K1 at Snowdon Ranger

K1 at Snowdon Ranger

No. 2 'Prince'

No. 2 'Prince'

 

The Welsh Highland Railway (WHR) or Rheilffordd Eryri is a 25-mile (40.2 km) long, restored 1 ft 11 1⁄2 in (597 mm) narrow gauge heritage railway in the Welsh county of Gwynedd, operating from Caernarfon to Porthmadog, and passing through a number of popular tourist destinations including Beddgelert and the Aberglaslyn Pass. At Porthmadog it connects with the Ffestiniog Railway and to the short Welsh Highland Heritage Railway. In Porthmadog it uses the United Kingdom's only mixed gauge flat rail crossing.

The original Welsh Highland Railway was formed in 1922 from the merger of two companies – the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways (NWNGR) and the Portmadoc, Beddgelert and South Snowdon Railway (PBSSR), successor to the Portmadoc, Croesor and Beddgelert Tram Railway. It was never a commercial success; the carriages of the 1890s were outdated and uncomfortable for so long a ride, the journey took too long and the service had a reputation for being unreliable.

 

The Croesor Tramway had run from Porthmadog since 1863 up into the Croesor Valley and the slate quarries in this area. This was a horse-worked line laid to a nominal 2 ft (610 mm) gauge. The NWNGR had originally built a 1 ft 11 1⁄2 in (597 mm) narrow gauge line from a junction with the 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge London and North Western Railway line at Dinas to Bryngwyn with a branch from Tryfan Junction via Waunfawr to Llyn Cwellyn (Snowdon Ranger). The line was opened in 1877 and was extended to South Snowdon (Rhyd Ddu) in 1881, a total of 9 miles (14 km). This closed to passengers in 1916 but goods traffic continued up to its absorption by the WHR in 1922.

In 1902, the newly formed PBSSR took over the failed Portmadoc, Croesor and Beddgelert Tram Railway with the aim of extending it to South Snowdon slate quarry in the Nant Gwynant Pass. Work was abandoned by the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, although the tunnels through the Aberglaslyn Pass were mostly completed.

The name Welsh Highland Railway first appeared in 1921 when a 1914 Light Railway Order (LRO) was processed. It was originally drawn up by the local Caernarfonshire authorities and aimed to link the PGSSR and NWNGR but had been delayed by the First World War. It was revived by two local politicians and a Scottish distillery owner, Sir John Henderson Stewart. In July 1921, Stewart also obtained control of the Festiniog Railway, in order to obtain extra rolling stock for the WHR.

The LRO was passed in 1922, following a public enquiry. The budget was £75,000 and much of the funding was borrowed from the Ministry of Transport and local authorities. According to the historian Peter Johnson, this would become a burden as the railway needed to generate the unlikely sum of £3,750 profit each year to service the debt.

Two further LROs enabled improvements to the railway's alignment at Beddgelert, a new station site in Porthmadog and a link to the Festiniog Railway. McAlpine & Sons were contracted to refurbish the existing lines and complete the link between Rhyd Ddu and Croesor Junction, thus creating a railway that ran from Dinas to join the Festiniog Railway at Porthmadog. Like the modern day WHR, the railway was opened in stages. The former NWNGR section re-opened on 31 July 1922 and the remainder on 1 June 1923.

The WHR venture was not a success and was beset with problems from the start. Indeed, 1923 was its most successful year. Much hoped-for revenue from quarry traffic never materialised as the slate industry had fallen into decline. Its passenger services were also unsuccessful and could not compete with the local bus services, which often took half the time to complete the same journey. Its rolling stock was out of date, it lacked locomotives and carriages and its marketing was inadequate.

In 1924, winter passenger services were discontinued due to poor traffic. A dispute with the Great Western Railway over the costs of the crossing over its line at Porthmadog also caused problems, despite the crossing having been used since 1867 without any charges or problems. The railway even had to resort to escorting passengers across the crossing on foot. After 1923, it was unable to pay debenture interest and, in 1927, the county council sued and put the railway into receivership. Services continued and by 1933, it was run down and the local authorities decided to close it.

In 1934, the company agreed to lease the line to the Festiniog Railway Company for 42 years. It was a disaster, with the FR forced to pay rent even if the WHR made a loss. The FR Co. attempted to change the line's fortunes by re-focussing on the tourist market. This included painting the carriages bright colours, including yellow and blue and promoting the Aberglaslyn Pass as a destination by renaming Nantmor station as Aberglaslyn. They also tried to promote round trip (return) journeys, with passengers taking the standard gauge line to Dinas, travelling on the WHR and the Festiniog Railway to Blaenau Ffestiniog and then changing again to take the standard gauge railway to their original starting point.

Despite these attempts, the FR Co. were unsuccessful, the last passenger train ran in 1936 and the last goods service in 1937. The early tourist industry did not provide sufficient visitors to make the railway pay, especially during the Depression. Competition from buses which ran a faster and more regular service from Caernarfon and Beddgelert also played a part. The last passenger train ran on 5 September 1936 and, in February 1937, the FR decided not to run the WHR again.

