Welsh Highland Railway - Upkeep and Improvements

Harbour Station Works Part 2

Winter 2013-14

Upkeep and
Improvements pages:
 Harbour station works part 1  Caernarfon Station development

This is the final stage of the major construction work on Harbour Station. The Cob was widened during the winter of 2011/12 and preparatory works have been carried out during 2013 including erection of the signal box and the relay room. The winter of 2013/14 will see the remodelling of the station completed. There will be a new track layout, a new platform for Welsh Highland services and a comprehensive new signalling system. The intention is to have the works completed for the start of the 2014 running season. Welsh Highland and Ffestiniog services will then operate from separate platforms  and  Welsh Highland trains will not have to set back into the station platform. 

The overall plan for reorganisation of Harbour Station is shown here together with the updated signalling plan as of March 2013.  Click on the plans for a full size version::

Harbour reorganisation planHarbour signalling plan March 2013

The plans for the November stage of the 2013/14 works are summarised in the plan below, courtesy of Stuart McNair. The plan by Stuart McNair for the enlarged 3-Road pit is also shown. Note the rails over the pit will be laid on curved steel universal column members (UC) supported by square hollow section columns (SHS)  Click on the images for full size plans
Harbour works plan November 2013Plan for enlarged 3-Road pit - Stuart McNair

No trains will be running from  Harbour station from 4th November until 14th December 2013. Trains will however continue to run on the Ffestiniog line starting from Minffordd station. The November works will include:
4th November 2013
Latest works include installation of the first signal, erection of a new signal post and completion of the crossover at the entrance to the sidings.  Pictures by Stuart McNair
First signal installed- Stuart McNairNew signal post - Stuart McNairCrossover completed - Stuart McNair
5th November 2013
The Tuesday Gang were at Harbour Station removing  the fishplates on No 3 road at either end of the pit, and also the fishplates on No 6 Road. The pit is to be enlarged and remodelled. The points giving access to 6 Road had to be locked first to prevent access to the road.  The track panels were left assembled as they are to be reused in the revamped Minffordd Yard.
The gang then pushed in a waste pipe to the WC in the new signal box. As the system is pumped the waste outlet has to be of the specified diameter of 32 mm so this pipe was inserted inside the existing pipe of 70 mm. The first attempt  last weekend failed when the 32 mm pipe hit a joint in the 70 mm point. To obviate the problem the end of the 32 mm pipe was chamfered and this time it was successful.
Finally they unloaded some very heavy point timbers, and spent the last hour assisting the FfR team  remove fishplates on Nos 2 and 3 Road  near the water tower. Report by Tony Baker

7th November 2013
The site was being prepared by contractors for the installation of the new WHR turnout.
Preparing to install new WHR point - Stuart McNair
9th-12th November 2013
Rapid change is occurring at the station with contractors and several volunteer teams in action, including the Rest of the World Gang, the Tuesday Gang and the White Rose Gang. The new WHR point has been installed and covered temporarily  in ballast to protect it from contractors vehicles.  No 6 road has been removed and the points replaced by plain line. Parts of 1,2 and 3 Roads and  points have been removed in preparation for installing new points at the water tower end. The pit is being excavated prior to enlargement.   The Welsh Highland queen point has been partially dismantled in order to fit the track circuit bonding wires and to fit insulated fishplates.. An original Festiniog Railway disc signal  has been installed as the new outer distant signal.
1,2,3 Roads removed ready for new points - Andrew ThomasHeadshunt point removed - Andrew ThomasLoco headshunt removed and ballast delivered - Andrew ThomasNew WHR points awaiting installation - Andrew ThomasInstalling the new WHR point - Stuart McNairCovering the WHR point in protective ballast - Andew Thomas

Rails being installed to replace 6 Road point - Stuart McNairPlain line replacing 6-Road point - Andrew Thomas Pit being excavated for enlargement - Andrew ThomasFitting insulated fishplates to WHR point - Tony BakerNew outer distant signal - Roger Dimmick F&WHR
13th November 2013
Work is continuing withg contractors plant on site. The first picture shows the pit being enlarged, in the distance the loco headshunt has been ballasted,  the track panels which have been lifted are stacked up and work is about to start on the sea wall.  The other pictures show the new WHR point after installation and Vale of Ffestiniog making the first movement across the point.
Harbour station overview 13 /11/13 - Andrew ThomasNew WHR point completed - Stuart McNairFirst movement over new WHR point - Stuart McNair

14th November 2013
Two sets of points were delivered today from Price's of South Wales.  They were put in place to serve 3-Road and the Fuel Road.  The concrete base has been poured for the enlarged pit on 3-Road.
Delivering the points - Andrew Thomas 3-Road points in place - Andrew Thomas Tightening the fishplates - Andrew ThomasFuel Road points - Andrew ThomasRepositioning the points - Andrew ThomasThe 3-Road pit develops - Andrew Thomas
15th November 2013
Two more sets of points were delivered and positioned today,  the headshunt and 2/3-Road points:.
Delivering the headshunt point - Andrew ThomasPositioning the headshunt point - Andrew ThomasHeadshunt point in position - Andrew Thomas 2/3 Road point after delivery - Andrew Thomas 2/3 Road point in position - Andrew Thomas

16/th17th November 2013
The brickwork for the enlarged pit is taking shape. The concrete footings for the final part of the wave wall have been laid. Work continues on laying the new points and preparing to reinstate the track.
Building the pit - Andrew ThomasBuilding the pit - Andrew ThomasFootings for the final section of the new wave wall - Andrew ThomasChecking the alignment - Andrew ThomasManhandling a long sleeper for a point - Andrew Thomas

Ballast in place for 2-Road - Andrew ThomasWorking on the headshunt points - Andrew Thomas2/3 Road points in place - Andrew ThomasBlack Hand Gang by the newlylaid points - Andrew Thomas
19th November 2013
John Wooden has produced a video showing this month's works so far:

