News Archive Page
V4.3 updated 1/5/22
with news to 31/3/22
Newly archived sections are placed at the top of this page.
F&WHR trains 31/3/22
The last day of March dawned with sunny periods, a sprinkling of snow on the mountains and passing snow showers. All four booked trains today had availability. By 10:10 the Mountain Spirit had run round and was ready to load in the FR platform at Porthmadog. Blanche arrived at 10:14 into the WHR platform, somewhat earlier than normal and was able to complete the run round before the 10:30 Mountain Spirit departure, possibly for the first time. This left at 10:33 having waited for a late coach party which it was decided to allow to join at Minffordd. The train arrived there at 10:41 and the coach party joined at 10:45 before the train departed a little late at 10:53. This released the token for the 10:55 Woodland Wanderer which was signalled to start on time but was in fact delayed inexplicably until 11:02.
Blanche passed Minffordd at 11:13. Snow showers were falling at Tan-y-bwlch as David Lloyd George arrived at 11:17 and left at 11:24 for Blaenau Ffestiniog. Blanche arrived at Tan-y-bwlch at 11:48 in the sunshine about 8 minutes late. The train departed on the return journey at 12:39 about 4 minutes late from the wrong line as usual after a hiccup on Tuesday. The Mountain Prince arrived back at Tan-y-bwlch at 12:58 departing 10 minutes later at 13:08. At 13:28 Blanche was noted running round the 13:55 Woodland Wanderer in the FR platform whilst David Lloyd George arrived back in the WHR platform at 13:39. The Fairlie detached and ran to water and coal at 13:45 and the Woodland Wanderer departed on time at 13:55. The Fairlie emerged from the yard at 14:00, coupled up and departed at 14:10 ECS for the depot.
Blanche returned passing Minffordd at 16:00 and arriving in Porthmadog FR platform at 16:10. Blanche made short work of the run round and hauled the rake back to Boston Lodge, departing at 16:20 to end the day's activities.
Moving Pictures No.62 30/3/22
Click on the YouTube link to watch 24 minutes 30 seconds of video focussing on preparations for the new season and the first trains of the new season. This video was published on 29/3/22 and is best viewed at 1080p with Chrome. This video was produced by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a professional 4K Betamax camcorder.
Main line news 30/3/22
The Borderlands Line was blocked from mid morning awaiting structural engineer inspection following another bridge bash. A lorry carrying a file of skips had hit the overbridge near Cefn-y-bedd, apparently a regular occurrence. The A541 was also closed for some hours and rail freight (steel/cement trains) cancelled.
Preparation for new season
On 22/3/22 No.130 was trialled with the anthracite ovoids/import coal mix and ran satisfactorily to Rhyd Ddu. Four relay sites (including on Bryn-y-Felin curve on the WHR) were completed on time and to a great standard. Four double Fairlie bogies have been fully overhauled so both David Lloyd George and Merddin Emrys start the season on freshly overhauled power units. Hardly noticeable but S&T has made a like for like replacement of Tan-y-bwlch location cabinets while they were fitting the new wrong line starter. Harbour Station canopy looks great now refurbished and with a clean roof covering and the whole building has been thoroughly refurbished on the outside. Spooners' has new platform side windows. Lots of carriages have been repainted and happily protected by a new Carriage Shed which now has electrical lighting.
The North Wales Track gang replaced a troublesome sleeper at Dinas under a turnout within days of discovery of a problem and the train operated trailable points now work once again. The NG15 gang are attracting good numbers of new volunteers and good progress is being seen on this loco. Nos.87/130 are in good order and ready to roll thanks again to Dinas staff and volunteers.
The Commercial and Operational teams have worked hard to get a plan together for this year. This against a moving target of what COVID might or might not allow the F&WHR to do. Back in January there was some uncertainty as to what service could be offered. Work normally done over an entire winter was done in just two months once the F&WHR settled a plan.
F&WHR trains 29/3/22
Tuesday was forecast to be a sunny, mild day at Porthmadog with snow showers forecast Wednesday night as a cold front comes down from the north. Steam was being raised at 09:00 at Boston Lodge. The 10:55 Woodland Wanderer was fully booked as on Saturday but the Mountain Prince and Gelert Explorer were both bookable up to departure time. The Woodland Wanderer ran without the 3 four-wheelers of the C Set which were also removed on Saturday.
David Lloyd George arrived ECS about 10:00 and was ready to leave by 10:20. Blanche departed Boston Lodge at 10:20 and came over The Cob to the WHR platform arriving ECS at 10:23. Blanche detached by 10:30 but run round was delayed until after the Mountain Spirit departed at 10:31. The loco coupled up at 10:37 ready for the 10:55 departure.
Up at Tan-y-bwlch the Woodland Wanderer had been shunted to the westbound platform by 12:30 for some reason. The signalling at Tan-y-bwlch had been changed to allow departures from the arrival platform and avoid unnecessary shunting so this was unusual. The train left at 12:35 on time.
Meanwhile the Mountain Spirit arrived back at Tan-y-bwlch at 12:54, departing at 13:01. At Porthmadog Blanche had arrived by 13:15 and the loco had detached and was watering by 13:20. The train left on time at 13:55 after David Lloyd George had arrived. The Fairlie watered and coaled and was coupled up by 14:03 before departing at 14:07 for Boston Lodge.
Merddin Emrys on test pulled into Tan-y-bwlch light engine at 14:29 from the Blaenau Ffestiniog direction and Blanche arrived at 14:30 on the 13:55 Woodland Wanderer. Blanche uncoupled within minutes and detached to water. The Fairlie departed at 14:36 for Boston Lodge allowing Blanche to run round at 14:44.
This westerly view (29/3/22) shows Blanche arriving at Tan-y-bwlch with the 13:55 Woodland Wanderer while Merddin Emrys pauses light engine on a test run to wait for the token. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was provided by the F&WHR web camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
Beddgelert station passenger waiting sheds 29/3/22
Two wooden sheds were erected at Beddgelert station to provide shelter in inclement weather for people waiting for their return trains in time for the first Gelert Explorer and Glaslyn Venturer services. The sheds are being erected on the concrete foundation of the future station building. A new building for Beddgelert has now moved up the priority order for construction as the F&WHR has adopted its 'frontier station' philosophy in a very similar way to the FR's leasing of the WHR in the mid 1930s.
How long the sheds will remain is anyone's guess. The original Caernarfon station Portacabin lasted from 1997-2003 when it was replaced by a former mobile classroom from Wallasey Girls' School. This lasted 17 years until the current Caernarfon station building! Let us hope that funding is soon found for a permanent structure at Beddgelert in keeping with the WHR's railway's architecture and in sympathy with the heritage Waunfawr station rather than the modern style of Caernarfon station.
Main Line news 29/3/22
Colas liveried 60076 left Tuebrook for Penmaenmawr on the second trip of the week with 14 box wagons arriving several minutes late.
North Wales main line 28-29/3/22
The Penmaenmawr-Tuebrook stone train ran on a STP path MTO 28-9/3/22. The train was hauled by Colas liveried 60076 Dunbar hauling 6D60 as the 10:08 off Tuebrook arriving on time at about 12:50. After loading roughly half of the 24 box wagons at Penmaenmawr it returned as 6K22, the 14:56 to Tuebrook, leaving 44 minutes late but gained some time as it returned. The rest are likely to be in tomorrow's working.
Train service week commencing 28/3/22
The F&WHR has issued a new type of calendar image to simplify the services on offer any day. There are no trains tomorrow 1/4/22, one of the few days this season that no services are on offer or the following Friday in the middle of the School Easter holidays! Whether this becomes a regular feature will be interesting to see as this one was released mid-week along with next week's schedule, due to start Monday 4/4/22.
Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was provided by the F&WHR. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
F&WHR Covid Travel restrictions review 28/3/22
F&WHR management is reviewing current travel restrictions which eased in Wales from Monday 28/3/22. Trains are currently running on pre-booked socially distanced basis as required by Welsh law prior to this date. The F&WHR is watching very carefully for the opportunity to change timetable/booking restrictions. However, businesses are still required to conduct their own COVID risk assessments and make suitable accommodations to reduce risk. Hence the F&WHR's compartment/booking policy. They will be reviewing traffic in the next few weeks as the season settles down and they can judge public views on safety. Currently the most frequently asked question on the booking office phone lines concerns COVID protection in enclosed spaces. The F&WHR states they will make timetable/booking changes to provide as much capacity and flexibility as possible as soon as they can.
One major change planned to be announced next week is the reopening of intermediate stations for staff and members of the FRS and WHRS later in the year.
Following today’s change to Covid restrictions in Wales, we are now working towards our plan to further open up access to our railway. Next week, we should be in a position to announce the new arrangements. Access to trains at intermediate stations will become possible once more, initially for staff and members only, whilst we gain experience of our new way of working.
Mindful of very strong feedback from our paying customers that Covid safety remains important to them, we will continue with our cautious approach and will consider further relaxations at a later date. Last season we operated a ‘Covid Secure’ service, our plans for the start of this season were for a ‘Covid Light’ service, we are now moving to a ‘Covid Aware’ service.
We are still very mindful that Covid levels are rising and thus will continue monitoring the situation closely. Once again, we thank our members and staff for their support and understanding as we work through the challenges that the pandemic has presented us.
See Daily Post story and BBC story for details of the Welsh COVID rule changes. Meanwhile COVID cases are rising following the Tories removal of restrictions and Scotland now has a record number of people in hospital with COVID.
Other Welsh Heritage Railways including the narrow gauge Tal-y-llyn Railway, which also has small narrow carriages like the F&WHR, are operating 'turn up and go' services. They offer a so called 'hop on hop off' Day Ranger ticket. The TR website states 'Our ‘Talyllyn Steam Explorer’ tickets allow you to ‘hop on and hop off’ the trains. You will have a seat in a mixed area, so facemasks must be worn.'
No trains today 28/3/22
The F&WHR will offer no trains today Monday 28/3/22 or on Friday 1/4/22, though PW trains and ECS workings may occur. No trains will be offered on Friday 8/4/22 or Monday 25/4/22. After that there will be services every day until 3/11/22 excepting Wednesday 21/9/22. Tuesday 29/3/22 sees four trains offered with the 10:30 Mountain Spirit, the10:55 and 13:55 Woodland Wanderer and the 11:30 Gelert Explorer from Caernarfon which also calls at Waunfawr at 12:00 for Snowdonia Parc/Bryn Gloch campsite residents. This is the first WHR service of the year. All Tuesday's trains are currently bookable. See F&WHR calendar.
The timetable shows only two Woodland Wanderer services throughout the year, though last year there were up to 6 a day, with three locos in steam. The FR can add additional trains and this year only five trains are shown with one set on the 10:55/13:55 and a second set running three trips at 09:45/12:45/15:45. This means only two engines in steam compared to three for last year's service.
Wednesday sees the Mountain Spirit and two Woodland Wanderer trains and Thursday is a repeat of Tuesday. Saturday 2/4/22 sees the first run of the Harbourmaster and Snowdonia Star through trains on the WHR in addition to the Mountain Spirit and Woodland Wanderer trains. It is possible to book the Harbourmaster from Beddgelert/Meillionen (for the well heeled chalet dwellers of Forest Holidays) but no booking opportunity/times are given for Meillionen so that may be an error and Forest Holiday campers are expected to drive to the limited parking in Beddgelert. The Snowdonia Star also picks up at Waunfawr on its southbound run and sets down on return.
Sunday sees the addition of the Glaslyn Venturer to the schedule, initially running once a day at 10:15 on top of the Tuesday schedule. From 17/4/22 the Glaslyn Venturer runs twice a day at 10:15 and 13:40 allowing an extended stay in Beddgelert if passengers buy the expensive two singles option. It would also be possible to have a through single northbound or southbound journey on the WHR by buying expensive single tickets on the Gelert Explorer and Glaslyn Venturer on the days both operate.
Gelert Explorer working timetable
This is a work in progress and any help to correct the timetable is welcome.
|Dinas (dep) ECS||10:45|
|Caernarfon (arr) ECS||11:00|
|Rhyd Ddu (arr)||12:30|
|Rhyd Ddu (dep)||12:35|
|Rhyd Ddu (arr)||14:50|
|Rhyd Ddu (dep)||14:55|
|Caernarfon (dep) ECS||16:30|
|Dinas (arr) ECS||16:45|
F&WHR services 27/3/22
The clocks having leapt forwards 1 hour at 1am, by 10:25 (9:25 body time!) both the Mountain Spirit and the Woodland Wanderer were ready to depart Porthmadog. David Lloyd George hauled the Mountain Spirit out of the FR platform on time while Blanche simmered in the WHR platform. The Fairlie arrived at Minffordd at 10:40 with a well loaded train with Observation car No.100 Dwyryd on the rear (in addition to Gwynedd next to the loco), departing at 10:44 after the token exchange. Blanche also hauled a well loaded train passing Minffordd at 11:07. Prince put in appearance in the afternoon, presumably on a light engine test run, noted at Tan-y-bwlch.
This easterly view (27/3/22) shows David Lloyd George arriving at Minffordd at 10:40 with the 10:30 Mountain Spirit. The train left 5 minutes later after collecting the token. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was provided by the F&WHR web camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
This easterly view (27/3/22) shows Blanche stopping at Minffordd at 11:07 with the 10:55 Woodland Wanderer, to collect the token. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was provided by the F&WHR web camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
Mountain Spirit 26/3/22
This easterly view (26/3/22) shows David Lloyd George working hard on the gradient from Tan-y-grisiau to cross the penstocks behind the Tan-y-grisiau Power Station. The loco is showing little exhaust with the new fuel mix despite working hard as it approaches Penstocks Crossing. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
Set formations 2022
Phil Brown (F&WHR) has kindly provided set information for the 2022 season:
A - Spare (could be used on the second Woodland Wanderer)
B - Mountain Spirit
C - Woodland Wanderer (1055/1355)
E - Gelert Explorer/Snowdonia Star
F - Glaslyn Venturer/Harbourmaster
W - Woodland Wanderer (0945/1245/1545)
A - Set Nos.37/106/107/112/114/14/105/104/110/102
B - Set Nos.100/103/125/117/119/108/121/118/150*
C - Set Nos.11/12/17/21/23/39/4/3/1#
E - Set Nos.2152/2011/2045/2046/2047/2048/2042/2090/2040/2100
F - Set Nos.152/120/124/2043/2044/2060/2091/122/116/150*
W - Set Nos.113/22/26/24/20/16/38
*No.150 swaps from B set to F set when The Harbourmaster runs.
# The four wheelers Nos.1/3/4 were removed over the weekend of 26-27/3/22.
Former Star Picture 10/12/17
This southerly archive view (10/12/17) shows Lyd and Earl of Merioneth on a snowy Winter working in Aberglaslyn Pass prior to the Fairlie's withdrawal in April 2018. Such a scene could be repeated on the Christmas Glaslyn workings. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to expand fully where available. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera.
Tal-y-llyn starts daily steaming (2/4/22)
The TR starts its main season on 2/4/22 and continues daily steam running until 6/11/22, more than the F&WHR which will not operate some trains on Mondays and Fridays and whose season finishes earlier on 3/11/22.
Sizewell C funding plan shows route to build Wylfa B 26/3/22
The Government hopes that their plans to fund 20% of Sizewell C nuclear reactor build costs with another 20% from EDF will make New Nuclear baseload power stations more feasible. They are hoping this may make Wylfa B more likely with this funding plan which would return nuclear waste traffic to the North Wales coast. See BBC report.