As there was no provision for the FR to hand back its lease and the WHR was bankrupt, the line became dormant. In 1941, the authorities decided to requisition the movable assets for use in World War II. Much of the rolling stock was sold off and most of the track was lifted. The Croesor tramway section was left intact in case the slate quarries re-opened and remained until finally lifted in 1948-9. In 1943, the FR surrendered its lease and, in exchange for £550 compensation, it was allowed to keep 'Single Fairlie' Moel Tryfan (although it only paid £150).

Various legal manoeuvres followed this, including a serious application to turn the route into a long-distance footpath. Although these plans were ultimately unfruitful, they ensured that the trackbed was kept mainly intact, rather than sold off bit by bit, which would have made restoration much more difficult and potentially expensive. However, some parts, such as the sites of Rhyd Ddu and Dinas stations, were sold off.

The origins of the WHRL restoration efforts, tentatively began in 1961 when disagreements within the volunteers of the Festiniog Railway and a group of like-minded railway enthusiasts, joined to form The Welsh Highland Railway Society. This group is the precursor of what eventually became WHR Ltd., which owns and operates the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway (WHHR). Legal problems meant they were unable to take over the old company so, in the 1970s, the group purchased the former standard gauge exchange sidings (the Beddgelert Siding) near Tremadog Road, Porthmadog, from British Railways to use as a base. In 1980, they began running passenger services over the line that is now known as the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway. They also acquired an original WHR locomotive Russell, which began working passenger services in 1987.

In the mid-1980s, a number of FR Co. employees became concerned about impact of possible competition from a rebuilt WHR and passed this view on to the FR management. In 1987, this resulted in a confidential offer to buy the WHR track bed from the official receiver for £16,000 in order to prevent the WHR being developed. In 1989, the offer became public, causing a backlash against the FR Co.

In 1990, a change of directors resulted in the FR Co.'s decision to take over the restoration of the WHR. After a long legal battle between the two companies, the FR Co. won control of the WHR track bed and it re-opened the railway in stages, starting in 1997. The line was completed in 2011. With Caernarfon Council having a longer term plan to reinstate the town's rail transport link to Bangor, speculation mounted that the FR/WHR would potentially later extend itself. However, the Ffestiniog Railway wrote to the council in January 2014 to confirm that they would not themselves be supportive of such a scheme in narrow gauge, but supported the reconnection of the town to the national rail network using standard gauge.

 

The modern Welsh Highland Railway is a tourist railway that is owned and operated by the Festiniog Railway Company. It is longer than the original line and starts from Caernarfon rather than Dinas. The extension was built on the trackbed of the former standard gauge railway. Dinas station is also built on the standard gauge railway site, rather than the original narrow gauge site, with the line moving onto the original WHR alignment just south of the station.

It is marketed by the FR Co. as The Welsh Highland Railway and Rheilffordd Eryri (Welsh language for "Snowdonia Railway"). The WHR's connection to the Ffestiniog Railway means that the FR Co. controls almost 40 miles of narrow gauge railway and it often promotes both lines jointly as the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways.

The Welsh Highland Heritage Railway (Welsh: Rheilffordd Ucheldir Cymru) is a 1-mile (1.6 km) long heritage narrow gauge railway that is owned and operated by Welsh Highland Railway Ltd. (WHR Ltd.). It operates from its main station at Tremadog Road, Porthmadog to its terminus at Pen-y-Mount, where it connects to the FR Co. owned WHR main line.

WHR Ltd's primary focus is on recreating the atmosphere of the original Welsh Highland Railway. This includes replicas of original buildings, using original and replica carriages and rolling stock and the staff wearing period costume. It also has a museum at its Gelert's Farm Works and every train halts there on the return journey to allow passengers to visit it. There is also a miniature railway and a tea room at its main Porthmadog station.

No 138 at Snowdon Ranger

No. 138 at Snowdon Ranger

SAR NGG 16 Class Garratt

SAR NGG 16 Class Garratt

Two locomotives were inherited from the predecessor companies: Moel Tryfan and Russell. When these proved insufficient, Baldwin 590 was acquired by H.F. Stephens and several Festiniog Railway locomotives saw regular use on the Welsh Highland Railway throughout its entire pre-closure existence from 1923 to 1937. 590 was planned to be part of a larger fleet to replace Moel Tryfan and Russell but it gained so little popularity that Stephens never bought another.

By 1936 Moel Tryfan was out of use at Boston Lodge. When Russell and 590 were withdrawn the following year, they were placed in Dinas shed, but when the Second World War broke out, the Ministry of War came to see about appropriating them for the war effort. After some examination of the engines and questioning of those who had worked them, Russell (regarded as a good engine) was removed for further use, and 590 (seen as an unreliable, rough rider with difficult controls and inadequate adhesion) was broken up at Dinas. Despite the unpopularity of 590, the WHHR (Porthmadog) is currently refurbishing a similar Baldwin to act as a replica.

During the ownership of the WHR by the Festiniog Railway Company, Moel Tryfan and Russell were cut down to allow them to traverse the Festiniog Railway to Blaenau Ffestiniog. Moel Tryfan proved suitable, but Russell, even in cut down form, was not low or narrow enough to fit the FR's highly restrictive loading gauge. Russell is now owned by WHR Ltd and has been restored to its original profile. 590 notably retained its original form until its demise.

