WHR

News Archive Page

2017

V4.2 updated 16/4/17

with news to 28/2/17

 

Newly archived sections are placed at the top of this page. This page contains archived news from 2017.

 

ECS working 28/2/17

This northerly view (28/2/17) shows Criccieth Castle setting out south from Dinas on an ECS, presumably in connection with the Orange timetable due to start the following day. Click on the image to enlarge. Click again to see full size. This image is copyright Stuart McNair (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Prince for Orange timetable 1/3/17

Prince has been chosen to haul the Orange timetable MTFX service from Porthmadog to Hafod-y-llyn from 1-5/3/17, subject to change. Merddin Emrys will haul the trains next week. Trains run at 11:15 and 14:05 from Porthmadog. Heavy snowfall is forecast on Snowdon every day until 7/3/17 so the mountains will have a dusting of snow. The timetable continues until 23/3/17, after which Easter services begin from Caernarfon to Porthmadog with the new season of trains.

Although there is a platform at Hafod-y-llyn, the F&WHR advise: 'It is recommended that intending passengers should only join the train at Harbour Station at Porthmadog. There is limited pedestrian and vehicular access at Hafod-y-llyn, so passengers are not advised to join or leave the train there.'

Departure times for Hafod-y-llyn are 1155 and 1445 after a ten minute run round. There is no mention of whether passengers could join or alight at the intermediate stop at Pont Croesor where the train stops to activate the level crossing and pick up a token.

Photographs of the trains would be welcome.

 

This poster about the history of Prince (1/3/17) is similar to one produced for Palmerston, which was displayed recently at King's Cross. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright F&WHR. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Tuesday Gang report 28/2/17

Tony Baker reports: We spent a very wet day repairing the level crossing fence at LC 50:79. The replacement posts were first reclaimed from LC 40:99 which has been closed so a bit of recycling going on to save the company a bit of cash. The fence was down when we first arrived with 2 posts rotted through at the base.

 

This easterly view (28/2/17) shows an early sign of Spring with daffodils appearing in the raised bed planters (to deter sheep!) at Beddgelert station. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tony Baker and was taken on an Olympus digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (28/2/17) shows the initial state of the crossing at LC50.79 Hafod-y-llyn. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tony Baker and was taken on an Olympus digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (28/2/17) shows a new post hole being made at LC50.79 crossing at Hafod-y-llyn. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tony Baker and was taken on an Olympus digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (28/2/17) shows the finished crossing LC50.79 at Hafod-y-llyn. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tony Baker and was taken on an Olympus digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

L&BR Baldwin delay

The Lynton and Barnstaple Railway's Baldwin, hoped for this Spring, will now be delayed until the L&BR's September Gala following discovery of miss-match between the boiler saddle and boiler leaving gaps in support along with other minor problems. Lyn No.762 is a recreation of the 2-4-2T that ran on the L&BR until the 1930s. It has previously been stated that the loco would be trialled on the WHR in return for the frequent lendings of Lyd to L&BR Galas.. See L&BR 762 News website.

The L&BR is surprisingly still awaiting a planning decision from Exmoor National Park on the Killington Lane to Blackmoor Gate section whereas the North Devon Council, whom received the application at the same time, approved the reinstatement of the railway from Blackmoor Gate to Whistlandpound Reservoir station last June! One obstruction has been removed by the purchase of the L&BR Trust of 'Fairview', a house with a section of trackbed. The house itself (less the trackbed) is being sold on to a Trust member. The entire trackbed as far south as Parracombe Churchtown is now in the hand of the Trust or Exmoor Associates who are buying up the trackbed and leasing it for a nominal charge to the L&BR. See Exmoor Associates webpage for news of clearance of the trackbed. 

 

KS4415 report 26/2/17

KS4415 is the experimental diesel shunter trialled on the WHR in the 1920s and being restored by a volunteer group at Boston Lodge. The most recent progress report reveals that the transmission band brake has been dismantled ready for grit blasting. Most of the components are in a fair condition and the adjustable link is in great condition, with the threads definitely reusable. The frames have been painted in grey top coat to protect them from further corrosion. Finally the starting donkey engine 'gearbox' has been dismantled, again for grit blasting. This is also in good condition, mainly just requiring some new roller bearings. See KS4415 Facebook page for images.

 

ATW preparing bid for WalesRail

Arriva Trains Wales (owned by Deutsche Bundesbahn-nationalised German Railways) is considering a bid for the new WalesRail franchise when its franchise ends in 2018. They are particularly interested in suggestions for the North Wales Coast and Conwy Valley lines. They are looking to meet User Groups to discuss what passengers want. In recent years ATW has added loco hauled trains from Holyhead to Cardiff/Manchester to relieve pressure on its Class 175 DMUs which are often wedged. One suggestion that could be made is to seek a follow-on order for the new build Transpennine Mk5 coach loco-hauled trains for all peak Manchester-Cardiff services and other routes where the current shortage of DMUs frequently leads to unpleasantly packed travelling conditions. A suggestion for the Conwy Valley Line is to run summer steam specials as ScotRail is planning and are already running on the Fort William to Mallaig to replace those now banned by the ERTMS debacle on the Cambrian Coast.

Anyone wishing to make representations should contact ATW's Teleri Evans.

 

Orange timetable restarts 1/3/17

The Orange timetable restarts on Wednesday 1/3/17 and runs MTFX 1-23/3/17. Trains run from Porthmadog to Hafod-y-llyn (no access). The full Caernarfon-Porthmadog Yellow timetable commences on 25/3/17 (occasional MFX until the end of June). The Green timetable Dinas-Beddgelert service only ran on six days to Saturday 25/2/17 as two days (Thursday/Friday) were lost to storm Doris with 95mph gusts bringing down trees in the area north of Beddgelert.

The area around Rhyd Ddu is forecast to receive snow overnight on 27-28/2/17 leading to a dusting on the mountains for the start of the Orange timetable.

 

Palmerston on the move 26/2/17

The F&WHR Insider Facebook page shows a video of Palmerston being extracted from Kings Cross overnight on Sunday 26/2/17-Monday 27/2/17. The loco was on display for a week over the Half Term holiday period hopefully encouraging Easter visitors to the GLToW.

 

No.130 news 25/2/17

Further progress is being made with the new boiler for No.130 at Stockton Castings. The wooden pattern for the backhead former was used recently to make the complex shape of the backhead pattern and, from that, form the backhead from red hot steel plate.

 

New Nuclear hope for Trawsfynydd reactor site 25/2/17

A proposal for new small nuclear reactors has been made for the decommissioned Trawsfynydd nuclear reactor site. This may mean renewal of freight services including concrete deliveries and fuel rods to the Trawsfynydd Nuclear siding. The route from Blaenau Ffestiniog to the siding is currently being cleared by a volunteer group in association with NR with the aim of operating it as a preserved railway. See BBC story.

 

Trains run 25/2/17

Following sterling efforts by the Lineside Maintenance gang to remove fallen trees and repair damage, the Welsh Highland Railway trackbed has now been cleared above Beddgelert. Trains will run as originally timetabled on Saturday 25/2/17, with departures from Dinas at 10:15 and 13:30. A round-trip is possible in the reverse direction on the 12:00 departure from Beddgelert. The F&WHR apologised for the disruption to their half-term services and any inconvenience caused.

 

WHHR Baldwin to be completed at VoR 24/1/17

The Welsh Highland Heritage Railway's No.794, a WD Baldwin 4-6-0T, was delivered to the VoR at Aberystwyth on 24/1/17 for completion. The loco was received from India in the 1980s and has not been in a steamable condition since. It is owned by the Imperial War Museum and is on loan to the WHHR. Alan Keef's had previously started work on it. It is hoped the loco will be returned in two years to run on the WHHR. Both the Baldwin and Russell may run on the WHR sometime in the future as they did on the original WHR, if agreement can be reached between the WHHR and the F&WHR. No.794 will carry No.590 to simulate the original WHR Baldwin.

 

Train service cancelled 24/2/17

There are a number of fallen trees across the line north of Beddgelert and these cannot be cleared and the track repaired in time for today's services. It is hoped to restore services for the final day of the Half Term services on 25/2/17. Currently there are no plans to add a service on Sunday to compensate for the lack of trains on 23-24/2/17.