F&WHRNew season starts 26/3/22
The F&WHR new season kicks off with three trains, all on the FR. The Mountain Spirit is the first with a 10:30 service from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog. This is followed by two runs of the Woodland Wanderer to Tan-y-bwlch at 10:55 and 13:55. The first Woodland Wanderer is fully booked but the other trains were still bookable of Saturday morning. The F&WHR has stated it would provide a proper timetable to help supporters e.g. so that photographers could identify locations and passing times but in the absence of this a working timetable will be offered here from webcam observations. Some suggested timetables are impossible, for example a 3.5 hour Mountain Spirit journey would arrive back at Porthmadog at 14:00 but the afternoon Woodland Wanderer departs Porthmadog at 13:55 suggesting the Mountain Spirit arrives a little earlier or passes at Minffordd and arrives later than suggested. Last year the Woodland Wonderer departed at 11:05 rather than 10:55.
Steam was being raised at Boston Lodge shortly after 09:00. David Lloyd George hauled the 8 coach rake with Observation Car on the rear departing Boston Lodge at 10:00 and arriving at Porthmadog at 10:05. A second loco was noted in steam at 10:10 shunting the Carriage Shed and was to arrive in the WHR platform before the Mountain Spirit departed as sending an ECS over The Cob after the 10:30 departure would leave very little time to run round and load the train before departure at 10:55. David Lloyd George ran round at 10:22 and was coupled up by 10:25 to Observation Car Gwynedd. Blanche arrived with its 5 saloons and 3 four-wheelers at 10:25 and ran round at 10:31 whilst David Lloyd George departed. Blanche had to wait for the Fairlie to clear the shunt limit and coupled up at 10:40 removing the 3 of the four-wheelers, possibly including Zoo car No.1, and depositing them in the sea wall siding. This left the 5 bogies saloons (and open coach No.39 at the front) in the WHR platform. Blanche returned at 10:47 and coupled up with minutes to spare. At 10:50 Criccieth Castle came over with 2 loaded Bocoal wagons for the fuelling point and Blanche left on time with the Woodland Wanderer shortly afterwards.
This easterly view (26/3/22) shows David Lloyd George arriving at 10:04 for the 10:30 Mountain Spirit, the first public train of the new season. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was provided by the F&WHR web camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
This easterly view (26/3/22) shows the Blanche arriving at 10:26 for the 10:55 Woodland Wanderer, with the Mountain Spirit about to depart the FR platform. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was provided by the F&WHR web camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
This easterly view (26/3/22) shows the Criccieth Castle arriving at 10:53 with coal for the fuelling point. Blanche on the 10:55 Woodland Wanderer waits for a path across The Cob. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was provided by the F&WHR web camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
David Lloyd George arrived in Tan-y-bwlch at 11:07 and departed 10 minutes later. Blanche arrived at 11:42 and uncoupled immediately. After watering the loco coupled to the other end at 11:57. With the new Tan-y-bwlch signalling for 'wrong line' departure installed it is unnecessary for the rake to be shunted to the other platform. The train left at 12:35 and arrived back at 13:20. After watering Blanche completed the run round and coupled up at 13:35 ready for the 13:55 departure. David Lloyd George arrived back at 13:38 and the Fairlie ran round at 13:55 after watering. Blanche departed a minute later on the afternoon Woodland Wanderer. The Fairlie shunted Observation Car and two coaches into the seawall siding and then had second thoughts propelling them further down the siding. The remaining 6 coaches were removed to Boston Lodge departing at 14:25. With the fine weather continuing one of the WHR open coaches appeared in the FR platform by14:45 with Vale of Ffestiniog shunting. At 14:51 the coach was shunted to yard and at 15:18 the Funkey extracted an 11 coach rake and took it back to Boston Lodge.
This westerly view (26/3/22) shows the David Lloyd George arriving at Tan-y-bwlch at 11:07 with the 10:30 Mountain Spirit, the first public train of the new season. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was provided by the F&WHR web camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
This westerly view (26/3/22) shows the Blanche arriving at Tan-y-bwlch at 11:42. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was provided by the F&WHR web camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
At the end of the afternoon Blanche was noted departing Tan-y-bwlch at 15:30 with the returning Woodland Wanderer and passing Minffordd at 16:00. After arriving at about 16:15 Blanche ran round and hauled the rake back to Boston Lodge at about 16:19.
This easterly view (26/3/22) shows the Blanche running round at 16:10 shortly after arriving with the afternoon Woodland Wanderer. The loco is carrying the Woodland Wanderer headboard on the tender. Some 10 minutes later Blanche hauled the rake back to Boston Lodge. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was provided by the F&WHR web camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
Mountain Spirit working timetable
This is a work in progress and any help to correct the timetable is welcome.
|Boston Lodge (dep) ECS||10:00|
|Porthmadog Harbour Station (arr)||10:05|
|Porthmadog Harbour Station (dep)||10:30|
|Blaenau Ffestiniog (arr)||12:00|
|Blaenau Ffestiniog (dep)||12:40|
|Porthmadog Harbour Station (arr)||13:40|
|Porthmadog Harbour Station (dep) ECS||14:25*|
* depends on any shunting required to reform rakes for the next day.
2022 Woodland Wanderer working timetable
|ECS from depot where applicable (arr)||10:20||ex 10:55|
|Next turn where applicable||→13:55|
|ECS to depot (dep)||16:20|
2021's 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|
|Tan-y-bwlch shunt to other platform where applicable||10:55||12:00||13:05||14:10||15:15||N/A|
|Next turn where applicable||→13:15||→14:20||→15:25|
|Light engine to depot||16:00||17:05||18:10|
No.143 cab repaint in green 25/3/22
This Boston Lodge view (25/3/22) shows No.143's cab after completion of a repaint by the Coachworks staff in GWR style lined green. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
Final Preparations 25/3/22
Moel Hebog was in the FR sidings at Porthmadog during the afternoon departing at 15:40 for Boston Lodge. Up at Tan-y-bwlch the gazebo has been erected at the east end of the station on the same site as last year to provide shelter for people waiting for the train or eating snacks. At 16:40 Harlech Castle was noted with a short PW train departing Tan-y-bwlch and returning to Minffordd.
Moel Hebog shunt 24/3/22
Coaching stock was again being shunted in Porthmadog on Thursday 24/3/22. Moel Hebog was noted moving in the yard light engine at 12:22 with rakes in the FR platform and in the WHR loop line. Some coaches had been stored in the Maenofferen shed at Minffordd and it was quite difficult to extract them. A Fairlie was steamed and came over with Bocoal wagons for the fuelling point.
This easterly view (24/3/22) shows the Moel Hebog shunting operation which took place from the morning until late afternoon. Various rakes were sorted out using the WHR loop, the WHR platform and the FR platform as well as the Harbour station yard sidings. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was provided by the F&WHR web camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
With just 3 days to go to prepare for the new season there were many movements on 23/3/22. Vale of Ffestiniog went up to Blaenau Ffestiniog with a trial ECS passing Harlech Castle at Tan-y-bwlch on an S&T train with the cherrypicker. Strangely the train also visited the Glan-y-pwll branch.
Castell Caernarfon cab off to L&MMR 23/3/22
The maroon fibreglass cab of Castell Caernarfon seen lying round Boston Lodge for a while was taken to the Llanelli and Mynydd Mawr Railway at Cynheidre on 23/2/22 to become part of a railway cab theme park area. The cab has been replaced by a new steel structure.
WAG eases COVID rules (28/3/22)
The WAG rules requiring mask wearing in trains are to cease on 28/3/22 and become advisory. The BBC has reported that most of the Covid rules are ending that day despite a significant rise in cases over the last few weeks.
WAG's rail and road plans for North Wales
Improved frequency between Chester and Bangor is planned as part of the North Wales Metro project in the immediate future and new stations at Broughton (near Airbus) and Greenfield in North East Wales. See Daily Post report.
Following what some would consider an overly 'Green' policy WAG has cancelled the two A55 improvement schemes (removal of Penmaenmawr/Llanfairfechan roundabouts) and the Llanbedr Bypass south of Harlech, they have appointed a commission which is considering extending 50mph speed limits on the A55. As the A55 is largely a 70 mph dual carriageway, this could considerably extend journey times from the Midlands and North West to the F&WHR. See Daily Post report.
WHRS/Morton's WHR Centenary Research competition rules
For the purposes of this competition, ‘the eligible period is taken to mean the period from 1840 to the present day’.
Prize entries should be written in English and/or Welsh and take the form of an essay based on original research. The length of the essay shall not exceed 10,000 words. Essays that are shorter than 3,500 words will not be considered. A Bibliography (the provision of which is mandatory) and references should not be included in the word count, nor should text associated with features such as maps, diagrams, and tables.
The judges will make their decision based on the author’s:
• Skill and control in using sources and command of evidence
• Clarity and quality of writing
• Contribution to the knowledge and understanding of an aspect of the history of the Welsh Highland Railway and its antecedents
• Originality of approach
Copyright of the winning entry will remain with the sponsors of the competition and any suitable works may be published.
Llangollen buys Cowans crane and offers 08 rides 21-25/3/22
The Llangollen Diesel group has been preparing Class 26 No.26010 (as No.5310 in green) and Class 47 No.47449 (as No.1566 but in BR blue) for service and both had their fitness to run exams on 21/3/22.
Ex GWR 0-6-2 steam loco No.5619 arrived from the Telford steam railway on 23/3/23 and after a service it will haul passenger trains at Easter.
After an unprecedented flurry of donations the Llangollen Trust has purchased the Cowans Crane that it has been buying from the scrap merchant, Sandbach Commercial Dismantlers who bought it from the 'fire sale' last year. The deal concluded on 25/3/22 involved a substantial discount from the scrap merchant.
Shunter 08195 (as D3265 in black) will be operating the Berwyn Shuttle with open coaches and a brakevan on several dates during April (9/10/16/17/18/23/24/30). The loco will also be available for 'Driver for a Fiver' within Llangollen station limits.
Criccieth Castle PW 18-19/3/22
Criccieth Castle collected a PW train from Minffordd Yard on 18/3/22 and worked north collecting chopped down lineside vegetation.
This northerly view (18/3/22) shows Criccieth Castle collecting the PW train from Boston Lodge Yard.. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Tom Waldren taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (18/3/22) shows Criccieth Castle with the PW train at Beddgelert including DZ1423/12. The tracked chipper has been unloaded and is moving along the platform. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Tom Waldren taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly view (18/3/22) shows Criccieth Castle with the PW train just south of Meillionen with Beddgelert Forest campsite to the left. The tracked chipper has been reloaded and the remains of a tree appear to be in the process of being loaded into the DZ wagons. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Tom Waldren taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
This easterly view (19/3/22) shows Criccieth Castle with the SAR brakevan and mess car at Tryfan Junction. Work was underway fixing various faults between Caernarfon and Waunfawr. The North Wales Track Gang job continued onto the 20/3/22. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Tom Waldren taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
A55 Abergwyngregyn speedtrap
The ongoing roadworks between Abergwyngregyn and Bangor, which started over a year ago, have snared almost 1000 drivers with their speed cameras in recent times. Tourists coming to North Wales to visit the F&WHR are reminded to be careful to keep to the advertised speed limits on this section where roadworks are underway to remove central reservation gaps and improve safety.
More shunting at Porthmadog 23/3/22
This westerly view (23/3/22) shows Moel Hebog shunting the Mountain Spirit rake in time for the new season next weekend.. This image is copyright Phil Brown (F&WHR) taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
Porthmadog swelters in UK record Spring temperature 22/3/22
Porthmadog reached 21C on Tuesday 22/3/22 and made national news as the highest recorded UK temperature that day, bringing the area into focus for Easter holidaymakers with the school holidays about to start.
No.130 and David Lloyd George on test 22/3/22
David Lloyd George was on test on Tuesday afternoon 22/3/22 with a run to Rhyd Ddu. It used existing stocks on coal that are stored in the BCoal wagons as ovoids have not been trialled on the FR main line locos yet.
This easterly view (22/3/22) shows David Lloyd George on a test run from Porthmadog to Rhyd Ddu in time for the new season next weekend.. It is not certain why this route was chosen as normally trains on the WHR would be operated by Garratt locos This image is copyright Phil Brown (F&WHR) taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
Also on 22/3/22 Vale of Ffestiniog ran to Caernarfon after shunting Boston Lodge. The tank wagon was half filled with water for fire fighting from the Caernarfon water tank in case of lineside fires. No.130 was prepared at Dinas and hauled a mixed rake including B wagons with coaches to simulate a full load. Vale of Ffestiniog was coupled inside as back up. The loco ran well with PowerMix fuel which contains 50% coal/50% ovoids. A Lean Mix with 25% coal/75% ovoids has also been trialled.
Giant shunt prepares for new season 21/3/22
Rakes were sorted out on Monday 21/3/22 when rolling stock was brought over from Boston Lodge and shunted into order for the Mountain Prince, Woodland Wanderer and Glaslyn Venturer/Harbourmaster rakes in Porthmadog harbour station sidings. The job took all day and trains were noticed shunting at 09:50 and 15:26.
This easterly view (21/3/22) shows the large shunting operation required at 13:44 to sort out the rakes stored in the Boston Lodge Carriage shed in time for the new season next weekend.. The Glaslyn Venturer in the platform looks largely complete. Four wheelers are being assembled in the seawall siding in preparation for the Woodland Wanderer. This image is courtesy F&WHR and was provided by Philip Clark taken on the F&WHR web camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
WAG school holiday changes worry tourist attractions 21/3/22
WAG is to consider reducing the school Summer holiday to just 3 weeks. The 3 weeks saved will be used to extend Half Term holidays Xmas and Easter breaks. this might be of concern to Heritage Railways as it dilutes traffic in the peak season as English schools are not considering this change and increases loadings at times when fewer services are traditionally offered (or non-existent in the F&WHR's February Half Term case). See Daily Post story.
F&WHR Moving Pictures No. 61 18/3/22
Click on the YouTube link to watch 25 minutes 32 seconds of video focussing on loco maintenance at both Dinas and Boston Lodge dated 11/3/22. This video was published on 18/3/22 and is best viewed at 1080p with Chrome. This video was produced by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a professional 4K Betamax camcorder.
Carriage Works report 18/3/22
Today saw four carriages leave the Carriage Workshop and largely complete this years winter work. Observation carriage No.100 has had new gutters fitted and a full repaint, the carriage now carries the fitting new name Dwyrd (the Afon Dwyryd flows down the Vale of Ffestiniog) and is the final main Observation carriage to receive a name. We have also chosen this carriage to commemorate, in a small way, Her Majesty the Queen’s 70 years on the throne this year.
Birmingham bugs Nos.2/5 have had a partial repaint, varnish and rewire. We have also been busy upgrading the dividers in our vintage carriages giving a much improved feeling in the carriages. Observation carriage No.2100 Glaslyn also left the workshop after having a blown window unit replaced but unfortunately time has not permitted a re-varnish as we had hoped.
This easterly view (18/3/22) shows FR Observation Car No.100 Dwyryd which has emerged form Boston Lodge Coach Works in time for the new season next weekend.. The coach also carries a royal crest celebrating the Queen's 70 years reign. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a web camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
WHR history competition 18/3/22
Heritage Railway magazine (p46/7 of the current edition No.291 on sale 18/3/22) is sponsoring a competition to celebrate the centenary of the WHR. a prize of £500 is avilable to original research on the topic of the WHR and its antecedent railways including the NWNGR, PBSSR the Croesor Tramway etc. the two judges and Dr. Dafydd Gwyn and Gareth Williams. The WHHG welcomed the sponsorship from Mortons Media Group which also covers the Railway Magazine. Entries should contain between 3,500 and 10,000 words and the deadline is 28/2/23. The decision will be announced in June 2023 during the centenary celebrations.
Main Line news 18/3/22
No. 60046 was in action again on the coast on 18/3/22 and was loading stone at Penmaenmawr at lunchtime. The train was booked as 6K22, the 14:56 Penmaenmawr Quarry Sidings to Tuebrook. This train is becoming a regular weekly working.
