Phase 4: Rhyd Ddu to Porthmadog

Porthmadog Cross-Town Link (2)

Phase 4 pages:
Beddgelert: Bridges & Station
Porthmadog Cross-Town Link

Recent updates are underlined and in red.

Click for a map of the Phase 4 route in a separate window.

The route section of the site includes detailed illustrated descriptions - Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert and Beddgelert to Porthmadog.

This page covers construction from July 1st 2008 onwards. For background and work before this date, see this page.

The second of these pictures taken on July 1st 2008 shows tarmac laid in the tram rail groove on Britannia Bridge; this has been done as a temporary measure pending the commissioning of the completed crossing.

In the first of these pictures taken the next day, the deterrent paving visible in the first picture above (the same pattern as used at Snowdon Street) was being laid on either side of the track slab at the corner of the road junction outside Harbour; the future route of the footpath runs in front of the Cob Records building. At the link span the core of the parapet was complete, and rebar was being laid for the first stage track slab. The third picture also shows the trench for communications ducting alongside the parapet.

The first section of stage track slab across the link span was newly cast when seen on July 3rd 2008. The traffic light control on Britannia Bridge was removed during the same day.

Also on the 3rd, a set of rough shuttering boxes appeared between the railway and the road on the final approach to Harbour, for concrete blocks to support railings. The deterrent paving laid the day before was followed by ribbed tactile paving either side of the future foot crossing.

The link span is seen below on July 4th 2008.

These views were taken the following day.

Cladding of the outside of the link span parapet was in progress on July 8th 2008, and the deck had been treated with a coat of orange waterproofing material.

On July 10th 2008 the first stage slab was complete as far as the edge of the link span deck, and further cable ducts and access chambers had appeared on site. Tarmac had started to appear on the future footpath alongside the track slab close to Harbour; in the background in the second picture the road surface was being cold-planed down, ready for application of a final wearing surface.

These pictures taken on July 13th 2008 show progress with the revised pavements at Snowdon Street, and deep excavations for services nearby, including new gas pipework (yellow). The area around Wilkinson's was becoming more orderly as work on the store's exterior was in its final stages. The section of the link span parapet overhanging the water had received its cladding.

The tram rails for the link span were moved into position (but not yet clipped or welded) on July 14th 2008, and cladding of the inside of the parapet started. Access to the crossing adjacent to the Cob Records building was opened; this is a joint crossing for pedestrians and cyclists, forming part of the route over which signs instruct cyclists to walk their bikes, after dismounting on the approach. The route continues across the South Snowdon Wharf road.

The tram rails were welded on July 15th 2008. When these pictures were taken the pair of welds had already been done leading off the bridge; the weld shown in progress is on the curve on the Llyn Bach shore.

On July 16th and 17th 2008 progress was made at the link span with fitting rail boots and aligning the rails precisely. As another part of the preparations for the second stage concrete pour, kerb lines were being laid, including the one between railway and footpath, and the foot crossing of the railway. The pavement on the inland side of Britannia Bridge was also reinstated.

Road markings started to appear in their final positions. The yellow dots either side of the tram track appeared to be swept path markers, as used on (for instance) the Nottingham tram system. These allow crew to check that the swept path of the train is clear of obstructions.

The concrete pour for the second stage track slab on the first section of the link span had been done when seen on July 18th 2008. The traffic control on Britannia Bridge had been removed.

The new section of slab was curing under hessian on July 20th 2008, and adjacent kerb lines defined the edge of the Llyn Bach footpath and the pedestrian crossing corresponding with the pavement. The last two pictures show the pedestrian crossing on the approach to Harbour.

The first of the pictures below taken on July 26th 2008 shows progress with reinstating the surface of the side road running off Snowdon Street, and in the background, pedestrian access across the railway to Snowdon Mill. Surfaces on Snowdon Street itself still needed some work before application of the final wearing surface. At the link span, cladding of the parapet was complete apart from capping stones; cladding of the piling below had not yet started. The pavement foot crossing between the High Street and Britannia Bridge was open (fourth picture). Stone had been rolled into the surrounds of the completed section of slab track on the link span, and the second stage slab on the final length of tram track remained to be done.