 

North Wales Track Gang update Autumn 2016

In October group of young Bombardier volunteers assisted the NWTG clearing the area of trees and saplings between Tryfan Junction road bridge and the level crossing the other end of the station but the chipper refused to work. The NWTG also helped clear Caernarfon station and on 30/10/16 shortened the headshunt to allow contractors access.

In early November the Caernarfon toilet block was moved to the temporary station building site at Ty Seiont. A works train was used on 12-13/2/16. The Welsh Water manhole was finally discovered alongside the platform at the third attempt and track had to be dismantled to access the manhole as a sleeper had been laid across it. Another trip to Dinas saw not progress chipping the cuttings as the chipper failed again. Finally on 26/11 they got the chipper working but it failed again.

Some progress was made reconfiguring the track at Caernarfon so a sleeper does not lie on the discovered manhole but more attention will be required early in 2017. The year ended with the gang helping get the Santa preparations ready at Dinas, including temporary facilities in the Goods Shed.

 

Train service cancelled due to storm Doris 23/2/17

All WHR trains were cancelled on 23/2/27 due to gusts approaching 80mph as storm Doris passed through. It is hoped to reopen the line tomorrow (24/2/17) after a safety inspection for fallen trees etc.

 

Palmerston 22/2/17

Alun Cairns (Secretary of State for Wales) visited Palmerston during the afternoon of 22/2/17. He spent several minutes talking to volunteers (mainly F&WHR). The event is to promote 'Take the Big Train to See the Little Train' booklet. See Big Train Little Train. Palmerston will be removed on 26/2/17.

 

This easterly view (22/2/17) shows Palmerston with the Welsh Secretary donning the driver's cap. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Keith Holland and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This easterly view (22/2/17) shows Palmerston with the Welsh Secretary promoting the Big Train Little Train booklet. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This easterly view (22/2/17) shows Palmerston with its train at King's Cross. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Tuesday Gang report 21/2/17

Tony Baker reports: The Tuesday Gang were back at Hafod-y-Llyn today replacing rotten timbers on LC 50.79.

 

This northerly view (21/2/17) shows the Tuesday Gang removing the decayed central crossing timbers on LC50.79, at the south end of Hafod-y-llyn loop. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tony Baker and was taken on an Olympus digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (21/2/17) shows the Tuesday Gang cutting the central crossing timbers on LC50.79, at the south end of Hafod-y-llyn loop. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tony Baker and was taken on an Olympus digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (21/2/17) shows the completed crossing timbers on LC50.79, at the south end of Hafod-y-llyn loop. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tony Baker and was taken on an Olympus digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Half Term trains 21/2/17

This easterly view (21/2/17) shows No.143 setting our south from Dinas. Weather over the holiday week has been grey and mild with no sign of snow sadly except on the peaks. Click on the image to enlarge. Click again to see full size. This image is copyright Stuart McNair (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Seven million competition prize winner

As the website approached 7 million hits your webmaster ran a small competition for the first person to hit 7,000,000 or the nearest greater number. There is a small prize for the winner, a copy of a book from the Country Railway Routes series (Middleton Press) 'Bala to Llandudno', featuring Blaenau Ffestiniog by Vic Mitchell and Keith Smith. The book contains archive maps of all stations and yards and archive steam and diesel photographs, including the Festiniog and Blaenau narrow gauge railway later converted to standard gauge as part of the GWR's route from Bala to Blaenau Ffestiniog. The route is in the news at the moment as the track from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Trawsfynydd is been cleared for operation by a preservation group.

The results are as follows:

Tony Ellis                                 7,000,000 WINNER (Trefriw, Conwy)

Adrian Batt                               7,000,002

Alan Mitchard                           7,000,058

Andrew Middleton                    7,000,086

Ben Brampton                           7,000,088

David Power                              7,000,092 (Australia)

Jeremy Clark                              7,000,146

Malcolm Peakman                     7,000,290 (Canada)

Bill Edwards                              7,000,425

Graham Ladlow                         7,000,526

Pete Arnold                               7,001,426

Simon Artymiuk                        7,001,698 (Cornwall)

The competition is now closed. Thanks to all who entered.

 

A55 disruption

Road works on the A55 between Junctions 17 and 19 have led to a contraflow for several weeks from 23/1/17 to 31/3/17 for the Conwy Tunnel upgrade. This is leading to congestion in both directions. See WAG website.

Advance works are also underway on the southern side of the A55 by contractor Jones for the Abergwyngregyn to Tai'r Meibion section just east of Bangor which was built in the 1960s to a earlier standard of dual carriageway construction that sees regular flooding. The new work is already leading to speed limits with a single lane westbound and some congestion. See WAG website.

In the longer term, major works will take place to grade separate the roundabouts at Junctions 15 and 16 at Llanfairfechan and Penmaenmawr to ease traffic flows. See WAG website.

 

Dinas report 18-21/2/17

No.143 hauled the first train of the season on Saturday 18/2/17. Numbers turning up for the first train were relatively low but the afternoon train did better. Reports from locals suggest there were more Half Term visitors in the area the week before when many English schools were on Half Term. In some earlier years the F&WHR operated trains over two weeks at Half Term to cover the varying Half Term holidays across the catchment area. Any images of the Half Term trains would be welcome.

K1 was noted outside the Loco Shed with No.138 behind being assembled. Upnor Castle was the Depot pilot and Caernarfon Castle was shunting in the North Yard. Ben was still up on the bank by the Carriage Shed but it did not appear that the recently refurbished Bill had been transferred to Dinas yet. PW shunter No.9 was parked in the Dock Siding.

Glaslyn was in action on the Half Term train which was formed of WHR stock only.

Dinas Goods Shed has been set up with a temporary ticket office, sales area and cafe for the Half Term trains while the new Ty Seiont (former Age Wales) building at the south end of Caernarfon's platform is well on the way to becoming the new temporary station building with a station sign on its wall.

 

This southerly view (18/2/17) shows the temporary ticket office (1 week for Half Term only) in Dinas Goods Shed. The other end of the shed had a pop up cafe! Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on an iPhone digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The North Wales Track Gang was completing platform fencing south of Dinas station building, including a gate next to the station building.

 

This easterly view (21/2/17) shows work on the station fence has been completed. Space for a gate has been left just south of the station building. Click on the image to enlarge. Click again to see full size. This image is copyright Stuart McNair (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The line has seen a lot of attention from the chainsaw gang in advance of the bird nesting season tree cutting ban in March, particularly between Dinas and Waunfawr. However on the upper reaches of the line the WHR could soon be moving into the Xmas tree business with many small fir trees growing within the fence line between Rhyd Ddu and Beddgelert:-)

Although the Hafod-y-llyn groundframe was completed last year for the Green timetable (and will be in use during March) there has been no further progress with the Beddgelert groundframe which has lain in pieces now for two years after initial attempts at assembly.

 

TRAWS Phase I update 20/2/17

Local politicians are jumping on the band wagon to resurrect the Aberystwyth to Carmarthen rail link and bring more South Wales visitors to the Cambrian Coast. The route could be reopened by 2022 they claim. See South Wales Evening Post report.

 

Palmerston at King's Cross 20/2/17

Palmerston is on show to advertise the GLTOW 'Big Train...Little Train' campaign. The loco, Ashbury carriage No.10 and wagon No.220 were delivered between 0100 and 0500 on 18/2/17 and will remain until 26/2/17. There is a video showing the delivery into King's Cross on the F&WHR Insider Facebook page.

 

This northerly view (20/2/17) shows Palmerston in the concourse at King's Cross. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Joey Evans and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This display panel view (19/2/17) shows information about Palmerston's history displayed alongside the loco in the concourse at King's Cross. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

No.134 progress update 18-19/2/17

Following the move from the Loco Shed to the Clip Shed late last year, the NG15 Group is hoping to make rapid progress this year. Volunteers are designing a new dragbox for the front end of the loco to replace the side chains that were used on this end of the loco during SAR days. The standard F&WHR coupler will be fitted at the same height as other F&WHR stock for compatibility. It has been decided to use the self lubricating thermoplastic Vesconite for bearings that the F&WHR is trialling on its rolling stock. The material is reputed to last 10x longer than bronze bearings and is cheaper too!

