See also - [2009 News] [2008] [2007] [2006] [2005] [2004] [2003] [2002] [2001] [2000] [1999] [1998] [1997] [1996] [1995] [1993-4]

January 2007 - The section of the Lôn Eifion cycle path alongside the railway between Caernarfon and Dinas was temporarily closed for resurfacing in tarmac, a move taken in light of its popularity and the consequent wear on the previous loose surface.

January 16th 2007 - The turnout for the former siding at Plas y Nant (which had already been lifted) was removed by the volunteers of the Tuesday Gang, to be reused elsewhere. The opportunity was also taken to improve the track alignment leading to the adjacent river bridge.

January 18th 2007 - The rail gantry at Dinas was moved from its original position over the first stack of Phase 4 rails to the second stack (of three). This marked the point where a third of the rails needed to reach Porthmadog had either been laid, or delivered by train to near where they would be laid.

February 17th 2007 - The new span of the Afon Dylif bridge was delivered to site and installed. More details and many more pictures here.

February 22nd-23rd 2007 - Kilometre posts were installed along the operating railway. For operational purposes the WHR starts at a notional 20km at Caernarfon, so the posts installed show km 21-39 rather than 1-19.

February-March 2007 - The Railway carried out a complete rebuild of culvert UB74A, north of Snowdon Ranger. Track across the culvert was lifted over the weekend of February 24-5th, and work started on site on Monday February 26th. The pipes which would form the new culvert had been in store at Rhyd Ddu for some months, and are seen below loaded up for transport. The gap in the track meant that Dolgarrog's trip to Dinas for maintenance in between its Phase 4 duties had to be made by road; the loco was back at work on Phase 4 the following weekend.

When seen below at the start of March, the embankment at UB74A had been removed, and a blinding slab cast at the base of the structure; in the right-hand picture the first of the new pipe sections was in position.

The following pictures show a works train leaving Rhyd Ddu on March 9th with fill for the site, and the remade formation being consolidated the next day.

Track had been re-established by March 17th, when the KMX tamper was at work at the site.

March 17th 2007
- The new Afon Nanmor bridge was moved to site and installed. Details and many more pictures here.

March 21st 2007 - In a set of tests on Phase 4, Upnor Castle took two FR carriages to near the Head of Steel at Cwm Cloch, and no. 138 Mileniwm/Millennium became the first NGG16 to run beyond Rhyd Ddu. The south water tower at Rhyd Ddu was also used for the first time. Further tests were carried out the next day also using Conway Castle.

March 23rd 2007 - Welsh Highland Railway (Porthmadog)'s extension to Traeth Mawr was officially opened by Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas. More details and pictures. The extension opened for public services at the start of April.

March 24th 2007 - Events during the annual Sponsors Day for supporters of the Phase 4 and New Trains Appeals included special trains for sponsors as far as Cwm Cloch near Beddgelert, just short of the Head of Steel. More details and pictures.

April 19th 2007 - Carriage no. 2060, rebuilt and regauged in Romania for the WHR, was delivered to the FR for fitting out at Boston Lodge. As the carriage is too tall to pass under Rhiw Plas bridge it could not be unloaded at Minffordd Yard in the usual way, so it was craned on to the FR main line just downhill of Rhiw Plas at 0800 and then moved down to Boston Lodge. It had been loaded at the works at Brad in Romania on April 15th. For more details see Modern Carriages.

April 2007 - Visiting Quarry Hunslet Velinheli appeared on Phase 4 during the April tracklaying week, running evening staff familiarisation trains on Phase 4 despite wet weather at the start of the week. A first test run on Sunday 22nd ended up running with Conway Castle instead of the Hunslet in light of heavy rain, but the loco is seen below (second picture) preparing to leave Rhyd Ddu on the evening of Monday 23rd, with carriage no. 1001 in tow and extra water supplies on the footplate. On this occasion Velinheli ran almost to the cutting at Cwm Cloch (third and fourth pictures), but no further because of concerns that loose rails (waiting to be moved forwards using RRM trolleys) lying foot upwards between the rails might foul the eccentric sheaves of the loco's inside motion.

