PROJECT RHEILFFORDD ERYRI
WELSH HIGHLAND RAILWAY PROJECT
2006 NEWS ARCHIVE
See also - [2009 News] 
   
  
  
- January 18th 2006 - It was announced that the Railway had acquired
a fourth NGG16 Beyer-Garratt. No. 87 was purchased from the Exmoor Steam Railway
and would be delivered to Minffordd and Boston Lodge within the next few weeks
for a full overhaul to be undertaken largely by employed staff at Boston Lodge.
This was made possible by a grant covering the costs of purchase and overhaul
from Ffestiniog Railway Trust, following a donation from a private sponsor
for this specific project. The addition of no. 87 will help make sure there
is an adequate fleet in place ready for opening of the complete WHR in 2009,
giving four working locos of this type to form the core WHR fleet.
In contrast to 1958-built nos. 138, 143 and 140, no. 87 comes from the very
first batch of NGG16s (developed from the NGG13), built by John Cockerill
of Seraing, Belgium in 1936 (works no. 3267). It was delivered to Port Shepstone
in April 1937, and is thought to have spent all its South African working
life on the Natal branches, being withdrawn from service on the Umzinto-Donnybrook
line in 1986. Its last overhaul was in 1977, and it emerged with the boiler
(no doubt much rebuilt over the years) first fitted to the first NGG13, NG58
of 1927. It was imported to the UK from South Africa for the abortive Robin
Hood's Bay scheme, from which the WHR previously acquired NG15s nos. 133 and
134. Although purchase of the Robin Hood's Bay NGG16s was not pursued at the
time owing to their condition, the donation for no. 87's purchase from Exmoor
includes full funding for overhaul, which entirely changes the picture.
The pictures below show no. 87 at Exmoor in September 2005, during one of
a number of inspection visits. The inspectors are (left-right in the first
picture) Tony Williams (FR/WHR Loco Inspector), Steve McCallum, & Jon Whalley
(FR/WHR Chief Mechanical Engineer). Steve is a previous manager of Boston
Lodge Works and has been taken on by the FR Co. to strengthen the engineering
resource; he will project manage the rebuild of this loco, as well as looking
after the FR/WHR coal firing conversion project.
- February 4th 2006 - NGG16 Beyer-Garratt. no. 87 (see above) was delivered
to the Ffestiniog Railway, to be overhauled for use on the Welsh Highland.
More details and pictures on the no. 87 page.
- February 5th 2006 - Welsh Highland Railway Construction Ltd announced
that its General Manager Roland Doyle was stepping down from his post. Press
Having managed the construction of Welsh Highland Railway from Caernarfon
to Rhyd Ddu, and more recently built up the Phase 4 Rhyd Ddu - Porthmadog
construction project team, Roland Doyle is to leave the staff of Welsh Highland
Railway Construction Ltd.
Pete Gray (Permanent Way Manager) and Simon Ambrose (Civil Engineering Manager)
will jointly take over the general management role of the WHR Phase 4 project
and see it through to completion.
Roland is establishing his own railway engineering consultancy business and
will continue to provide his time to assist and support WHRC Ltd by looking
after various engineering tasks. This will include using Roland's specialist
skills in control electronics to design and develop a new wire-less system
to connect traditional Electric Train Staff Instruments for use on WHR without
the need for conventional lineside cables. Roland will additionally help with
the completion of the detailed Phase 4 computer generated track alignment
design and assist Pete and Simon in some of the other engineering challenges
that lie ahead.
Roland also contributes much volunteer effort to both Ffestiniog and Welsh
Highland Railways, such as the work he is currently doing to help with the
exciting coal firing developments under way at Boston Lodge Workshops. Roland
said "I will also continue to lead the volunteer group that look after the
construction and installation of projects such as the Train Operated Trailable
points used at WHR's passing loops - several more of which are required for
Phase 4". Mike Hart thanked Roland for everything he had done for the Project
on behalf of all involved with Welsh Highland Railway and said "Roland has
led the WHR construction project since it was launched in 1997. His commitment
to the project has been colossal and we are all delighted he will carry on
helping ensure the project is complete and ready for opening in 2009".
- February 11th 2006 - The newly extended platform at Caernarfon Station
was brought into use.
