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Trawsfynydd re-opening proposed

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Phil from Mon

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According to the Daily Post, volunteers are starting to clear the tracked of vegetation this weekend, with the aim of returning steam services between Blaenau Ffestiniog and Trawsfynydd

http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/blaenau-ffestiniog-steam-railway-line-11912243

A seven mile stretch of abandoned railway in North Wales could soon be back in service under ambitious plans to reopen the line.
Volunteers are set to start work this weekend on clearing vegetation from the trackbed between to Trawfynydd.
The Trawsfynydd & Blaenau Ffestiniog Community Railway Company has been founded to carry out the work and run the trains.
Among those backing the project is entrepreneur Colin Dale, from Essex, who said he wants to bring the line back to life.
Blaenau Ffestiniog train stationAll aboard: Blaenau Ffestiniog train station
He said: “Our aim is to run trains between Blaenau Ffestiniog and Trawsfynydd after a period of 20 years since the last revenue earning service ran to Trawsfynydd Power Station.
“Progress is happening quite fast and the day moves ever closer when trains will once again traverse the viaducts and cuttings on their way to Trawsfynydd and maybe one day beyond.
“We have been given a licence by Network Rail to clear and survey the line.
"This mothballed branch will become live once again when the licence is officially handed over from Network Rail.”
“I’m determined to make it happen” Essex businessman vows to reopen disused Trawsfynydd train line
At present Arriva Trains services running from Llandudno Junction along the Conwy Valley line terminate at Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Under the proposals a new full-sized steam railway will run to Trawfynydd, along the line last used to ferry nuclear flasks to be carried to the now de-commissioned power station.

A train last used the track in October 1998.

An initial survey has found the infrastructure is intact but there are some places with blocked drainage Mr Dale added.

Mr Dale first announced his intention to reopen the disused line in 2009 to tie-in with his plans for tourist facilities which included a cafe and boat cruises on the lake at Trawsfynydd. And four years ago plans were drawn up for pedal powered trains to run on the line. If funding had been secured it would have been the first velorail in Britain although they are popular in France, Germany and Holland.
The Bala and Ffestiniog railway was opened in 1883 after a section of narrow gauge line was converted to standard gauge.
The line closed to passengers in 1960 when part of the track was flooded to create Llyn Tryweryn , the controversial reservoir to supply Liverpool with water.
A Network Rail spokesperson said: “Network Rail is pleased to be working with the Trawsfynydd Railway Group with the collective aim of regenerating the disused railway land in Blaenau Ffestiniog.
“This first step is to clear approximately 275 metres of the line and complete a survey along this stretch of the railway.
"We will be working closely with the Trawsfynydd Railway Group and the local community with regards to the possible next steps once the initial clearance work and survey have been completed.”

It seems the man behind this, Colin Dale, has proposed similar schemes before, including boats on the lake, and a pedal-powered cycle train. I am not sure we have enough market for another preserved railway up here, albeit standard gauge and connected to an established NG line. Somehow I can't see this ever happening.
 
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theageofthetra

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By a Cycle Train I presume they are looking at something like the various 'Velo-rail' operator's in France? If so a great idea and something I wish preserved lines in scenic areas would look at for extra revenue during non operating days. Anyone fancy an extreme downhill ride on the Ffestiniog! Not a crazy idea as they have something similar on part of the narow gauge Vivrais system in France.
 

krus_aragon

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By a Cycle Train I presume they are looking at something like the various 'Velo-rail' operator's in France? If so a great idea and something I wish preserved lines in scenic areas would look at for extra revenue during non operating days. Anyone fancy an extreme downhill ride on the Ffestiniog! Not a crazy idea as they have something similar on part of the narow gauge Vivrais system in France.

I'd suggest this older idea is better than running steam trains, as it'd make for a unique attraction in the area. Trying to copy and compete with the long-established, famous Ffestiniog Railway in its own back-garden seems rather futile.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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How long is the route? Is all the track intact? What's the scenery like on the route?

It's 7 miles and largely contours high up round the head of the Maentwrog valley with the village of Ffestiniog in the middle of the route.
It closely follows the main road (A470).
The track is probably still all there, under the jungle.
It has some good wide views of the valley down towards the estuary around Potmeirion/Porthmadog, and the hills either side, but is not of itself "spectacular".
The Blaenau Ff-Ff line was originally narrow gauge and was taken over by the GWR and made standard gauge for their Bala-Blaenau line.
BR then linked the LNWR and GWR routes in Blaenau for the nuclear power station traffic, just at the point the Bala line closed.

I could imagine the Ffestiniog Railway extending its line to Trawsfynydd (over a newly narrowed formation), but not a separate standard-gauge heritage operation.

