WHR

News Archive Page

2021

July-September

V4.3 updated 1/11/21

with news to 30/9/21

 

Newly archived sections are placed at the top of this page.

 

No fuel shortage at Porthmadog 27/9/21

Your webmaster found no fuel shortage at Porthmadog week ending 3/10/21. Indeed Tesco was selling petrol cheaper than in the East Midlands, though Betws-y-coed garage was dry at one stage.

On 27/9/21 the F&WHR advised:

We just want to reassure you - our trains ARE running, as we use coal in our steam locomotives, not petrol or diesel. The sun is shining and we're looking forward to welcoming you on our trains. However, don't worry if you have a problem getting here because of YOUR fuel shortage. Just let us know - phone the Booking Office on 01766 516024 and we can rearrange or cancel your booking for you. If you're in the area and wanted to travel on one of our trains that was 'Sold Out' when you originally tried to book - keep an eye on the Booking website, as spaces may well become available if people are unable to reach us.

 

F&WHR traffic 27/9/21

After a stormy night, Monday was forecast to be a day of sunny periods and a maximum of 16C. The F&WHR was only offering the Mountain Prince today which runs TWThX until 22/10/21.

Prince was on the 10:00 working which was fully booked and three of the four trains were fully booked with only the 15:00 bookable in the morning. Lyd arrived back at Porthmadog at 14:06 with the 11:05 Mountain Prince ready for the 15:00 working which was still bookable.

The final working saw Lyd arriving back at Porthmadog at 17:48 into the FR platform and at 18:00 after watering, hauling the rake to the depot.

Tuesday's trains are reduced with the poor weather expected at Porthmadog. There are only 3 Woodland Wanderer trains requiring two locos in steam. The 11:05 is fully booked but the 121:10/14:20 are bookable. The same pattern of trains is also planned for Wednesday and Thursday. The Back to Blaenau runs tomorrow but is fully booked with the first available compartments being 5/10/21. The TThO 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer is sold out but there is room on the 13:40. The TThO 11:00 Gelert Explorer is fully booked with the first availability being 5/10/21.

 

Llangollen diesel weekend 25-26/9/21

The Llangollen Railway allocated two of its three mainline diesels over the weekend of 25-26/9/21 with 26010 (as 5310 in green) on Saturday and the first appearance of 31271 on Sunday. Next weekend it will be the turn of the 26 on Saturday and the Class 47 No.47449 (as 1566) for the first time under Trust operation on Sunday. No.47449 was originally named Orion by Murray Brown, then editor of Rail Express, at Llangollen in 2002. This week the Class104/108 hybrid DMU will be in action Wednesday-Friday.

 

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This easterly view 26/9/21 at 10:38 shows No.31271 Stratford 1840-2001 on the 10:30 to Carrog departing Berwyn as seen from the A5. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This easterly view 26/9/21 at 10:58 shows No.31271 on the 10:30 to Carrog running round at Carrog as seen from the road bridge. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This westerly view 26/9/21 at 11:03 shows No.31271 on the 10:30 to Carrog arriving at Carrog as seen from the road bridge. The disused track beyond the loco will hopefully be reopened on 1/3/22 if the new Corwen station is completed in time. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This easterly view 26/9/21 at 12:33 shows the BR blue livery DMU arriving at 12:33. Visitors could avail themselves of the excellent Carrog cafe that served light meals, tea, ice cream etc. The weather deteriorated in the afternoon. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This easterly view 26/9/21 at 13:01 shows the other end of the 2 car DMU with BR green livery and 'go faster stripes. Passengers could use this service and change trains at Glyndyfrdwy to catch the Class 31 back. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This easterly view 26/9/21 at 13:32 shows No.31271 on the 13:00 from Llangollen arriving at Carrog with rain about to set in. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

F&WHR traffic 25/9/21

Saturday was a cloudy humid day at Porthmadog with maximum temperatures of 18C. Blanche was at Tan-y-bwlch with the 15:00 Mountain Prince at 17:00 and a Garratt, possibly No.87, was in the WHR platform with the full length Harbourmaster. The rake was removed ECS to Boston Lodge at 17:19. Blanche arrived back at 17:50 into the WHR platform. At 17:51 Blanche ran round and at 18:05 propelled its rake into the seawall siding. At 18:08 the loco shunted to the watering point and then departed light engine for the depot at 18:16 allowing the signaller to go home.

The Mountain Prince continues TWThX until 22/10 with a break for the Bygones FR Gala. On 26/9/21 all four trains are bookable and two locos are allocated. Both Glaslyn Venturer trains on Sunday are bookable. The Back to Blaenau service continues TWThO until 28/10/21 and there is late availability on 30/9/21. Otherwise the first bookable train is 13/10/21. The Gelert Explorer is running TThO from 28/9/21 to 28/10/21 with the first bookable train being 30/9/21.

 

Glan-y-pwll branch cleared 25/9/21

Harlech Castle hauled a PW train to the end of the Glan-y-pwll branch which had become so overgrown that it was denying access to the Carriage Shed. Volunteers cleared much of the undergrowth and had the advantage of the FR Mess coach in less than favourable weather and were able to use a chipper to compost the plant debris.

 

Loco adornments 23/9/21

Some of the F&WHR locos have been carrying various adornments in recent weeks. Two locos carried microphones to record sound for future sound cards for models. More traditionally, Blanche carried an original Hunslet headlamp.

 

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This Boston Lodge view 23/9/21 shows Blanche carrying an original style Hunslet headlamp. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy Paul Lewin (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera.

 

F&WHR Shunter repairs 23/9/21

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This Boston Lodge view 23/9/21 shows works pilot Moel-y-gust undergoing refurbishment. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy Paul Lewin (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera.

 

F&WHR traffic 23/9/21

Harlech Castle emerges from Minffordd Yard at 11:47 with two loaded BoCoal wagons for Porthmadog. It waited in the loop for the 11:40 Back to Blaenau train to pass hauled by David Lloyd George at 11:51. Rather than running round the diesel propelled its train to Porthmadog departing at 11:55. There have been a number of propel moves recently.

 

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This westerly view 23/9/21 at 11:55 shows Harlech Castle propelling loaded coal wagons to Harbour Station having just emerged from Minffordd Yard. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam.

 

This afternoon's Woodland Wanderer trains were sold out. The TWThO Back to Blaenau trains are sold out with the first available being 6/10/21. This afternoon's Glaslyn Venturer is fully booked and Sunday's trains will be the final Sunday of operation with the service becoming TThO from 28/9/21 until the October Half Term Holiday. The Gelert Explorer also become TThO from 28/9/21 until Half Term and the first available being 30/9/21. With reduced numbers of tourists in the area, the Glaslyn Venturer has frequently been running as a half-set in September. Blanche was noted on the 14:20 Woodland Wanderer.

 

Llangollen diesel weekend 25-26/9/21

The Llangollen Railway will be running three turns with its green Class 26 (26010 as 5310) on Saturday and 31271 on Sunday as well as DMU turns. The red 5 coach suburban rake will be in use. The Llangollen's only big steam loco No.3802 will be away until the last w eek of October as it is spending a few weeks on the GCR and then heading to Carnforth on 12-13/10/21 for tyre turning. Day Rangers are £24. The DMUs have been added following a busy weekend last weekend when there were still many tourists in Llangollen but no DMUs between the three steam services.

 

 

F&WHR traffic 19/9/21

Blanche was noted shunting on The Cob at 09:20 probably for the 10:00 Mountain Prince and the rake for the 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer had been split again to form a half rake for the morning train. David Lloyd George departed Tan-y-bwlch at 17:17 with the return working of the 15:00 Mountain Prince.

 

Llangollen Railway 19/9/21

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This easterly view 19/9/21 at 10:42 shows GWR steam loco No.3802 on the 10:30 to Carrog. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This easterly view 19/9/21 shows GWR steam loco No.3802 arriving at Carrog at 11:03. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This easterly view 19/9/21 shows GWR steam loco No.3802 waiting to run round at Carrog at 11:03. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This easterly view 19/9/21 shows GWR steam loco No.3802 ready to depart Llangollen on the 13:06 for Carrog at 12:20. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

F&WHR traffic 18/9/21

Lyd and Welsh Pony handled the Mountain Prince on 18/9/21. No.87 departed Dinas at 10:14 with the ECS for the 11:00 Gelert Explorer. Down in Porthmadog half the Glaslyn Venturer remained in the sidings including Observation Car Gwynedd. At 16:16 David Lloyd George arrived with the other half and shunted the halves together in the WHR platform before disposing to the yard. Welsh Pony arrived at 16:45 on the return working of the 13:40 Mountain Prince after the shunt. At 16:50 the Fairlie left for the depot after coaling and watering. Welsh Pony followed after replenishing its tanks at 16:53.

 

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This westerly view 18/9/21 at 16:16 shows David Lloyd George returning to Porthmadog on the second Glaslyn Venturer. Reduced numbers of passengers saw a half set in use on this date. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This northerly view 18/9/21 at 16:44 shows David Lloyd George returning to Boston Lodge after watering. Welsh Pony is about to run round. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

WHHR trains 18/9/21

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This easterly view 18/9/21 at 14:15 shows Emma working a WHHR service from their Tremadog Road terminus to Pen-y-Mount. The rake includes the new Pickering brake coach and so the VoR brake van has been sidelined. The Hunslet Barclay loco last worked on the Jubilee Line Extension. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

SuperPower Day 2 18/9/21

Depot tours were available at Dinas and small groups were escorted around the depot to see progress with the NG15 No.134 Project loco. A small second hand bookstall was selling books at £5 in aid of the project.

 

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This northerly view 18/9/21 at 10:00 shows No.134's tender in Dinas Goods Shed. The tender tank is currently carried on No.133's chassis while its own chassis is worked on. Arrangements around the tender cab will change to allow a running plate safe for 3 people and to allow safe access to the cab on sharp curves. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This northerly view 18/9/21 at 10:18 shows No.130 being prepared in Dinas bay on a demonstration freight train. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This northerly view 18/9/21 at 10:23 shows No.130 being prepared in Dinas platform on a demonstration freight train with Vale of Ffestiniog still on the rear. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This southerly view 18/9/21 at 10:34 shows No.130 departing Dinas with the demonstration freight for Rhyd Ddu. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This Dinas depot view 18/9/21 shows No.134's tender wheel sets which may need a little more work at Boston Lodge. The bogies themselves are currently being worked on then a rolling chassis will be readied to receive the tank currently carried on No.133's tender chassis. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This Dinas depot view 18/9/21 shows No.134's tender bogies receiving a final coat of paint from volunteers. It is intended to re-wheel the bogies in September after attention to the brasses. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This Dinas depot view 18/9/21 shows No.143 under restorations. The Puffing Billy boiler has required much more work than anticipated and a new smokebox has been fitted at the front end. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This Dinas depot view 18/9/21 shows No.134's0 rolling chassis complete with leading and trailing trucks. Now it can be moved into and out of the depot progress on the project can be maintained and also if necessary it can be removed for work on the running fleet. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This Dinas depot view 18/9/21 shows No.143 under restorations with good progress on the tubes. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This Dinas depot view 18/9/21 shows No.143's engine unit under restorations. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This Dinas depot view 18/9/21 shows No.134's rolling chassis complete with draw hook so it can be shunted around the Dinas yards. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This southerly view 18/9/21 shows K1 preparing to leave Caernarfon on a very lightly loaded WHRS Members' Special heading for Rhyd Ddu. The Funkey was used for shunt release as K1 was found to foul the new platform at the north end of the station. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Andrew Simmonds and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This northerly view 18/9/21 at 12:02 shows Vale of Ffestiniog shunting Dinas. The loco did not sound well with side panels off and a part protruding. It had tended to stall earlier in the day. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This northerly view 18/9/21 at 12:27 shows K1 on a very lightly loaded WHRS Members' Special departing Dinas for Rhyd Ddu using a 7 coach FR rake. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This southerly view 18/9/21 at 12:27 shows K1 on a very lightly loaded WHRS Members' Special heading for Rhyd Ddu. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

F&WHR SuperPower YouTube 17-19/9/21

Click on the YouTube link to watch 14 mins 16 seconds of video of K1 on trains to Rhyd Ddu and NG16 freight trains over SuperPower 17-19/9/21. This video was published on 20/9/21 and taken by John Wooden (F&WHR) on 4K Betamax Camcorder.

 

SuperPower Day 1 17/9/21

SuperPower seemed quite quiet this year with relatively few passengers on the trains, other than the normal service trains, possibly because of the low key advertising and the F&WHR describing it as a small event?

 

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This northerly view 17/9/21 at 09:43 shows Vale of Ffestiniog drawing out the 11:00 Gelert Explorer at Dinas. The steam loco would attach to the north end to take the train to Caernarfon. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This southerly view 17/9/21 at 11:22 shows No.130 passing the Gelert Explorer at Dinas. The loco would work SuperPower trains in addition to No.87 on the service train. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This northerly view 17/9/21 shows K1 arriving at Waunfawr with the Members Special. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright David Trout and was taken on a digital camera.

 

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This southerly view 17/9/21 at 12:51 shows No.87 running round the Gelert Explorer at Beddgelert. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This northerly view 17/9/21 at 12:53 shows No.87 watering before coupling to the return Gelert Explorer at Beddgelert. SuperPower trains only came to Rhyd Ddu so travellers on this service did not see anything of K1. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This southerly view 17/9/21 at 13:02 shows No.87 coupled to the Gelert Explorer rake ready for the return journey at 14:15 at Beddgelert. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This northerly view 17/9/21 at 15:29 shows ex-Shotton Steelworks shunter Bill waiting its next duty as shed pilot in the Dinas depot headshunt. Click on the image to enlarge. Twin loco Ben still waits any work to modify it for F&WHR use. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This northerly view 17/9/21 at 15:30 shows No.130 waiting its next duty in Dinas shed. Twin loco Ben still waits any work to modify it for F&WHR use. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This northerly view 17/9/21 at 16:55 shows Vale of Ffestiniog shunting the Gelert Explorer rake to Dinas Carriage Shed via the bay headshunt. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

It was a mystery as to where the Funkey was on the return of the Gelert Explorer. Eventually it was found at Caernarfon where it had been doing shunt release of K1. During a gauging trip to Caernarfon K1 was found to be foul of the platform at the new northerly extension so the Funkey was required to release it every trip. The Funkey coupled to the front at 16:04 and No.130 went on as pilot back to Dinas.

 

K1 on test 16/9/21

Click on the YouTube link to watch 11 mins 36 seconds of video of K1 on test on 16/9/21 ready for SuperPower. This video was published on 16/9/21 and taken by John Wooden (F&WHR) on 4K Betamax Camcorder.

 

F&WHR traffic 16/9/21

Thursday was another sunny day at Porthmadog with temperatures of 17C maximum forecast. The Woodland Wanderer was fully booked by midday. The afternoon Glaslyn Venturer was also fully booked as was the Back to Blaenau service.

The Back to Blaenau service left from the WHR platform as usual at 11:42 hauled by Merddin Emrys. Blanche was on the heavily subscribed 14:20.

 

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This easterly view 15/9/21 at 15:46 shows Blanche running round the 14:20 Woodland Wanderer. As this is the last train of the day it is not shunted to the westbound platform. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This easterly view 15/9/21 at 15:50 shows Blanche departing with the heavily laden return working of the 14:20 Woodland Wanderer. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

On Friday three of the four Mountain Prince trains are already sold out. With timetable changes for the Mini SuperPower Event there are no Glaslyn Venturer trains and no Harbourmaster or Snowdonia Star workings. The Gelert Explorer is fully booked.

 

F&WHR traffic 15/9/21

No. 87 was on the 11:00 Gelert Explorer. It is possible some intending passengers from Porthmadog/Llyn Peninsula might miss the train given the huge queues from Dinas to Caernarfon caused by traffic lights on the new bypass roundabout north of Bontnewydd.

 

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This southerly view 15/9/21 at 11:17 shows Vale of Ffestiniog with the PW train with the well wagon at Dinas awaiting the crossover with the 11:00 Gelert Explorer from Caernarfon. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This northerly view 15/9/21 at 11:18 shows the 11:00 Gelert Explorer hauled by No.87 passing the PW train at Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This southerly view 15/9/21 at 11:21 shows No.87 building up steam as it starts the steep climb up the Gwyrfai Valley to Rhyd Ddu. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This northerly view 15/9/21 at 11:29 shows Vale of Ffestiniog with the PW train. The well wagon with shredder was destined to cut back lineside growth on the Dinas-Caernarfon stretch which has proliferated during the various lock-downs over the pandemic. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

North Wales loco hauled 15/9/21

1W93, the 11:22 Cardiff Central-Holyhead lost 26 minutes between Ludlow and Shrewsbury with DB liveried 67010 perhaps in less than fine fettle. Now on the rear after Chester, prompt work by platform staff saw time regained along the coast and the train was only 19 minutes down approaching Llandudno where it benefited from a timetabled wait of 8 minutes and departed 11 minutes down. The train passed Dwygyfylchi slowly and lost further time to Holyhead arriving 15 minutes late. and two minutes before planned departure to of the return working. Again good platform staff working got the train away just 3 minutes down.

 

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This easterly view 15/9/21 shows the 11:22 Cardiff Central-Holyhead propelled by 67010 passing Dwygyfylchi footbridge at slow speed. Mk4 DVT No.229 carries the 'Float to Live' vinyls sponsored by the RNLI. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This westerly view 15/9/21 shows the 11:22 Cardiff Central-Holyhead propelled by 67010 passing Dwygyfylchi footbridge at slow speed. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

K1 arrives for SuperPower 14/9/21

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This northerly view 14/9/21 shows K1 just after unloading at Dinas in the later afternoon. The loco was to take a gauging trial past platforms on the line as there have been several years of PW work since the loco last travelled along the WHR. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera.

 

F&WHR Traffic 14/9/21

No.130 was back on the Glaslyn Venturer today after repairs. It appeared that the F&WHR homepage was back in action. Four of tomorrow's five Woodland Wanderer trains were sold out except for the 14:20. The Back to Blaenau trains are fully booked until after 7/10/21. The Glaslyn Venturer is fully booked for 15/9/21. The Gelert Explorer is fully booked for the next 3 days.

 

F&WHR traffic 13/9/21

Merddin Emrys hauled the 15:00 Mountain Prince on Monday.

 

New North Wales loco hauled trains appear 13/9/21

Additional loco hauled trains were introduced between Holyhead and Cardiff on Monday 13/12/21. This marked the start of an enhanced TfW Mk4 service with an additional set allowing three trains a day each way between Holyhead and Cardiff, reversing at Chester from Wrexham, Shrewsbury and the Marches Line. This long promised increase in service quality was said to be introduced for 'the Summer'. The diagrams are now as follows (all SSuX):

1V91 0533 Holyhead - Cardiff Central 0958 (this was the original outward working)

1W93 1122 Cardiff Central - Holyhead 1620

1V98 1636 Holyhead - Cardiff Central 2128

1W91 0645 Cardiff Central - Holyhead 1120

1V96 1133 Holyhead - Cardiff Central 1615

1W96 1716 Cardiff Central - Holyhead 2137 (this was the original return working)

Realtime Trains will show this train as a loco-hauled consist, but did not show loco allocations unlike TfW's other DMU services.

 

F&WHR traffic 12/9/21

Sunday turned out to be a grey day in Porthmadog with heavy rain in the afternoon. The F&WHR webpage was out of use over the weekend with a technical issue but the Fareharbor booking website was still available. The 13:40 Mountain Prince was sold out but the 15:00 was still available, hauled by David Lloyd George. The afternoon Glaslyn Venturer was 'call to book'.

 

Llangollen Railway uses Class 26 12/9/21

The reborn Llangollen Railway has used green Class 26 No.26010 (carrying 5310) over the weekend of 11-12/9/21. The loco was used on the suburban rake. Class 31 No.31271 was also on test following a ready to run exam. The diesel trip will be repeated on Friday 17/9/21. The diesel was also used on the last train on 4/9/21 when the steam loco developed a brake fault.

The Llangollen Diesel Group report reveals additional days in late September and October. The dates are 25-26/9/21 and 3-4/10/21. As turn up and go tickets are available it is possible to join trains at Carrog/Glyndyfrdwy where parking is easier than at Llangollen.

 

F&WHR traffic 11/9/21

The Harbourmaster pairing was repeated on Saturday but with the Fairlie leading. All FR services were suspended while RAIB made an inspection, stock was recovered and necessary infrastructure repairs were made by the end of the day. All stock was back at Boston Lodge and ready to resume services on Sunday.

 

Carriage Shed nears completion 11/9/21

Work on concreting the remaining floor space of the new Carriage Shed was completed in August. Powerfloat Mix with fibres was used between 16/08/21 and 20/08/21.

 

F&WHR traffic 10/9/21

Friday saw a change in the weather from an Indian Summer at Porthmadog to cooler rainy weather. After weeks of Garratt haulage Lyd and Merddin Emrys hauled The Harbourmaster service on Friday 10/9/21. Meanwhile on the FR only the first two trains ran due to a minor derailment of a wheelset on one carriage of the second Mountain Prince train of the day somewhere short of Tan-y-bwlch. The incident appears to have caused some track damage leading to all FR services being suspended on Saturday as well to effect repairs. Welsh Pony was locked in at Tan-y-bwlch. A third set with Upnor Castle in charge was put into service to recover the passengers from the failed train. Passengers stuck at Tan-y-bwlch were provided with road coaches to return them to Porthmadog. The stock remained at the incident for the RAIB to inspect the vehicle and track condition in situ until the evening when all stock was recovered to either Boston Lodge or Tan-y-bwlch for unusual overnight stabling. The Coed-y-bleiddiau cottage service ran from Tan-y-bwlch.

 

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This westerly view 11/9/21 shows No.5 Welsh Pony locked in overnight at Tan-y-bwlch following Friday's derailment was still present on Saturday morning in the siding next to the signal box. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Stewart Carswell and was taken on a digital camera.

 

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This westerly view 11/9/21 shows Blanche recovering stock that was left overnight at Tan-y-bwlch following Friday's derailment on Saturday morning in the siding next to the signal box. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Stewart Carswell and was taken on a digital camera.

 

Derailment disruption 10/9/21

F&WHR announcement

'On Friday the 10/9/21, a train on the Ffestiniog Railway was the subject of a minor low speed derailment affecting one carriage wheelset. There were no injuries resulting from the incident. As a result though, an earlier train running ahead of the affected train was stranded at Tan-y-Bwlch station. The RAIB were informed of the incident and the F&WHR team have worked with them in working to restore normal services.

A further train was despatched to bring the passengers on the affected train back to Porthmadog and road transport used to collect passengers from Tan-y-Bwlch station. Passengers for Coed-y-Bleiddiau were also accommodated by special trains. As a result of this incident, train services were suspended for the rest of the day. Recovery operations were completed before dusk and the railway company wishes to thank the staff that worked extra hours to ensure this was completed safely and effectively.

Work to repair the affected infrastructure is in hand on Saturday 11/9/21. All FR trains have been cancelled until Sunday 12/9/21 to allow sufficient time for repairs to be completed and all safety checks made. Welsh Highland Railway services are not affected. Trains have been stabled overnight at Tan-y-Bwlch station and extra security put in place.'

 

North Wales Metro expansion plans 10/9/21

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WAG Map of proposed North Wales Metro extensions. Click on the image to enlarge.

 

Major news from WAG shows the expanded long term aims of the North Wales Metro. The map now shows extensions from Bangor to Amlwch and, more importantly for the F&WHR, to the Cambrian Coast line. As regards the extension to 'West Wales' shown on the map this could be achieved using the existing disused formation through Caernarfon and third rail/gauntleted track between Caernarfon and Dinas or, possibly more expensively, via a new route around Caernarfon following the new bypass and a Caernarfon Parkway station at Caeathro. If the existing route is used Stage 1 could see a welcome reopening to a town centre station at Caernarfon giving easier public transport links to the WHR.

Although there is no reference in the WAG plans, the Aberystwyth-Carmarthen Link would be a gaping hole in a Welsh rail network if the Metro plans are completed. These trackbeds need to be protected from development or destruction of bridges to allow future expansion at minimum cost/delay.

The scheme includes electrification from Crewe to Holyhead, a more intensive service between Bangor and Holyhead, a new interchange station at Shotton, two new stations either side of Wrexham General and other improvements. However there is no mention of completing the re-dualling of the Wrexham-Rossett Junction section singled in 1980 for the A483 dualling.

See WAG press release.

 

Llangollen to use Class 31

The Llangollen Railway has reached a new hire agreement with the owners of Class 31 No.31271 A1A Locomotives Ltd. which will see it used this Autumn on passenger turns. The first confirmed date is Sunday 26/9/21. See Llangollen Diesel group webpage.

 

Moving Pictures No.55 8/9/21

Click on the YouTube link to watch 22 minutes 16 seconds of video covering recent developments on the F&WHR and the Antiques Roadshow visit from March. This video was published on 8/9/21 and produced by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a professional 4K Betamax camcorder.

 

Ruabon-Barmouth railway exhibition 2022

Dates: 19/2/22 - 13/3/2022

Venue: Llangollen Museum, Parade St, Llangollen LL20 8PW

Entry: Free

The exhibition is still in the early stages of planning, but exhibits are anticipated to include original railway posters and artefacts from the former Ruabon to Barmouth line. Organisers are particularly excited to announce that some rare surviving parts from Royal Train built by the GWR for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897 will be on display as part of this exhibition.

 

Laptop use during holiday 9/9/21

This is an experimental service using an old Toshiba laptop to update the website whilst on holiday in Porthmadog.

 

F&WHR traffic 9/9/21

Lyd and Merddin Emrys substituted for the Garratt on the Glaslyn Venturer on 9/9/21 and had some difficulty restarting on the 1 in 40 in Beddgelert station.

 

Temporary contact details

While your webmaster is on holiday any news, images or corrections can be sent to the temporary email account isengard4@iclouddotcom, replacing the word dot with a '.'.

 

Mountain Prince/Woodland Wanderer trains from 6/9/21

Monday 6/9/21 saw the first use of a new split timetable with both these trains running every week. On Monday it was the turn of the Mountain Prince with Moelwyn on the rear and piloting back from Dduallt. There were four trains booked with Welsh Pony on the 10:00 and David Lloyd George on the 11:05. Whilst waiting for the 11:05 arrival Moelwyn took coach No.8 up towards Dduallt and back on its own for some purpose, possibly a delivery to Coed-y-bleiddiau cottage. The afternoon saw two more workings at 13:40 and 15:00. This service pattern is repeated for the next few weeks TWThX.

On the excepted days the Woodland Wanderer continues to run TWThO with trains initially at 10:00, 11:05, 13:15 and 14:20. Both services only require two locos in steam. Both services may see the number of trains expanded or reduced according to demand and by the end of September the Woodland Wanderer is already planned to be down to 3 services a day.

 

Corris Railway Gala report 5/9/21

The Corris Railway Gala extended over the hot first weekend of September. The small car park was full when I arrived before 11am and parking had to found in the narrow nearby streets. The first train was shown as booked for a party but was available for ticket purchase as they did not turn up apparently. As more people were arriving for the midday train a helpful school official opened the adjacent school car park. Toilet facilities were provided by a unisex public toilet by the bus stop outside the station. When the lack of disabled parking was mentioned to the unhelpful car park attendant his only response was 'I haven't had my breakfast yet'!

Despite this unpromising start, the station housed an interesting museum and served drinks and snacks. The 12:00 train was a joy to ride with the Corris' own Hughes Falcon loco No.7 (a replica of No.4) leading the three coach rake and the Tal-y-llyn's visiting Tattoo loco No.4 Edward Thomas (back on its original line where it worked until 1948) on the rear. The ride is about 1 km long and stops at a platform at the north end of Maespoeth Works from where visits to the Carriage Shed and Loco Depot were encouraged. The train then pulled forward to a second platform at the south end of the Works to allow Edward Thomas to refill its water tank. A new Hughes Falcon loco No.10 due to replace No.7 when it comes in for its 10 year overhaul in 2023/4. There is also another replica carriage under construction and some diesel locos were on display in the depot yard, including 'Vlad'! There was some determined chuffing to haul the train back up the grade to Corris station.

 

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This southerly view 5/9/21 shows the TR's No.4 Edward Thomas on the north end of the 11:00 train at the Corris Railway's temporary terminus with a rake of replica coaches behind. This Kerr Stuart Tattoo loco was built in Stoke on Trent in 1921 and delivered to Corris where it ran until 1948 before transfer to the TR. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This southerly view 5/9/21 shows the CR's No.7 on the south end of the 11:00 train setting off from the Corris' Railway's temporary terminus a little late. One of the replica coaches is to a slightly smaller profile. This replica loco was delivered to the railway in 2005 and will soon becoming up on its second boiler refurbishment requiring the railway to complete a new loco No.10 to the design of the original locos CR locos Nos1-3. The Hughes Falcon replica is under construction at Keef's Loco Works and will hopefully be star of Keef's 2022 Gala. The short stub track in the foreground will be extended to form a run round with a traverser when the Corris terminus is rebuilt with an overall roof in the original style. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This southerly view 5/9/21 shows the TR's No.4 Edward Thomas departing on the rear end of the 11:00 train to Maespoeth at the Corris Railway's temporary terminus. This Kerr Stuart Tattoo loco was built in Stoke on Trent in 1921 and will be back on the TR for its 100th birthday along with the CR's No.7 for the TR's Gala on 11-12/9/21. Dr Who fans might notice the Weeping Angel....don't blink though! Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This southerly view 5/9/21 shows the TR's No.4 Edward Thomas on the rear end of the 12:00 train having arrived at Maespoeth at the Corris Railway's workshops. The train would move forwards to the Maespoeth South platform so that the loco could water a few minutes later. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This southerly view 5/9/21 shows some of the CR's diesel fleet including Vlad in the sidings at Maespoeth where the Corris Railway's workshops are located. The main road is above to the right and Maespoeth Junction just south of the shed where the abandoned roadside line continued to climb to Corris Isaf. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

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This northerly view 5/9/21 shows No.7 about to lead its train from Maespoeth North platform to Maespoeth South platform. The hole in the rear cab sheet is presumably to allow coal to be shovelled from a match truck (aka tender) when needed. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

TR No.4 Maespoeth South_BWH5-9-21 South_BWH SouthSouth_BWH5-9-21.jpeg (1562470 bytes)

This southerly view 5/9/21 shows No.4 Edward Thomas watering at Maespoeth South before hauling the return working of the 12:00 to Corris. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

Beyond the platform the line continues past sidings to a headshunt with the new extension underway beyond that. Before the revitalised railway company took over the route the council had improved the main road by using a few hundred metres of the trackbed of the Corris line just south of Maespoeth. Between there and the Dyfi Bridge the abandoned formation generally runs along the east roadside verge of the A487. A new embankment is under construction from Maespoeth to a point where the original roadside trackbed can be regained.

The railway has a number of aims with a new station and run round at Pont Evans for Esgairgeiliog which will include a 1 in 30 section. Another extension is envisaged to a station at the Forestry car park and toilets at Tan-y-coed, just north of Pantperthog and near to the popular Alternative Technology Centre tourist attraction, making the line 3 miles long. When funds allow, Corris station will be rebuilt in the original style with an overall roof but a traverser is required to allow run round because of the restricted site.

Although the railway has no plans to return to Machynlleth, it would theoretically be possible to continue along the clear roadside trackbed towards Machynlleth with a new Dyfi bridge to replace the one long lost to flooding. The original Corris terminus station building still exists in the middle of the Industrial Estate of the former Machynlleth Goods Yard but would require a new route to access and provide platforms close to the NR platforms. Fortunately the new A487 Dyfi Bridge bypass, currently under construction, does not affect future restoration of this section, which would make the line 5 miles long in total, a worthy aim.

In conclusion, although the line is short at 0.6 mile, it has great potential with new replica locos and replica carriages in the works and a good length of line to come in future. There are attractive views of the Dulas valley from the train so well worth a visit.