The last section of second stage slab leading on to the Llyn Bach shore was cast on July 30th 2008, and pedestrian deterrent paving was being installed around the previously cast sections. On the 31st it was noted that coping stones were being put in position to complete the parapet, and that a start had been made on the facing for the steel piling at the foot of the link span structure, using slate blocks spaced off from the piling by ties, with fill between. These pictures from August 2nd 2008 illustrate these features, plus paving of the "triangle" area created on the outside of the link span curve, and the low wall which had been built between this and the pavement.

Wooden sleepers were delivered on August 1st 2008, to be laid between Snowdon Street and Cae Pawb over the weekend of the 2nd-3rd.

The first plain track laid on the CTRL was a temporary panel up chainage of Snowdon Street, to allow loading of sleepers (on to modified Hudson wagon EAG 4) and rails for laying down chainage of the Snowdon Street tram track. The special junction baseplates and transition rails (see below) for joining tram to plain rail (there will also be dual check rails at the transitions) had not yet been received from the supplier in County Durham, so this temporary length was not actually connected up. The Black Hand Gang's aim for the weekend was to start laying track through the 1923 Portmadoc New Station site, towards the point where outside contractors would install the trap point protecting Cae Pawb crossing in the following week. At the point when these pictures were taken on August 2nd 2008, sleepers had been laid out and EAG 4 had been lifted off the rails to allow the first rails to be delivered using RRMs.

Four panels were laid on a temporary basis (pending delivery of the transition items mentioned above) on August 3rd 2008, taking track across UB220 and into the Portmadoc New site. The trap point for the approach to Cae Pawb is seen in the third picture.

By this point paving works around Snowdon Street had been completed, with some road surfacing yet to be done, and poles had been erected for traffic signage. Access to the two side roads next to the crossing would be one-way, entering from the turn off Snowdon Street adjacent to the crossing.

The following pictures show work at the former Portmadoc New on August 4th 2008.

The method for the transitions between tram and plain track is is follows. Starting from the ballast up, both sets of rails are supported on standard wooden sleepers. For three sleepers either side of the junction, there is a metal base-plate - one for each rail - which provides location and support for the junction. This plate is quite substantial: over 3 metres long, and 45mm thick, and has shoulders welded to its surface which locate the rail, and act as anchorage for Pandrol-style clips which hold the rail down. In the vicinity of the junction, the sleepers are close-spaced, and there are stiffening plates edge-welded onto the underside of the baseplate to reduce vertical bending. The baseplates are screwed down onto the wooden sleepers in the usual way. There is no direct connection between the tramway rail and the flat-bottomed 75R rail. The inner edges of the flat-bottom's running surface are aligned with the inner edge of the head of the tramway rail, and held in location by the base plate. Check rails are positioned inside the running rails, their outer running edges aligned with the inner edge of the tramway rail "gutter". The check rails are fastened onto the running rails via bolts running horizontally through holes in the rail webs, and the two rails are held apart with spacers. The running rail and check rail thus form one unit, and are held down to the baseplate via Pandrols on the outer foot of the running rail, and the inner foot of the check rail. On three of the four units, the check-rails only extend for about four sleepers. On the remaining unit (the one near UB220 over Y Cyt bridge) the check-rails are about 10 metres long and will extend well over the bridge. Check rails have their entry ends chamfered and bent inwards in the usual manner.

The pictures below show the future site for the long check rails at UB220 on August 7th 2008.

On the same date work on the walls at the link span was very close to complete, and the cladding of the steel piling had been finished.

In order heading towards Harbour, these views from August 10th 2008 show: the first section of Armco roadside protection for the tram track at Snowdon Mill; Snowdon Street operating at half width in preparation for surfacing work; new kerbing in the car park area, primarily the extension of the kerb marking the new boundary between car park and railway through to the far end of the site; banks being built up to enlarge the grass area into the former eastern edge of the car park; stone cladding of the link span piling extended to also cover the most visible part of the capping beam; and the first railings to appear alongside the tram track on the approach to Harbour.

The subcontractor's cladding work to finish off the link span included adding a drum feature at the outer end of the parapet, re-erecting an original feature of Britannia Bridge in a revised location, and seen here on August 14th 2008.

The first three of these views taken on August 16th 2008 show the surroundings of Snowdon Street crossing, with final tarmac laid on the side roads, and signage in place for one-way traffic. The fourth shows the rail loading area immediately up chainage of the crossing, with rails recently moved from the site compound, ready for laying onwards towards Harbour. The last picture shows paving work at the link span approaching completion, with vehicle deterrent paving and kerbing being added between track and path on the inside of the curve.

