Phase 4: Rhyd Ddu to Porthmadog

Pont Croesor - Traeth Mawr

Phase 4 pages:
Beddgelert: Bridges & Station
Pont Croesor - Traeth Mawr

Recent updates are 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.

These aerial views show the whole of this section before rebuilding, looking north. Traeth Mawr loop can be made out clearly towards the bottom, with the railway meeting the river at Pont Croesor towards the top.

The site of Pont Croesor Halt is immediately south of LC114A.

The trackbed from here to the limit of WHR (Porthmadog) at Traeth Mawr remained untouched for some time apart from some clearance for surveying, and fresh clearance was required as much grew back since. Part of the trackbed runs on low embankments in the northern part of this section, and the southern end had been ploughed back to field level.

More significant civil engineering works were needed here than elsewhere on the Traeth, with the level of some stretches of embankment to be raised in connection with winter flood prevention measures, and mitigation works for farming neighbours included two new overbridges, which together with their approach ramps serve as cattle standing areas to replace the previous use of the trackbed as a refuge from floods.

At the north end of this section, clearance work was carried out at the site of Pont Croesor halt in late October 2006. This work was for survey purposes, as a first stage towards construction of the section to Traeth Mawr.

The pictures below show red survey markers in place north of Traeth Mawr loop on April 7th 2007, showing the track centreline.

Competitive tenders for this section had been received and were being analysed in early November 2007. In the middle of the month the trackbed corridor was fenced off (with some items such as field and footpath gates still to be added when seen below), and other miscellaneous work was done ahead of the start of main contract work.

New Bridges

The farm mitigation works in this section include two new overbridges. The preliminary plans for these displayed in September 2007 revealed a distinctive design which sees the railway running through tubes made from corrugated galvanised steel plate, cut away above sloping ground levels on either side of the bridge and faced with reinforced concrete at these edges. The plans below are for OB216, and OB217 at the Traeth Mawr end is similar.


The civil engineering contract for Pont Croesor - Traeth Mawr was let to G.H. James Cyf. Having completed civil engineering work from the Afon Nanmor to Pont Croesor, the firm moved its work base from the compound adjacent to Ynysfor crossing to a new compound within the Pont Croesor - Traeth Mawr section by early April 2008. Work started in the middle of the month, after the contractor had been called away to an emergency sewerage job in Dolgellau.

The corrugated steel sections for OB216 and OB217 were delivered to site on the afternoon of April 15th 2008.

These scenes show rapid progress out on the trackbed on April 17th 2008, within a few days of the start of work, in addition to sections at either end which were yet to be touched.

The following pictures were taken on April 23rd 2008.

The survey posts seen below near the southern end of the section were set out on April 28th 2008, giving the line and level for the railway on the approach to the site of OB217. Stripping of soil was expected to start the following day.

These views show different parts of the section at various stages of work on May 2nd and 6th 2008; by this point work was within sight of Pont Croesor.

The following pictures were taken on May 8th 2008. The second one shows the location where OB216 would be built.

Basic work had reached Pont Croesor Halt by May 11th, and signage indicated that the gates leading out on to the road were seeing some use for site access.

These views from May 23rd and 24th 2008 show the widened formation for Pont Croesor loop and halt.

The loop will be to the south of new level crossing LC114B. This is just south of LC114A and forms a new access road to the Glaslyn Osprey Project site, replacing the original access, which inconveniently emerges at the main level crossing. The new roadway meets the B4410 at a point further west, and involved earthworks to form ramps on either side of the railway.

These pictures show various locations within the section on May 23rd 2008.

At the same date, ground had been broken for the banked approaches either side of OB216 and OB217. In these views of the OB216 site, the trackbed runs diagonally across the scene, rising towards the right.

OB217 straddles the site of the former Traeth Mawr loop.

These pictures were taken on May 27th 2008. The spoil banks which have built up adjacent to OB216 and OB217 make the bridge sites visible from a distance.

Work started on the new access via LC114B to the Glaslyn Osprey Project site on May 28th 2008.