The Tuesday Gang report that they worked at Porthmadog Harbour Station for most of the day. On the way there they stopped  at Meillionen to tidy up their garden at the station. This was in effect gathering up all the accumulated leaves from platform and track.  Three other members assisted Fred Howes with a Hallade survey of the bend at Bryn y Felin.
At Port they assisted with connecting the newly installed points at the water tank end to the trackwork. This involved a certain amount of rail cutting and fish plating up. Surplus old point timbers were loaded onto a waggon for onward movement to Minffordd Yard.
Rail cutting at Harbour station - Tony Baker Trackwork at Harbour station - Tony Baker
20th November 2013
The Rest of the World Gang reports:
The first task of our November working week, which started on Saturday 9th November, was to install the new WHR down loop point outside Spooner's. The point, made in 75lb rail, had spent most of the summer on a flat wagon getting under our feet, parked up on variously the new FR and then WHR platform roads, so it was nice to get it installed and out of the way at last. The site had been partly cleared and ballasted by the contractors with the point laid out ready for us on top of the track leading down from the current WHR point on No. 1 road. The two point halves were first dragged into position and then bolted together, aligned and packed up with ballast before connecting them up to the WHR mainline at the down end. Then the composite bullhead/75lb rails at the up end were cut to length and plated up. It looked a bit of a dog at first, as the alignment of the extant track between the two points is not the same as the new alignment will be, so a certain amount of tweaking of the old track was necessary to ensure that the half dozen or so service trains can run over it post- Christmas.
Some of the team helped the White Rose Group, who had dismantled the old point into No. 6 road in order to move it across the site to near the new signal box where it will form the entry into the new FR sidings. Over several days, this point was reassembled at its new site. The gap left by the removal of the point was filled with plain rail. Over on the new FR platform road, another panel of track was added and the whole length up to the up FR loop point was aligned horizontally and ballasted, but time precluded any more than scant attention to the vertical alignment of this section of track.
On Thursday and Friday first thing on both days, Price's delivered two new points for the water-tower end of the Harbour station site. Thankfully, unlike on the previous Saturday, these points were placed approximately in position with the delivery lorry's Hiab crane, rather than us having to struggle by more labour-intensive means. That said, it took much of the rest of Thursday to get the first two points into final position, and as we could only stretch to a half day on Friday (and also for certain technical reasons), we could only play at getting the second two where they needed to go before handing the baton over to the Black Hand Gang on Saturday.

24th November 2014
The headshunt has been reinstated,  and Signal 10 has been installed on the post erected last month. Pictures by Stuart McNair
 Working on 2-Road point - Stuart McNair Sleepers laid out for the the headshunt - Stuart McNairHeadshunt reinstated - Stuart McNairSignal 10 installed - Stuart McNair
26th November 2013
Ffestiniog Railway Dee & Mersey Group PW Gang Working Party report and pictures by John Fry:
Further progress was made on the Harbour Station project over the weekend of Saturday, Sunday and Monday 23rd to 25th November by the Ffestiniog Railway Society Dee & Mersey Group permanent way gang. Consisting of seven regular gang members, plus a couple of other individual volunteers the team successfully completed a section of the new track layout at the water tower end of the station.
On Saturday morning all necessary track materials including new softwood sleepers were transported from Minffordd Yard and offloaded at the Harbour Station site. The first job was positioning the new softwood sleepers and 30kg rails on the formation of the re-aligned loco spur. This was followed by re-aligning the bottom end of the platform line and making a temporary connection into the new N1 point leading to the loco spur. Here opportunity was taken to replace the very worn double head rail with good condition bull head closure rails, which after being sourced from the spare rail stack, were measured and cut to length on site. In addition, two new 30kg closure rails were measured, cut and installed in N2 road at the connection to the new turn out N8.
Having roughly installed all the new sections of track on Saturday, most of Sunday was spent aligning the track to its correct design position, followed by fishplate installation and then securing all the new track fastenings onto the sleepers, whilst ensuring correct gauge was maintained.
On Monday two waggon loads of new ballast were brought to site from Minffordd and the day was spent shovel packing the new lengths of track to achieve correct level. This was done whilst the points manufacturer KJG Price Ltd, fitted the operating mechanisms for the new turnouts Nos 1, 6, 7 & 8. Further track consolidation using the Kango packing technique will take place later this week, prior to the station re-opening for Santa trains in early December. 
 Relaying the platform road - John Fry Relaying the platform road - John FryConnecting No 1 point - John FryConnecting up the platform road - John Fry
  Ballasting the headshunt - John Fry Ballasting the headshunt - John FryBallasting the headshunt - John FryConnecting No 2 Road - John Fry
27th November 2013
The steelwork to support the rails over the pit is now in place (see plan above)
Steelwork over pit - Stuart McNair
28th November 2013
The final section of the new wave wall is taking shape. The new wall is being given a slate facing and the space between the two walls will become a garden.
Building the wave wall - Stuart McNairThe new and old wave walls seen side by side - Andrew ThomasSlate facing for wave wall - Andrew Thomas
The shuttering for the enlarged pit is complete and the concrete is being poured::
Pouring the concrete - Andrew ThomasView of the site as concrete is poured - Andrew ThomasPouring the concrete - Andrew Thomas
Roads1&2 have been reinstated and 3-Road connected to its point. A light action lever has been fitted to the headshunt points.  Work on wiring up the signalling system continues behind the scenes.
1&2 Roads reinstated and 3 Road points reconnected - Andrew ThomasLight action lever installed on headshunt point - Andew Thomas

The plans are in place for the next phase of work which will start in January 2014. (Click on the image for a larger version)
Harbour Station works Jan-Feb 2014
This phase will include removal of the old tracks, signalling and signalman's hut from the station, reshaping the plaform edge, erecting platform lamps, surfacing the first part of the new platform, preparing the ground for ballasting the new track layout and preparing for completion of the new platform.