This picture from August 21st 2008 shows a short additional length cast on to the Llyn Bach end of the track slab, containing drain boxes for the rail grooves.

Various locations are seen below on August 22nd, 23rd and 24th 2008. Road markings had been completed at Snowdon Street, including yellow swept path markers on the track slab, and the side roads were open again. The last section of the path from the car park to Britannia Bridge was almost finished, with just top surfacing and fencing left to do.

Volunteers returned to CTRL tracklaying duties on August 29th 2008, working on the section between Cae Pawb and Snowdon Mill. By this point Carillion had also made progress with the other section due to receive plain track, and had laid ballast on the trackbed behind Wilkinson's.

In addition to this ballasting, Carillion's work in the last week of August 2008 included completing and reopening the footpath between Llyn Bach car park and Britannia Bridge, and work on fencing along the new boundary along the revised edge of the car park.

UB220 is seen below on August 31st 2008, recently fitted with capping stones on its four corner pillars.

When these pictures were taken on September 4th 2008, Carillion were well into their final phase of work and the process of moving out of the compound had started, with only two containers still on site. The former car park surface had been broken up over much of the area between the old and new boundaries, and ballast (over a layer of Terram) now extended from the end of the link span tram track to a point almost level with the start of the car park extension on the old gasworks site.

On September 6th 2008 the Rest of the World Gang reworked the track through the Portmadoc New site, improving the alignment. The track already laid from Cae Pawb down towards Snowdon Street was slewed on to the correct alignment, and then the remaining two full panels were relaid up to the transition on the approach to Y Cyt and the tram rails.

Carillion completed the CTRL ballast bed on September 8th 2008. Close to the rail loading area up chainage of Snowdon Street, the level crossing giving access to the site compound and the council depot was maintained by laying a temporary surface of rolled base material on top of a layer of geotextile. Achnashean were making progress with the fencing on the boundary between the railway and what would become an enlarged green space along the former edge of the car park.

These views show the ballast bed either side of the foot crossing near Wilkinson's on September 9th 2008.

On September 12th 2008 work on the section between Snowdon Street and Wilkinson's was close to completion, with most of the landscaping done and the fencing at an advanced stage, including along the footpath leading out to Snowdon Street. The turnout for the siding had been placed in roughly the correct position; ballast for the siding had not yet been laid, as part of its location was occupied by sleeper stacks and the turnouts for the future layout at Harbour.

Over the weekend of September 13-14th 2008 the Black Hand Gang assembled and aligned the turnout, laid two lengths of track backwards from it, and laid out sleepers further back towards the tracklaying depot. Rails had to be moved up from the rail stack north of LC124 (the level crossing for the Council depot) in order to start from the points, as this was the only fixed point available. The transition pieces for tramway to ordinary rail had not yet arrived, so it was not possible to start from the Snowdon Street end. The hardcore at LC124 had to be dug out, the rails laid and a temporary crossing reinstated as this crossing is heavily used by Gwynedd Council whose yard is the other side. Progress was slow as the wooden sleepers on this section had to be drilled to take the track screws.

Carillion moved out in the third week of September 2008, revealing the Llyn Bach section which had been the compound in its final state, with the fencing and the gates for the four level crossings within the section installed by subcontractor Achnashean. The crossings, seen below in order towards Harbour, comprise (i) a foot crossing near the council depot, (ii) the vehicle crossing leading to the council depot (the third picture below shows the adjacent gate giving road access to Gasworks Siding), (iii) the foot crossing connecting the car park to the Llyn Bach footpath, and (iv) a foot crossing leading to a private property and also providing a fire exit route from Wilkinson's. Landscaping of the additional green area (which had comprised much of the site compound) had been completed, and grass was already just starting to sprout. The only civil engineering task not yet done was laying of ballast for the siding.

The weekend of September 20th-21st 2008 saw the Rest of the World Gang lay track back from the lengths laid the previous weekend to the rail store, and then onwards into the section behind Wilkinson's. They reached the end of the straight section leading to the reverse curve, for which pre-curved rails were to hand, and staggered rail joints were introduced on the approach to the curve, which would be gauge-widened following the usual practice for sharper curves; these techniques had not been needed for some time, as the last significant curve laid was at Croesor Junction. Some of the sleepers chosen for laying behind Wilkinson's had been used briefly at the first tunnel leading out of Beddgelert, before it was relaid with steel sleepers.