 

Holiday images 5/9/21

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This northerly view 5/9/21 shows Vale of Ffestiniog stabled  alongside Romanian coach No.2060 in Dinas bay/. The Funkey is used for PW work on the WHR and ECS workings. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon 2000D digital camera.

 

Webmaster's Holiday

Your webmaster will be on holiday in the Porthmadog area for the rest of September and it may not be possible to update the website in this time. This is the first holiday in two years. Apologies in advance if no updates appear in the next four weeks.

 

F&WHR traffic 3/9/21

Porthmadog was forecast to have sunny periods and a maximum of 19C today. Train services had space with both the 14:20 and 15:25 Woodland Wanderer still having room though the TWThO Back to Blaenau is fully booked for the whole of September!

At 14:00 No.130 was ready to depart Porthmadog on the 14:15 Snowdonia Star return working to Caernarfon and Blanche was ready with the 14:20 Woodland Wanderer. No.130 left on time as did Blanche. Welsh Pony arrived at 14:45 with the returning working of the 12:10 and ran round to become the 15:25 Woodland Wanderer which left on time. Lyd left Porthmadog at 15:58 light engine for the depot after shunting the returned 13:15 Woodland Wanderer. At 17:55 Welsh Pony shunted the rake from the 15:25 Woodland Wanderer to the ward before departing at 18:00 to round off the day's activities.

The Woodland Wanderer becomes TWThO from week commencing 6/9/21 and for the rest of September. Only 4 trains a day are currently envisaged with the third set dropped that previously operated the 12:10/15:25 services. Similarly the Glaslyn Venturer drops back to become MFSX for most of September. The final Sunday Gelert Explorer (except for WHR Gala weekend) runs this Sunday and Monday 6/9/21. In fact it will be the only train running on 6/9/21 and after that the train becomes TWThO until the last week of September.

 

FR on TV 6/9/21

The popular afternoon series 'Antiques Road Trip' returns to the TV screen on Monday - and the opening episode of its 23rd series features a visit to the Ffestiniog Railway. The programme will be broadcast on BBC One at 16:30 on Monday, 6/9/21. If you miss the programme 'live', it will be available on the BBC iPlayer shortly afterwards. More details are available from the BBC website.

 

F&WHR traffic 2/9/21

Porthmadog was forecast to have sunny periods and a maximum of 20C today. Train services had space with the 15:25 Woodland Wanderer still having room though the Back to Blaenau is fully booked for the whole of September!

At 14:10 Upnor Castle was running round the 13:15 Woodland Wanderer at Tan-y-bwlch. Meanwhile at Porthmadog Blanche ran round at 14:15 for the 14:20 service after watering and coaling. The train departed 3 minutes late at 14:23. Lyd arrived at Porthmadog at 14:46 with the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer and departed with the 15:25 Woodland Wanderer. Upnor Castle arrived back at 15:46 with the 13:20 Woodland Wanderer. David Lloyd George arrived back with the Back to Blaenau pulling into the FR platform at about 16:10, freeing the section for the diesel to return to the depot light engine at 16:13, having shunted the rake to the sidings.

 

This easterly view at 15:46 on 2/9/21 shows Upnor Castle arriving back at Porthmadog with the 13:20 Woodland Wanderer. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

No.87 arrived at about 16:20 with the afternoon Glaslyn Venturer working and departed at 16:28 with the ECS for Boston Lodge while the Fairlie ran round its rake. The Fairlie had to wait for the return of Blanche with the 14:20 Woodland Wanderer at 16:59. The Fairlie departed with the ECS at 17:01 while Blanche ran round. At 17:10 the rake was shunted to the seawall siding before the loco departed light engine for the depot at 17:18. At 17:52, Lyd ran round the recently returned 15:25 Woodland Wanderer to shunt the rake to the sidings. the loco left at 17:59 to complete the movements for the day.

Bookings for Friday seemed light again and the F&WHR will progressively cut back services as children go back to school. Only two of the six Woodland Wanderer trains are sold out, the 11:05 and 12:10. However The Harbourmaster and Snowdonia Star are fully booked on Friday.

 

Llangollen timetable

This timetable is valid for weekdays this week MTX. A steam/DMU service is envisaged at the weekend.

 

May be an image of text that says "LLANGOLLEN RAILWAY TIMETABLE WEEKDAYS ANGOLLENRAIDWAY Llangollen Berwyn Glyndyfrdwy Carrog 1 d d a DMU 00 09 1121 11 31 DMU 12.50 1259 1313 13.23 DMU 15 10 15 19 1533 15 Carrog Glyndyfrdwy Berwyn Liangollen d d d 150 12:00 1212 1221 1350 50 1400 1412 1421 16 15 1627 16 36 Services marked DMU' are operated by heritage railcar. Full Line Return prices E19 Adults, €10 Children, €17 Seniors. Single tickets and Day Rovers are also available. Enquire at our booking offices or through our Facebook page."

 

Machynlleth bridge strike ruins railtours 1/9/21

Two railtours to Pwllheli were cancelled in early September as a tipper truck with tipper body still partially raised struck the A487 bridge at the west end of Machynlleth station on 1/9/21. After examination NR engineers permitted the passage of light weight Class 158 units but cancelled the double headed Class 97/3 hauled Welsh Dragon Day 2 excursion on 5/9/21 and Cambrian Coast Express excursion on 8/9/21 (re-scheduled for May 2022) as they were deemed too heavy. The Barmouth Bridge was to shut from 12/9/21 for three months for major repairs. See BBC report.

 

F&WHR traffic 1/9/21

Porthmadog was forecast to have sunny periods and a maximum of 18C today. Train services had space with the 15:25 Woodland Wanderer still having room though the Back to Blaenau is fully booked for the whole of September!

The 15:25 Woodland Wanderer departed on time behind Lyd. Prince arrived back with the 13:15 Woodland Wanderer at 15:53. No.87 arrived back in the WHR platform with the second Glaslyn Venturer at 16:20. At 16:31 the return working of the Back to Blaenau train arrived at the FR platform with David Lloyd George in charge. This allowed the stock of the Glaslyn Venturer to be shunted to the yard at 16:32. The Garratt left light engine for the depot at 16:37. The Fairlie ran round at 16:54 but had to await the arrival of the 14:20 Woodland Wanderer hauled by Blanche which pulled into the WHR platform at 16:59. This allowed the Fairlie to take its rake back to Boston Lodge ECS. Blanche then ran round at 17:07 and shunted its rake to the seawall siding before departing light engine for the depot at 17:20.

Thursday's trains are lightly booked with only the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer and the Back to Blaenau unavailable. The Gelert Explorer train and both the Glaslyn Venturer trains are available to book reflecting the decline in tourists now that the school holidays are ending with many schools back later this week.

 

Tal-y-llyn news 1/9/21

From 1/9/21 the Tal-y-llyn has changed to 'hop on hop off' turn-up-and-go services rather than 'book in advance' services leaving the F&WHR as one of the last operating 'book in advance' fixed journey services. Pre-booking for the TR Gala is recommended. Many railways are now offering events in the Winter season such as Santa Specials, the latest being the G&WR, but the F&WHR has yet to announce any events after the FR Gala in October.

 

This easterly view on 25/8/21 shows Edward Thomas loaded for the short (as the crow flies, but slightly longer by HGV-appropriate road) journey to Corris. DOLGOCH is on the right at the head of the 10:55 departure for Nant Gwernol. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Mark Hambly and was taken on a digital camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

CHR Oswestry prepares to open

The Cambrian Heritage Railway Oswestry is preparing to reopen. It has three coaches and a Class 73 No.73129 carrying the number E6036 and still in the Electric Blue early BR livery it had at the G&WR. There is a run round at its new southern terminus at Weston Wharf but Oswestry still has no run round so requires a shunt release. The three coach trains and Class 143 DMUs have required staff training and about 20 volunteers attended a training day in August for the purpose. The tamper finally arrived on 25/8/21 and tamped the new extension and so the line now awaits ORR approval before passengers can be carried, possibly later this Autumn.

 

F&WHR working timetables

Harbourmaster working timetable

Boston Lodge dep 09:05
Porthmadog arr 09:10
Porthmadog dep 09:40
Beddgelert dep 10:20
Rhyd Ddu 10:55
Caernarfon arr 12:10
Caernarfon dep 14:10
Rhyd Ddu 15:25
Beddgelert dep 16:00
Porthmadog arr 16:50
Porthmadog dep 17:00
Boston Lodge arr 17:05

 

Snowdonia Star working timetable

Dinas 09:15
Caernarfon arr 09:30
Caernarfon dep 10:00
Rhyd Ddu 10:55
Porthmadog arr 12:15
Porthmadog dep 14:15
Rhyd Ddu 15:25
Caernarfon arr 16:30
Caernarfon dep 16:45
Dinas 17:00

There is a 2 hour lay over in Caernarfon/Porthmadog for people to visit the town's amenities, buy food etc. Trains pass at Rhyd Ddu. Work is still in progress on these timetables. Any corrections gratefully received.

 

Train     'Mountain Prince' 10:00 11:05 12:25 13:40 15:00
Previous working (if applicable)       ex 10:00 ex 11:05
Boston Lodge (light if applicable) 09:30 10:30 11:45 12:10  
Porthmadog depart (shunt ECS) 10:00 11:05 12:25 13:40 15:00
Minffordd depart 10:15 11:20 12:40 13:45 15:15
Rhiw Goch 10:30 11:35 12:55 14:00 15:30
Tan-y-bwlch arrive (diesel attached at rear) 10:45 11:50 13:05 14:25 15:45
Tan-y-bwlch depart 10:55 12:00 13:15 14:35 15:55
Dduallt (reverse) 11:10 12:15 13:30 14:50 16:10
Tan-y-bwlch arrive * 11:25 12:30 13:45 15:05 16:25
Tan-y-bwlch depart 12:20 13:30 14:50 16:05 17:10
Rhiw Goch 12:35 13:45 15:05 16:20 17:25
Minffordd depart 12:45 13:55 15:15 16:30 17:35
Porthmadog (run round and shunt ECS) 13:00 14:10 15:30 16:45 17:50
Next turn (if applicable) 13:40 15:00      
Boston Lodge (light to depot if applicable)     15:55 17:00 18:00

 

Back to Blaenau working timetable

Porthmadog arr 10:50
Porthmadog dep. 11:40
Minffordd arr 11:50
Tan-y-Bwlch arr 12:30
Tan-y-Bwlch dep 12:40
Blaenau Ffestiniog arr. 13:15
Blaenau Ffestiniog dep. 14:45
Tan-y-bwlch arr 15:50
Tan-y-Bwlch dep 15:55
Minffordd dep 16:30
Porthmadog arr. 16:45
Porthmadog dep 17:05

There is a 1.5 hour lay over in Blaenau Ffestiniog for people to visit the town's amenities, buy food etc. Work in progress on this timetable. Any corrections gratefully received.

 

Woodland Wanderer working timetable

Light engine from depot where applicable 09:30 10:35 11:40 ex 10:00 ex 11:05 ex 12:10
Porthmadog dep. 10:00 11:05 12:10 13:15 14:20 15:25
Minffordd pass 10:10 11:15 12:20 13:25 14:30 15:35
Tan-y-bwlch arr. 10:45 11:50 12:55 14:00 15:05 16:10
Tan-y-bwlch shunt to other platform where applicable 10:55 12:00 13:05 14:10 15:15 N/A
Tan-y-bwlch dep. 11:55 13:00 14:05 15:10 16:15 17:20
Minffordd pass 12:20 13:25 14:30 15:35 16:40 17:45
Porthmadog arr. 12:30 13:35 14:40 15:45 16:50 17:55
Next turn where applicable 13:15 14:20 15:25      
Light engine to depot       16:00 17:05 18:10

 

Glaslyn Venturer working timetable

Boston Lodge 09:30* ex 10:15
Porthmadog dep. 10:15 13:40
Beddgelert arr. 11:00 14:25
Beddgelert dep. 12:00 15:25
Porthmadog arr 12:55 16:20
Next turn where applicable 13:40 N/A
Boston Lodge where applicable N/A 16:35

*Train engine may come over earlier to shunt yard.

 

Gelert Explorer working timetable

Station Outbound Return
Dinas ECS 10:15 16:30
Caernarfon 10:30 a 16:15
Caernarfon 11:00 d 15:50
Dinas a 11:15 15:40
Waunfawr 11:40 15:20
Plas-y-nant 11:55 15:10
Rhyd Ddu 12:15 14:55
Beddgelert 12:45 14:15

 

F&WHR traffic 31/8/21

Porthmadog was forecast to have light cloud and maximum 19C with sunshine later. Bookings seems to have increased after the Bank Holiday with the first three Woodland Wanderer trains fully booked. The afternoon Glaslyn Explorer is bookable. Back to Blaenau TWThO is fully booked for September. The Gelert Explorer from Caernarfon is fully booked today but has compartments free for the rest of the week.

Welsh Pony departed with the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer on time. No.87 left 3 minutes late with the 10:15 Glaslyn Explorer. Lyd came over by 10:30 to haul the A set out of the seawall siding for the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer and shunt to the FR platform. No.87 was back at 16:22 with the afternoon Glaslyn Venturer and the Back to Blaenau set which had arrived a few minutes earlier was in the FR platform. Welsh Pony headed to the depot light engine at 16:20 off the 13:15 Woodland Wanderer. At 16:32 the rake was shunted to the sidings and the Garratt left light engine for the depot at 16:39. David Lloyd George ran round the Back to Blaenau set in the FR platform at 16:43 but departure had to await the arrival of the returning 14:20 Woodland Wanderer which was in section with Lyd. The train pulled into the WHR platform at 16:56 allowing the Fairlie to take its rake to Boston Lodge at 16:57. Lyd ran light to the fuelling and watering point first and at 17:20 returned to take the rake back to the depot, departing at 17:26. Blanche turn up with the returning 15:25 Woodland Wanderer at 17:58. The lady ran round at 18:02 and shunted the rake to the seawall siding at 18:08. Blanche departed light engine to the depot at 18:13 to bring activities for the day to a close.

Bookings on Wednesday are beginning to pick up. The 11:10 and 12:10 Woodland Wanderer are fully booked but there is space on both Glaslyn Venturer trains and the Gelert Explorer from Caernarfon. The Back to Blaenau train has no spare compartments until 5/10/21.

 

Tal-y-llyn news

The Tal-y-llyn is taking advantage of the Cambrian shut down to lay a length of standard gauge track alongside the wharf. This had been removed by BR many years ago following the cessation of coal deliveries by train when the Cambrian pick up goods was cancelled. A restored wagon will be positioned on the wharf to simulate transhipment of slates during interpretation events. Following the load of No.4 to the Corris for photo-shoots and a Gala on 8/9/21, the loco will be back for the Tal-y-llyn Gala the following weekend (11-12/9/21) along with the Corris' own steam loco No.7. The event will celebrate No.4 Edward Thomas' 100th birthday! See Tal-y-llyn Railway webpage for further information about the event.

 

F&WHR traffic 29/8/21

The weather at Porthmadog was forecast to be sunny and 22C maximum. The season continues to surprise with lower than expected bookings over the Bank Holiday weekend maybe because the weather was more suited to the beach. The 11:00 and 12:10 Woodland Wanderer trains were fully booked but the other four trains have compartments available. The 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer showed the cryptic message 'call to book' but the afternoon train had compartments as did the Gelert Explorer. The strange message is peculiar because booking for the Woodland Wanderer continues until minutes before a few departure and never seems to show that message on the FareHarbor booking system.

No.87 was already in the WHR platform with the 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer by 09:45 and XXX was already in the FR platform. XX left on time as did No.87. there was still space on the 15:25 at the end of the afternoon. The 15:25 departed at 16:01 due to late running by earlier trains. It seems the 14:20 hauled by Lyd had required assistance from Upnor Castle to get to Tan-y-bwlch so Prince's departure on the return working of the 13:15 working was delayed, causing knock on delays to the 15:25 hauled by Welsh Pony. At 16:30 No.87 was shunting the Glaslyn Venturer to the sidings after Prince had arrived with the late running Woodland Wanderer. At 16:39 Prince followed No.87 light engine to the depot once the Garratt had cleared The Cob section. At 16:53 Upnor Castle departed Tan-y-bwlch piloting Lyd back to Porthmadog with the late running 1420 Woodland Wanderer. The 14:20 arrived back at 17:33 and Upnor Castle and Lyd ran round. Lyd limped into the yard alone while Upnor Castle shunted the rake to the seawall siding. The pair coupled up and waited from Welsh Pony to arrive at 18:06 before departing light engine for the depot at 18:08 with the diesel dragging the steam loco. The England loco propelled the rake at 18:12 out onto The Cob and hauled it back into the sidings minutes later before departing alight engine at 18:21 to close the activities for the day.

 

This easterly view at 17:33 on 29/8/21 shows Upnor Castle piloting Lyd into the WHR platform with the heavily delayed return working of the 14:20 Woodland Wanderer. A wisp of steam confirms the presence of the steam loco. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Bank Holiday Monday seems to be following the pattern of the rest of the weekend in having lower bookings than expected probably because the Bank holiday is so late in the season and the weather has been warm and sunny so more suited to the beach. Of the six Woodland Wanderer trains on offer only the 10:00 is fully booked. Both Glaslyn Venturer trains are bookable as is the Gelert Explorer. The F&WHR starts reducing services in September and by the end of September there will only be two Gelert Explorer trains a week and likewise the Glaslyn Venturer. The Woodland Wanderer will be down to TWThO by the end of September and the number of trains offered each day will be matched to demand rather than providing 6 every day.

 

A day in the life of the F&WHR 28/8/21

Click on the YouTube window to watch 68 mins 46 seconds of video covering a typical Summer's Day on the F&WHR but taken over several days to include the full length of the line. The video includes getting steam up in the morning to putting to bed at night and included the rare shots of Lyd and David Lloyd George on the Glaslyn Venturer as well as an appeal for support with tracklaying. There is also coverage of No.130 starting from Beddgelert with the usual slipping. This YouTube was published on 28/8/21 and was taken by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a 4K digital camcorder. It is best watched in 1080p HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on the YouTube link.

 

F&WHR traffic 28/8/21

Porthmadog was forecast to have a sunny day with 20C maximum temperatures. Woodland Wanderer bookings remained strangely light with all trains bookable on Saturday for the second day of the Bank Holiday weekend whereas the WHR through trains, The Harbourmaster and the Snowdonia Star were fully booked.  

Welsh Pony hauled the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer, departing the FR platform on time. Blanche was already present shunting the 11:05 from the seawall siding to the FR platform where it arrived exceptionally early at 10:15 and left on time. At 11:36 Prince shunted the C set from the yard to the FR platform for the 12:10 Woodland Wanderer and left on time. No.87 rolled in with the Snowdonia Star at 12:15 and departed for its return to Caernarfon at 14:20. The 12:15 was fully booked but the later trains still had space.

It seems the pattern of a quieter Bank Holiday weekend is continuing with all of Sunday's Woodland Wanderer trains available to book except the 12:10. Both Glaslyn Venturer trains and even the usually fully booked Gelert Explorer train have compartments available which explains the promotion of Bank Holiday services on the F&WHR's Facebook page.

 

Llangollen Railway Corwen station Open Day

Steam trains are operating on the Llangollen Railway over the Bank Holiday weekend to Carrog and rover tickets are available. The Corwen extension is due to be opened March 2022 and progress with the waiting room facilities and canopies is rapid. The shop at Corwen Station is open Saturday and Bank Holiday Monday from 10:00 to 16:00 both days. They have 00 gauge models DVD’s, books and more. Everything is reduced for this weekend only but the shop can only take cash. On Bank Holiday Monday Corwen station volunteers will be having an Open Day so come along and have a tour of the new station. Tours are free but donations are always very welcome.

 

F&WHR traffic 27/8/21

Porthmadog was forecast to have a sunny day with maximum temperatures of 20C on Friday. Compartments were available on the 14:20/15:25 Woodland Wanderer trains but both The Harbourmaster and Snowdonia Star through trains on the WHR were fully booked. There may be a market for additional trains on the WHR, especially from Caernarfon which only ever sees one train a day you can actually travel on!

Welsh Pony left with the B set on time on the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer. Blanche turned up later and shunted the A set to the FR platform for the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer. Prince departed on time with the 12:10 Woodland Wanderer hauling the C set. No.130 arrived at 12:15 with the Snowdonia Star working. Welsh Pony left with the 13:15 Woodland Wanderer on time. No.87 was back with The Harbourmaster by 1645 and shunted the rake to the yard. The loco stayed in the yard while the return working of the 14:20 Woodland Wanderer was in section. Blanche arrived into the WHR platform at 16:55 and shunted the rake to the seawall siding at 17:05 after the Garratt had left for them depot. Blanche left light engine for the depot at 17:10. Prince arrived with the returning 15:25 Woodland Wanderer at 18:00 and unusually also entered the WHR platform. After propelling the rake out of the station Prince dragged the C set back into the FR yard at 18:13 and ran round. The loco departed light engine for the depot at 18:20 bring an end to the day's activities.

Rather surprisingly some Bank Holiday weekend trains look lightly loaded with all six Woodland Wanderer services free to book on Saturday. However, the two through WHR services, The Harbourmaster and the Snowdonia Star (the latter from Caernarfon) are fully booked on Saturday.

 

SVR joins 'hop on/hop off' railways

The Severn Valley Railway has joined the GCR and Llangollen Railway amongst others in offering 'turn up and go' tickets and the ability to join and alight at any intermediate station. The change occurs from 7/9/21. The F&WHR is meanwhile maintaining its 'book ahead' and strict compartment policy with no trains from intermediate stations for the time being, though passengers from Beddgelert can join the northbound Harbourmaster service if they book ahead.

 

F&WHR traffic 26/8/21

Porthmadog was forecast to have sunny periods and 21C maximum temperatures on Thursday. All trains were fully booked today emphasising the need to provide additional trains from Caernarfon as there is only one train today from Caernarfon while there are 9 from Porthmadog. Such a service could run Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu at 12:00 and back while the Gelert Explorer is locked in Beddgelert for 1.5 hours.

At 09:45 No.87 was ready for the 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer in the WHR platform and Prince on the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer in the FR platform. The Woodland Wanderer left on time but the Glaslyn Venturer was 4 minutes late. Blanche arrived light engine at 10:24 to shunt the A set from the seawall siding to the FR platform for the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer. The rake was safely tucked in the platform by the time David Lloyd George arrived light engine at 10:45 to shunt the rake for the 11:40 Back to Blaenau into the WHR platform. Welsh Pony arrived light engine at 11:34 to shunt the C set to the FR platform for the 12:10 Woodland Wanderer. The same 5 locos have been used all week but the England locos do shuffle around a little. Little has been seen of Lyd, Merddin Emrys or Palmerston recently. The Back to Blaenau train left on time as did the 12:10 Woodland Wanderer.

The F&WHR has compartments free on Friday's Woodland Wanderer and all the Bank Holiday weekend. However, The Harbourmaster and the Snowdonia Star are fully booked on Friday. Saturday's Harbourmaster still has bays free and all Sunday's and Monday's train currently have space available.

 

Corris Gala 4-5/9/21

The Corris Gala will feature double headed Kerr-Stuart 'Tattoo' locos with No.4 visiting from the Tal-y-llyn and their own modified replica No.7 (see website). Trains will run hourly from 11:00-16:00 from Corris station and there will be opportunities to see the Maespoeth carriage shed with clerestory coach No.24 under construction (see website) and southern extension where the trackbed is being rebuilt alongside the A487 (see website). Work is underway to built a Hughes 'Falcon' replica No.10 (see website) and there will be a book sale to help raise funds. Tickets may be purchased on the day. See Corris webpage for full details.

 

Vandals attack Llangollen railway

Struggling tom recover from the collapse of the company, the last thing the Llangollen Railway needed was a graffiti vandal attack on Tuesday night, damaging paintwork on two DMU coaches, which may cost thousands to repair. This bad news probably results from local youths hearing the railway had started running again. Anyone with information is requested to get in touch with the railway on 01978-860979.

On a more positive note the Llangollen Railway has now completed a fifth coach for its suburban set. The BS coach is finished in the correct livery matching the rest of the suburban compartment stock. See Wrexham Leader story of the restoration of steam services which are running Friday-Monday over the coming Bank Holiday Weekend.

 

TfW rail use survey

Transport for Wales is conducting a survey on rail travel following an unprecedented drop in rail travel following travel restrictions over the last 16 months caused by the pandemic, which may inform the development of future rail services in Wales. To take the survey click here.

 

F&WHR traffic 25/8/21

Wednesday was forecast to be 22C maximum with sunny periods. All trains were fully booked today.

No.87 departed on time with the 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer. Blanche arrived light engine at 10:22 to shunt the A set from the sea wall siding to the FR platform for the 11:055 Woodland Wanderer. Blanche was back at Porthmadog at 14:00 running round after watering ready for the 14:10. Welsh Pony arrived back at Porthmadog at 15:58 with the return working of the 13:15. No 87 arrived back with the Gelert Explorer at 16:22 while Welsh Pony waited in the yard. Moments later at 16:26 David Lloyd George arrived back with the Back to Blaenau set allowing Welsh Pony to return to the depot ECS. Prince was up at Tan-y-bwlch running round the 15:25 Woodland Wanderer at 16:42. Prince arrived back at 18:02 with the return working of the 15:25 Woodland Wanderer. The rake was quickly shunted to the yard and the loco left light engine for the depot at 18:21 to close the activities for the day.

There are heavy bookings again on Thursday with only the 15:25 Woodland Wanderer and afternoon Glaslyn Venturer bookable. The Back to Blaenau service is fully booked for four weeks ahead and the Gelert Explorer is fully booked on Thursday.

 

Barmouth Bridge finale

Just days before the closure of the Barmouth Bridge for stage 1 of its 2 year upgrade there will be a second and even a third railtour. Steam Dreams has planned Day 2 of the Welsh Dragon to run from Shrewsbury to Pwllheli on Sunday 5/9/21 with two Class 97/s hauling the train (Day 1 covers the Central Wales Line). Participants have optional tours on the FR and WHR, followed by Welsh Dragon Day 5 Bangor-Paddington hauled by steam (Nos.61306/455906). Also on 8/9/21 Pathfinder are reprising their Cambrian Coast Express after heavy bookings. The train will run from Bristol Parkway to Pwllheli with double headed Class 97/3s again on the Cambrian Coast. Strictly only one 97 is required on the front for the restrictive ERTMS signalling and the other loco could be anything, even a Deltic has been used on the Cambrian Coast. If NR was more flexible the locos could run round each other at Pwllheli so that the 97/3 was on the front on the return. Just days later, Barmouth Bridge closes on 12/9/21 for three months but that would not stop excursions to Aberystwyth, which used to see many such trains before ERTMS closed its death grip on alternative traction on the route.

 

Beddgelert siding frame 25/8/21

This southerly view dated 25/8/21 shows the North Wales Track gang working on the lever frame for the siding at Beddgelert station. Work on this installation has been suspended for three or four years but the siding will be useful in Gala events and for PW use. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Stuart McNair and was taken on a digital camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Level Crossing safety

It seems impatient people have been driving across the tramway crossing on Britannia bridge when red lights are flashing. Police have been forced to issue a warning following complaints from the F&WHR.

Police statement:

'We've been made aware of concerns that vehicles have been driving through the red traffic lights at the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway. We'd like to remind road users that not only is this dangerous as there may be an oncoming train, but if you drive through a red light you will be liable for a Fine and points on your licence. The red lights are for the safety of Drivers and Pedestrians. Please don't take the risk just to get somewhere a bit faster.'

 

May be an image of 1 person, train and railway

This easterly view dated mid August 2021 shows the North Wales Police monitoring the crossing following complaints about dangerous driving. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

F&WHR traffic 24/8/21

Tuesday was forecast to be a sunny day with 21C maximum temperatures. Today's Woodland Wanderer was sold out except for the 15:25. There were seats avilable on the afternoon Glaslyn Venturer but the morning train was fully booked as was the Black to Blaenau and the Gelert Explorer.

At 09:30 No.87 was preparing to shunt its rake from the yard to the WHR platform. The shunt had to await the arrival of Prince with the ECS for the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer from Boston Lodge. The A set arrived in the platform at 09:43 allowing the Garratt to shunt the Glaslyn Venturer rake to the WHR platform. The loco was coupled to the front by 09:55 and left on time as did the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer. The Back to Blaenau left on time as did the 12:10 Woodland Wanderer hauled by Welsh Pony passing The Back to Blaenau paused at Tan-y-bwlch at 12:30 in the hands of David Lloyd George. Blanche was also at Tan-y-bwlch on the A set with the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer having run round before the through working passed.

Trains for Wednesday looked busy again with only the 15:25 Woodland Wanderer having any spare compartments. Both Glaslyn Venturer trains are bookable but the Back to Blaenau and Gelert Explorer are fully booked. In fact the popular FR through service is fully booked until almost the end of September with the first bookable train being 28/9/21.

 

Bygones weekend 8-10/10/21

The FR is having a much larger event in October than the WHR mini SuperPower. The FR has been running passenger trains since 1865 and it has been run by the same company during all that time - of course, there have been many changes to locomotives and carriages, and many different liveries, over the years. During 'Bygones Weekend', the FR will be showcasing trains from significant eras of the Festiniog Railway Co., with extra themed trains operating - including Gravity, Slate and Freight services. Passenger trains will be running from Porthmadog to Beddgelert, Blaenau Ffestiniog or Tan-y-Bwlch with locomotives and carriages from the heritage fleet. There will also be some staged ‘early-morning’ and ‘evening’ photographic sessions, giving the opportunity to capture some stunning images. Further information on the weekend is available on the website https://www.festrail.co.uk/bygones-weekend. Tickets are available from today and some trains will operate on the WHR.

 

Llangollen confirm Bank Holiday steam to Carrog

The Llangollen Railway, still having problems establishing a website with a public timetable, has confirmed it will operate steam to Carrog over the Bank Holiday weekend 27-30/8/21. The timetable is likely to be as last Saturday with 3 steam trains and two intermediate DMU services. There do not seem to be any plans to use the 3 mainline diesel locos at the moment but, it is hoped, the Trust might consider such trains in the Autumn shoulder period.

 

May be an image of text that says "LLANGOLLEN RAILWAY TIMETABLE WEEKENDS ANGOLIBARWAY d Liang ollen Berwyn Glyndyfrdwy Carrog Steam 10 30 DMU 12 00 Steam d DMU 14 30 Steam 15 15 1053 1.02 12 236 1321 d 1451 01 Carrog Glyndyfrdwy Berwyn Liangollen 1536 15 46 d 1406 1416 1142 1154 12:03 15 13.25 337 13 15 30 40 15 52 1625 16 14.41 Services marked DMU' will be operated heritage Full Line Return prices £19 Adults, €10Children, €17 Seniors. Single tickets and Day Rovers are also available. Enquire at our booking offices or through Facebook"

 

A reduced DMU operation is happening this week MX with steam/DMU services Friday-Monday over the Bank Holiday weekend.

 

May be an image of text that says "LLANGOLLEN RAILWAY TIMETABLE- WEEKDAYS LANGOLLENRALWAY Llangollen Berwyn Glyndyfrdwy Carrog d d d 3 DMU 00 1109 1121 1131 31 DMU 1250 1259 1313 1323 DMU 15 10 15 19 1533 15 43 Carrog Glyndyfrdwy frdwy Berwyn Liangollen d d d 1150 1200 1212 12.21 13 50 14.00 1412 1421 16 05 16 15 16 27 16 36 Services marked DMU' are operated by heritage railcar. Full Line Return prices £19 Adults, £10 Children, £17 Seniors. Single tickets and Day Rovers are also available. Enquire at our booking offices or through our Facebook page."

