laid up to bridge and the track extended from the Head of Steel from a rail pile at the south end of Glan-yr-afon yard.

 

River Bridges

The WHLR has been lucky to acquire an ex-BR (now Network Rail!) bridge. A single track 'Through Type' (i.e. two main side girders, cross beams and concrete trough units) bridge has been located dismantled and in redundant stock. It is at a railway storage site in the northeast that has to be cleared for development. The bridge was apparently originally installed in Tyne and Wear area before being put into store as it is in good condition.

The new bridge may have to be lengthened to fit the new abutments and may require painting. It is hoped to deliver and fit the bridge before the end of March to allow the tracklaying to reach Plas-y-nant for the proposed Good Friday Bank Holiday weekend opening but an Easter opening is looking more unlikely now in view of the short time available.

It was originally hoped that a new bridge could be constructed and would be delivered and placed on the already completed abutments by the Summer 2002. However funding was so tight that the WHRS decided to make an appeal to members. The cost the steelwork for new bridge, including its transport and installation, was estimated at £48,000 and the match funding component should be about £28,000 (or about £16 per WHRS member!). This will be the last project to be started as it is hoped to have all the other projects up and running by May.

Please send cheques to The Bridge Fund, WHLR, Dinas Station, Llanwnda, Caernarfon, LL54 5UP.

It was the intention to order a new bridge for delivery in the Spring. (according to the railway press). The WHLR has received quotes from 4 companies with a price of about £70,000. This is over budget and negotiations continue. Delivery could be within 2 months of an order being placed.

Meanwhile, Jones Bros. started on the Cae Hywel bridge abutments (UB56) by 23/12/02, removing the south abutment and piling around both. This will allow a dry area around each abutment. The WHLR is looking for volunteers to de-scale and paint the bridge structure promptly, while it is on 'dry land'! Contact Cedric Lodge at the WHLR (01286 830200).

Work on the abutments at Plas-y-nant (UB64) is reaching an end with news that a local contractor has clad both the central pier and the southern abutment with local stone. The next step here is the replacement of cross members between the two main girders and the bearing pads on the abutments. The cross members will probably be replaced one at a time using the others to maintain rigidity.

By 23/12/02 a second (non load bearing) pier had been constructed (entirely out of local stone) with gaps for the flood channels of about 1m. A ledge had been constructed to allow a fake local stone lintel to bridge the channels. A stone wall will be built on this to hide the concrete upstand.

 

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This westerly view (23/12/02) shows the recently completed local stone cosmetic pier at Plas-y-nant bridge. The ledge formed by the local stone additions allows lintels to be laid across the flood channels. Stone will be built up on these to hide the concrete side of the cast slab deck. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

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This westerly view (16/2/02) shows the recently completed local stone cladding of the concrete piers for the overflow channel and south abutment at Plas-y-nant bridge. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

UB64 will be completed by laying four waybeams (rather than the original two massive wooden beams) on the newly fitted steel crossbeams. With the track alignment curved through the bridge, closely spaced wooden sleepers will be bolted to the four beams and the track will be fixed to base-plates screwed to them. The bridge will probably be completed with walkway planking.

With work completed on the culverts leading to the alternative access to Tros-y-gol at the end of September, the plans to improve UB56, the second of the three Afon Gwyrfai bridge, have swung into action in the New Year. Both abutments are to be replaced with concrete structures with local stone cladding and the bridge deck also needs strengthening. The bridge deck is also likely be fully re-timbered for safety reasons (as are the other Gwyrfai bridges and the Glan-yr-afon viaduct).

The causeway across the floodplain leading to Tros-y-gol house has now been cleared of power supply poles and when linked up to the pipe bridge/ford will allow work to start on the railway bridge, UB56. Work had not started by 1/12/02 but piling was complete by 23/12/02 and the stone blocks of the southern abutment had been removed and stored on the formation south of the bridge, just north of the rail stacks.

 

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This northerly view (30/11/02) shows the poor state of the abutments at UB56 at Cae Hywel. Some facing blocks have fallen into the river. The white sand bag dams have not been sufficient to keep the foundations clear. Both abutments are likely to be rebuilt in re-inforced concrete using the existing stone as cladding. The bridge deck is stored at Cae Hywel (visible top left). Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on a Hitachi D8 digital camcorder VM-D865LE 230. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Tracklaying Progress 10/1/03

The Head of Steel was pushed forwards again over the weekend of 4-5/1 and some work continued at Salem until 10/1/03. Working parties are taking place every weekend now in the rush to get the track complete and open to Plas-y-nant loop by Easter. Work has been completed along the rock ledge and, with only about 10 lengths to go, it is possible track will reach Plas-y-nant bridge w/e 12/1/03. Some Deviationists who built the FR's Lyn Ystradau Deviation in the 60's and 70's are assisting. Your web editor was involved in this project from 1968 for over 10 years!

 

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This southerly view (26/1/03) shows the track laid through the Gwyrfai Gorge approaching Plas-y-nant. Wooden sleepers have been used to allow for check rails to be fitted through this narrow bridge. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Tracklaying was completed to within 3 lengths of Plas-y-nant bridge on 10/1/03, when the volunteers ran out of rail. The Head of Steel was at LC40, some 50m south of the bridge. So the 'Old Deviationists' moved to Rhyd Ddu, where the first temporary lengths were laid alongside the rail stack on 10/1/03 with a 28m length north from the southern limit of the formation at Ch.14875.

 

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This northerly view (26/1/03) shows the freshly laid track approaching Pont Cerrig-y-rhyd (OB62). Wooden sleepers have been laid on the ballast bed through the bridge to allow the fitting of check rails. Some wooden sleepers have been omitted near the waterfall (left) as it appears a drain may be cut across the trackbed here to deal with this regular seasonal flow. This image is copyright B W Hughes taken on Samsung Digimax 230 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The 'Old Deviationists' are still in reasonable form and can lay two lengths a day between six of them (with excellent help from WHLR staff). The North Wales Group laid track at Rhyd Ddu on Saturday and Sunday while Deviation veterans sorted rail into bent and straight heaps. About 60% of the rails here are bent so much they must be re-rolled.

Track was laid northwards along the easterly arrival track to the south end of the platform on Saturday and in all 10 lengths were laid by close of play on Sunday. The first permanent length must be removed for the point to be installed. The volunteers are hoping both loop points will be delivered to Rhyd Ddu by 24/1/02 as they are hoping to lay the run-round loop the following weekend.

 

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V4.2 dated 11/8/09