2nd December 2013
The enlarged pit and the new section of wave wall are almost complete. Picture by Stuart McNair
Pit and wave wall near completion - Stuart McNair

3rd December 2013
Pictures taken last Friday show the new wave wall, the posts for the new signals 1 & 4, and a picture of the interior of the signalbox showing the booking desk (temporarily mounted on a work-bench) and stool, and the table on which the token instruments and token slide-drawer will be mounted. The electric-locks on the lever-frame have been wired and powered up, allowing the lever operation to be controlled by the locking, and the contacts and locks have all been adjusted to the correct tolerances.  Work has also commenced on reconfiguring the lever-frame indication panel that will provide the indications associated with each lever.  In the relay-room, all the wiring has been successfully wire-counted and continuity-checked to ensure that it matches the diagrams.   Outside, work continues with pulling and terminating cables.  Behind the scenes, work progresses on the three signalling equipment cupboards needed for the scheme, with the cupboard for the advance starting signal being all but complete. The plumbing for the toilet and sink in the signalbox was also completed last week, bar a few minor snagging items. Report and pictures by Pete Matthews
Pete Matthews Pete MatthewsPete Matthews

7th December 2013
A start has been made on laying 5 Road. As shown in the updated works plan for December 2013, this will be the road closest to the wave wall as there will not be a 6 Road in future.  
Harbour station works plan Dec 2013 - Stuart McNair
It had been intended to lay this road with the major track work in the Spring but as other works have been completed in good time, this extra task can fitted in. If completed now, it means there will be less to do later. Bull head rail previously destined for the Minffordd heritage loop is to be used. The presence of the road will allow better rail access to the site when the remaining roads are being relaid in the New Year. Pictures and plan by Stuart McNair
Laying the new 5-Road - Stuart McNair Laying the new 5-Road - Stuart McNair

10th December 2013
Pictures and captions by Andrew Thomas show the latest situation,  with the rails reconnected for Christmas services,  the pit completed and ballast being laid for 5-Road.
One and Two roads reinstated for Santa Trains. Blue rail chairs to right of bin on One Road and left of cone on Two Road mark position of new FR platform face. Pic: Andrew ThomasThree Road pit completed and fenced off. Five Road ballast and new sea wall to right. Pic: Andrew ThomasThree Road pit completed and fenced off. Five Road ballast and new sea wall to right. Pic: Andrew ThomasFive Road ballasting continues, signal posts erected on new platform. Works train in FR platform. Pic: Andrew Thomas
11th  December 2013
The works have been completed to time, the rails to the platform have been reconnected and trains are running into Harbour station again. Trains will be running from Porthmadog throughout the Christmas and New Year timetable period
Trains run into Porthmadog again - archive pic by F&WHR

12th December 2013
The post for signals 7A and 7B has been erected at the Blaenau end of the new platform. These signals will control departures in the Blaenau direction from the Welsh Highland and Ffestiniog platforms respectively
Signal 7 post erected - Stuart McNair

20th December 2013
Work on the signalling at Harbour station continues. The picture by Stuart McNair shows the post for Signal 1 with the base for the signal motor being constructed,  while in the background Signal 4 can be seen in place beside the signal box (for details of the signalling see the signalling plan above).  The new signal box steps are also visible, as are the wagons with the rails and sleepers for the next phase of tracklaying.
Signal 1 post in place - Stuart McNair

The latest version of the works planned for January 2014 has been published
Harbour station works 2014
28th December 2013
On Boxing Day the weather was favourable and the trains were busy. The first picture was taken on Boxing Day and includes the completed Signal 4 showing the position light signal and beside it a route indicator which will show "F" for the Ffestiniog platform or "Y" for the yard.
The overnight storms hindered the start of tracklaying work the following day (see second picture) and all trains had to be cancelled until the lines could be cleared of debris.  
Pictures by Stuart McNair
Signal 4 - Stuart McNairSleepers laid out awaiting the tracklayers - Stuart McNair

Today the trains and tracklaying gangs were able to resume normal activity
Track gang resumes work - pic: F&WHRTrack gang at work - Pic: F&WHR

29th December 2013
Tracklaying on 5 Road continues.  However bull head rails and chairs are being used.  These are heritage components which have been stored outdoors and  heavy rust deposits are having to be removed before they can be used. The gang are finding that the time which is being spent in preparation is having the effect of making progress with progress with tracklaying somewhat slower than usual.
Tracklaying on 5-Road - Stuart McNairTracklaying on 5-Road - Stuart McNair

30th December 2013
Further progress with tracklaying on 5-Road today.
Unloading rails Pic: Andrew ThomasBringing up rails on RRM's Pic: Andrew Thomas Bringing up rails on RRM's Pic: Andrew ThomasLaying the 50 metre curve Pic: Andrew ThomasGauge bars in place, drilling holes for chair screws Pic: Andrew Thomas 

2nd January 2014
The Christmas holiday services finished yesterday. Today saw the final departure over the old Welsh Highland connection, an empty coaching stock movement consisting of 122, the service car 2010  and the new carriage 2046 on their way to Dinas from Boston Lodge.  The same loco, Criccieth Castle, returned later with five coaches from Dinas for maintenance. Work then started almost at once to lift the existing layout  for the final stage of  remodelling the station.
The final departure from Harbour Station on the old layout - Andrew ThomasLifting the Welsh Highland connection - Andrew ThomasLifting the Welsh Highland connection - Andrew ThomasDismantling the track - Andrew ThomasThe Welsh Highland connection severed - Stuart McNairAt the end of the day - Andrew Thomas

3rd January 2014
The highest tides for 17 years combined with high winds gave the widened Cob one of  its first serious tests.  No significant harm resulted here, although just along the coast at Tywyn and in other places the severe weather caused damage to the Cambrian Coast line which will be closed for several weeks. Meanwhile as the tide receded, demolition work continued in the yard. The ground frame and signaller's hut have been removed and much of the signalling equipment is being recovered. The site office has been taken away and the lighting standard taken down.
Storm batters the Cob Pic: Andrew ThomasStorm batters the Cob Pic: Andrew ThomasStorm batters the Cob Pic: Andrew ThomasDemolishing the ground frame Pic: Andrew ThomasRemoving the lighting standard Pic: Andrew ThomasThe demolition site Pic: Andrew Thomas The demolition site - Stuart McNair