- March 11th 2006 - One of the Welsh Highland's best-known landmarks
returned, as the new span of Bryn y Felin bridge was installed, crossing the
Afon Glaslyn south of Beddgelert, at the north end of the Aberglaslyn Pass.
Lots more details and pictures here.
- March 23rd 2006 - A test train was run to assess operation of the
longer trains made possible by the extended platform at Caernarfon, ahead
of the April 8th specials for Phase 4 sponsors. No. 138 hauled ten coaches,
a bike wagon and Castell Caernarfon "dead" from Caernarfon
to Ffridd Isaf; the diesel was needed to head the train on the return, as
Rhyd Ddu Station was out of bounds during its extension works. The test was
a success, with no slipping.
- April 8th 2006 - The extended and improved station at Rhyd Ddu was
brought into use on the occasion of the first Phase 4 Sponsors
- April 21st 2006 - Diesel Castell Caernarfon failed at Tryfan
Junction with what was confirmed on subsequent examination as a broken axle
on the rear bogie. On initial investigation a contributory factor to the stress
failure was thought to be too sharp a transition radius between diameters
on the failed axle. This was found to be common on all remaining axles, therefore
all wheelsets were removed from both bogies and sent away for specialist repair
and axle renewal. The Railway considered ways to cover for the loco over the
several weeks the repairs would take; Conway Castle took a three-coach
test train to Rhyd Ddu on the 25th. The solution decided on was a bogie swap
with FR Funkey Vale of Ffestiniog, which had fewer duties diagrammed
in the period concerned. Castell Caernarfon's bogies are seen below
at Dinas on May 1st, minus wheelsets; the loco was on the bogies from its
sister loco a few days later, and returned to service on May 6th. The last
picture shows Vale of Ffestiniog on ambulance bogies.
- May 16th 2006 - The KMX tamper/liner imported from France in 2005
was delivered to Dinas, following its overhaul and regauging at Boston Lodge.
It then underwent commissioning and programming at Dinas before going up the
line to work on Phase 4.
- May 19th-21st 2006 - WHR(C) held its second annual beer festival,
"Cwrw ar y Cledrau/Rail Ale". Dinas Goods Shed housed a real ale
bar with entertainment, and trains linked Dinas with participating pubs along
the line. Caernarfon-Waunfawr shuttles on the Saturday gave the unusual opportunity
to see Upnor Castle in passenger traffic, running "top and tail"
with Castell Caernarfon. However flat spots on Upnor's wheel
treads meant that the Funkey handled Sunday's shuttles alone, propelling the
train in the Waunfawr-Caernarfon direction, with a look-out in carriage 1001's
brakesman's compartment, making use of the carriage's klaxon where required;
although a bugler from Nantlle Silver Band did the honours instead of the
klaxon on the first train!
- July 24-8th 2006 - FR loco Palmerston was displayed on Y Maes
(Castle Square) in Caernarfon as part of the annual Gwyl Caernarfon Festival,
to publicise not only the railway in general but also Phase 4 reconstruction
and the forthcoming Super Power Weekend, where Palmerston was due to
be the first steam loco to work on the extension - appropriately, as it had
been hired for NWNGR construction work in the 1870s, and then for similar
duties on the WHR in 1922. The pictures below show the loco's arrival on the
24th, and the display on the 25th, on the exact spot where diesel Castell
Caernarfon had been displayed ten years earlier. The ferris wheel in the
background, Europe's largest portable one at 33m diameter, had been brought
in for a month at the initiative of Cyffro Caernarfon.
- September 1st 2006 - The formation of the Welsh Highland Railways
Association was announced. This is a non-hierarchical umbrella group of
existing independent organisations, which provides a forum for representatives
of those bodies to discuss and promote their common interests. The founding
members are Welsh Highland Railway Ltd (owners and operators of WHR [Porthmadog]),
Cymdeithas Rheilffordd Eryri/Welsh Highland Railway Society, and the Welsh
Highland Railway Heritage Group. The WHRA's Welsh title is Cymdeithas Rheilffyrdd
Ucheldir Cymru (CRhUC).
The Welsh Highland Railway Ltd., Cymdeithas Rheilffordd Eryri (The Welsh Highland
Railway Society), and The Welsh Highland Railway Heritage Group are jointly
pleased to announce the launch of an Association of all three bodies.
