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Cymdeithas Rheilffordd Eryri
Welsh Highland Railway Society

Society Projects
Photo: S.Melhuish 

The Project:

To help the company in its task of laying track and  keeping that already laid in first class condition.

WHR Volunteer Track Work

Why we need volunteers

The permanent way is, perhaps, the most important part of the infrastructure of a railway. Most of the track over the 25 miles of the WHR has been laid by volunteers.  Of the final twelve miles from Rhyd Ddu to Harbour Station contractors laid the in-street sections in Porthmadog and the Network Rail crossing at Cae Pawb but, those apart, volunteers have been responsible for all the rest.

The Company employs a small team of paid staff to look after the permanent way.  The volunteer gangs which laid track have now evolved into maintenance gangs to help the employed staff. The work volunteers carry out is varied in both what they do and where they do it. A volunteer can find him or herself greasing fishplates at Caernarfon one day and doing important alignment work near Porthmadog the next.

You will be welcome

If you have an interest in working on the track or even if you just want to see what it’s all about you will be welcome to join us. Yes, you need to be reasonably fit but not massively so. We have lighter jobs as well as those which need some muscle power.   You do not need to be a member of Cymdeithas Rheilffordd Eryri or the Ffestiniog Railway Society or any other railway oriented organisation. You do not even need to be interested in the WHR or railways generally. A willingness to join in an important project in a marvellous part of the world to work with interesting people is one of the key factors to your enjoying the experience.

Lunchtime for our Volunteer track workers (Photo: John Williams)

Our volunteers, male and female, are of all ages from students to the retired though we do ask that you are over 16. They come from a multitude of backgrounds, some with railway experience, others with none. We will teach you the skills you need to do the tasks that volunteers undertake.

Our volunteers come from all over. Some live locally, others come from much further afield, not only the UK. France, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, Ireland, Hong Kong, Canada and the USA all feature in our volunteer address list.

We ask you to complete an information form to tell us a bit about you.  You can do this on your first visit but preferably before you come. The form can be downloaded from this web site here or email or phone the Trackwork Volunteers Co-ordinator and he will send you a copy. You will receive a short induction the first time you join us.  All you need to do to arrange your first visit is to contact the Trackwork Volunteer Co-Ordinator. His contact details can be found below.

When to come

Most volunteer track work activity takes place at weekends, but not all of it. The North
Wales Gang, otherwise known as the Black Hand Gang whose members are mainly but not exclusively from North Wales and the Rest of the World Gang (speaks for itself, doesn’t it?) work on alternate weekends. This means that there is a volunteer track gang out there doing important work on the permanent way pretty well every weekend. The Tuesday Gang keeps busy every Tuesday. We also organise long weekends running from a Friday to the following Monday and working “weeks”.

So there are plenty of opportunities to join in.  We continue to need plenty of help from our volunteers. If you have worked with us before and not paid us a visit recently, now is the time to do so. If you have not tried track work on the WHR previously, come and see how we do things.

Work Programme

The dates of our various working parties are on the Track Work dates page and contact details for the organisers can be found on the Track Work contact details page

Where to stay

There are a number of bunk houses and some hostel type accommodation in the area as well as B&Bs and guest houses. Volunteers may also be able to stay at the Minffordd Hostel operated for the Ffestiniog Railway but it is essential to book in advance as sometimes the hostel can be oversubscribed. 


You will need work clothes including safety boots and work gloves as well as Hi-vis and waterproof clothing. Full details are in the Useful Info section, link on the left. These latter items can be purchased on-line at our shop. See the Clothing Section.


There is more information at by way of a “Your Questions answered” document - follow the Useful Info. link. If you want to get further information or have any queries or, better still, you want to book yourself in to a working party, please contact the Trackwork Volunteers Co-ordinator, Welsh Highland Railway - Contact details are on the Contacts page 

Paul Bradshaw

Cymdeithas Rheilffordd Eryri is a Registered Charity, №1094938

All content webmasters or as indicated - This page updated 11th February 2016 by Laurence Armstrong