Volunteers can now make progress with the axleboxes of the pony wheels once the new Vesconite wheel bearings are ready. After the wheels have been machined by Boston Lodge, progress can be made to reassemble the 2-8-2 wheel arrangement. Working party weekends have been arranged for every month in 2017.

Clive Briscoe adds: Most of the 'usual suspects' turns up for the February working weekend (18-19/2/17). With the change of plan to use Vesconite bearings in the pony trucks, work continued to clean up and refurbish the original axleboxes so in due course, volunteers will be able to fully reassemble the front K-H truck and conventional rear pony trucks. Also tackled was refurbishing the cylinder shifter and by-pass valves. Meanwhile, our lamp guru was busy disassembling a Stone's Tonum lamp into its constituent parts - the bowl is reusable but other steel bits are not too good. He is going to get quotes for spinning new bowls and other steel bits and a brass foundry for prices on the hinges and other brassware using the originals as patterns - in such small sizes, shrinkage won't be too much of a problem. If the prices look good then new lamp assemblies, fitted with modern LED lights, could be made available for more of the NGG16s and of course, No.134.

 

No.130 progress 11-18/2/17

Good progress is being made with new Garratt No.130. On 11/2/17 several new parts were available to assemble including a new shaft for the rear bogie reversing gear and new parts for the pony trucks. On 17/2/17 the front tubeplate was cut using water jet technology (using abrasives for steel cutting) and the quality of the finish is such that no additional work is needed. On 18/2/17 all the crankpins were fitted to the driving wheels (also other F&WHR loco wheels) using liquid Nitrogen. There was also an inspection of progress with the new boiler in mid February and it appears the backhead is nearing completion.

 

Bala Lake Railway progress 17/2/17

The BLR is also making progress according to a report in Cambrian News. The Red Dragon project is a plan to extend into Bala Town Centre and the BLR has purchased a small patch of land in the town centre for part of their new Bala terminus. This is at the west end of the town, not near the original Bala Town station. The scheme has recently been amended to run over the existing B4403 Dee Bridge at the exit of Bala Lake, similar to the WHR's Britannia Bridge crossing, to avoid the cost of a new bridge over the River Dee.

 

ECS move 17/2/17

Bob Rainbow reports: Vale of Ffestiniog took perhaps the first coaching-stock movement of the season on Friday (17/2/17), when a WHR set was seen leaving Porthmadog ECS, presumably for Dinas, about 10am. The Funkey was heard from a distance back in Porthmadog about 4.30pm.

 

Caernarfon roadworks 16/2/17

This easterly view (16/2/17) shows work on the road improvement leading down to the station from Y Maes, the town square. A much needed footpath is being provided on the castle side of the street. However it seems the road is also being paved in the same way. this has the effect of making drivers assume it is a shared space and driving more carefully. Click on the image to enlarge. Click again to see full size. This image is copyright Stuart McNair (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This westerly view (16/2/17) shows work on the new sewer diversion at the roundabout next to the WHR terminus. Traffic control is now in place across the roundabout and the tunnel is closed. The road has now been resurfaced where it crossed the sewer just outside the tunnel (compare to photo dated 8/2/17 below). Click on the image to enlarge. Click again to see full size. This image is copyright Stuart McNair (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Gwyrfai Observation car Appeal

WHR Soc. Press release

An appeal, launched in 2016 to support the building of a second WHR Observation Car, that will be similar to Glaslyn, is currently on target to achieve its aim of having the funds available to start work on building it at the end of 2017. However, we need to ensure that this is the case, so the sooner we get those final donations in the better. All donations big or small will be gratefully received.

A name has already been chosen for this carriage, namely Gwyrfai, the Afon Gwyrfai is another one of the rivers that the WHR follows on its route from Caernarfon to Porthmadog (the valley from Rhyd Ddu to Bontnewydd-Ed).

Having a second observation carriage for the other WHR carriage set is a key means of attracting more passengers to the Railway.

To make a contribution or add to a donation you’ve already made, please:

1. Send a cheque, payable to CRhE/WHRS, to: CRhE / WHRS ℅ Festiniog Railway Company, Infrastructure Office, Dinas, Caernarfon LL54 5UP

OR

2.Make a credit card payment through the web site using PayPal, at http://tinyurl.com/Gwyrfai-Appeal (slow link).

 

F&WHR Moving Pictures 16/2/17

The second edition of the F&WHR's new YouTube series appeared on 16/2/17 entitled 'F&WHR News: Moving Pictures No.2' offering a compendium of 'behind the scenes' video news and progress reports about the F&WHR.

 

Click on the YouTube link above to watch 20 min 18 seconds of recent video of news about the F&WHR. It is best watched at 1080p HD mode available on e.g. Chrome.

 

Pump trolley marathon 28/4/17!

A team of hardy (some might say foolhardy!) volunteers is to use a pump trolley all the way from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Caernarfon on the first day of Quirks and Curiosities on Friday 28/4/17. As a through train, the trolley will carry 'The Snowdonian' headboard! While the downhill sections will be an easy ride, the long 1 in 40 climb from Hafod-y-llyn to Pit's Head Summit will tax the endurance of the railway athletes!

 

Palmerston departs for King's Cross 15/2/17

Palmerston departed via lorry for King's Cross from Minffordd Yard on 15/2/18 and was due to be rolled into the display area in the new concourse, along with slate wagon No.220 at 1am on 18/2/17. The loco will be on display for a week until 25/2/17 promoting the Great Little train of Wales. It is interesting that so little use is being made of the new road/rail transfer point in Llyn Bach, possibly because of the need to move cars out of the staff car park to get the lorry up to the loading dock.

 

Volunteer accommodation Dinas 14/2/17

WHR Soc. Press release

The WHR Society’s board has today (14/2/17) moved a step closer to providing volunteer accommodation at Dinas as we (the Society) have become as from today the owners of Station View, Dinas. This property is the bungalow at the entrance to Dinas station, formerly the home of the late Mrs Peggy McGinn.

Our intention is to initially let the property so that we can have time to get all the arrangements in place to allow volunteers to use the property when volunteering on the railway as well as earning some income whilst we do this. The plan is to have it available as volunteer accommodation sometime next year.

The purchase of property has enabled us to achieve one of the prime objectives in our business plan. Hopefully we can provide more information in the next issue of The Snowdon Ranger magazine.

 

Tuesday Gang report 14/2/17

Tony Baker reports: The Tuesday Gang spent St. Valentine's day replacing rotten centre timbers at LC 50.41 which is at the bottom of the ski slope (Nantmor incline-Ed). Whilst in this neck of the woods we identified lots of work on several crossings where not only crossing timbers were rotten but several coral fences had collapsed due to the supporting posts rotting through at the bottom.

 

This northerly view (14/2/17) shows the Tuesday Gang removing the decayed central crossing timbers on LC50.41, just south of the Nantmor Incline. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tony Baker and was taken on an Olympus digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (14/2/17) shows the Tuesday Gang cutting new central crossing timbers for LC50.41. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tony Baker and was taken on an Olympus digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (14/2/17) shows the finished job at LC50.41. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tony Baker and was taken on an Olympus digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

(S)no(w) report 13/2/17

After a cold several days with surprisingly little snow the Met Office is now predicting temperatures of 8-9oC around Rhyd Ddu for the first three days of the Half Term services 18-19/2/17. Sadly it seems there will be cloudy/drizzly conditions and mild temperatures around the WHR when many were hoping for snow at Half Term. There is still time for the weather to change to more snowy conditions by the final day of these twice daily Dinas-Beddgelert services on 25/2/17. After that the Hafod-y-llyn Brown timetable runs 1-23/3/17 MTFX before Caernarfon opens again for the new season's Easter timetable on 25/3/17 by which time snow is less likely.

 

No.130 update 11/2/17

A variety of parts arrived by 11/2/17. Firstly a nice new shaft for the rear power truck reversing gear, followed by assembled brake cylinders, followed by work on one of the power units and finally new parts for the pony trucks. See No.130 Facebook page for images of progress. New drip valves are being made and some old ones reconditioned.

