Welsh Highland Railway - Upkeep and Improvements

Waunfawr - Rhyd Ddu

Upkeep and
Improvements pages:
Waunfawr - Rhyd Ddu
 Harbour Station works  Caernarfon Station development

This section was built under Phase 3 of the railway's rebuilding and the construction details can be found using the link below.

Phase 3 - Waunfawr to Rhyd Ddu - 2000 to 2003

This section is started with the report of some line side clearance being done during a Rest of the World gang weekend on the 17th October 2010. This was at Bryn Gloch with the clearing lineside vegetation consisting mainly of gorse. 

Lineside clearance at Bryn Gloch - Simon Melhuish 

27th November 2010

Working in the snow, the Rest of the World Gang, assisted by Imperial College students, extended the headshunt at Rhyd Ddu by one rail length.  Later a start was made on reducing the length of the short siding, so that a new footpath can be made next to the water tower base. for the benefit of coach parties using the coach park. Pictures by Steve Bromfield

Working in the snow at Rhyd Ddu - Steve BroomfieldWorking in the snow at Rhyd Ddu - Steve Broomfield

28th November 2010

More pictures of the weekend's work on the headshunt and the siding at Rhyd Ddu. Pictures by Simon Melhuish

Trackwork at Rhyd Ddu - Simon MelhuishTrackwork at Rhyd Ddu - Simon Melhuish

10th January 2011

The long working weekend of 7th Jan through to the 10th Jan was to replace the wooden sleepers at Cae'r Afon with those of the steal South African type. The Friday saw Castell Caernarfon and DZ175 take the sleepers to the site. The Rest of the World Gang also took two long wooden sleepers to Caernarfon for the replacement of point timbers at the south end of the loop as well as collecting numerous sleepers from alongside the track on route. The second picture shows the trackgang, who were joined by members of the ICRS, on the way to Cae'r Afon with the third picture of them working at the site.

Off-loading sleepers at Cae'r Afon. (Photo: Steve Broomfield)Members of the trackgang on the way to Cae'r Afon. (Photo: Simon Melhuish)Replacing sleepers at Cae'r Afon. (Photo: Simon Melhuish)

6-7th February 2011

The Rest of the World Gang  braved strong winds and torrential rain on 6th February to put a "stagger" in the rails around Ffridd Isaf curves, north of Rhyd Ddu. A half rail on the Snowdon side was cut out at the start of the curve at the Caernarfon end, and taken to near the station shunt limit. The rail all through the curves was then unclipped, dragged half a rail towards Caernarfon, re-plated and re-clipped. With South African clips this was quite time-consuming. The staggering was almost completed  on 7th February

Having staggered joints (as used on the sharply curved parts of phase IV) should mean that the curves hold their shape better, reducing the problem of "threepenny bit" joints. Pictures by Simon Melhuish

Ffridd Isaf staggering joints - Simon MelhuishStaggering the gaps - Simon MelhuishStaggering the gaps - Simon MelhuishSA Van in the rain- Simon MelhuishShelter from the elements - Simon Melhuish

1st March 2011

The Tuesday Gang spent the 1st March at Rhyd Ddu installing Anti-trespass at the Caernarfon end foot crossing to the island platform. The following photos from Steve Broomfield show the various stages of construction.

Installing anti-respass grids at Rhyd Ddu - (Photo: Steve Broomfield)Installing anti-respass grids at Rhyd Ddu - (Photo: Steve Broomfield)Installing anti-respass grids at Rhyd Ddu - (Photo: Steve Broomfield)Installing anti-respass grids at Rhyd Ddu - (Photo: Steve Broomfield)

3rd May 2011

The Tuesday Gang spent part of the day at Rhyd Ddu concreting in various posts in the area of the new foot crossing from the bus stop to the platform. These posts are to take "Way out" signs, warning signs and directional signs. Photo by Steve Broomfield

Foot crossing to bus stop at Rhyd Ddu - Steve Breoomfield

26th June 2011

During the long working weekend of the 24th to 27 June the Rest of the World Gang were working between the two bridges at Betws Garmon on the 26th where they were jacking and packing a 'dished' joint. This included some Kango-ing to improve the general vertical alignment in this area and also the servicing of some some loose SA clips. Photo by Steve Broomfield

Jacking and packing a joint at Betws Garmon. (Photo: Steve Breoomfield)87 Passing the worksite at Betws Garmon. (Photo: Steve Breoomfield)