Llangollen secures their Cowans crane
The Llangollen Railway originally hoped to raise a further £15k towards our Trust’s repurchase of the crane from it’s current owners Sandbach Commercial Dismantlers (SCD), with the balance coming from the sale of scrap over the next few years. However, the Appeal has now been so successful that it has now passed £20k so we are keeping the Appeal open. With scrap already weighed in, if the railway can raise a further £5k they will then hopefully be able to repurchase the crane outright this year. This historic heavy duty crane is really useful for both PW and lifting in the MPD.
The Llangollen Railway will take delivery of GWR 0-6-2T No 5619 for their 2022 season from its usual home at the Telford Steam Railway. The Collett-designed 5600 Class will arrive at Llangollen for completion of its winter maintenance and then undergo its annual examination. This work will be completed at Llangollen by their MPD Team. No.5619 will see use throughout the Spring, Summer and Autumn before returning to Telford in time to haul their very successful Polar Express Christmas trains. All being well the loco will arrive at Llangollen by Friday 25/3/22 and will be in steam over Easter in addition to resident steam loco No.3802 which is hoped will be back from WCR.
Corris station completed
The Corris Railway completed its Corris terminus traverser in March and laid all the track and platform edges. The railway will be open at Easter. See Corris Railway Facebook page.
Cambrian Railways focusses on Oswestry (1/4/22)
Cambrian Railways will focus on operations on its new extension from Oswestry to Weston Wharf this year with three Mk I coaches used on the trains (a TSO, a BSK and a suburban coach). Following the opening on 1/4/22 by new Lib Dem MP Helen Morgan, there will be special fares on 2/4/22 with a £15 fare, commemorative tickets and a goodie bag. Normal fares of £8 return commence from 3/4/22. Pre-booking is only necessary on the outward leg of the journey. The small Vulcan 0-4-0 diesel Telemon is going to Llynclys and R&H 0-4-0 diesel Alun Evans is transferring to Oswestry to work alongside Class 73 No.E6306 (73129) with Pacers Nos.1444006/7 in reserve. Trains operate Monday MX until the end of October but include trains on Bank Holiday Mondays. Telemon will operate on a very limited number of days at Llynclys this year. The eventual aim is to extend across the existing A483 level crossing to Llynclys but the Highways Authority is opposed to reactivating disused level crossings.
New hope for North Wales nuclear?
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to renewed hopes for both Wylfa and Trawsfynydd nuclear power station sites. The UK is to stop using Russian gas, oil and coal by the end of the year and fill the gap with renewables and new nuclear carbon free power supplies which will also help the UK's COP26 targets. A consortium including Westinghouse, with an already approved AP1000 PWR design, is vying for a prompt start at Wylfa B and Rolls Royce is looking at modular reactors called SMRs at Wylfa and Trawsfynydd. Either project may renew nuclear waste traffic on the North Wales Coast line and possibly the Vale of Conwy branch.
Porthmadog WHR starter repaired 16/3/22
This easterly view (16/3/22) shows Harlech Castle with the cherrypicker train repairing the WHR starter signal ready for the new season at the end of March and was completed that day. The vertical timber that supported the signal arm had rotted and broken and been removed in December. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a web camera and forwarded by Philip Clarke. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
North Wales main line 15-18/3/22
On 18/3/22 60026 was again on the Penmaenmawr-Tuebrook stone train.
DB liveried 67010 was on the 11:33 Holyhead-Cardiff train on 15/3/22.
Chester and North Wales currently have no direct London services which has led to complaints from many passengers. TfW is in consultation about restarting such services in May when the timetable is recast. Currently people have to change at Crewe into WCML services.
Spooner's kitchens reopen for Oriental Night (17/3/22)
This week's Thursday themed evening menu features an exotic mix of Asian cuisine!
Spooners will have a range of delicious main course choices, accompanied by a variety of tempting sides, for you to enjoy.
Beef in Green Pepper + Black Bean Sauce
Chicken Pad Thai
Sweet & Sour Cantonese Style Pork
Aubergine Katsu Curry
Jasmin Sticky Rice
Duck / Veggie Spring Rolls
Don’t miss out - come along to Spooner's for a Tasty Thursday Treat..!
The buffet will be served from 17:00 to 20:00 - for only £9.95 per person, or add a drink with your meal for £11.95.
(Drinks offer includes a Pint of Lager/Cider/Ale, a 175ml Glass of House Wine or a Soft Drink.)
If you have any allergies or dietary requirements, please ask a member of staff for our allergen folder and make them aware when ordering.
Llangollen to cut services to avoid Russian coal
Given the current coal situation, the Llangollen Railway is to reduce early season trains with fewer steam workings. The railway is no longer buying Russian coal as imports are considered inappropriate after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. While this might be offset by an increase in DMU and diesel loco hauled services, the rise in the cost of diesel might make this uneconomic. There are concerns that holidaymakers might find the rising cost of diesel/petrol a deterrent to holidays in Wales. DMUs will run Llangollen to Carrog Friday to Sunday throughout March.
The Russian coal issue might also affect other heritage railways including the Cambrian Railways re-opening of its Oswestry to Weston Wharf service from 1/4/22. Meanwhile preserved steam railways continue to seek UK supplies. Maybe if they banded together they could sponsor an opencast site? See Shropshire Star story.
Two weeks to go 12/3/22
The F&WHR will start its new season (somewhat late in some supporters' opinions) over the FR from Porthmadog from the weekend of 26-27/3/22. Trains that weekend are still bookable with the Woodland Wanderer 10:55 and 13:55 to Tan-y-bwlch and the 10:30 Mountain Spirit to Blaenau Ffestiniog. There are no trains on the WHR until 29/3/22 when the Gelert Explorer restarts from Caernarfon to Beddgelert and is still bookable. This leaves the WHR open for photo-charters booked that weekend 26-27/3/22 (see story below). The Harbourmaster from Porthmadog and Snowdonia Star from Caernarfon offer through WHR journeys from 2/4/22 and are still bookable. Finally, from 3/4/22 the Glaslyn Venturer restarts from Porthmadog to Beddgelert and is still bookable.
Trains on the WHR are likely to be hauled by Garratt locos while the Mountain Spirit might be double Fairlie hauled and the Woodland Wanderer will usually be hauled by small engines such as England engines, Lyd, Blanche etc. The sharply rising the cost of diesel and petrol may make holidaymakers think twice about the long drive to the Snowdonia as well as the high cost of the F&WHR's 'theme park' ticketing which continues to generate criticism from supporters. To book see F&WHR website.
Mainline news 11/3/22
Work is underway at MP35 just west of Welshpool to restore the Cambrian Line. One of the tracks of the 'dynamic loop' has been lifted so that lorries can access the trackbed to fill in the several voids created where the River Severn flowed across the railway in late February.
The Penmaenmawr-Tuebrook stone train was running again on 11/3/22 with 60026 Helvellyn hauling 24 box wagons. 60026 carries a bright blue livery reminiscent of Mainline Blue and carries a Helvellyn nameplate in the style of the Class 44 locos that carried names of mountains such a 44009 Snowdon and 44010 Tryfan. Maybe GBRf might consider one of these names on a Class 60 for their regular trips into Snowdonia. Click here for video of the train on 4/3/22.
Wales on Rail launch 10/3/22
The Wales on Rail tourist promotional event was launched in Cardiff on 10/3/22. WAG is working with the Great Little Trains of Wales to promote tourism by sustainable transport using local trains and bus services. See Wales on Rail website.
No.130 steam test 9/3/22
No.130 was given a steam test on 9/3/22 for the boiler inspector in preparation for the new season starting 26/3/22. It ran from Caernarfon to Dinas.
Spooners kitchens closure (11/3/22)
Spooner's kitchen will be closed from Friday for at least the weekend. The bar and cafe remain open with hot and cold drinks, cakes etc.
Mexican Night at Spooners (10/3/22)
‘NOCHE MEXICANA’ AT SPOONER'S. Spooner's themed evenings continue this Thursday at Spooner’s, as we head across the Atlantic for a ‘Noche Mexicana’..! Spooners will have a range of delicious Mexican cuisine available including Fajitas, Enchiladas, Quesadillas, Vegetarian Mixed Bean Chilli and plenty of tasty sides ranging from Chorizos and Nachos, to Spicy Cheese and Guacamole. Don’t miss out, grab your Sombreros and go Mexican this Thursday.
The buffet will be served from 17:00 to 20:00 - for only £9.95 per person, or add a drink with your meal for £11.95. (Drinks offer includes a Pint of Lager / Cider / Ale, a 175ml Glass of House Wine or a Soft Drink.). If you have any allergies or dietary requirements, please ask a member of staff for our allergen folder and make them aware when ordering.
Plastic sleepers for small Loco Shed points 7/3/22
Plastic sleepers were taken to railway engineers KJG Price of Bedwas on Monday. These will be used to form the three points for the new small Loco Shed at Boston Lodge supported by Heritage Lottery Fund monies.
WHR 100 photo competition 7/3/22
The F&WHR recently announced that they are working with the ‘Welsh Highland Railway Society’, ‘Welsh Highland Heritage Group’ and ‘Welsh Highland Heritage Railway’ to organise the upcoming centenary of the Welsh Highland Railway, which will officially take place in 2023. Earlier events celebrate the reopening of the NWNGR to Rhyd Ddu in 1922. The Centenary will be celebrated through a series of events which will take place later this year and the following Summer. To mark the occasion, the F&WHR is also planning to change the theme of photos displayed in Spooner’s at Harbour Station - and this is where supporters can join in…
The F&WHR would like supporters to help provide the photographs for display. So, do you have any historical, reconstruction or contemporary photos of the Welsh Highland Railway that you want to share..? If so, send them our way and your photo could be selected as one of the lucky few to be displayed in Spooner’s for all to see..! Please make sure your photos are in JPEG format and at their original resolution to maintain quality. Send your photos to email@example.com. All submissions must be received by the 31/3/22.
NOTE: Wherever possible, please supply relevant information to accompany your photograph - including such things as date, location and anything of personal significance - so that we can caption photographs appropriately. As the F&WHR will be unable to display all entries, they will use photos of particular interest on their social media feeds. Please confirm that you are happy for the F&WHR to do so when submitting photographs for consideration.
North Wales Track Gang 5-6/3/22
The North Wales Track Gang was out over the weekend of 5-6/3/22 on signage renewal and was followed up by the Lineside Clearance Team on Monday 7/3/22 preparing for the start of the new season. The North Wales Track Gang used Criccieth Castle, currently based at Dinas, the mess car No.111 and ex-SAR brake van No.3172 working between Dinas and Waunfawr.
This easterly view (5/3/22) shows Criccieth Castle with the PW train just east of Plas Bodaden. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Tom Waldren and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly view (6/3/22) shows Criccieth Castle with the PW train just east of Aspinall's Curve with the former landslip behind. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Tom Waldren and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
On Monday the Lineside Clearance train included the cherrypicker and shredder and worked over the same section and down to Caernarfon, cutting down branches from high above the railway.
This northerly view (7/3/22) shows Criccieth Castle with the Lineside Clearance train, including the cherrypicker, the shredder on the well wagon and B1806 now full of logs, having run round at Caernarfon. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Tom Waldren and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (7/3/22) shows Criccieth Castle reversing the Lineside Clearance train into Dinas Carriage Shed. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Tom Waldren and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
A Colas tamper is stuck at Porthmadog after being hauled there by Class 97 No.97302 on 16/2/22. The flood damaged trackbed near Welshpool has seen the unit marooned as the route has been cut and will remain cut for several weeks while repairs are completed. The tamper cannot be used for any other jobs on the Cambrian as it is not ERTMS fitted and there is no outstabled Class 37 at Machynlleth. This shows the problem with ERTMS and the lack of foresight in stabling all the Class 97s at Shrewsbury Coleham depot rather than leaving one at Machynlleth.
Spooner's reopens Wednesday 9/3/22
Spooner's platform windows are being replaced on Tuesday 8/3/22 and will be closed until the following day. Meanwhile Spooners is looking for new catering staff to build up the team for the new season. For job applications see F&WHR website.
Cambrian still closed at Welshpool 6/3/22
The river Severn floods that closed the Cambrian railway two weeks ago between Newtown and Shrewsbury are still impacting services 'for the foreseeable future' with TfW instituting bustitution between Shrewsbury and Newtown. Drone footage for the Shropshire Star shows the extent of multiple washouts on this double track section. Enthusiasts will be hoping the line is repaired in time for the four Cambrian Coast summer excursions planned by Pathfinder this summer (see below) starting from 13/5/22. This train was rescheduled after a tipper lorry with its body still raised struck the Machynlleth rail bridge over the A487 after leaving the Afon Dyfi road bridge bypass works. The final train of the four planned will now run from Oxford to Pwllheli on 9/9/22 just before the Barmouth Bridge closes for 3 months for stage 2, the final stage of its overall refurbishment.
Railtour news (30/4/22)
Three railtours are visiting the North Wales coast on 30/4/22 with trains from Ely to Llandudno, Tyseley to Llandudno Junction and York to Conwy, all diesel hauled. One will bring the rare Class 20 to the North Wales Coast Line (see Railtour List at base of page).
Mainline News 4/3/22
The Penmaenmawr stone train ran this afternoon with 60026 and 24 loaded wagons heading for Tuebrook Liverpool. The train ran as 4K22 departing 14:56 but ran about 30 minutes late. Another train was also scheduled from Penmaenmawr 6K17 the SSuX 16:53 to Crewe Basford Hall virtual quarry but was cancelled at the operators request.
Welsh COVID rules relaxed 3/3/22
Mark Drakeford, Welsh First Minister, announced changes in COVID precautions on Friday 3/3/22. Wales' status changed from Alert Level Zero to largely match the advice in England following falls in the number of cases, hospitalisations and deaths. The final relaxations occur on 28/3/22 assuming no upturn in infections, just after the F&WHR's first weekend of services. This will improve the situation for hospitality and tourism as visitors will find the same rules as in England.
It is yet to be seen if the F&WHR will make any change in its COVID secure 'compartments policy' and any effect this might have on ticketing for the WHR Centenary events. Most other heritage railways have changed to 'turn-up-and-go/hop-on-hop off' services whilst the F&WHR persists with a policy of largely full length journeys booked in advance or on the day if space is available. See BBC story.
New Polish rail arrives 3/3/22
The F&WHR has ordered new rail from Poland for next year's WMWP. Shortly after 17.00 on 3/4/22 a lorry arrived at Minffordd from Poland carrying just under a three quarters of a kilometre of new S30 rail in 18m lengths. Offloading continued well after dusk as the driver needed to be back on the road at dawn to start his return journey to Warsaw, very sensible given the unrest in mainland Europe caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine!
This Minffordd Yard view (3/3/22) shows the lorry arriving with Polish rail. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
Coal nugget tests 2/3/22
Further tests occurred on 2/3/22 with Hugh Napier testing coal an alternative to imported Russian coal. The problem appears to be the volume of ash left by these compressed coal dust nuggets. Ash accumulates on fire bars and can turn to clinker if the fire temperature rises above the melting point of the material e.g. after the loco works hard. Spacing the fire bars a little wider facilitates ash to drop through into the ashpan.
Cambrian Heritage Railways News 1/3/22
Cambrian Railways Oswestry has confirmed its Opening Day on 1/4/22 and final reparations are underway to secure ORR approval with attention to lineside signage, level crossings and rolling stock. The new Lib Dem MP for North Shropshire, Helen Morgan, will open the line with a ceremony at Oswestry station. The railway has opened a new website with a page showing operating days. The railway has a steam engine but will also use its Class 73 No.73129 which arrived last June.