 

Carriage Works report 10/2/17

Clive Briscoe reports: No.2091 is coming along nicely as of Friday 10/2/17. All exterior surfaces are now rubbed down for repainting and most of internal modifications completed. New carriage No.2047 has only some electrics to complete in the battery trays and will then be complete.

 

Recruitment Day

The F&WHR is holding a recruitment day on 28/2/17 from 14:00 to 18:00 in Spooner's Bar. The railway is looking for seasonal workers to be based at Dinas or Porthmadog, including on-train Stewards, Catering Assistants, Booking Office Assistants and other front of house roles. For more information phone 01766516073.

 

Welsh Pony progress 2-10/2/17

By 2/2/17 work was well underway on riveting the tender parts together. The Welsh Pony story is to feature in forthcoming issue of Steam Railway. On 10/2/17 the crankpins were fitted to Welsh Pony's driving wheels along with those for the new Fairlie James Spooner's (ex-Earl of Merioneth) and the new Garratt No.130. The 24 pins were fitted using liquid nitrogen (delivered at 77K/-196oC, close to its boiling point) to contract the size of the pins before inserting and allowing them to warm up and tighten.

 

This Boston Lodge view (2/2/17) shows Welsh Pony's tender in the process of being riveted. Click on the image to enlarge. Click again for full size image. This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This Boston Lodge view (2/2/17) shows Welsh Pony's crankpins in the process of being fitted, still showing frozen condensation. Click on the image to enlarge. Click again for full size image. This image is copyright Paul Lewin (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

TRAWS progress report 9/2/17

Following meetings in January and early February with WAG representatives, the TRAWS chairman has produced a positive report about progress with the TRAWS Phase 1 plan to reinstate the Aberystwyth with Carmarthen rail link, a route where 97% of the trackbed is available. The National Infrastructure Commission for Wales (NICW) will exam the TRAWS plan. The group's chairman made a statement on 9/2/17 about the future direction of the project now that the £300,000 feasibility survey has been confirmed and NICW will inform that survey.

Last year's aerial survey did not show enough detail so it is planned there will now be a drone survey. The group seem to be now assuming that a separate group will take responsibility for Bangor-Caernarfon-Afon Wen Phase 2 of the scheme to reconnect North and South Wales via the Cambrian Coast. Such a scheme might see third rail being required through the WHR's Caernarfon station. See TRAWS website.

 

Titbits Winter 2016-7

The floor of the Goods shed at Dinas has been renewed and will now been in good condition for the Beer Festival and SuperPower weekend, now moved to 15-17/9/17 to avoid a clash with the huge No.6 Festival, now in its sixth year. Donations are on target to reach the £170,000 that needs to be raised towards the new WHR Observation coach but more is still needed before the go ahead can be given. The coach will be named 'Gwyrfai' celebrating the name of the valley that railway runs along from Bontnewydd to Rhyd Ddu. A 'Give it a Try' volunteer weekend is being held on 22-23/4/17. As well as the Kings Cross Palmerston event over Half Term, there will be a second Albert Dock promotional event in May.

On the workshop front, the Works Manager has not had time to write updates for the last six months. However, stainless steel blower pipe failures have taken from grate failures as the main cause of concern. The Garratt ashpans also showed some signs of distortion. Steady progress is being made with No.130, a paid project, and No.87 has returned to Dinas for a boiler exam. Most attention is being given to No.138 which was clanking last year. The front driving wheels have been turned at Boston Lodge and attention will be given to the rear later. Roller bearings have been replaced and new tyres fitted to the front truck and the inner truck tyres turned.

WHR Pullman car has had new SAR type diamond frame roller bearing bogies fitted. This completes the conversion programme started in 2011.

A new cylinder head was fitted to the Cummins engine in Vale of Ffestiniog. Although this improved performance the loco failed on the stock transfer of 5 wagons to Dinas in the winter and Criccieth Castle had to be sent to the rescue.

In yet a further restriction on visits to Boston Lodge, visitors will in future be accompanied and so it would be helpful if requests were made in advance.

Progress with the conversion of coach No.2041 into No.2091 has not been as fast as expected. The idea is to make this into a brake/toilet coach like No.2090 to provide a toilet at the second class end of the train in both rakes. The doors, windows and even some areas of the floor were found to be rotten. Top lights will be fitted and new tables/upholstery fitted. This coach was one of the original fleet that entered service in September 1997 has seen little work since, so is over 20 years old.

The KMX tamper was not used in the Tan-y-bwlch WMWP track renewal as there was rock close under the trackbed which might have damaged the tamping mechanism. Instead the petrol driven hand tampers were used as shown at the last AGM.

Signalling developments include a remote mechanism for Cae Pawb NR crossing but this is currently a lower priority. It is also intended to have a starter signal at every WHR station, interlocked with the token. Rather than do this piecemeal, the signals will be installed station by station but not switched on until a suitable date in 2017/8 WMWP. This will improve safety by preventing a train starting without the right token.

The materials from the Caernarfon Ticket office were stored at Dinas Goods shed over winter. They will be installed in Ty Seiont, the former Age Wales building at the south end of the station ready for the Spring reopening. The station building will feature shop, booking office, reception and toilets. There is also a room suitable for meetings.

Julie Walters visit last year will be followed up by some additional Springtime filming before the Channel Four 'Coastal Railways' programme is shown in the summer.

As part of the Caernarfon Station project, the extension of the platforms to the north will finally allow the 12 coach mega-trains, originally planned for the WHR to be introduced. It is hoped the sewer diversion will be completed by the end of March and allow 12 months to complete the station building in time for Easter 2018. The extension of the track and the new headshunt by the tunnel mouth would be part of the WMWP 2017-18.

After visiting Kings Cross 18-26/2/17 for Half Term, see Daily Post story, Palmerston will visit to the Albert Dock, Liverpool, on 6-7/5/17 and this may be extended in view of last year's success but as it is the weekend after the FR's Quirks and Curiosities event on 28/4-1/5/17 the dates of the possibly extended visit are yet to be confirmed.

Betws Garmon station building has been fenced off from the running line pending a decision what to do about this former halt and yard. With the apparent continuing refusal of Bryn Gloch caravan site owners to have a platform on their land despite the convenience it would provide for their customers, maybe Betws Garmon should be reopened as it is within easy walking distance, unlike Waunfawr or Plas-y-nant halts.

 

Sewer diversion works 8-9/2/17

This southerly view (8/2/17) shows work on the new sewer diversion crossing the old railway tunnel entrance roundabout next to the WHR terminus. Click on the image to enlarge. Click again to see full size. This image is copyright Stuart McNair (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This westerly view (9/2/17) shows work on the new sewer diversion at the roundabout next to the WHR terminus. Click on the image to enlarge. Click again to see full size. This image is copyright Stuart McNair (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This easterly view (9/2/17) shows work on the road improvement leading down to the station from Y Maes, the town square. A much needed footpath is being provided on the castle side of the street. Click on the image to enlarge. Click again to see full size. This image is copyright Stuart McNair (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

T&BFR Soc. appeals for volunteers

The T&BFR has shifted work to Maentwrog Road yard and station following the near completion of clearance work at Blaenau Ffestiniog from the station limits to Cwmbowydd Road l/c. Society Chairman David Herbert, a loco driver from Shrewsbury, spoke to the Daily Post about the project. See Daily Post website. An NR spokesman said: "Network Rail is pleased to be working with the Trawsfynydd Railway Group with the collective aim of regenerating the disused railway land in Blaenau Ffestiniog. In January this year, a second site was added to the group’s licence to provide them with further access to clear vegetation and complete survey work. We will be working closely with the Trawsfynydd Railway Group and the local community with regards to the possible next steps once the initial clearance work and surveys have been completed."

 

Dinas update 7/2/17

While the boiler inspector was checking No.143 on 7/2/17 ready for the Half term trains on 18/2/17, he also checked the two spare boilers to see which was is better condition. The aim is to have a third spare Garratt available from April/May. The works is experimenting with Vesconite bushes, a high strength plastic product made in South Africa, see Vesconite website. It is hoped the bearing will have longer life than conventional brass/white metal bearings. No.138's worn boiler pivot has also been replaced with this material. One of its power bogies has been finished and attention is now focussed on the second.