27th June 2011

The Rest of the World Gang turned to lineside vegetation clearance, at Dolau Gwyn and Bron-y-fedw-uchaf to Glan-yr-afon,. They were passed by 143 (single-headed this time) and 87.  Report and photos by Simon Melhuish

Rest of the World Gang at Glan yr Afon - Simon Melhuish143 at Canal Curve - Simon Melhuish

16th August 2011
The Tuesday Gang worked at Castell Cidwm OB 34.57 where there lies a stretch of fencing toward Snowdon Ranger that required beefing up. An extra 52 fencing posts were thumped in between the road overbridge and LC 34.79. This is where the short lived Cwellyn Halt was situated in NWNGR times.
Tuesday Gang South meanwhile were completing the woodwork associated with Micro ETS. Report by Tony Baker.

20th August 2011

It was the turn of the Rest of the Word Gang to be out and about on the weekend of 20th and 21st August 2011. During this weekend the major task was the removal of dips and the correction of cant on the lead into Rhyd Ddu station from the North. It was a very damp weekend as can be seen for the photographs below of the gang in action. The only interruption to the work being the passage of the service trains and 87 is seen approaching in a couple of the shots. 

Correcting dips and cant on the Northern appraoch to Rhyd Ddu. (Photo: Steve Breoomfield)Correcting dips and cant on the Northern appraoch to Rhyd Ddu. (Photo: Steve Breoomfield)Correcting dips and cant on the Northern appraoch to Rhyd Ddu. (Photo: Steve Breoomfield)Correcting dips and cant on the Northern appraoch to Rhyd Ddu. (Photo: Simon Melhuish)Correcting dips and cant on the Northern appraoch to Rhyd Ddu. (Photo: Simon Melhuish)Correcting dips and cant on the Northern appraoch to Rhyd Ddu. (Photo: Simon Melhuish)Correcting dips and cant on the Northern appraoch to Rhyd Ddu. (Photo: Simon Melhuish)87 approaching the worksite with a Southbound service train. (Photo: Simon Melhuish)87 approaching the worksite with a Southbound service train. (Photo: Simon Melhuish)

On Sunday the gang moved to the South of Rhyd Ddu to tighten fishplates at Pitt's Head and Tro Elain.

23rdAugust  2011

Members of the Tuesday Gang south were rodding the drains at Castell Cidwm where an interesting discovery was made. Report by Tony Baker

August 27/28

The North Wales / Black Hand Gang were engaged in track work at Rhyd Ddu station over the weekend 27/28 August. This involved aligning the track, correcting track cant and packing sleepers as well as ballast tidying.
The opportunity was also taken to clean the interior of the platform shelter, which had recently been use by a family of house martens as a toilet!  Report by Dafydd Thomas

30th August 2011
Tuesday Gang were at Castell Cidwm to continue reinforcing the fences on both sides of the track. No horses here, but Welsh Black Cattle which can be boisterous. So 50 extra posts were banged in. A picture of an inscription which is on the Blaenau side of OB 34.57 (Castell Cidwm Road Bridge) is attached. Does anyone know anything about it?
Hammering fence posts - Tony Baker Inscription on Bridge 34.57 - Tony Baker

6th September 2011
The Tuesday Gang were continuing with the fencing improvements between Castell Cidwm and Snowdon Ranger. This time they started from the Snowdon Ranger end as they were getting a long way from CC road bridge. The condition at this end was not as bad as the CC end and new posts were only planted where the existing post felt a bit shaky. Altogether about 30 new posts were banged in.
The occasional shower hit them and the River Gwyrfai was very high.  Report by Tony Baker

20th September 2011
Today the Tuesday Gang were bushwacking at Betws Garmon, clearing the road that leads to the remains of the Betws Garmon station building. This road has not been used for some time and had sizable trees growing in it. Pictures by Tony Baker of the scene before and after, work in progress and a view of No 87 on the 12:30 ex Caernarfon taken from the site of the station building.
Clearing scrub at Betws Garmon - Tony BakerClearing scrub at Betws Garmon - Tony BakerClearing scrub at Betws Garmon, task complete - Tony Baker87 at Betws Garmon - Tony Baker
24th/25th Septembr 2011
Over this weekend the North Wales / Black Hand Gang were engaged in track maintenance on the farm occupation crossing just north of Ffridd Isaf crossing at Rhyd Ddu. The job comprised removal of crossing timbers and grids, checking rail cant on the curve, adjusting the cant by jacking the high rail and packing ballast with Kango hammers, tidying ballast and replacing the crossing timbers and grids. Saturday's weather was atrocious, Sunday was ok until the rain started again at about 15:30.  Report by Dafydd Thomas, Photos by Steve Broomfield

