Phase 4: Rhyd Ddu to Porthmadog

Afon Dylif - Pont Croesor

Phase 4 pages:
Beddgelert: Bridges & Station
Afon Dylif - Pont Croesor

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.

The first work on this section was done north of Pont Croesor in November 2005, on the stretch parallel with the Prenteg-Llanfrothen road. The trackbed was covered in gorse, which had to be removed to allow topographical survey work; the gorse had been effectively acting as the only barrier keeping livestock away from the road, so its removal meant that the fencing between field and trackbed had to be completed first. The work was done by contractor Wright Landscapes. Construction work proper did not start here until early 2008.

One feature exposed by the work was the flood relief channel bridge UB209, which required rebuilding.

Afon Dylif - Croesor Junction - LC112

Refurbishment of a section north of the above one was done earlier than the remainder of the line across the Traeth, as it was required to give access for delivery and installation of the Nanmor and Dylif bridges. Access from the road was gained adjacent to LC112, at the northern end of the stretch where the line runs alongside the road. The section concerned includes Croesor Junction, where the main line (as seen from the south) bears left towards the Afon Dylif, while the Croesor Tramway continued straight ahead. The Junction site is seen below in early June 2006, showing a large culvert.

The contract for preparing the trackbed north from LC112 to the north side of the Afon Nanmor bridge was let to G.H. James Cyf, who moved on site in early December 2006, creating a work base adjacent to LC112. Within this site an access ramp was created up onto the trackbed for delivery of the river bridges with James liaising with the bridge contractors over this job. This section of trackbed was the first construction to be started within the Bryn y Felin - Traeth Mawr section managed by consulting engineers Arup Rail Ltd. The contract covered complete preparation of the trackbed, although ballasting would be left until later. The work included a new embankment at Croesor Junction, easing the previous very sharp curve where the WHR turned away to the west, while the Croesor Tramway route carried on straight ahead.

The pictures below taken on January 21st 2007 show the route from the compound out onto the trackbed at the northern end of the compound, the trackbed to the left of it running down to LC112 remaining untouched as yet apart from surveying.

When seen below on January 18th 2007, work had passed Croesor Junction. The second picture shows a temporary culvert over the drainage ditch adjacent to the old junction; the route over the temporary culvert allows access to the formation for the new curve and would also form part of the delivery route for the river bridges. The third picture shows the girders by which the old route crossed the ditch at the junction, and the new formation taking shape behind. The second row of pictures show the making of the new formation at the Caernarfon end of the deviation; after excavation to a depth of 2m, the new formation was made up by backfilling with slate waste fill over a geotextile membrane.

Part of the abandoned Croesor Tramway trackbed north from the Junction towards Carreg Hylldrem was being used as a delivery route for stone for this work.

The view below was taken on January 21st 2007 200 metres before the Dylif bridge site, and is looking back towards Croesor Junction. The trackbed had been scraped back prior to hardening, and drainage works were in hand.

Work is seen in progress at and around the diversion on February 1st 2007. The last picture shows the hardened trackbed curving away towards the Afon Dylif; a different stone from the usual crushed slate waste had been used here.

The diversion was completed in mid-February, just in time for delivery of the Dylif bridge.

The new curve is seen below on March 10th 2007, with the shape made clearer by tidying of the site. The last picture shows the old beams across the ditch as seen from the trackbed, with the access route on the Croesor Tramway route to the right.

Access to the northern part of the section was restricted during the Glaslyn ospreys' nesting season. The birds had all left by the end of August 2007, opening the way for the remaining contractor's work needed in the area, essentially ballasting. The new curve past Croesor Junction is seen below on September 4th, with greenery beginning to take hold.

The views below show the trackbed at the southern end of the contract at LC112 in late February 2007, and LC112 at the start of March, with untouched trackbed to the south. The last picture shows an exposed culvert a short distance to the north, near the site of the old Ynysfor Halt, showing 1860s Croesor Tramway construction features.

