Welsh Highland Railway - Upkeep and Improvements


Upkeep and
Harbour Station works   Caernarfon Station development

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Constructing the Railway 1997-2010:

The Welsh Highland Railway was built in four phases over a number of years and have been recorded on this site in the corresponding sections. These were:

Phase 1 - Caernarfon to Dinas - 1997

Phase 2 - Dinas to Waunfawr - 1999 to 2000

Phase 3 - Waunfawr to Rhyd Ddu - 2000 to 2003

Phase 4 - Rhyd Ddu to Porthmadog - 2005 to 2010

Details of the construction of those sections can be found by following the 'Phase' links.

With the completion of the construction of the core railway there now comes the need to maintain it. Once each construction phase had been completed and brought into use there is a need to keep it in good order whilst the next section was built. Also the construction phases provided the basic railway only and not much else. The next few years will therefore see work on enhancing and improving the general infrastructure along the line. The Upkeep and Improvements Section will  follow those works.

Upkeep and Improvements -  2010 onwards:

As the detail of the work to be reported is likely to be less intensive than that of the construction phases, fewer pages are now likely to be needed to report those activities. With this in mind and in order to keep the reporting in manageable sections,  new pages have been created to cover each of the railway's operational token sections -  see the headings at the top of the page. For the time being work on stations will normally be recorded in the section of which they form  the "down" or Blaenau" end.  Caernarfon will appear in the first section in addition to Dinas.

If other major activities start that need more intensive reporting,  then we'll add extra pages as required.

June 2011 - New single line tokens
The single line tokens have been manufactured in the past to various designs on an ad hoc basis when the need has arisen as new sections of the line have been opened.  A new set of tokens has now been manufactured to a consistent pattern and is scheduled to be brought into use between Caernarfon and Beddgelert on 18th June 2011.

New single line tokens - Phil Brown

July 2011
Greasers' Express
A important if unglamorous task in maintaining the railway is greasing the points.  John Wooden has produced a video of the  work of the "Greasers" working on the "Greasers' Express"

7th December 2011
Some time ago posts were erected along the whole length of Phase 4 (by Andy Savage and his team) to take kilometre plates. These plates have now been manufactured in a plastic material and all the plates from Km40 at Rhyd Ddu to Km59 at Porthmadog have now been installed bar one. A photo is enclosed of the plate for Km49 which will be installed in Tunnel 4 before too long.
Also on Phase 4, some bridges on the higher sections have had similar OB/UB plates installed but there are still some to be placed lower down. In the fullness of time it is hoped to have plates manufactured and installed for all the level crossings between Rhyd Ddu and Porthmadog. Picture and report by Peter Roughley

Km marker Peter Roughley

21st June 2012
Team Wylfa at work
Week by week, once the trains been put away and the operating staff have gone home,  this team sets to work unobtrusively in the carriage shed at Dinas.

Most WHR carriages run on plain bearings,which need regular maintenance, a task which is in the hands of the volunteers in Team Wylfa.  Axle by axle, they remove each bearing cover plate to expose the bearing, inject oil as necessary and then replace the cover plate. This may be a simple enough procedure in itself,  but each carriage has eight bearings, so to service an entire carriage set can mean repeating the procedure around fifty times, enough to occupy a full evening.

As a result of the team's work, service disruption due to hot axle boxes is a rare occurrence on the railway, and wear on the bearings is minimised. It is work which otherwise would have to be undertaken  by paid staff out of hours at considerable cost to the railway.

The team has difficulty making up its numbers at times and would welcome more support, even on an occasional basis, no special skill required, offers to Clive Briscoe

Bearing with cover in place - David TidyRemoving the cover - David TidyThe bearing uncovered - David TidyInjecting the oil - David TidyInjecting the oil - David tidy

See also: Barrie Hughes' unofficial construction news.
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Website authored by Ben Fisher; this page last updated 21st June 2012 by David Tidy