5th January 2014
Most of the old platform road has now been lifted in preparation for remodelling the station layout. The demolition squad posed proudly yesterday before departing in the last ever train to use the old platform road before its demise today.  The pictures, courtesy of Stuart McNair, show the extent of the demolition and clearance work which has been undertaken.
The demolition squad - Pic: Andrew ThomasThe demolition squad - Pic: Andrew ThomasThe platform road is lifted - Stuart McNair The platform road is lifted - Stuart McNairThe demolition site - Stuart McNair

7th January 2014
Demolition is drawing to a close with removal of the remaining section of the old wave wall, and exposure of the old carriage pit under the platform road. The pit was built many years ago and has long been covered over. It carried a drain for emptying the carriage toilets before the modern pump-out system was introduced.  The pit is shortly to be filled in.
Demolishing the last part of the wave wall - Andrew ThomFormer carriage pit exposed with drain for carriage toilets - Andrew ThomasFormer carriage pit exposed with drain for carriage toilets - Andrew Thomas
Reconstruction can now begin. The line of  the new Ffestiniog platform edge is being surveyed and pegs have been placed to mark the curve which first deviates from the line of the existing platform near the end of the platform canopy.
Surveying for the new platform - Andrew ThomasSurveying for the new platform - Andrew ThomPegs mark the proposed edge of the new platform - Andrew ThomasPegs mark the proposed edge of the new platform - Andrew Thomas

The latest video by John Wooden records events over the past few weeks:

10th January 2014
 The survey pegs now show the outline of the new platform edges on the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland sides respectively:
Survey pegs show the position of the new Ffestiniog Platform edge - Stuart McNairSurvey pegs show the position of the new Welsh Highland Platform edge - Stuart McNair 

13th January 2014
Blocks for the new platform edgings are being positioned on an aggregate base and concrete laid to fix them in position.
Setting up the platform edgings - Andrew Thomas Setting up the platform edgings - Andrew ThomasSetting up the platform edgings - Andrew Thomas

14th January 2014
The shape of the new platform begins to emerge with the completion of the latest section of the platform edgings.
Second stage of platform edgings in place - Andrew Thomas Second stage of platform edgings in place - Andrew Thomas

17th January 2014
Contractors are now levelling the new platform in preparation for surfacing
Preparing for surfacing the new platform - Stuart McNairPreparing for surfacing the new platform - Andrew Thomas

Thermoplastic composite sleepers.
The railway has recently taken a delivery of composite sleepers based on recycled thermoplastic. A number of these have been taken to Harbour Station where they are destined for use under the points in the yard. The sleepers are currently made in America from plastic waste and filler. They are claimed to be resistant to rot and degradation and likely to outlast the rails they carry, making them cost effective  by comparison with timber. At the end of their lifetime they can be recycled once again. The same composite material has been used for various other structural applications including pipeline supports, mine supports and vehicle bridges, notably a bridge over the River Tweed in Scotland.
The sleepers have found particular application on American railroads at crossings, points, bridges and tunnels but have so far been little used in Europe where the FfR is an early adopter of the technology.  .
Composite plastic sleepers delivered to Minffordd yard - Andrew ThomasComposite plastic sleepers delivered to Harbour station - Andrew Thomas

21st January 2014
The centre kerb has been laid at the far end of the platform in readiness for surfacing to commence. The kerb is set slightly below the platform edge and acts as a guide for laying the paving which is intended to slope away from the platform edge so that wheeled vehicles do not tend to run over on to the tracks in front of a train. The case for such an arrangement has been demonstrated by one or two recent incidents on main line stations.
Platform prepared for surfacing - Stuart McNair
Meanwhile just out on the Cob the Network Rail apprentices have been relaying the track on the new thermoplastic composite sleepers (see above)
Tracklaying on the Cob on plastic sleepers - Andrew ThomasTracklaying on the Cob on plastic sleepers - Andrew Thomas

No 5 Road has been levelled and packed by the Rest of the World Gang
Finishing No 5 Road - Andrew Thomas
 The final pallets of edging stones have been delivered and the haul road is now being removed while the WHR formation is being ballasted. 
Stacks of edging stone and the start of removing the haul road - Andrew ThomasRemoving the haul road - Andrew Thomas  Removing the haul road and ballasting the WHR loop - Andrew ThomasBallasting the WHR formation - Andrew Thomas
22nd January 2014
John Wooden has produced a video recording of recent work at the station
26th January 2014
Rest of the World Gang report on activity at Harbour Station from Phil Nock:
In the past week, from Monday to Friday,, we variously aligned, ballasted, jacked and packed 5 road; assembled and positioned the point for 4 road using the new composite sleepers (see note 17th January above); in conjunction with the contractors, (Gelli Engineering, who are brilliant), demolished the haul road; took delivery of 41 x 11m lengths of ex IoM 75lb rail by road; laid 6 panels of the RhE loop line, extending it some 60m, to within 2 or 3 panels of the Spooner's point."

Laying the 4-road point by Simon BanburyLaying the WHR loop - Simon Banbury Laying the WHR loop - Stuart McNair
One of the old Cob signals was also removed:
Removing a Cob signal - Stuart McNair

28th January 2014
Concrete was poured and the platform edging laid along the remainder of the Ffestiniog platform. At around 280 metres it may well become the longest narrow gauge platform in existence.
Pouring concrete for the platform edging - Andrew Thomas Pouring concrete for the platform edging - Andrew ThomasThe platform edging almost complete- Andrew Thomas

Tuesday Gang report and pictures by Tony Baker:
The gang spent the 28th Jan at Harbour Station. A start was made on reconnecting No 3 Road. From the water tower end, short rails were removed and replaced with full length bullhead rail to connect to the new ground frame. The actual connection was not made because the ground frame needs ballasting to the correct height before this can happen. The opportunity was taken to remove to the side of the site all materials not needed in the new trackwork. These will be taken away by works train when the track to Minffordd is restored at Pen Cob.
The new platform curve approaches the old platform - Tony BakerScrewing down chairs - Tony BakerScrewing down chairs - Tony BakerMoving the longer rail into position - Tony Baker
31st January 2014
The platform edging is nearing completion and the WHR loop is not far from connecting up too..
WHR loop and platform edging nearing completion - Stuart McNairPlatform edging nearing completion - Stuart McNair
Out on the Cob the network rail apprentices have made good progress with relaying the track on the new composite sleepers.  The picture by Andrew Thomas shows the track before and after alignment.
Relaying the track on the Cob - Andrew Thomas