 

F&WHR traffic 23/8/21

Porthmadog was forecast to have sunny periods and 20C temperatures maximum on Monday. The 10:00/14:20/15:25 Woodland Wanderer trains remained bookable in the morning as was the afternoon Glaslyn Venturer. The Gelert Explorer is sold out with Thursday's train being the first with free compartments. Some spare fencing from Tan-y-bwlch has been used to fence around the concrete slab base of the future station building at Beddgelert. Beddgelert station is much busier than Caernarfon as it sees three trains a day for much of the week. The small station hut and temporary toilets are inadequate for the numbers and it is hoped that in the near future grants/sponsorship might fund a suitable building here with modern amenities, possibly with a heritage style like Waunfawr. The F&WHR hope to reopen intermediate stations in the future and a small step has already been made by allowing passengers to book and join the FSO Harbourmaster northbound service at Beddgelert.

Other railways such as the Llangollen are operating a turn up and go service from any intermediate station so how long the F&WHR persists with encouraging of online booking must be in question. Currently 78% of bookings are on line, 13% by phone and just 9% over the booking office counter. The preponderance of on line bookings may be because of passengers reluctance to queue in these socially distanced days we live in during the pandemic or it may be a long term trend towards planning trips rather than 'turn up and go' spontaneous decisions to travel on the railway.

At 09:50 No.87 was standing in the WHR with today's Glaslyn Venturer and Welsh Pony was already in the FR platform with the B set ready for the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer which left on time as did the Glaslyn Venturer. Blanche shunted the A set from the seawall siding and coupled up at 10:50 ready for the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer. The train departed some 6 minutes late at 11:11. Prince departed on time with the C set with the 12:10 Woodland Wanderer.

On Tuesday there are seats available on the Woodland Wanderer 14:20 and 15:25. Both Glaslyn Venturer trains are free to book but the Gelert Explorer and Back to Blaenau trains are fully booked.

 

Future coach policy

The WHR has 18 coaches including the latest No.2048 introduced a few weeks ago. This allows two long rakes to be formed for the former two train service. However now the F&WHR is operating a single mega train service out of Caernarfon with 12 cars in the Gelert Explorer, possibly near the restart limit for a Garratt on the 1 in 40 at Beddgelert or Meillionen, future needs must be examined. Including the currently sidelined non standard former Romanian coach No.2060, the fleet is as follows

Saloons Nos.2040, 2042-8, 2060

Two Observation coaches Nos.2100/2152

Pullman No.2115

Brake coaches Nos.2090/2091

Open coaches Nos.2021/2022

Service cars Nos. 2010/2011

The original target was to complete two ten car sets, with recent additions being funded by the WHRS and individual society members. It is hoped a F&WHR plan will soon emerge as the management seem to be enamoured of the current 'frontier' operation to Beddgelert and occasional through trains, though the original plan for FSMO through trains has been reduced to a FSO operation. While the Gelert Explorer uses the WHR stock (45 standard bays and 9 first class), the Glaslyn Venturer is largely made up of 'compartmentalised' FR Superbarns (42 standard bays and 10 first class) which may have to go back to the FR when the line opens up normally after the pandemic. If the F&WHR is to continue its mega train policy then several new coaches must be built for the WHR. A start is being made with a new saloon No.2050 which the Carriage Works will begin this year. It is not certain why the previously planned No.2049 is not next in the construction plan as presumably the two previously planned saloons are identical to the panoramic window style of Nos.2046-2048.

There seems to be no thought of using spare rolling stock/locos on a short out-and-back service from Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu. Caernarfon sees just one train a day whereas Porthmadog has 9 trains a day on some weekdays. Almost every train from Caernarfon during August has been fully booked but it seems the F&WHR management is very Porthmadog-centred in its plans and has overlooked the potential income stream from additional services from Caernarfon, tapping the north Wales Coast/Anglesey tourist traffic. F&WHR's catering plans may also affect the future viability of the service vehicles as hampers now seem the way to go provided by staff at Caernarfon station and Spooners. In the later case this has caused some logistical difficulties so the thought of using a service car here for the preparation of hampers as a kitchen car has been considered at Porthmadog. This might cause Control some difficulties as siding space at Porthmadog comes at a premium. In the long term, the provision of a buffet car service out of the service cars must be questioned as this is not possible now to reduce movement through the seating bays and maintain social distancing. It all depends how the railway emerges from the pandemic and what restrictions become permanent.

 

F&WHR traffic 22/8/21

Porthmadog was forecast to have sunny periods and 19C temperatures on Sunday. The 14:20/15:25 Woodland Wanderer trains remained bookable in the morning. Today's Glaslyn Venturer and Gelert Explorer are full booked. There are still tickets available for the K1 Specials on 18-19/9/21. A new feature, is the Bygones Specials for the FR Event on 8-9/10/21. Details and tickets have not yet been released for this weekend but it defaults to the Woodland Wanderer page which shows no services that weekend.

No.87 was ready to go on the 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer as early as 09:50. David Lloyd George was on the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer which left on time as did the Glaslyn Venturer. Blanche arrived at 10:30 light engine to shunt the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer to the FR platform, arriving with the A set at 10:40. David Lloyd George returned with the 14:15 Woodland Wanderer at 15:53. No.87 arrived back with the 14:20 Glaslyn Venturer at 16:19. At 18:06 Welsh Pony departed Porthmadog light engine for the depot after shunting the 15:25 C set back into the sidings.

Monday's trains look a little quieter but the first 3 Woodland Wanderer trains are fully booked. Both Glaslyn Venturer trains are free to book but the Gelert Explorer is fully booked for the next three days.

 

Mail Line news 21/8/21

The Pathfinder Cambrian Coast Express from Bristol Parkway to Pwllheli ran on 21/8/21 with double headed Class 97s 97303/304 (ex Class 37s Nos.37178/217). from Shrewsbury as no other locos are permitted to lead the train under ERTMS signalling! This has cut back railtours to this popular destination to less than one a year and an end to the WCR steam excursions that mirrored the Fort William-Mallaig Jacobite trains. NR has still not produced the long promised portable unit for railtours. The train was hauled from Bristol Parkway by rare Class 67 No.67001 still in the old ATW blue with no decals. For some strange reason the loco exchange at Shrewsbury took place in Coton Hill sidings, now a virtual quarry, rather than the station. This entailed a wait for passengers on the platform at Shrewsbury for almost 1.5 hours for this simple procedure that took about 10 minutes in BR days!

Also in these quadcopter views are the recently started works on the A487 Afon Dyfi bridge diversion to replace the dangerously narrow historic Afon Dyfi road bridge close to Machynlleth station. The bypass lies alongside the route of the Corris Railway into Machynlleth Yard. For further details on the roadworks which are likely to take two years see https://gov.wales/a487-new-dyfi-bridge-overview.

Barmouth Bridge will be closed between 12/9/21 and 12/12/21 for major timber replacements. Rather than introduce a limited service between Barmouth and Pwllheli, NR are closing the line completely after TfW's difficulties replacing failed DMUs based at Barmouth in the previous closure earlier this year. Following recent experience on the Conwy Valley line closures it seems TfW and NR prefer line closures and bustitution, giving inconvenience to residents. A further closure is envisaged September-December 2022 to complete the restoration! See NR Barmouth bridge plans.

 

This southerly view at 12:04 on 21/8/21 shows Nos. 37303/4 ready to depart Machynlleth with a TfW livery Class 158 DMU arriving at the station from the Cambrian Coast. The bricked up bridge arch in the foreground was constructed to carry the short lived Corris Railway Extension to Derwenlas and Morben Wharfs for transhipment of slate etc. to local shipping. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright John Rawlings and was taken on a quadcopter digital camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view at 11:54 on 21/8/21 shows Nos. 37303/4 arrived Machynlleth ready to go forward up the Cambrian Coast. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright John Rawlings and was taken on a quadcopter digital camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view shows the route of the A487 Dyfi Bridge bypass. The former Corris Railway station building is visible close top the main road in the centre of the view. The Corris Railway crossed the Afon Dyfi on the same location as the A frame supports of the footbridge visible in the top right corner of the image. If the Corris Railway is ever extended to Machynlleth it would probably terminate alongside the NR station at a lower level on the extreme right edge of this image. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright John Rawlings and was taken on a quadcopter digital camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Llangollen opens to Carrog with steam 21/8/21

GWR steam loco No.3802 hauled the first train to Carrog on Saturday 21/8/21, reopening the station and public steam haulage on the railway. Steam haulage also occurred on the Sunday. There are no trains on Monday and DMUs will operate Tuesday-Friday. There is no sign of any intended diesel loco haulage

 

May be an image of text that says "LLANGOLLEN RAILWAY TIMETABLE WEEKENDS ANGOLIBARWAY d Liang ollen Berwyn Glyndyfrdwy Carrog Steam 10 30 DMU 12 00 Steam d DMU 14 30 Steam 15 15 1053 1.02 12 236 1321 d 1451 01 Carrog Glyndyfrdwy Berwyn Liangollen 1536 15 46 d 1406 1416 1142 1154 12:03 15 13.25 337 13 15 30 40 15 52 1625 16 14.41 Services marked DMU' will be operated heritage Full Line Return prices £19 Adults, €10Children, €17 Seniors. Single tickets and Day Rovers are also available. Enquire at our booking offices or through Facebook"

 

F&WHR traffic 20/8/21

Porthmadog was forecast to have drizzle in the afternoon with 19C maximum forecast. All 7 trains from Porthmadog were fully booked today as was the single train from Caernarfon.

At 09:49 The Harbourmaster left 9 minutes late with No.87 in command after a week where the loco had been substituted by Lyd and a Fairlie on the Glaslyn Venturer trains. Prince departed on time with the B set on the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer. At 10:42 David Lloyd George hauled the A set out of the seawall siding for the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer which left on time. Welsh Pony arrived light engine at 11:39 for the 12:10 Woodland Wanderer. No.130 was on the Snowdonia Star and had run round ready to depart at 13:55. Welsh Pony arrived at 17:58 with the return working of the 15:25 Woodland Wanderer into the WHR platform. The train shunted to the sidings at 18:02 and the loco, watered, ran round and departed at 18:24 to conclude activities for the day on a rather damp afternoon.

Saturday's trains look busy again with three of the six Woodland Wanderer trains already fully booked. The Harbourmaster and the Snowdonia Star are fully booked on Saturday 21/8/21.

 

Llangollen update 20/8/21

It appeared that the Carrog extension was not opened on Friday as anticipated and that DMUs were still continuing to operate the service to Glyndyfrdwy despite rumours to the contrary. A DMU arrived at Glyndyfrdwy at 11:20 and departed at 11:36 matching the 5 train single DMU operation advertised for 17-19/8/21 (see poster below).

However, its seemed the Carrog Extension and loco hauled traffic would be permitted on Saturday and Sunday 21-22/8/21. Steam trains will depart Llangollen at 10:30, 13:00 and 15:15 with the 12:00 and 14:30 being DMUs.

 

F&WHR traffic 19/8/21

It was damp in Porthmadog this morning with drizzle forecast and maximum temperatures of 16C. All 9 trains from Porthmadog were fully booked today as is the single train from Caernarfon.

Lyd turned up at 09:30 and fuelled and watered before shunting to the WHR loop. XX  was next and dragged out the Glaslyn Venturer rake and shunted to the WHR platform before running round to couple to Lyd in the loop. They had coupled up by 10:00 and departed on time. Meanwhile Welsh Pony shunted the rake for the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer that set off on time. Blanche arrived a little later and at 10:30 shunted the A set from the seawall siding into the FR platform for the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer. Blanche departed at 11:08, some 3 minutes late after David Lloyd George had dragged the Back to Blaenau rake into the WHR platform. The Fairlie ran round at 11:17 ready for the 11:40 departure. At 11:34 Prince shunted the C set out to the FR platform for the 12:!0 Woodland Wanderer.

The 13:15 Woodland Wander left several minutes late behind Welsh Pony passing Minffordd at 13:31. Blanche crossed at Minffordd departing promptly at 13:33 with the weather clearing up a little. At 13:27 Lyd and David Lloyd George emerged from the refuelling/watering point and shunted back to the Glaslyn Venturer rake in the WHR platform for the 13:40 departure which left a few minutes late at 13:43 as Blanche arrived with the returning Woodland Wanderer. At 18:00 Prince shunted the C set back on the return working of the 15:25 Woodland Wanderer into the yard from the FR platform. The loco departed to Boston Lodge at 18:05 to close the activities for the day.

All F&WHR trains are fully booked again on Friday with no space on the Woodland Wanderer until Saturday, The Harbourmaster until 3/9/21, the Snowdonia Star until 27/8/21 and Back to Blaenau until 16/9/21.

 

Llangollen Carrog opening Friday 20/8/21?

Although there has been no official timetable announcement, trains for FSSuO are expected to feature loco hauled travel to Carrog from 20/8/21. Departures from Llangollen are planned for 10:30, 12:00, 13:00, 14:30 and 15:15. It seems likely that some of these trips are DMUs. A four coach rake is available and a steam loco and three mainline diesel locos. The Trust is still without an official website which must make it difficult for passengers to plan a journey on the railway. The recorded message on the Trust's phone line 01978 860979 has not changed since July. It seems the railway is having real problems getting information out to the public.

 

F&WHR traffic 18/8/21

Porthmadog's weather forecast was for a cool cloudy day with a maximum temperature of 16C. All 9 trains from Porthmadog (and the single train from Caernarfon) are fully booked again and only the 15:25 Woodland Wanderer was bookable for Thursday!

The mystery of using two small locos instead of Garratt No.87 now stabled at Boston Lodge persists. Lyd and Merddin Emrys arrived at 09:18 light engine from the depot to shunt the Glaslyn Venturer rake to the WHR platform at 09:27. The pair ran round a minute later and coupled up at 09:34. Prince arrived light engine at 09:36 to shunt the yard for the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer. Blanche arrive light engine at 10:33 to shunt the A set from the seawall siding to the FR platform. David Lloyd George arrived with the ECS Back to Blaenau set at 10:51.

Prince arrived back at 12:39 with the return working of the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer. Prince ran round a few moments after the Glaslyn Venturer return at 13:00. Lyd and Merddin Emrys shunted to the yard to coal and water at 13:04 before the 13:40 afternoon working. At 13:09 Welsh Pony was running around the 12:10 Woodland Wanderer at Tan-y-bwlch. Lyd and Merddin Emrys emerged from the yard at 13:30 to run round the train for the 13:40 Glaslyn Venturer.

Welsh Pony returned with the final train of the day at 17:54, the return working of the 15:25 Woodland Wanderer. The loco ran round at 18:00 and the rake was shunted to the sidings at 18:09 before the loco left light engine at 18:12 to conclude the activities for the day.

Thursday's trains were again fully booked by the end of the afternoon.

 

F&WHR traffic 17/8/21

Tuesday dawned damp and cloudy at Porthmadog with colder temperatures forecast of a maximum 16C meaning traffic was likely to be heavier. The Woodland Wanderer was fully booked as were the Glaslyn Venturer and the Gelert Explorer along with the TWThO Back to Blaenau trains. With the F&WHR fully booked yet again, the case for added additional trains from Caernarfon must surely be made by now. Today, one train a day from Caernarfon and 9 from Porthmadog does not seem correct and may be missing potential revenue essential to help the F&WHR recover from the income gap caused by COVID..

At 09:45 the 10:15 Glaslyn Explorer was in the platform hauled by Lyd and Merddin Emrys for a change. The 10:00 Woodland Wanderer left on time hauled by Prince. The Glaslyn Explorer left on time. Blanche arrived light engine from Boston Lodge at 10:31 to haul the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer. The rake was shunted into the platform at 10:41. David Lloyd George hauled the ECS Back to Blaenau rake into the WHR platform at about 11:00 and uncoupled at 11:06, waiting to run round until Blanche had cleared station limits. Blanche departed at 11:08, some 3 minutes late allowing the Fairlie to make a quick top up visit to the yard and coupled up at 11:28 for the 11:40 departure. Welsh Pony was on the 12:10 Woodland Wanderer and left 3 minutes late.

The Glaslyn Venturer came back at 12:59 into the WHR platform while Prince was shunting off the returned 10:00 Woodland Wanderer. Prince made a quick trip to Boston Lodge, arriving back at 13:15 to couple up to the 13:15 Woodland Wanderer. As a result it left several minutes late. Blanche was waiting in the seawall siding at 17:50 having propelled the A set from the 14:20 Woodland Wanderer into the siding earlier. As the return working of the 15:25Woodland Wanderer was signalled, Blanche was locked in the yard. As soon as the train arrived, Blanche departed light engine to the depot at 17:59. At 18:07 Welsh Pony ran round the C set and shunted it to the sidings at 18:14 before departing light engine at 18:17 to close the activity for the day.

Wednesday's trains look very busy with all trains fully booked yet again. Supporters are becoming concerned about the issue of there being only 1 train a day from Caernarfon but 9 from Porthmadog! There does not seem to be the will to offer an experimental service from Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu which can easily be accommodated in the timetable as proved by the SuperPower timetable. There are plenty of Staycationers out there so surely it is time to dip a toe in the water and try more trains from Caernarfon if Porthmadog is fully booked day after day? Test the market, trains can be withdrawn if they are not used and if successful that is extra revenue to fill the black hole in the finances caused by COVID!

 

North Wales main line news

The non-appearance of a Class 20 double headed special from Tyseley to Llandudno caused disappointment after the train was caped shortly after leaving Tyseley on 11/8/21.

Road-rail machines are improving the track at Penmaenmawr ballast loading terminal. Trains are expected to start soon returning freight to the North Wales Coast after an absence of a few years since Wylfa Nuclear Power Station was defuelled. Work is also continuing at Glan Conwy yard alongside Llandudno Junction station which will become a loading point for slate waste later this year, a second source of freight!

WalesRail (TfW) is now issuing train formation symbols to Real Time Trains. Loco/unit numbers are provided and the symbols used also show the livery of the actual loco/unit! Let us hope that the promised increase to three Holyhead Cardiff loco hauled Mk4 sets occurs soon as it has been promised for the Summer. To this end the little used Crewe-Chester-East Usk yard Class 67 training run was utilised on 11/8/21 with 67013 propelling suggesting the uplift in loco hauled services will come shortly.

 

F&WHR traffic 16/8/21

Porthmadog was forecast to have sunny periods and a cool 16C maximum temperature today. The first four Woodland Wanderer trains were fully booked but the  14:20 and 15:25 still had compartments available in the morning. The morning Glaslyn Venturer was sold out but the afternoon run still had space. The Gelert Explorer is fully booked for the first three days this week but has space on Thursday. The TWThO Back to Blaenau trains are fully booked for 4 weeks ahead until mid September.

Welsh Pony left on time with the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer and Lyd was piloting David Lloyd George again on the Glaslyn Venturer, which also left on time. Blanche arrived light engine at 10:32 to shunt the A set from the seawall siding for the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer. The train left 5 minutes late awaiting late passengers.

Harlech Castle arrived in the yard at 17:39 light engine to collect empty Bocoal wagons. The train waited at the signalbox at 17:50 for the final Woodland Wanderer to cross The Cob as it was in section. Prince arrived into the WHR platform with the returning 15:35 service at 17:52. The departmental working left a few minutes later at 17:54 for Minffordd Yard. Prince propelled its rake out at 17:58 and back into the yard then left light engine for Boston Lodge at 18:13. Harlech Castle shunted the Bocoals into Minffordd Yard. The loaded Bocoals exited the yard at 18:57. Harlech Castle propelled the train to Porthmadog arriving at 19:10 after the signal box had closed. They had to stop on The Cob and operate the points themselves before propelling the wagons into the sidings at 19:18. The loco reappeared light engine at 19:24 and after setting the route left for Boston Lodge at 19:30 to close the activities for the day.

Tuesday's trains look quite busy with all the Woodland Wanderer trains sold out except for the 15:25. The morning Glaslyn Venturer is fully booked but compartments are free on the afternoon train. The Back to Blaenau service is full booked for a month ahead with the first day available to book being 16/9/21. The Gelert Explorer is fully booked all this week except for Sunday. With the F&WHR demonstrating it can run additional trains out of Caernarfon during the SuperPower weekend, now is the time to introduce those services for the general public to gain extra income from Caernarfon and not offer just one trains out of Caernarfon when tomorrow there will be 9 trains out of Porthmadog!

 

Llangollen Railway timetable 17-19/8/21

The Llangollen Railway Trust has released a timetable for the next three days in the style of the old BR London Midland Region maroon printed timetables. The timetable is likely to change on Friday if permission is granted by ORR for loco hauled trains and to reopen the line to Carrog.

May be an image of text

 

F&WHR traffic 15/8/21

Porthmadog weather was forecast to be sunny periods and 10C maximum temperatures. There was still room on  the Woodland Wanderer trains in the morning but the WHR services were fully booked.

Harlech Castle was noticed with the FR mess car in the WHR platform and left across The Cob at 11:37 as soon a Prince arrived light engine for the 12:10 Woodland Wanderer. Blanche was shunting the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer at Tan-y-bwlch at 12:06. All afternoon Woodland Wanderer trains were fully booked by midday. At 12:43 Welsh Pony arrived on the return working of the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer. surprisingly as No.87 is now based at Porthmadog, Lyd and David Lloyd George hauled the 14:40 Glaslyn Venturer.

The first three Woodland Wander trains on Monday are fully booked. Both the Glaslyn Venturer trains tomorrow are free to book but the Gelert Explorer is fully booked.

 

'Trains that Built the World' TV series

Ian Hislop's new Channel 5 TV series Trains that Built the World started on 13/8/21. It will be available on My 5 for catch up for a few weeks. The first episode 'First Impact' features FR footage from a few years ago.

 

Llangollen news

The Llangollen Trust is expected to announce approval to open to Carrog from Friday 20/8/21 with a new timetable. It is also hoped that steam and diesel loco hauled trains will be approved for use after the glitch in paperwork last Friday. In preparation, Carrog has a spruce up with the trackbed being cleared of weeds.

 

Moving Pictures No.54 14/8/21

Click on the YouTube window to watch 19 mins 42 seconds of video covering Michael Ball's video shoot, trains in July, The Snowdonian and Scots Guardsman's visit to Blaenau Ffestiniog. This YouTube was published on 14/8/21 and was taken by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a 4K digital camcorder. It is best watched in 1080p HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on the YouTube link.

 

F&WHR traffic 14/8/21

Porthmadog was forecast to be cloudy on Saturday with maximum temperatures of 17C. F&WHR trains were less busy on Saturday with the 10:00 14:20 and 15:25 Woodland Wanderer having space in the morning. The Harbourmaster and Snowdonia Star through services on the WHR were fully booked today.

Prince departed on time with the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer after The Harbourmaster had left at about 09:40. David Lloyd George arrived light engine at 10:42 to shunt the A set from the sea wall to the FR platform for the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer. The train was ready to board at 10:52 and departed on time. Lyd turned up light engine at 11:30 and shunted the C set to the FR platform for the 12:10 Woodland Wanderer. The train arrived in the platform at 11:36 over half an hour before departure time. The train departed on time.

No.130 arrived at 12:29 with the Snowdonia Star. Prince arrived with the return working of the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer at 12:36. No.130 shunted to Boston Lodge light engine to coal at 12:38 while the Observation car windows were washed down. Prince departed at 13:18 some 3 minutes late. By midday only the 15:25 Woodland Wanderer was free to book. No.130 arrived from Boston Lodge at 13:50 and coupled up for the return journey. At 14:07 the rake was propelled clear of the starter ground signal whilst David Lloyd George ran round for the 14:20 Woodland Wanderer. The Fairlie was coupled up by 14:10. The Snowdonia Star departed at 14:15 and the Woodland Wanderer on time at 14:20.

Upnor Castle hauled the Back to Blaenau set out of the yard to Boston Lodge at 14:50, presumably for programmed maintenance. Lyd departed on time at 15:25 with the Woodland Wanderer with compartments free and a big crowd watching on the platform. No.87 arrived back at 15:37 with The Harbourmaster and at 16:50 shunted the rake to the yard. David Lloyd George arrived at 16:54 into the WHR platform allowing the Garratt to depart light engine at 16:55 for the depot. The Fairlie ran round at 17:01 and shunted the rake to the yard. After dropping off the rake in the seawall siding at 17:10 the Fairlie made its way to the coaling/watering point before departing for the depot at 17:21.

The final train arrived back at 17:50 with Lyd hauling the rake into the WHR platform. The loco propelled the rake out at 17:54 and dragged it back into the yard. After running round Lyd departed for the depot at 18:05 bringing the day's activities to a close.

Only two of Sunday's Woodland Wanderer trains are sold out. The morning Glaslyn Venturer has space but the Gelert Explorer is fully booked. Some timetable alterations are occurring because of SuperPower. The Snowdonia Star which runs FSO until 25/9/21 does not operate on 17-18/9/21 and the rake is used for the Gelert Explorer. Similarly the Harbourmaster which is also FSO will not run over the SuperPower weekend, freeing its stock up presumably for the K1 extra trains or the Glaslyn Venturer. The Gelert Explorer itself drops Sunday's from 12/9/21 but Sunday 19/9/21 is added back in for SuperPower. The Glaslyn Venturer which runs generally FSX until 30/9/21 will run additionally on Saturday 18/9/21 for SuperPower. The Harbourmaster runs FSO until 25. The Woodland Wanderer becomes TWThO after 5/9/21 but the rakes will run as the Mountain Prince TWThX so will be available over SuperPower. The Back to Blaenau Trains are unaffected and run TWThO until 30/9/21. These have been heavily subscribed and the first bookable train are on 15-16/9/21 so if anyone is staying for the full week for SuperPower these trains are bookable.

 

Llangollen book review

Iain McCall's 'Llangollen Railway-Forward to the future' arrived today. £5 of the £19.95 cost is donated to the Llangollen Railway Trust. This book is part of a series 'Standard Gauge Album No.3' from Mainline & Maritime books publishers ISBN9 781900 340915. Orders can be taken online from orders@mainline&maritime.co.uk or phone 07770 748615. This photo book contains 119 pages of photos of the Llangollen Railway, almost all in colour. The editor has selected a good range of photos with informative captions. There is a representative selection of steam photos covering many of the Llangollen's events, big and small. The author has not forgotten the diesel locos and the last 20 pages are devoted to these often overlooked working beasts as well a few operational photos. Overall a good buy and helpful to the relaunched Llangollen Railway Trust.

 

This view shows the front cover of the new Llangollen Railway album. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

F&WHR traffic 13/8/21

Porthmadog was forecast sunny periods and 19C temperatures today. With Porthmadog campsites fully booked all F&WHR trains were fully booked and still no sign of any additional services planned for Caernarfon to improve on the one train a day current offering, For example, the mini SuperPower event planned for mid-September (see below) has trains from Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu and return at 12:15 and 15:30 as suggested before.

Welsh Pony was on the 12:10 Woodland Wanderer service. Prince arrived back from the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer at 12:41 into the FR platform. By this time No.130 had watered and run round The Harbourmaster and coupled up ready to return to Caernarfon in the WHR platform. Blanche was up at Tan-y-bwlch with the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer having uncoupled. Prince left on time on the 13:15 Woodland Wanderer.

No.87 arrived back at Porthmadog at 16:26 with the return working of The Harbourmaster. At 16:39 the loco hauled the ECS to Boston Lodge. It seems No.87 has replaced No.130 as the Boston Lodge Garratt. At 17:01 Blanche returned with the 14:20 Woodland Wanderer into the FR platform. At 17:10 Blanche had run round and shunted the A set to the seawall siding. At 17:16 the loco departed light engine for the Boston Lodge. Welsh Pony arrived on the returning 15:25 Woodland Wanderer. The loco ran round promptly at 18:01 and shunted the rake to the yard. The loco left light engine to the depot at 18:10 to conclude the day's activities.

Saturday's trains look busy again but three of the six Woodland Wanderer trains have compartments free. Both The Harbourmaster and the Snowdonia Star are fully booked and are also fully booked next Friday! It really is time to add additional trains from Caernarfon as suggested above. Trains to 30/9/21 are now bookable. Perhaps K1 can be retained for a few weeks and offer those who missed out on the WHRS specials a second chance. Clearly a 12:15 and a 15:30 from Caernarfon are both possible to diagram as on the WHRS mini Gala.

 

WHRS mini 'SuperPower' 17-19/9/21

Extra Activities for Members

We are looking forward to seeing members over this weekend and although we are not running a full event weekend, we do have some extra activities. We are very pleased to welcome back K1 which will be in action over the weekend and there are opportunities to travel on K1 hauled trains. Spaces are limited and are booked by compartment. We will also be opening Dinas Yard to members on Sunday morning where you can see K1 in steam in the yard, get up close and there may even be the opportunity for a footplate ride. The NG15 team will be on hand to chat and to explain progress and future plans. On Saturday evening, the AGM takes place in Caernarfon station and we are offering an optional hot supper to those attending. This should be pre-booked in the same way you book your tickets.

What is happening:

Friday 17/9/21

·        10:15 Glaslyn Venturer Porthmadog to Beddgelert and return 13:00

·        11:00 Gelert Explorer Caernarfon to Beddgelert & return 16:00

·        12:15 K1 Special Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu & return 14:45 (WHRS/FfRS Members only)

·        13:40 Glaslyn Venturer Porthmadog to Beddgelert and return 16:20

·        15:30 K1 Special Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu and return 17:55 (WHRS/FfRS Members only)

 

Saturday 18/9/21

·        09:00 K1 Special Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu and return 11:30 (No members discount)

·        10:15 Glaslyn Venturer Porthmadog to Beddgelert and return 13:00

·        11;00 Gelert Explorer Caernarfon to Beddgelert & return 16:00

·        12:15 K1 Special Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu & return 14:45 (No members discount)

·        13:40 Glaslyn Venturer Porthmadog to Beddgelert and return 16:20

·        15:30 K1 Special Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu and return 17:55 (WHRS Members only)

·        18:00 Evening meal (tbc)

·        19:15 AGM in Caernarfon station

·        There will also be two NGG16 hauled freight trains during the day

 

Sunday 19/9/21

·        09:00 Dinas yard open until 12:30

·        10:15 Glaslyn Venturer Porthmadog to Beddgelert and return 13:00

·        11:00 Gelert Explorer Caernarfon to Beddgelert & return 16:00

·        12:15 K1 Special Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu & return 14:45

·        13:40 Glaslyn Venturer Porthmadog to Beddgelert and return 16:20

There will also be two NGG16 hauled freight trains during the day

Train service graphs will be available from our website

 

How to book:

The Gelert Explorer / Glaslyn Venturer and Ffestiniog Railway services may be booked online in the usual way using your membership number to give the appropriate discount on your seating bay.

The K1 Specials may be booked using the following link and entering your membership number (please check for eligibility)

https://fareharbor.com/embeds/book/festrail/items/299182/?full-items=yes

Saturday evening meal may be booked using the following link

https://fareharbor.com/embeds/book/festrail/items/326305/?full-items=yes

BOOKING OPENS ON FRIDAY, 13/8/21 FROM 10:00

Please note that your membership number, when booking online, needs to be in the format of prefix W, a number of zeros to make six digits with your membership number – that is W001234 or W000123 or W000012 for Adults & Family members or WL as a prefix for Life Members with the six digits following. Please do not include any suffix on your membership number such as A, F or L.

 

Llangollen cancels this weekend's steam haulage 13/8/21

GWR steam loco No.3802 will NOT now be running Friday-Sunday 13-15/8/21 due to 'technical issues'. The Class 109 Wickham railcar will still be out and No.3802’s diagram will be covered by a second DMU. Apparently it is a technicality in the documentation which may have prevented loco hauled trains rather than a loco or rolling stock failure. The railway is currently relying on part time management advice at the moment and a lot of documentation must be submitted and checked. Unfortunately it appears that one crucial approval did not arrive in time despite the timetable being issued confidently on Thursday. Let us hope that it arrives in time for the rumoured extension to Carrog next weekend. In the meantime 6 DMU services per day MX will run to Glyndyfrdwy. 

 

F&WHR traffic 12/8/21

Thursday in Porthmadog was forecast to have sunny periods and 19C maximum temperatures. All 9 trains from Porthmadog are fully booked today as is the one train from Caernarfon. There is clearly an opportunity to earn additional revenue from Caernarfon by adding extra trains and helping the F&WHR recover from the losses caused by the pandemic.