No.130's boiler cradle alterations are nearing completion with both power bogies now being vacuum braked which required frame alterations. The former steam brake on one bogies has been removed. With the new boiler soon to come from Co. Durham, it is hoped the frame will be ready in time to receive it.

 

Tuesday Gang report 7/2/17

Tony Baker reports: I did not work last week. On Tuesday 7/2/17 the Tuesday Gang was at LC 56.24 (just short of Gatws Bach) replacing two rotten centre timbers. They were replaced by 2 timbers salvaged from LC40.99 (Summit Cutting-Ed) which we recently decommissioned.

 

This northerly view (7/2/17) shows the decayed initial state of the central crossing timbers on LC56.24, just north of Gatws Bach. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tony Baker and was taken on an Olympus digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (7/2/17) shows a dusting of snow on Cnicht. Snow has been in short supply this year, even on the peaks of Snowdonia. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tony Baker and was taken on an Olympus digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (7/2/17) shows the central timbers being replaced. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tony Baker and was taken on an Olympus digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (7/2/17) shows the completed job using recycled timbers that show some wear. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tony Baker and was taken on an Olympus digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

East Anglian Group Meeting 16/2/17

Stephen Sullivan reports: More news about our meeting on 16/2/17, following the last-minute unavailability of our planned speaker. Ian King will introduce the evening with some of his recent shots of Continental narrow gauge. Then Jon Marsh will be presenting and discussing some of his videos in his inimitable style. He will be bringing a selection along with him for sale on the night.

 

No.143 ready for action 7/2/17

Martin Kressman reports: The pre-season steam test of NGG16 No.143 was successfully carried out in front of the insurance inspector at Dinas on 7/2/17.

 

BF&T Railway progress

After a successful initial meeting in Trawsfynydd attended by about 30 people, progress has continued in Blaenau Ffestiniog and is nearing completion on Phase 1, Cwmbowydd Road l/c to NR boundary fence in Blaenau Ffestiniog station. Clearance work has also started on Phase 2 at the proposed depot at Maentwrog Road yard and the adjacent station. See BF&TR Society website.

 

Cold snap may lead to snowy Half Term!

A cold snap forecast from 8/2/17 onwards may lead to lying snow around the WHR for its Half Term trains 18-25/2/17 at least on the mountains. Snow was forecast on Snowdon on 7/2/17.

 

Cob footpath reopens 7/2/17

The Cob footpath reopened on 7/2/17 after pw works relaying some of the track on The Cob from the king point eastwards.

 

Dinas station fence nears completion 5/2/17

This westerly view (5/2/17) shows the newly completed platform fence by the bay platform. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tom Waldren and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (5/2/17) shows the fence completed from near the station building to the bay platform with a gate next to station building. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tom Waldren and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This westerly view (5/2/17) shows foundations for a new platform fence being erected at Dinas south of the station building as far as the barrow crossing. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tom Waldren and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This westerly view (5/2/17) shows the completed entrance gate next to the station building. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tom Waldren and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Work finally starts on Caernarfon Station 3/2/17

A small ceremony was held with local MPs to publicise the start of works on the £2 million Caernarfon Station project on 3/2/17. Paul Lewin reports that the Welsh Water sewer diversion works have now 'gone into overdrive'. See BBC website report dated 5/2/17. See also Business News story.

 

This northerly view (1/2/17) shows the local MP and AM visiting the start of works at Caernarfon along with Paul Lewin and Dafydd Thomas. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Stuart McNair (F&WHR) and was taken on an Olympus digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

F&WHR Moving Pictures No.2 3/2/17

A new YouTube appeared on 3/2/17 entitled 'Moving Pictures February 2017' and appears to be the first of a regular series offering a compendium of behind the scenes video news and progress reports about the F&WHR.

 

Click on the YouTube link above to watch 23 min 16 seconds of recent video of news about the F&WHR. It is best watched at 1080p HD mode available on e.g. Chrome.

 

Tamping The Cob 2/2/17

This easterly view (2/2/17) shows the KMX tamper liner tamping the track on the recently relaid Cob track beyond the Harbour Station king point. The relaid section reaches a point between the two signals. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This westerly view (2/2/17) shows the smartly relaid Cob track from the signal to the Harbour Station king point. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Palmerston on display Kings Cross

Palmerston, is returning to London for the first time since it was built there in 1864. Palmerston will be rolled into King’s Cross Station at 0100 on Saturday 18/2/17 and will be on display in the modern ticket hall until Sunday 26/2/17, covering the Half Term holiday period when trains are operating. Palmerston was built at George England's Hatcham Iron Works nearby in East London, and was completed in March 1864. The locomotive was named after Viscount Palmerston, Liberal Prime Minister and Chairman of the Welsh Slate, Copper & Lead Mining Company’s quarry at Blaenau Ffestiniog.

The locomotive saw extensive use on both the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways until withdrawal from service in 1937 for use as a stationary boiler in Boston lodge during WW2. Despite being deemed ‘beyond repair’, Palmerston was the subject of a long restoration, and eventually re-entered service on the railway in 1993. It currently sits alongside Prince as one of two working original George England locomotives, soon to be joined by Welsh Pony. For the duration of the visit, F&WHR staff and volunteers will be joined by colleagues from the other ‘Great Little Trains of Wales’ to promote ‘Big Train meets Little Train’ - The recently published free guide to Welsh narrow gauge railways and how to visit them by rail.

 

Greg Davies on 'Who do you think you are' BBC 1/2/17

The WHR and Harbour Station will show in tonight’s episode of 'Who Do You Think You Are?' featuring comedian Greg Davies as he travels by train to Nantmor in search of his ancestors. The programme is available on Network BBC One at 2000-2100 and also available on iPlayer shortly after transmission.

 

Spooners reopens 3/2/17

Spooners grill/cafe/bar reopens on 3/2/17 following a major upgrade.

 

Caernarfon station works 1/2/17

This northerly view (1/2/17) shows contractors using the station car park to store the new sewer pipes ready for the diversion works which are about to start. The red line on the ground is approximately the route of the sewer diversion. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Stuart McNair (F&WHR) and was taken on an Olympus digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Caernarfon station works 31/1/17

This northerly view (31/1/17) shows contractors using the station car park to store the new sewer pipes ready for the diversion works which are about to start. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Martin Hallett and was taken on a Samsung phone digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

No.130 news 30-31/1/17

Two new shiny vacuum reservoirs have been made and fitted into the reclaimed brackets. Both have now been fitted to the cradle and painted. Both vacuum cylinders purchased from Sandstone have been fully refurbished and both have new stainless steel shafts. The brackets have also been refurbished and are now ready to be installed. For full story and images see No.130 Facebook page.

 

KS4415 report 26-29/1/17

Recent progress with original F&WHR shunter KS4415, a diesel pioneer loco that was trialled on the WHR in the 1920s, has been detailed on the KS4415 support group's website. In February 1929 the loco was used on the three times weekly Dinas-Beddgelert service after fitting with a vacuum brake. Work on the 1/2" thick frames is nearing completion and well as the chassis. Some 14 photos of progress from 29/1/17 on the sub-frames, brake hangers, spring slippers, radius rods etc. is shown on the KS4415 Facebook page.

 

Caernarfon station works 27/1/17

Gwynedd Council are taking the opportunity to clear the wall of vegetation whilst the site is clear of the new works. They did the section alongside the old car park a couple of weeks ago and are doing this work under possession as they need access along the trackbed.

Drainage works should start on 30/1/17. The pipe running down the wall is not that which is being diverted but the main sewer from a manhole in the roadway just short of the tunnel mouth to a point by the old car park entrance. The pipe down the wall will remain: it is in fact just an overflow for times of extreme weather. There will be a new connection with the diverted drain. It is a pity it is not being removed as it made the track alignment through the station awkward to say the least.

 

This southerly view (27/1/17) shows GC contractors using a cherry picker to clear the Segontium Terrace retaining wall of vegetation before construction of Caernarfon Station starts. In the background the repaired section that collapsed can be seen. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Martin Hallett and was taken on a Samsung phone digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

F&WHR turns down NG13?