These pictures taken on May 30th and June 1st 2008 reveal that LC114B is actually much closer to LC114A than the previous pictures suggested. West of the railway, the new roadway (being made from crushed stone laid over geotextile) then curves to emerge on to the road roughly 75m west of LC114A.

On June 3rd 2008 the Armco tube for OB216 was being assembled; it was complete by the end of the day. At OB217, the ground was being prepared and the tube steelwork was being delivered from the compound further north. The trackbed between the bridges was busy with dumpers carrying trackbed fill.

These views from June 5th, 6th and 7th 2008 show the OB217 tube being assembled, within sight of the limit of WHR(P) train operations, and the OB216 tube complete.

At Pont Croesor Halt, work was continuing to widen the embankment on its western side; in the left-hand picture fill was being compacted at the new edge of the embankment before adding more to increase the height.

These pictures illustrate locations between Pont Croesor and OB216 on June 7th 2008.

By June 8th 2008 LC114B had ramps on both sides of the railway, and stone had been laid on almost the full length of the new driveway to the road.

These views show the bridge tubes on the same day, both complete and ready for the approach banks to be built up on either side.

LC114B and the new access for the osprey site are seen below on June 20th and 22nd 2008. There will be two crossings of the railway between LC114A and the halt; LC114B will operate as the ungated "summer crossing" for the osprey site (which is only active in the nesting season), and as a gated "winter crossing" for farm access; LC114C will be a footpath crossing next to LC114B. The opportunity has been taken to widen the road slightly on the eastern entrance to the new osprey site access. This is a precaution in case it is ever necessary to de-train passengers here using a road coach, as there is no other location with adequate road access between here and Porthmadog.

With rail access through Bryn y Felin available again, rail deliveries for Pont Croesor - Traeth Mawr could take place. Upnor Castle and the rail bolsters were at Dinas for this purpose on June 20th 2008. After this, only three loads remained to be delivered to clear the Dinas rail stockpile.

The rails were moved to an intermediate stockpile at Hafod y Llyn, clearing space at Dinas for preparations ahead of the Garratt 50 gala in September. 53 rails were stacked at Hafod y Llyn over the weekend of June 28-9th 2008. Although Hafod y Llyn is some way north of Pont Croesor, it was a convenient established construction base, and the line from here to the Head of Steel is more or less level.

The most striking work in hand on June 30th 2008 was the banks rising on either side of the tube at OB217; at the other end of the section the contractors were also busy at LC114B. The old point lever in the fourth row of pictures had been unearthed at the south end of Pont Croesor loop a few weeks previously.

The new access to the Glaslyn Osprey Project site via LC114B came into use on July 3rd 2008. Closure of the original access allowed a start to be made on preparatory work for adjusting the road level for installation of LC114A (see Pont Croesor).

By July 5th 2008 the fill for the approach ramps of OB217 was approaching its final level, and a start had been made on fill at OB216.

Over the weekend of July 5-6th 2008 the Black Hand Gang assembled the track panel for LC114B; this would be fitted with crossing timbers prior to being lifted into position, in order to minimise disruption to the osprey site.

The fill either side of OB217 had reached full height by July 15th 2008, and earth was being added on the outer surfaces of the ramps. Long bolts were being fitted in the roof of the tube before the addition of the concrete deck above it; the bolts were to allow the installation of smoke deflector plates.

These pictures taken on July 21st 2008 show the rebar core for the deck and parapets of OB217.

The deck of OB217 was concreted on July 24th 2008; the third picture was taken the next day, looking north.

This shot taken from Minffordd Cemetery shows the bridges within the landscape. OB216 can be seen to the right of the farm buildings lying further back in the middle background, with one end of the tube visible and the approach banks being raised on either side; OB217 is the earthy patch among the greenery to the left of the farm buildings.

In these views taken from Jack Lane's train on WHR(P) on July 28th 2008, shuttering is in place for casting the parapets either side of OB217's deck.

Formation for the main line (on the right in the picture below) was laid through Pont Croesor Halt on July 28th 2008, with the sub-base laid by the same paving machine that had laid the tarmac at LC114A. Use of a paving machine for this job marked a return to a technique previously tried for ballasting between Rhyd Ddu and Pitt's Head. The machine was also used to bring the formation up to the required level between OB217 and OB217, after which it worked its way north back to the north end of the job.