Click here for a comprehensive list of the Welsh Highland Railway rolling stock. Click here for a comprehensive lis of the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway rolling stock.

The railway is a single track line with passing loops at Dinas, Waunfawr, Rhyd Ddu, Beddgelert and Pont Croesor halt. There is also a loop at Hafod y Llyn, which is normally locked out of use as a stabling point for engineering trains. As with any single track railway, there are strict rules managing the movement of trains to prevent more than one entering a section. The line is managed from a single "Control" office at Porthmadog Harbour Station, which also performs the same task for the Ffestiniog Railway. Control is responsible for the safe and efficient operation of trains, logs train movements on a train graph and acts as a single point of contact in emergencies. A system of tokens is used to control train access to single line sections.

Communication between train crew and Control always occurs using a landline at stations. There is no in-cab radio system and current regulations forbid use of such whilst in motion. As a backup system only, the guard carries a company mobile telephone for use in an emergency. This is not a primary system as cellular coverage is intermittent over the length of the line. Her Majesty's Railway Inspectorate, the organisation responsible for safety on British railways, insists on landlines as the main form of safety critical communication.

The signalling on the WHR is much simpler than that used on the Ffestiniog Railway or the UK national rail network.

In order to enter any section of line, the train crew must obtain permission from Control and the relevant token. Each section of line is a token block section. The WHR uses the traditional Staff and Ticket system in which trains can either be issued with the section token staff or a numbered ticket. Tickets allow multiple trains to pass one-at-a-time through a section in one direction. The Controller advises the train crew which method they will be using. Tickets are kept in a locked box opened by a key on the token staff. This means the last train must use the token staff to pass through the section, so it can be used for trains to travel in the opposite direction. For additional protection, both the footplate crew and the guard must see the token or ticket before the train can depart.

At some stations an additional "Shunt" token is used to allow shunting to take place (such as a locomotive "running round" a train). They are provided at Dinas, Rhyd Ddu, Beddgelert and at Pont Croesor. The shunt token can only be withdrawn (used) with permission from Control and if there are no trains approaching the station in the adjacent single line sections. Withdrawing the token causes two yellow lights to go out on a red warning board on the line approaching the station, preventing other trains from entering the station.

The majority of the points at passing loops are operated automatically using the Automatic Train Operated Trailable (ATOTP) system, rather than a manually operated lever or point motor. There are also no signals to indicate that a train can enter a section. A "Stop" board at the end of the platform orders the train to stop until the train crew have obtained permission to proceed from control and a token. At the end of the section, the train can proceed into the platform provided the lights are lit on the home (shunt token warning) board, the point indicator is lit and the relevant platform is clear.

One of the disadvantages of the staff and ticket system is that it is very inflexible. If a locomotive fails in a station, for example, a token staff may be at the wrong end of a section and will have to be moved by road. This situation does not occur under the Electric Token System (ETS), a more advanced system in which tokens can be obtained at either end of a section from a token instrument.

ETS has been used on the Ffestiniog Railway for many years and the FR Co. were anxious to obtain enough ETS instruments to equip the WHR. After a long search, sufficient ETS equipment to operate the entire railway has been obtained from the Irish railway company Iarnród Éireann. The equipment became redundant after Iarnród Éireann recently modernised its signalling systems. As the WHR has no telephone cabling to connect the system, the FR Co. is developing a more modern alternative method of connecting the ETS machines. Until the system is finished, the WHR will continue using its current token systems.

 

Just outside Porthmadog, the railway crosses the Network Rail-owned Cambrian Coast line using a flat crossing. It existed on the old Welsh Highland Railway and was the source of much conflict between the old company and the Great Western Railway over the cost of WHR trains using the crossing. On the modern WHR, the crossing is called Cae Pawb. Cae Pawb means "everybody's field" and is a reference to the nearby field of allotments.

The crossing is constructed from a continuous cast lump of manganese steel. Continuous 113 lb/yd (56.1 kg/m) rail is used for the standard gauge section, with notches cut out to allow narrow gauge trains to cross. The WHR section is cast in 80 lb/yd (39.7 kg/m) rail as opposed to the WHR standard 60 lb/yd (29.8 kg/m) flat rail, which connects the crossing to the WHR narrow gauge lines either side. [Other information, from the engineers involved, is that the Network Rail line crosses on solid steel billets to the same head, foot and height measurements as the adjacent standard gauge rail, but that the narrow gauge crosses on rail of a similar section which is joined on either side in succession to 80 lb/yd (36 kg/m)rail and then to the normal 60 lb/yd (30 kg/m) rail used for the narrow gauge.]

Cae Pawb is at the north-western end of the Network Rail Harlech to Porthmadog signalling section, which is controlled from Machynlleth Control Centre. Standard gauge trains are protected by signals and wide-to-gauge trap points on the WHR line, which are interlocked with the standard gauge European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) signalling. The crossing is activated locally and ERTMS automatically gives permission for WHR trains to cross provided the standard gauge section is available. A crossing controller operates the crossing when passenger trains are running, with operation at other times being carried out by the train crew.