The following views were taken on September 24th 2008.

The Black Hand Gang pressed on into the curves on September 27th and 28th 2008 - slow work, as gauge widening on wooden sleepers meant individual measurements were needed for drilling each sleeper. The target for this stage of tracklaying was to reach a point one length short of where the tram/plain rail transition rails (which are themselves almost 11m long) would go. In the first picture on the third row, note the very rapid greening of the landscaped area beyond the fence on the right.

The Rest of the World Gang completed the plain track behind Wilkinson's on October 4th 2008, laying track as far as the transition gap on the approach to the tram track at the link span.

The following day - in weather that could not have been more of a contrast - work concentrated on the other end of the Snowdon Street - link span plain track, replacing the temporary panel used for rail loading with permanent track. Some work remained to do here before installation of the transition rails (which were expected around the third week of October), including trimming of one tram rail end to match the other, and precise alignment of the transition curve. A couple of rail offcuts had been used to lay a temporary stub at the Gasworks Siding, long enough to house a pair of RRMs.

To mark the end of the working party - and of the main work on the CTL plain track - a "first train to Britannia Bridge" was run as far as the edge of the carriageway, by manhandling wagon EAG4 over the link span transition gap with the help of a few sleepers.

The materials for the tram/plain rail transition sections were delivered on October 23rd 2008, comprising the transition and guard rails, and the special baseplates.

Installation of the transitions started the following weekend, beginning with the one at the link span, followed by its counterpart at Snowdon Street. The baseplates are screwed down on to the sleepers, and feature attachment points for elastic rail clips. The narrower width between these at one end is for the tram rail, the wider gap at the other end is for the 75lb transition rail and matching guard rail, bolted together with a gap matching the tram rail groove, and clipped on the outer face of the running rail and the inner face of the guard rail. Individual baseplates accommodate lengths reaching beyond those accommodated by the large baseplates, as seen on the left of the second picture below. The as yet unused rails in the third picture on the second row exhibited differences; the pairs on the left were for the transition at the Cae Pawb end of the Snowdon Mill slab, with the guard rails long enough to extend across the adjacent UB220, but the rails on the right for the transition at the Harbour end of the Britannia Bridge slab had been supplied without the guard rails formed or fitted - perhaps to be done at the time of installation, as these rails will be joined at the FR end to a rail section different from the WHR Phase 4 rail. In the last picture, preparations were in hand to trim the unequal lengths of tram rail protruding from the Snowdon Street slab. By the end of the working party, work at this transition had progressed as far as placing of the baseplates.

The Black Hand Gang returned to the CTL on January 3rd 2009, working on assembling and connecting the transition up chainage of Snowdon Street crossing.

The completed transition is seen below the following day. The volunteers' next task was to start moving to site the components for the transition at Pont y Cyt. This, plus the transition at the Harbour end of the Britannia Bridge slab and the short length of track leading into Harbour, were at this stage the only remaining gaps in the line between Caernarfon and Porthmadog Harbour.

The Black Hand Gang carried out most of the installation of the Pont y Cyt transition on January 18th 2009, although not quite everything was bolted in place by the end of the day. This transition represents the final connection within the length of the WHR proper, as the transition leading off the Harbour end of the Britannia Bridge slab is deemed to be FR territory. The Pont y Cyt transition was completed by the Black Hand Gang on Saturday January 31st 2009, before they moved on to sites above Beddgelert the following day.


On February 21st 2009 the Rest of the World Gang worked on the section between Cae Pawb and Britannia Bridge, adding and packing top ballast in anticipation of the first use of this section using locomotives and larger rolling stock. Around 20 tonnes of ballast were laid, using 4-wheeled wagon no. 96, which had been moved down from Rhyd Ddu. In addition to hand packing of ballast on plain track, Kango hammers were used on ballast packing at the UB220 transition section.

When seen on the 2nd June 2010 the section of line down the side of Llyn Bach had been top ballasted. This section is now ready for the final push with the aim to complete all trackwork and be passed by HRMI for passanger use by mid September 2010 as announced on the 4th June. The following photographs show various views on that section.  

Looking from the Council Crossing towards 'Gasworks Siding' (Photo: L.Armstrong)Looking back North towards 'Gasworks Siding' (Photo: L.Armstrong)Looking back South towards 'Harbour Station (Photo: L.Armstrong)Looking South as the line passes behind the Wilkinson's stores (Photo: L.Armstrong)

On Saturday 25th July 2010 the Rest of the World Gang paid a visit to the area where in the morning they worked on the South side of Snowdon Street. Here they replaced two rails to provide a smoother transition onto the tramway rails. As a consequence it resulted in the need to adjust gaps on the 'Eastern' side. 