G.H. James Cyf moved back into the LC112 compound after finishing work north of the Afon Nanmor, and used it as the base for completion of ballasting and other finishing works on this section. The views below show scenes on the LC112 - UB199 stretch early in this second stage of work.

It has been decided that LC112 is to be known as Ynysfor Crossing. Government regulations require all level crossings of public roads to have names, and "Ynysfor" has been chosen for its historical WHR associations (the old halt further north, at LC110) and because the unclassified road that LC112 crosses leads to Ynysfor.

The contract for LC112 - Pont Croesor was awarded to G.H. James Cyf, and this work was done in combination with the completion works on the Afon Nanmor - LC112 stretch, using the same construction base. The roadside stretch to Pont Croesor was relatively straightforward, and the extended contract delivered about 3.5km of completed trackbed fairly quickly, ensuring that civil engineering could keep well ahead of the Head of Steel.

This picture taken on January 8th 2008 shows a point north of Gatws Bach (the house is adjacent to the old Ynysfor Halt at LC110) where a Croesor Tramway box culvert had been replaced with concrete pipe.

Further north, new headwalls were under construction at culvert UB205 at Croesor Junction when seen on January 12th 2008.

The first two of these views from January 15th 2008 are at LC110; the third one is looking south on the curve leading towards LC112, showing Ty Newydd Morfa farm, adjacent to the construction compound.

These shots show various locations between LC112 and the Dylif on February 3rd 2008, with the trackbed being brought closer to readiness for ballasting and completion.

The Head of Steel (see below) did not advance over the weekend of March 1st-2nd 2008, as the formation through the Croesor Junction curve had not quite been completed; the Black Hand Gang worked instead on jobs north of Rhyd Ddu. These pictures show sub-base laid part of the way round the curve, and ballast and sleepers in place from the end of the curve south to just before LC110.

Some relatively minor work remained to be done at the south end of this section to fully make up the trackbed on the approach to LC112.

Ballasting of the Croesor Junction curve was completed on March 5th 2008, giving a continous run of ballasted trackbed through the site and southwards to LC110 at Gatws Bach.

The track panel for LC112 was assembled on March 12th 2008, ready to be lifted into place. Like the one at Nantmor, it uses a fabricated tray panel fixed to sleepers specially fitted with threaded studs.

The panel is seen lying ready on March 30th 2008, by which point saw cuts had been made in the road surface ahead of excavation to install the crossing. Ballast had been laid up to a short distance before the crossing.

LC112 was installed by James Cyf (with support from the WHR permanent way team) on March 31st 2008. Excavation of the road revealed old WHR sleepers at the edge of the road cut. It was realised that the outline of the sleepers could just be made out in the road surface (third picture, labelled on the fourth). The level of the old sleepers was found to be a close match for the top of the new ballast bed.

These pictures from April 2nd 2008 show the gaps in the ballast bed filled either side of LC112, giving a continuous run of ballast through to Pont Croesor ahead of the April 2008 tracklaying week.

LC112 - Pont Croesor

James also started work south of LC112 in early January 2008, making an initial strip of organic matter from the top of the embankment. The last picture shows the approach to Pont Croesor, and the flood channel a short distance north of the bridge which was missing its deck. There was also a very short length of missing embankment closer to the bridge.

The Glaslyn was in heavy flood on January 10th 2008, following exceptional rainfall even for North Wales in January; as well as showing early work on the embankment, these pictures illustrate exactly why the railway is on an embankment at this point!

On January 11th 2008 surveyors to the contractors were setting up profile boards to guide embankment reconstruction. In the distance, work on placing and rolling sub-base was approaching at speed from the LC112 end.

When seen the following day the formation had been stripped down to sand as far south as flood channel UB209, and the first layer of sub-base was being laid over a geotextile membrane.

The most eroded part of the embankment was immediately to the north of Pont Croesor; the first two of these pictures from January 15th 2008 show early work to add fill at this location.