A set of replica white wooden crossing gates separate the narrow gauge line from the standard gauge track and continue the Network Rail boundary fencing. They are left open when a crossing controller is present. The gates open inwards to prevent them blocking the standard gauge line. A replica signal box was constructed for this crossing but has now been installed at Pen y Mount to control the junction with the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway.

South of the Cambrian crossing, WHR cross town link trains move direct to Porthmadog Harbour, where passengers alight. At Harbour Station there is a platform between the Welsh Highland and Ffestiniog lines so that passengers may transfer from one train to the other. There are also the usual facilities including a respectable eating house.

Stations

Caernarfon Station is the northern terminus of the narrow gauge Welsh Highland Railway, located in the town of Caernarfon. It was opened on 11 October 1997 when the line was constructed from Dinas.

The railway between Caernarfon and Dinas was formerly part of the standard gauge Carnarvonshire Railway, later LNWR and LMS, between Caernarfon and Afon Wen, which was closed by British Railways in December 1964, and the tracks lifted. Northwards of the present Caernarfon station, the former standard gauge line ran through a tunnel, which is now used by a public road, to the site of the original Caernarvon railway station station. The LNWR was under an obligation to build a station on this site (below Segontium Terrace), however the town corporation waived its claim to this station. The original line continued on to a junction with the Chester and Holyhead Railway just south of the Britannia Bridge, terminating at the now-demolished Menai Bridge Station.

The present station is sited on the former standard gauge trackbed adjacent to St. Helen's Road, opposite the former locomotive works of De Winton & Co and beneath the high retaining walls of Segontium Terrace, which can be reached from St Helen's Road via a pedestrian footbridge. The station buildings accommodate the booking office, a tourist shop and passenger facilities. In the winter of 2005/06 the passenger platform and run around loop at Caernarfon were lengthened to permit the operation of trains up to 10 carriages long.

Bontnewydd is an unstaffed halt on the narrow gauge Welsh Highland Railway. The halt was opened on 31 May 1999 on the petition of the villagers of Bontnewydd and is between Caernarfon and Dinas on the Lôn Eifion cycle route. It is a request stop with no station buildings and a single low platform. The train services are operated by the Festiniog Railway Company. A halt existed here on the horse-drawn Nantlle Railway in the mid-1800s.

Dinas is a station on the narrow gauge Welsh Highland Railway, which was built in 1877 as the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways Moel Tryfan Undertaking to carry dressed slate for trans-shipment to the LNWR. Passenger services ceased on 26 September 1936 until which time Dinas had been a joint station, known as Dinas Junction with the LNWR and later the LMS. In 1951, British Railways closed their part of the station but the line through the station remained open until the line from Caernarvon to Afon Wen was closed in 1964. The trackbed was subsequently developed as the Lôn Eifion cycle route.

When the station was reopened on 11 October 1997, it was as the southern temporary terminus of the extended and soon to be restored Welsh Highland Railway from Caernarfon. At Dinas, the new narrow gauge platforms are built on the site of the former standard gauge platforms. Two buildings survive from the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways era, namely the former goods shed and the original station building which has been carefully restored. Dinas station yards house the Welsh Highland Railway offices, carriage sheds and locomotive depot as well as extensive civil engineering works and sidings.

Tryfan Junction is a junction station on the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways for the main line and the Bryngwyn Branch. Opened in 1877, it closed in 1936 and the building fell into ruin. It was reopened as a request stop in 2011, and the station renovated. Originally built for the opening of traffic in 1877 by the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways Company, the building became redundant when passenger services ceased on the Bryngwyn branch in 1916. The station building fell into disrepair following its closure in 1936 by the Welsh Highland Railway and it eventually became a roofless ruin.

This section of the WHR was restored in 2000 and work began in earnest 2009 on restoration of the station under the leadership of by the late John Keylock and driven by the determination of a small band of volunteers from the Welsh Highland Heritage Group. The first part, reconstruction of a platform, was completed in Spring 2010, but the only train to stop there in 2010 was a single "Sponsors Special". In 2011 with the commencement of the main operating season, it became a timetabled request stop. Work on the building continued and was completed in 2014. Work continues to improve the facilities and heritage scene at Tryfan Junction which is now the ‘gateway’ to The Slate Trail along the trackbed of the closed Bryngwyn Branch.

Waunfawr station on the Welsh Highland Railway was built in 1877 as the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways Moel Tryfan Undertaking to carry dressed slate to Dinas Junction on the London and North Western Railway. Passenger services ceased on 26 September 1936 and the station was reopened on 7 August 2000 following the reconstruction of the railway from Dinas to Waunfawr. "Waunfawr" is Welsh for "Big Heath".

In 2000, in order to remodel the layout of the station, the old building was carefully taken down. Although carefully deconstructed by the WH Heritage Group, the numbered and stored stone was inadvertently used as fill for the embankments by the contractor. A rebuild is planned in NWNG style but altered internally to suit 21st century requirements, when funds become available. Following reconstruction, the section from Waunfawr to Rhyd Ddu was formally reopened by HRH the Prince of Wales on 30 July 2003. Prince Charles travelled from Waunfawr to Rhyd Ddu by special train.