The Council Depot's crossing had its anti-trespass grids fitted on August 14th 2010. Andy Keene's photos show the before and after effect of that work.

The Council Depot's crossing before the anti-trespass grids were fitted. (Phote: A.Keene)The Council Depot's crossing after the anti-trespass grids were fitted. (Phote: A.Keene)

The following weekend on August 22nd the Rest of the World Gang were jacking and packing the track alongside Lyn Bach.

Packing track alongside Lyn Bach. (Photo: S.Melhuish)Packing track alongside Lyn Bach. (Photo: S.Melhuish)Packing track alongside Lyn Bach. (Photo: S.Melhuish)

September 4th 2010
Rest of the World Gang resumed cable-pulling at Pont Croesor. Then we re-located to Porthmadog to dig out bases for two equipment cabinets at Snowdon Street crossing. They poured a concrete base for one, and finished by installing two sign posts for a pedestrian crossing

Preparing for locatin cabinets - Simon MelhuishPreparing for location cabinets - Simon MelhuishLocation cabinets in Snowdon St - Steve BroomfieldLocation cabinets in Snowdon St- Steve Broomfield

September 16th 2010
The last wigwag heads were put in place on Britannia Bridge this afternoon, by the contractor Henry Williams

Installing the wigwags - Andrew ThomasInstalling the wigwags - Andrew ThomasInstalling the wigwags - Andrew Thomas

September 19th 2010
Rest of the World Gang report that they started by concreting-in a cover over the inspection chamber adjacent to the location cabinets. We then moved to Harbour Station, where we pulled a cable through the ducts over Britannia Bridge to the end of the tramway section. We visited Cynfal crossing, with a view to removing a redundant location cabinet, but on finding it possibly still live decided to leave well alone. On returning to Harbour Station we reeled out a cable half way along to cob to check its length for another cable pull on Monday.

Inspection cover concreted over the chamber - Simon MelhuishGasworks side of Snowdon Street crossing. The treadle has been installed Simon Melhuish

September 30th 2010
The Britannia bridge lights together with audible warnings are now complete and working.  The inaugural vintage train carrying VIP's was hauled across by Palmerston.  Video by John Wooden

On October 13th cables were being pulled through the ducts for the white light signals for the train crew's indication of the crossing and station approach. The final 216m cable to link with the pedestrian crossing in Porthmadog High Street was finally pulled in, by members of the Rest of the World Gang on 22nd October 2010 ready forits connection to the rest of the Britannia Bridge signalling.

Pulling cables through the ducts. - Andrew Thomas/FR

Andrew Thomas of the FR reports:

ORR inspection means WHR completion imminent
Her Majesty's Railway Inspector visited Porthmadog on Friday October 15 to check the installations at Cae Pawb, Snowdon Street and Britannia Bridge. The two road crossings have now had the tarmac removed from the rails for the last time. Moelwyn ran light engine over the crossings several times to check operation and traffic disruption was seen to be minimal.

A few items remain to be completed, including electronic interlocking with a pedestrian crossing on the High Street and a final snagging list will need to be attended to before final approval is granted to run trains over the complete Welsh Highland. The first of these will be the Sponsors' Train which runs on Saturday October 30.

Moewlyn on the Britannia Bridge X-ing. - Andrew Thomas/FRInstigating the X-ing's operation. - Andrew Thomas/FRMoewlyn on the Britannia Bridge X-ing. - Andrew Thomas/FRWig-Wags in operation. - Andrew Thomas/FRWig-Wags in operation. - Andrew Thomas/FR

One of the last items to be reported within the Phase 4 pages is the digging of trenches alongside Lyn Bach to take the cables for the three treadles that will operate the signaling on the railway side. Work was held up for a short time whilst Merddin Emrys passed on the photo charter stock transfer.

Merddin Emrys with photo charter stock - Steve Broomfield Digging trenches allonside Lyn Bach - Steve Broomfield  

Signalling schematic and operating procedures for the CTL, including Harbour to Pen y Mount (PDF file).

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Maintained by Ben Fisher; last updated November 10th  2010 by Laurence Armstrong