The weather was somewhat kinder on the 24th, when another run was made to Cwm Cloch.

The following pictures were taken on the run on the 25th.

April 24th 2007 - The first train since 1941 entered Beddgelert Station. Simplex diesel Dolgarrog, appropriately enough, is the same type of locomotive as used on the wartime demolition trains. For more details see the Phase 4 Beddgelert Station page.

April 26th 2007 - Steam returned to Beddgelert for the first time since Russell passed through taking rolling stock to Dinas in 1937. Ex-Dinorwic Quarry Hunslet Velinheli (see news item below) was welcomed by contractors, volunteers and villagers, and a visit had also been arranged for pupils from the village school.

May 20th 2007 - Brand new saloon carriage no. 2043 was delivered to Dinas from the FR. This was the first of a batch of three saloons built at Boston Lodge, funded by the New Trains Appeal. For more details see Modern Carriages.

Dinas carriage shed was lengthened at the Caernarfon end to accommodate the new carriages, with work starting on May 29th 2007 with the removal of the tracks north of the original end of the shed. The first two pictures below show this area before the start of work, the second two show track removal on May 29th. Track had to be removed to allow contractors sufficient space to construct the large concrete foundations for the pillars, owing to the clay subsoil prevalent in this area.

June 2007
- A pair of bolster wagons arrived at Dinas from Innogy at Dolgarrog. They are believed to have been used to carry pipes on the former Llyn Cowlyd Tramway, and the Heritage Group intend to restore them for display at Tryfan Junction. With a mixture of wheelsets and ironwork, they may have been constructed from earlier wagons. Later in the month they were moved to a private site near Tryfan Junction for renovation.

June 10th 2007 - New saloon carriages no. 2045 and 2044 were delivered to Dinas from Minffordd Yard on the FR, having been hauled there from Boston Lodge by Britomart. This completed delivery of the batch of new saloons. For more details see Modern Carriages. Carriage no. 2041 was taken to the FR as a return load for no. 2045; it is the last of the 1997 carriages to go to Boston Lodge for maintenance.

June 25th 2007
- The exceptionally heavy rain which brought chaos elsewhere in Wales and England caused flooding at the Castell Cidwm road bridge, forcing the 1525 departure from Rhyd Ddu to propel back to Rhyd Ddu so passengers could be taken on to Caernarfon by bus. The train, hauled by no. 143, was stabled overnight at Rhyd Ddu and returned to Dinas early on the 26th.

June 21st-29th 2007 - WHR (Caernarfon) hosted an Army training event which saw soldiers involved in various aspects of the running, maintenance and rebuilding of the railway. Army press release W/016/07:

Soldiers hone their skills on the Welsh Highland Railway

A group of soldiers are preparing themselves for an important training exercise in North Wales.

Over the period 21-29 June. 30 soldiers who serve with 79 Railway Squadron Royal Logistic Corps will put their skills to the test by assisting the Welsh Highland Railway with their project to lay railway track from Porthmadog to Caernarfon.

The exercise has two important aims. First and foremost it provides an excellent opportunity to practice military railwaymen in the skills required to establish and sustain a rail line of communication on operations overseas, which is very much part of their military role. Secondly it serves to provide manpower, expertise and assistance to the Welsh Highland Railway in their project to extend their line in North Wales.

Major Simon Watkins, Officer Commanding the Squadron said: "The exercise will provide our soldiers with the opportunity to practice driving and shunting locomotives together with the chance to operate communications systems and assist with the day to day running of the railway. These skills will enable them to put into practice the very same skills needed if they were required to run a rail line of communication, as was the case when the squadron was deployed on operations in Kosovo in 1999.

"The squadron has undertaken similar exercises in the past with Heritage Railway organisations throughout the UK and we are eagerly looking forward to our visit to North Wales."

Prior to their travelling to North Wales the squadron will deploy to Caerwent Army Training Area near Chepstow to practice rail re-railing, where they will be required to place a derailed locomotive back on to the tracks.