The panel for LC114B, pre-fitted with its timbers, was moved into place on its ballast bed at the osprey site crossing on the morning of July 29th 2008. The job had to be done in time for the roadway to be usable when the osprey site opened for the day at 1000. Fine adjustment of the panel subsequently would not pose a problem.

These views show LC114B and ballasted trackbed to the south of it on August 2nd 2008.

OB217 was almost complete when seen on August 3rd 2008, with the concrete facing of the tube done, and ballast and sleeper bundles laid up to the bridge from the south. As well as being slightly longer than OB216, this bridge differs in that it is crossed by the Porthmadog-Prenteg public footpath as well as by a farm track; on the south side they share the ramp as seen below, the footpath takes a separate route on the north side, having crossed to the opposite side of the railway.

These views taken on August 7th and 8th 2008 show track welding being done by a contractor between LC114A and LC114B, OB216 with the banks at full height and with the deck being made, and OB217 essentially complete.

On the evening of August 8th 2008 Upnor Castle took one of the last loads of rails to Hafod y Llyn, ready for subsequent delivery to the Pont Croesor - Traeth Mawr section.

On August 10th 2008 tracklaying volunteers entered the section, to install the turnout for the north end of Pont Croesor loop; note that this was not yet fully in position when most of these pictures were taken, as usual the turnout had been delivered in two parts, and one was sitting on top of the other. Also, the geometry as seen in the last picture may need some adjustment. The RRMs seen in the second picture made the first rail movement over LC114A, carrying a pair of rails to be laid in due course between LC114B and the turnout. The osprey site was closed temporarily owing to flooding - note the submerged field on the east side of the railway and to the south of the osprey site.

OB216 was nearly finished when seen on August 15th 2008. It is only with the latter stages of the work that the differences between the bridges have become clear on the ground; OB216 is the shorter of the two, with a narrower deck, and unlike OB217 it does not carry a public footpath. But as can be seen, the cattle standing areas provided by the approach ramps are still substantial.

The turnout had been put on its correct alignment by August 16th 2008, and sleeper bundles had been laid out on the loop formation. The Black Hand Gang packed the sleepers between LC114A and B the following day.

On August 19th 2008 WHR Construction Ltd staff and the Tuesday Gang worked on preparations for the following week's southwards tracklaying push. The north loop turnout was aligned to the setting out pegs, and the first train crossed LC114A and LC114B, delivering rails. Two lengths were laid on the loop formation south of the points, to the site for a rail stack. The Glaslyn had overtopped its banks after very heavy rain, and at one point cars had to be removed from the osprey site to prevent them becoming marooned.

Upnor Castle is seen below back at Hafod y Llyn to fetch another load of rails on the morning of August 21st 2008. At this point ballast was being extended north from OB216 towards the stretch laid south from Pont Croesor, and work was in hand on a culvert a short distance south of the halt site.

Ballasting throughout the section was completed on August 22nd 2008; the last picture below shows the last ballast being put in place, in the middle distance adjacent to the site compound access. Note also the South African sleepers, with slots for bolted clips rather than elastic ones. These sleepers extended south from this point, making use of stocks left over from Phase 3.

With the ballasting done and trackbed handed over, the southwards tracklaying push got off to a flying start on August 23rd 2008; fifteen lengths were laid, taking the Head of Steel as far as the site compound access.

The tracklaying pictured above took the Head of Steel past the location for the turnout at the south end of the loop; the turnout was at this stage a kit of parts in Dinas yard, so it would be installed later, as happened at Hafod y Llyn, with plain track laid initially.

Another fifteen lengths were laid on August 24th 2008, quickly exhausting the Pont Croesor rail stack; Upnor Castle therefore made runs back to collect more from the larger stack at Hafod y Llyn. The day's work saw track advance into the section to be laid using the South African sleepers. The last two pictures show the works train taking volunteers back to Hafod y Llyn at the end of the day. The rail bolsters were back at Dinas, and having had a bogie swap, were due to deliver the final load of rails on the evening of August 25th, clearing the Dinas rail stockpile.