At 09:40 Lyd drew the Glaslyn Venturer rake out of the yard and propelled it into the WHR platform while David Lloyd George emerged from watering in the yard and waited to run round. At 09:48 Prince hauled the B set over from Boston Lodge into the FR platform, This allowed the Fairlie to couple to Lyd at 09:52 and the pair to run round the train at 09:55 and couple up to the rake at 10:00 for the 10:15 departure. Prince departed on time with the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer.

Blanche arrived at 10:40 to shunt the A set to the FR platform for the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer. The rake arrived in the platform at 10:50, some 15 minutes before booked departure time. Merddin Emrys arrived into the WHR platform at 10:54 with the rake for the 11:40 Back to Blaenau train. The train was back by 16:41 and David Lloyd George shunted the rake to the yard before waiting near the signal box at 16:50 for other traffic.

Blanche arrived back with the 14:20 Woodland Wanderer at 16:55 into the FR platform allowing David Lloyd George to return to the depot light engine at 16:56. No.87 turned up light engine from Dinas at 17:10 while Blanche shunted its rake to the yard. Speculation had been growing that if No.130 was still under maintenance, Friday's Harbourmaster would be hauled by Lyd and David Lloyd George as the Glaslyn Venturer has been all week. This would be an unusual as Caernarfon only usually sees NG16 locos. However with the arrival of No.87, it looks like Friday's FSO Harbourmaster will be hauled by the Garratt with No.130 on the Snowdonia Star service. Blanche retuned to the depot light engine at 17:15 while No.130 remained in the station. The Garratt followed light engine for the depot at 17:25 when The Cob section was clear.

At 17:49 Welsh Pony appeared with the return working of the 15:25 Woodland Wanderer. The loco ran round at 17:52 and coupled up a few minutes later. The rake was shunted to the sidings at 17:59. Welsh Pony left light engine for the depot minutes later bring a close to the day's activities.

Friday's train services are busy again. Five of the six Woodland Wanderer trains are fully booked with compartments free only on the 15:25. All other trains are fully booked, including The Harbourmaster, The Snowdonia Star and the Back to Blaenau trains. The two Garratt hauled FSO trains are fully booked for the weekend. The first available date on the TWThO Back to Blaenau service is 8/9/21! The Harbourmaster is becoming more popular and is now fully booked for next Friday as well as this Friday as is the Snowdonia Star!

 

Official Llangollen timetable 13-15/8/21

Finally, the LlR has responded to requests from enthusiasts and potential passengers and produced a timetable for the FSSuO service that begins on Friday 13/8/21. They have also clarified that the loco hauled service will be steam only despite previous statements that trains would be steam and diesel hauled. At the moment it appears only one four coach rake is available for loco haulage so the diesel loco hauled service will probably have to wait until additional coaches pass their fitness to run exam.

Telephone booking is not required but there will be plenty of room on trains for passengers to socially distance. WAG rules require passengers on public transport to wear masks on trains.

The two services pass at Goods Junction.

The Trust will continue to honour, and issue, annual travel voucher allocations to shareholders. As before, such vouchers will not be valid for any galas or special events.

 

F&WHR traffic 11/8/21

Wednesday was forecast to be a rainy day with maximum temperatures of 18C. Today's Woodland Wanderer was fully booked and was the Gelert Explorer, the Glaslyn Venturer and the Back to Blaenau train. With all F&WHR services fully booked again today, the sense of offering just 1 train a day from Caernarfon and 9 from Porthmadog must surely be looked at again?

Lyd drew out the Glaslyn Venturer rake at 09:33 and shunted the rake to the WHR platform before detaching and setting back onto The Cob. This was the third day that No.130 has remained at Dinas for maintenance. David Lloyd George emerged from the yard around 09:40 and coupled to Lyd on The Cob before running round and coupling at 09:47. Prince arrived light engine at 09:45 to couple to the B set in the yard and shunt to the FR platform for the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer which left on time. The Glaslyn Venture left at 10:22 some 7 minutes late with Lyd inside this time.

Vale of Ffestiniog arrived with a short PW train in the WHR platform at 10:30 with headlights blazing because of the dull conditions. Blanche arrived at 10:40 light engine from Boston Lodge to extract the A set from the seawall siding. the rake was in the FR platform by 10:50 ready for the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer which left on time. The Funkey left at 10:50 with the grab wagon and a spoil wagon permitting, Merddin Emrys to arrive at 10:55 with the rake for the 11:40 Back to Blaenau train in the WHR platform at 10:55. The loco ran round promptly and departed on time. Welsh Pony was shunting the C set for the 12:10 Woodland Wanderer at 11:45.

 

This easterly view at 10:43 on 11/8/21 shows Vale of Ffestiniog with a short PW train for the WHR in the WHR platform while Blanche shunts the A set for the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

At 17:53 the final Woodland Wanderer returned at 17:53 with the C set. At 18:00 Welsh Pony ran round and coupled to the rake shunting it to the sidings at 18:04. The loco left light engine for the depot at 18:11 to conclude the day's activities.

Thursday's trains are busy again with Woodland Wanderer, Glaslyn Venturer, Back to Blaenau and Gelert Explorer all fully booked, reminding all about the need for extra services out of Caernarfon, which has only 1 train a day compared to 9 out of Porthmadog!

 

F&WHR traffic 10/8/21

Tuesday was forecast to have light showers with a maximum temperatures of 18C. Five of the six Woodland Wanderer trains were fully booked today with only the 15:25 having free compartments. The TWThO Back to Blaenau trains were fully booked until 2/9/21 but can now be booked until 30/10/21. The Glaslyn Venturer is fully booked today as is the Gelert Explorer. Both of these services have extended seasons until 30/10/21 but with decreasing frequency after 5/9/21.Both The Harbourmaster and the Snowdonia Star continue until 25/9/21 but will not operate over the WHR SuperPower weekend on 18-19/9/21as the rakes will be in use for WHRS Member specials.

David Lloyd George turned up first with the Glaslyn Venturer rake in the WHR platform. Prince arrived with the B set from Boston Lodge at 09:55 and ran round ready for the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer. Lyd arrived light engine into the WHR loop at 10:03 and coupled to the front of the Fairlie, reversing the order of previous use of this pair on this train. Prince departed at 10:07, some 7 minutes late. The Glaslyn Venturer
 departed at 10:19, some 4 minutes late. Blanche had shunted the A set into the FR platform by 11:00 and Merddin Emrys was running round the 11:40 TWThO Back to Blaenau set. Blanche departed on time at 11:05. At 11:35 Welsh Pony arrived to shunt the C set into the FR platform for the 12:10 Woodland Wanderer. The Back to Blaenau train left on time as did the 12:10 Woodland Wanderer.

 

This easterly view at 10:04 on 10/8/21 shows Lyd reversing onto the first Glaslyn Venturer whilst David Lloyd George is coupled inside. This reverses the order of the locos seen on this working on the previous two days. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The weather brightened up a little later in the afternoon. Welsh Pony returned from the final Woodland Wanderer at about 17:58 into the FR platform and ran round at 18:04 to shunt the rake to the yard at 18:08. The loco left light engine for the depot at 18:15 to close the activities for the day.

All Wednesday's trains are fully booked illustrating again the need to run more trains than 1 a day out of Caernarfon compared to 9 trains out of Porthmadog. The market from holidaymakers around Caernarfon and Anglesey/North Wales Coast seems to be ignored as there is no sign of any new service out of Caernarfon in the September/October timetable, let alone the current timetable. Not everyone is prepared to make a half hour extra drive to Porthmadog (in good conditions), plus the expensively built amenities of Caernarfon station are being underutilised and potential revenue, essential to recover from the pandemic, thrown away.

 

Llangollen extension/steam announcement

We are pleased to announce that this Friday (13/9/21) will see the return of steam-hauled trains through the Dee Valley, as well as the extension of services to Glyndyfrdwy. As well as steam-hauled services, we will also be operating a heritage railcar. Trains depart Llangollen every 55 minutes from 10:30 until 15:05, and from Glyndyfrdwy every 55 minutes from 11:12 until 15:47. Trains will also stop at Berwyn. This timetable will be in operation over the weekend too. Tickets can be purchased on the day from our Booking Offices. For more information of times and prices, drop us a message or enquire at our Booking Offices. Rostered locos are GWR No.3802 (Steam) and Class 109 'Wickham' (DMU).

This official confirmation has caused some confusion as the DMU referred has been previously advised to be operating mid week TWThO and previous announcements have suggested a diesel loco will also be diagrammed this weekend with a FSSuO steam/diesel loco hauled service. However the timetable suggests two trains. Llangollen sources have also suggested the service will be extended to Carrog from Friday 20/8/21. There is no official website with a timetable on it, surely an essential task.

 

North Wales main line

Work started on clearance of years of vegetation from Llandudno Junction freight yard on 9/8/21 allowing work to begin on relaying track. A test train is expected this Autumn for the slate waste traffic expected to be carried by lorry to this location from slate tips in various quarries.

The rebuilt Dolgarrog station might finally be reopened now that a WAG grant of £735k will help towards the cost of putting a wider bridge deck over the pipe deck on the Conwy bridge at Dolgarrog. See Daily Post story.

 

F&WHR traffic 9/8/21

Monday was forecast to be a day of sunny periods and 17C maximum temperatures at Porthmadog. The first four of the six Woodland Wanderer trains were sold out. Both Glaslyn Venturer trains were sold out but there were compartments available on the Gelert Explorer.

Lyd was standing in the WHR loop at 09:35 whilst David Lloyd George coupled to the Glaslyn Venturer
 rake in the yard. The Fairlie shunted the rake into the WHR platform by 09:51 and Lyd shunted onto the front to be followed by the Fairlie as pilot after Prince arrived light engine from Boston Lodge at 09:53. Prince coupled up to the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer B set in the FR platform and left at 10:03, a few minutes late. So it was another three engine morning at Porthmadog as No.130 was at Dinas receiving routine maintenance. The Glaslyn Venturer left on time.

Blanche turned up for the 11:05 and had shunted the rake to the platform by 10:45. The train left on time. Welsh Pony left on time at 12:10 after shunting the C set to the FR platform. At 17:50 Upnor Castle was waiting with two empty coal wagons in the yard for the arrival of the final return of the 15:25 Woodland Wanderer. Welsh Pony arrived back on this working at 17:59 into the FR platform, allowing the departmental working to leave at 18:00 for Minffordd Yard. The England engine ran round at 18:04 and shunted its rake to the sidings before departing for the depot at about 18:15 to conclude activity for the day.

Tuesday's bookings look quite heavy with 5/6 Woodland Wanderer trains already full and only the 15:25 with compartments free. The morning Glaslyn Venturer is fully booked but compartments are free on the afternoon working. The Back to Blaenau train is fully booked until its last day of service (2/9/21). The Gelert Explorer is fully booked Tuesday and Wednesday but Thursday's train has compartments free.

 

Llangollen latest

From 13/8/21 trains will be extended to Glyndyfrdwy with a DMU TWThO. A mixed steam and diesel loco hauled service will operate FSSuO. A team has been busy weeding the track in Carrog station area with the hope services will be extended there by the Bank Holiday weekend. Horizontal bracing has been erected at the new Corwen terminus to take the wind loading on the new canopy.

No.3802 has been passed fit for traffic following and evening test run on 7/8/21 and it is hoped will run from Friday 13/8/21. Diesel locos will also feature over the weekend making it a Mixed Traffic style start for the Llangollen Railway.

 

F&WHR traffic 8/8/21

Sunday dawned a bit grey at Porthmadog with 18C maximum forecast and light rain at times. The final two Woodland Wanderer trains were still bookable in the morning as were both Glaslyn Venturer trains but today's Gelert Explorer was fully booked.

At 09:40 Lyd was shunting the Glaslyn Venturer rake into the WHR while David Lloyd George stood light engine in the WHR run round. At 09:47 Prince arrived light engine to couple to the B set in the FR platform with 3 steam locos in the station. Lyd then coupled to the rear of David Lloyd George and the pair shunted onto the front of the Glaslyn Venturer as No.130 was probably unavailable for programmed maintenance. Two locos are deemed necessary for the timing load up the 1 in 40 sections between Hafod-y-llyn and Beddgelert. Prince left 3 minutes late but the double header left 6 minutes late waiting for late passengers who apparently arrived after the train had started.

 

This easterly view at 10:03 on 8/8/21 shows Prince departing Porthmadog on the first Woodland Wanderer whilst David Lloyd George and Lyd wait with the first Glaslyn Venturer. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Blanche arrived light engine at 10:29 and extracted the A set from the seawall siding. It was shunted to the FR platform for the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer. Boston Lodge released Welsh Pony at 10:25 to cross The Cob, arriving at Porthmadog at 11:30 to shunt the C set to the FR platform for the 12:10 Woodland Wanderer. At 13:38 Lyd and David Lloyd George returned from the watering point to couple up for the afternoon Glaslyn Venturer. The 14:20 Woodland Wanderer was fully booked but the 15:25 still had compartments free. Blanche arrived back at 13:47 with the return working of the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer. The 13:40 Glaslyn Venturer left at 13:49, some 9 minutes late.

Blanche left Porthmadog at 17:43 light engine after returning the A set. Welsh Pony arrived with Moelwyn on the front in the WHR platform at 18:15 so there may have been some problem earlier as Blanche's return was itself delayed. The C set was propelled out of the platform by Welsh Pony leaving Moelwyn in the platform at 18:20 to advance slowly to the signal under permissive working rules. As Welsh Pony drew the rake into the yard, Moelwyn departed for the depot at 18:23 At 18:29 Welsh Pony left light engine for the depot bringing to a close the day's activities.

 

This easterly view at 18:16 on 8/8/21 shows Moelwyn arrived Porthmadog piloting Welsh Pony on the final Woodland Wanderer of the day. The reason for Moelwyn's assistance is unknown but there may have been some problem earlier. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The last two Woodland Wanderer trains on Monday have free compartments. The afternoon Glaslyn Venturer has compartments available but the morning train is fully booked as is the Gelert Explorer.

 

WHHR timetable

The WHHR is operating its peak MFX service from 8/8/21 with 5 steam trains a day from 10:15-15:45. They have also released details of their diesel timetable for September/October until the end of the Half Term Holiday on 30/10/21. See WHHR timetable. A special event is occurring on Saturday 30/10/21 and Xmas trains are suggested depending on COVID developments.

 

Tickets released for September on 10/8/21

It seems that following WAG's COVID regulations announcement yesterday things will remain much as they are now into September, though supporters hope there might be the possibility of new services from Caernarfon given just one train a day operates from there compared with 9 daily from Porthmadog and services are often being fully booked in August.

F&WHR Announcement

We are well into August and trains are really busy. Thank you for your support if you have travelled; and also for playing your part in keeping our railway safe. We will be continuing to offer a pre-booked compartment service for the rest of the season with enhanced cleaning between trains to provide a safe environment for our customers. Staff will continue to wear masks at stations and you need to have yours as they are required in indoor spaces. We will be opening up services for September on Tuesday 10/8/21, with the exception of the weekend of 17-19/9/21 when we have some extra services for the AGM of the Welsh Highland Railway Society. Bookings for this weekend open on Friday 13/8/21.

We are looking forward to seeing society members over this weekend and although we are not running a full event weekend, we do have some extra activities. We are very pleased to welcome back locomotive K1, which will be in action over the weekend and there are opportunities to travel on K1 hauled trains. Spaces are limited and are booked by compartment. The Welsh Highland Society support the railway in many ways, both by volunteer working parties and with grants and loans for projects. For more information, visit their website. Bookings for our October services will open soon, including for our only event run over the weekend of 8-10/10/21. We will notify you when these are available.

 

F&WHR traffic 7/8/21

Saturday dawned with rain in Porthmadog and it was forecast to be a damp day with 16C maximum and showers forecast. The Woodland Wanderer was sold out except for the 15:25 train. The Harbourmaster and the Snowdonia Star through trains on the WHR were fully booked illustrating the advisability of operating more shorter/cheaper trains on the WHR like the six trains a day FR Woodland Wanderer trains out of Porthmadog. Caernarfon currently has just one out and back train service a day.

At 09:35 No.130 completed it's run round and coupled up to the Glaslyn Venturer rake it had shunted into the WHR platform while Blanche arrived in the FR platform for the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer. The Harbourmaster left at 09:43 a few minutes late and the Woodland Wanderer left on time. At 10:34 David Lloyd George arrived light engine for the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer, running into the yard to extract the A set from the seawall siding and shunt it to the FR platform. The train arrived in the platform at 10:41and left 4 minutes late at 11:09. Lyd arrived half an hour later and shunted the C set into the FR platform at 11:49 ready for the 12:10 Woodland Wanderer.

Porthmadog cleared up a little in the afternoon and the final Woodland Wanderer seats were taken so all trains today were fully booked. No.87 ran round the Snowdonia Star in the WHR platform by 13:35 ready for the 14:15 return working. David Lloyd George arrived back with the 11:05Woodland Wanderer ready for the 14:20 working. Lyd arrived back at 14:47 into the FR platform with the returning 12:10 Woodland Wanderer service. The final train was the returning 15:25 Woodland Wanderer that arrived back at 17:55 in the WHR platform. The train was propelled out onto The Cob at 18:01 before being dragged back to the yard where Lyd ran round. The loco then left for the depot at 18:18 to bring activities to a close for the day.

Sunday looks like a lighter traffic day on the F&WHR with four of the six Woodland Wanderer train still bookable as well as both Glaslyn Venturer trains. However the Gelert Explorer has spare compartments as does the TWThO Back to Blaenau service next week. In fact the first bookable working of the latter is Friday 26/8/21!

 

Welsh COVID rule changes from 7/8/21

In the latest 3 weekly statement of WAG's response to the COVID pandemic Mark Drakeford has set out on 6/8/21 a further relaxation of the rules to Level Zero but with a caution about further variants appearing. He also said it would be at least six weeks before any further relaxation of the rules in Wales will be possible in order to review the effect of changes that take place from 7/8/21. People will still be required to wear masks in public places like shops, buses and, crucially for the F&WHR, on trains. Masks are no longer are required in pubs and restaurants. The laws on indoor social distancing will end and pubs/restaurants can end table service easing the load on Spooners and other F&WHR outlets. See BBC report.

 

F&WHR traffic 6/8/21

Friday saw damp conditions on the F&WHR with 17C forecast so ideal for train loadings. The Woodland Wanderer is fully booked as were the through WHR Snowdonia Star and Harbourmaster trains.

Prince departed on the B rake on the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer. At 10:07 Upnor Castle shunted the A set into the FR platform and later departed light engine at 10:17 towards Boston Lodge. Lyd turned up light engine at 10:42 to couple to the rake in the FR platform to form the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer. At 11:31 David Lloyd George arrived light engine for the 12:10 Woodland Wanderer running into the yard to extract the rake and shunt it to the FR platform. The train arrived in the platform over half an hour before departure, which came on time.

No.87 arrived at 12:17 with the Snowdonia Star through WHR service from Caernarfon. The loco ran round at 12:43. Prince departed on time with the 13:10 Woodland Wanderer. No.130 returned with The Harbourmaster around 16:50 and shunted its rake to the yard. Lyd also returned with the 14:20 Woodland Wanderer and shunted it to the yard. At 17:02 No.130 coupled up to the rear of Lyd in the yard to travel back across The Cob together, departing at 17:11. David Lloyd George turned up at 17:50 with the return working Woodland Wanderer in the WHR platform. At 17:56 the loco propelled the rake out of the station and dragged it back into the yard. After running round, the loco left light engine for the depot at 18:12 to conclude activities for the day.

Saturday's Woodlands Wanderer trains still have some availability with the 14:20/15:25 bookable. The Harbourmaster and Snowdonia Star are fully booked giving further evidence to support the need for additional trains out of Caernarfon. Saturday has 7 trains out of  Porthmadog but only 1 train out of Caernarfon. A 10:00 or 12:00 short trip from Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu could be passed by the Gelert Explorer and spare locos and coaches are available to support such a service.

 

FR on Channel 4

On Friday's series premiere of Epic Wales father & daughter team Dave & Emily High steam through the spectacular Vale of Ffestiniog on Welsh Pony. The programme is on Channel 4 at 20:00. To watch the trailer, click here.

 

NLHF Round 2 Advocacy YouTube 1/6/21

Click on the YouTube window to watch 9 mins 43 seconds of video covering the presentation for Round 2 of the F&WHR's National Lottery Heritage Fund application. This YouTube was published on 1/6/21) and was taken by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a 4K digital camcorder. It is best watched in 1080p HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on the YouTube link.

 

Llangollen latest

As volunteers get ready for trains returning to Glyndyfrdwy station in a week they have planned another working day at the Station next Monday (9/8/21) if anyone is free to help. Hot and cold beverages will be supplied. Just bring a packed lunch. Gardening, painting, various little jobs and general tidy up are the order of the day. Volunteers will be there from 10.15 and would be welcome to operate the tea room. Trains will be terminating at Glyndyfrdwy MX from Friday-Sunday 13-19/8.21 so if you can help on any of these days please contact Wendy Bailey on 01490 450271.

Trains will be loco hauled by steam and diesel locos from 13/8 and the service will be extended to Carrog within a few weeks. The Llangollen's only steam loco No.3802 will not be available for a week at the end of September if they are running Autumn services as it is due to appear at the GCR Gala from 30/9/21-3/10/21. Corwen's new station will not open until next March.

 

F&WHR traffic 5/8/21

Thursday dawned a little cloudy in Porthmadog with heavy showers forecast and maximum temperatures of 17C, good weather for the railway! All trains today are fully booked leading to suggestions that the F&WHR could offer more than one train a day out of Caernarfon compared to the 9 out of Porthmadog! Spare coaches and spare engines are available for a Caernarfon-Waunfawr/Rhyd Ddu service while the Gelert Explorer service lays over at Beddgelert for 1.5 hours e.g. a 10:00 to Rhyd Ddu that crosses the Gelert explorer there followed by a 13:00 to Rhyd Ddu that crosses the return working of the Gelert Explorer there. This would also offer the Gelert Explorer passengers a more authentic view as they pass trains going the other way.

No.130 arrived light engine in the yard at 09:30 to shunt the Glaslyn Venturer rake to the WHR platform. With the shunt complete the loco ran round at 09:42 and was coupled up by 09:48 ready to depart with the 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer. Blanche shunted its rake into the FR platform at 09:55 for the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer. This left 3 mins late with the weather clouding over. Lyd arrived later and shunted the 1 set to the FR platform, running round at 10:49 and coupling up at 10:52 for the 11:05 departure which left on time. David Lloyd George arrived l at 10:58 hauling the Back to Blaenau set into the WHR platform. The loco ran round at 11:01and coupled up at 11:05, clearing The Cob for the departure of 11:05 Woodland Wanderer that left on time. Prince departed on time at 12:10 hauling the C set with the third Woodland Wanderer is heavy read.

Blanche returned at 12:36. No.130 was back at 12:57 and ran to the yard to water at 13:01 allowing Blanche to run round at 13:03 for the 13:15 Woodland Wanderer. No.130 ran round at 13:28 and coupled up for the 13:40 service which left on time as Lyd arrived with the returning 11:05 Woodland Wanderer. Lyd ran round by 14:15 ready for the 14:20 Woodland Wanderer which left a few minute late in very wet weather. Prince returned at 14:52 with the 12:10 Woodland Wanderer. The weather cleared up a bit later as Prince ran round for the 15:25 departure which left on time.

Blanche arrived back in the rain and at 16:00 propelled its rake to the signal box before leaving light engine for Boston Lodge at 16:18 after David Lloyd George had arrived hauling the return working of the Back to Blaenau train. The Fairlie ran round at 16:37, was coupled and after Lyd arrived, departed ECS for Boston Lodge at 16:50. Lyd ran round at 16:56 and propelled the rake to the yard at 17:00 before departing at 17:06 for the depot. Prince arrived back into the FR platform at 17:55 on the C set with the return working of the 15:25. The England engine ran round at 18:04 and shunted the rake to the yard at 18:10 before departing light engine for the depot at 18:14 to close the activities for the day.

Friday's Woodland Wanderer is fully booked as is The Harbourmaster and the Snowdonia Star. All trains are fully booked for the second day in a row! This is further evidence that additional trains could be offered from Caernarfon to secure additional income for the F&WHR as it recovers from a year with minimal income caused by the pandemic. With many other Heritage Railways considering Autumn Galas and Santa Specials, the F&WHR must soon decide if it can organise such events and a Yuletide service from 26/12/21-1/1/22 within Welsh COVID regulations.

 

F&WHR traffic 4/8/21

Porthmadog started the day sunny and mild with maximum temperatures of 20C forecast. The 15:25 Woodland Wanderer still has some compartments free. The TWThO Back to Blaenau trains are fully booked until 26/8/21 and the only two days when compartments are free in the current timetable are 31/8/21 and 1/9/21. The first Glaslyn Venturer shows 'call to book' but the second has compartments free, however both trains are sold out on Thursday. The Gelert Explorer has compartments free today but is fully booked Thursday.

No.130 arrived with the Glaslyn Venturer set from Boston Lodge at 09:35. Prince arrived light engine at 09:44 to shunt the yard for the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer. The train was propelled into the platform by 09:50 and left on time as did the Glaslyn Venturer. Lyd arrived at 10:36 to shunt the seawall siding and extract the A set. The train was propelled into the FR platform at 10:43. David Lloyd George arrived light engine at 10:49 to draw out the Back to Blaenau set. The rake was shunted to the WHR platform by 11:04, clearing The Cob with seconds to spare for the departure of the 11:05 which departed on time. Blanche arrived by 11:30 and shunted the yard to extract the C set which was shunted into the platform at 11:52. The 12:10 Woodland Wanderer left on time.

The 15:25 Woodland Wanderer was fully booked by midday. No.130 returned by 13:10 and Prince departed on time at 13:15 with the Woodland Wanderer. As soon as it had cleared the shunt limit No.130 ran round and coupled up ready for the 13:40 Glaslyn Venturer which left on time. Lyd arrived back at 13:39 with the return working of the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer and No.130 departed on time with the 13:40 Glaslyn Venturer. Lyd departed on time with the 14:20 Woodland Wanderer. Blanche departed on time with the 15:25 Woodland Wanderer.

 

This westerly view on 4/8/21 shows No.130 departing Porthmadog on the afternoon Glaslyn Venturer. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Prince arrived back with the return working of the Woodland Wanderer 13:15 at 15:50 and propelled the rake to the signalbox before dragging it back into the sidings and running round at 16:18. The loco waited for David Lloyd George to arrive on the return working of the Back to Blaenau at 16:21. The loco ran round and departed to Boston Lodge at 16:36. No.130 was back in the yard at 16:40 having propelled the Glaslyn Venturer into the sidings, Lyd arrived back at 16:50 into the WHR platform with the returning 14:20 Woodland Wanderer. No.130 shunted onto the Back to Blaenau rake in the FR platform unusually at 16:52 and at 16:57 hauled the rake ECS to Boston Lodge.

At 17:14 Lyd propelled its rake out of the WHR platform up to the starter signal. The signaller gave the all clear once the  No.130 was in Boston Lodge and the ECS left for Boston Lodge at 17:19 with Lyd again propelling the rake. Blanche arrived back in the FR platform at 17:58. The loco ran round and left at 18:08 and shunted the C set to the sidings at 18:11 before leaving light engine at 18:16 to bring an end to the day's activities.

Thursday's Woodland Wanderer was already fully booked by the evening as was the Glaslyn Venturer and the Gelert Explorer. The Back to Blaenau trains are booked almost to the end of the season. There is not a seat to be had on the F&WHR on Thursday, suggesting that the F&WHR is missing out on potential revenue that could be earned from a short out and back service from Caernarfon to Waunfawr/Rhyd Ddu whilst the Gelert Explorer lays over in Beddgelert for 1.5 hours. Such a train could use spare rolling stock and a small engine but a double Fairlie would be ideal. The FR only requires 4 small engines at most of the 7 normally available at Boston Lodge and even given maintenance spare and a rescue loco in light steam, there is scope for one loco to be out based at Dinas.

 

Young Volunteers Special 3/8/21

Blanche hauled the annual Young Volunteers Special to Tan-y-bwlch late in the evening on 3/8/21 consisting of the FR's green livery mess van No.1111.

 

F&WHR traffic 3/8/21

Porthmadog started with sunny periods on Tuesday with 21C maximum temperatures forecast. Of today's 6 Woodland Wander trains only the 15:25 had compartments available to book. The Glaslyn Venturer was fully booked as is the Gelert Explorer. Due to cancellations, there is some limited availability on Thursday's Back to Blaenau service dated 5/8/21 but otherwise the service is fully booked until 26/8/21 with compartments available on the last 3 days of the service 31/8-2/9/21 only!

No.130 arrived at Porthmadog at 09:26 Blanche was attached to the rear. Once the locos were uncoupled Blanche shunted the B set to the FR platform for the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer departure by 09:37. Merddin Emrys arrived at 09:40 with the Van No.1 (the curly roofed van), a bogie coach No.15 and a four wheeler coach No.9 at 09:40 for an unknown purpose. Once the Fairlie had entered the yard this allowed the Garratt to extract the Glaslyn Venturer set from the yard and shunt it to the WHR platform for the 10:15 departure. The train was in the platform by 09:47 and the loco ran round and coupled by 09:55. Lyd started across The Cob light engine at 09:56 arriving in the yard at 10:02 and blocking the path of the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer departure which left at 10:03, some 3 minutes late as a result. Briefly four locos were present at Harbour station.

The Fairlie shunted around the yard light engine at about 10:10 after watering to collect the short rake with Van No.1 and then shunted it to the FR platform for some special event, possibly the Trustee's Inspection train. No.130 left on time while participants gathered on the platform for the special train. Lyd was shunting the yard at 10:21 and the Fairlie left with the short special train at 10:22. The A set was extracted from the seawall siding at 10:35 and Lyd propelled it into the FR platform a few minutes later almost half an hour before the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer was due to depart.

David Lloyd George approached at 10:50 across The Cob and stopped at the king point for a while before proceeding into the WHR platform at 10:53 with the Back to Blaenau set for 11:40 and promptly ran round. Meanwhile at 11:00 a steam train with a short rake, possibly Merddin Emrys, emerged from Boston Lodge and then propelled its rake into the Old Loco Shed sidings. The 11:05 left on time with the special working safely locked in the Old Loco Shed Yard. At 11:32 Prince arrived in the yard to extract the C set for the 12:10 service. However, due to some problem (possibly awaiting late passengers) David Lloyd George was still in the WHR platform at 11:50 so Prince was given the road to shunt to the 12:10 Woodland Wanderer into the FR platform. The Back to Blaenau service was delayed by a lady who hurt herself and departed at 11:55, some 15 minutes late. This had the potential to cause all sorts of reactions with two trains already up the line and a special at the Old Loco Shed, not to mention Prince set to follow 15 minutes later. The 12:10 Woodland Wanderer left on time somewhat surprisingly due to the congestion along the line caused by the 15 minute late departure of the Back to Blaenau train.

The late running Back to Blaenau service arrived at Tan-y-bwlch at 12:33 and departed at 12:40, back on time after presumably running at line speed rather than the coal saving 15 mph encouraged for economy reasons after the pandemic closures. Blanche was back at Porthmadog running round at 12:57 as No.130 returned with the first Glaslyn Venturer train. Merddin Emrys arrived back from the Old Loco Shed with the short special rake at 13:06 into the FR platform, permissively as Blanche was already in the platform. Once in the FR platform this allowed No.130 to run round. The Fairlie propelled its rake back to the signalbox at 13:10 and then hauled it into the sidings. Blanche departed on time with the 13:15 Woodland Wanderer. By midday all Woodland Wanderer trains were fully booked and so the F&WHR was sold out again.