July 6th 2007 - WHR (Caernarfon) ran a special evening charity fundraising train for the High Sheriff of Gwynedd, Dr Dewi W. Roberts, raising money for the Tall Ships Youth Sailing Trust and Gwynedd Crimebeat. Around 160 passengers travelled to Rhyd Ddu on what is thought to be the longest non-gala public train yet run, at nine carriages plus a bicycle wagon. Helen Williams-Ellis (director of the S4C documentaries about the WHR) was filming as part of a programme about the work of the High Sheriff.

July 11th 2007 - Representatives of the WHRS K1 Group attended the Transport Trust's 2006 Restoration Awards in the Bluebird Room of the old Brooklands Motor Racing Club at the Brooklands Museum, Weybridge, Surrey. An informal gathering of people were invited for seventeen awards, ranging from the Preservationist of the Year, presented to Dr. Robert Fleming for leading the Vulcan to the Sky Trust, to the individual Restoration Awards which included the WHR K1 Group for restoring the world's first Garratt locomotive, built in 1909 by Beyer Peacock of Manchester for the Tasmanian Government Railways. The group had received the cheque part of the award in December 2006, and it was being put specifically towards the replication of K1's acetylene headlamps, which were under construction. The presentations were given by HRH Prince Michael of Kent. Andy Rutter as Chairman of the K1 group and Ian McKenzie as Treasurer represented the K1 group. On receipt of the presentation from HRH Prince Michael, Andy Rutter gave a short "thank you" speech on behalf of the K1 group. One other steam locomotive of note in the 2006 awards is the Baldwin WW1 loco (of the same type as the WHR's 590 and 794), restored by the Greensands Railway Trust. The Prince chatted to several of the recipients, and was interested to learn about the WHR and to know that Prince Charles had had his own "Inspection Train" on the WHR in 2003.

July 18th 2007 - The tenth annual WHR(C) "Race the Train" event saw a large contingent of runners compete against a special evening train from Dinas to Caernarfon, after it had brought most of the runners, and their supporters, up from Caernarfon. The train happened to be the first ten-carriage train to be run comprising only the modern-profile carriages, only one of which was missing (no. 2041, under overhaul at Boston Lodge). The new and much improved loos at Dinas were promptly overwhelmed! Like on every previous occasion, the train did not win...

August 1st 2007 - James Hewett, Chairman, and sixteen members of the WHR (Porthmadog) Civils team were guests of WHR Construction Ltd on a special train from Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert. The party inspected works en route, including Beddgelert Station, and then walked through the Goat Tunnel along the trackbed to Bryn y Felin bridge. The return walk to the train was made on the footpath past the old Goat Reservoir and over the top of the tunnel, where progress on Beddgelert station could be viewed from the west of the site. Lunch was taken on board the Construction Company's train, made up of Upnor Castle, the SAR brake van and carriage no. 1000. Most of the group then walked up the bridleway to watch the train negotiating the lower S bends at Cwm Cloch. The energetic members then rejoined those who had remained on the train and Rhyd Ddu was reached at about 14.30. A group photograph was taken, thanks were given, and everyone agreed it had been a useful and enjoyable morning's activity.

August 2007 - The new railway bridge at Bryn y Felin designed by John Sreeves was shortlisted by the Institution of Structural Engineers for the prestigious Structural Awards 2007, in the category Heritage Award for Infrastructure (note: the pictures on their site show the very similar Afon Nanmor and Afon Dylif bridges). Details about the bridge are here. In the event, the restoration of Dresden Hauptbahnhof in Germany won the first prize.

August 12th 2007 - Track laying reached Bryn y Felin bridge, and Dolgarrog became the first loco to venture on to it. More photos on the Phase 4 Bryn y Felin page.

September 3rd 2007 - Garratt no. 143 was failed at Rhyd Ddu when the bolt which secures the front end of the connecting rod to the wheel crank on the driver's side front unit came loose while the loco was running round, hit the motion, bent through 90 degrees and then sheared the thread off the end. Castell Caernarfon was sent out to recover the train; by the time it arrived the fault had been repaired with spare parts brought by road from Dinas, but the train had to wait for the diesel as it had already passed Waunfawr. The two locos took the train back to Caernarfon, and the Garratt then headed it back to Dinas without difficulty and was in normal service the next day.