Correcting cant at Rhyd Ddu - Steve BroomfieldCorrecting cant at Rhyd Ddu - Steve Broomfield

8th/9th October 2011
The North Wales / Black Hand Gang's was at work at Rhyd Ddu over the weekend
On Saturday 8th October, torrential rain all day and a small gang dictated a small job, preferably indoors, so they installed wire mesh in the roof of the platform shelter to deny the birds a place to roost as they had been leaving liberal quantities of droppings in the shelter recently.
On Sunday 9th October the weather was a little more favourable and they were able to carry out track maintenance on the Down line at Rhyd Ddu, which needed to be levelled and the sleepers packed to maintain the level.

11th October 2011
Both sections of the Tuesday Gang worked at Betws Garmon replacing the double gates leading to the site of the former station building with a single gate set slightly further back from the road. A ballast store is  to be located here, as it was during phase 3,  to supply ballast for the Winter Works Programme. 
Shortly after arriving on site, Lyd passed,  heading back to Porthmadog with one carriage, following repairs at Dinas after failing there during Superpower. Passenger trains passing today were well loaded especially the 10:45 ex Porthmadog.
The pictures by Tony Baker show Lyd passing the remains of Betws Garmon Station, the gang hanging the new gate and finally No 87 on the 14:30 ex Caernarfon in a view only made possible by the recent clearance work at this site.
Lyd passing site of Betws Garmon station - Tony BakerNew gate at Betws Garmon - Tony Baker87 passes Betws Garmon - Tony Baker

 14th October 2011
The Rest of the World Gang spent the first day of the October 'Long Weekend' at the site of the former Betws Garmon station, where the access track and the area surrounding the building were further cleared of small trees and vegetation, these being fed into a shredder. The opportunity was taken to improve the sight-lines to the crossing near Pont Betws Garmon (last picture). The trees and bushes within the building itself were also cut down.
Clearing Betws Garmon area - Steve BroomfieldClearing Betws Garmon area- Steve BroomfieldClearing Betws Garmon area - Steve BroomfieldClearing Betws Garmon area- Steve Brommfield
8th November 2011
Tony Baker reports:
On Tuesday 8th November the Tuesday Gang was tasked with transporting 450 interlocking concrete blocks to Rhyd Ddu to be used for the construction of future ballast retaining walls. A works train was used with Caernarfon Castle at the head. Unfortunately as only 2 DZ wagons were available, each one holding approximately 150 blocks, we were only able to deliver 300 blocks to site. A second journey was not possible due to circumstances beyond our control.
Meanwhile other TG members were assisting with Tryfan Junction station building, rodding the drains at Castell Cidwm and fitting guttering to various station buildings along the line.
The video by Andy Keene shows the Tuesday Gang train passing Tryfan Junction en route to Rhyd Ddu:
12/14 November 2011
The Rest of the World Gang.  Simon Melhuish reports:
We met up with members of Imperial College Railway Society at Dinas on Saturday 12th November. We took our train, consisting of two DZ wagons, the tool van and mess coach, headed by Castell Caernarfon, to Ty'n-y-Weirglodd  (between Plas y Nant and Castell Cidwm - Ed), where we unloaded concrete blocks. We then continued to Rhyd Ddu, where we started building new ballast-retaining walls. This job was completed on Sunday. 

On the Monday we collected at Plas-y-Nant halt and walked south to the curve by Ty'n-y-Weirglodd where we had left a train-load of concrete blocks and the tool van plus a DZ. A year or so previously RotWG had built a ballast retaining wall around part of the curve, but sideways forces exerted by the track (e.g. from thermal movement) had pushed the top course over the lower course. These were the older, smaller blocks. So we demolished the wall and rebuilt using the new, larger blocks (about 30 kg each, at a guess). We more than doubled the length of the wall on Monday, with work set to continue into Tuesday.
Pictures by Simon Melhuish
Ballast wall north of Rhyd Ddu - Simon MelhuishBallast wall north of Rhyd DduBallast wall north of Rhyd Ddu - Simon MelhuishBallast wall at Ty'n y Weirglodd - Simon MelhuishBallast wall at Ty'n y Weirglodd - Simon MelhuishBallast wall at Ty'n y Weirglodd - Simon Melhuish