WHR tracklaying 1/3/22
On 1/3/22 the PW Dept took on the fifth tracklaying task of the Winter. It is only a short job and covered the troublesome sharp curve off Bryn-y-felin bridge into the Aberglaslyn Pass. Work was almost finished by the end of the afternoon. This sharp curve features a footpath crossing. The curve may have been the cause of the derailment in December that disrupted the first weekend of the Christmas Glaslyn workings.
This southerly view (1/3/22) shows tracklaying south from the Aberglaslyn Path footpath crossing. Timber sleepers are being used to give a heritage appearance as this location is adjacent to a well used public footpath. Unusually the fishplates appear to be parallel rather than staggered (spaced out half a rail to give strength through the curve) as elsewhere on the WHR. The PW train is visible at the end of the curve with the FR's Mess car. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
Mainline news 1/3/22
Huge floods from the River Severn have cut the Cambrian Coast line between Welshpool and Newtown. Bustitution was instituted between Shrewsbury and Newtown with train services west of there based on Machynlleth depot's allocation. As of 1/3/22 there was no date for restoration of services which may require several culverts to be constructed to make the rail route future proof. See Nation Cymru website.
TfW has announced its Class 158 refurbishment programme was completed on 26/2/22. As well as cosmetic and reliability updates, USB charging points have been provided. See TfW announcement.
Photocharter opportunity 26-27/3/22
Here is a great opportunity for rail enthusiasts and enthusiastic photographers. The F&WHR is hosting a special charter weekend on 26-27/3/22, which offers a chance for supporters to join a photocharter for two days of early-season steam with pioneer Garratt K1 and Large England Welsh Pony. Photo charters are a great way to access areas of the railway that cannot usually, or easily, be reached at other times of the year. Featuring multiple run-pasts, at scenic locations, they provide plenty of opportunities to capture images that will be the envy of others. Photographs of previous charter events are regularly seen online or in railway magazines, showcasing our heritage trains against a backdrop of the stunning landscape of Snowdonia.
K1 will shortly be returning to Statfold Barn. It will be a great day-out (or two) with a group of like-minded photographers and enthusiasts and will provide memories for a long time to come. The event is being organised by David Williams, who has produced an information sheet with booking details and contact information. This can be downloaded from here.
Cost of joining the charter is £100 for either day, or £180 if you want to participate on both days. Spaces are limited, so book your place as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.
This Springtime steam photography opportunity on the WHR will feature K1 and Welsh Pony. Welsh Pony will start from Porthmadog each day with a short Colonel Stephens vintage set and proceed according to weather, with as many of the best photographic locations visited as the group can reasonably achieve in the time available. Numbers will be limited to enable a few of the tighter locations to be attempted, so please book early to avoid disappointment.
Garratt K1 will start from Dinas each day with a short goods train formation, It is planned to have bacon/sausage rolls available at Spooner’s at 07:30 ready for a departure time as close to 07:45 as possible. The game plan is for trains to be at Rhyd Ddu early enough to do run pasts just before Pitts Head Bridge. From there, the group will visit several more locations before K1 returns to Dinas and the group heads for a late lunch at Beddgelert. Participants will return to Porthmadog station in late afternoon on the vintage train hauled by Welsh Pony.
There will be only one public passenger train each day running between Porthmadog and Beddgelert but this will not compromise the charters available run-past locations. These charters are designed to give different opportunities to those presented in Autumn Photo-shoots and the organisers hope WHR photographers will want to join them.
Quarry Hunslet Felinheli was the subject of a working party at Boston Lodge on 26/2/22. Volunteers worked on the tank, bunkers, cab back sheet and firebox cladding which were all sanded down with bare patches primed.
Russian coal off the menu 26/2/22
The Russian invasion of democratic Ukraine in what appears as a David and Goliath conflict has seen swingeing sanctions imposed on Russia which may result in the drying up of Russian coal supplies as Labour/Plaid Cymru controlled WAG has blocked a new Welsh coalmine and the Tories have blocked moves to open new English coal mines that could excavate coal suitable for steam locos. As a result the F&WHR is trying cobbles called Ovoids made from compressed coal dust similar to the 'Ecocoal' sold for use in household fireplaces.
This easterly view (26/2/22) shows Hugh Napier at Minffordd with a loaded B wagon containing ballast. This is the third test run with the new coal nuggets and staff are getting the hang of things. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Paul Lewin and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
This view (26/2/22) shows ovoid artificial coal being used in Hugh Napier for comparative combustion trials. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Paul Lewin and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
WAG will not review COVID rules until 4/3/22
The Welsh Senedd has confirmed that there will be no change in COVID rules until they are considered again on 4/3/22. The Welsh government has had heated arguments with Boris Johnson's attempt to remove all COVID rules nationwide, saying it is premature with cases 3 times what they were the same day a year ago and a new variant of Omicron in circulation that might not be so mild as the current variant. Scotland's legal requirements to wear masks etc will end 21/3/22 would advice would be to still wear them in shops and on public transport.
If WAG does change its rules in March it might impact on the way the F&WHR offers its currently compartmentalised services. On the other hand retaining Welsh regulations might cause clashes with visitors from England who expect there to be no restrictions in Wales. Local papers reported a woman became highly abusive last week in a Porthmadog shop when gently reminded to wear her mask and started shouting and screaming at staff and other customers strangely calling them 'paedos'. See Daily Post report.
Tamper works 24/2/22
The KMX tamper/liner saw duty on the Gysgfa relay on the FR on 24/2/22 before returning to Boston Lodge.
Coach Works news 22/2/22
Another carriage has been out-shopped ready for the season ahead. Brake/Observation carriage No.11 has been in the workshop having rotten panels, cracked joints and sticking doors fixed as well as new running boards fitted, followed by a full repaint.
Storm Franklin floods hit Gwynedd 21/2/22
Heavy rainfall and flooding from storm Franklin (then third in 6 days) may have affected the F&WHR and NR's Conwy Valley Line (closed Monday pending track inspection). It is possible PW trains may go out to inspect the F&WHR to see if trees have been brought down or culverts blocked. The Daily Post reported conditions were particularly bad around Bala.
Weekend PW 19-20/2/21
Criccieth Castle and the cherry picker rake is currently based at Dinas for lineside clearance work as the WMWP is to cut back vegetation alongside the WHR to prevent scratches on rolling stock and people for that matter in open vehicles as well as improving views. There is a danger of the WHR becoming a 'green tunnel' in some places as the FR did a decade ago. At the weekend the North Wales Track Gang were out and about tackling some faults and moving whistle boards on the Caernarfon to Dinas section.
This southerly view (19/2/22) shows Criccieth Castle running round the cherry picker PW train at Caernarfon station. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Tom Waldren and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
Tourist Tax may cut passenger numbers
It seems there may be a little less 'Croeso' in the TLC of Wales if WAG gets it way. Tourist organisations in North Wales are concerned about WAG's plans to tax tourists accommodation, raising the cost of a holiday in Wales. This could potentially make tourists look elsewhere for their annual holidays and reduce passenger numbers on heritage railways. Plaid Cymru has for many years been concerned about incomers changing the character of Welsh villages, decline in Welsh speaking and increase in house prices as locals on low income compete with the well off from other parts of the UK seeking a second home. See Business Live report.
F&WHR Moving Pictures No.60 20/2/22
Click on the YouTube link to watch 25 minutes 13 seconds of video of the Winter Major works projects with track relaying on the FR, the provision of solar panels on the roof of the new Carriage shed at Boston Lodge, behind the scenes in Spooner's kitchen and a high speed drive along the new Caernarfon Bypass produced by speeding up normal footage. This video was published on 20/2/22 and is best viewed at 1080p with Chrome. This video was produced by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a professional 4K Betamax camcorder.
A487 Caernarfon Bypass finally opens 19/2/22
Although initially due to open on Friday, the opening was delayed a day because of storm Eunice. The new road opened Saturday morning. Drone footage has been released by TfW showing the whole route. See Daily Post story.
Within hours of opening the road was closed for 2 hours by a crash. Three lane roads seem to have more than their fair share of accidents See Daily Post story and BBC story.
Tan-y-bwlch 'Wot? No trains?!'
The Tan-y-bwlch tea rooms opened for Half Term 19-27/2/22 from 10:00-16:00 for local walkers. There were no train services other than the odd PW train. Other heritage railways in North Wales are open for business but the F&WHR has taken the decision not to open at Half Term but to start the new season on 26/3/22 in 4 weeks time.
Storm Dudley, Eunice and now Franklin! 16-20/2/22
Storms Dudley and Eunice pounded North Wales and the F&WHR on Wednesday and Friday in quick succession. Trees have been brought down and power lines and phone lines broken across some parts of Gwynedd. PW trains may be out over the weekend checking for damage. Spooner's closed Friday afternoon/evening due to the storm but opened for normal service on Saturday....and if that was not enough, Storm Franklin in due overnight Sunday! That makes an unprecedented three storms in 6 days!
WHR 100 15/2/22
More details have been released about the WHR 100 events planned for the coming year. The F&WHR is cooperating with the WHHG and WHHR to make the events memorable. The Centenary will be celebrated through a series of events which will take place later this year and the following Summer. Plans are still being finalised, however we can now reveal that the following events have been pencilled in to the diary;
Further details on these events and others will be revealed soon. Enthusiasts hope that Russell can be released from the WHHR to take part in both events. The loco has previously been used in SuperPower 16-17/9/2000, twinned with Taliesin between Caernarfon and Waunfawr. On the 25/11/18 Russell completed a test run on the WHR, reaching Beddgelert for the first time in over 80 years. This preceded the locomotive's starring role in June 2019's WHR: Past, Present and Future event when it hauled public trains between Pen-y-Mount and Beddgelert. At the start of November 2019 Russell was back at Beddgelert for a series of photo-charters alongside Baldwin No.608, which failed near Hafod-Ruffydd. Russell has not travelled the section of WHR between Waunfawr and Rhyd Ddu since 1936.
The 2023 event should see a range of FR locos in addition to Russell as the Fairlie and England engines frequently worked to Dinas. It is also hoped that the Baldwin No.608 will be ready after its extended repair and reprise the role of the WHR's Baldwin No.590.
Click on the F&WHR poster to enlarge. Image courtesy F&WHR.
The Corris Railway has removed track at their Corris terminus, re-ballasted and cast the concrete base of the new traverser. They have a problem funding their new Hughes Falcon loco under construction at Keef's, a replica of No.3 which is to take the place of Tattoo No.7 when it is withdrawn for its 10 year overhaul in 2024. To find out more and donate to the project click the link to the Corris Falcon website.
Caernarfon Bypass to open 18/2/22
The Caernarfon Bypass will open on Friday morning 18/2/22 according to a TfW statement today. This will speed up visits to the WHR from the North Wales Coast tourist destinations and the North West of England.
F&WHR job opportunities 15/2/22
With the new season approaching the F&WHR is looking to take on staff for various roles and has a selection of new jobs they are looking to fill across a range of departments including Commercial, Catering and Infrastructure. The F&WHR will be at the Caernarfon Jobs Fair today or take a look at their job opportunities at festrail.co.uk/jobs.
Llangollen Railway News 15/2/22
The Llangollen Railway is removing Deeside Halt, a wooden built platform that was in danger of collapse midway between Berwyn and Glyndyfrdwy. The halt was in unadvertised use last September and the railway promises to restore it when finance allows for access to local walks. The west end points have been taken OOU and plain lined and the loop now operates as a siding with the signalbox mothballed.
The railway has 7 operational Mk1 coaches, most privately owned, and these will be brought up to a good standard. The rake was used for the Santa Specials and includes an FK which was sold as First Class on the Santa Specials.
Corwen will open in the second half the year and a tamper is booked in April before an HMRI visit to approve the line. The station has won a Levelling Up grant for completion of the canopy etc.
A Diesel Gala is planned for the weekend of 3-4/9/22 which is likely to use all three main line diesels and the railways Class 08.
TfW (mostly bad!) news 15/2/22
Outrageous substitutions of the loco hauled Holyhead -Cardiff services occurred on 15/2/22. The Cardiff-Holyhead diagram was covered by a single Class 158 DMU, No.158839! Even worse, the Holyhead-Cardiff diagram was covered by a pair of Class 153s, Nos.153323/935!! Whether it be staff problems with COVID or stock problems with the Class 67s, there are obvious answers. TfW needs to train more staff on Class 67 operation including the Llandudno Junction staff and more Class 67s need to be converted to haul the Mk4 rakes!! Having said that a TfW Mk4 rake is being delivered from Eastleigh to Crewe this evening (15/2/22) via Wrexham hauled by Nos.20007/142. No.50008 was originally booked for ECS transfer.
A mystery working on Sunday saw a CWR train run from Penmaenmawr to Westbury via Holyhead (reverse), Crewe/Shrewsbury/Newport/Bath Spa following relaying on the North Wales coast line. Also on Sunday, after relaying at Talerddig, the summit of the Cambrian Coast line, No.37418 An Comuun Gaidhealach double headed with ERTMS fitted No.97303 back to Crewe Gresty Lane with 10 ballast hoppers.
The new Class 197 DMUs, considered ugly by some, have been on test in North Wales including No.197101 on 10/2/22 with what is believed to be the first trip to Blaenau Ffestiniog.
Service on the Borderlands Line has been extremely unreliable with bustitution for much of the day on several days recently and, at most, one DMU set working. an 'emergency timetable'. ATW liveried Class 150s frequently appear with Nos.150260/281 on 11/2/22 and No.150250 on 12/2/22.
From 1/3/22 TfW fares will rise at the rate of inflation 3.8% rather than RPI+1 as previously (4.8%).
First class travel is available on five of the six services offered for 2022 for an additional fee. First class travel is in Pullman/Observation cars. It is notable that Solo tickets are not offered and that child fares are half the adult fare (a substantial increase compared to the nominal child fare in standard class). There appears to be no reference to fares for unaccompanied children. There do not seem to be any Gold fares for those joining at Waunfawr or Beddgelert/Beddgelert Forest. Children below 3 are free and counted as 'babies in arms'. It is not certain if dogs are allowed in Gold class.
Gold fare table
|Train||Two adults return||Additional adult return||Child (3-15) return|
|Mountain Spirit||£110 (70)||£55 (35)||£27.50 (£30)|
|Glaslyn Venturer||£100 (£120)||£50 (£60)||£25 (£27.50)|
|Harbourmaster||£160 (£170)||£80 (£85)||£40 (£42.50)|
|Gelert Explorer||£140 (£150)||£70 (£75)||£35 (£37.50)|
|Snowdonia Star||£160 (£170)||£80 (£85)||£40 (£42.50)|
|Snowdonia Star (Waunfawr)||N/A||N/A||N/A|
Prices in brackets are for the Observation Car end bay. N/A = Not Applicable.
Main Line news 12/2/22
TfW put one of their Mk4 Holyhead-Cardiff rakes to use for a rugby match special on Saturday. No.67025 hauled 1V93, the Holyhead-Cardiff and 1W96 return. Normally the rakes are not diagrammed for use at weekends.
Rest of the World Gang report 11/2/22
After four days' track laying by the Rest of the World Gang the second FR track relaying site in the Gysgfa area was completed on Friday afternoon. Roughly 120m of track was laid in four days. For images see F&WHR Facebook page.
Coachworks update 11/2/22
There has been a quick move around in the Carriage Works which has seen Brown Marshall bogie No.16 leave 16 road Paint Shop being replaced with Observation Car No.100. Small Birmingham bugboxes Nos.2/5 along with the replica Porthole Birmingham No.12 have entered the main workshop to receive repairs in preparation to touch ups or painting where needed and re-varnishing. See F&WHR Facebook page for images.
Sunday carvery at Spooners (13/2/22)
Come along to Spooner’s this Sunday and treat yourself to a traditional Roast Dinner.