The plan of works for February has been published.  The plan lists ten items for completion during the month:

Harbour station plan Feb 2014 - Stuart McNair

3rd February 2014
Latest progress with the signalling programme is set out in the report and pictures from Pete Matthews:
Two of the new signalling equipment cases have been installed: that for the Down Home (trident), and for the Spooners point panel.  The latter case is housed in the bin compound, next to the existing Britannia Bridge Crossing equipment cases (the control panel itself will be mounted on the wall outside Spooners, next to the points).  Work on terminating cables in the new cases has begun.  Installation of the third equipment case, for the Advance Starter signal, has been delayed slightly by a minor problem with one of its doors.   The two cases out on the Cob are being sealed on the seaward side, with opening doors only on the landward side.
     Equipment cases on the Cob - Pete Matthews   Location cabinet by Cob Records - Pete Matthews 
One of the motor-disc signals previously worked from the old ground-frame has been re-installed at the Yard exit, as the new 2B signal.  A new position-light shunting signal has been installed at the exit from the WHR Loop, as the new 6 signal.  The old starting signal has been dismantled to recover its signal motor for re-use.
 Signal 2B at yard exit - Pete Matthews
Inside the signalbox, the cable terminations have been boxed-in. The indication panel has been fitted to the lever-frame: this is in two parts.  The lower part has indications for each lever indicating whether that lever is free, and the state of the point or signal controlled by that lever.  The upper part has miscellaneous controls and indications, such as the Closing-out Switch and the Britannia Bridge Crossing controls. The lower part of the indication panel is original.  It was completely stripped-down, cut to size, additional holes cut where required (together with tapped fixing holes for the additional indications), and then sand-blasted, spray-painted and re-assembled.  
The original bakelite indication units have likewise been stripped-down, cleaned and re-assembled: there are two types, one for stencil indicators (the “free”, “N” and “R” lights) and one for the red, green and blue domed indicators used with signal levers.  The bulb holders have had to be modified, as modern lamp-bulbs have shorter pins than those the bulb holders were designed for.  New brass plates have been made and fitted for the lever indications.
Each lever also has a “pull-plate” describing what that lever does, and what other levers need to be operated first before that lever can be pulled.  The final pull-plates will be made from brass. 
Signal box interior - Pete MatthewsLever frame and indication panel - Pete MatthewsRear of lever frame and panel - Pete Matthews
An indication panel has been installed in the relay-room, to assist in testing, fault-finding, etc. The wiring of the lever-frame and relay-room has now been completed, and system testing will begin on Monday 3rd February.
 Relay room indication panel - Pete Matthews  

 The new platform edging has been tied into the old platform edging in front of the station.  The advertising boards on the station frontage have also been removed
Completed platform edging - Pete MatthewsCompleted platform edging - Pete Matthews
5th February  2014
Further progress is being made with erection and testing of position light signals.  Signal 10 as shown in the first picture carries a route indicator showing the letters Y,F W,L for Yard, Ffestiniog Platform, Welsh Highland Platform and Loop respectively.  The second picture shows Signal 4 with its route indicator showing Y for Yard and F for Ffestiniog Platform.
Signal 10 in operation with route indicator above - Stuart McNaiSignal 4 with route indicator - Stuart McNairPosition light signal on WHR platform - Andrew Thomas
The ground is being prepared for ballasting and relaying 1, 2 & 3 Roads.  Some large lumps of concrete are being removed to provide a uniform base for the ballast.
Clearing debris for roads 1, 2 & 3 - Andrew ThomasClearing debris for roads 1, 2 & 3 - Andrew Thomas Clearing debris for roads 1, 2 & 3 - Andrew ThomasClearing debris for roads 1, 2 & 3 - Andrew Thomas

Tuesday Gang spent yesterday at Harbour Station, fishplating, screwing down and clipping the closure rail between a) point 2 and the access to 5 road, and b) point 3 and the access to the yard and water tower. Two of the gang also assisted S & T preparing for the installation of so called "bread bins". This involved digging some large holes and filling them with concrete.   Report and pictures bu Tony Baker
Screwing down - Tony BakerPulling in clips - Tony Baker .

10th February 2014
Despite the unfavourable weather, work is continuing apace with the help of contractors and numerous volunteer groups including Network Rail apprentices,  the Black Hand Gang, the Rest of the World Gang, the Tuesday Gang, the White Rose Group and staff from the Loco Department, all of whom have been working in unpleasant conditions at times. The Welsh Highland loop and platform roads are nearing completion, the yard is being ballasted in preparation for tracklaying, and signalling work continues all the time behind the scenes.
Welsh Highland loop and platform roads nearing completion - David TidyWelsh Highland loop and platform roads nearing completion - David TidyPreparing the ground for tracklaying in the yard - David Tidy Preparing the ground for tracklaying in the yard - David TidyPreparing the ground for tracklaying in the yard - David Tidy