Merddin Emrys was shunting its short rake again at 15:35 and Lyd arrived back with the  returning 11:05 at 13:39. This left the section clear for Merddin Emrys to propel its rake back to the Old Loco Shed a few minutes later. The Glaslyn Venturer left 6 minutes late at 13:46. The 15:25 had arrived back by 18:30 and Prince was watering and running round. Prince shunted the C set into the sidings at 18:42 and departed light engine for Boston Lodge at 18:47 to conclude the day's activities. 

Wednesday's Woodland Wanderer trains are sold out except for the 15:25. The morning Glaslyn Venturer is sold up but the afternoon train has free compartments. The Back to Blaenau service is fully booked until 26/8/21. The Gelert Explorer is now bookable on Wednesday probably due to cancellations.

 

Llangollen Berwyn Tunnel works complete

Over the last 4 weeks, a small group of volunteers led by the Llangollen Railway Trust's PW supervisor has remedied all the issues in the Berwyn Tunnel so that trains services can soon be restored to Glyndyfrdwy. They have had to remove hundreds of rusted Pandrol clips where the track gauge was wrong and replace with all new fittings and also changed two badly worn rails. One of the hardest jobs was digging out and replacing eight broken concrete sleepers in the confined environment of the tunnel, heavy backbreaking work even in ideal conditions. Volunteers have achieved another milestone towards running trains again to Carrog. It seems that if the railway passes inspection, the opening date for Glyndyfrdwy services is likely to be 9/8/21 as this week it has been confirmed the DMU service will be MX to Berwyn until 8/8/21.

 

Welsh grant funding crisis

It seems that leaving the EU was not the cleverest thing to do! A WAG minister has revealed in the Financial Times that Boris Johnson's government has so far failed to replace the substantial support previously offered to Wales by the EU. Such support helped build the WHR and might have helped other tourist orientated projects like the Bala Lake Railway's extension into Bala Town. Wales has lost £375 million of annual EU grants and, despite the Prime Minister's promises, is now in receipt of just £10 million. That's a huge drop in one year says Vaughan Gething, WAG's Economy Minister.

 

Mainline railways

Class 197s DMUs are now on test in North Wales. No.197001 has followed No.197002 , identified by a small '001' under the driver's window. No.197001 was tested on Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog branches on 29-30/7/21. these variously described as 'ugly end door SR lookalikes' can run in multiple with corridor connections which is just as well as they have been criticised for having only have 1 toilet per two car unit! Roll on the loco hauled three set Mk4 Holyhead-Cardiff service promised 'this summer' (currently only one set in service).

 

F&WHR traffic 2/8/21

Porthmadog was forecast to have sunny periods and a mild maximum of 20C today, ideal weather for the railway. Only the last two Woodland Wanderer afternoon trains had space in the morning. The Glaslyn Venturer this afternoon is fully booked as was the Gelert Explorer.

No.130 was ready to depart in the platform at 09:55 with its bright LED headlights turned on. Prince departed on time with the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer hauling the B set. No.130 also departed on time. Blanche arrived light engine at 10:24 and shunted the A set from the seawall siding to the FR platform, arriving at 10:33 with half an hour to spare before the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer departure which occurred on time. At 11:41 David Lloyd George extracted the A set from the yard and propelled the rake into the FR yard at 11:45 for the 12:10 Woodland Wanderer.

Prince arrived back at 12:39 with the return working of the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer. No.130 arrived back at 12:57 and the loco detached. The loco detached and hung round on The Cob whilst Prince ran round at 13:15 allowing No.130 into the yard to water minutes later. Prince left at 13:20 with the 13:15 Woodland Wanderer some 5 minutes late.

David Lloyd George departed on the 15:25 Woodland Wanderer a few minutes late at 15:28. Prince arrived back at 15:54. Signallers often come out of the signalbox to change points manually for the seawall siding and the other two sidings to speed up run round moves and shunts. Currently the signalbox only controls 5 points, namely the two WHR loop points, the king point and the FR yard crossover. It might be helpful to fit point motors to the three sets of points at the east end of Harbour Station Yard as already fitted to the other 5 and just leave the points by the watering point under local manual control. At 16:00 Prince propelled the B set out of the FR platform and drew it back into the yard for overnight stabling. The England then ran round and left light engine at 16:10 for the depot.

No.130 arrived back with the return working of the 14:20 Glaslyn Venturer at 16:18. At 16:25 the rake was shunted to the yard. The loco left light engine for the depot at 16:30. Blanche arrived back at 16:53 with the return working of the 14:20 Woodland Wanderer into the FR platform. The loco ran round at 17:02 and shunted the rake to the seawall siding at 17:07 before heading off light engine to the depot at 17:13. David Lloyd George arrived back at 17:49 on the return working of 15:25 Woodland Wanderer into the FR platform. The loco ran round at 18:01 and shunted the rake to a spare siding at 18:06 before leaving light engine for the depot bringing an end to the day's activities.

The first four Woodland Wanderer trains on Tuesday are fully booked with compartments available on the 14:20/15:25 only. The Glaslyn Venturer is fully booked but compartments are available on Wednesday. The Back to Blaenau train is fully booked for the first 4 weeks of August with availability from 31/8/21! The Gelert Explorer is fully booked Tuesday and Wednesday but seats are available Thursday.

 

Llangollen Railway expands

From 3/8/21 the Llangollen Railway will run trains MX using their heritage DMU, which gives a great driver's-eye-view of the line and the Dee Valley. Trains are running between Llangollen and Berwyn. Services depart Llangollen every hour from 11:00 until 16:00, and from Berwyn every hour from 11:25 until 16:25. Return tickets cost £8 for adults, £7 for seniors and £4 for children. Tickets are available to purchase on the day. The railway hopes to extend services further up the line in the next few weeks, more details will be released as soon as trackwork etc. are completed and passed fit. Both diesel and steam locos and a set of coaches are ready to run but cannot be used until the run round is available. The Llangollen Railway is not envisaging using top and tail operation, presumably due to costs.

 

Main Line Railways

TfW has placed a contract to alter 30 Mk4 coaches it has purchased to work with Class 67 locos. See Rail Advent story. The four 5 car sets (20 coaches) should be available for revenue use by Spring 2022. Three sets will soon be working between Holyhead and Cardiff. As TfW has announced the new sets will be used on Swansea-Manchester, there is some concern that North Wales is losing out again with Holyhead-Manchester loco hauled until recently, not mentioned and also Holyhead-Birmingham International too served by loco hauled trains within the last 20 years. As TfW has bought 40 Mk 4 coaches, there are sufficient to cover some of these North Wales diagrams even with maintenance spares and plenty more are available!

Currently the single direct loco hauled TfW train departs Holyhead at 0534 and arrives in Cardiff at 0959, with the return train departing Cardiff at 1712, reaching Holyhead at 2144. The additional two services promised for 'this summer' do not yet appear to have been introduced though occasionally the rake performs a maintenance move from Holyhead to Crewe operating as a relief SO working.

MPs have determined that HS2 may dis-benefit the Welsh economy. Already Euston-Holyhead trains will not be allowed to use HS2 and the North Wales Coast line does not even feature on HS2 rout maps! See BBC story.

TfW has announced the winners of the Magnificent Train Journey competition to name trains. The chosen names are given here and some replicate F&WHR loco names and names used on Class 37s in North Wales the 1990s.

 

F&WHR traffic 1/8/21

Sunday dawned a mild day in Porthmadog with sunny periods and a maximum temperature of 19C forecast. Surprisingly, all six Woodland Wanderer trains were bookable today as were the Glaslyn Venturer (the 10:15 showing the usual 'call to book' message) and Gelert Explorer trains, suggesting some holidaymakers are travelling home today.

No.130 had hauled the Glaslyn Venturer rake into the WHR platform by 09:35 and had coupled up by 09:40 ready for the 10:15 service. Prince arrived light engine at 09:35 to couple directly to the B set in the FR platform, departing on time as did No.130. Merddin Emrys arrived light engine at 10:30 and shunted the A set from the seawall siding into the FR platform by 10:40 ready for the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer which left on time. The 12:10 was sold out by mid morning but the three afternoon trains were still bookable. David Lloyd George arrived light engine at 11:31 to extract the C set from the sidings and form the 12:10 Woodland Wanderer. The train was propelled into the platform by 11:40 a good half hour before departure. The 12:10 left on time in sunshine.

Prince arrived back at 12:31 and ran round at 13:05 to form the 13:15. No.130 arrived back at 11:57. The loco uncoupled and ran to the yard to water at 13:00. After taking water the loco waited in the yard for the 13:15 Woodland Wanderer depart at 13:20, some 5 minutes late. The loco ran round at 13:25 and coupled up at 13:30 ready for the 13:40 departure. Departure was on time and coincided with the arrival Merddin Emrys with the return of the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer.

 

This easterly view at 13:40 on 1/8/21 shows No.130 departing Porthmadog on the afternoon Glaslyn Venturer whilst Merddin Emrys arrived in the FR platform on the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

At 17:15 Merddin Emrys was shunting the A set to the seawall siding and left light engine for the depot 3 minutes later. David Lloyd George arrived at 17:50 on the return working of the 15:25 Woodland Wanderer. The Fairlie ran round at 18:03 and shunted the rake to the yard before leaving at 18:12 light engine to the depot.

Monday's Woodland Wanderer still have availability on 4/6 trains. The morning Glaslyn Venturer is sold out but the afternoon train has compartments available. However, the Gelert Explorer is fully booked for three days ahead with Thursday 5/8/21 being the first day compartments are available. This shows suppressed demand at Caernarfon which has only 1 train a day compared to 9 from Porthmadog. The F&WHR could be making money by carrying passengers looking for a shorter/cheaper ride e.g. Caernarfon-Waunfawr/Rhyd Ddu. Such a train could use spare coaches or the Back to Blaenau set on the days it does not operate on the FR. The FR also has a surfeit of small engines and two double Fairlies and only requires at most 4 on any day. A double Fairlie could easily manage a medium length train on the easier grades to Rhyd Ddu. It might even be possible to make two return trips to Waunfawr whilst the Gelert Explorer lays over at Beddgelert.

 

Cambrian Heritage Railways

A tamper is visiting the CHR in late August to complete tamping of their track extension from Gasworks Bridge, Oswestry to the new terminus with run round and platform at Weston Wharf, south of Oswestry. With the railway recently having received Class 73 73129 (ex G&WR numbered E6036 and running on diesel power!) and two Mk1 coaches that have been on loan to other railways, it must be ready to open its extension soon.

 

Llangollen Railway

Carrog tea rooms are open Friday-Sunday in advance of a hoped for train service in August. The station has had a tidy up and the white lining on the platform edge repainted. The four coach set (of about 15 coaches retained by the railway) to be used on loco hauled trains in August has had a through clean both inside and out. Further along the line at the new Corwen terminus the station shop was open on 31/7/21. Guided tours of the site have been suspended while the longitudinal steel beams for the canopy are being erected. Work has also started on restoring coach No.4316 which will take a couple of years.

It seems to be taking longer to restore the line to Glyndyfrdwy than originally envisaged as the 'Talking Timetable' suggests the current 11:00-16:00 FSSuO DMU shuttle to Berwyn will continue until Sunday 8/8/21.

 

Pete Waterman calls for support for heritage railways 31/7/21

Pete Waterman and Bill Oddie are calling for the public to support the heritage railways sector, suggesting some are on a financial knife edge and may close as a result of COVID cashflow problems. The report in the Daily Mirror features the WHR.

 

F&WHR traffic 31/7/21

Porthmadog dawned dull with a forecast to be cloudy maximum of 19C so probably a good day for the F&WHR. Only 5 Woodland Wanderer trains are shown today but already 4 trains were fully booked in the morning. The 15:25 slot was used for a commemorative staff special to celebrate the life of a long time volunteer. Today is the first run of The Harbourmaster to Caernarfon (calling to pick up only at Beddgelert). It is already fully booked. This train runs as the 09:40 from Porthmadog using the Glaslyn Venturer rake and hauled by a Garratt. The train picks up at Beddgelert at 10:20 and offers a 2 hour break in Caernarfon for lunch or to visit local amenities. A pre order hamper service is avilable as on the Gelert Explorer. The Snowdonia Star also runs for the first time today with a 10:00 departure from Caernarfon passing The Harbourmaster at Rhyd Ddu and offering a 2 hour break at Porthmadog. Food hampers are bookable in advance. As usual there are some irreconcilable difference between times given in advertising. The Harbourmaster is advertised as a 2.5 hour journey from Porthmadog which suggests an arrival time of 12:10 in Caernarfon whereas the departure from Beddgelert at 10:20 with a 1.5 hour journey suggests an 11:50 arrival in Caernarfon.

As it was a dull day No.130 arrived 09:11 light engine with headlight blazing to extract the Glaslyn Venturer
 rake from the yard. At 09:15 the rake was shunted to the WHR platform, arriving at 09:22. The loco then ran round and coupled up at 09:30 ready for the departure which left on time at 09:40. The loco running plate may have been changed to reflect the new train name but it would have to be changed back on Sunday. Prince arrived at the same time into the FR platform to couple up with the C set left overnight in the platform. This formed the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer which left on time. Blanche arrived at 10:23 to extract the A set from the seawall siding and form the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer. The rake was shunted to the FR platform at 10:28 and arrived at 10:32 over half an hour before the booked departure time. The train left at 11:10, some 5 minutes late. Boston Lodge released David Lloyd George at 11:30 which arrived to shunt the C set at 11:35 for the 12:10 departure which left on time.

 

This easterly view at 09:41 on 31/7/21 shows No.130 hauling the first Harbourmaster with Prince arriving light engine for the 19:00 Woodland Wanderer. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

No.87 arrived at 12:18 with the first arrival of the Snowdonia Star and staff set about cleaning the windows of the Observation saloons. The loco detached and ran to the yard to water at 12:26. Prince returned with the C set at 12:36. At 12:47 No.87 emerged from the yard and ran round its train, coupling up at 12:55. Prince ran round at 12:59 ready for the 13:15 Woodland Wanderer. No.87 propelled its rake back a few yards so it was clear of the starter signal as the train had stopped a few yards short when it arrived.

 

This easterly view at 12:29 on 31/7/21 shows No.87 going for water after hauling the first Snowdonia Star and bringing the Gelert Explorer rake to Porthmadog for the first time as well. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Prince departed on the 13:15 on time. With the 14:20 fully booked by lunchtime, it would seem that dropping the 15:25 Woodland Wanderer today was the wrong decision as all five trains were fully booked and three locos/sets were required either way! Blanche arrived back with the A set at 13:38. No.87 departed 3 minutes late at 14:18 and Blanche departed a few minutes late. David Lloyd George arrived back at 14:47 and as the 15:25 had been cancelled. This train was to be disposed. Strangely. A large crowd of people gathered on the platform at 15:15 to watch the departure of David Lloyd George driven by the General Manager with the staff special which departed at 15:28 carrying a headboard presumably celebrating the life of long time volunteer 'Rod'. At 15:54 Prince returned ran round and shunted its rake to the sidings at 16:06 before departing light engine for the depot shortly afterwards.

No.130 arrived back at 16:34 with the return working of The Harbourmaster. The loco shunted the rake to the sidings at 16:50. Blanche arrived at 17:05 with the return working of the 14:20 and No.130 left light engine for the depot at 17:07. The loco ran round at 17:18 and disposed the stock to the sidings at 17:21 leaving light engine for the depot a few minutes later. The staff train left Tan-y-bwlch about 17:35 and arrived at Porthmadog at 18:10 and arrived back at Porthmadog at 18:14. The loco ran round and departed light engine to the depot at 18:25 bringing the day's events to a close.

Sunday will see all six Woodland Wanderer trains in service and six trains now appear to be the norm. Both of Sunday's Glaslyn Venturer trains are bookable as is the Gelert Explorer. The popular TWThO Back to Blaenau train is fully booked for the next four weeks and the first bookable trains are the last three on 31/8/21 and 1-2/9/21! The Snowdonia Star and The Harbourmaster are showing good availability for most FSO dates in the weekends to come. The short out and back trips on the FR have proved very successful with up to six a day regularly being sold out. Surely it is time to try such a service on the WHR between Caernarfon and Waunfawr/Rhyd Ddu.

 

The Harbourmaster and Snowdonia Star FSO working timetables 31/7/21

These timetables apply Friday and Saturday Only and trains make use of the Glaslyn Venturer and Gelert Explorer rakes from 31/7/21-4/9/21 as both those trains now run Fridays and Saturdays Excepted until 5/9/21. After this date the Autumn timetable, still to be released, will apply. The timings suggest the trains will operate at the normal 25 mph linespeed rather than the reduced speed of recent services designed to save coal and give passengers longer to appreciate the views on the4 shorter journeys offered.

 

Harbourmaster

Boston Lodge dep 09:05
Porthmadog arr 09:10
Porthmadog dep 09:40
Beddgelert dep 10:20
Rhyd Ddu 10:55
Caernarfon arr 12:10
Caernarfon dep 14:10
Rhyd Ddu 15:25
Beddgelert dep 16:00
Porthmadog arr 16:50
Porthmadog dep 17:00
Boston Lodge arr 17:05

 

Snowdonia Star

Dinas 09:15
Caernarfon arr 09:30
Caernarfon dep 10:00
Rhyd Ddu 10:55
Porthmadog arr 12:15
Porthmadog dep 14:15
Rhyd Ddu 15:25
Caernarfon arr 16:30
Caernarfon dep 16:45
Dinas 17:00

There is a 2 hour lay over in Caernarfon/Porthmadog for people to visit the town's amenities, buy food etc. Trains pass at Rhyd Ddu. Work is still in progress on these timetables. Any corrections gratefully received.

 

F&WHR traffic 30/7/21

Porthmadog started a little grey today with 17C maximum temperatures so an ideal day for the F&WHR to look for high passenger numbers. The signalling had been restored by the end of the day and the ETS system pioneered by Roland Doyle between Pont Croesor and Porthmadog had been signed off as part of the process. Several signal engineers were noted leaving the signalbox at 18:30 yesterday having restored the signalling after a hard day's work which had seen the 11:40 cancelled to free up a path. Today, Harbour station was decorated in bunting for a special event. All six Woodland Wanderer trains were fully booked today as was the Gelert Explorer. No Glaslyn Venturer or Back to Blaenau trains were planned. The Tan-y-bwlch webcam was back in action but the Minffordd webcam was still off-line in the morning.

Lyd left at 10:00 with the B set on the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer. The Glaslyn Venturer rake had been shunted into the WHR platform by 10:00 by Upnor Castle in association with a special event. Upnor Castle then shunted off the rake to the seawall siding at 10:12 and extract the A set for the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer. This arrived in the FR platform at 10:26. Upnor Castle then shunted light engine to the WHR loop at 10:28 before proceeding onto the WHR at 10:35 after a discussion with the signalling engineers presumably about the newly installed internet based signalling system. Blanche arrived at 10:41 to couple up to the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer which left on time. Upnor Castle was back in the carriage sidings by 11:05 presumably having tested out the new signalling on the approaches to the WHR loop from the Pont Croesor direction.

The last movement of the day was the arrival of the return working of the 15:25 C set hauled by Welsh Pony which occurred about 18:10. By this time the Glaslyn Venturer rake had been removed from the WHR platform along with the bunting.

The F&WHR are dropping the 15:25 from Saturday's Woodland Wanderer schedule and all the rest are available to book except the 11:05. The TWThO Back to Blaenau trains are fully booked for the next four weeks so the first available train is 31/8/21! The Glaslyn Venturer is FSX from 1/8/21 and all trains are bookable. The Harbourmaster uses the same rake and begins on 31/7/21 with the first two trips of the FSO service to Caernarfon, calling to pick up at Beddgelert, are already fully booked. The Gelert Explorer is now FSX from 1/8-5/9/21. All trains are bookable. The same rake is being used for the FSO Snowdonia Star service and the first trip on 31/7/21 is fully booked.

 

F&WHR traffic 29/7/21

Porthmadog was forecast sunny periods today with 19C maximum temperatures forecast. The lightning strike yesterday has hit the webcams which were not operational from 09:00. Today's Woodland Wanderer is already fully booked as is the Back to Blaenau service, both today's Glaslyn Venturer trains and the Gelert Explorer too. In fact every F&WHR train today is fully booked yet again. The Porthmadog webcam was back in action by midday but the other two cameras were still not working. The 11:40 Back to Blaenau was cancelled due to signalling problems with several sections of automatic signalling fried by lightning strikes. This was probably the first cancellation of the intensive 9 train service out of Porthmadog.

Prince arrived back at Porthmadog with the B set at 12:34 hauling the return working of the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer and ran round at 12:50 ready for the 13:15 Woodland Wanderer. No.130 arrived with the fully booked Glaslyn Venturer at 13:00. The Garratt ran round and coupled up at 13:10. Prince departed 4 minutes late at 13:19. Blanche arrived 13:43 with the return working of the 11:05 and No.130 departed at the same time, some 3 minutes late with the 13:40 Glaslyn Venturer. Blanche ran round at 14:00 and was coupled up and ready to go at 14:05, leaving on time at 14:20.

At 15:12 Upnor Castle appeared in the yard. Palmerston ran round its train at 15:17 and coupled up at 15:18 ready for the 15:25 Woodland Wanderer which left 8 minutes late at 15:33. At 15:54 Upnor Castle emerged from the yard with two empty Bocoal wagons and waited for the arrival of Prince at 15:57 into the FR platform before departing for Minffordd Yard. Prince then left light engine at 16:10.

No.130 arrived back at 16:25 with the return working of the 13:40 Glaslyn Venturer and at 16:35 the rake was shunted to the FR yard before the loco departed light engine for the depot at 16:42. Blanche arrived back at 17:06 with the return working of the 14:20 into the WHR platform. Blanche ran round promptly and shunted the A set to the seawall siding by 17:19.

Upnor Castle took advantage of a brief lull in the proceedings to propel two loaded Bocoal wagons over The Cob at 17:21 and Blanche departed light engine for Boston Lodge at 17:22. The diesel followed light engine at 17:31. Palmerston returned at 17:52 into the WHR platform with the C set from the 15:25 Woodland Wanderer. At 18:00 the train was propelled to Boston Lodge.

 

This signalling record view shows the commissioning of the Micro ETS system for Pont Croesor to Porthmadog and shows the MicroETS going live from 18:12 on 29/7/21. Testing and commissioning has taken several years and this record matches the webcam observed times. Roland Doyle devised the system which uses the local internet to pass train orders. The system was tested and proved by several signalling engineers on 29/7/21 led by John Savage. The previously used 'staff and ticket' system has been removed and decommissioned. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Five of the six Friday Woodland Wanderer trains were was sold out and only the 15:25 had compartments available. The Back to Blaenau service was fully booked up to 19/8/21. Both Glaslyn Venturer trains were free to book on Sunday 1/8/21. Friday's Gelert Explorer still has compartments available.

 

The Snowdonian postscript

Some people have questioned why the FR leg of The Snowdonian on 25/7/21 only ran to Dduallt when public services to Blaenau Ffestiniog began just 2 days later. The General Manager responded 'When the planning for this service was done Blaenau was not an option. Simply changing the timings at the last minute would have disrupted the rest of the planned and fully booked services for the rest of the day. So we stuck with original plan.'

 

'Snowdonia Slatescape' declared at UNESCO World Heritage Site

The slate mining landscape of North Wales has been declared a UNESCO site which may bring in more tourists. Cruise ships may call at Holyhead and bring coach tours to the F&WHR with a circular tour taking in Blaenau Ffestiniog, Porthmadog and Caernarfon. However this may put more constraints on development in the Snowdonia National Park such as the future Beddgelert station building. See BBC story for full details. Full details are available here.

 

F&WHR traffic 28/7/21

Porthmadog started the day with showers and sunny periods forecast and a maximum of 18C so the railway was likely to be overwhelmed with holidaymakers. All six trains of the Woodland Wanderer are fully booked Wednesday and Thursday as are both Glaslyn Venturer trains on both Wednesday and Thursday. The Back to Blaenau trains have had some cancellations so compartments are available on 4/8/21 but otherwise are fully booked for the next few weeks. The first Harbourmaster train is on Saturday 31/7/21 from Porthmadog to Caernarfon picks up at Beddgelert and uses the Glaslyn Venturer set. The Gelert Explorer is also fully booked Wednesday and Thursday.

As the F&WHR is finding so many train fully booked during the school holidays it could look into using rakes such as the TWThO Back to Blaenau set on additional duties such as a 12:00 short trip on the WHR from Caernarfon to Waunfawr/Rhyd Ddu TWThX while the Gelert Explorer lays over at Beddgelert. Such a service could be run with an ECS move from Porthmadog FO and a return ECS MO to allow the train to continue its Back to Blaenau duties TWThO. The F&WHR has spare small locos suitable and clearly a Fairlie could do the job operating out of Dinas. With 9 services out of Porthmadog on some days and just one starting from Caernarfon most of the week, it appears the potential of Caernarfon station is being missed, especially after the investment in the new station there. WHRS supporters might reasonably expect there to be more than one train a day out of Caernarfon when there are 9 a day out of Porthmadog!

The Glaslyn Venturer rake had already been shunted into the WHR platform. No.130 came over at 09:45 coupled to Lyd and they split at the king point. No.130 ran round and coupled to the rake in the WHR platform by 09:55 whilst Lyd shunted the B set from the yard into the FR platform for the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer arriving at 09:58! No.130 left at 10:19 some 4 minutes late.

Merddin Emrys brought the Back to Blaenau rake over at about 10:30 and ran round at 10:44. Blanche arrived at 10:45 bringing the A set from programmed maintenance at Boston Lodge. Blanche was coupled up and ready to leave on the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer at 10:53 while the Fairlie shunted to the fuelling/watering point. Blanche departed on time and Merddin Emrys coupled to the front of its train at 11:15 for the 11:40 departure. Later Welsh Pony arrived for the 12:10 service and was coupled up by 12:00 and left on time.

Blanche shunted its train to the loop at Tan-y-bwlch soon after arrival allowing the 11:40 Back to Blaenau service to arrive at 12:31. The train went forward to Blaenau Ffestiniog at 12:36. Blanche ran round at 12:40. Blanche shunted its rake at Tan-y-bwlch at 15:55.

No.130 arrived back from the 13:40 Glaslyn Venturer whilst Lyd shunted the Woodland Wanderer to the yard at 16:19. There was a thunderstorm in the afternoon, which caused a few problems for the Operating Department. It appears a lightning strike mid way across The Cob may have damaged signalling. It ended up being necessary to combine a number of locomotive and stock movements to clear Harbour Station. This led to the impressive sight of No.130 heading a long formation of two FR trains - complete with their locomotives - from Porthmadog to Boston Lodge.

 

This easterly view from the Harbour Station offices at 17:40 on 28/7/21 shows No130 hauling both Lyd and its rake and Merddin Emrys on the rear on the Back to Blaenau rake across The Cob after congestion at Porthmadog caused by a thunderstorm. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

With congestion building up at Porthmadog due to a thunderstorm, the decision was made that No.130 would haul a combined rake. Merddin Emrys left for the depot on the Back to Blaenau set at 17:40 from the FR platform with No.130 hauling while Blanche ran round the Woodland Wanderer in the WHR platform and shunted the rake to the seawall siding at 17:50 before going to coal and water. The loco waited near the signalbox at 18:03 for the 15:25 Woodland Wander to return at 18:15. Blanche then promptly backed onto it to shunt to the sidings at 18:24, releasing Welsh Pony which coupled to the rear of Blanche at 18:27 in sunshine. The pair then left for Boston Lodge at 18:29, bring a close to the day's activities.

All six of Thursday's Woodland Wanderer trains are sold out and the first four of the six on Friday are too. The first available date for booking the very popular TWThO Back to Blaenau train is 10/8/21. The FSX Glaslyn Venturer is fully booked on Thursday for both morning and afternoon trains. The FSO Harbourmaster begins on 31/7/21, running as a through WHR service and is fully booked with the first train available 7/8/21. This train uses the Glaslyn Venturer set and passengers may book to join at Beddgelert on the outbound journey. The Gelert Explorer is fully booked Thursday but is exceptionally running on Friday when compartments are still bookable. It will then run FSX until 5/9/21. The same rake with be used for the FSO Snowdonia Star through train to Porthmadog from 31/7/21 (that date is already fully booked) with the first bookable train being 6/8/21.

 

Spooner's revised opening times

Spooner’s will now be open 7 days a week - between 09:00 and 22:00. Takeaway and Table service will be available for Café items - which include sandwiches, cakes, snacks, hot and cold drinks. PLEASE NOTE: the kitchen will not be serving main meals at present due to continuing staff shortages, although jobs have been advertised more than once. Spooner's Bar will be open between 12:00 and 22:00 offering drinks from a wide range of wines, beers and spirits.

 

F&WHR traffic 27/7/21

Tuesday dawned cloudy with a maximum temperature of 20C forecast. It is clearly not a beach day as five of the 6 Woodland Wanderer trains are sold out with only the 15:25 having compartments free. The first four of Wednesday's six trains are also fully booked already! Today's 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer is showing 'call to book' but the afternoon train has compartments free. Bookings on the Glaslyn Venturer seem to be improving with the 10:15 on Wednesday already being fully booked. Today's Gelert Explorer is fully booked but there are compartments free on Wednesday.

Today was the first day of the TWThO Back to Blaenau service which is fully booked until 19/8/21. The first compartments available to book are on 21/8/21. It is perhaps time to reorganise the F&WHR's Bookings Page as the Mountain Prince is no longer running and may not come back when the new timetable starts on 6/9/21 as many Heritage railways are now dropping booking in advance in favour of 'turn up and go'. Local traffic was very heavy with jams across The Cob into Porthmadog due to a RTA at 08:30 and then the Police blocking the bypass for investigation into the two vehicle crash. See BBC report.

No.130 was ready to go by 09:50 coupled to the 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer set in the WHR platform. Prince departed on time from the FR platform with the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer hauling the B set. No.130 departed a couple of minutes late. Blanche emerged from Boston Lodge at about 10:30 for the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer arriving to shunt the FR yard at 10:38. The A set was shunted from the seawall siding to the FR platform at 10:41.

 

This westerly view at 10:56 on 27/7/21 shows Blanche ready to leave with the Woodland Wanderer. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Keith Holland and was taken on a digital camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

David Lloyd George carrying the new Back to Blaenau headboard was released from Boston Lodge and arrived in the WHR dragging the 9 coach Back to Blaenau rake arriving in the WHR platform at 10:52. The loco ran round at 10:55. The train follows the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer, which left a few minutes late at 11:07. The first departure of the first Back to Blaenau train comes at 11:40 with fares set at £70 for the standard compartment for 2. The rake includes Observation Car No.100 for an extra charge of £10 on top Pullman fare of £100 for a compartment for 2.The train left on time.

 

This westerly view at 13:16 on 27/7/21 shows David Lloyd George hauling the first Back to Blaenau to Blaenau Ffestiniog with new headboard fitted. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Keith Holland and was taken on a digital camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Smart work was required at Tan-y-bwlch to shunt the 11:05 out of the way before the 11:40 Back to Blaenau passed through so at 12:05 Blanche shunted the ECS rake was shunted to the westbound platform. Meanwhile down at Porthmadog Palmerston shunted C set for the 12:10 into the platform at 12:08 and left 3 minutes late at 12:13. This train struggled for the last few hundred metres from the road bridge to the west end points on a wet rail and there were reactions with other services throughout the day.