Our popular Carvery will be served between 12:00 and 16:00
• Enjoy a choice of Turkey, Beef or Pork - accompanied by Yorkshire Puddings, Stuffing, a selection of Vegetables and Gravy.
• Complete your Sunday Dinner treat by adding a Starter and/or Dessert.
• Children’s options will also be available.
To reserve your table, call us on 01766 516032
Analysis of F&WHR days of operation
The Woodland Wanderer starts operation on 26/3/22 with two trains a day departing Porthmadog at 10:55 and 13:55 requiring one loco in steam. The train operates most days but some Monday's and Fridays are excepted before Easter. Additional trains with up to 6 maximum requiring three engines in steam can be added according to bookings.
The Mountain Spirit also starts on 26/3/22 and also operates most days with some Mondays and Fridays excepted before Easter, though there will be trains every day over the Bank Holiday weekend 15-18/4/22. The train runs once a day departing Porthmadog at 10:30. For Easter there will be a second trip with an afternoon working departing at 14:30. This train requires one engine in steam.
The Glaslyn Venturer starts on 3/4/22 and has a very irregular timetable though it operates every Tuesday/Thursday/Sunday and FSX. The train departs Porthmadog at 10:15 but for Easter there will be two workings a day with an additional afternoon service at 13:40. This service requires one loco in steam and will normally be Garratt hauled.
The Harbourmaster runs irregularly FSO from 2/4/22. There is one train a day departing Porthmadog at 09:40 and it will normally be Garratt hauled.
The Gelert Explorer runs irregularly FSX from 29/3/22. At Easter the train will run on Bank Holiday Monday and the following Saturday. There is one train a day departing Caernarfon at 11:30 and it will normally be Garratt hauled.
The Snowdonia Star runs irregularly FSO from 2/4/22. It runs once a day departing Caernarfon at 10:00 and will normally be Garratt hauled.
There is no sign of any Summer dated Heritage service on the WHR as used to operate with Prince is 2019 but if there is good news with COVID, supporters might hope for such a service later in 2022.
Tickets were advertised as for sale from noon Wednesday 9/2/22 for those who receive the F&WHR newsletter but from Thursday 10/2/22 for those accessing via Facebook etc. For full details of the rather complex pattern of days of operation see the F&WHR Booking website.
In response to queries about booking Paul Lewin the F&WHR General manager said 'I suspect things will become more flexible as times go by but for the future prosperity of our railway we do need to manage things quite tightly.
The company has confirmed it will release Train Graphs on its website to help photographers and those who prefer full timetables.
WHR lineside clearance 11/2/22
Criccieth Castle worked onto the WHR with the cherrypicker rake this morning. The cherrypicker gives extended reach to cut back branches which are scratching the sides of rolling stock.
BBC's 'The Apprentice' visits F&WHR (broadcast 10/2/22)
The F&WHR were delighted to feature on yesterday evening’s episode of ‘The Apprentice’, which aired on BBC One at 21:00. The F&WHR wishes all the remaining candidates good luck for the remainder of the show! Those who missed it can catch up via BBC iPlayer.
Analysis of F&WHR booking options and fares
While a survey of the F&WHR's Fareharbor website shows Solo return fares for all trains but no single fare options so far. There are no Solo child fares so it is uncertain if the F&WHR allows unaccompanied children up to and including 15 years old. There are pages for Beddgelert, for those wishing to join the Harbourmaster northbound and Waunfawr for those wishing to join the Snowdonia Star southbound. However, there is no sign of Meillionen pick up on The Harbourmaster mentioned in the F&WHR's press release. Maybe the Beddgelert Forest Campsite passengers have to book by phone to use Meillionen Halt or the website is in error and passengers from the campsite are expected to walk or drive to Beddgelert (limited parking) to catch the train.
The Fareharbor booking system offers a simple pattern with the basic fare being standard return fare for two adults, a fare of half this price for additional adults (up to a maximum of 6 in the party-larger parties need to phone), an accompanied child fare age 3-15 of between £1 and £3 depending on length of journey, and a Solo return fare which matches the Additional Adult return fare. It seems ticket prices have been held or risen below the rate of inflation. The £3 dog fare has not been confirmed this year so far. Children below 3 are free and counted as 'babies in arms'.
Standard fare table
|Train||Two adults return||Additional adult/Solo return||Child (3-15) return|
|Woodland Wanderer||£50 (£50)||£25 (£25)||£1 (£1)|
|Mountain Spirit||£80 (£70)||£40 (£35)||£2|
|Glaslyn Venturer||£70 (£70)||£35 (£35)||£2 (£1)|
|Gelert Explorer||£90 (£88)||£45 (£44)||£2 (£2)|
|Snowdonia Star (Waunfawr)||£70||£35||£2|
Figures in brackets show last year's prices where applicable.
A55 Penmaenmawr/Llanfairfechan roundabout removal scheme scrapped
The Daily Post has reported that WAG has decided to cancel the A55 improvement scheme to eliminate the last 2 roundabout junctions on the A55 at Penmaenmawr and Llanfairfechan. These dangerous junctions might by replaced by an extended 50 mph limit zone between Junction 14 Llanfairfechan and 16A Penmaenbach, also including the Conwy and Penmaenbach Tunnels. One factor likely to have played a role in WAG's consideration is the lack of EU Trans European Network (TEN) grants for strategic road projects connecting mainland Europe to Ireland now the Tories have taken the UK out of the EU.
Whilst saving 2 years of disruption during construction, the decision will lead to long term accidents, delays and congestion on the A55 at these dangerous junctions and extend journey times for those visiting the F&WHR. WAG have taken the decision partly based on the need to reduce car use and the emission of Carbon Dioxide, though alternative investment in rail transport has not yet been suggested. At the moment the loco hauled Holyhead-Cardiff trains are running irregularly and are often DMU substituted. The former Holyhead-Manchester loco-hauled service has not been reinstated. The Class 230 service on the Borderlands Line has been put back yet again to May and the new Mk4 loco hauled rakes have been allocated to Swansea-Manchester trains rather than Holyhead-Crewe/Birmingham International which were loco hauled until recent years.
Mexican Night at Spooners 10/2/22
The themed evenings continue this Thursday at Spooner’s, as we head across the Atlantic for a ‘Noche Mexicana’..! There will be a range of delicious Mexican cuisine available including Fajitas, Enchiladas, Quesadillas, Vegetarian Mixed Bean Chilli and plenty of tasty sides ranging from Chorizos and Nachos, to Spicy Cheese and Guacamole. Don’t miss out, grab your Sombreros and go Mexican this Thursday. The buffet will be served from 17:00 to 20:00 - for only £9.95 per person, or add a drink with your meal for £11.95. (Drinks offer includes a Pint of Lager / Cider / Ale, a 175ml Glass of House Wine or a Soft Drink.). If you have any allergies or dietary requirements, please ask a member of staff for the allergen folder and make them aware when ordering.
Analysis of F&WHR timetable changes
The F&WHR timetable and booking arrangements for 2022 have finally been released and contain some changes. Gone are the Mountain Prince trains to Dduallt spiral to be replaced by a through Mountain Spirit train to Blaenau Ffestiniog. Many supporters will be disappointed that there are no 'hop on-hop off' fares as introduced by all the other heritage railways in North Wales but fares for single people have been reintroduced and such passengers will occupy a table for two while groups of 2-4 occupy a bay table. Groups of 5/6 will be booked a whole compartment separated by the Perspex screens retained from last year. How this will work on the Woodland Wanderer heritage compartment stock is not explained. Single fares have been introduced from either end of a train's journey and it is possible that returns from Blaenau Ffestiniog may be allowed on the Mountain Spirit later in the season.
The Snowdonia Star and the Harbourmaster will now allow single journeys either way between Caernarfon and Porthmadog. The Gelert Explorer and Snowdonia Star will call additionally at Waunfawr, though parking there is limited. On days when both the Gelert Explorer and Glaslyn Venturer operate it will now be possible to book a single through journey from Caernarfon or Porthmadog or vice versa. Other than the Woodland Wanderer, all other restrictions on services are described as 'initial' so it is possible they may be revised in the light of experience. Last year the only place passengers could board trains other than the terminus of a service was at Beddgelert but this has been extended to Waunfawr (southbound) on the Snowdonia Star and Beddgelert Forest/Meillionen (northbound) on the Harbourmaster. The FR might be missing a trick by not allowing passengers to join the Mountain Spirit at Minffordd from Cambrian Coast train services. Many holidaymakers stay in the area between Harlech and Barmouth and might wish to join a Blaenau Ffestiniog service at Minffordd or use the erstwhile Ffestiniog Link service between the NR Cambrian Coast and Conwy Valley routes.
On the Bookings page, additional journeys are bookable from Waunfawr or Beddgelert (and presumably including Beddgelert Forest campsite/Meillionen) to serve the wheel heeled cabin dwellers of Beddgelert Forest campsite but car parking at Beddgelert is very limited at the best of times!
F&WHR finally release timetable and bookings
Tickets for our 2022 services will go on sale at 12:00 (midday) Wednesday, 9/2/22! Our season will begin on the 26/3/22, and we will initially operate in much the same way as last year, allowing customers to purchase either a full return journey on these services or, alternatively, a one-way ticket between the principal stations.
Our journey options this year will include:
Porthmadog - Tan-y-Bwlch
Mountain Spirit: Porthmadog - Blaenau Ffestiniog
Gelert Explorer: Caernarfon - Beddgelert
Glaslyn Venturer: Porthmadog - Beddgelert
Snowdonia Star: Caernarfon - Porthmadog
The Harbourmaster: Porthmadog - Caernarfon
Slight variations have been made to the seating arrangements on our services - with the exception of the ‘Woodland Wanderer’, which will continue with separated compartments in heritage carriages. To increase flexibility, solo travellers will now pay the fare for one person and be allocated a two-seater table, parties of 2-4 passengers will be assigned a four-seater table, with groups of 5-6 being allocated a six-seater bay.
‘Go Gold’ and treat yourself to an unforgettable luxury experience on the historic Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways. Sit back and relax in unparalleled comfort as you travel through the picturesque Welsh hills in one of our luxurious First-Class Pullman carriages. Painstakingly constructed and finished in our own workshops, these carriages provide a golden opportunity to experience Orient Express style splendour.
The ability to board and depart at specific intermediate stations, as well as return journeys beginning at Blaenau Ffestiniog, will be introduced later in the season. However, limited advanced booking will be available from Beddgelert and Waunfawr stations from the start of the season.
Bookings will be open for trains between late March and October. Full details of our 2022 services can be found on the ‘Train Services’ page on our website.
Here is a short summary of what to expect from each service this season;
Our popular ‘Woodland Wanderer’ heritage service to Tan-y-Bwlch makes a welcome return this Spring, allowing visitors to travel in a selection of our carefully preserved heritage carriages, providing a throwback 1960s style experience! Our ‘Woodland Wanderer’ service will run on most days, although there may be some variations during the season. This service is ideal for families and those with dogs due to its relatively short journey time and the ability to travel in your very own individual compartment.
The total journey time is approx. 2 hours 30 minutes including approx. a 1-hour interval at Tan-y-Bwlch station, allowing passengers to take a stroll along the woodland trail to Llyn Mair, the pretty lake in the valley and to enjoy some delicious refreshments at the station tearooms.
We will allow passengers to make a full return journey on this service, boarding at Porthmadog, or alternatively, passengers can also book a one-way ticket, beginning from either Porthmadog or Tan-y-Bwlch.
Our classic Ffestiniog Railway experience from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog returns with a new name; Mountain Spirit. Complete with our newest rolling stock and the observation car placed at the Blaenau end, this is sure to be a favourite among visitors in 2022! Our ‘Mountain Spirit’ service will run on most days, although there may be some variations during the season.
We are delighted to offer a service along the full length of the Ffestiniog Railway as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of reopening to Blaenau Ffestiniog. Modern carriages constructed to the highest standards in our own workshops offer excellent views of the beautiful Vale of Ffestiniog before arriving at Blaenau Ffestiniog, the slate quarrying town that once “Roofed the World”
The total journey time is approx. 3 hours including approx. a 40-minute interval at Blaenau Ffestiniog, enabling passengers to stretch their legs, take some photos, get some refreshments and admire the locomotive before the return journey back to Porthmadog.
We are initially only allowing passengers to make a return journey on this service from Porthmadog Harbour Station, with one way tickets from either Porthmadog or Blaenau Ffestiniog also available. However, we plan on allowing customers to purchase return tickets from Blaenau Ffestiniog later in the season.
First Class experiences are also available on this service – see our ‘Gold Services’ webpage for further details.
Our hugely popular ‘Gelert Explorer’ service from Caernarfon to Beddgelert returns in 2022, travelling the northern end of the Welsh Highland Railway on a scenic journey filled with variety across the foothills of Snowdon! Our ‘Gelert Explorer’ service will run between Sunday - Thursday, although there may be some variations during the season. This experience has it all; comfortable carriages, delicious hampers, magnificent scenery and an interval at one of Snowdonia National Park’s most picturesque villages.
The total journey time is approx. 5 hours with approx. a 90-minute interval at Beddgelert village, allowing passengers an opportunity to enjoy some local delicacies at the assortment of cafes, shops and pubs or explore the picturesque walking paths overlooked by Snowdonia’s majestic mountains.
We are initially only allowing passengers to make a return journey on this service from Caernarfon Station, or to book one way tickets from either Caernarfon or Beddgelert.
Customers may book a return journey or a one-way ticket from Waunfawr on this service. Please note, due to very limited parking in Waunfawr we recommend customers only book this pick up service if they are staying in Waunfawr village or campsite.
A selection of ‘Hampers’ can be pre-booked on this service, full details are available on our Hampers page.
First Class experiences are also available on this service – see our ‘Gold Services’ webpage for further details.
The ‘Glaslyn Venturer’ will remain a feature on our 2022 services timetable, offering passengers the opportunity to travel the southern end of the Welsh Highland Railway, between Porthmadog and Beddgelert! Our ‘Glaslyn Venturer’ service will run between Sunday - Thursday, although there may be some variations during the season. Enjoy wide vistas of the Snowdonian mountains as you journey across the ‘Traeth Mawr’ flatlands, marvel at the Glaslyn river as you pass along a ledge in the Aberglaslyn Pass and enjoy an interval at the idyllic village of Beddgelert.
The total journey time is approx. 3 hours with approx. a 75-minute interval at Beddgelert village, allowing passengers an opportunity to enjoy some local delicacies at the assortment of cafes, shops and pubs or explore the picturesque walking paths overlooked by Snowdonia’s majestic mountains.
We are initially only allowing passengers to make a return journey on this service from Porthmadog Harbour Station, with one-way tickets from either Porthmadog or Beddgelert also available.
A selection of Hampers can be pre-booked on this service, full details are available on our ‘Hampers’ page.
First Class experiences are also available on this service – see our ‘Gold Services’ webpage for further details.
The ‘Snowdonia Star’ is back in 2022, journeying a total of 50 miles from coast to coast and back again across the entirety of the Welsh Highland Railway, making it the ultimate grand day-out! Our ‘Snowdonia Star’ service will run on Friday and Saturday, although there may be some variations during the season. Highlights are endless on this epic journey as you travel over farmland and forest, cross the foothills of Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon), descend steep hillsides, pass through idyllic villages, traverse along high ridges and cross expansive estuaries. When you cross the Harbour bridge into Porthmadog station, spare a thought for the moment in early 2009 when the final piece of track was laid and fitted with ‘Golden Bolts’ to connect the link with the Ffestiniog Railway. Our modern carriages provide excellent views from every window, so you’re free to sit back and take in the many wonders during your journey!
The total journey time is approx. 7 hours with approx. a 2-hour layover at Porthmadog, allowing passengers ample time to explore this historic harbour town – with its cafes, restaurants and craft shops or enjoy a drink on the terrace of Spooner’s at Porthmadog station – before the train heads back to Caernarfon, allowing passengers to enjoy all the fantastic views from a slightly different perspective!