Two days later the reinstatement of this section of the embankment was making excellent progress, and parts were approaching finished level. Almost all of the embankment from LC112 to Pont Croesor had been rolled, leaving flood channels UB209 and UB210 as the main items remaining for attention.

A week on, the formation between LC112 and Pont Croesor was substantially complete and ballasted, although high ground water levels had delayed progress on the flood channels.

These pictures taken on January 25th 2008 show the repair just north of Pont Croesor almost complete; the pipes visible to the north were in readiness for culvert work to finish off the roadside section.

The following views taken two days later show the relationship between the repaired embankment and the bridge.

Six pipe sections each were on site for UB209 and UB210 when seen on January 27th 2008, of different diameters. The abutments of the old structure of UB210 had been largely removed in readiness for its replacement, and a start had been made on stripping the larger UB209. The first two pictures in each row show each structure before work started.

LC112 was as yet untouched when seen on the same date, except as access to the section southwards.

The pipes for the renewed UB210 were in place when seen on January 30th 2008.

UB209 and UB210 were at an advanced stage of construction by February 10th 2008. Although they differ from the originals, considerable care was taken over their appearance, and these pictures show how at UB209 in particular, the original piers have survived within the new structure being built between and around them. Water drained by these structures flows east via similar culverts under the road; the last picture in each row shows the headwall of the road culvert on the far side.

By February 19th 2008 UB209 and UB210 were complete, and the trackbed had been established above them.

Three days later, ballast had been laid right up to Pont Croesor, and only about 80-100m remained to be laid at the Ynysfor crossing end of the roadside section. With the work done, the traffic lights and cones had been removed.

These views show UB209 and UB210 on March 2nd 2008, with ballast laid across them.

Completion of the final short section of ballast to LC112 awaited the building of an additional small culvert immediately south of the crossing, seen below almost finished on March 9th 2008.


Track entered the sections covered by this page on February 10th 2008, when the first lengths were laid onwards from the Afon Dylif bridge.

The Tuesday Gang were out laying track on February 12th 2008, taking the Head of Steel to four full panels beyond the bridge.

The Black Hand Gang laid twelve panels the following weekend, taking the Head of Steel to CH28335, two panels past farm crossing LC107. The opportunity was also taken for driver training with the Lister. Also over the weekend clear-up work took place south of T1 and in the Aberglaslyn Pass, work was done at Minffordd on the turnout for the temporary WHR connection at Porthmadog Harbour, and rails were removed at Pont Croesor to allow for completion of the formation.

Despite poor weather, the Rest of the World Gang laid eleven panels on Saturday February 23rd 2008. The next day they laid the remaining three panels to the limit of ballast at the start of the Croesor Junction deviation (last row of pictures).

The weekend at the start of the March 2008 track week took the Head of the Steel most of the way round the deviation curve past the old junction.

Fifteen panels were laid on Monday March 10th 2008 - a new daily record despite very poor weather. This took the Head of Steel to within a day's work of the limit of ballast, so the track week gang then split to work on the ballast retaining wall at Ffridd Isaf (north of Rhyd Ddu), and on assembling fishplate sets at Dinas.

On Thursday March 13th 2008 nine panels were laid by the end of the day, taking the Head of Steel to Gatws Bach (LC110). The contractor was laying ballast to the south, almost reaching LC111 by the end of the week's work.

Also on the 13th, the Lister made a trip up to Beddgelert to collect a flat wagon that would be used for tidying up materials from the trackside.

These views from the March week show various locations within the section laid, and the variety of weather experienced.

The Black Hand Gang were laying track on the available stretch of ballasted trackbed between LC110 and LC111 when seen on a rainy March 15th 2008. Nine panels were laid past LC110 by the end of the weekend, plus another pair of rails laid out but not fishplated. Over the weekend the gang also worked on levelling the point at Hafod y Llyn, sorting out some dips in the same area, and levelling the track on the approaches to LC92 at Nantmor.