In a statement the chairmen of the three founding organisations said:
"We believe that it is vital at this critical time to promote the interests
of the two Welsh Highland Railways and their allied heritage by focussing
attention on the requirements of the railways, including their volunteer members,
through the combined efforts of an Association".
The Association (WHRA) will aim to promote greater understanding and co-operation
with all interested parties at this pivotal moment in the railways' long history.
Major developments are currently in progress, which not only include the reopening
of the remainder of the line by 2009, but also a new combined WHR/FR museum
The agreed objective of the Association is:.- "The promotion and development
of all matters relating to the Welsh Highland Railways - past, present and
future - through co-operative endeavour".
Welcoming the move, Dave Kent, Chairman of the WHRS, said, "The formation
of the Association gives all supporters from any quarter of the Welsh Highland
project, the encouragement that their efforts have been, are, and will be
recognised as a tremendous achievement in the years to come. This coming together
further strengthens the role of the volunteers in all railway restoration."
James Hewett, chairman of WHR Ltd added, "My hope is that the new Association
will ensure that the democratic voice of the volunteer is heard loud and clear,
and that this will lead to a more prominent role for the volunteer resource
in both running and operating the new Welsh Highland. I believe that the new
WHRA is the best way to preserve the independence of the three organisations
and the two railways that are represented within it."
David Allan, chairman of the Welsh Highland Heritage Group concluded, "The
Heritage Group is a small but vital cog in the complex Welsh Highland Story.
Our objective is to ensure that the remaining infrastructure as well as the
ethos of the original Welsh Highland play a significant role in the railway's
future and are not consigned to some fading memory of its past. We believe
that the Welsh Highland Railways Association is the ideal body to help promote
- September 9-10th 2006 - Super Power Weekend saw the entry into public
service of pioneer Garratt K1 for the first time since about 1929, and the
first steam trains to run southwards from Rhyd Ddu since 1937. Full
- September 16th 2006 - Having stayed on for a week after Super Power,
Palmerston took a special works train to the Head of Steel between
Pont Cae'r Gors and Hafod Ruffydd. The group picture below includes John Pritchard
of Beddgelert, who rode on the original WHR and was presented to the Prince
of Wales during his 2003 visit.
- October 27th 2006 - The ballast wagon built new in Romania for the
WHR was delivered to Dinas, arriving by lorry at 10.55 and touching down on
WHR rails at 12.40. The wagon is an adaptation of a standard gauge design
for Austrian federal railways, and is able to discharge ballast along the
centre of the track as well as at the sides, adding flexibility as well as
extra capacity to what can be done using the South African ballast wagons
already on the Railway. See Construction Stock.
- October 29th 2006 - The new span of UB182, the bridge that carries
the WHR over the A4085 near Nantmor, was installed. Full story and more pictures
on the Phase 4 Cwm Bychan - Afon Nanmor
- November 1st 2006 - The flat crossing with Network Rail's Cambrian
Coast line at Porthmadog was installed by contractors Carillion Rail, reinstating
a feature now unique to the WHR. Full story and more pictures on the Phase
4 Cambrian Crossing page.
Review of the Year, 2006 - Selected Stories and Pictures
A huge amount was achieved in 2006, in terms of advancing the completion
of the Railway and also of equipping it for the future. Some examples, in
loosely chronological order: the Railway was given another NGG16 and the money
to restore it; Caernarfon Station was extended to take longer trains; Bryn
y Felin got its bridge back; the end of the road arrived for the "Forth
Bridge" tracklayer; Rhyd Ddu Station was extended and improved; the "new"
tamper arrived and was commissioned; the WHR (Porthmadog) extension reached
Traeth Mawr; Palmerston went to Caernarfon and then out onto Phase
4; K1 finally hauled its first public trains since 1929; the Railway got a
brand new ballast wagon; Nantmor road bridge was replaced; the Cambrian Crossing
was built and installed; work on the Phase 4 trackbed reached Beddgelert,
as well as various points beyond; and volunteers laid 5km of track, taking
the Head of Steel from Rhyd Ddu to beyond Beddgelert Forest Halt.
WHR Project News
Authored by Ben Fisher; last
modified April 10th, 2007