We are initially only allowing passengers to make a return journey on this service from Caernarfon Station, with one way tickets from either Caernarfon or Porthmadog also available.
Customers may book a return journey or a one-way ticket from Waunfawr on this service. Please note, due to very limited parking in Waunfawr we recommend customers only book this pick-up service if they are staying in Waunfawr village or campsite.
A selection of Hampers can be pre-booked on this service, full details are available on our ‘Hampers’ page.
Last but by no means least, our ‘The Harbourmaster’ experience will undoubtedly be a highlight of our 2022 service as it returns this Spring! Our ‘The Harbourmaster’ service will run on Friday and Saturday, although there may be some variations during the season. ‘The Harbourmaster’ sets off from the old slate quays beside the harbour in Porthmadog, making its way inland across the captivating floodplains and meadows of the Traeth Mawr Estuary. Next up, the renowned splendour of the Aberglaslyn Pass and the idyllic village of Beddgelert, before the climb up the forested hillside begins as the train makes its way onto the foothills of Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon). Look out for the sign marking the Summit of the line (‘Y Copa’ in Welsh) before the gradual descent through farmlands and forests towards the harbour and quayside at Caernarfon.
Our modern carriages provide excellent views from every window, so you’re free to sit back and take in the many wonders during your journey! The total journey time is approx. 7 hours with approx. a 2-hour layover at Caernarfon, allowing passengers time to explore this historic town – with its impressive castle, narrow streets, small shops and market square – before the train heads back on the return journey to Porthmadog.
We are initially only allowing passengers to make a return journey on this service from Porthmadog Station, with one way tickets from either Porthmadog or Caernarfon also available.
Customers may book a return journey or a one-way ticket from Beddgelert/Meillionen on this service. Please note, that due to summer demand there is very limited parking in Beddgelert so we recommend you only use this pick up service if you are staying in the village or at Forest Holidays - Beddgelert.
A selection of Hampers can be pre-booked on this service, full details are available on our ‘Hampers’ page.
Full details on all of these services are available on the ‘Services’ page on our website. Ticket prices will vary depending on your choice of experience; full details are available on our ‘Train Services’ page. If you have any questions regarding any of these services, take a look at our detailed page on our website. Otherwise, feel free to send us a message, contact details are available on our website or call our Booking Office; 01766 516024 Our Booking Office will be open 09:00 - 16:00 on weekdays, and daily from Saturday, 26th March onwards. We are encouraging all customers to book online however if you need help with your booking, please call our Booking Office to book your tickets. Most compartments hold up to six passengers but if you are a party of more than six, please call our Booking Office to make your booking.
Catering & Shops
Our catering outlets at Spooner’s and Caffi De Winton are currently open whilst our Tearooms at Tan-y-Bwlch will reopen temporarily during Half Term week at 10:00 - 16:00 between Saturday, 19th February - Sunday, 27th February, and will open its doors for the season on Saturday, 26th March. Detailed opening times on all our catering outlets can be found on our website on the ‘Food and Drink’ page. In other exciting news, we recently launched our new online shop, in line with an innovative retail management software, allowing us to make the online shopping experience more efficient for both our customers and staff. Head over to our website to take a look for yourself! The Online Shop remains the perfect place for all your railway merchandise and gifts! We have hundreds of fantastic items available including Artwork, Books, Calendars, Clothing, DVDs and Model Railway supplies. Our ‘A Year in the Life of the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways – 2021’ DVD/Blu-ray is now available to buy from the web shop. Every penny we make from our Online Shop goes towards helping to maintain our world famous, much loved railways!
IMPORTANT NOTICE - All ongoing services and events will be subject to any further changes in Welsh Government policy in response to the Covid-19 situation.
Still no timetable 8/2/22?
There is growing concern amongst supporters that the F&WHR's timetable which commences on 26/3/22 in about 6 weeks time, has still not been published. This also means that potential passengers are unable to book any trains on the FareHarbor booking system for their Easter holidays. There is a rumour that bookings may open on 9/2/22.
The Snowdonian 2022
The Snowdonian website has been updated with details of the 23/4/22 service. Already, all first class and Observation Car seats have sold out so only Third Class seats are available at £200 each. No.130 has been requested for the WHR and the three England engines for the FR section. The train will depart for Blaenau Ffestiniog at 08:45 with a light breakfast served on the train, followed by lunch at Waunfawr and a light afternoon tea served on the return journey. Click here for full itinerary. All profits are in aid of the Boston Lodge Diamond Jubilee Appeal.
Dinas Running Shed
The plans for a new Running shed at Dinas in the space to the north of the Goods Shed are still being considered. The shed may have to have two roads as future timetables may have two Garratts in steam and be long enough for the NG15s with their long tender. In fact a restoration shed for NG15 No.134 is likely to be constructed alongside the shed to free up the existing Loco Shed for maintenance of the sidelined Garratts.
The Aberglaslyn derailment 18/12/21
Railway Magazine has published details of the derailment of the returning morning Glaslyn Venturer on 18/12/21 which led to the cancellation of the remaining three Glaslyn Venturer trains that weekend. The derailed coach was the third from the front and the derailment occurred at Sheepfold Cutting a few hundred metres south of Bryn-y-felin bridge. The train was travelling slowly to allow passengers to enjoy the view of the Aberglaslyn Pass and the train came to a stop in a short distance still in line with the coach upright and the coach underframe resting on the railhead at one end.
Passengers were moved to the front two coaches and the train was split with passengers being returned to Porthmadog. The remaining four coaches were left in the Aberglaslyn Pass overnight, presumably in case the RAIB wished to examine the scene. The derailed bogie was re-railed and Upnor Castle then recovered the coaches at reduced speed to Porthmadog the next day for the derailed coach to receive attention at Boston Lodge. Glaslyn Venturer services were restored a few days later. See story in the Archived News page for December 2021.
F&WHR passengers travelling to Beddgelert made more use of the limited facilities in the station this year. The village ice cream shop was frequently unable to cater for all the queue of people from the train. In September and October there was little open in the village as local businesses did not seem to be aware of the WHR services continuing until the end of October. A small tea table hurriedly set up in the awning of the wooden station building thus took a surprising £11,000 over the season! The need for improved facilities in 2022 with a least an awning on the concrete base of the future station building and some basic catering seems essential.
Snow on the mountains
After a decidedly mild and snow free Winter so far Martin Kressman reports snow down to about 200m on the Carneddau Range near Bangor on Friday 4/2/22.
The F&WHR have been nominated for the Steam Railway Magazine HRA Award 2022 "Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways - for the completion of two new-build carriages in 2021: a replica NWNGR Pickering Brake composite for the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway / Rheilffordd Ucheldir Cymru, Porthmadog and First Class 'Ruth' for the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway Co. Ltd". Visit Steam Railway magazine to cast your vote for the F&WHR. Voting ends on 18/2/22.
Labour and the Lib Dems have attacked the Prime Minister and his BREXIT campaign which promised equivalent grants for Wales to replace the generous EU grants that had funded the WHR reconstruction amongst other projects. It now turns out these promises from the Prime minister will not be kept and that much lower levels of grant funding will be made available to Wales. Previously Wales had benefitted from various EU grants under the TENs transport network funds that completed the A55 dualling, ERDF, Coast Communities grants and other schemes with the final monies about to run out. With the Tories breaking their BREXIT promises, monies that could have been available to fund the new Beddgelert station building or expansion of facilities at Dinas, will no longer be available to the F&WHR. Other railways will also suffer with the Bala Lake Railway's2 hopes to receive a grant towards it Bala Town Extension now unlikely. See BBC story.
North Wales Heritage railways opening for Half Term
While the F&WHR remains closed until the new season starts on 26/3/22, other North Wales Heritage railways are opening for Half Term school holidays 19-27/2/22. The Tal-y-llyn Railway will be running three steam trains a day with a 'hop on-hop off' service, though advance booking is recommended. The Llangollen Railway is running two different DMUs with 5 trains a day at weekends and three trains with one DMU WThFO, again with 'hop on, hop off' style services. Their GWR steam loco No.3802 with be back from WCR tyre turning by Easter and all three mainline diesels are available along with the Class 08 for diesel galas. The Welshpool & Llanfair is running a Yellow timetable with three trains a days MFX. The Bala Lake Railway will be running 3 trains a day with an extra day on 17/2/22.
Many may remember James Hewett as the combative Chairman of the WHHR. This was around the time the WCR was running their steam hauled Cambrian Coast Express and just before the ill considered ERTMS signalling scheme killed the nascent Cambrian steam services in 2010. He has moved to the 3' gauge Halesworth to Southwold Railway project in Suffolk.
New station proposed for Towyn on North Wales Coast
Mark Drakeford, Welsh First Minister, has agreed to support a new station for the Towyn/Kinmel Bay area between Rhyl and Abergele as part of the North Wales Metro modal change policy. See Rhyl, Prestatyn & Abergele Journal.
FR ballast train 3/2/22
Vale of Ffestiniog departed Minffordd Yard earlier this morning with 48 tonnes of ballast destined for the two FR relaying sites currently under way at Gysfga. All being well by the end of the afternoon a further 64 tonnes will have made the journey, one mile by road from the quarry then just over two miles by train. At the moment the PW team are on target to have relaid around 400m of track with plastic sleepers this Winter. See F&WHR Facebook page for a short video of the train leaving Minffordd.
Spooner's themed night returns 3/2/22
The F&WHR is bringing back themed evenings this week at Spooner’s, and they are starting things off with the return of our hugely popular Curry Night..! The curries for the evening of 3/2/22 will be Korma, Balti, Jalfrezi and Madras, with plenty of sides to choose from - including Rice, Chips, Naan Bread, Poppadoms, Onion Bhajis, Samosas and Mango Chutney. The buffet will be served from 17:00 to 20:00 - for only £9.95 per person, or include a drink with your meal for £11.95. (Drinks offer includes a Pint of Lager/Cider/Ale, a 175ml Glass of House Wine or a Soft Drink.) If you have any allergies or dietary requirements, please ask a member of staff for our allergen folder and make them aware when ordering.
Caernarfon Bypass views 2/2/22
The Daily Post has published a 6 minute drone video and views of the Caernarfon Bypass which is nearing completion. Opening is still set for 'early 2022' and the road appears near complete with road signage and lanes marked. The views are from south to north and the WHR is crossed at 2 minutes 20 seconds. The road is marked with a central red hazard zone to separate the alternating overtaking lane from the opposing traffic. It is no surprise that the overtaking lane starts on the westbound carriageway going uphill from Plas Menai roundabout east of Caernarfon where lorries may be going slowly from a stop at the roundabout. The system of alternating overtaking lanes each over a kilometre long has been criticised by road safety experts as some desperate drivers cause accidents when attempting to overtake towards the end of the lane. See Daily Post website to view video.
TfW have a detailed plan of the road on their website which shows that the alternating 3 lane sections marked in red are about 1.5km (approximately 1 mile) long. Each section between the four roundabouts has an overtaking lane for about half of the length as well as a short overtaking length off the roundabout to pass slow lorries/caravans etc. restarting from a stop at the roundabout. Due to an asymmetry in the positioning of the overtaking lanes, the westbound carriageway will have a long section without an overtaking lane around the A4086 Llanberis Road roundabout.
First edition on new Dell office computer
V4.4158 of the Stop Press page is the first edition produced on the new Dell office computer. While the webpage html code has been thoroughly tested, please email the webmaster if any reader finds any irregularities in how the webpage runs.
2022 WHR services plan
The basic plan is continue the services as they were last year with a few tweaks. As the COVID compliant compartment screens will continue in use as passengers feel safe with them, provision will be made for single passengers and a modicum of 'hop on hop off' traffic or through journeys using trains that only go half way. Some F&WHR supporters dislike the 'Disneyfication' evident in the service plan as they see it.
The Snowdonia Star will run Caernarfon-Porthmadog FSO for most of the season using a Garratt hauling the 10 coach WHR set with Observation Cars each end.
The Harbourmaster will run Porthmadog-Caernarfon FSO for most of the season using a Garratt hauling the premier FR set with Observation cars each end.
Both these trains will give a 2 hour stop at Beddgelert which may see upgraded temporary toilets and some other temporary facilities (see story below). Some passengers prefer to wait on the station to watch the trains and need shelter.
Train drivers are little concerned about the train name boards attached to the Garratt running plates. Maybe it would be better to attach them to the coaches at least as paper labels initially.
The Gelert Explorer runs Caernarfon to Beddgelert Garratt hauled using the WHR set giving a 90 minute break in Beddgelert. This runs FSX in the main season but less frequently out of season.
The Glaslyn Venturer runs twice a day Porthmadog to Caernarfon Garratt hauled using the FR's premier set and giving an extended 80 minutes layover in 2022 by decreasing the journey times. This runs FSX in the main season but less frequently out of season.
Beddgelert Station upgrade
With so much activity at Beddgelert station given the recent timetable, plans are being drawn up to make a considerable interim improvement to the station for passengers and staff. The current temporary toilets will be spruced up as they must remain until a permanent station building appears. As regards the new station building on the concrete slab constructed when the line was opened, design work is now underway with a view to opening in 2023. Rob Chambers has been appointed as the architect and has sought input from the WHRS. The design work will be complete soon and presented to the F&WHR Company for approval. Work could start in late 2022 after the main season has finished and be completed in time for the main season in 2023.The building is expected to feature modern high class toilets as at Caernarfon, a shop, a food outlet and other facilities. Various planning guarantees were given to reassure local traders when Planning Permission was first given. It is possible these planning constraints have now lapsed.
Cambrian Heritage Railways News 1/2/22
All efforts are now targeted at Friday 1/4/22 when the new extension to Weston Wharf Station is due to be opened by newly-elected Liberal Democrat MP for North Shropshire Helen Morgan, and the inaugural first train to run between Oswestry and Weston Wharf will be sent on its way at 2pm by the leader of Shropshire County Council (representing Llan-y-mynech) Vince Hunt.
Penmaenmawr Quarry rail terminal opening
Hanson, owner of the Penmaenmawr Quarry has confirmed its policy of reducing road miles and transferring stone movements to rail. The visit by the PM, saw the terminal reopened. The first train had operated in early January. Click here for full details from RailFreight.com.
Llangollen Cowans Crane progress
On 20/1/22 the Llangollen Railway reported pleasing progress with its Cowans Crane Appeal. The crane resides at the line and the repurchase agreement has been signed with Sandbach Commercial Dismantlers of Northwich, who bought it from the Administrators in an auction of the PLC assets. This ex-Laira crane will be useful in derailments, heavy PW work as well as handling loco boiler refurbishments. Boiler lifts for Pannier No.7754 (probably the next loco to steam), Prairie No.5532 and Standard 4 No.80072 will all be required soon. The 10 year repurchase scheme sees the Llangollen giving its scrap to SCD as well as raising funds from donations. Already, after just 1 week, of the £15,000 target appeal opening, £3,000 scrap and over £1,000 cash has been raised to keep this valuable item in Llangollen. The railway hopes to complete the repurchase well before the 10 year deadline.
The Llangollen's only steam loco has gone to Carnforth again to complete work on its tyres. Early season trains will be diesel hauled or dmus. The free Llangollen Exhibition of the Ruabon-Barmouth line runs from 19/2/22-13/3/22 at Parade Street, Llangollen.
Eamonn Seddon's new post
John Browning has advised that Eamonn Seddon, the combined F&WHR's first Operations Manager, has a new job managing the Don River Railway, a tourist line in Australia. He left the F&WHR in 1997 to work on rail projects in Tasmania. For further information see The Advocate Website.
FrontPage 2003 progress
FrontPage 2003 is now installed in your webmaster's new Dell office Computer along with FileZilla and is being trialled. Hopefully this will lead to better, more timely website updates.