Steam Railway reports that the WHR has turned down and offer of an NG13 Garratt No.60 (of 1927), currently based in Switzerland at the Schintznacher Baumschulbahn Garden Centre railway (slow website!) A private individual connected with another Welsh narrow gauge railway is currently negotiating for its purchase (VoR? Brecon Mountain? Bala Lake? Penrhyn Quarry?).

 

This Swiss view (unknown date) shows NG13 No.60 on display at the SchBB garden centre railway depot at Schintznach-Dorf, Switzerland. The loco is probably too big for the tight curves on this railway. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy SchBB and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Ex-FR van gets Lottery Award

A £5,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund will see the ex-VoR cattle wagon, used on the F&WHR until recently, restored for used in their demonstration freight train. The GWR built two of these for the VoR when they took over in 1923 but freight services were withdrawn almost immediately due to lack of traffic. In 1937 they were re-gauged and used on the W&LLR from where one was purchased by the FR in 1960 and re-gauged back to 2' for use as a stores van. The vehicle was sold back to the VoR in 2015 and is unlikely to have seen any use on the WHR. The VoR's apprentices will be restoring the van to its original height and refurbishing the running gear.

 

Webcams back on line 27/1/17

The Harbour Station and Tan-y-bwlch webcams are back on line allowing the public to observe the WMWP construction work. It appears that a section just beyond the king point is complete and ballasted. See F&WHR webcam.

 

Coach No.2047 26/1/17

It appears that WHRSoc. funded coach No.2047 will soon be ready for service in time for the new season in March. It has been painted but there are still odd jobs to do. The coach matches No.2046, which entered service in March 2014, in having panoramic windows and a large door at one end for mobility access.

 

This Boston Lodge view (26/1/17) shows new WHR coach No.2047 on display after being hauled out of the Paint Shop by works shunter MOEL-Y-GEST. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Norman Bond (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This Boston Lodge view (26/1/17) shows the interior of new WHR coach No.2047. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Norman Bond (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Caernarfon station progress 17-26/1/17

It appears that investigative work on diverting the sewer that crosses the site has been completed as the site had been levelled and cleared by 25/1/17. The road tunnel (former rail tunnel) under Y Maes will be closed for two weeks from 6/2/17 in association with these works and improving access to the station.

James king adds: Paul Lewin told us last October, the work on diverting the Caernarfon sewer was planned to be done in two stages. The first stage was to dig the appropriate trench to the required depth, and to rock-peck any lumps of solid rock which could otherwise get in the way of the diverted pipe. The plan was that the trench would then be back-filled with the material which had been extracted, so it might look like the pipe diversion had been completed. The second stage, which I suspect has not yet started, will be to re-excavate the trench and lay in and connect the new sewer pipe, with the solid knowledge that they only have to excavate loose material, thus removing a major unknown factor from this sub-contract.

Stuart McNair adds: The drainage work is not even started. The road closure is not entirely due to the drains but is in connection with the alteration to the roundabout.

 

This northerly view (17/1/17) shows excavation of the sewer trench at Caernarfon Station by James Cyf. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Andy Valentine and was taken on an Asus mobile 'phone digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (25/1/17) shows the sewer excavation works apparently completed at Caernarfon Station and the site backfilled levelled with all plant apparently removed. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Andy Valentine and was taken on an Asus mobile 'phone digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This easterly view (26/1/17) shows the road tunnel next to Caernarfon Station will be closed for two seeks from 6/2/17. There are various surveyor's markings on the pavement near the tunnel showing work is about to get underway at this point. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Andy Valentine and was taken on an Asus mobile 'phone digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Cob PW work 25/1/17

On 25/1/17 Porthmadog Harbour Station was full of locos and stock involved with the relaying of track on The Cob. Criccieth Castle is stabled on the Welsh Highland platform (in front of two DZ wagons carrying ballast, a mini excavator and a small tracked dumper) while Harlech Castle sits in the Ffestiniog platform, between the Mess Coach and the PW Department's tool train. The KMX tamper/liner has just arrived in the station area, while three loaded ballast hopper wagons sit in the station sidings, presumably loaded in the Llyn Bach car park area. Any photos of PW trains being loaded would be welcome. See F&WHR Facebook page for more photos.

 

This easterly view (25/1/17) shows work underway on the Cob PW works. Diesel locos Criccieth Castle, Harlech Castle and the KMX are all visible in Porthmadog Station yard. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Tuesday Gang report 24/1/17

Tony Baker reports: Back in October we dismantled the decommissioned crossing at Y Goppa LC 40:99 (Summit Cutting) and all the timbers were left at the side of the track until services ceased. On Tuesday 24/1/17 with the aid of the rail skate and a possession we recovered them and took them to Dinas South Yard. Here they were sorted into reusable and firewood. All nails were removed from reusable and stored for future use.

 

Dinas update 22/1/17

Tom Waldren reports: Last weekend (22/1/17), the North Wales Track Gang (Black Hand Gang) began preparation for fencing off the platform at Dinas. This is required because, recently, some motorists have decided that it is acceptable to drive onto (and even park on) the platform!

 

This northerly view (22/1/17) shows foundations for a new platform fence being erected at Dinas following incursions by cars apparently. The entrance gatepost is next to the station building. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tom Waldren and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (22/1/17) shows the foundations with the station building in the background. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tom Waldren and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (22/1/17) shows the foundations south of the station building with the De Winton 3' gauge Llanfair coffee pot loco, ex-Penmaenmawr Quarries, in the background. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tom Waldren and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

NG15 No.134 progress report 21-22/1/17

Volunteers are looking forward to another year and fresh enthusiasm after the set back of the move out of the Engine Shed last year. After a number of working parties of consolidation involving moving into the new store/workshop, not far away from but in the same block as where they started out they are back working on the loco again.

Work centred on the pony truck axle boxes and some measuring up taking place on the main loco frames to assist the continuation of the sand-box designs and proposing a design for modifications to the front drag-box to take the F&WHR's standard coupling. As the old South African coupling cannot be used this was removed from the loco's front drag-box a couple of years ago. Details of the F&WHR's standard coupling have been provided and so it was time to check actual measurements against the builder's drawings. Various parts on the loco have been modified whilst in service in South Africa so the drawings do not always correspond to actuality! Volunteers then pencilled a drawing of how they want to modify the drag-box to take the new coupling and so this will be drawn up in CAD and sent to the F&WHR for approval and integration into their drawings.

With further consideration being taken regarding the sand boxes, especially the position of the two new rear boxes that will be required for regular reverse running, one final last check was made against the builder's drawings to ensure sufficient clearance was available against the boiler cladding. A view of the relative boiler position against the running plates had been extracted from the drawings and put into CAD to check those clearances. Doing this was especially important as it is likely the loco will have a slightly thicker layer of insulation around the boiler and thus a slightly larger overall diameter. Some adjustments were needed to the sand box drawings however. Having inspected the frames, it became clear further modification of one of the new rear sandboxes will be required to be able to fit steam sanding equipment.

Volunteers are concentrating on getting the two pony trucks back under the frames and so spent the weekend refurbishing the four axle box castings. The group had originally looked at replacing the conventional oil pad bearings with roller bearings as on the NGG16s, however an alternative solution has been proposed that would involve using the casting much as they are. Volunteers therefore spent time thoroughly cleaning these, including the internal oil ways that allow lubrication to get to the side thrust bearings which were all found to be blocked to some extent! With the axle boxes thoroughly cleaned with the last of the fine rust layer removed, and whilst one pair had already been primed they had suffered a bit in the intervening time so were re-cleaned, all four were then painted in primer. Volunteers give these an undercoat next time.

For full details and images see NG15 No.134 website.

 

Hugh Napier in Manchester 19-22/1/17

Hugh Napier visited the Caravan and Motorhome Show at Event City in Manchester to advertise the F&WHR to the staycation public. There were several such events last year, mostly advertised well in advance.

 

This Event City view (19/1/17) shows Hugh Napier on display at the Caravan and Motorhome Show. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

'FR 1964' Pathé Newsreel

The Pathé Company has a search engine that allows its vast archive to be searched for topics such as the FR, which produces four results (some of which are on YouTube-see below)...See Pathé website.

