PROJECT RHEILFFORDD ERYRI
WELSH HIGHLAND RAILWAY PROJECT
1996 NEWS ARCHIVE
See also - [2009 News] 
  
  
  
  [1993-4]
Early 1996 - The Welsh Highland Light Railway Company (WHLR) was
formed as a part of the Ffestiniog group, to be responsible for trackbed
construction and rolling stock purchase for the WHR.
Outline agreement to occupy part of the former Dinas Junction works yard
of the old WHR was reached with the present occupiers (Welsh Water/National
Rivers Authority), and a two-track station on the site of the former LNWR/BR
station agreed with Gwynedd Council, who are leasing part of the ex-BR
section to the FR. Eventually the whole of the old yard will be released
for railway use, including the former North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways
station building and goods shed.
Consultants Travers Morgan were appointed as consultant engineers to oversee
the civil engineering work on the first section of three miles from Caernarfon
NGG16 Beyer-Garratt no.138, being overhauled for Rheilffordd Eryri by the
Alfred County Railway in South Africa, was returned to steam.
The ex-South African Funkey diesel-hydraulic locomotive destined for the
Project was returned to working order at the Ffestiniog Railway's Boston
March 1996 - Agreement was reached to purchase 12 miles of almost
new 2'-gauge track from the Donnybrook line in Natal, which was closed
shortly after relaying because of flood damage. The track is in 60 lb/yd
rail on steel and wooden sleepers, assembled in panels 60 feet long and
is being delivered to Dinas in a number of shipments, costing a total in
the neighbourhood of £1,000,000, in late 1996. This represents enough
track for almost half of the WHR line.
Garratt no.138 was in use during a visit to the Alfred County Railway by
a Festiniog Travel party. Profits from the trip were donated to the restoration
of Garratt K1.
May 1996 - An informal dinner and get-together on the Ffestiniog
Railway helped to ease relationships between the FR/WHLR and members of
the 1964 Company, which became formally known as the WHR Ltd. in the same
Mid-1996 - The sum of £999 was paid by the Welsh Highland
Light Railway Company to Gwynedd Council for a 999-year lease of the Caernarfon-Dinas
section. However local government reorganisation caused some delays in
finalising the trackbed lease document.
July 1996 - The Ffestiniog and WHR Ltd. jointly announced that their
principal differences had been amicably settled, and that the former 1964
Company would fully support the building of the line from Caernarfon, providing
volunteer teams and equipment. An Action Plan was agreed whereby extension
of the line northwards from Porthmadog would start upon completion of the
line from Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu, planned for the Millennium. Practical
co-operation started immediately, with the WHR Ltd. track gang laying quarter
of a mile of track near the FR's upper terminus at Blaenau Ffestiniog,
part of a long siding linking the FR main line to a new shed where the
WHLR South African Beyer-Garratt locomotives will be stored while the first
section of the WHR is built. The remainder of the link was later completed
by WHRS volunteers.
Follow this link to the full
press release at Richard Beton's site, plus a detailed action plan of
how the WHR Ltd., its members and equipment will fit into the Project over
the next few years.
A Rheilffordd Eryri information centre was in operation for the week of
the Caernarfon Festival, with diesel loco Caernarfon Castle in attendance
in the town centre.
September 1996 - The first consignment of rail (700 tons) was delivered
to Dinas yard, together with several wagons full of track fittings, all
imported from South Africa. A further 500 tons followed in November.
October 1996 - A grant of £735,600 from the European Regional
Development Fund was announced by the Welsh Office. This funding matches
the portion of the Millennium Commission grant intended for building the
railway from Caernarfon to Dinas. The Wales Tourist Board also announced
a further £100,000 grant towards the cost of the South African Beyer
Garratts and the construction or purchase of the first carriages.
A £400,000 contract was signed with Winson Engineering for construction
of the first six passenger carriages.
December 1996 - The contract was let with contractors John Mowlem
plc for preparing the Dinas-Caernarfon trackbed, together with the realignment
of the Lôn Eifion cycle track.
Purchase of the former Gwynedd Engineering site at Dinas was completed;
WHLR staff and volunteers began clearance work there immediately after
WHR Project News
Authored by Ben Fisher; last modified
January 15th, 2004