Tracklaying on Monday August 25th 2008 took the Head of Steel to within sight of OB216. By this point Indian sleepers and Pandrols were in use again.

On the same day the last load of rails was moved south from Dinas. A problem with Upnor meant that the train did not reach Rhyd Ddu until 22.50, so the train was left in the yard there overnight, setting off for the Head of Steel at about 11.00 on the 26th.

Tracklaying on August 26th 2008 did not get going until after lunch; despite this twelve panels were laid, taking the Head of Steel to CH 32000, within a kilometre of the track at Traeth Mawr - where a start was made on recovering the rails and sleepers that had been left there earlier in the year, having been lifted to allow correction of the dip through the site of the former loop there. Sleepers were laid back out on the ballast between the limit of WHR(P) working and OB217.

These views show work on the morning of August 27th 2008.

When seen at about 4pm the same day, the Head of Steel was already through and beyond OB216.

Conway Castle was in use on the works train on August 28th 2008; the tall SAR van was taken through OB216 without difficulties.

By the end of the day eighteen panels had been laid, exhausting the supply of rails and taking the Head of Steel to a point immediately north of OB217, and very close to the location of the previous buffer stops at the end of Traeth Mawr loop. All sleepers were laid out to connect with the track from the south, and the last of the rails placed on the bank at that end of the section were extracted. The next day's work would switch to the section of the CTRL between Cae Pawb and Snowdon Mill, while rail would be delivered from Minffordd to Rhyd Ddu by road, for tracklaying to continue at Traeth Mawr at the weekend.

The rails from the stocks at Minffordd Yard were delivered to Rhyd Ddu and loaded by a contractor around lunchtime on August 29th 2008, and the load is seen leaving for Hafod y Llyn in the last picture.

Tracklaying by the Black Hand Gang on August 30th 2008 saw the Head of Steel progress through OB217 and to within about 20m of the former farm level crossing, just a few lengths of track short of the limit of WHR(P) working, and roughly on the position of the former points at the south end of Traeth Mawr loop.. Enough of the rails delivered from Minffordd to finish the job were unloaded from the bolsters; the additional ones left on them were assumed to be for Pont Croesor or Hafod y Llyn loop.

The last five lengths to complete this section were laid on August 31st 2008, with a minor shortage of sleepers solved by seven being brought up on the WHR(P) train from remaining stock at Pen y Mount. The day's work brought the WHR(C) Head of Steel up to the WHR(P) Head of Steel - and a short distance beyond, creating a temporary overlap. Cutting the final rails back to make the join between the two sections was not done on the spot, and would await rectification of a few kinks and dips on the newly laid track, and ballast tamping. Nevertheless, an impromptu "Golden Rail Clip" ceremony was held to mark the meeting of the two Welsh Highlands - to be followed later by a more official ceremony in Porthmadog to mark completion of the Cross-Town Link track, and thus the complete line through to Harbour.

Top ballasting of the Pont Croesor - Traeth Mawr section started the day after track laying was completed; Conway Castle is seen leaving the section with the three ballast hoppers on September 1st 2008.

The south end of the section is seen on September 5th 2008, with top ballast laid almost as far as the overlap, and ready for attention from the KMX tamping and lining machine.

G.H. James Cyf started work in mid-September 2008 to install additional flood relief culverts just south of Pont Croesor, close to the site compound. These culverts are being added at the request of the Environment Agency, and it did not prove possible to schedule their installation ahead of the August track laying week - which also allowed the target of having rails through to Traeth Mawr by the start of September, as promised to funders. Two panels of track were lifted by the Black Hand Gang over the weekend of September 13-14th 2008, and the site is seen below three days later, with the embankment excavated for installation of the culvert pipes.

At the same time, additional ground works (assumed to be in preparation for the final form of the crossings, and access to the halt) were in progress at and adjacent to LC114B, after the Glaslyn Osprey Site had closed for the year following the departure of the birds. The roadway was being widened, and stone had been laid parallel to the railway between LC114B and the road.