No tracklaying was done over Easter 2008, but the volunteers worked on the track near Beddgelert. The pair of RRMs left at the Head of Steel were visible from the Garreg-Prenteg road.

The Black Hand Gang advanced the Head of Steel to CH29668 over the weekend of March 29-30th 2008.

The Rest of the World Gang laid twelve panels on each day of the April 5-6th 2008 weekend, reaching LC112 - at which point one of the Glaslyn ospreys came to have a look. The gang was strengthened by a contingent from the Netherlands, and alumni from Imperial College London.

Ten lengths were laid on Monday April 7th 2008, the first day of the April tracklaying week - one length in the morning and nine after a rail delivery from Dinas arrived at 12.15. Sleepers were brought down from Hafod y Llyn by the Lister, and James were also placing sleeper bundles further south, to within 300m of Pont Croesor. Further sleeper and rail deliveries on the 8th provided all the main materials needed for the week.

Tuesday April 8th saw the daily tracklaying record broken, with 20 panels taking the Head of Steel to CH30676, though ten panels only had half their clips fitted on the day, pending deliveries. The gang included apprentices from Network Rail and graduates from Grant Rail. Fencing between the road and railway also started on the 8th, and James Cyf were in the process of tidying and vacating the LC112 compound.

The remaining clips were added on the 9th, and another fifteen lengths were laid, taking the Head of Steel almost to Pont Croesor. Forty volunteers were present in total. By the end of the day the fencing contractors had installed all the fence posts on the roadside session, and wire was being added.

The final length to connect with the bridge was laid on April 10th 2008, and just before lunchtime, the Lister became the first loco to venture on to the structure.

The following day, Upnor Castle and the three ballast hopper wagons paid a visit to lay top ballast on the approach to the bridge.

These views show the stretch from the almost-cleared LC112 compound to Pont Croesor on April 13th 2008.

The following pictures show a works train heading for Pont Croesor on August 10th 2008.

LC112 was complete with signage when seen on September 24th 2008.

These pictures taken on October 24th 2008 show new signage south of LC112 warning of the changes of level on the lane that leaves the B4410 at the crossing; these changes of level were already present, as the railway crosses LC112 on its original level.

This is the first Phase 4 level crossing of a public road to get its "full treatment" following the granting of its Level Crossing Order - it is of course a simpler location than the crossings at Pont Croesor or in Porthmadog. The arrangement of the road markings is seen below on November 2nd 2008.

The Rest of the World Gang worked on the deviation curve at Croesor Junction over the weekend of June 13-14th 2009, putting in staggered rail joints and reinforced fishplates, in order to allow maximum line speed to be achieved on this section.

The weekend of July 11-12th 2009 was spent by the Rest of the World Gang working on rail gaps from Croesor Junction southwards for 42 panels, and then repositioning sleepers.

Following the opening of this stretch of line in May 2010, further tidying up work continued. The Black Hand Gang working party of the 5th & 6th June 2010 was spent in the area of Ynysfor level crossing  improving the ballast shoulders. This was somewhat heavy work especially in view of the warm sunny weather. In all 500m of track was completed.

Building up the ballast shoulders just North of Ynysfor. (Photo D.Firth)

On 5th October 2010 the Tuesday Gang started work on the routing of a BT landline to Pont Croesor station. This involved first locating an existing duct at LC110 (Gatws Bach) and installing a pull-cord for subsequent cable installation by BT to route from from their pole. They then dug out the crossing and installed a cable duct and cable as shown in the picture below. 

Installing the cable duct at LC110. (Photo S.Broomfield)

Next was to dig across LC111 and install another duct and cable as well as fitting an orange duct to cross under the track. A further orange duct was installed at LC112 to cross the track again before finally evaluated the route for the cabling at Pont Croesor itself.

 Back to WHR Project homepage or the opening Phase 4 page
Maintained by Ben Fisher; last updated October 8th, 2010 by Laurence Armstrong