PROJECT RHEILFFORDD ERYRI
WELSH HIGHLAND RAILWAY PROJECT
1997 NEWS ARCHIVE
See also - [2009 News] 
  
  
  
  
- January 1997 - Mowlem staff set up site at Dinas and started work.
- Temporary track was laid at Dinas; diesel loco Caernarfon Castle
was delivered to Dinas from storage on the Ffestiniog Railway. The loco was
presented to the press emerging from the original WHR goods shed to break
through a "Rheilffordd Eryri - Welsh Highland Railway - Rhyd Ddu 2000"
banner stretched across the track.
(Thanks to Eddie Bellass for the above photo)
- WHLR Beyer-Garratt locomotives nos. 138 and 143, shipped from South Africa,
arrived at the Ffestiniog Railway for storage and commissioning.
- Gwynedd Council donated its remaining £29,000 of debenture stock
in the original Welsh Highland Railway (Light Railway) Company to the Ffestiniog
Railway, giving the FR (which already held some 75% of the stock) total control
of the issued capital of the original company.
- January/February 1997 - Preparatory work was carried out on the
trackbed from Dinas to Caernarfon, clearing excess vegetation and preparing
the ground for tracklaying and reinstatement of the cycle path alongside.
The large underbridges at Bontnewydd and Pont Seiont were stripped down to
the brick arches for re-waterproofing, prior to having the formation remade
ready for laying ballast and track. Reclamation of land at Dinas for railway
use proceeded apace, including work on the first of the platforms. Preparation/regauging
of points was started at the Ffestiniog Railway's Minffordd Yard, for later
transfer by road to Dinas.
- March 1997 - Her Majesty's Railway Inspectorate gave approval in
principle for operation of the WHLR using the primary rolling stock intended
for the line (K Class Garratt; NGG16 Class Garratts; NG15 Class 2-8-2; Funkey
diesel; passenger coaches now under construction). This does not, of course,
preclude later approval of further suitable stock.
- The application for an order under the Transport & Works Act to rebuild
the old WHR route from Dinas to Porthmadog was submitted.
- April 1997 - The Project's third NGG16 Garratt, no. 140, was delivered
to the Ffestiniog Railway. The overhauled power units of Garratt no. 138 were
towed up the FR from Boston Lodge to Glan-y-Pwll, where the loco was reassembled,
following the completion of remedial boiler work.
- May 1997 - The FR Gala gave the public its first real taste of WHLR
Garratt power, with no. 138 in steam, no. 140 (nearest camera) as delivered,
and no. 143 being worked on at Glan-y-Pwll and Boston Lodge works.
- Contractors began preparing the Caernarfon Station site.
(Thanks to Tony Miles for the above two photos)
- Tracklaying started at Dinas.
- June 1997 - The Government announced that a Public Enquiry would
be convened to consider the application to rebuild and operate the line between
Dinas and Porthmadog. Click for a press
release (English/Cymraeg) c/o the Central Office of Information.
- Contractors completed the ballasted trackbed from Dinas to Caernarfon.
- The first of the initial batch of new coaches for the Welsh Highland was
delivered to the Ffestiniog Railway.
- July 1997 - The Lôn Eifion cyclepath alongside the railway
from Caernarfon to Dinas was formally reopened by Gwynedd Council, with Sustrans
and WHLR participation in the ceremony.
- Diesel shunter Harold was moved from the FR to the WHLR.
- Tracklaying efforts were supported by working visits by volunteers from
the Llangollen Railway, the Mid-Hants Railway, and the WHR Ltd. See
how the WHRL gang got on.
- August 1997 - Diesel loco Upnor Castle was moved from the
FR to Dinas; Harold was returned to the FR upon arrival of the larger
- Mechanised tracklaying began, using the WHLR's tracklaying vehicle.
- By the end of the month, tracklaying had reached the outskirts of Caernarfon.
- Access was gained to the south yard at Dinas (ex-WHR, ex-Welsh Water),
and its preparation for railway use began.
- September 1997 - Tracklaying reached Caernarfon Station.
- Garratt no.138, Alco 2-6-2T Mountaineer and the first five new
passenger coaches built by Winson Engineering were delivered to Dinas.
- October 1997 - Inspection trains were run for HM Railways Inspectorate,
and demonstration runs were laid on for the Welsh Highland Railway Society
- October 11th 1997 - the railway from Caernarfon to Dinas was opened
to the public. An official ceremony was held on the 13th.
- First Hydro Company, the owners of Dinorwig and Ffestiniog Power Stations,
announced a six-figure sponsorship and partnership package for the WHLR. The
first fruit of this was seen on the line in sponsorship of Coach 2090, designed
to accommodate disabled passengers. Later contributions were to include assistance
with the purchase of a locomotive, to be named Edison after FHC's
parent company in the USA, Edison Mission Energy, and a specially liveried
First Hydro Carriage for the Millennium Year.
- November 1997 - Mountaineer was returned to the Ffestiniog
- Discussions were reported to have resumed between the Ffestiniog Railway
and the WHR Ltd, under the Chairmanship of the AIRPS (Association of Independent
Railways and Preservation Societies). This followed a disagreement earlier
in the year regarding the terms of WHR Ltd participation in the project and
Snippets from the Public Enquiry (based on reports from people attending
- December 1997 - The Public Enquiry into the proposed
Welsh Highland Railway Order (authorising reconstruction from Dinas to Porthmadog)
opened in Caernarfon (Dec. 9th).
Objections to the Order by Railtrack and Gwynedd Council have been withdrawn.
Negotiations are proceeding well with the WHR Ltd. The Enquiry has received 377
letters and petitions totalling 1,115 signatures in support of the Order. 355
letters and a petition with 184 signatures have been received in opposition. See
also Peter Johnson's TAW
WHR Project News
Authored by Ben Fisher; last modified
January 15th, 2004