Cob footpath upgrade
The Cob footpath has been closed to the public while tracklaying has been in progress. It has now been announced that, in parallel with the current works,  the footpath is to be upgraded in a project jointly funded by the Railway and Gwynedd Council. It is intended that the work will be completed by the time train services resume on 22nd March. The press release states that:
 Vegetation and accumulated debris alongside the wall will be removed, potholes and puddles filled, and the footpath surface renewed with locally-sourced slate chippings and fines.
A new fence will be erected to separate the footpath from the railway lines for the first 300 metres of the Cob from the Porthmadog end to a point beyond the new signal box. The fence panels will be attractive metal railings of "bowtop" style, one metre high.
This picture from last month shows  how the works have been affecting the footpath:
Tracklaying and the Cob footpath - Andrew Thomas
11th February 2014
Stephen Jupp reports:
This photo shows what I believe to be the first train on the RhE loop in Harbour station.  I was working with the FR track gang on the platform road from Tuesday 5th to Friday 7th February, and then with the White Rose group on Saturday 8th February.  We took up all the sleepers, which allowed Gelli onto the ballast bed to re-level it as it was too high.  We sorted the rail stack and put the next two sets of rails out ready for adding to the Boston Lodge end of the loop.  We then set out the sleepers and regulated them to 13 per length.  The first straight rails were installed with insulated joints to the point, then we crowed and installed the first curve rails, and installed the second curved rails.  This was then barred into alignment with the platform edge.  The inner rail was cut square and drilled for fishplates, and the first two straight rails (right hand only) were clipped up ready for fishplating and installation of the left hand rails on Sunday.
First train on WHR loop - Stephen Jupp  

The Tuesday Gang spent Tuesday 11th February at Harbour station. Half of them assisted Signal & Telegraph staff,  building concrete bases for trackside S & T equipment and ground based position signals. The other half were tasked with removing rails, sleepers, and all other equipment off the footpath. This is in order that the council can resurface the footpath in the near future.  Rails were moved into the two foot of the WHR run-round loop, sleepers were stacked on the other side of the site to be used this coming weekend when the Ffestiniog Platform road is to be laid.   Anything else deemed to be rubbish was loaded onto the pickup for onward movement to Minffordd Yard. 
 The picture shows the gang assisting S & T with one of the concrete bases. Report and picture by Tony Baker
13th February 2014
The severe weather has led to the cancellation of scheduled train services this coming weekend. However works at Harbour station continue and the latest video by John Wooden gives at round up of recent progress.

16th February 2014
The yard area is being ballasted and is almost ready for tracklaying to commence. The first picture shows the work in progress a few days ago, by which time the central kerb on the platform had been completed and the Cob footpath cleared. The next two pictures show the scene yesterday including the Network Rail apprentices and the Rest of the World Gang at work.  The final picture shows one of the new lamp posts today against the backdrop of the mountains on a calm day following the succession of storms which have struck the coasts recently.
Ballasting the yard 11th February - Andrew ThomasYard area nearly ready for tracklaying 15th February - Andrew ThomasYard area nearly ready for tracklaying - Andrew ThomasNew lamp post in place - Stuart McNair

18th February 2014
Some thirty or forty volunteers have been on site recently and progress has been rapid. Tracklaying in the yard and the Ffestiniog platform road is now well under way with the Rest of the World Gang, Tuesday Gang and Loco Gang at work.  The WHR loop is being ballasted at the same time, and contractors have started work on the block paving for the new platform.
Laying out sleepers for the FR platform road - Andrew Thomas Tracklaying Gangs at work - Andrew ThomasBlock paving for the platfrom - Andrew ThomasBlock paving for the platfrom - Andrew Thomas
Plastic sleepers laid out for FR Platform Road - Andrew ThoRRM's in the FR platform road, Criccieth Castle with the ballast wagon in the WHR loop - Andrew ThomasRails now approaching the station building in the FR platform road, the gap in the platform edging finally filled in and tracklaying for the yard progressing - Andrew ThomasTaliesin was assisting with shunting - Tony Baker
The latest instalment of John Wooden's video record gives an excellent overview of the busy worksite (if you are having trouble viewing this video here,  go to this link)

22nd February 2014
The Ffestiniog platform road has now been relaid and part ballasted, the points are being levelled, the paving of the platform has progressed and signalling work continues incuding installation of signal 2A.
Signalling, paving and trackwork all in progress - Andrew ThomasThe new platform takes shape between the newly laid platform roads - Andrew ThomasPlatform road connected up - Andrew ThomasBallasting the FR platform road, footings already excavated for the beer garden perimeter - Andrew ThomasLevelling the points - Andrew ThomasPaving the platform - Andrew ThomasShovel packing the WHR loop, paving in progress, and in the background signal 2A on a post to be shared with signal 1 - Stuart McNair

24th February 2014
An illuminated diagram for the Harbour signal box has been built by Mark Colton and David Hazzledine. Pictures courtesy of Pete Matthews
New illuminated diagram for signal box - Pete Matthews New illuminated diagram for signal box - Pete MatthewsNew illuminated diagram for signal box - Pete Matthews
27th February 2014
Report on the  Rest of the World Gang working week by Phil Nock:
The ROWG February working week started on Saturday 15th February, our numbers swollen that weekend with a deputation from the Imperial College Railway Society. The entire week was spent at Harbour station.

We started the week dealing with points, one group assembling, positioning and connecting 3 Road point and another jacking and packing 4 Road point. Another group cleared all the materials off the Cob footpath in anticipation of the Council resurfacing it and then moved on to relaying 3 panels of old track at the Up end of the WHR run-round loop, where contaminated ballast and life-expired sleepers were in need of replacement. Much of the rest of the week was taken up laying 1 and 2 Roads, although the 2 Road group was briefly diverted to gauge-widen the rather sharp curve at the Down end of the WHR platform road. 

We started 1 Road in straight South African rail, but as we hit the sharp curve of the FR platform, we changed over to pre-curved S30 Polish rail, left over from Phase 4, before resuming in new straight S30 in front of he station buildings. Much of 1 Road is on the new-fangled plastic sleepers, which presented a problem insomuch as they require smaller holes than timber for the track-screws, the tightening down of which was out of the range of the electric impact-wrenches we usually use on timber. To solve this we made use of a rather more robust Geismar petrol impact wrench, which did the job with great aplomb.