 

This westerly view at 12:30 on 27/7/21 shows David Lloyd George hauling the first Back to Blaenau passing Blanche on the Woodland Wanderer at Tan-y-bwlch. Two named trains passing each other. Surely 2021 is the year for named trains on the F&WHR! Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This westerly view at 13:16 on 27/7/21 shows David Lloyd George hauling the first Back to Blaenau just arrived at Blaenau Ffestiniog. Rusty rails bear testament to the absence of traffic for 18 months. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Keith Holland and was taken on a digital camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

David Lloyd George arrived at Tan-y-bwlch at 12:30 and left at 12:37. Blanche then ran round at about 12:45 as the rain set in. At 14:48 Prince shunted the 13:15 into the westbound platform at Tan-y-bwlch with the Fairlie on its way back from Blaenau Ffestiniog. Blanche arrived at Tan-y-Bwlch 15:31 with the 14:25 allowing Prince to depart with the return working of the 13:20 at 15:33 and releasing the platform for the returning Back to Blaenau train. Although supposed to leave Blaenau at 14:45, taking an hour to travel to Tan-y-bwlch seems a little long even with fuel saving lower speeds. Several speed restrictions and persistent sheep dawdling along the line caused the delays. They have had the line to themselves for several months so are not used to trains!

Prince was noted passing Palmerston at Minffordd at 15:58 showing the intermediate loop was in use and No.130 was back in the WHR platform by 16:25 with Prince also running round its train. At 16:35 No.130 was shunting the Glaslyn Venturer rake into the yard. Up at Tan-y-Bwlch Palmerston arrived late at 13:37 having passed the return working of the Back to Blaenau train at Rhiw Goch. With so many trains on the railway, good regulation is necessary to prevent out of course running delays  building up in major problems.

No.130 waited in the yard at Porthmadog for David Lloyd George to arrive into the FR platform at 16.43 with the returning Back to Blaenau train. Prince coupled to the rear of No.130 and the unusual sight of the 'Little and Large' pair set off light engine for Boston Lodge at 16:47. The Fairlie ran round at 17:01 and coupled up to the rear of the rake and dragged it ECS to Boston Lodge departing at 17:05.

Up at Tan-y-bwlch, Palmerston posed for photos whilst running round and departed at 17:20. Blanche arrived back in Porthmadog at 17:25 with the return working of the 14:25 with sunshine reappearing. Palmerston left Tan-y-bwlch with the return working of the 15:25 at 17:30.

As suggested the Mountain Prince timetable has now been removed from the F&WHR's booking website pending a decision on the timetable from 6/9/21 onwards. Five of the six Woodland Wanderer trains are fully booked tomorrow with just the 15:25 having compartments available. With so many holidaymakers now streaming into Porthmadog now that school holidays are fully underway both of Wednesday's Glaslyn Venturer
 trains are fully booked possibly for the first time as are the Back to Blaenau services for 4 weeks ahead. Both Wednesday and Thursday's Gelert Explorer trains are fully booked from Caernarfon but Friday's train has compartments available.

Palmerston arrived back in Porthmadog at 18:10 with the return working of the 15:25. Palmerston ran round sharply at 18:13, possibly a record time! The loco shunted the C set to the seawall siding at 18:17  before leaving light engine at 18:21 to close activities for the day.

With so many trains now fully booked maybe the time is ripe for the F&WHR to use any spare coaches on a short lunchtime trip out and back from Caernarfon to Waunfawr/Rhyd Ddu with one of the spare small engines while the Gelert Explorer lays over at Beddgelert? The F&WHR has three England Engines, Blanche, Lyd and two Fairlies available and only 4 of the 7 locos are required on any day (5 on TWThO). Even given a maintenance spare and a rescue loco in light steam there will always be one loco free for such a duty. Nine daily trains out of Porthmadog and just ONE out of Caernarfon does not make commercial sense. Even Beddgelert gets an occasional service out of the Harbourmaster!

 

Back to Blaenau Working timetable from 27/7/21

Porthmadog arr 10:50
Porthmadog dep. 11:40
Minffordd arr 11:50
Tan-y-Bwlch arr 12:30
Tan-y-Bwlch dep 12:40
Blaenau Ffestiniog arr. 13:15
Blaenau Ffestiniog dep. 14:45
Tan-y-bwlch arr 15:50
Tan-y-Bwlch dep 15:55
Minffordd dep 16:30
Porthmadog arr. 16:45
Porthmadog dep 17:05

There is a 1.5 hour lay over in Blaenau Ffestiniog for people to visit the town's amenities, buy food etc. Work in progress on this timetable. Any corrections gratefully received.

 

Woodland Wanderer working timetable

Light engine from depot where applicable 09:30 10:35 11:40 ex 10:00 ex 11:05 ex 12:10
Porthmadog dep. 10:00 11:05 12:10 13:15 14:20 15:25
Minffordd pass 10:10 11:15 12:20 13:25 14:30 15:35
Tan-y-bwlch arr. 10:45 11:50 12:55 14:00 15:05 16:10
Tan-y-bwlch shunt to other platform where applicable 10:55 12:00 13:05 14:10 15:15 N/A
Tan-y-bwlch dep. 11:55 13:00 14:05 15:10 16:15 17:20
Minffordd pass 12:20 13:25 14:30 15:35 16:40 17:45
Porthmadog arr. 12:30 13:35 14:40 15:45 16:50 17:55
Next turn where applicable 13:15 14:20 15:25      
Light engine to depot       16:00 17:05 18:10

 

F&WHR traffic 26/7/21

The new week saw a timetable change with the five times a day Mountain Prince being replaced by the Woodland Wanderer six times a day every day of the week until 5/9/21 to deal with school holiday crowds. These depart Porthmadog at regular 65 minute intervals from 10:00 until 15:25. The first two today are fully booked. The Glaslyn Venturer is now FSX until 5/9/21 and today's 10:15 is showing the usual 'call to book' message displayed close to departure time. The Gelert Explorer will run SX this week and FSX from 1/8/21-5/8/21. It is already fully booked Monday and Tuesday being popular with coach parties.

No.130 arrived at 09:29 to shunt the yard and extract the Glaslyn Venturer rake. The rake was shunted into the WHR at 09:42 whilst a second loco approached from Boston Lodge and waited at the trident home signal. Prince ran directly to the FR platform to couple to the B set left there overnight for the 10:00 Woodland Wanderer. No.130 ran round at 09:45. Prince departed on time. The train left at 10:18 after waiting for late passengers.

Blanche was shunting the A set for the 11:05 Woodland Wanderer at 10:45 and left 3 minutes late awaiting late passengers. Lyd hauled the 12:10 with the C set, departing on time.

The 15:25 train arrived back in the WHR platform at 17:59 hauled by Lyd, stopping an usually long way from the station exit. In an unusual move the loco propelled the rake out onto The Cob at 18:04 before haling into the yard. This must mean one rake is at Boston Lodge to permit run round in the station. The light engine left for Boston Lodge at 18:14 to close the activities for the day.

The first three of the six Woodland Wanderer trains are fully booked on Tuesday and the Gelert Explorer is fully booked too. However both Glaslyn Venturer
 trains are bookable on Tuesday.

 

F&WHR 'Love your Railway' campaign

'Monday 26/7/21 marks the start of a 6-week campaign to raise awareness of the importance of heritage railways. The last 18 months have been like no other year and as we're optimistic and look forward to the summer ahead, we've joined forces with some of the much-loved railways across the UK to celebrate who we are and what we do..! Keep your eyes peeled as each week of #LoveYourRailway is themed and will feature inspiring stories, facts & stats and stunning imagery and content for you to like, share and get involved in..! Don't forget, you are part of our story... We'd really like you to share your photos, memories and any stories that show why you love the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways - just add them below with the tag #LoveYourRailway

We can't wait to see them all...'

 

Llangollen tickets

The Llangollen Railway is running an FSO service between Llangollen and Berwyn using their DMU at the moment which offers a driver's-eye-view of the line and the Dee Valley. Trains depart Llangollen every hour from 11:00 until 16:00; a return trip takes 35 minutes including a 15 minute stop-off at Berwyn. Break of journey is allowed so passengers can explore the area and catch a later train back. Refreshments and toilet facilities are available at the stations. Return tickets cost £8 for adults, £7 for seniors and £4 for children. Single tickets and Day Rovers are also available. There is no need to pre-book so passengers can purchase tickets from their station booking offices on the day though masks and social distancing are necessary on transport in Wales. Trains will be extended to Glyndyfrdwy shortly MX possibly from 6/8/21 if the track is passed fit or at the latest 10/8/21.

 

F&WHR traffic 25/7/21

Porthmadog dawned sunny with a maximum temperature of 25C forecast, so a beach day. The Mountain Prince has been cut back to three afternoon trains to accommodate The Snowdonian special. All three trains were sold out before 09:00. The Snowdonian was due to leave at 10:00 for Blaenau Ffestiniog so it is uncertain why the F&WHR cancelled the 11:05. It is possibly a return path issue. There are still compartments available on the 13:40 Glaslyn Venturer. The morning train could not run as the set was being used for The Snowdonian special. there are compartments available on the Gelert Explorer on Sunday but Monday's and Tuesday's trains are fully booked.  

Upnor Castle crossed The Cob at about 08:20 to shunt the yard while steam was being raised at Boston Lodge. The driver had to walk to the signal box and set the points himself as the signalbox had not yet been opened. The loco eventually arrived in the yard at 08:29. At 08:43 the Glaslyn Venturer rake was hauled out of the yard onto The Cob and shunted back into the WHR platform, arriving at 08:48. Upnor Castle uncoupled immediately and returned to the FR platform at 08:51.

At 09:40 three England engines coupled to the front of the Glaslyn Venturer set which left at 10:00 with Palmerston piloting Welsh Pony and Prince passing Minffordd at 10:10. As the Glaslyn Venturer set was diagrammed on a public train at 13:40, the train was likely to be back from Blaenau at 13:00 after a 3 hour trip, to allow the rake to be cleaned before reuse. The Snowdonian arrived at Tan-y-bwlch at 10:46 and left within 10 minutes.

 

This westerly view at 10:10 on 25/7/21 shows Palmerston, Welsh Pony and Prince hauling The Snowdonian through Minffordd. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This westerly view at 10:46 on 25/7/21 shows Palmerston, Welsh Pony and Prince hauling The Snowdonian arriving at Tan-y-bwlch. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

At 12:25 Blanche departed Porthmadog with the C set passing Minffordd at 12:37 and the returning Snowdonian in the loop. The Snowdonian left the loop after a slight delay at 12:54 arriving in the WHR platform at 13:04 ready for the 13:40 Glaslyn Venturer. The train only went as far as Dduallt and Britomart may have been used as Dduallt shunt engine. On the return journey the train was hauled by Welsh Pony and Prince.

Palmerston appeared light engine coming across The Cob a few minutes later and may have been detached at Minffordd. Palmerston ran to the yard at 13:09. This was followed by Welsh Pony then Prince by 13:12 which allowed No.130 to enter the station and couple to the front of the Glaslyn Venturer.

Up at Tan-y-bwlch, Britomart was Dduallt pilot for a change after taking a loco ash train to the disposal point on Dduallt spiral. The 12:25 Mountain Prince departed Tan-y-bwlch for Dduallt at 13:33. Palmerston extracted the B set from the yard at 13:15 and shunted the rake to the FR platform for the 13:40 Mountain Prince at 13:18 before shunting to the watering point at 13:20. No.130 was coupled up by 13:22. The two 13:40 trains left on time simultaneously with the Mountain Prince in the hands of Welsh Pony passing Minffordd at 13:52.

 

This easterly view at 13:07 on 25/7/21 shows Welsh Pony running around the returned The Snowdonian with Prince still attached. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The 15:00 Mountain Prince arrived back in Porthmadog hauled by Palmerston and Prince into the WHR platform at 18:03. The pair ran round at 18:12. Palmerston worked to the fuel and watering point at 18:17 light engine while Prince was used to propel the rake to the seawall siding at 18:21. Palmerston came out of the yard and waited by the signalbox at 18:25 for a conference with the signalman about the disposal movements. Prince went to take water at 18:30 and the two locos coupled up at 18:35 before leaving for the depot at 18:38 to close the activities for the day.

Today is the last day of the Mountain Prince trains with the Woodland Wanderer taking over the Tan-y-bwlch operations offering up to six daily trains with no Dduallt extension. These trains run until 5/9/21 when the timetable is revised again. The TWThO Back to Blaenau service begins next week and is already fully booked from 27/7/21-19/8/21! The FSO Harbourmaster Porthmadog-Caernarfon train from Saturday 31/7/21 is already fully booked on that date but the Snowdonia Star also FSO Caernarfon-Porthmadog starting from 31/7/21 still has compartments available!

 

Llangollen Railway

Four MkI coaches (plus one spare) have had their fitness to run exams and are signed off ready to start loco hauled services in early August. It is expected that from 9/8/21 steam trains will operate to Carrog at weekends with green GWR 2-8-0 No.3802 (the only main line steam loco available) and a mix of DMU and loco hauled trains mid week using Class 26 No.26010 (as 5310 in green). Work was underway rebuilding the west end points at Glyndyfrdwy and ballasting them with 26010 in attendance. Rails for the work in Berwyn Tunnel were delivered.

 

F&WHR traffic 24/7/21

Porthmadog was set to have a milder day with sunny periods after a murky start and a forecast 25C maximum temperature. The running of The Snowdonian special, held over from last year, was disrupting schedules a little over the weekend. On Saturday the Glaslyn Venturer rake was used for a Porthmadog to Caernarfon return service. This was probably the first return service on the route since the start of the epidemic. All five Mountain Prince trains were bookable today indicating more holidaymakers were focussed on beach holidays.

The Glaslyn Venturer rake was shunted to the WHR platform by 08:45 and the diesel remained attached. No.87/130 left Boston Lodge by 09:03 and came across The Cob to couple to the rake providing double Garratt haulage. No.87 must have arrived light engine from Dinas on Friday. The locos shunted individually so that No.87 was inside and No.130 piloting.

 

This easterly view at 09:11 on 24/7/21 shows No.130 carrying The Snowdonian headboard shunting onto the front of No.87 to haul . Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This easterly view at 09:40 on 24/7/21 shows No.130 carrying The Snowdonian headboard piloting No.87 departing Porthmadog . Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The train left on time at 09:40 and Upnor Castle remained behind at the end of the WHR platform while the loco for the 10:00 Mountain Prince came across The Cob and coupled directly to the B set in the FR platform. Upnor Castle returned to the depot at 09:50. Prince left on time at 10:00. Welsh Pony was waiting at Tan-y-bwlch at 10:35 on Dduallt shunt duties. Prince arrived at 10:47 and Welsh Pony coupled up to the rear at 10:50, departing for Dduallt at 10:55.Blanche came over for the 11:05 and shunted the A set from the seawall siding to the FR platform. The train departed at 11:17, a record 12 minutes late, presumably delayed by late running passengers. Meanwhile Welsh Pony arrived back at Tan-y-bwlch at 09:23 with Prince.

Palmerston arrived light engine in Porthmadog at 11:45 to shunt the C set to the FR platform for the 12:25 Mountain Prince service. This train was sold out by midday but the two later trains still had free compartments. The train departed at 12:31, some 6 minutes late, presumably awaiting the late arrival of booked passengers. At 16:10 Palmerston left Porthmadog light engine for the depot but came back at 16:31 to shunt of the C set from the 12:25 back into the yard.

The return leg of The Snowdonian was due to leave Caernarfon at 14:20 and was expected to arrive in Porthmadog about 16:30 if travelling at normal linespeed. However, No.130 returned with the rake at 16:30 as expected but having dropped off No.87, probably at Dinas as it is needed for the Gelert Explorer on Sunday. At 16:45 the rake was propelled into the FR sidings as it was booked to do an afternoon trip on Sunday. The Garratt left light engine for the depot at 16:52.

Prince arrived with the B set at about 17:15 allowing Palmerston to drag the C set to Boston Lodge for programmed maintenance a few minutes later. Prince then ran round at 17:19 and propelled the rake to the yard at 17:30. The loco left light engine for the depot at 17:36. Welsh Pony arrived at 17:57 on the return working of the 15:00 with Blanche attached to the rear into the FR platform as the run round was clear with one rake previously taken to Boston Lodge.. This was unusual in that the Dduallt shunt loco returned with the train and the train engine had not run round at Tan-y-bwlch. At 18:06 Blanche propelled the rake to the seawall siding leaving Welsh Pony to coal and water ready for Sunday's The Snowdonian on the FR. Welsh Pony coupled to the rear of Blanche at 1812. The pair left light engine for the depot at 18:13. Unusually, Palmerston came back later in the evening to shunt stock, presumably ready for the following day's The Snowdonian to conclude the activities for the day.

 

This easterly view at 19:18 on 24/7/21 shows Palmerston back in Porthmadog performing an evening shunt of the C set presumably to prepare stock for Sunday's The Snowdonian. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Two of the three Mountain Prince trains on Sunday are sold out leaving the 15:00 the only one with compartments available. It is possible to add another train as only one set is OOU for The Snowdonian. Both Sunday's afternoon Glaslyn Venturer and the Gelert Explorer have compartments free.

 

F&WHR traffic 23/7/21

Friday was another hot day in Porthmadog with 29C forecast so another beach day for many holidaymakers. Five Mountain Prince trains are due to run today with the 11:05 and 13:40 already sold out. The next Glaslyn Venturer is on Sunday 25/7/21 and only the 13:40 will run. It is still bookable as is the next Gelert Explorer, also bookable on Sunday. No.87 will probably run light engine to Porthmadog today as it is needed to double head The Snowdonian special on Saturday. Various timetable alterations are being made to accommodate The Snowdonian on Saturday and Sunday with most passengers having retained their bookings from the cancelled 2020 trains as no booking advertising has been seen. On Saturday the special will run from Porthmadog to Caernarfon and back presumably using the Glaslyn Venturer set. On Sunday only 3 Mountain Prince trains will run as one rake or path may be used for The Snowdonian on a return journey from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Welsh Pony had arrived early for the 10:00 Mountain Prince and was already in the FR platform coupled up to the B set by 09:45. The train left on time with a well filled train passing Minffordd at 10:11. Moelwyn was already at Tan-y-bwlch at 10:15 waiting for its duties as Dduallt pilot.

Blanche arrived at Porthmadog at 10:38 to extract the A set from the seawall siding. The rake was shunted into the FR platform at 10:46 ready for the 11:05 Mountain Prince which made a start on time then stopped a couple of coach lengths along the platform and restarted at 11:07.

David Lloyd George arrived later and shunted the C set to the FR platform by midday for the 12:25 Mountain Prince which left on time. Upnor Castle was noted emerging with wagons from Minffordd yard in the afternoon. No.87 arrived from Dinas hauling some empty wagons in the afternoon which was a positioning move to allow the double Garratt headed The Snowdonian on 25/7/21. 

All five Saturday's Mountain Prince trains are bookable. Saturday's Snowdonian Special leaves Porthmadog at 09:40 and returns from Caernarfon at 14:20 presumably using the Glaslyn Venturer rake.

 

Welsh COVID rules

It seems some holidaymakers from England think Boris Johnson's 'Freedom Day' applies in Wales. Here is a gentle reminder that the rules are different in Wales.

CROESO I GYMRU • WELCOME TO WALES - it's a different country..! It's great to see all our visitors heading back into Wales for the summer holidays - but, please remember, our Covid rules are not the same as those in place 'across the border'. Currently, under Welsh Government guidelines, face coverings are still required in indoor public places - and on public transport - with a 2m social distancing rule still applying indoors. Please help us keep you, your family and all those around you safe while you're on holiday.

DO I NEED TO WEAR A FACE COVERING at the F&WHR..? We ask that visitors wear face coverings when using our station facilities and boarding the train. Once onboard you should wear a mask if travelling in one of our modern, saloon-style carriages on the 'Back to Blaenau', ‘Gelert Explorer’, ‘Glaslyn Venturer’, 'Snowdonia Star' or 'The Harbourmaster' services. If travelling in a family compartment on one of our heritage services - the ‘Woodland Wanderer’ and ‘Mountain Prince’ - masks are not mandatory once you have entered your compartment. Thank you in advance for your co-operation - we're all looking forward to the time when we can get back to a more 'normal' way of life, and by following the HANDS - FACE - SPACE guidelines we'll get there all the sooner...

 

F&WHR traffic 22/7/21

It was another hot sunny day at Porthmadog with 30C maximum temperatures forecast, so another beach day! Nevertheless the first three Mountain Prince trains were sold out with compartments still available on the 13:40 and 15:00, though it looked like people chose the Open coaches rather than No.21! The 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer
 was almost full showing 'Call to book' but there were plenty of seats on the afternoon working. The F&WHR's Porthmadog webcam was operating in a degraded mode showing low-res images in the morning that were still ghosting. 

No.130 arrived at 09:35 to extract the Glaslyn Venturer rake. The Glaslyn Venturer was propelled into the WHR platform at 09:48 but the run round was delayed for the arrival of the second loco. It appeared that the loco for the 10:00 Mountain Prince was going to be late for the second day running as it only left Boston Lodge at 09:50. Welsh Pony and Moelwyn arrived at 09:56 with the B set. This allowed No.130 to run round and couple to the Glaslyn Venturer at 10:03. Moelwyn and Welsh Pony ran round coupling up at 10:03 repeating yesterday's variation of the working timetable. The pair departed hauling the 10:00 Mountain Prince at 10:05, some 5 minutes late with Moelwyn leading. Upnor Castle passed Minffordd light engine at 10:17 heading for Boston Lodge after the Mountain Prince had passed. No.130 departed 3 minutes late at 10:18.

David Lloyd George turned up light engine and at 10:40 shunted the A set from the seawall siding to the FR platform at 10:44 for the 11:05 Mountain Prince departure. Welsh Pony's train arrived at Tan-y-bwlch 10:45 and Moelwyn uncoupled and ran round a few minutes later to the rear carrying the Mountain Prince headboard. Moelwyn coupled to the rear up at 10:52 and the train departed for Dduallt at 10:56. The Fairlie left Porthmadog on time at 11:05.

At 11:36 Blanche arrived to shunt the sidings for the 12:25 Mountain Prince. David Lloyd George and the A set was back in Porthmadog in the afternoon and the loco ran round and coupled to the rake at 14:49. The train left on time at 15:00 but was not fully booked. The returning 15:00 Mountain Prince seemed to stop at Boston Lodge to drop off Moelwyn from the rear at 17:45 before continuing to the station. David Lloyd George pulled into the WHR platform at 17:54 before running round and heading for the watering point. At 18:11 the Fairlie returned to draw the rake out of the WHR platform and propel it to the seawall siding. The loco left light engine at 18:21 for the depot bringing the activity for the day to a close. 

Tomorrow's services see two of the five Mountain Prince trains (11:05 and 13:40) fully booked. On Sunday just the afternoon Glaslyn Venturer is running at 13:40 and it still has compartments available as does the Gelert Explorer from Caernarfon.

 

F&WHR traffic 21/7/21

It was another warm sunny day at Porthmadog with 27C maximum temperatures forecast so another beach day! Five Mountain Prince trains were booked to run with two fully booked (12:25/13:40). The Glaslyn Venturer afternoon service has compartments available to book.

At 09:40 No.130 extracted the Glaslyn Venturer rake from the yard and shunted it into the WHR platform. Moelwyn was waiting unusually at the Trident signal and arrived in the yard at 09:43 to shunt the sidings and attach to the rear of the 10:00 Mountain Prince. Normally Moelwyn goes to Tan-y-bwlch light engine so it is ready at 10:45 for the arrival of the train. No.130 then ran round coupling up at 09:50 while the loco for the 10:00 Mountain Prince came across The Cob somewhat later than usual at 09:50. Welsh Pony shunted out of the sidings after watering at 10:04 and coupled to Moelwyn in the sidings. The pair shunted onto the Mountain Prince in the FR platform at 10:08 with the train departing a surprising 10 minutes late at 10:10, possibly the latest they have been! The Glaslyn Venturer left on time.

Blanche arrived at 10:27 to shunt the A set from the seawall siding to the FR platform for the 11:05 Mountain Prince service. The train was shunted into the platform at 10:35, half an hour before the departure, which was on time. David Lloyd George turned up light engine at 11:54 and shunted the C set to the FR platform before leaving on time at 12:25. The train arrived at Tan-y-bwlch at 13:20. Blanche was back at Porthmadog in the afternoon and ran round the A set at 14:41 for the 15:00 Mountain Prince.

At 18:12 Blanche was shunting the A set back to the seawall siding to dispose the stock from the returned 15:00 Mountain Prince service. The loco left light engine for Boston Lodge at 18:20 bringing an end to the activity of the day.

Thursday is a busy day with the first three Mountain Prince trains already sold out but there is room on the 13:40 and 15:00. Both of Thursday's Glaslyn Venturer trains have spare compartments but the Gelert Explorer is sold out with the next available compartments being on Sunday's train on 25/7/21.

 

F&WHR traffic 20/7/21

Porthmadog dawned warm again and cloudless with 26C maximum temperatures forecast so holidaymakers are probably going to the beach rather than the railway. The F&WHR has thus only offered three Mountain Prince trains today and only the 15:00 is available to book but this was partly due to the need to keep a rake for the special Blaenau-Tan-y-bwlch working in association with the Welsh Mountaineer excursion arriving at Blaenau Ffestiniog at midday.. The Glaslyn Venturer is also running today but the 10:15 is sold out and only the 13:40 has compartments free. The Gelert Explorer is fully booked until Thursday 22/7/21.

A contributor has advised 'The mystery shunt that you observed today (20/7/21) with Upnor Castle was to put the top end observation car (No.101?) onto the back of the A set instead of No.113 which ended up in the corridor coach rake that was later shunted by Upnor Castle.' Prince later hauled this rake to meet the Welsh Mountaineer railtour at Blaenau Ffestiniog with Scots Guardsman.

 

This northerly view on 20/7/21 shows Prince arriving with the C set at Blaenau Ffestiniog carrying the Back to Blaenau headboard. Scots Guardsman waits departure from the NR loop tracks with the Welsh Mountaineer. Prince was to haul an excursion to Tan-y-bwlch and back for the passengers from the Welsh Mountaineer. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy Chris Parry (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Boston Lodge released a loco at 09:20 and No.130 arrived at 09:25 hauling its full 10 coach rake from the Carriage Shed directly to the WHR platform for the 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer departure. a second engine was released at 09:40 and came across The Cob. Merddin Emrys arrived at 09:47 with the B set from the Carriage Shed for the 10:00 Mountain Prince straight into the FR platform. The loco then ran round at 09:50. Upnor Castle arrived light engine from Boston Lodge at 09:50 and ran to the seawall siding to couple to the A-set to shunt later. Merddin Emrys departed on time at 10:00 and Moelwyn was already at Tan-y-bwlch at that time waiting for its Dduallt pilot duties. At 10:02 Upnor Castle emerged from the sidings to shunt the A set into a different siding without the Open Carriage on the rear. Second thoughts saw the rake returned to the seawall siding at 10:13. At 10:15 No.130 left on time for Beddgelert. Upnor Castle re-emerged at 10:19 with coach No.37 attached to the rear of the A set and propelled the rake to the FR platform for the 11:05 Mountain Prince service. The loco detached and continued to shunt the yard at 10:25 drawing an unknown 5 saloon rake out of the yard and shunting to the seawall siding.

At 10:41 Blanche arrived and connected directly to the 11:05 Mountain Prince rake in the FR platform. There was no 12:25 Mountain Prince train as services had been cut back to just 3 today and even then the 15:00 still had compartments free at midday. It was therefore surprising that Prince arrived in Porthmadog light engine at around 11:35 and ran into the FR platform. After coaling and watering the loco backed onto the C set and drew it out of the sidings at 12:25 heading off ECS in the path of the 12:25 Mountain Prince arriving in Tan-y-bwlch at 13.25. It left at 13:31 without Moelwyn on the rear and was probably meeting Scotsman Guardsman on the Welsh Mountaineer railtour in Blaenau Ffestiniog to offer the passengers a return trip to Tan-y-bwlch. Blanche ran round at Tan-y-bwlch at 13:38. Down at Porthmadog No.130 departed on time with the 13:40 Glaslyn Venturer.

Blanche arrived back with the return working of the 15:00 Mountain Prince at 17:55 in the FR platform. The loco ran round at 1805 and at 18:10 propelled the rake to the seawall siding. The loco then ran light engine to the depot at 18:15 bringing activity at Porthmadog to a close. 

The 15:00 Mountain Prince was fully booked by 13:30 and the second Glaslyn Venturer
 was busy offering compartments to people who had found out too late there were only 3 Mountain Prince trains today. As a result the 13:40 was showing the unusual message 'Call to book'. The Back to Blaenau trains are already fully booked for the first four weeks from 27/7/21 until 19/8/21!  

 

Back to Blaenau preparations

With services due to start next week, the F&WHR would like to offer a grateful thanks to their dedicated team of volunteers and staff who have been busy renovating Blaenau Ffestiniog Station. The team have been working hard to get the station ready in time for the return of steam trains from 27/7/21 with the Back to Blaenau service. An array of materials which were already in stock were used in the renovation project to keep costs low and thanks to their fantastic work, the station now looks as good as new. The work carried out by all volunteers and staff on this project and others across the railway is massively appreciated and plays an important role in keeping the railway steaming!

The F&WHR's Back to Blaenau service will run the full length of the Ffestiniog Railway from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog, with a break to enable passengers to explore ‘the town that roofed the world’. There is also a chance to discover the town's impressive slate sculptures, poetry band trail and selection of privately run shops, cafes and pubs. The train will then return through the Vale of Ffestiniog to the harbourside at Porthmadog, following the route of slate trains from quarry to coast. The F&WHR is very excited to be offering a service along the whole line of the Ffestiniog Railway and is pleased to return to Blaenau Ffestiniog. Nearly forty years ago, trains proudly steamed back into Blaenau Ffestiniog and now they will be doing so again for the first time in over 18 months. The ‘Back to Blaenau’ service will run TWThO from the 27/7/21-2/9/21.

The train is the 11:40 from Porthmadog arriving at Blaenau Ffestiniog about 13:00 and given the advertised hour in Blaenau, departing at 14:00 and arriving back in Porthmadog at 15:10 based on an overall journey of 3 hours 30 mins as advertised. However the departure time from Blaenau is STILL confusingly given as 14:45 which would make all these times incorrect. This popular train is already fully booked for the first 4 weeks from 27/7/21-19/8/21 and the first bookable train is on 24/8/21!

 

Vale of Ffestiniog

Following its gearbox problems and borrowing Castell Caernarfon's gearbox not much has been seen of Vale of Festiniog. It was noted at Caernarfon last Saturday shunting the Gelert Explorer set at Dinas.

 

Llangollen Railway update

The Llangollen Railway completed its first two weeks of FSSuO shuttle services to Berwyn last weekend. The turn up and go service has been supported by sufficient numbers that have allowed social distancing, coming from far and wide outside of the normal 50-mile catchment area. Ticket sales and donations have made a useful contribution to the railway's operating costs. Having completed trackwork in Berwyn Tunnel, the timetable will change from 23/7/21 and the DMU shuttle will be extended to Glyndyfrdwy. There will be 5 trains a day departing at 1 hour 15 minute intervals from Llangollen at 11:00, 12:15, 13:30, 14:45 and 16:00. Work is underway renewing the points at the west end of Glyndyfrdwy loop so run round is not currently available.

Assuming the Glyndyfrdwy pointwork is complete, it is expected that from 9/8/21 steam trains will operate to Carrog at weekends with green GWR 2-8-0 No.3802 (the only main line steam loco available) and a mix of DMU/Class 26 No.26010 (as 5310 in green) loco haulage on weekdays. This is good news for diesel enthusiasts who look forwards to seeing a specific daily diesel turn as with other successful heritage railways like the GCR. In other good news, it has been announced that Llangollen Railway has been awarded a £143,290 grant from the Wales Cultural Recovery Fund Phase 2, the purpose of which is to assist with salary and overhead costs during reopening. With concern about its web presence or rather absence, a new website for the Llangollen Railway Trust will soon go on line and hopefully show the timetable. The confusion seems to have been caused by the Company Administrator who retained control of the old official website and has refused to take it down.

 

Set Composition changes

Trains run in fixed formation sets with compartment numbers as last year. Additional open coaches may be added when weather improves. Compartment Nos. range from 1-24 but Open coaches are not designated.