These pictures taken on September 24th 2008 show the contractor at work on excavation for the flood culverts, and on the works at LC114B.

These views of the other end of the section on the same date show the bridges greening over quite soon after completion.

Pipes for the flood culverts were put in place on September 26th 2008.

On October 1st 2008 a train (including original WHR carriage no. 23) was run from Beddgelert to LC114B and back for FR Trustees and directors of the FR Company and of WHR Construction Ltd, who had first been taken on a walking tour of the Cross-Town Link. The flood culverts were advancing well, with pairs of pipes in place on top of a blinding slab, and the voids between the pipes being filled with concrete before having a slab cast on top.

The work in progress at LC114B included installation of cattle grids on the ramps leading to the widened crossing.

When seen two days later, stone infill was being put in place between the pipes on the eastern face of the structure.

About 36 hours of torrential rain led to the floods seen below on October 5th 2008, which covered almost the entire width of the Glaslyn floodplain from just south of Aberglaslyn to the Cob, and illustrated the importance of robust flood protection measures for the WHR.

The flood culvert structure (UB214) was close to completion when pictured in mid-October 2008.

The final touches were being added on October 24th 2008, and the culverts were doing their intended job.

At the north end of the section, the fencing for the parallel crossings at LC114B was taking shape when seen on the same day.

On November 1st 2008 the Rest of the World Gang reconnected the track across the completed flood culverts, and then took the works train to Traeth Mawr to replace some broken rail clips.

These pictures taken the following day show progress with fencing at the parallel crossings immediately south of Pont Croesor.

These pictures dating from November 12th and 14th 2008 shows the site with further progress made, and the gates for the summer and winter crossings in place.

The finishing touch at the overbridges (aside from fitting smoke hoods) is stone cladding of the parapets; these pictures show the work at different stages on either side of OB216 on November 15th 2008.

The Rest of the World Gang ventured to the south end of the Pont Croesor halt site on November 30th 2008, to pick up RRMs needed to take a replacement rail up to a location north of Meillionen Forest Campsite. The first pictures also show fencing work for an occupation crossing at the location of the site access previously used by the contractors.

The overlap at Traeth Mawr was removed when volunteers connected up the track on December 4th 2008, and the stop block was removed, allowing a works train to press on south almost to Cae Pawb.

By December 20th 2008 the parapet cladding appeared complete at OB216 (last two pictures below), with a crenellated pattern serving as the anti-climb coping and adding a decorative touch to the otherwise quite utilitarian bridge design. Cladding of OB217's parapets was also in progress.

As the Glaslyn Osprey Project site on the east side of the line was being prepared for the 2009 season, a substantial new area of hard standing was also being established on the west side of the railway, reaching as far as the new road access opened in Summer 2008. This additional parking area (for coaches) was brought into use on Monday March 23rd 2009 (the day after these pictures were taken); the birds had returned to their summer nest over the weekend, and one of them was spotted from the stock movement train on the 23rd.

On May 31st 2009 the Rest of the World Gang moved the turnout at the north end of the future Pont Croesor loop two panels to the south of its previous position. The change will allow a loco to pull clear of the points without triggering the automatic sequence of the level crossing of the road.

In the short term, an engineering siding is being provided rather than the loop, using South African track materials. Volunteers are seen below working on the siding on June 6-7th 2009.

The Black Hand Gang laid a further five lengths on the siding over the weekend of June 20th-21st 2009, and also worked on ballasting the siding, with all three ballast hopper wagons present.

Over the weekend of July 4-5th 2009 the Black Hand Gang laid another length on the siding, and also moved rail to Pont Croesor from locations including Pont Afon Dylif (UB199), and the check rails which were no longer needed at Pont Ynys Ferlas (UB196). Newly delivered rails are seen below just north of Pont Croesor on July 5th 2009. The gang also collected surplus steel sleepers from Pen y Mount, and improved track alignment on the roadside section between Ynysfor level crossing and Pont Croesor.