The final connection of 1 Road, was made at about 6pm on the Friday. As it was our last day, we were determined to make the link, thus as the light was fading fast and we all got a drenching from a conspiring heavy shower, the task was completed, supplemented by the lights of the ladies loo!
The laying of 2 Road in 75lb Isle of Man rail, chased the work on 1 Road, but never quite caught up, as much of the rail needed the attention of a hydraulic Jim-Crow to put the bend in it. The final connection here was made on Saturday
Pictures courtesy of Simon Banbury:
Tightening track bolts into plastic sleepers using a Geismar petrol impact wrench on 1 road. 17-2-14. Simon Banbury The task ahead; the start of relaying 1 road. 17-2-14 - Simon BanburyThe same view of 1-Road 2 days later - Simon BanburyJim-Crowing IoM 75lb rail for 2 road. 19-2-14. Simon Banbury

28th February 2014
 The Ffestiniog platform starting signal (Signal 1) was being installed,  and the beer garden wall was taking shape outside Spooner's.
 Installing the FR starter. Picture: F&WHRBeer garden wall takes shape. Picture: F&WHR

3rd March 2014
Latest report and photos by Pete Matthews:
The arms have now been fitted to signal 1A and the bracket signal 7A/7B.  A lot of work still remains to fit and adjust all the mechanics, and wire-up the motors, detector boxes and lamps.  The motors will go in the galvanised boxes at the base of the posts.  The arms have a single red spectacle glass, as per the original McKenzie & Holland signals – the LED lamp units will show a green light when the arm is lowered.
A temporary colour-light home signal has been installed, utilising the old post from Blaenau platform, as the trident will not be ready in time.  The advance starter likewise may temporarily be a colour-light, mounted on the old home signal post. 
Signal 1 with arm in place - Pete Matthews Installing signal 7A - Pete MatthewsSignals 7A & 7B in place - Pete Matthews

Simon Hose and Ben Boulter have moved the staff instrument from the guards' room to the new signalbox, where it has been mounted on its new cupboard, along with the refurbished slide-drawer for clearing the advance starter.  Space has been left for a token instrument for the section to Pont Croesor.  The cupboard will house the batteries for the staff instrument.  The remote operator has been mounted on the back-board behind the staff instrument: there will also be an indicator and replacement plunger for the starter signal mounted on the back-board.

The new illuminated diagram has been installed and wired up.  Bells have been installed: one will be operated by the plunger used by the driver of a train waiting admittance at Britannia Bridge, the other will announce the arrival of a down train.  

Work continues on bonding the rails for the new track-circuits, and commissioning the track circuits.  This work is being hampered in the Spooners ground frame area, as the track in this area is filled in with ballast for the time being to form an access road for the paving contractors vehicles.    Also shown is a photo of the new Spooners Ground-Frame control box.

Relocating the staff instrument - Pete MatthewsStaff instrument, slide drawer and remote operator in place - Pete MatthewsThe illuminated diagram in place above the frame - Pete MatthewsMechanism for point 50 and signal 51 with route indicator showing L for loop or P for platform - Pete Matthews The new Spooners ground frame control box - Pete Matthews  

The photos show tthe latest progress with the block paving, the beer garden walls, and the new doors on the end of Spooners which will give access to the beer garden.  The new block paving has reached the beer garden area, and paving work has now switched to the old platform area re-using the recovered paviours.
  Beer garden taking shape and new doors on Spooners. Also visible standing on the loop is the newly delivered buffer stop to go by the signal box - Pete Matthews The newly paved platform - Pete MatthewsFilling in the gap on the old platform with reclaimed paviours - Pete Matthews
4th March 2014
The Tuesday Gang spent the 4th March at Harbour station, firstly completing the digging out of the Caernarfon end WHR point and then tamping it with Kango hammers. This point had been covered with ballast so that the contractors vehicles could enter the site from this location. Once this task was finished the gang moved down to the points on the FR line where the run-round loop commences. We jacked up the point to get the correct height in relation to the platform and the correct distance from the platform. Time did not allow for us to start packing and once the correct position was established the jacks were left in situ for packing to commence the next day. Report and picture by Tony Baker
Digging out the track by the Caernarfon end point - Tony Baker
5th March 2014
The latest video report from John Wooden shows clips of tracklaying, signalling work, paving the platforms and erecting the new fence beside the footpath

6th March 2014
The the first panels have been placed in the new fence beside the footpath. The fence is intended to keep members of the public away from the points which will be liable to move without warning as they will be operated remotely.
New fence in place - Stuart McNair

8th March 2014
The barrow crossing at the far end of the new platform has now been completed with the assistance of the Tuesday Gang South
Barrow crossing - Steve Broomfield

11th March 2014
John Wooden has published the seventh instalment of his video chronicling the remodelling of Harbour station
Signalling work is almost complete and is about to be tested with trains:
Signals 7A & 7B - Stuart McNair

Three and Four roads are taking shape in the yard:
Three and four roads taking shape - Pic: F&WHR
The combined strength of the Tuesday Gangs plus a couple of permanent staff were at Harbour Station today where they topped up ballast, shovel packed and finally Kango tamped the FR Platform Road.    
Packing the FR platform road - Tony Baker
13th March 2014
Three and Four Roads are being laid by Rest of the World Gang and contractors are at work paving the beer garden. Posts are in place for the glass screens round the beer garden.
Harbour station 13th March - Picture: F&WHR

18th March 2014
Final preparations are being made for the start of  the new season on Saturday 22nd March. The signalling system is complete and tested. The final piece of tracklaying in 3-Road is awaitng completion over the extended pit. Paving of the beer garden and platforms is complete. Over the past weekend a huge variety of improvement and maintenance tasks around the station have been undertaken by volunteer teams in the intensive "Terabash" operation. Today's picture by Steve Broomfield shows the new crossing  leading to the signalbox which was built today by the Tuesday Gang,  with the completed platform and yard layout in the background, and carriages in 5-Road.
New barrow crossing to signal box- Steve Broomfield

19th March 2014
A further episode in John Wooden's video chronicle of remodelling the station

The access route between the WHR line and Spooners is being completed
Access route beside WHR being completed- Stuart McNair