A Set Comp No. B Set Comp No. C set Comp No.
No.6 Van 23 No.39 Open Not designated (Possible Open)  
No.2 Four wheeler (First) 22 No. 23 WHR Saloon 18-24 No.1 Zoo car 23
No.5 Four wheeler (Third) 21 No.21 Saloon 11-18 No.3 22
No.19 Bowsider 15-20 No.17 Bowsider 5-10 No.4 21
No.26 Saloon 9-14 No.12 Brake 3-4 No.24 NWNGR 14-20
No.22 Saloon 3-8 No.11 Brake 1-2 ?  
No.113 Brake 1-2     ?  
No.37 Open Not designated     No.10 Brake 1-2

 

F&WHR traffic 19/7/21

Porthmadog started the day warm and sunny again with maximum temperatures of 26C forecast. Two of the five Mountain Prince trains were fully booked but the 10:00, 13:40 and 15:00 were still bookable. There are no Glaslyn Venturer trains today but both of Tuesday's trains are bookable. The first three Gelert Explorer trains are fully booked until Thursday 22/7/21 suggesting additional services could be offered from Caernarfon with maybe a short out and back journey to Waunfawr/Rhyd Ddu using spare coaches. Many heritage railways are now opening up to 'turn up and go' traffic even though the F&WHR is persisting with its booking and timetable plans until at least 5/9/21. The G&WR is for example offering Day Rangers from any station from 20/7/21. Two of the three Tuesday Mountain Prince trains are full booked so it is possible the service may be expanded to five trains again later today as two locos are required for this level of service anyway.

Boston Lodge released a loco at 09:39 and Prince arrived at Porthmadog at 09:45 hauling the B set directly into the FR platform for the 10:00 service. Presumably the rake had had programmed maintenance at the Carriage Shed. The loco ran round and the train departed 30 seconds early, the first train noted to do so! Moelwyn was already waiting at Tan-y-bwlch at 10:05 for the Dduallt pilot duties. David Lloyd George turned up light engine at 10:50 for the 11:05 service and shunted the A set from the seawall siding to the FR platform arriving with 5 minutes to spare. The train left on time. Blanche arrived at Porthmadog light engine at 11:33 and shunted the C set to the FR platform at 11:40. The train left on time.

Prince arrived back in Porthmadog with the return working of the 13:40 Mountain Prince over half an hour late at 17:22. The train comprising of the B set arrived in the FR platform. At 17:35 the rake was propelled out of the station to Boston Lodge presumably for programmed maintenance. David Lloyd George arrived back with the return working of the 15:00 Mountain Prince service also about half an hour late at 18:19 into the FR platform. The loco ran round at 18:28 and propelled the rake into the seawall siding at 18:35 before departing for the depot at 18:38 and bringing activity at Porthmadog to a close.    

By midday both the 13:40 and 15:00 trains were still bookable so demand must be relatively low. In fact the Tuesday 10:00 is now bookable again possibly through cancellations so there has been no increase in Tuesday's 3 services. Its been a few weeks since the F&WR reduced its 5 a day Mountain Prince service and it is probably associated with beach weather. By the end of the afternoon only the 15:00 Mountain Prince was still bookable but with only 3 Mountain Prince trains running people has opted for the morning Glaslyn Venturer as the 10:15 was fully booked. The afternoon service was still bookable though. The Gelert Explorer is fully booked Tuesday and Wednesday but Thursday 22/7/21 still has compartments available.  

 

Llangollen Railway

The Llangollen Railway is continuing to offer its Friday-Sunday DMU service to Berwyn until the end of July (actually Sunday 1/8/21). The Llangollen Archive and Enthusiast website has been updated to 8/7/21 but does not contain a timetable. Some links are broken or lead to warning pages! The Llangollen Railway Trust website does not contain a timetable either but a recorded message detailing train services is on their phone line. From 23/7/21-1/8/21 the FSSuO DMU service will run Llangollen to Glyndyfrdwy (if the line is approved for use) on the hour. For the rest of August the service will consist of DMUs Monday-Thursday and 'steam' services FSSuO. There is no mention of diesel hauled services and the Trust seem to be missing a trick here as other successful heritage lines like the GCR/G&WR/SVR manage to have diesel days or diesel turns on steam days either to cater for diesel enthusiasts or to give the steam loco crews a break/early finish. Cover for 'hot weather' steam bans and steam loco failures will be offered by the main line diesel fleet of Class 26010 (as 5310 in green), 31271 and 47449 (as 1566 blue).   

 

FR Mountain Prince Working timetable

Blanche, Palmerston, Prince, Welsh Pony; Merddin Emrys, David Lloyd George; Vale of Ffestiniog and Dduallt shunt loco Moelwyn or Upnor Castle or Prince.

Train     'Mountain Prince' 10:00 11:05 12:25 13:40 15:00
Previous working (if applicable)       ex 10:00 ex 11:05
Boston Lodge (light if applicable) 09:30 10:30 11:45 12:10  
Porthmadog depart (shunt ECS) 10:00 11:05 12:25 13:40 15:00
Minffordd depart 10:15 11:20 12:40 13:45 15:15
Rhiw Goch 10:30 11:35 12:55 14:00 15:30
Tan-y-bwlch arrive (diesel attached at rear) 10:45 11:50 13:05 14:25 15:45
Tan-y-bwlch depart 10:55 12:00 13:15 14:35 15:55
Dduallt (reverse) 11:10 12:15 13:30 14:50 16:10
Tan-y-bwlch arrive * 11:25 12:30 13:45 15:05 16:25
Tan-y-bwlch depart 12:20 13:30 14:50 16:05 17:10
Rhiw Goch 12:35 13:45 15:05 16:20 17:25
Minffordd depart 12:45 13:55 15:15 16:30 17:35
Porthmadog (run round and shunt ECS) 13:00 14:10 15:30 16:45 17:50
Next turn (if applicable) 13:40 15:00      
Boston Lodge (light to depot if applicable)     15:55 17:00 18:00

Any corrections appreciated.

* Following arrival at Tan-y-bwlch from Dduallt, the diesel detaches and attaches to next eastbound service (if any) and the steam loco runs round or returns direct to Boston Lodge light engine from the last train of the day.

 

F&WHR traffic 18/7/21

The temperature was set to reach 28C maximum on Sunday and the beaches were wedged with staycation holidaymakers as the weather was fine and sunny. Five Mountain Prince trains were available to book as well as the two Glaslyn Venturer trains.

Some shunting took place Sunday morning and the numbers booked only required a half size rake as with the previous time Sunday trains were tried. With a shorter rake a Garratt was not required. Lyd eventually being left with half a rake (5 coaches including the Observation car) of the Glaslyn Venturer train, departing at 10:17. Blanche departed on the 10:00 Mountain Prince and was noted at 11:25 at Tan-y-bwlch being piloted by Moelwyn returning from Dduallt. Prince shunted the 12:25 Mountain Prince into the FR platform at 11:25 a full hour ahead of departure time.

The week ahead is the final week of the Mountain Prince and Monday's 5 trains appear to be booking up more slowly than usual despite the large number of Staycationers in the Porthmadog area. This could be due to the fine weather forecast and holidaymakers preferring the beach to the railway. Nevertheless the 11:05 is already sold out. The F&WHR is being cautious and reducing the service to three trains on Tuesday with only the 10:00, 11:05 and 15:00. Tuesday's service could be expanded again if Monday's traffic exceeds expectations. Both Tuesday's Glaslyn Venturer trains are available to book but both Monday and Tuesday's Gelert Explorer are fully booked with Wednesday 21/7/21 being the first bookable date.

 

Snowdonian times 24-25/7/21

It has been officially confirmed that next weekend's Snowdonian is running but how anyone booked it is a mystery as there has been no booking site! The website has been really poor this year! Saturday's train leaves Porthmadog at 09:40 and returns from Caernarfon at 14:20. Sunday's FR trip is 10:00 from Porthmadog.

 

Moving Pictures No.53 17/7/21

Click on the YouTube window to watch 28 mins 27 seconds of video covering a loco round up. This YouTube was published on 17/7/21 (nominally 16/7/21) and was taken by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a 4K digital camcorder. It is best watched in 1080p HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on the YouTube link.

 

F&WHR traffic 17/7/21

Saturday dawned bright sunny and war. Three of the Mountain Prince trains were bookable, the 10:00, 13:40, 15:00. Black Rock Sands beach is wedged this morning with Staycationers with a forecast 31C maximum temperature forecast. Today's Gelert Explorer is fully booked as are Monday's and Tuesday's which suggests the F&WHR should operate the Gelert Explorer on Sunday 18/7/21. The train becomes FSX between 1/8/21-5/9/21. However both Sunday's Glaslyn Venturer trains are still bookable.

Blanche turned up at 09:45 and ran direct to the FR platform to haul the B set for the 10:00 Mountain Prince. The WHR platform was still occupied by the A-set unusually left the last night. Blanche left on time at 10:00. Merddin Emrys arrived at 10:25 and coupled to the A set in the WHR platform ready for the 11:05 Mountain Prince. The lightly loaded 10:00 arrived at Tan-y-bwlch by 10:45 and Moelwyn coupled to the rear for Dduallt pilot duties, leaving at 11:51. The Fairlie left on time and passed Minffordd at 11:16. Prince was coupled to the C set in the FR platform by midday for the 12:25 Mountain Prince which was sold out. The following two services were still bookable though. The train left on time and passed Minffordd at 12:35.

The 13:40 was sold out leaving prospective passengers the option of booking seats on the 15:00. Blanche departed 5 minutes late at 13:45. At 15:41 Prince shunted the C set back to the sidings before departing light engine for the depot at 15:50. Merddin Emrys arrived back with the B set in the WHR platform at 17:59. The loco uncoupled and ran round at 18:02 and after some examination, dragged the rake out at 18:24. After shunting the rake to the seawall siding (the WHR platform was needed by the Glaslyn Venturer on Sunday) the Fairlie departed for Boston Lodge at 18:29.

Four of the five Sunday Mountain Prince trains are bookable, with only the 13:40 sold out. Both Glaslyn Venturer trains have spare compartments too. There is no Sunday Gelert Explorer and Monday and Tuesday's trains are fully booked. The first bookable Gelert Explorer is Wednesday 21/7/21.

 

The Snowdonian Mystery

The Snowdonian has long been advertised to run on 24-25/7/21. As yet The Snowdonian website is still not offering any links to booking with just a week to go. The F&WHR website shows the Gelert Explorer rake OOU on 24/7/21 so it is available for the WHR leg of the trip. On 25/7/21 only 3 trains are shown operating on the Mountain Prince so one Heritage rake must be OOU for the FR leg. 

 

F&WHR traffic 16/7/21

Friday was  forecast a sunny afternoon with maximum temperatures of 26C forecast. All five Mountain Prince trains were fully booked with the 15:00 filling up  by midday. There is still room on Saturday's Gelert Explorer and both of Sunday's additional Glaslyn Venturer trains. If bookings continue to rise over the weekend with the start of the school summer holidays, there is the opportunity to add Glaslyn Venturer trains on Monday 19/7/21 as the train runs FSX from 20/7/21-5/9/21.

Lyd was on the 10:00 service waiting to run round at Tan-y-bwlch at 11:53 and Moelwyn was attached to the rear of the 11:05 hauled by Blanche, which departed at 11:55 for Dduallt. Meanwhile down at Porthmadog Prince shunted the yard at 12:00 to reverse onto the C set which it had previously shunted to the FR platform for the 12:25 Mountain Prince.

Upnor Castle crossed The Cob and arrived at Porthmadog at 13:20 hauling a single green brake coach, probably the recently delivered Pickering brake from the WHHR receiving rectification work. The loco arrived back light engine at 14:21 so it can only have visited Pen-y-Mount in that time. At 13:33 Lyd was running round for the 13:40 which left a few minutes late at 13:42. Meanwhile the 11:05 started its return journey from Tan-y-bwlch at 13:35. Upnor Castle left Porthmadog light for Boston Lodge at 14:30.

 

This easterly view at 13:29 on 16/7/21 shows Upnor Castle returning the Pickering Brake coach to the WHHR presumably after minor rectification works. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Blanche pulled into the WHR platform at about 17:45. Usually this is only done if run round is not possible on the FR side with two Mountain Prince and the Glaslyn Venturer rakes present. The loco detached at 17:50 and paused in the run round loop for photos as passengers exited the station. Unusually the loco ran light engine to Boston Lodge at 17:55 leaving the Mountain Prince rake in the WHR platform overnight as there was no Glaslyn Venturer planned for Saturday.

Despite the start of the school holidays all five Mountain Prince trains were bookable on Saturday. Saturday's Gelert Explorer is now sold out but both Sunday's Glaslyn Venturer trains are still available to book. The F&WHR has benefitted from Staycationers' cautious holiday plans. Will Boris' so called 'Freedom Day' have an effect on peoples' holiday plans and will they start flocking overseas despite record COVID cases being registered which was just as bad as January's peak today (51,870!)?

 

F&WHR traffic 15/7/21

Porthmadog was sunny and mild on Thursday morning with a Maximum of 24C forecast. The Mountain Prince is fully booked today and only the 15:00 is available out of Friday's five trains. Despite being shown as fully booked yesterday, there is availability on both Glaslyn Adventurer trains today possibly due to cancellations. Today's Gelert Explorer remained fully booked no doubt partly due to coach party bookings.

The first loco to arrive today at 09:23 was unusually David Lloyd George which collected the Glaslyn Venturer rake and shunted it to the WHR platform. This is normally No130's duty. The Fairlie returned to the yard to shunt the rake for the 10:00 Mountain Prince to the FR platform. At 09:42 No.130 was noted emerging from Boston Lodge and shunting to the coal loading point on Boston Lodge curve where a section of fencing has been removed to allow the Loadall to lift coal into No.130's bunker. The loco headed for Harbour Station at 09:47 just as the Fairlie was moving the Mountain Prince rake into the FR platform. No.130 coupled up to the Glaslyn Venturer at 09:58 ready for the 10:15 departure. The Fairlie left on time and the Garratt left a couple of minutes late at 10:17.

At 10:20 another loco was released from Boston Lodge and came over The Cob. Blanche arrived at 10:25 and, after watering, it shunted to the seawall siding at 10:32, propelling the A set to the FR platform at 10:39. The train left on time at 11:05. up at Tan-y-bwlch Moelwyn attached to the rear and disappeared to Dduallt by 10:55 allowing David Lloyd George to run round at midday. By this time the afternoon Glaslyn Venturer was again fully booked.

Lyd left with the 12:25 Mountain Prince four minutes late at 12:29. Moelwyn arrived back at Tan-y-bwlch 13:39 with Lyd's train. Blanche arrived back about 17:45 directly into the FR platform as the Glaslyn Venturer had probably been taken to Boston Lodge for maintenance. The rake was being shunted to the seawall siding about 17:55 when the Porthmadog webcam live feed cut out until about 18:20.

Four of the five Mountain Prince trains on Friday are fully booked with compartments only available on the 15:00 train. Saturday's Gelert Explorer is now fully booked and the next train is on Tuesday, which has compartments available. Both of the Glaslyn Venturer extra trains on Sunday are bookable.

 

F&WHR traffic 14/7/21

Wednesday dawned fair at Porthmadog with a sunny periods and maximum temperatures of 22C forecast. Both today's and Thursday's Mountain Prince trains were fully booked as were both today's Glaslyn Venturer trains and today's Gelert Explorer. There were no seats available on the F&WHR today, possibly for the first time. The F&WHR has sensibly added two Glaslyn Venturer trains on Sunday 18/7/21. The next Gelert Explorer that can be booked is Saturday 17/7/21. However there is no additional Gelert Explorer on Sunday 18/7/21 despite 3 of the next four trains being fully booked. That service becomes FSX from 1/8/21 from when regular Sunday trains will run until at least Sunday 5/9/21.

At 08:57 Upnor Castle was shunting the yard and at 09:06 drew out the Glaslyn Venturer rake and shunted it to the WHR platform. The diesel detached at 09:11 and returned to shunt the yard where the three four-wheelers were removed from the C set at 09:17 as the Garratt approached from Boston Lodge light engine. No.130 ran directly to couple to the front of the Glaslyn Venturer via the WHR run round loop and was coupled by 09:26. Upnor Castle shunted a 'toastrack' open coach (the recently restored No.38?) inside the four wheelers but some problem led to the coach being hand shunted away.

Prince arrived light engine from Boston Lodge at 09:30 to couple to the B set in the FR platform for the 10:00 Mountain Prince which departed on time. Upnor Castle emerged from the yard at 10:09 and waited for a path back to Boston Lodge at 10:15, departing light engine. No.130 left a couple of minutes late at 10:17 with the 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer with headlights switched on.

Blanche shunted the yard at 10:38 and set back onto the A set in the FR platform ready for the 11:05 Mountain Prince. Surprisingly Boston Lodge released a third steam loco as early as 10:50 and David Lloyd George duly came across The Cob to shunt the yard arriving at 10:56 for the 12:25 Mountain Prince. Blanche left a couple of minutes late at 11:07. Shortly after it left the Fairlie returned from watering and coaling at 11:13 to shunt the C-set into the platform at 10:18. Toastrack No.38 had been added inside of the 3 four wheelers despite the earlier difficulties. This means that all three rakes now have an open toastrack style coach for the Summer peak timetable. The rake was shunted into the platform at 11:21, over an hour before departure on the 12:25 Mountain Prince! About midday a diesel loco reversed out of Boston Lodge propelling a PW train but was held near the trident signal for a while before going forward towards Minffordd. This was revealed to be Harlech Castle with the weed killer train. The train ran wrong line into Minffordd Loop arriving at 12:19 before presumably reversing into the yard there.

 

This westerly view at 12:18 on 14/7/21 shows Harlech Castle on the weed killer PW train arriving wrong line at Minffordd with headlights switched on, presumably to reverse into the yard. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Prince arrived back with the return working of the 10:00 at 12:50. No.130 arrived back from the 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer at 12:58. At 13:13 Prince ran round after fuelling/watering and No.130 followed suit at 13:18. It appeared the rake had stopped a little short as the front of the loco was beyond the ground signal. No.130 left on time at 13:40 on the Glaslyn Venturer seconds before Prince on the 13:40 Mountain Prince.

Blanche was in the FR platform at 6pm having run round and reversed the A set into the seawall siding. At 18:17 the loco left light engine for the depot bringing the day to a close.

The Mountain Prince is already fully booked on Thursday as is the Glaslyn Venturer and the Gelert Explorer for the second day running. Passengers may be turned away and the F&WHR may be missing out on income unless it adds extra trains on the WHR this Friday-Sunday. Blanche ran directly to the FR platform at 17:53 as the Glaslyn Venturer must have been removed to the depot for maintenance as it is not required Fridays. The Porthmadog webcam live stream was offline from 17:55-18:20.

Of the five Mountain Prince trains on Friday, only the 15:00 is still bookable. The next Glaslyn Venturer is on Sunday and both trains are bookable. The next Gelert Explorer on Saturday is now fully booked so the next available is Monday 19/7/21. 

 

WAG COVID update 14/7/21

The BBC reports that most COVID rules will be lifted in Wales on 7/8/21 unless the 'third wave' runs out of control. This may have an effect on the F&WHRS COVID timetable from early September and its ability to hold Galas, Santa Specials etc. Face masks will still be required in most indoor public places, except in hospitality businesses, such as pubs. Some rules will also be eased from Saturday 17/7/21 - allowing for six people to meet in private homes and holiday accommodation, and with social distancing outdoors no longer required by law. Nevertheless the North Wales Delta variant COVID surge continues and the Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford, has drawn attention to the potential pitfalls of opening up too early. The worse incidence of COVID is in Flintshire and Wrexham areas, not Gwynedd where the F&WHR are based.

 

Other railways COVID strategies

Most English main line companies will not require mask wearing on trains from 19/7/21, though London Transport will still require compliance with the mask rules due to crowding. Heritage lines have a range of different strategies. The recently re-opened Llangollen railway is Turn Up and Go (TUG services) but the DMU currently used has sufficient space to allow people to socially distance with the traffic on offer FSSuO. The G&WR are doing pre-booking only until 18/7/21 when the timetable/booking arrangements  will change. The SVR is also currently offering pre-booking only. The MNR advises pre-booking but limited TUG fares available on the day. Unlike the F&WHR many of these railways are advising future events and Santa Specials etc.

 

F&WHR traffic 13/7/21

Porthmadog started the day rather grey but mild with 23C and sunny periods forecast. Four of the five Mountain Prince trains are fully booked though the 15:00 was still available first thing. The next three Glaslyn Venturer trains are fully booked with the first available being the 13:40 on Wednesday. Four of the next five Gelert Explorer trains are fully booked with the first available for booking being Saturday 17/7/21. There is certainly a case for starting the Sunday service from 18/7/21 when many schools are already on holiday rather than 25/7/21.

Looking ahead, there has been an amazing response to the TWThO Back to Blaenau trains (The Quarryman name seems to have been quietly dropped) from 27/7/21 and the first 11 trains are fully booked with the first available being 12/8/21. In contrast none of the FSO Harbourmaster trains from Porthmadog or the Snowdonia Star trains from Caernarfon from 31/7/21 are fully booked, unsurprisingly as they offer a 7 hour day with 2 hours at either Caernarfon or Porthmadog for lunch. The Harbourmaster will pick up on the northbound journey and set down at Beddgelert on return in a change to the plan.

No.130 was on the sold out Glaslyn Venturer rake by 09:38 and David Lloyd George was shunting the yard. The 10:00 Mountain Prince was in the FR platform at 09:45. The Fairlie left on time whereas the Garratt left a few minutes late at 10:19. Blanche came over and shunted the A set for the 11:05 Mountain Prince coupling up in the FR platform at 10:47. The Lady left on time as the sun came out. Moelwyn was up at Tan-y-bwlch handling the Dduallt pilot duties as normal. Prince emerged from Boston Lodge at 11:20 and headed across The Cob to Porthmadog, arriving at 11:25 to shunt the 12:25 Mountain Prince to the FR. platform. The train was in the platform by 11:32, almost an hour before the planned departure and left on time at 12:25.

At 12:48 David Lloyd George arrived back from the 10:00 Mountain Prince. At 13:01, No.130 arrived back at Porthmadog with the 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer. The Garratt ran round at 13:08 and posed for photos in the sunshine before coupling up at 13:12. Blanche arrived back from the 15:00 service in the WHR platform at 17:54 as there was no run round available on the FR side with three rakes in the station. In an unusual variation of end of day activities, at 18:05 the loco propelled the rake past the king point on The Cob before uncoupling and entering the station light engine presumably to water and coal. The loco reappeared at 18:16 to couple to the rake left on The Cob and at 18:20 propelled it to Boston Lodge, presumably for routine maintenance.

By early afternoon the 15:00 Mountain Prince was fully booked and all Wednesday's Mountain Prince trains were fully booked no doubt leading to some disappointed potential passengers as both the Glaslyn Venturer trains on Wednesday were also fully booked as well as the Gelert Explorer!! This was possibly the first day that there wasn't a single compartment available on all three F&WHR services all day. Clearly as case for more train services.

 

This easterly view at 11:26 on 13/7/21 shows Prince arriving unusually with a white marker on its tender which might indicate light engine movement. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

TR coaches 13/7/21

The Tal-y-llyn Railway had ordered three new coaches from Boston Lodge works, following the recent completion of the Pickering Brake for the WHHR and coaches for the R&ER. The coaches will be built using a grant of £300,000 from the Coastal Communities Fund. The coaches will be of modern construction and have heating for winter use. The will allow the original 1865 stock to be preserved for special occasions.

 

North Wales Main line news

Training runs with Class 67s on Mk4 stock are continuing as well as the normal early morning Holyhead-Cardiff service e.g. 67017 in TfW livery on 6/7/21. On Saturday 3/7/21 the rake was used on a relief rather than an ECS back to Crewe for a programmed maintenance swop at the weekend. The TransPennine Class 68 loco hauled stock operating out of Scarborough may be looking for a new home after complaints about loco noise at Scarborough. Maybe TfW would like to invest in loco hauled Mk 5 trains from North Wales to Manchester and Birmingham International airports as previously. Some 20 of the 30 additional Mk4 coaches they recently purchased have been allocated to Swansea-Manchester services leading to accusations that North Wales is once again being forgotten about by the Cardiff based Senedd!

 

F&WHR traffic 12/7/21

Porthmadog started off a little damp on Monday with 20C maximum forecast and light showers. Of today's 5 Mountain Prince trains, only the 15:00 was available to book in the morning. Both of Tuesday's Glaslyn Venturer trains are sold out as is Wednesday morning's train. Three of the next four Gelert Explorer trains are sold out with Saturday 17/7/21 being the next bookable train.

Prince arrived at 09:29 and shunted the B set from the seawall siding to the FR platform  to form the 10:00. The train left on time with Open coach No.38 leading. This set had previously been without an Open coach. Boston Lodge released Blanche at 10:25 which arrived hauling the A set, presumably returning from programmed maintenance. The train ran directly to the FR platform and Blanche ran round at 10:40 after fuelling and watering. The loco coupled up shortly afterwards for the 11:05 Mountain Prince and left on time. Moelwyn was on Dduallt pilot duties and arrived back at Tan-y-bwlch with the 10:00 working at 11:16 with Prince on the rear.

Drizzle set in by lunchtime and condensation revealed another loco coming across The Cob at 11:35. David Lloyd George turned up at 11:39 to shunt the yard. The C set was extracted and propelled into the FR platform at 1150 for the 12:25 Mountain Prince which left on time. By midday today's 15:00 Mountain Prince was also fully booked so there are no spare bookable trains this afternoon.

The weather cleared up in time for the 15:00 Mountain Prince and Blanche was waiting ready at 14:50 having already run round. The train left on time passing David Lloyd George at Minffordd which arrived at Porthmadog at 15:28. The loco ran round at 15:45. Blanche arrived bach at 17:43 with the return working of the 15:00 Mountain Prince in the FR platform. The loco ran round minutes later and left light engine for the depot at 17:55. The signalbox was closed down at 18:00 bringing an end to the day's movements.

Four of the five Mountain Prince trains on Tuesday are fully booked with only the 15:00 bookable. Both of Tuesday's Glaslyn Venturer trains are sold out as is Wednesday morning's train. Three of the next four Gelert Explorer trains are sold out with Saturday 17/7/21 being the next bookable train.

 

WHR 'event' September 18-19/9/21

The F&WHR has confirmed there will be a small scale event to replace SuperPower with K1 in attendance. Many WHRS members would like to see Russell do the complete line with its new heritage rake including the recently delivered Pickering Brake. So far the original loco has not visited Porthmadog Harbour station nor the Beddgelert-Waunfawr section. Having the Baldwin currently stabled at Boston Lodge along, if it is fit to run, would make an excellent event.

 

This southerly view (6/19) shows Russell emerging from T4, the long Aberglaslyn tunnel during the Past, Present and Future event. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Michael Chapman and was taken on a digital camera, post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Timetable plans for rest of season

The General Manager has spoken about timetable plans: 'The current timetable will form the basis of our operations to the middle of September and depending on developments possibly to the end of the season. Extra trains may be added but pre-booking will continue.'

There certainly seems to be a need for extra trains, at least on the WHR this week, with many trains fully booked. Any changes will depend on WAG COVID advice due to be updated on Wednesday 14/7/21 but unlikely to be eased as fast as the Tories' so called 'Freedom Day' plans for 19/7/21 confirmed by Boris Johnson on 12/7/21.

 

Llangollen news

The Llangollen Railway has received a gift of 300 concrete sleepers from the SVR to help with its re-sleepering campaign. When complete to Corwen the Railway will be known as the 'Llangollen to Corwen Railway'.

Heritage DMU services are scheduled to run FSSuO to Berwyn hourly 10:00-16:00 with about 15 minutes wait there. From 23/7/21-1/8/21 trains will be extended to Glyndyfrdwy again with DMUs to the same timings apparently. From 3-31/8/21 the service will run daily with DMUs Monday-Thursday and steam haulage Friday-Sunday though it is unclear if these will be extended to Carrog within this period. It is also unclear why the Llangollen Railway Trust will not be using any of its 3 mainline diesel locos which have all passed their fitness to run exams as clearly the hauled stock is available during August. The railway can only rely on one steam loco.  

 

F&WHR traffic 11/7/21

Sunday dawned mild with a maximum temperature of 20C and rain forecast for the afternoon. All five Mountain Prince trains were bookable in the morning unusually. Possibly booking cancellations have occurred as yesterday the booking website showed today's 11:05 as fully booked.

David Lloyd George was provided for the 10:00 Mountain Prince service and was noted coupling up at 09:45 to the B set left overnight in the FR platform. The train left on time. Moelwyn was already waiting at Tan-y-bwlch at 09:55 for the Dduallt pilot duty having gone up earlier.

At 10:23 Boston Lodge released Blanche which arrived at Porthmadog at 10:30 to shunt the A rake from the seawall siding to the FR platform for the 11:05 Mountain Prince. Prince departed Porthmadog on time with the 12:25 and the C set, passing Minffordd at 12:35.

At 17:53 Blanche arrived back on the return working of the 15:00 Mountain Prince working directly to the FR platform as one of the rakes must have been removed for programmed maintenance. At 17:57 the loco ran round and took the A set to Boston Lodge at 18:00 presumably for programmed maintenance and bringing activities for the day to a close.

 

Welsh Covid measures announcement 14/7/21

With a sharp increase in UK COVID infections in the last few days reported by the BBC, Wales will reveal its COVID strategy going forwards on Wednesday 14/7/21 but the Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford, suggested on Saturday that restrictions will not be eased as quickly as in England where Boris Johnson has suggested there will be a so called 'Freedom Day' on 19/7/21, where all rules would be scrapped much to the concern of virologists and health officials! Reported by the BBC, the Welsh First Minister said that even if the Covid Alert level fell to Zero face masks would still be required on trains, buses, taxis and in health venues as well as possibly in retail areas in Wales. The highest rates of infection in Wales are in Flintshire and Wrexham on the UK border where many commute to work in Liverpool and Manchester.

 

F&WHR traffic 10/7/21

Saturday turned out to be cloudy but mild at Porthmadog with sunny periods and 20C maximum temperatures forecast. Two of today's Mountain Prince trains were still bookable in the morning, the 13:40 and 15:00. The Glaslyn Venturer has not been extended to run on Sundays so the next bookable days are Tuesday 13/7/21 (only the 10:15 train is bookable). The Gelert Explorer is fully booked for the next three days (TWThO) so is not bookable until a week hence on Saturday 17/7/21, clearly a need for additional services on the WHR!

David Lloyd George turned up at 09:43 to shunt onto the B set left in the FR platform and departed on time at 10:00. Merddin Emrys came over at 10:35 and shunted the A set from the seawall siding to the FR platform for the 11:05 service which left on time. Prince hauled the 12:25 with the C set which left on time. Moelwyn was as usual Dduallt pilot for the day.

Merddin Emrys arrived back with the 15:00 Mountain Prince at 17:46 in the WHR platform. The Fairlie ran round at 17:49 and propelled the rake to the seawall siding. Merddin Emrys shunted to the watering/coaling stage at 18:05 and departed light engine to the depot at 18:17 bringing the day's activities to a close.

The 11:05 Mountain Prince is already sold out Sunday as usual but the other four trains are bookable. The next Gelert Explorer that is bookable is Saturday 17/7/21 while passengers for the Glaslyn Venturer will have to wait until Wednesday 14/7/21 now as both trains on 13/7/21 are now fully booked. This demonstrates that there is clearly a need for additional WHR services.

Four of Monday's five Mountain Prince trains are already sold out with only the 15:00 available to book. Tuesday's Glaslyn Venturer is already fully booked and Wednesday's 10:15 is too. Coupled with the fact that three of the next four Gelert Explorer trains are fully booked and compartments are not available until Saturday 17/7/21 there is now clearly suppressed demand for WHR trains and much needed income is being turned away on the WHR by not increasing the days of operation of services.

