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