20th March 2014
The first steam train to enter the remodelled station arrives from Dinas while work on the access path beside Spooners continues. Gauging tests have been carried out successfully with WHR rolling stock, and a Garratt loco can now enter the FR platform road without fouling the canopy.
The first steam locomotive enters the remodelled station on the WHR line - Pic: F&WHR A Garratt will now fit under the station canopy - Pic: F&WHRThe Garratt heads for Boston Lodge - Pic: F&WHRWelsh Highland stock on an ECS move waits in the WHR loop behind Castell Caernarfon - Pic: F&WHR

21st March 2014
The signal box is now commissioned and operational. However temporary patches have been put on the illuminated diagram, as signals 11/12 and the Advance Starter are temporarily colour lights.
The interior of the operational signal box - Pete MatthewsThe illuminated panel - Pete Matthews
The new end doors to Spooners have been painted. In the new Beer Garden,  glass panels are about to be installed. Work continues on the access route beside Spooners which is being surfaced in tarmac.  The two signals protecting the Spooners Ground Frame point show the aspects they will usually show when the ground-frame is not in use.  
Work nearing completion at the near end of the WHR platform - Pete MatthewsGlass panels awaiting installation in the beer garden - Pete Matthews
22nd March 2014
The remodelled station opened on schedule. This major programme of works has been undertaken successfully and is complete, apart from a few minor tasks.
After a loco parade for photographers at 9am, the first trains departed on time for Blaenau Ffestiniog and Caernarfon from their respective platforms,  the first occasion it has been possible to have  trains for both lines in the station at once.

The teams line up - F&WHR Mike Hart congratulates Ian Hartill on completion of the project - Pic: F&WHRAdmiring the line-up - Pic: F&WHRTwo trains in the station at last - Pic: F&WHR
The green flag with a smile - Pic: F&WHR The first train departs from the new platform to Blaenau Ffestiniog - Pic: F&WHRThe view over the new patform - Pic: F&WHRThe first train to Caernarfon about to depart - Pic F&WHRThe new beer garden complete with glass panels awaits fine weather - Pic: F&WHR

The final preparations and the reopening were recorded by John Wooden in the final episode of his video diary:

Trains will now be running daily but the offical opening ceremony will take place on 22nd May.

.Reopening the station represents the proud culmination of the project to rebuild the Welsh Highland Railway, brought about by the generosity of donors and sponsors over many years. Nevertheless much remains to be done to develop the railway,  including new stations at Caernarfon and Beddgelert, more rolling stock, improved stabling and workshop facilities at both ends of the line and numerous other improvements. The Phase 5 appeal to rebuild Harbour station has been hugely successful. In order to continue the work of improvement on both railways, a fresh appeal has is being launched and full details will be published shortly.

28th April 2014
The station has been in regular operation since the start of the operating season.  However various minor works have continued. Additonal cables have been pulled in by the Tuesday gang for pumps and lighting. The work on 3-road accross the pit has been completed with the alignment being refined,  the rails welded to the supports and the protective mesh added each side of the rails.
The new advanced starter signal has been erected and now awaits commissioning.
New advanced starter signal - F&WHR

22nd May 2014

The new station was opened officially by  Edwina Hart AM, Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science, accompanied by Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas. She arrived by train from Pont Croesor to perform the ceremony where she was welcomed warmly in song by the pupils of Ysgol Eifion Wyn in Porthmadog and Ysgol Cefn Coch in Penrhyndeudraeth. After the speeches two commemorative plaques were unveiled with the assistance of Tryfan Alun-Williams and Demi Evans  from Ysgol Eifion Wyn.

After the Minister was introduced to staff and volunteers who had taken a leading role in the project, she was shown round the relay room and the new signal box where she inaugurated the station officially by operating the lever to allow a Ffestiniog Railway train into the platform. Looking to the future, the official visit concluded by a discussion of the display of plans for the new station at Caernarfon and for developments at Boston Lodge where the stock is housed and maintenance carried out.
Full story here
Local schoolchildren welcome the Minister - Pic: Chris Parry Local schoolchildren welcome the Minister - Pic: Chris ParryThe Minister's speech - Pic: Chris ParryThe plaques are unveiled - Pic: Chris Parry
The dignitaries walk up the platform to be meet the volunteers, passing the new "beehives" housing the water, power and toilet discharge points - Pic: Peter MatthewsThe S&T volunteers waiting to be presented to the Minister:   Bob Bloodworth (cabling installation), Simon Hose (design), Ian Walsh (relay room installation), Steve Robinson (tester in charge)Steve Robinson and Ian Walsh wait to show the Minister the inside of the relay-room - Pic: Peter MatthewsIan Walsh chats with the Minister in the Relay Room - Pic: Chris Parry
Admiring the signal box - Pic: Chris ParryViewing the plans for Caernarfon and Boston Lodge - Pic: Chris ParryJohn Prideaux, Edwina Hart, Paul Lewin, Mike Hart and Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas - Pic: Chris Parry

ITV News filmed a report and the proceedings were recorded on video by John Wooden:

Update on works at the station:

Recent signalling works at the station include erection of the much-anticipated trident signal and addition of finials to other existing signals. Before the trident can be commissioned, further work is required including rewiring of two of the signal machines, sourcing another arm-proving detector and manufacturing some of the mechanical components. The signal box is effectively complete apart from the proper engraved brass labels for the lever frame, the finials for the signalbox roof, and of course a comfy armchair for the signalman (as is found in all proper signalboxes...)

Fettling of the tracks on the Welsh Highland platform has been in progress, more cables have been pulled into place, facilites for heating water to use in the buffet cars added, work carried out on the foot crossings, and many other minor tasks undertaken,  many of these tasks by the Tuesday Gang.

The trident signal awaits commissioning, seen from the diesel cab window - Pic: FWHR Position light signal 10 with indicator showing route set for Ffestiniog platform - Pic: FWHR Finials atop signals 7A & 7B - Pic: FWHR
The trident signal - Pic: Peter Matthews Advance starter with finials in place - Pic: Peter Matthews Ffestiniog platform starter with finial in place - Pic: Peter MatthewsTuesday Gang fettling the WHR platform road - Pic: Tony Baker

Back to WHR Project homepage  Authored by Ben Fisher; last updated  23rd May 2014 by David Tidy