 

F&WHR traffic 9/7/21

Friday started off grey again and was forecast to remain so with a maximum temperature of a mild 19C. All five Mountain Prince trains except the 15:00 are fully booked today. The Gelert Explorer has availability on Saturday 10/7/21. As of Friday there is no sign the Sunday Glaslyn Venturer with a reduced rake experiment will be repeated. The next service will be on Tuesday 13/7/21 and the afternoon service is already fully booked.

Harlech Castle came over The Cob with a ballast hopper at 08:45 and stopped at the king point, awaiting the opening of the signalbox. At 08:50 it worked through the WHR platform with the hopper in tow. At 09:07 the train headed north along the WHR. Welsh Pony arrived with the B set from Boston Lodge maintenance by 09:43 but the weather had become murky and damp. The loco ran round at 09:48 for the 10:00 Mountain Prince departure which left on time with good condensation! Moelwyn was waiting at Tan-y- bwlch for Dduallt pilot duties.

 

This easterly view at 09:07 on 9/7/21 shows Harlech Castle with ballast hopper wagon in tow setting off towards Beddgelert. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Blanche arrived light engine at Porthmadog at 19:25 to shunt the A set from the seawall siding to the FR platform. The train left on time in improving weather. At 11:30 Prince left Boston Lodge to shunt the yard and for the 12:25 Mountain Prince. The England engine shunted the C-set to the FR platform at 11:43....well over half an hour before departure time! the train departed on time with a good crowd watching the departure. The 15:00 Mountain Prince was sold out by midday with no other trains to mop up any other prospective passengers as the Glaslyn Venturer does not run today.

At 13:13 Welsh Pony was running round ready for the 13:40. The train was back at 15:50 and the stock was left in the FR platform. The loco was disposed to Boston Lodge, departing at 16:55. Blanche arrived back at 17:52 and ran round at 17:58 to shunt the rake to the seawall siding. The loco left light engine for the depot at 18:17 to conclude movements for the day.

By the end of the day two of the five Saturday Mountain Prince trains are already sold out but the Saturday Gelert Explorer was available. There are no signs of any attempt to run additional Glaslyn Venturer trains at weekends so Tuesday 13/7/21 is the next service.

 

Boston Lodge Garratt fuelling

Thanks to James King for the following clarification: 'The resident Garratt is still stabled in the dedicated Garratt siding off the Bottom Yard. Normally, when full-line working is happening, all Garratt refuelling is done at Dinas – Garratts burn larger coal than is used on the smaller FR engines. Under the current operating routine, a supply of ‘larger’ coal is maintained in the Top Yard at Boston Lodge. A panel of the fence between the yard and the running line has been removed, close to Plas Smart, and the Garratt is taken up there as required, where the Load-all can refill the bunker from the nearby coal pile. As the bunker holds up to five tons, and the runs are relatively short and lightly loaded at present, refuelling is not a daily occurrence – and this routine will not be necessary once full-line working is resumed.'

 

FR open coach No.38

The final FR Open Coach No.38 will soon be ready to add to the C set. The coach has been refurbished and repainted and new number transfers were applied 7/7/21. The reappearance of this coach in traffic will mean all three Mountain Prince sets have an Open coach for use on Summer services.

 

Llangollen reopening 9/7/21

The Llangollen Railway opened today using a Class 108 DMU to run the shuttle trip to Berwyn and back. Track through Berwyn Tunnel needs to have a little work done on it to restore the alignment because of tight clearances. After that pointwork at the west end of Glyndyfrdwy station loop needs some attention before the steam or diesel loco hauled stock can be used because of the run round (neglecting Deeside Loop). While the locos have been passed fit, the coaching stock also needs fitness to run exams. The railway is appealing for volunteers particularly with PW/C&W experience. The Trust hopes to have the service restored to this location by the end of July and then some minor work on occupation crossings may allow trains to Carrog by early August. This will also allow a ballasting train to run to the new Corwen station allowing track to be tamped and the eventual opening of the Corwen terminus. The LlR has one main line steam loco and 3 main line diesel locos with which to run loco hauled services in a few weeks time. Trains run hourly from 11:00 Friday-Sunday this weekend. See Llangollen Railway Facebook page or the Unofficial Llangollen Facebook page.

 

This easterly view 9/7/21 shows the first public train run by the Llangollen Railway Trust approaching Berwyn, the current limit of operations. Loco hauled trains must await the completion of trackworks in Berwyn Tunnel and refurbishment of pointwork at the west of Glyndyfrdwy loop to allow run round moves. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Peter Evans (Chester) and was taken on an iPhone, post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

F&WHR traffic 8/7/21

Thursday 8/7/21 started off a little grey at Porthmadog with forecast sunny periods and 19C maximum temperatures. The Mountain Prince was fully booked and even two of Friday's five trains are already sold out. Both of today's Glaslyn Venturer trains are also sold out suggesting additional services could be run over the weekend as they were last Sunday. As it is the next booked Glaslyn Venturer is not until Tuesday 13/7/21 and one of those trains is already sold out. The Gelert Explorer is sold out today but compartments are available on Saturday.

The Porthmadog signalman was noted opening the Porthmadog signalbox at 08:45 and at 09:15 No.130 was seen passing Boston Lodge light engine, presumably from the Old Loco Shed area. It is uncertain why the loco is not maintained at the dedicated Garratt siding at Boston Lodge beside the Small Engine Shed. The loco disappeared into Boston Lodge and collected the Glaslyn Venturer
 rake of coaches, presumably from programmed maintenance as they are normally stabled in Porthmadog Harbour station overnight, and arrived in the WHR platform at 09:28 for the 10:15 departure.

Welsh Pony emerged from Boston Lodge at 09:45 and came across The Cob light engine to shunt the yard at 09:50. The B set was shunted to the FR platform at 09:58 for the 10:00 Mountain Prince that left a few minutes late at 10:03. No.130 left a few minutes late at 10:19. Blanche was being released from Boston Lodge at 10:20 and arrived at 10:25 to shunt the yard for the 11:05 service. The A set arrived in the FR platform at 10:35, a half hour before departure time. Moelwyn was up at Tan-y-bwlch waiting for the 10:00 to arrive.

The sun came out before the 11:05 left several minutes late at 11:11. By midday the C-set had been shunted into the FR platform by Prince ready for the 12:25 Mountain Prince. The train left on time. Welsh Pony arrived back at 12:48 ready to be cleaned for the 13:40. The Glaslyn Venturer arrived back at 12:57 with ten coaches including service cars next to the Observation cars, a feature not seen on the Gelert Explorer. No.130 detached immediately running round at 13:00. At 13:29 Welsh Pony also ran round ready for the 13:40 departure. Unusually No.130 left on time with Welsh Pony departing a minute later.

Blanche arrived back at 14:05 with the A set ready for the 15:00 departure. Run round was completed at 14:32 and the train departed 5 minutes late at 15:05. The loco returned at 17:37 running straight into the FR platform for the second day running. Maybe another rake is at Boston Lodge having programmed maintenance. Blanche ran round at 1757 and shunted the rake to the seawall siding before leaving light engine for the depot at 18:05.

By the end of the afternoon four of the five Friday Mountain Prince trains were sold out with only the 15:00 bookable. Despite the high level of bookings on other services the F&WHR is so far resisting repeating the Sunday Glaslyn Venturer
 for the next two weekends. The service becomes FSX from 20/7/21 so there will be Sunday trains from Sunday 25/7/21. Compartments are also available on Saturday's Gelert Explorer.

 

F&WHR traffic 7/7/21

The weather was quite damp on Wednesday. No.130 was noted shunting the Glaslyn Venturer rake to the WHR platform at 09:20 and running round at 09:39 as Welsh Pony arrived for the 10:15 Mountain Prince service. Merddin Emrys hauled the 11:05 train and was noted arriving back on the final train of the day at 17:52 into the FR platform, rather unusually. This was because No.130 had taken the ECS from the afternoon Glaslyn Venturer to Boson Lodge for programmed maintenance rather than stable it at Porthmadog, blocking the run round loop. At 18:08 the Fairlie ran round its train and shunted the A-set to the sea wall siding before departing at 18:15 light engine to the depot to complete the day's activities.

 

F&WHR traffic 6/7/21

Your webmaster visited the F&WHR to travel on the Gelert Explorer on 6/7/21. The small car park opposite the station costs £5 for the duration of the trip and can be paid by contactless card. Another car park is situated a little further south charging £2 a day and of course the Harbour car park is available a little further away.

 

This westerly view 6/7/21 shows No.87 being prepared at Dinas to shunt the Gelert Explorer rake before the ECS to Caernarfon. The loco is carrying the interchangeable Gelert Explorer train name board on its running plates on both sides.  Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Keith Holland and was taken on an iPhone, post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This westerly view 6/7/21 shows No.87's bilingual running pate train name Fforiwr Gelert/Gelert Explorer. The loco is carrying the interchangeable Gelert Explorer train name on its running plates on both sides. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Keith Holland and was taken on an iPhone, post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The station host checked me in (but did not ask to check my WHRS Membership card) and advised about the train formation and the train pulled in hauled by No.87 at 11:30. Three coaches arrived with many people who had booked bus tours. Three of the coaches in the centre of the train were reserved for these people. Those who had ordered hampers were advised to collect them at 10:45 but they were in fact issued from 10:30.

 

This southerly view (6/7/21) shows No.87's arriving at Caernarfon at 10:32. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera, post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view 6/7/21 shows No.87's bilingual running pate train name Fforiwr Gelert/Gelert Explorer. The loco is running round at Caernarfon. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on an iPhone 8, post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This easterly view (6/7/21) shows No.87's train nameplate at Caernarfon. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera, post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The train left at 11:00 and had no problem with its 11 coaches, in fact it seems it could have hauled a couple more if traffic demanded. Speed was deliberately kept down to 15mph maximum to conserve coal and give passengers more time to view the scenery. Most passengers wore masks as requested and very few went to the window to hang out and take photos of the train rounding curves. The train stopped at all the loops to collect tokens and a combined token when one engine was in steam as today might seem a good idea in future.

At Dinas the North Yard headshunt was vacant other than Romanian coach No.2060, the water carrier and a B wagon. There was no sign of missing coaches 2040/2042 which might have been expected in the rake. No.2115 Bodysgallen was also nowhere to be seen. A PW train with the ex-SAR brakevan was present in the North Yard as well as the well wagon. The depot contained ex-Shotton Steelworks shunter Bill. NG15 No.134 was thought to be in the Goods Shed but there was no sign of PW shunter No.9.

 

This northerly view (6/7/21) shows Bill in the Dinas shed at 15:38. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera, post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

At Plas-y-nant there was a brief stop to pick up a PW worker. The halt seems to have been finished by the North Wales Track Gang to a good standard with even a notice board proclaiming that train services do not set down or pick up due to the special COVID timetable. The General Manager has suggested the current pattern of bookings and services will persist all season into the Autumn. The food service may never be the same again, he said, meaning the pre order hamper 'picnic' system may be here to stay. I found the hamper very sustaining.

Rhyd Ddu sidings looked rusty and unused with no rail vehicles stabled. After the heavy overnight rain the skies cleared and there was lunchtime sunshine. Arrival at Beddgelert was on time and almost of the passengers visiting Beddgelert. There were reportedly large queues for the ice cream parlour. I stayed on the platform to record the run round which came about 15 minutes or so after the arrival. The loco filled up with water before coupling up. The little station shop was open for teas/coffees/snacks and memorabilia.

 

This southerly view (6/7/21) shows No.87 having arrived at Beddgelert. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera, post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This southerly view (6/7/21) shows No.87 running round at Beddgelert at 12:55. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera, post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

This northerly view (6/7/21) shows No.87 having coupled up to the north end of its train at Beddgelert at 13:13. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright Barrie Hughes and was taken on a Canon EOS 1300D digital camera, post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Staff prepared hot water for the two buffet cars for teas and coffees and delivered them on trolleys. People began to drift back by 14:00 after being warned of the expensive taxi ride if they missed the 14:15 departure (the infrequent S4 bus service also runs Beddgelert to Caernarfon!) and by 14:15 the train was ready to go. This required several restarts with the train having to set back a yard or so each time to get the pistons in the correct position. Starting on the 1 in 40 is never easy and often requires sand. Arrival back at Caernarfon was on time at 15:47. The passengers dispersed quickly to the three Alpine Tour buses or the car parks.

 

B&FR progress 6/7/21

The Bala & Ffestiniog Trust has placed a booking for diggers and dumpers to utilise as part of its ongoing works at Llan Ffestiniog Station to help achieve its long term aim of restoring the station. Naturally this comes at a cost and future phases will involve further costs to achieve the aim of tidying up the site at Llan Ffestiniog and ultimately building a new station building there.

We need your help to make this happen and there are many ways you can do so.  One of those ways is the Timber for a Tenner fundraiser which is standing at just under £2,000 currently. If all 1600 members of this page were to offer £5 a month (1 sleeper every 2 months) plus gift aid for 12 months we would raise £120,000 and comfortably take a big dent out of our target of £144,000 for the fund. This fund is a general fund to enable the Trust to carry out its works, reaching the £140,000 target will enable the trust to carry out all of the works necessary at Llan Ffestiniog short of building the station buildings themselves. This would result in a site that is easy maintenance as well as prepared for the building of a station when the appropriate permissions are obtained.  It would also enable the trust to get electricity and water / waste connections on the site for the siting of a camping coach which will generate an income for the Trust moving forward.

With the support of the members this could all be achieved within the next two years subject to fundraising efforts. Please give generously to be a part of a new dawn for Llan Ffestiniog and the wider line.

https://www.balaffest.org.uk/main.php?page=t4t

 

Tories' coal plans threaten Heritage Railways 6/7/21

The BBC reports from the F&WHR (including a short video) how the Tories plans to eliminate coal burning may destroy Heritage Railways. While the Tories say the Act does not apply to 'heritage vehicles', concerned peers are trying to insert cast iron guarantees into the Bill. Lord Bradshaw, a Liberal Democrat peer and former railwayman, said: "Steam locomotives, in particular, and the associated steam engines employed elsewhere are generally now maintained to the highest standards by the most enthusiastic people and they bring lots of tourists into the most remote areas of the country".

Lord Faulkner of Worcester, a Labour peer and the president of the Heritage Railway Association, said he wanted a ministerial assurance that the heritage steam sector "will be permitted to continue to burn coal". The final UK coal opencast sites producing steam coal will be closing down soon including Ffos-y-fran in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales, which supplies much of the Heritage Rail movement.

 

Gelert Explorer working timetable

Station Outbound Return
Dinas ECS 10:15 16:30
Caernarfon 10:30 a 16:15
Caernarfon 11:00 d 15:50
Dinas a 11:15 15:40
Waunfawr 11:40 15:20
Plas-y-nant 11:55 15:10
Rhyd Ddu 12:15 14:55
Beddgelert 12:45 14:15

 

Gelert Explorer rake 6/7/21

Coach (from north to south) Compartments
2152 Gwyrfai A-E
2091 1-4
2044 5-10
2045 11-16
2047 17-22
2046 23-28
2040 29-34
2090 47 Extra large
2048 new 65-70
2043 42-46
2100 Glaslyn F-J

Coaches unused : 2040/2042/2060 the Romanian coach which may account for the strange gaps in the compartment numbering system from 34-46. Nos. 2040/2042 alone could account for the 12 gap in possible compartments and are currently stored at Boston Lodge New Carriage Shed. As regards No.2048, this new coach has recently been transferred from the Glaslyn Venturer and that rake make have a different system for numbering compartments. No.2048 has wider door and a foldaway seat for PRM wheelchair compliance.

 

F&WHR traffic 5/7/21

Monday started mild with sunny periods forecast at Porthmadog and 17C maximum temperatures. On Monday morning four of the five Mountain Prince trains are sold out today, with only the 15:00 available to book and three of the five already fully booked for tomorrow. Both Glaslyn Venturer trains have space Tuesday-Thursday but the Gelert Explorer is fully booked Monday-Wednesday with coach parties and compartments free from Thursday 8/7/21.

Prince hauled the 10:00 Mountain Prince departing on time. At 10:45 David Lloyd George was shunting the A set from the seawall siding to the platform for the 11:05 which left on time and arrived in Tan-y-bwlch at 11:45. Moelwyn was coupled to the rear by 11:50. Merddin Emrys arrived at Porthmadog at 11:50 and shunted the C-set to the FR platform by 12:00 ready for the 12:25.

 

F&WHR traffic 4/7/21

Sunday dawned mild and grey in Porthmadog with 18C maximum temperature forecast. Five Mountain Prince trains were offered today and already two are fully booked (11:05 and 13:40). The 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer is showing 'Call to book' message. The rake has been reduced to half size which can be pulled by a small engine presumably as an experiment this Sunday. If successful, two more Sunday trains could be run before the service becomes FSX from Sunday 25/7/21 to cope with anticipated School Summer Holiday Staycations. The Gelert Explorer from Caernarfon does not run until Monday 5/7/21 and there are still compartments available. The Porthmadog webcam was still giving after image problems for the third day.

Lyd was already in the WHR platform at 09:25 with a reduced rake of the Glaslyn Venturer consisting of 5 coaches and Observation Car No.152 next to the loco. Prince was also already present on the B set in the FR platform for the 10:00 Mountain Prince and left on time, passing Minffordd at 10:12 with a well loaded train. Lyd left on time with the General Manager driving.

 

This easterly view at 10:16 on 4/7/21 shows Lyd with shortened rake for today's experimental Sunday Glaslyn Venturer. The reduction in the length of the rake may be for timing load reasons on the 1 in 40 approach to Beddgelert though the train was still not shown as full even with only half the seats available. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Merddin Emrys left Boston Lodge at 10:30 and arrived at 10:38 before shunting the A-set from the seawall siding to the FR platform. The train was in the platform by 10:45 some 20 minutes before the 11:05 departure time and left on time. At 11:43 David Lloyd George arrived to shunt the rake for the 12:24 into the FR platform. The train departed on time and passed the returning 10:00 service with Prince at 12:34. Prince left Minffordd at 12:38 and arrived at Porthmadog at 12:45. Prince ran round at 13:00 and coupled up to the 13:40 Mountain Prince.

Lyd returning with the half size Glaslyn Venturer rake at 13:02, a little later than normal which is surprising considering the shortened rake. The 13:40 was Glaslyn Venturer was sold out unsurprisingly with only half the number of compartments available on the shortened rake. Within 5 minutes the loco had detached and was at the coal and watering point in the station yard. Lyd ran round at 13:!4 and was coupled up for the 13:40 departure at 13:18. Prince departed on time and Lyd a few minutes late at 13:45.

Up at Tan-y-bwlch Moelwyn arrived back at 13:27 in the rain with the 12:25 and the Fairlie detached promptly. Merddin Emrys arrived back at Porthmadog at 17:51 in the WHR platform, promptly detached and ran round. The stock was propelled to the seawall siding by 18:00. At 18:06 the loco ran to fuel/water in the yard before leaving light engine for the depot at 18:14, bringing the day's activities to a close.

Two of Monday's five Mountain Prince trains are fully booked. The Glaslyn Venturer is free to book from Tuesday however the Gelert Explorer is now fully booked for the next 3 trains until Thursday 8/7/21. Since 5 of the next 7 trips are fully booked thought might be given to adding a service on Monday 12/7/21 rather than starting the regular Monday trains on 19/7/21 as currently planned.

  

F&WHR mid season update 3/7/21

Click on the YouTube window to watch 13 mins 38 seconds of video covering a 'Half Year Report' on the F&WHR by General Manager Paul Lewin. This YouTube was published on 3/7/21 and was taken by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a 4K digital camcorder. It is best watched in 1080p HD in Google Chrome browser as only 720p HD available on Windows. Alternatively click on the YouTube link.

 

Vale of Ffestiniog fails 28/6/21

After heavy use on the flange lubrication runs to Dduallt until 28/6/21 when its transmission was noted getting hot, the loco was failed a few days later after a test run part the way across The Cob on 2/7/21. The gearbox has been removed by 3/7/21 and the identical gearbox from Castell Caernarfon is being fitted. The railway desperately needs a heavy duty rescue loco! Castell Caernarfon itself has been out of action for over 4 years since May 2017 and its refurbished gearbox has not been used since return to Dinas 13/9/17 from Llewellin Gears of Bristol as the loco has been having a very long slow refit.

The failure of Vale of Ffestiniog calls into question why Castell Caernarfon has been of such low priority for the last four years, though it is confined to the WHR. It wasn't until 16/4/19 after the Beddgelert run-through incident that Castell Caernarfon moved up the priority list. Until Vale of Ffestiniog is repaired it seems likely the F&WHR will have to keep both Fairlies in light steam to rescue the heavy service trains on the WHR. Staff are working urgently this week to repair Vale of Ffestiniog and it was hoped the loco might be back in traffic next week.

 

Gala News

There will be no SuperPower event this year over the WHR AGM weekend of 18-19/9/21 though K1 will be present for a few weeks to offer variety of traction. However there will be a small FR event over the weekend of 8-10/10/21. No mention has been made of The Snowdonian due to take place 24-27/7/21 and the webpage does not give access to any booking details/portal.

 

Llangollen reopening from 9/7/21

With the completion of tracklaying over Dee Bridge, the Llangollen Railway aims to open a limited service from Llangollen to Berwyn from next Friday 9/7/21. The PW team will move on to completing essential trackwork in Berwyn Tunnel and servicing fishplates etc. to Deeside loop, then Glyndyfrdwy and finally Carrog over coming weeks, allowing the line to be reopened in stages once passed fit for use. Corwen station is still under construction with work now focussed on the station buildings on the island platform.

Trains will run on Friday, Saturday & Sunday departing from Llangollen hourly from 11:00 until 16:00. On the evening of Friday 9/7/21 there will be two additional departures at 19:00 & 20:00 to coincide with the start of the Llangollen International Eisteddfod and the Illumination of the Town Bridge taking place at 21:00. This will probably be a steam service with one train in steam.

 

F&WHR traffic 3/7/21

Saturday began grey with drizzle forecast and even a thunderstorm with a maximum temperature of 18C. Of the five Mountain Prince trains running on Saturday. Compartments were available on the 10:00, 13:40 and 15:00 at the start of the day. Saturday's Gelert Explorer is fully booked but compartments are still available on Monday 5/7/21. Both the morning and afternoon Glaslyn Venturer trains on Sunday are bookable and it is hoped this might be the start of regular Sunday workings if sufficient tickets are sold to at least cover the cost of running the service. The Tan-y-bwlch and Minffordd webcams were restored to public use by the morning but the Porthmadog webcam was still showing problems with images smeared out every few seconds possibly due to lagging/frame loss.

Prince was released from Boston Lodge at 09:43 and came over The Cob to couple directly to the B set in the FR platform as usual. When it arrived at 09:49 it was clear it was dragging Moelwyn over. The train left on time with the diesel piloted the train to Tan-y-bwlch where it was to run round and attach to the rear for the Dduallt shunt. Normally Moelwyn would have gone up light engine earlier.

 

This westerly view at 10:13 on 3/7/21 shows Moelwyn, with headlight illuminated because of dull weather, piloting Prince on the 10:00 Mountain Prince. Moelwyn normally runs light engine to Tan-y-bwlch before the passenger train. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

At 10:20 Blanche was released from Boston Lodge and arrived at 10:27 to shunt the A set from the yard to the FR platform at 10:37 about half an hour before the booked departure time of 11:05.before. David Lloyd George departed with the C-set at 12:25. By this time only the 15:00 has space. At 12:50 Prince arrived back with the returning 10:00. After fuelling and watering the loco ran round and coupled up at 13:28 for the 13:40 service.

Prince arrived back with the 13:40 Mountain Prince at 16:50. The rake was left in the platform and the loco returned to the depot light engine at 16:58. Blanche arrived back in the WHR platform 17:51.After shunting the rake to the seawall siding and watering the loco left light engine for the depot at 18:15 to bring the day's movements to a close.

Three of the five Mountain Prince trains are still bookable on Sunday as are both Glaslyn Venturer trains. The next Gelert Explorer on Monday 5/7/21 has compartments available.

 

F&WHR traffic 2/7/21

Friday dawned mild and sunny at Porthmadog with 18C maximum temperatures forecast. Four of the five Mountain Prince trains were fully booked with only the 15:00 with compartments available. The webcams were still experiencing problems with both Minffordd and Tan-y-bwlch webcams out of action and the Porthmadog webcam still dropping frames every few seconds. Sadly for people wishing to book trains, the F&WHR Booking website displayed 'Resource Limit Reached' occasionally for the first time so people would have been deterred from booking or have to telephone to book seats. It looks like the F&WHR need a better internet connection/computer system as passengers may be lost. The experimental Glaslyn Venturer on Sunday 4/7/21 could be repeated on the two subsequent Sundays if loadings are profitable before becoming FSX from 25/7/21. The Gelert Explorer is fully booked until 5/7/21 and half the trips in the following two weeks are already fully booked!

Prince was coupled up to the B set in the FR platform by 09:45 and departed several minutes at 10:06. Blanche was released from Boston Lodge at 10:23 and arrived at 10:29 to shunt the A -set from the seawall siding to the FR platform. The train was in the platform at 10:35, half an hour before departure on the 11:05 and left on time. At 11:30 David Lloyd George was released from Boston Lodge and shunted the yard at 11:40 to extract the C- set. It left on time at 12:25.

Prince arrived back in the FR platform with the return working of the return working of the 10:00 Mountain Prince at 12:54. The train was cleaning and prepared for the 13:40 working which left on time passing Blanche at Minffordd. Blanche pulled into the FR platform at 14:07 with the return working of the 11:05. The final train, the 15:00 Mountain Prince was fully booked by now. At 16:07 Vale of Ffestiniog emerged from Boston Lodge and crossed The Cob to the Trident signal before reversing into the depot again at 16:16, perhaps shunting a really long rake of coaches?

At 16:48 Prince arrived  back in the FR platform with the return of the 13:40. After leaving the rake in the platform Prince left light engine for the depot at about 17:00. At 17:45 Moelwyn arrived unusually piloting Blanche with the return working of the 15:00 into the WHR platform. Normally the loco comes down light engine an hour before this. The two locos uncoupled promptly and ran round together and propelled the rake to the seawall siding at 18:00 before departing light engine to the depot at 18:04 to conclude the day's movements.

 

This easterly view at 17:45 on 2/7/21 shows Moelwyn piloting Blanche on the return of the 15:00 Mountain Prince. Moelwyn had been Dduallt pilot and it was usual for the loco to come down attached to the passenger train. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Tomorrow's five Mountain Prince trains are mostly free to book except the 11:05 which is sold out. there are compartments available on both Sunday's Glaslyn Venturer trains but the Gelert Explorer is fully booked until Monday 5/7/21.

 

Friday ballast drop 2/7/21

This westerly view at shows Harlech Castle with a ballast drop on the sharp curve leading onto the Deviation just east of Dduallt Halt. Apparently heat earlier in the week had caused expansion creating voids as the rails pushed out to a greater radius.. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

F&WHR traffic 1/7/21

Thursday 1/7/21 dawned a bit grey but mild in Porthmadog with sunny periods and temperatures of 17C maximum forecast for the afternoon. The five Mountain Prince trains were fully booked except for the 15:00 service. The morning Glaslyn Venturer showed the strange message 'Call to book' but the Gelert Explorer from Caernarfon was fully booked until 5/7/21.

It looked like a repeat of Thursday with Merddin Emrys shunting through the WHR loop onto the front of the Glaslyn Venturer at 09:35. Prince arrived light engine and coupled directly to the B set in the FR platform at the same time. However one difference was that the loco used to shunt the Glaslyn Venturer out to the WHR platform was David Lloyd George instead of Lyd. The Fairlie ran round at 09:42 and became pilot loco providing a two Double Fairlie haulage to Beddgelert. Prince departed on time at 10:00 as did the two Fairlies at 10:15.

 

This easterly view (1/7/21) at 09:42 shows David Lloyd George running round to pilot Merddin Emrys on the 10:15 Glaslyn Venturer substituting for No.87. Click on the image to expand. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a webcam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

The Porthmadog webcam was again showing signs of lag and missing frames as it did yesterday while the Minffordd and Tan-y-bwlch cameras were off line all day again. Its seems the F&WHR's webcam system has become unreliable of late maybe due to large numbers of customers using the bandwidth on the F&WHR's computers for booking tickets.

Blanche was released from Boston Lodge at 10:35 and came across The Cob for the 11:05 Mountain Prince. The loco shunted the A rake from the seawall sidings at 10:42 to the FR platform and departed on time. At 11:20 Welsh Pony was released from Boston Lodge and arrived at 11:28 to shunt the C-set for the 12:25 Mountain Prince.

Prince arrived back at 12:47 with the return working of the 10:00 Mountain Prince. The Glaslyn Venturer arrived at 12:56 and the two Fairlies went separately to the fuelling and watering point at 13:07 and 13:09. At 13:30 passengers on the platform were given the treat of seeing Merddin Emrys shunt through the WHR run round track whilst David Lloyd George headed from the watering point towards The Cob. Both were coupled onto the front of the train by 13:35 ready for the 13:40 departure. Both Glaslyn Venturer and Mountain Prince trains departed simultaneously probably for the first time at 13:40 in sunshine.

At 17:40 a Garratt loco, possibly No.87 returned from Dinas, was noted waiting for a path back to Boston Lodge next to the signalbox while Blanche was noted crossing The Cob with the returning 15:00 service. It seems the loco might have arrived light engine from Dinas and watered in the yard. Blanche arrived in the WHR platform at 17:49 and the loco ran round shortly afterwards once the Garratt had cleared the shunt limit. The rake was shunted to the seawall siding at 18:00 before the loco left light engine for the depot at 18:05 bringing the day's activities to a close.

On Friday 2/7/21 the first two of five Mountain Prince trains are already sold out. A pair of Glaslyn Venturer trains will be offered on Sunday 4/7/21 for the first time. There are no Gelert Explorer trains until Saturday but the first train with free compartments is not until Monday 5/7/21.

 

Main line trains 30/6/21-1/7/21

The Class 230 is still on test on the Borderlands Line. A small fire under one in Wrexham on 1/7/20 was put out by staff although fire engines attended as a precaution.

The NR Class 37s (97303/4 top and tail) operated a 23:10 Machynlleth-Pwllheli Derby NR test train via Pwllheli overnight 30/6/21-1/7/21. such trains regularly patrol NR tracks checking for track faults.

Green LSL Class 40 No.40013 carrying the number D213 Andania was on a Bangor-Bristol Temple Meads excursion departing Bangor 07:40. Despite the 2000HP power of the loco several minutes were lost on the climb to Whitmore Summit and the green machine was down 12 minutes by Stafford having been routed over the slow lines. The train was back on time by Bristol.

 

This northerly view (1/7/21) shows D213 Andania (40023) ECS leaving Bristol Temple Meads for stabling after depositing its passengers. Notable on the right are the cleared land where Bristol Bath Road loco depot was situated and beyond cleared land where the rail connected Post Office sorting office lay. Click on the image to expand. This image is copyright John Rawlings and was taken on a quadcopter cam and post processed and displayed at 96dpi.

 

Gelert Explorer working timetable

Only one train per day operates the Gelert Explorer and it currently operates TThSO during May but with extra Wednesdays and Sundays planned for school holiday periods. The leaflet claims it is a six hour experience but in fact it is a five hour journey with an hour an a half break at Beddgelert. Passengers may want to allow 30 mins before departure for collecting hampers/visiting the station shop etc. and a similar half hour at the end.

Locos available: No.87, No.130; Vale of Ffestiniog plus Conwy Castle (double headed if diesel substituted)

Dinas (ECS) 10:15
Caernarfon arrive (run round) 10:30
Caernarfon depart 11:00
Dinas 11:15
Waunfawr 11:30
Rhyd Ddu 12:00
Beddgelert arrive (run round) 13:00
Beddgelert depart 14:30
Rhyd Ddu 15:00
Waunfawr 15:30
Dinas 15:45
Caernarfon arrive (run round) 16:00
Caernarfon depart (ECS) 16:15
Dinas 16:30

 

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