 

Click on the YouTube link above to watch 1 min 38 seconds of video featuring the FR in 1964. This video was taken on a professional film camera by Pathé Newsreel who used to provide news features as short features for cinemas. It is best watched at 1080p HD mode available on e.g. Chrome.

 

T&BFCR Co. Inaugural Meeting 28/1/17

With the inaugural meeting planned for 28/1/17, development of this railway in the WHR's back yard, so to speak, will be of interest to the F&WHR either in competition or providing an additional attraction to bring holidaymakers to the area. The meeting takes place at the Trawsfynydd Lake Cafe (next to the Nuclear Power Station) at 10am for 11am start. The meeting is for members only but membership can be purchased on the day.

Please find below a few objectives and clarifications as published by the T&BFCR Co. last year:

 

NR test train to Blaenau 20/1/17

Click on the YouTube link above to watch 7 min 44 seconds of video featuring 37604 and 37608 in Europhoenix livery on an NR test train visiting Blaenau Ffestiniog and testing both the platform and run round tracks. How long before we start seeing last minute 'out of gauge' cancellations for steam trains on this route? It is best watched at 1080p HD mode available on e.g. Chrome.

 

Bontnewydd/Caernarfon Bypass delays 18/1/17

The BBC website reports that contractors are concerned that no date has been set for the Public Enquiry into environmental issues on the route of this bypass, work on which was planned to start last year. The appointed joint venture contractors Balfour Beatty/Jones Bros (Ruthin) will have set aside resources and may have rejected other work so that they are available for the construction project. Any further delay could damage their profitability. The £90 million bypass route runs from the west end of the Y Felinheli (Port Dinorwig) Bypass at Plas Menai roundabout, around the south of Caernarfon to terminate at the north end of the A487 Pen-y-groes Bypass (Goat roundabout), south of Dinas. The route crosses the WHR just north of Bontnewydd Halt where passive provision will be left for a possible TRAWS scheme to reopen the Bangor-Afonwen railway thereby completing a Cambrian Coast rail link.

The initial delay suggested work would start in August or September 2017 (see Construction Enquirer website) but work on the bypass cannot now begin until 2018, given a positive outcome to the Public Enquiry, as tree clearance is banned during the 2017 nesting season and no advance work has been done. The bypass consists of alternating 3 lane sections to provide overtaking opportunities in each direction but strangely does not have a junction with the A4085 Beddgelert Road, despite much holiday traffic going into that valley. When complete the bypass will relieve daily commuting congestion in Caernarfon and Bontnewydd as well as easing access by holiday traffic to the area, particularly to Porthmadog and the Llyn Peninsula from the A55 North Wales Expressway.

 

Cob PW work continues 17/1/17

This easterly view (17/1/17) shows Criccieth Castle on a the pw train carrying ballast and an excavator to relay track on The Cob. The loco is propelling the rake off the WHR and may have collected this load in Llyn Bach car park. Criccieth Castle must stabled in Porthmadog Harbour station as the railway is currently pulled up along The Cob. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Stuart McNair and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Tuesday Gang report 17/1/17

Tony Baker reports: On Tuesday 17/01/17 we completed the second of the two foot crossings at Tan-y-Bwlch station. There was a bit more work on this one as it contained a fishplate which meant that extra notches were needed to be cut to clear the fishplate nuts. Weather was mild and a bit drizzly with not the remotest chance of a bit of snow even on high ground.

 

This northerly view (17/1/17) shows work on the foot crossing next to the footbridge at Tan-y-Bwlch on the FR. Preparation of notches in the timbers to clear the fishplate nuts was an additional task. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tony Baker and was taken on an Olympus digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This easterly view (17/1/17) shows work on the foot crossing next to the footbridge at Tan-y-Bwlch on the FR. The finished job look s very neat. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tony Baker and was taken on an Olympus digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

T&BFR update

The hoped for Crowdfunded loco No.08757 has now gone to the Telford Steam Railway and was delivered there around 16/1/17. The T&BFR does not own a share and Crowdfunds raised will be put to the establishment of a depot at Maentwrog Road station yard with permission of the donors. There is another working party on Saturday 21/1/17 intending to clear track near Cwmbowydd Road l/c Blaenau Ffestiniog. The following Saturday 28/1/17 is the group's inaugural AGM starting at 10am for 11am at the Trawsfynydd Lake cafe.

A copy of the photographic souvenir brochure provided to passengers on the special 'last train' run by the SLS on 22/1/61 has been uploaded onto the BF&TR Soc Facebook page including several photos of the line.

 

Brexit risks/benefits

Steam Railway, reporting on Brexit risks and benefits, has identified significant risks to peripheral railways like the Bodmin and Wenford, which is a long way from population centres and has a small local population, as is the F&WHR. With inflation rising due to the collapse of the pound after the Brexit vote and petrol prices now rising above £1.15, even at supermarkets like Tesco, the cost of visiting the F&WHR has increased markedly. The Governor of the Bank of England has advised consumers against using credit cards as forecast inflation, with imports costing more because of the falling pound, will leave households with less disposable income to spend on holidays etc. Stay-cation may increase as foreign holidays are now much more expensive and foreign tourism may also increase as their dollars and euros will be worth much more in the UK. No-cation is also likely to increase with family's only being able to afford the odd day out at Easter/Whit/Summer if inflation continues to grow as predicted. Hopefully foreign visitors will make up for any decrease in UK holidaymakers in North Wales.

 

Timetable corrections/Snow report

Corrections have now been uploaded to the F&WHR website to accommodate the revised date of SuperPower in September. The next train services will be over the Half Term week 18-25/2/17. Trains will be running from Dinas to Beddgelert at 10:15 and 13:30. A return services is possible from Beddgelert at 12:00. It is possible there may be snow at that time of year but no snow is forecast around the WHR up to 24/1/17.

 

SuperPower 15-17/9/17

After initially being advertised as 6-8/9/17, the F&WHR Facebook page now advises that SuperPower will be held a week later in the year 15-17/9/17, later than in recent years. The move was to avoid a conflict with the popular Festival No.6 at Portmerion.

 

No.130 progress 14/1/17

No.130 is making steady progress in Dinas works. Various parts have recently been delivered including gland packing, pipework for the boiler cradle and water bleed valves. The vacuum cylinder is being fitted to the cradle and attention has been given to a problem with a component that would have caused the loco not to 'notch up' evenly. For full details see No.130 Facebook page.

 

Caernarfon road works 11/1/17

This easterly view (11/1/17) shows roadworks alongside Caernarfon Castle on the hill down from Y Maes to improve access to the WHR station. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Stuart McNair and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Snow report 11/1/17

Finally it seems Rhyd Ddu area is predicted some snow on Thursday evening 12/1/17 and all day Friday 13/1/17 at Snowdon Ranger. It is forecast to remain cold for the week ahead too. Sadly there are no trains running unless there are departmental workings. Any photographs would be welcome.

 

The Cob works reveal FR archaeology 10/1/17

Relaying work on the Cob has revealed numerous stone sleepers including two rare full length ones and some longitudinal wooden ones. It is hoped a full archaeological survey can be carried out before new ballast is placed. For images see F&WHR Inside Facebook page.

 

New large picture formats 10/1/17

As from 10/1/17, all images received will be available at full resolution. After clicking the thumbnail, the images should automatically rescale to your screen size. Clicking again will expand the image to full size (where available) and use of the side and bottom sliders can allow visitors to this webpage to exam a smaller section of the image in full resolution.

 

Tuesday Gang report 10/1/17

Tony Baker reports: Refreshed after our Christmas break we descended upon a drizzly Tan-y-Bwlch to continue with the installation of new crossing timbers on the foot crossings to the island platform. The Blaenau end had been finished before Christmas and the old timbers removed from the Porth end also. The new timbers were cut to size, positioned and marked up for drilling and the cutting out of the notches. Next week it is hoped to complete this work and the Building Dept. can then finish the fencing.