28th February 2012
The Tuesday Gang were at Rhyd Ddu  to service fishplates from LC 39.08 to the end of the straight section where joints become staggered at 38.50 approximately. The work consists of taking apart the fishplate, which are the SA type used on phase 3, applying liberal amounts of grease and bolting them back up again. What they were not prepared for was the many different sizes of nuts used and a trip back to Dinas was needed to find more spanners.  As well as servicing the fishplates they also applied lubrication to all the T bolts from LC 39.08 back to the bridge at 38.77.
 Pictures by Tony Baker show fishplate being taken apart and put back together.
Dismantling fishplate - Tony BakerReassembling fishplate - Tony Baker

6th March 2012
Tuesday Gang carried on from where they left off last week. The first job was to attend to the rail joint discovered last week at Rhyd Ddu. It was 2 cm wide which is slightly more than ". In the temperatures prevailing at the moment, a rail joint should be something in the region of 6 to 10 mm. To deal with it, firstly the fishplates are removed on the joint in question and also on the next joint downhill which incidentally had no gap at all. Then all the T bolts on the rail have to be loosened and the rail itself nudged along it's length with a crowbar to break the seal. Then, using the blade of a spade in the gap in the web and at the same time pulling on the rail with tongs hopefully it can be persuaded to move. This process is then repeated on the uphill rail and finally the fishplates are bolted back together and the T bolts tightened. This process took about 2 hours.
They then moved down to Castell Cidwm where they continued with the process of lubricating T bolts and greasing fishplates. A goodly number of tools are needed for this job, as explained previously there are different sized nuts on the fishplates and T bolts.
Pictures are attached showing the gap before remedial action and again afterwards. Also undoing and tightening back up the T bolts.
Report and pictures by Tony Baker

Oversize gapMoving the railGap corrected

13th March 2012
The Tuesday Gang spent the 13th March continuing with their programme of fishplate maintenance. Firstly, at Castell Cidwm, a further 4 pairs of fishplates were stripped down, greased and reassembled. This completed the work at Castell Cidwm. Moving on to Rhyd Ddu they started at LC 38.64 and worked north stripping down and greasing a further 7 pairs. At the same time the T bolts from 38.50 to 38.70 were all lubricated. Next week should see this location finished with 11 more pairs left to do.

20th March 2012
Today Tuesday Gang completed the last stretch of fishplate greasing and T bolt lubricating between 38.33 and 38.64 at Rhyd Ddu,  with help from the Green Light lads.

25th March 2012
 Today, the Tuesday Gang South undertook the following...
 The frame and letters of the Running-In Board at Plas y Nant were given a coat of white gloss, thus completing our activities there
 They further investigated the 'rocking' foot crossing at Rhyd Ddu, North end, but were unable to undo the four fixing bolts (some 'heat' required here ?).
 The broken gate latch at Beudy Cerrig, between Rhyd Ddu and Pitt's Head, was replaced, observed by some of the 'local residents' (see picture)
 The board at the bottom of the gated entrance to Beddgelert station site (NW) was re-attached, using stronger chains and bolts 
 The seized padlock at the Porthmadog Council Crossing gate was 'freed-off'. Report by Steve Broomfield.
Gate repair at Beudy Cerrig 
29th May 2012
The Tuesday Gang spent the 29th May at Caeau Gwynion. The main job was to clear out a culvert, which although not completely blocked, was silted up and contained large stones and boulders washed down from the hills above. The culvert appears to be unrebuilt from original and is about two feet square. The only way to clean it out was to crawl into it and pass back the stones. Volunteers, of which there were nine of us, took it in turns to crawl in. The accompanying picture shows the cleared culvert at the end of the day. In parallel with this activity volunteers were also dealing with seized T-bolts along this section. About 2 dozen were undone, wire brushed, greased and reassembled successfully. The weather was sunny and hot. 
Report and pictures by Tony Baker
Train approaches the location - Tony BakerEntering the culvert - Tony BakerThe culvert cleared of debris - Tony BakerChecking T-bolts - Tony Baker