September 21st 2007 - K1 became the first Garratt to reach Beddgelert (indeed the first to run south of Pont Cae'r Gors), with a test train (a rehearsal for an October visit by FR Trustees) which was then taken onwards to the Aberglaslyn tunnels with diesel power. K1 was taken along both sides of the platform at Beddgelert to check clearances for its large low pressure cylinders; the clearances were tight, but would improve as the rail level would rise with later ballasting.

September 26th 2007 - No. 143 steamed to Beddgelert, the first NGG16 to do so, on another test train.

October 2007 - Contractors began erecting the extension of Dinas carriage shed needed to accommodate the new carriages delivered earlier in the year.

The structure was nearly complete in mid-November, with just the cladding of the end to be done (left). The work was completed shortly afterwards (right).

October 2nd 2007 - A short length of Phase 4 track appeared in central London, as a feature of the Imperial College Rail and Transport Society's fresher's fair stand; interested new students were invited to don hi-vis vests and pull rail clips. The society hope to get enough new members to organise two weekends this autumn term laying track with the Rest of the World Gang. The ICTRS committee would like to thank Paul Bradshaw, who made all the arrangements for the collection of the components, and Ron Walker, a committee member of the London Area Group of the Festiniog Railway Society, who transported them south.

October 3rd 2007 - A special train ran for FR Trustees and representatives of Indian Railways, whose twinning with the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways had just been announced. The special ran combined with the morning service train to Rhyd Ddu, and was then taken on to Beddgelert by no. 143. The Indian delegation left at this point, while Conway Castle took the Trustees on to Aberglaslyn, for a walk onwards through the tunnels and along the newly rebuilt embankment as far as the Llanfrothen road bridge.

October 9th 2007 - The level crossing at Nantmor was installed and connected up. According to the figures used by the construction company, this marked the halfway point in Phase 4 tracklaying (including loops, sidings etc). See Phase 4, Cwm Bychan - Afon Nanmor.

October 19th 2007 - Pioneer Garratt K1 operated the day's trains, marking its entry into ordinary passenger service. These were also the first regular WHR (Caernarfon) passenger trains to feature coal firing. See K1 in Service.

October 27-8th and November 3rd-4th 2007 - Prince and Palmerston ran photo charters on Phase 4, with resident carriages 23 and 24, plus FR Van 2. The locos ran facing in opposite directions.

November 12th 2007 - Diesel Castell Caernarfon took two of the 2007-built saloon carriages (the longest on the railway) on a test to Beddgelert, then through the first tunnel and into the Aberglaslyn Pass. This was the first time any of the modern, larger carriages (or indeed the Funkey diesel) had ventured on to Phase 4. The carriages were then left in the Pass (just visible in the last picture below) to avoid any danger of their brake gear getting tangled up with rails stored in the "two foot" ahead of the November tracklaying week. The loco proceeded through the three Aberglaslyn tunnels to just short of Nantmor Crossing. The test proved that everything fitted - just - and identified a couple of teething areas for attention.

November 26th 2007 - Castell Caernarfon took another test train into the Aberglaslyn Pass, this time taking large carriages (two of the 2007-built saloons and "Combination Car" no. 1001) as far as the short tunnel (T3).

November 28th 2007 - The lifting gantry above the Phase 4 rail stacks at Dinas was moved by crane to the third and final stack (see the January 18th story above for its previous move). This meant that two thirds of the rails needed to complete the railway had been laid or moved south ready for laying.

December 2007 - A loco coaling facility was created at Dinas, on the old loading dock adjacent to the diesel tank. This would allow coal to be loaded by barrow into the bunker of K1 (and no. 87 in due course), replacing the manual loading of coal from a pick-up truck that had been the norm during K1's first weeks in service.

December 28th 2007
- Two days of exceptionally heavy rain led to flooding of the line at the Castell Cidwm road bridge and also just south of Plas y Nant Halt; the afternoon train thus ran only to Waunfawr, after the morning train had returned through the floods. There was also flooding adjacent to Nantmor Bank (right) but there was no delay caused to tracklaying.

 WHR Project News page

Authored by Ben Fisher; last modified February 8th, 2008