 

This easterly view (10/1/17) shows timbers for the foot crossing next to the footbridge at Tan-y-Bwlch on the FR. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tony Baker and was taken on an Olympus digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This easterly view (10/1/17) shows timbers for the foot crossing being marked up. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tony Baker and was taken on an Olympus digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

New 2017 timetable

The new timetable for the 2017 season was released on 10/1/17. See F&WHR website. The Green (Dinas-Beddgelert) timetable is as advertised from 18-25/2/17. this is followed by the Brown (Porthmadog-Hafod-y-llyn) timetable MTFX 1-23/3/17 with two services to Hafod-y-llyn as last year. The main Yellow off-peak (Caernarfon-Porthmadog) timetable kicks off from 25/3/17 with occasional MFX and runs with many peak Red timetable days interleaved for Easter and Whit Bank Holidays etc. until the end of July. The red timetable runs for the whole of August and a few days in early September. The Yellow off peak timetable appears again for the remainder of September and (mostly MFX) October. However the Yellow timetable covers the full period 21/10-4/11/17 recognising that school Half Term holidays now cover two different weeks and extend into November.

Winter services from 6/11/17 are still under consideration. Updated timetables will be issued later in the year. There will be a number of special trains including:

The Snowdonian on 8/4/17, The Snowdonian Limited on 10/6/17, shuttles on 19-21/5/17 for RailAle, shuttles and specials 8-10/9/17 for Superpower, a Halloween Special on 31/10/17 and Santa Specials on 9-10 and 16-17 and 21-22/12/17.

There are two special timetable days: a Purple timetable operates on 10/7/17 with departure from Caernarfon delayed until 1030 to accommodate the arrival of an excursion. The 12/5/17 sees an extra train running as the 0940 from Porthmadog and the 1700 return in connection with the Caernarfon Food Festival.

 

Inaugural Meeting of the BF&TR 28/1/17

Although clearance work started last September, the Inaugural Meeting of the Society will take place on Saturday 28/1/17 at the Trawsfynydd Lake Cafe. Anyone interested should arrive in good time for the start of the meeting at 10:00am for an 11:00am start. All members of the society are welcome and membership subscriptions will be available on the day. The agenda will be posted shortly. Elections will take place for positions on the Committee. The positions will be advertised shortly. Members should apply by email to secretary@bftr.co.uk with their membership and contact details and a short description of why they would like to join the committee and what they can offer the Society. This must be submitted by midnight on Saturday 14/1/17.

The BF&TR has expressed its hope it can share Blaenau Ffestiniog station with NR/F&WHR. This could be achieved by splitting the NR platform with a removable stop block half way along the platform to allow longer inbound excursions to operate and run round. Initially BT&TR trains might operate with a DMU or in push-pull mode. However, if agreement cannot be reached with NR/F&WHR for BF&TR trains to run round in Blaenau Ffestiniog, possibly with a token controlled trap point protecting the Conway Valley line, the BF&TR has alternative plans for a Blaenau terminus.

 

Caernarfon Station progress 10/1/17

This southerly view (10/1/17) shows excavation of the sewer at Caernarfon Station by James Cyf. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Andy Valentine and was taken on an Asus mobile 'phone digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (10/1/17) shows excavation of the sewer at Caernarfon Station. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Andy Valentine and was taken on an Asus mobile 'phone digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

T&BFR TrainSim

For those who, like your webmaster, have not travelled on the Blaenau Ffestiniog to Trawsfynydd railway in the past, Peter Proctor has designed a good TrainSim showing a view from the cab of a DMU on the route with a TrainMaps insert that shows progress of the train across the map of the route.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQN1UkYzkZA

 

Dan Snow on Channel 4 10/1/17

If you missed the previous showing, Dan Snow's documentary on Lloyd George, featuring Boston Lodge, watch Channel 4 on 10/1/17 from 21:00 to 22:00.

 

Spooners closed from 9/1/17

Spooners Cafe/Bar is closed for professional refurbishment and is likely to be completed within 4 weeks.

 

Caernarfon works 8/1/17

This northerly view (8/1/17) shows the temporary stopblock used to protect the sewer works while the buffer stop (visible on right) has been removed.. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tom Waldren and was taken on an digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (8/1/17) shows sewer work beginning on site at Caernarfon. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tom Waldren and was taken on an digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Cob Relaying 6/1/17

This westerly view (6/1/17) shows removal of track on The Cob as part of the WMWP. Work was not stopped by heavy rain. The work begins at the station's king point and works east towards Boston Lodge. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Dinas works update 5/1/17

It was 152 years ago on 5th January that the FR officially opened for passenger services. Pullman Observation Car No.152 is taking shape in the workshops at Dinas and will be moved to Boston Lodge Coach Works for completion in the Spring. It's sister Observation Car, No.150, was completed two years ago to mark the 150th anniversary. Perhaps No.152's planned appearance in the 152nd anniversary year is the reason it is not numbered next in the numerical series as No.151.

 

BF&TR Soc news

The Blaenau Ffestiniog and Trawsfynydd Railway Society has a new website. There is also a YouTube of recent progress just beyond Blaenau Ffestiniog station on the closed section to Trawsfynydd showing three months of progress, published 4/1/17.

 

Start of works on Caernarfon station 5/1/17

Andy Valentine reports: I noticed on 5/1/17 at 10:30 that James Cyf and Cyngor Gwynedd (Gwynedd Council-Ed) workers/vehicles were in attendance to open up the Caernarfon Station site, presumably to commence the sewer works.

 

BFI FR Deviation video

Click on the British Film Institute video link to watch 30 minutes of the early history of the FR's Deviation featuring the Rhoslyn spiral and the opening of Dduallt station. If you watch films of this era carefully you might see your web-editor's teenage self working in the spiral cuttings from 1968.

 

Volunteer Information update

Paul Lewin (Director and GM F&WHR) advises: There is a so much going on and so many projects in hand that the Ffestiniog Railway Society has arranged a meeting to which all F&WHR volunteers and employees are invited to come along and get a full update. Managers and project leaders will be on hand to give briefings and to answer your questions. There is no charge for attendance. Lunch, tea and coffee will be provided. This year, the location is Grappenhall Village Hall, which we have chosen because it is easily accessed from the rest of the UK by road and rail. We look forward to welcoming as many of the team as possible. Please book by using the registration form below by email to jfenner@ffwhr.com. If there are any specific questions you would like the company to address, please send them to John Fenner at the same address as soon as possible.

Venue: Grappenhall Community Centre, Bellhouse Lane, Grappenhall, WARRINGTON, Cheshire WA4 2SG.

Registration will close on Monday 16/1/17.

To register, follow the link on the FRS website.

 

Welsh Pony update 4/1/17

More images of Welsh Pony were released on 4/1/17 showing good progress to that date. The original regulator valve has been refurbished and fitted inside the steam dome. New bronze castings have been delivered for the safety valve, whistle manifold and axleboxes. Meanwhile the new tender components await riveting. Welsh Pony's old tender is in use with Linda having previously been coupled to the other large England Little Giant. The loco was displayed until recently with a wooden tender from Princess. Click on the F&WHR Insider page for several photos of progress.

 

This Boston Lodge view (4/1/17) shows the front tubeplate of the boiler and steam dome completed. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Click on the YouTube link above to watch 18 mins 6 seconds of video featuring progress with the rebuild of Welsh Pony published 4/11/17. This video was taken on a professional Betamax camcorder by John Wooden (F&WHR). It is best watched at 1080p HD mode available on e.g. Chrome.

 

Cambrian Coast 150

Chris Magner reports: I hope everything possible will be done to commemorate the 150th of the amazing Cambrian Coast Railway on 10/10/17 (1867 to 2017). There were no JCBs for Thomas Savin and his men in 1867. So pleasing that in a recent survey the Coast Line has been voted in the top ten railway journeys of the World. I urge everyone to do all they can to ensure the two Class 37/6 locos of West Coast Railway work excursion trains to Pwllheli (There are currently no Cambrian excursions planned for 2017 and neither were there any in 2016 following problems guaranteeing the availability of drivers for the NR 97/3s-Ed). Remember in BR days there were on selected Sundays in the 1970s up to four loco hauled trains on the Coast Line. I know as Max Boyce said 'I was there'. Come back now the 'Cambrian Coast Line Action Group'. It was a big mistake when they folded.

 

Happy New Year!

Your webmaster would like to wish all readers a happy and successful New Year. There will be changes to the website with larger pictures and the webpage will be archived monthly rather than fortnightly.

 

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