The station flower and shrub beds were laid out and are maintained by the local community enterprise charity, Antur Waunfawr. The Snowdonia Park Hotel adjoins the station and was built originally as the station master's house. Entrance to and exit from the station platform is by way of the hotel car park. The station footbridge links with a car park and a caravan park. Snowdonia Sherpa Bus services call at the station.

A halt at Plas-y-Nant was first used in the 1920s but closed with the line in 1936. This new halt near the northern end of Llyn Cwellyn was opened on 15 May 2005. Trains call only by request. Despite some initial hostility to the railway and local objections to a halt, former visitors to the outdoor centre Plas-y-Nant raised the entire amount to pay for its construction and turned out in force with members of the local community on the day of opening for a train ride to Rhyd Ddu and back. This funding support was welcomed by the WHR who hope this will happen on other parts of the railway.

During rebuilding from Waunfawr to Rhyd Ddu (between 2001 and 2003), consideration was given to establishing a temporary terminus at Plas-y-nant during the spring of 2003. Although the 2003 timetable was published with this option, the loop was never completed. An engineer's siding is provided (Now removed). At present, the halt only has a platform but there are plans for a waiting shelter.

Snowdon Ranger station was built in 1878 as the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways Moel Tryfan Undertaking to carry dressed slate to Dinas Junction on the LNWR. The station was originally known as Quellyn Lake but was renamed after the path to the Summit of Snowdon popularised by, and named after, the local mountain guide, "The Snowdon Ranger", who went by that name for many years. Certainly the name "Snowdon Ranger" was in common use on company timetables from as early as 1879, and that of the adjacent Snowdon Ranger Hotel from at least 1869.

Passenger services ceased on 26 September 1936 and the station was reopened in 2003 following the complete reconstruction of the railway from Waunfawr to Rhyd Ddu. Snowdon Ranger is currently operated as an unmanned halt and trains call only by request. Following reconstruction, the Section from Waunfawr to Rhyd Ddu was formally reopened by HRH the Prince of Wales on 30 July 2003. Prince Charles travelled by special train from Waunfawr to Snowdon Ranger station where, having donned overalls, he alighted from the carriage and travelled on the footplate to Rhyd Ddu. Public passenger services re-commenced on 18 August 2003.

The former station building is now in private ownership, and as such is one of the six original remaining NWNGR buildings, the others being the ruins of the former station buildings at Tryfan Junction and Bettws Garmon, the ruined quarry sidings office at nearby Glanrafon Sidings, and the restored station building and goods shed at Dinas.

Rhyd Ddu station was built in 1881. In promotion of the line in the late 1880s, and knowing that there were discussions afoot to construct a railway up Snowdon from Llanberis, the Company renamed the station as "Snowdon". Some in Llanberis thought this misleading, but as contemporary literature pointed out - "Visitors should bear in mind that in climbing Snowdon by this line (ours), they are conveyed by the "Toy" railway to a height of nearly 900 feet above sea level , so that they have quite two miles less to traverse from Snowdon station, compared to the Llanberis distance and about 800 feet less to reach the summit."

Visitors were by now alighting at this halt in droves, and nearby Beddgelert consequently received many more visitors. (Horse-drawn road vehicles provided the link to Beddgelert, the connections being included in the railway's timetable. It was largely as a consequence of this that in 1893 a deputation of interested parties from Llanberis went to see landowner Mr Assheton-Smith, of the Vaenol Estate, who had previously been opposed to any railway up Snowdon, to try and convince him that Beddgelert was fast displacing Llanberis as the main centre for ascending the mountain. Assheton-Smith was ultimately convinced, and The Snowdon Mountain Tramroad and Hotels Co. Ltd. was established in November the following year.

Prior to the line's subsequent take-over by the Welsh Highland Railway, a report by Major Spring, commissioned by the Festiniog Railway, referred to "Rhyddu [sic] or Snowdon Station". After take-over, the line was extended southwards to Beddgelert and Porthmadog in 1923. The station name was first renamed to "South Snowdon" and renamed again in 1934 to Rhyd-Ddu. Passenger services ceased to the old station site on 26 September 1936.

Following reconstruction, the section from Waunfawr to Rhyd Ddu was formally reopened by HRH the Prince of Wales on 30 July 2003. Prince Charles travelled from Waunfawr to Snowdon Ranger in the replica of a North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways coach, and from there to Rhyd Ddu on the footplate of the Ffestiniog Railway locomotive "Prince", built in 1863, which hauled the special train. Public passenger services commenced on 18 August 2003 and the station was reopened to passengers on 18 August 2003 on a new site slightly to the east (the car park occupies the original site) following the complete reconstruction of the railway from Waunfawr to Rhyd Ddu. An honoured guest that day was Mr Richard Williams of Beddgelert who had travelled on the first train in 1923.