3rd July 2012
The Tuesday Gang spent the day working just south of Waunfawr Station cleaning out ditches and culverts. The problem was caused by vegetation growing in the ditch and either side of the culverts. The farmer here has dug out his ditch on the field above the line but not in his field below the line as yet. Welsh Highland is responsible for the ditch running parallel to the track at 30.36 and the culvert at 30.74. These are now cleared of the encroaching vegetation. Attached pictures show culvert before work starts and the ditch in the process of being cleared. Five volunteers were present assisted by two community pay back lads. Whilst at this site they checked all the "T Bolts" and found 106 seized which will keep them busy for a while.   Report by Tony Baker
Ditch clearing - Tony BakerDitch clearing - Tony BakerDitch clearing - Tony Baker

9th October 2012
Tuesday Gang South report that the new running-in board was erected at Snowdon Ranger. All that remains is to fit the three caps to the metal posts.
New board at Snowdon Ranger - Steve Broomfield
9th December 2012
Rest of the World Gang attended Castell Cidwm where there is trouble with the drains. Pressure from the head of water in the downhill pipe is forcing off a junction in the pipework. Improvements to the run of drains alongside the line are being considered.
Some work was also done on a farm gate, to discourage intrusion by sheep, and at a farm crossing, which is suffering decay to the timbers.  Picture by Simon Melhuish
Drainage work at Castell Cidwm - Simon Melhuish
16th January 2013
 The North Wales / Black Hand Gang's first job for 2013 was the realignment of one half of the large S curve at Tro Ffridd.
On Saturday, 12th January, with a bitterly cold wind howling down from the gap between Yr Wyddfa and Yr Aran, we seperated the track in the middle of the S curve. We then set about digging out the ballast from the sleeper ends and commenced the process of realigning the curve. This is a bit of a back and forth job with men heaving on pinch bars whilst the supervisor shouts directions at them.
By 15:30 we had nice alignment with a reasonable transition into the curve from the Rhyd Ddu direction; but we also had a 100mm gap in the rails where we had separated the track earlier in the day. However that was a job for Sunday.
Sunday morning, 13th January was equally as cold as Saturday but without the wind. We now set about regapping the rails; this involves loosening the track bolts and moving the rails up, putting the correct gap at the rail joints. The idea being that eventually to lose the 100mm gap. However after doing this on about 10 rails there was still a considerable gap and it was 16:00. There was no choice but to call a halt, fading light, falling snow and tired volunteers dictating this action. Some of the volunteers had spent the day shovelling the ballast back into the voids at the sleeper ends; this will give the tamper something to work with. The works train finally truddled into Dinas at almost 18:00.

It was now up to the Network Rail apprentices to finish the job on Monday, 14th January; which I'm glad to say they did ably supervised by Paul Bradshaw a CRhE/WHRS volunteer  supervisor.

Report by Dafydd Thomas  

6/7 April 2013
North Wales/Black Hand Gang weekend, 6/7 April.
Over this weekend they were engaged in rebuilding an embankment retaining wall at Tro Ffridd (just north of Rhyd Ddu station).
Blocks were brought up by works train and the job slowly progressed over the weekend. A slight dip in the track was also rectified by jacking and packing using Kango hammers.  
A return visit in two weeks' time should see the job completed.
Pictures by David Firth show work in progress between service trains, and the works train by the wall at the end of the weekend
Repairing ballast wall Tro Ffridd - David FirthRepairing ballast wall Tro Ffridd - David FirthRepairing ballast wall Tro Ffridd - David Firth  Repairing ballast wall Tro Ffridd - David Firth
29/30 June 2013
 The Black Hand Gang were working on temporary stabilisation of the embankment at Salem. The initial damage had been done in the heavy rains last December, but the bank has continued to fall away from the track bed leaving an insufficient width of support.  Concrete blocks were placed to support the slope and ballast dropped from one of the South African hoppers to restore the ballast shoulder. Report and pictures by David Firth
Constructing the wall- David FirthWall nearing completion - David Firth

26th January 2014
Rest of the World Gang report by Phil Nock:
Over the weekend of 18/19th January, we created a half stagger over 11 panels of the next curve down from the Tro Fridd reverse curves, the latter having had a similar treatment from us about 18 months ago. The left and right hand curves either side of Clogwyn Incline, (the next curves down), are in need of similar treatment, but as part of the track here needs pulling in slightly as well, this job was left for a later date.
Picture by Simon Banbury
Putting in the stagger at Tro Ffridd - Simon Banbury

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Website authored by Ben Fisher; this page last updated 26th January 2014 by David Tidy