Harbour station progress 29/1/22
The winter works continues apace. Building work is in progress at Harbour Station. The 1970’s building was rather tired and leaky. Before Christmas all the asbestos in the eave soffits was stripped by specialist contractors. Now the F&WHR's in house building team supported by two local builders is undertaking roof repairs, replacing the UPVC sheeting, renewing the window frames and replacing the canopy roof. As if all this was not enough they are also 50% of the way through modernising the disabled toilet.
This westerly view (27/1/22) shows scaffolding erected around Harbour Station to complete the repairs. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy Alex Spring (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
Tan-y-bwlch progress 28/1/22
After several weeks of below ground activity by the S & T engineers and the groundwork contractor on building new cable ducts at Tan-y-bwlch, this week visible evidence above ground has appeared. The post for the wrong road starting signal has appeared. With new location cabinets and a ground frame cabinet, running round and doing a wrong road departure (as with the final Woodland Wanderer of the day) will be easier next season.
The F&WHR is looking to ease operations at Dinas. One plan is to build a running shed in the North Yard. This will allow locos to pick up the rakes from the Carriage Shed more easily at the start of the day and free up the existing Loco Shed for repairs and restoration work. There is plenty of room for a running shed just north of the existing Goods Shed. The Carriage shed needs to be altered to accept a full 10 coach rake under cover too and a northbound exit would improve operations by eliminating shunting. The railway is also looking for a group interested in gardening to maintain the site.
Fairbourne Railway future in doubt
With news that Gwynedd Council are advising that National Resources Wales will no longer maintain sea defences at Fairbourne after 2054, the village and railway could be subject to rising sea levels and become abandoned. See Daily Post story.
The Llangollen Railway had advised of the traditional events planned for later this year, including a Diesel Gala 3-4/9/22, DMU Weekend 8-9/9/22, Halloween Train 29/10/22 and Firework Train 5/11/22. One can only wonder why the F&WHR is failing to capitalise on these types of events, some of which are traditional holidays.
Coach No.24 completed 27/1/22
Replica Ashbury summer carriage No.24 left the paint shop to make way for other vehicles on 27/1/22. After 20 years of service with only one visit to the workshop for a quick re-varnish in that time the carriage has seen major work, with all the gutters removed for resealing and, in places, being replaced due to rot. The roof lamp top bases have also been renewed and all the doors have been tended to with all the locks serviced. The outside has been fully rubbed down and repainted with paint supplied by the general manager (LMS Red). The inside the carriage has had several coats of paint on the floor, various areas of the wood graining has been renewed and all the interior signage has all be replaced. The coach was originally paid for by John Prideaux as an example of the old NWNGR style that preceded the WHR. The coach is fitted with prototypical NWNGR roof ventilators.
As a result of the release of No.24, Nos.11, 16 and 100 are in various stages of repair/repaint in the Coach Works.
This (27/1/22) Boston Lodge view shows the completed coach No.24 outside in the sun after removal from the Carriage Works to allow space for the next project. The coach was later stored in the Carriage Shed. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is courtesy F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
North Wales Main Line 27/1/22
GBRF Class 68s Nos.68001/2 ran from Crewe Coal Siding to Valley Nuclear Electric siding on 27/1/22 with a path retention working hauling one empty flask wagon. Just in case we get any snow 37425/37716 ran top and tail with the low profile Beilhack snowploughs to Chester! Three days ago the working saw the larger DRS snowploughs in Chester bay with a pair of 66s. However the so-called 'snow-bomb' forecast for the end of January failed to appear and the month was mild and dry with record high temperatures recorded on some days!
Visiting North Wales on 27/1/22 the PM including Wylfa and Penmaenmawr quarries, he lent support to the quarries rail borne output and said the government was minded to assist a new developer of Wylfa B nuclear power station. See Daily Post report.
The Network map for the North Wales Metro includes the Trawsfynydd Extension of the Blaenau Ffestiniog Branch. Whether this is to Trawsfynydd Lake, the current terminus at the Nuclear waste transfer siding which would be a parkway station or an extension into the original Trawsfynydd station is unclear but there are farm buildings built on the sold off trackbed south of Trawsfynydd Lake Halt. The Metro Map also includes the NR Bangor/Caernarfon/Porthmadog line. The aspiration includes a through Amlwch-Porthmadog train as well as a Bangor-Caernarfon-Porthmadog service.
Another intriguing suggestion revealed by TfW's map is the potential to reroute Holyhead-Cardiff trains via a new curve at Shotton using the old Docks Branch formation. These trains could then use the Borderlands Line non stop to Wrexham and avoid Chester with its cramped layout which is unsuitable for reversing services such as this. See TFW North Wales Metro Map.
WHR PW works 26/1/22
The listed Pont Y Cwt just north of Snowdon Street Crossing was inspected recently. The stone bridge appears to be in good condition. The inspection team had to go waist deep in the former Cwt Canal that Maddocks built from Llyn Bach to Tremadog to inspect the underside of the arch.
PW trains are working on the WHR presumably clearing lineside vegetation that scratches the sides of rolling stock. Criccieth Castle was working with a PW train near Bontnewydd Halt on 26/1/22.
Second chance at Funkey cab 26/1/22
The F&WHR ran an auction for the sale of the fibreglass cab from Castell Caernarfon only for the winner to fail to complete the deal. So, to give everyone another chance, the F&WHR has decided to re-run the auction. Send your bid direct to us, via Messenger. The highest bid by midday on 11th February 2022 will win. Just in time for someone's Valentine's Day present..?!? However, before you bid, please remember that you will need to collect the cab from Boston Lodge - and this must happen before the end of February. (We can lift it on to a flat back truck for you)
Note: The control desks are not included as they are going to be refurbished and reused. Of course you may just wish to make a donation to Railway Children.
Final stage of website migration
Your webmaster is reaching the final stage in migration of the website to the new Dell computer. However, Windows 10 does not like FrontPage 2000 and my 2003 version seems to have gone missing but is said to work on Windows 10. Can anyone recommend a suitable WYSIWYG web editor?
Moving Pictures No.59 25/1/22
Click on the YouTube link to watch 26 minutes 46 seconds of video with Iain Wilkinson covering the Wagon Tracks project. This video was published on 25/1/22 and is best viewed at 1080p with Chrome. This video was produced by John Wooden (F&WHR) on a professional 4K Betamax camcorder.
Mountain winter heat wave!
An extreme temperature inversion occurred on 24/1/22 when the summit of Y Garn overlooking Rhyd Ddu from the west was recorded as having a balmy temperature of 21C while the campsite below shivered at 1C. No wonder there is no snow on Snowdon!
Gowrie replica latest progress 2021
Gowrie was the last loco built for the NWNGR and only lasted 10 years in service from 1908-1918. The single Fairlie with a triple axle power bogies is the same wheel arrangement as Moel Tryfan/Snowdon Ranger. Many enthusiasts would have preferred a Moel Tryfan replica as this loco survived into WHR days and worked on the FR. Gowrie was unsuccessful on the NWNGR and was sold on in 1918 and believed to be broken up in the early 1930s The Gowrie Locomotive Trust is a Midlands based group that is raising funds for a replica loco and currently constructing the main frames of the power bogie having completed the trailing bogie frame several months ago. The loco is unusual for having no front running plate so the boiler and smokebox protrude from the power bogie saddle giving an ungainly appearance exacerbated by the tanks finishing next to the power bogie saddle.
Castings for many components have been received and some already machined. Patterns for the power bogie's coupled wheels have been finished and the order placed for them to be cast. Tyres have been ordered too. A new larger boiler has been designed to eliminate the reputation of the loco being a poor steamer. The carrier frames have already been lengthened to accept a longer firebox. The loco will be fitted with both air brakes and vacuum brakes and will visit the F&WHR. The group is still looking for funds to complete this £600,000 project. Contact Marion Allen, the group's treasurer with any donations. For more information see the Gowrie group's website.
The Lynton and Barnstaple Railway in Devon has made more progress recently through Exmoor Associates (EA), the separate company that purchases sections of the trackbed for eventual use by the railway as it extends south to Barnstaple. The L&BR frequently exchanges locos with the F&WHR and Lyd has been there several times with Baldwin Lyn making a reciprocal visit to the F&WHR. The latest purchase is a 622 m section lies about 1 km to the south of Wistlandpound Reservoir between Hunnacott and South Thorne.
Mirroring the FR's problem with Llyn Ystradau, the building of Wistlandpound Reservoir in 1956, some 20 years after the L&BR closed, flooded the line. Consequently when this section of the line is reopened the railway will have to climb more steeply from the south in order to reach the height of the dam and must therefore be moved off line and higher up the hillside to the east. This is the section purchased by Exmoor Associates. South of Hunnacott, Devon County council has used about 1 km of the trackbed for a local C class road (Twitchen Lane) to Narracott which will require a deviation running alongside the road. Sections of trackbed at Chelfham and Snapper are already in EA's possession. Completion of purchase of a second section of trackbed is expected shortly which will exhaust EA's funding. An appeal for additional funds is planned to support EA's trackbed acquisition programme. Se EA website.
The L&BR has planning permission to build a new station on the north side of Wistlandpound Reservoir, a popular country park, and is also purchasing by a shares offer the nearby former Blackmoor Gate station, currently The Old Station House Inn pub/restaurant, and convert to a station/depot/restaurant/car park. The site will be returned to railway use including a depot. For the latest on the B&BR see L&BR website.
GVR Chirk station appeal
The Glyn Valley Tramway group is attempting to raise £250,000 to rebuild the narrow gauge railway station on the west side of Chirk's NR station. Work has been underway since 2006 and volunteers have cleared growth from the trackbed as far the initial terminus proposed at Pontfaen. New volunteers have worked with hired equipment recently to clear the station site which was closed in 1935 and to passengers in 1933. The appeal will fund the rebuilding of the platform, station building and most importantly the retaining wall on the west side that prevents earth falling onto the site. the foundations of the station building have been excavated and are suitable for the replica building on the same site. Some platform edgings have been recovered from the rubble but many new ones will need to be cut. Talks are underway with NR about public access to the GVR station, possibly via NR's disabled access ramp to the Down platform. Initially, 2' 3" gauge track will be laid to allow visits by the two GVT coaches preserved (and regauged) on the TR (as well as visits by their locos or those at Corris!) but in the longer term the group might prefer the original gauge of 2' 4.5". Donations to the All Change at Chirk Appeal may be made via PayPal via firstname.lastname@example.org GVR address.
Covid restrictions ease for F&WHR hospitality 21/1/22
Announcing a further easing of Covid Restrictions from 28/1/22, Mark Drakeford (Welsh First Minister) said that all restrictions on hospitality would cease from 28/1/22. This will ease operation of the F&WHR's Spooners Bar/Restaurant and De Winton Cafe as there will be no need for table service and the 2m spacing will go. He was confidence that the stronger Welsh measures to restrict transmission of COVID had led to COVID occurrence falling faster in Wales than elsewhere in the UK and he suggested the Prime Minister's populist approach was not 'following the science' and more to do with distracting people from Partygate. As regards future easing of restrictions, by mid February he hoped that restrictions would be back to Level Zero which would allow the F&WHR to operate more easily than it did last year and more in line with the TR/Llangollen Railway 'hop on/hop off' services etc.
KMX in action on FR 20/1/22
Alex Spring, the F&WHR Infrastructure manager, has reported that following the top ballasting of the Boston Lodge to Rhiw Plas Bridge last week the KMX tamper-liner was in action finishing the job. The line now looks ready to take FR trains when they resume on 26/3/22.
This (20/1/22) view shows the tracked between Boston Lodge Halt and Rhiw Plas bridge tamped by the KMX tamper-liner and looking ready for passenger services when they begin at the end of March. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Alex Spring (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
A487 Caernarfon Bypass opening
Work on the A487 Caernarfon Bypass is nearing completion with a planned opening date of early 2022. The road has a number of alternating 3 lane sections like the dangerous A41 Whitchurch Bypass which allow overtaking manoeuvres in either direction but in different locations. The speed limits have been set after consultation with local Police Authorities and will see the limit on the 9.8km route at 40mph at the roundabouts and national speed limit (60mph) on the main sections as a 3 lane road is classed as a single carriageway. Traffic from the A55 to Porthmadog could expect to save up to 10 minutes making journeys for F&WHR passengers and volunteers faster and more reliable.
The bypass will run from The Goat roundabout at the A499/A487 junction in Dinas/Llanwnda towards the Plas Menai roundabout near Y Felinheli and will ease congestion on the A487 running towards Caernarfon, which includes a number of bottleneck sections. There are two negative aspects to the new road. One is that the road does not provide a direct link onto the A4085 to Beddgelert and such traffic would have to exit the bypass at Bontnewydd and use local roads to Cae Athro roundabout thus giving no time saving at all to such traffic. Another aspect is that the road does not appear to have been completed with passive provision for standard gauge reopening of the WHR route at the overbridge just north of Bontnewydd Halt despite requests from WHR engineers when they were consulted. It is possible the old road through Caernarfon will be renumbered as the A4085.
Gwynedd Council makes St David's Day a holiday
Gwynedd Council has voted to create a council holiday (as opposed to a Bank Holiday) for its staff on St David's Day 1/3/22. This will not apply to schools as teachers' contracts are governed by Westminster. Unfortunately the F&WHR will not be open on this day to offer services to local people enjoying this new holiday break.
Important Safety notice 18/1/22
F&WHR Announcement : Although we aren’t running passenger trains at the moment, we are very busy with engineering trains. These run unannounced and may appear at any time, travelling at up to 20mph through cuttings and on embankments. Please don’t be tempted to walk along the railway, as you may have very little warning of a train, and very few places to get out of its way when it appears.
F&WHR timetable 2022
The FR has responded to questions about its 2022 timetable which has still not appeared despite that of several other Welsh heritage railways being available for some weeks now. The statement confirms there will be no February Half Term Holiday trains or early season trains in contrast to most of the other heritage railways and previous year's F&WHR timetables. Maybe the F&WHR 'knows something the other railways don't'? The start of services on 26/3/22 comes just over 2 weeks before the Easter Bank Holiday 15-18/4/22 and covers the school's fortnight Easter break.
It’s a crisp Winter’s day here in Porthmadog, but the days are growing lighter and we have some exciting news to share with you - our 2022 season will start on 26/3/22. We are finalising the details of our services, but trains will initially run in a similar style to 2021. However, we are planning to run more trains, with increased capacity, to Blaenau Ffestiniog. Our heritage carriages will continue to be used between Porthmadog and Tan-y-Bwlch on our popular, family-friendly ‘Woodland Wanderer’ trains.
Welsh Highland Railway services will also remain similar to last year; however, we aim make improvements to our facilities at Beddgelert station. We are looking at re-introducing ticketing for solo travellers, as well as travel from some intermediate stations - details of which will be announced in due course. We would like to thank you all for your patience, we are working hard to finalise our plans and hope to have tickets on sale soon..!
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The Y Cerdyn discount card may be coming back and through WHR single journeys may be possible. It may also be possible to join a train at Blaenau Ffestiniog. Hop on/hop off services are being considered too as offered on other Welsh heritage railways.
ROWG report 15/1/22
Not much is heard from the Rest of the World Gang recently but they have been busy on the FR. Ballast delivery has taken place all week on the Rhiw Plas to Boston Lodge Halt section with a rough top and line established in readiness for the KMX tamper/liner to start work next week.
This (14/1/22) view shows the tracked between Boston Lodge Halt and Rhiw Plas bridge now ballasted and ready for the KMX tamper. The area where the garage is used to be the turntable just east of the old Loco Shed. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Alex Spring (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
Corris new loco needs support 15/1/22
The Corris Railway has stopped work on its new build Hughes Falcon locos due to the lack of funds. The railway is appealing for help to complete the new loco before its only steam loco is retired for its 10 year exam. The railway is busy extending its line from Maespoeth Junction to the south, a section robbed by road improvements to the A487. See Daily Post story.