Rhyd Ddu station is the starting point of the 'Rhyd Ddu' footpath to the summit of Snowdon. There are public toilets and a car park adjoining the station. The Snowdonia Sherpa bus service to Beddgelert and Porthmadog or Pen-y-Pass calls at the station. In February and March, 2006, the station underwent a large extension to allow through running trains to Porthmadog. This included two water towers for trains running in both directions, a "Rhyd Ddu Yard" with two sidings, one capable of stabling a train, and building a new southerly extension to the platform that extends it to the 200 m standard length platform of this route. There is also a waiting shelter and occasional ticket office. Trackwork modifications were completed to permit right-hand running (normal WHR and FR practice) into and through the station. Unfortunately, for the 2006 reopening of the station on 8 April, the trackwork for the Up loop had not been consolidated sufficiently to allow carriages to use the Porthmadog bound platform, due to a mechanical failure of the tamper. For the period between the reopening and 1 June 2006, when right hand running commenced, temporary operating instructions were in place whilst trains continued to run into the left hand line.

Rhyd Ddu Station

Rhyd Ddu Station

Beddgelert Station

Beddgelert Station

Meillionen railway station (Forest Camp Site) is a halt on the Welsh Highland Railway. It opened to the public when the section of line between Rhyd Ddu and Beddgelert re-opened on 8 April 2009. The station has been built to serve the popular Beddgelert Forest Campsite, run by the Forestry Commission in association with The Camping and Caravanning Club. It is hoped that the railway will provide a greener alternative to the car for campers wishing to travel to Caernarfon, Porthmadog and, other points served in the Snowdonian National Park.

The name Meillionen derives from the Afon Meillionen (Welsh for Clover River) which runs under the railway a little to the north. Before completion, it was to be called Beddgelert Forest Halt but was renamed to comply with the company's policy of naming WHR halts in Welsh. The halt's running in board, however, does have the sub-title Forest Camp Site. Construction of the station started in 2006 and a waiting shelter was built in April 2009.

Beddgelert railway station is a railway station on the narrow gauge Welsh Highland Railway in North Wales. The rebuilt station was officially opened by Lord Elis-Thomas on 7 April 2009. The original station, which served the original Welsh Highland Railway line from Dinas - Portmadoc, was in operation, with a passing loop and three sidings, from 1922 to 1936. Work to rebuild the station began in December 2006.

The new station has a large curved island platform, allowing for two trains to pass each other. There are two small shelters for passenger use. A large water tower has been installed at the north west end of the platform. An original locomotive siding on the west side of the station has been retained and lengthened. The main station building, which will not be on the platform, is to be located north east of the platform. Construction commenced in 2007 with the laying of the base. Completion has been delayed, due to financial reasons and in the meantime a temporary booking office is located in front of the foundations.

Plans to reopen the station in Beddgelert created local opposition over a number of matters; it was far too big and intruded upon the landscape; increased traffic in the village and parking. It can allow for over 300 people to alight from trains. Restrictions were placed upon the company, including not to open the station until the line was completed. On 23 July 2008, the Snowdonia National Park Authority (SNPA) removed, on appeal, a planning condition which would have limited sales at the station to tickets and railway souvenirs only. Once facilities are provided it will thus be possible for visitors to get a cup of tea at the station as well as in the village.

Between 7 April 2009 and 21 May 2009, all trains terminated at Beddgelert. Since that time, it has served as a normal passing station, as the line has been extended, firstly to a temporary halt at Hafod y Llyn, then on 22 May 2010, to Pont Croesor. During the 2011 peak season most trains terminated at Pont Croesor, connecting with trains to Porthmadog Harbour. At the beginning and end of the peak season days, and out of season, services ran to Porthmadog Harbour.

Nantmor is a railway halt serving the nearby hamlet of the same name. It is located between the stations of Beddgelert and Pont Croesor. It had existed during the first period of the WHR, 1923–1936, and was rebuilt for the current line, opening on 27 May 2010. It was originally constructed as part of the Welsh Highland Railway in 1922-23. In 1934 the Festiniog Railway Company assumed direct control of the WHR and renamed the station Aberglaslyn as part of an attempt to attract more passengers. The station closed in 1936 when passenger traffic on the historic railway ceased. The original station had a corrugated iron building. A replica was built in 1996, by the WHR Ltd, at its terminus at Pen-y-Mount Junction.

Although there were plans for a halt serving Nantmor when the re-building of the WHR was proposed, they were dropped because of local objections. Subsequently, on 23 and 24 February 2007, a parish vote was held and by a large majority, (36 to 11) they agreed to ask for a halt to be located in the village. The plans were revived, and submitted to the Snowdonia National Park Authority on 18 July 2007. Approval was granted on 6 December 2007. Construction was delayed until February 2010 due to a shortage of resources and work was completed by 16 March 2010. It re-opened on 26 May 2010, when the line was extended to Pont Croesor. The rebuilding had been funded by the Welsh Highland Railway Society using funds donated in memory of one of its members.

Hafod y Llyn is a halt located between Beddgelert and Pont Croesor. It had been a halt, with a siding for a period on the original WHR, and a temporary terminus during the rebuilding of the line. Originally, there was no plan for any construction here on the rebuilding, with a new halt of the same name being planned 850 m south of this location. However, being a convenient place for a loop during the rebuild, construction of a small platform (with no other facilities) was undertaken during 2009. For a short space of time it was to be called Hen Hafod, but local representation convinced the WHR to drop the idea.