During the autumn and winter of 2009/2010 the loop was completed with trailable points and a full length platform constructed to allow services to terminate here. Access to the Osprey Centre has been provided, as has a car/coach park.The line opened to passenger traffic on 22nd May 2010 and was officially opened on 26th May 2010 - see latest news

Pont Croesor loop site, February 2010 - pulling points into place (A.Thomas)Pont Croesor loop site, February 2010 - pulling points into place (A.Thomas)

With trains now running to Pont Croesor, and with it being announced on the 4th June 2010 that the works needed to obtain HMRI approval of the remaining section of the new WHR. would be expedited,.the Rest of the World Gang moved their attention south of Pont Croesor 30th May 2010.  This section is to be tamped by the Matisa tamper and in preparation the track has to be jacked up.. The gang spent the day digging pockets for the jacks at every fifth sleeper, hot work for a hot day.

Digging pockets for jacks south of Pont CroesorHot work - Simon Melhuish

The Tuesday Gang started work on the last section, Pont Croesor to Porthmadog on 15th June 2010. The main task for the day was to concrete in 6 posts at 3 level crossings for signage. They also cleared some of the weeds that were growing through the ballast on this section. The badger set  necessitated sand clearance off the track again. 

Tuesday Gang near Traeth Mawr (Tony Baker)Tuesday Gang near Traeth Mawr (Tony Baker)

On the 29th June the Tuesday gang were at work at Pont Croesor and on this section. The team here installed eight wooden posts for the corral fencing at LC 118. Access was gained from LC 116 from where the rail skate ferried material to site. Because Minffordd Yard is considerably nearer than Dinas some materials were sourced from there.

The following week saw the Tuesday Gang in action again on this stretch. This time at LC116, LC117 and LC118. At LC116 and LC117 the 4" x 4" support posts for the anti-trespass grids were concreting-in. These support the two sections of the grid of which one is removable to allow for tamping of the track and the other, the outer wings that are fixed. Next week once the concrete is set the fixed part of the grid will be completed, however, the removable section will be left off until tamping is complete. The first picture shows some of the groundwork taking place at LC117. At LC118 the coral type fencing was attached to the 4" x 4" fence posts that were concreted in last week as shown in the second photograph.

LC117 crossing work. (Photo: S.Broomfield)Assembling the coral fencing at LC118. (Photo: T.Baker)

The Rest of the World Gang worked on realigning the track south of OB217 during the weekend of the 10th & 11th July. On the Saturday two panels were lifted and realigned whilst on the Sunday the gaps were adjusted along 5 to 6 panels. The track was hand tamped and the ballast shoulders made up. This enabled the tamper to make a first pass of the area of the re-alignment. The pictures show the work in progress on the Sunday.

The track with OB117 in the background. (Photo: S. Melhuish)The track with clips removed ready to be adjusted. (Photo: S. Melhuish)The track with OB117 in the background. (Photo: S. Melhuish)The track with OB117 in the background. (Photo: S. Melhuish)Replacements of fishplates after the rail has been moved along. (Photo: S. Melhuish)Replacing the track clips. (Photo: S. Melhuish)Replacing the track clips. (Photo: S. Melhuish)

As the work is in the vicinity of the Golden Clip the last photo shows it now to be rather rusty.

The now rather rusty Golden Clip.(Photo: S. Melhuish)

The Tuesday gang were back in action again the following week at the same locations. The work continued with level crossings and half of LC 116 was completed. Unfortunately because the Matisa Tampa was sitting on the northern end of the crossing that could not be done. LC 118 was prepared with the 4 x 4 pegs ready for the work on the decking next week.

The following week the Tuesday Gang completed LC116 and LC117 and took materials to LC118 in preparation for next weeks working party. Access to these crossings had to be gained from the Pen y Mount end of the section due to flooding in the Pont Croesor area. The Tuesday Gang were very grateful to the permanent track gang who ferried them and their materials to the respective crossings.

Work at LC116 (Photo S.Broomfield)

The following two photographs show the  Matisa tamper in action on the section on the 2nd August.

The Matisa tamper at work. (Photo A.Stewart)The Matisa tamper at work. (Photo A.Stewart)

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Authored by Ben Fisher; last updated 3st August, 2010 by Laurence Armstrong