WMWP report 15/1/22
There has been more progress with the Winter Major Work Programme on the FR. A contractor moved onto the second relay site in the woods above Rhiw Goch and has prepared 100m of formation ready for base ballast. In the last week the infrastructure team ran 15 trains to support these works, removing over 100 tonnes of waste material and delivering 150 tonnes of clean ballast. PW staff hope to relay a third site of 160m before services start in 10 weeks (FR 26/3/22). Alex Spring the PW Manager would like to thank all volunteers who have supported the WMWP so far and is looking forward to working with volunteers who have booked to join the team in the coming weeks.
This (14/1/22) view shows a tracked excavator with tipper attachment dumping spent ballast on an adapted DZ wagon having passed over two intermediate wagons. The wagons have end flaps to allow the excavator to pass from wagon to wagon and an end ramp. This helps on the constricted sites typical of the FR with no space for side loading. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Alex Spring (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
Coach No.16 roof repair 13/1/22
The canvas roof of Brown Marshall coach No.16, one of the coaches with an end balcony, has developed a leak. The coach works is using a stretched plastic sheet to prevent further leakage. Lorry 'tautliner' side sheeting material has been used with the new covering which is stapled to the sides to preserve the original roof material.
This Boston Lodge view (13/1/22) shows No.16 receiving a new roof. the coach also appears to have been rubbed down ready for a repaint and will emerge with the same colour scheme. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
SMR will not run to Snowdon summit in 2022 (11/1/22)
The Snowdon Mountain Railway has announced that trains will only run as far as Clogwyn again this season. This is due to lack of maintenance on the upper section as staff have been unavailable due to COVID. The top section of the SMR usually opens late in the season as it requires more maintenance being subject to harsh weather conditions near the summit until late Spring. One positive piece of news is that the heritage steam trains will be back having been suspended in early 2020. See Daily Post story.
Caernarfon Station event 25/1/22
Caernarfon Station (Y Stesion) is to host a special meal offering for the Welsh equivalent of Valentine's Day (which will presumably also be celebrated). The meal must be booked in advance and costs £9.99 for three courses. See F&WHR Facebook page for details.
Progress with coach No.24 11/1/22
NWNGR replica Coach No.24 is currently in the coachworks receiving its top coat of paint, lettering etc.
This Boston Lodge view (11/1/22) shows No.24 nearing completion of paintwork and lettering in the paint shop. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This image is copyright Glenn Williams (F&WHR) and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
Shunting in Porthmadog
The difficulties of shunting trains up to the buffer stops in the sharply curved Harbour Station are illustrated in this FaceBook video. This is achieved by the guard in the rear of the train talking to the driver with a Motorola DP1400 walkie-talkie, to guide the train to a safe stop.
No early season trains?
There have now been several official statements that F&WHR trains will not recommence until 26/3/22 despite most of the other heritage railways in Wales offering Half Term holiday services in late February (see story below). The reasons quoted are maintenance. While track relaying currently has closed the FR to all but works trains, there seems to be nothing stopping operations on the WHR other than lineside vegetation clearance trains.
North Wales Main line news 10-12/1/22
Slate waste trains should soon start running from Glan Conwy Yard, which branches off the Llandudno Junction Yard headshunt under Queens Road bridge, to places such as Hope Cement works where the slate waste will replace fly ash from dwindling coal fired power stations. The concrete pad for the slate waste storage area has been completed and the area is being fenced in. The run round adjacent to the station looks complete but is quite short so might involve up to 8 shunting movements to fill a longer train and reverse it out onto the Up line by the signalbox. The yard is visible from trains on the Conwy Valley line when not bustituted! Road access to the new yard for lorry deliveries is via Ffordd Maelgwyn from the A470/A55 junction just east of Llandudno Junction and the loading point lies at the north end of the Glan Conwy industrial estate.
Due to failure of TfW to train sufficient staff and staff absences through COVID isolations, the loco hauled Holyhead-Cardiff trains were substituted by pairs of Class 153s this week. Some of these were wedged and dangerous considering the current COVID epidemic. Meanwhile 3 car class 175s were used on the Llandudno shuttle trains! Ridiculous!!
Cambrian Coast ERTMS fitted Class 37 No.97303 was operating on the Borderlands line on 11/1/21. The loco has had some cosmetic attention with white painted wheels and was named Dave Berry on 17/12/21 at its Coleham depot, Shrewsbury. With the Barmouth Bridge now open again, it cannot be long before the loco is seen in Porthmadog on PW workings or on the North Wales Coast. A pair are due to haul the replacement Cambrian Coast Express charter on 13/5/22 as last September's train was cancelled just before the Barmouth Bridge closure by a lorry driver who apparently drove away from the A487 Dyfi Bridge bypass works with his tipper up hitting the Machynlleth station road bridge!!
A NWC driver had to hit emergency brakes on 12/1/22 when children playing 'chicken' were observed on a footpath crossing between Rhyl and Prestatyn. Local BT Police visited the area and spoke to the children who were still playing near the crossing.
WAG restrictions latest 7/1/22
Mark Drakeford (the Welsh First Minister) announced continuation of existing restrictions when speaking about the latest weekly COVID review on 7/1/22 as reported by the BBC. He was disparaging of 'experts' calling for easing of restrictions at a time when Omicron is rising sharply across Wales and criticised Boris Johnson as being 'paralysed by his cabinet and MPs' and being out of step with the Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the rest of Europe in not protecting the English adequately against COVID. The continuing Welsh restrictions give the F&WHR some certainty about how to plan its hospitality operations and any February Half Term Holiday/Easter train services it might run.
Snowdon weather 7/1/22
Snowdon Summit and nearby mountains will receive snowfall for today and the over weekend according to Met Office forecasts.
Complaints about Premier Inn locality description 7/1/22
The Daily Post has revealed that many criticisms have been made about the description of local attractions in the new Porthmadog Premier Inn's webpage. The motel will open on 14/6/22. Premier Inn bosses have said they will look at the locality description again. The description of the F&WHR station across the road from the motel is less than many might think appropriate given the F&WHR's popularity as a major tourist attraction.
F&WHR traffic 6-7/1/22
Harlech Castle was present stabled at Tan-y-bwlch at both 14:00 and 18:00 on 6/1/22. The same loco was present with the cherrypicker rake at midday on 7/1/22 and was present for some hours until leaving before 16:45.
This westerly view (7/1/22) shows Harlech Castle on the cherrypicker train at Tan-y-bwlch at 11:44. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This webcam image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
No.134 progress 6/1/22
Rail Advent has published a press release by Laurence Armstrong covering progress on NG15 No.134. The frames of the loco will be adjusted to accommodate the new design of the cab/tender cab interface.
The Apprentice BBC1
The opening captions for BBC1's Apprentice show feature clips from the F&WHR taken on 30/7/21, including a daredevil drone shot of No.130 approaching to be featured in one of the season's stories and some views inside Observation Car No.150.
F&WHR timetable update
A message on the F&WHR homepage shows that timetable planning is underway for the 2022 timetable. 'We are in the process of finalising our 2022 timetable at the moment. Please keep checking the website for updates, or alternatively subscribe to our mailing list at the foot of this page.' The only item for sale on the FareHarbor booking webpage is the Gift Card. Trains are set to run from 26/3/22 so it does not look like any Half Term holiday trains are planned despite every other Welsh Heritage railway (now including the Welshpool & Llanfair) offering such trains in February.
Snow in Snowdonia 5/1/22!
With trains now over after a very mild Festive Season, snow came to the mountains of Snowdonia on 5/1/22. Snow was visible on webcams and Snowdon itself was forecast to have snow every day for the next four days. Work was underway with servicing the charging/watering points on Porthmadog platform.
Around midday Harlech Castle was present at Tan-y-bwlch with a PW train consisting of 3 DZ wagons with end flaps. Two excavators were loaded and the train set off presumably for the relay job at Rhiw Goch at 12:45. As well as relaying, the WMWP work will feature a shunt token at Tan-y-bwlch and, in addition, will ease wrong line departures, a feature of the Woodland Wanderer at the end of the day, which may continue into 2022.
This westerly view (5/1/22) shows Harlech Castle on the PW train at Tan-y-bwlch at 12:06. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This webcam image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
Book Review 2021
A number of railway books were received as presents at Christmas.
1) The Class 37s by Mark V Pike
published 2021 by Key Books, Britain's Railway Series (Volume 23)
Softback £15.99 ISBN 978-1-80282-042-3
A highly illustrated history of the Class 37 in colour focussing rather more on the locos than trains in the scenery. The author has chosen Class 37s from his own travels and has sadly missed out the Cambrian and North Wales Coast routes, while covering South Wales, Scotland and his home patch in the south to excess. The text is in the form of extended captions which provide a wealth of detail. Most of the livery variations are shown including the Class 97/3 which ply the Cambrian Coast lines. There is a chapter about the travels of Caroline, the inspection saloon, railtours and heritage rail use of Class 37s.
2) Birmingham New Street Station Through Time by Mark Norton
published 2013 by Amberley Publishing, Local History Series
Softback £14.99 ISBN 978-1-4456-1095-5
A highly illustrated account in the form of extended captions covering the complete history of Birmingham New Street station with mostly black and white images. The booklet features much history starting from the original 'Grand Central' station which replaced Curzon Street, through the dimly lit smoky basement it became, to the plans for the modern day station under the recently redeveloped Bull Ring Centre, now known again as Grand Central. It there was a similar book about Snow Hill station, which your webmaster regularly travelled from to North Wales in the mid 50s, it would also prove an even more interesting read.
3) Unfinished Lines (rediscovering the remains of railways never completed) by Mark Yonge
published 2021 by Pen & Sword Transport
Hardback £30 ISBN 978-1-39901-853-1
This is a heavy book produced on art quality paper with much original research including many maps and plans. There are 19 chapters focussing largely on the south of England with much interesting detail on the works for the aborted 1880s First Channel Tunnel. Obviously many routes started but never completed have been missed out such as the Ruthin and Cerrig-y-drudion Railway your webmaster researched for Welsh Highland Heritage newsletter (Issues 91/93), the Sennybridge & Llangammarch Wells in mid Wales that crossed the Mynydd Epynt Pass visible on the ground as far as the Army's fake German training village near Tirabad. The author provides guidance to sites, though not always accurate, as when your webmaster tried to find evidence of the Birmingham & Oxford Junction Railway between Fenny Compton and Rugby, described by the author as being to the west of Fenny Compton. In fact the formation diverged from the existing Oxford-Birmingham route some 3 miles to the north of Fenny Compton. Best read alongside the on line NLS Maps 1900 resource, this makes a fascinating read of what might have been and in some cases nearly were e.g. the Great Western's connecting viaducts into Birmingham Curzon Street.
4) Railway Atlas Then and Now by Paul smith and Keith Turner
published 2020 (Third edition) by Crécy Publishing Limited
Hardback £20 ISBN 978-0-86093-698-5
This A4 format book of maps shows pairs of maps from 1/1/1923 on the left hand and 1/1/2020 on the right hand for comparison with closed routes greyed out. All standard gauge railways are shown and passenger carrying narrow gauge railways. As such the then recently reopened NWNGR section from Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu just makes the cut on the left hand page of Snowdonia but the Croesor does not. The modern map opposite covers the whole WHR but some criticism could be levelled about the straight line drawn on the map compared to the curvaceous route on the ground and the missing out of several halts on the route. There is a wealth of detail showing all the branches around the country that have been lost to Beeching Cuts by Tory and Labour alike. Private sidings, industrial estates and miniature railways are not shown. Sections of line that are now walking routes or converted to bypasses are identified. the keys at the bottom of each page are very useful as are the enlarged map pages for the areas with high densities of industrial railways.
Open carriage ECS 4/1/22
Three open carriages Nos.37-39 were noted heading towards Boston Lodge passing Penrhyndeudraeth on 4/1/22 ECS hauled by Harlech Castle.
Bron Madog relay 4/1/22
Upnor Castle headed up the FR today gingerly crossing the recently relaid Bron Madog section that still requires top ballast and tamping.
Porthmadog Premier Inn to open 14/6/22
Porthmadog's new Premier Inn, currently under construction opposite Harbour Station, is set to open on 14/6/22. It has air conditioned rooms, a lift and a Thyme restaurant. Free car parking is available for residents. See Premier Inn website for full details. The website suggests some rooms may be equipped as the more expensive Premier Inn Plus rooms with mini fridge, coffee machine etc. but there is no rate shown for this option. Prices at £96 per night in June are likely to be considerably above local hotels and B&B establishments.
Website disruption 3/1/22
There may be some website disruption over the course of the coming week as a new Dell computer has been purchased along with the One Drive 1Tb offer having exceeded the current 50GB One Drive limit with the completion of slide scanning from 1969-2003. So there may be some disruption to services as programs and files are transferred over. The website and email address will remain the same as the computers will operate side by side until transfers are completed and tested. All contributions are still welcome in the meantime.
Half Term Holiday trains?
There is nothing showing on F&WHR websites about Half Term holiday trains in late February despite other heritage railways, including the TR, BLR and LR in North Wales operating over that period. The Tal-y-llyn's calendar/timetable is particularly informative compared to the F&WHR's and the F&WHR could learn a thing or two about their presentation of information. The TR's calendar shows Half Term trains from 19/2/22 and weekend trains thereafter until a new season starts at Easter. The BLR's timetable shows trains from 17-27/2/22. The LR calendar shows trains from 19-27/2/22. In comparison here is the F&WHR's calendar offering.
How will COVID affect the F&WHR in 2022?
Mark Drakeford (the Welsh First Minster) has suggested the peak of COVID infections may come in late January based on medical modelling. With majority of infections being the easily spread Omicron variant, currently with well over 10,000 daily cases and a positive test rate of 37%, it is possible additional restrictions might be necessary in Wales. However, Boris Johnson has decided to make no further restrictions in England, following a more risky strategy. It its possible that the F&WHR might be able to operate its Easter services under the regulations as they applied at Christmas and a pre-Season service by late February might also be possible similar to that of 2019 Porthmadog to Hafod-y-llyn, possibly extended to Beddgelert.
K1 ECS to Dinas 2/1/22
With the end of the Christmas Glaslyn workings, K1 took the rake back to Dinas on 2/1/22. It was noted passing Rhyd Ddu with the Observation Car No.152 Eryri Snowdonia on the north end. Facebook has a set of images courtesy of Nick Meredith. At some stage K1 will be going back to the SBR.
Final Festive trains 1/1/22
The two final Christmas Glaslyn and Christmas Cwellyn workings were due to run today. The Christmas Glaslyn was sold out but seats were available on both Christmas Cwellyn trains on 1/1/22, the final trains of the Festive Season. There is no snow as it has been a record mild New Year according to the Met Office and today was forecast to have sunny periods and maximum temperatures of 13C in Porthmadog.
K1 was back today and was ready with the train early in the WHR platform by 10:00 for the fully booked 10:50 Christmas Glaslyn. The train left on time and arrived back early at around 12:55. The loco uncoupled and shunted to the watering and coaling point at 13:00 before running round the train and coupling up shortly afterwards.
No.87 hauled the final Christmas Cwellyn on 1/1/22.
This easterly view (1/1/22) shows K1 and departing Porthmadog with the penultimate Christmas Glaslyn, the 10:50 departure. Click on the image to enlarge and click again to see full size (where available). This webcam image is copyright F&WHR and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed and displayed at 96dpi.
The train left on time around 14:15 and arrived back at 16:22. The ECS departed at 16:35 for Boston Lodge as there are no services planned in the near future. With that the signaller went home and the platform lights switched off marking the end of a successful Festive Season.
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