The station opened to passenger traffic on 21 May 2009 and was the WHR's southern terminus. As the station has no parking or other passenger facilities, only self-sufficient walkers and cyclists could board or alight there. Hafod y Llyn closed on 26 May 2010, when the next section of line to Pont Croesor opened. From January to March, 2011, trains ran to Hafod y Llyn from Porthmadog as part of the Winter Warmer services. This replaced the similar service on the Ffestiniog line to Trwyn-y-garnedd, which was suspended due to the bypass construction work at Minffordd. Still occasionally used, such as in March 2017 when it appeared in the timetable.

Pont Croesor is a railway halt in Wales located on the section between the stations of Hafod y Llyn and Pen-y-Mount Junction. Originally, as part of the Croesor Tramway, there was a siding at this location but no station. When the WHR was initially built in 1923 a small halt was provided, however this closed with the railway in 1936 . All trace of this was removed when the line was lifted.

The line from Pont Croesor to Porthmadog Harbour has been connected since early 2009, being available for stock transfer purposes. The station was officially opened on 26 May 2010 and was the WHR's temporary terminus, having previously opened to passengers on 22 May 2010. It opened to timetabled passenger services on 8 January 2011. When the station opened there was a full length platform on the west side of the loop only, but with the commencement of through services in both directions during 2011 a second platform was provided.. The station site is adjacent to Pont Croesor bridge, which crosses the River Glaslyn, and is a hybrid road/rail bridge, as each uses the same piers. The bridge was extensively modified in appearance recently to feature standard safety barriers.

During the 2010 and 2011 seasons the station has featured a manned booking office and gift shop, however with all trains terminating at Porthmadog for the 2012 season Pont Croesor is no longer a terminus, and has therefore been downgraded to an unstaffed halt. The station building has been removed to Blaenau Ffestiniog but the waiting room remains. The station is adjacent to the Glaslyn Osprey Project viewing site, from where the public can see the nesting place of a pair of ospreys which have successfully raised chicks every year since 2005. The majority of the WHR's construction in this area has been carried out whilst the birds are abroad in the winter months, in order to keep disturbance to a minimum.

Pen-y-Mount Junction station is the northern terminus of the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway (WHHR) in Porthmadog, Wales. It opened on 2 August 1980 at which time it consisted of a single platform with a run round loop and was intended to be a temporary terminus. In 1990, a siding was laid into the yard for works trains. After the Festiniog Railway Company gained the authority to rebuild the original Welsh Highland Railway (WHR), it was decided to turn Pen-y-Mount station into a representation of a typical WHR station. In 1996, a replica WHR corrugated iron station building was constructed. Its design was based upon the original Nantmor railway station. Subsequently, genuine WHR fencing, including a kissing gate, was erected along the back of the platform.

In 2000, the WHHR began construction of the WHR main line, under the terms of their 1998 agreement with the Festiniog Railway Company. This included clearing, preparing the track bed, tracklaying and ballasting. The northern end of the WHHR line was also re-modelled and, in 2002, the existing headshunt was replaced with a full crossover so it could connect with the FR owned WHR main line. A new headshunt loading spur was also constructed. They also helped construct the mainline between Pen-y-Mount and the Porthmadog Cross Town Link.

The WHHR finished construction work in 2007. Under the terms of the 1998 agreement, they were allowed to use the new line and retain all revenue from it until the FR had finished constructing the remainder of the WHR. During 2007 and 2008, WHHR trains terminated at Traeth Mawr Loop rather than Pen-y-Mount. In 2008, the Traeth Mawr loop was removed and WHHR trains used push-pull operation.

In 2008, the Welsh Highland Construction Company (an FR Co. subsidiary) connected the two ends of the Welsh Highland Railway and took possession of the line from Traeth Mawr to Pen-y-Mount and, since 2009, WHHR trains have terminated at Pen-y-Mount. It is hoped that in future the WHHR will have running rights over the FR-owned WHR mainline and that the station will become an interchange between the two railways. The two companies, however, are still in discussion over these issues and have yet to reach an agreement. It is intended that Pen-y-Mount Junction will have three platforms, with lines to Beddgelert and both Porthmadog Termini.

Porthmadog Harbour railway station in Porthmadog, North Wales, is the passenger terminus of two narrow gauge railways: the Ffestiniog Railway, which was built in 1836 to carry dressed slate from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog for export by sea; and the Welsh Highland Railway, incorporated in 1923, which ran to Dinas, after the rebuilding 1997-2011 the other terminus is at Caernarfon, in sight of the Castle. The station is built at the western end of the Cob, the great embankment across the Traeth Mawr, on a peninsula from Ynys Madoc constructed in 1842 to form a slate wharf and a harbour wall.

It was opened for passenger service on 6 January 1865. Welsh Highland Railway trains served the station from 1923, with a short period when all passenger traffic was diverted to Portmadog New station near the crossing with the Cambrian railway, the building long since demolished. The ill-funded WHR went bankrupt in 1936. Since 2011, following completion of the Cross Town Rail Link (CTRL), the station is also the terminus of the (new) Welsh Highland Railway, which is owned by the Festiniog Railway Company.

The present stone buildings, replacing earlier wooden buildings dismantled and reused elsewhere on the railway, date from 1878/79 and the goods shed was added in 1880. They were linked to the former goods shed by way of a major extension in 1975. Passenger facilities include a booking and enquiry office, a large tourist and hobby shop and a large cafeteria with licensed bar. The erection of the platform awning was completed in 1988.

With the resumption of services in 1955, all traffic on the line has been controlled from an office in Harbour station, known simply as "Control". With the exception of some early morning and late night movements by works trains, this office is manned constantly when passenger-carrying services are in operation. Its remit was expanded in 1997 with the commencement of public services on the Welsh Highland Railway between Caernarfon and Dinas and its subsequent expansion south towards Porthmadog. Additionally, for 2007 and 2008, when a connection was in use with the WHR(P), there was a requirement to coordinate with its operations on the new main line.

From 2011, with the WHR now connected to the station via the CTRL, a new short platform and point work was added to the eastward side of the existing platform structure/Spooners Bar. Too short to hold the longer WHR trains, WHR trains were hence scheduled to pull on to the cob and stop, and then a pilot locomotive was attached to the rear to drag the complete WHR train into the station. This operation was reversed on departure, and due to the need for both lines to use the cob and single platform, resulted in only one train operation in the station at any time.

The FR announced a proposed £1.3M rebuild of Harbour station, to provide two separate and individually controllable platforms, each with their own run around loops. The project took three years to complete, requiring physical extension of the cob structure into the Irish Sea, compacting, extension of the platform, and finally a shift westwards of the alignment of the existing single platform and FR storage loops and sidings. Completed in March 2014 within the projected cost, as well as two platforms the project also delivered a new electronically controlled signal box and system with a distinct FR heritage appearance.

Porthmadog (WHHR) railway station is the southern terminus of the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway and serves the western end of the town of Porthmadog. It is situated opposite the Porthmadog National Rail station. The station opened on 2 August 1980 and was originally a simple wooden shed situated in the car park. In January 1986 a portable building was installed at the end of the platforms for use as a waiting room and café. In 1990 a permanent station building was built between the café and the buffer stops. Initially it replaced the wooden shed and was subsequently extended to the east in 1993 to double the size of the shop.

The old café was demolished in 1998 and the station building was extended over its site. The station building was built by volunteers and is a single-storey building with a pitched roof and canopy. During the 1998 Civil's week the 50 lb run round point was replaced with a 75 lb full lead allowing a short siding to be constructed adjacent to the headshunt. This siding is now used to store various historic wagons, considerably enhancing the period feel of the station. The run round loop was relaid in 75 lb rail the same week.

Gelerts Farm Halt railway station on the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway was opened in 1988. It is a simple platform alongside the main shed at Gelert's Farm Works. All trains in one direction stop at the halt for the passengers to visit the museum. The halt is a request stop for trains in the other direction. Until the end of 2005 trains stopped in the Pen-y-Mount (up) direction. From the 2006 season, trains stop in the Porthmadog (down) direction. The platform was rebuilt and extended in 2006. In early 2007, the platform was extended a further 40 ft (12 m) in the northerly direction and a ramp constructed to enter the North Yard. A water supply has been installed at the southern end of the platform for watering locomotives.

 

The Welsh Highland Railway is fully wheelchair accessible with much attention paid to the comfort and ease of travel of disabled passengers and visitors. Click here for a complete accessibility guide to the Welsh Highland Railway. Light refreshments are available via an at-your-seat service in all but the older non-corridor carriages. There is hot and cold food available on Welsh Highland Railway trains and light snacks at all times on all other services. For blind and partially sighted customers 'Welcome Aboard' Leaflets are available in Braille or large print for loan from the Booking Office. Staff are happy to give assistance with reading menus and delivering food to your seat both on the trains and in the cafes.

All children under 3 travel FREE. All children 3 years and over require a ticket. One child under 16 years travels FREE with each adult or concession paying ordinary 3rd class fare. Additional children travel at half fare. A flat rate first class supplement applies. Concession fares are available to customers aged 65 and over, students and disabled customers.

For a complete accessibility statement regarding the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway (and excellent description of the journey) please click here. Assistance dogs are welcome and the railway is fully wheelchair accessible. Children under 3 travel free. The journey takes about an hour but this includes a visit to the Engine Sheds.

 

Location : Harbour Station, Porthmadog, Gwynedd LL49 9NF

Transport : Porthmadog (Arriva National Rail) OR Bangor (National Rail) then Bus to Caernarfon. Bus Routes : 1C, 1N, 1S, 2, 5A and 5B stop nearby to Caernarfon.

Opening Times : Welsh Highland Railway Timetable.

Opening Times : Welsh Highland Heritage Railway timetable.

Tickets : WHR 3rd Class Single and Return Fares

Tickets : WHHR. Adults - Return £8.95, Single £4.50;  Children (3 - 16) - Return £4.50, Single £2.25.

Tel : 01766 516024