There is absolutely nothing at Trawsfynydd, bar the lake and a hulking power station carcass which is still being decommissioned.
It's also high up and jolly cold and bleak on the wrong day.
It's great hiking country, but there's no centre or particular attraction in the area. The railway doesn't actually reach Trawsfynydd village.
Ffestiniog village would make a better terminus for an extended FR operation.
 
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RichmondCommu

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It's 7 miles and largely contours high up round the head of the Maentwrog valley with the village of Ffestiniog in the middle of the route.
It closely follows the main road (A470).
The track is probably still all there, under the jungle.
It has some good wide views of the valley down towards the estuary around Potmeirion/Porthmadog, and the hills either side, but is not of itself "spectacular".
The Blaenau Ff-Ff line was originally narrow gauge and was taken over by the GWR and made standard gauge for their Bala-Blanau line.
BR then linked the LNWR and GWR routes in Blaenau for the nuclear power station traffic, just at the point the Bala line closed.

I could imagine the Ffestiniog Railway extending its line to Trawsfynydd (over a newly narrowed formation), but not a separate standard-gauge heritage operation.

There is absolutely nothing at Trawsfynydd, bar the lake and a hulking power station carcass which is still being decommissioned.
It's also high up and jolly cold at times.
It's great hiking country, but there's no centre or particular attraction in the area.

Many thanks for all of this :) Is the line still connected to the network? It would surely help their cause no end if all the signaling / points are still intact.
 

Parham Wood

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I would imaging it would require a complete lifting of the track and pulling out of tree routes. I do not see how just cutting the trees at ground level would work unless the track could be lifted and reballasted on top of the cut off roots. What do the PW experts here think?
 

LNW-GW Joint

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Many thanks for all of this :) Is the line still connected to the network? It would surely help their cause no end if all the signaling / points are still intact.

As far as I know the route is still connected, but there would be no points and signals, long siding and all that.
There's a siding at Trawsfynydd and there was a loading crane, but there is no station.
 

pdeaves

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I could imagine the Ffestiniog Railway extending its line to Trawsfynydd (over a newly narrowed formation), but not a separate standard-gauge heritage operation.

Or use another visitor attraction idea: dual gauge! It worked with 7' 1/4" and 4' 8 1/2" gauges, why not downsize the idea?

:D
 

RichmondCommu

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As far as I know the route is still connected, but there would be no points and signals, long siding and all that.
There's a siding at Trawsfynydd and there was a loading crane, but there is no station.

Sorry I didn't make myself clear. I mean't to say the points and signals that control access to the branch from the rest of the network.
 

Phil from Mon

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There is absolutely nothing at Trawsfynydd, bar the lake and a hulking power station carcass which is still being decommissioned.
It's also high up and jolly cold and bleak on the wrong day.
It's great hiking country, but there's no centre or particular attraction in the area. The railway doesn't actually reach Trawsfynydd village.
Ffestiniog village would make a better terminus for an extended FR operation.

Couldn't agree more. Why would anyone want to go to Trawsfynydd? And as for bleak, I have bad memories of driving that way weekly down to Aberystwyth, and it was always the worst for winter weather.

Would the FR be able to take this on, what with the new station on the WHR at Caernarfon?
 

John Luxton

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I think the logical thing would be to reopen the Blaenau Ffestiniog to Ffestiniog as an extension to the Ffestiniog Railway or even the Network Rail line - but beyond that is it worth it?
 

MidnightFlyer

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I hope this isn't too off-topic but I was trying to work this out after a visit to the area and a trip on the Ffestiniog Ralway last week: is the old nuclear plant at Trawsfynydd the massive building you can see away out on the other side of the valley around Ddaultt?

Good luck to the scheme anyway: it's a fantastic operation already on the Ffestiniog and anything that adds to the plethora of narrow gauge and heritage lines in that part of the country is welcome.
 

themiller

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I hope this isn't too off-topic but I was trying to work this out after a visit to the area and a trip on the Ffestiniog Ralway last week: is the old nuclear plant at Trawsfynydd the massive building you can see away out on the other side of the valley around Ddaultt?

That's the one (two). I was past that way a week ago and the old NPS looked more prominent than it did in operation. They must have been felling a lot of trees since I was past some 18 years ago.
 

MidnightFlyer

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Yes, the Ffestiniog is quite open around there (before disappearing into the woods at Tan-y-Bwlch) and despite it being a good distance away it is still very obvious, it couldn't look more out of place if it tried. Looks a beautiful building mind.
 

Llanigraham

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Sorry I didn't make myself clear. I mean't to say the points and signals that control access to the branch from the rest of the network.

As a continuation of the Festiniog branch I can't remember any signals on it, after the joint station.
If they were wooden the locals would probably have burnt them, like they have sleepers around the Manod Cemetery area. Rumour has it even rails are missing!
 

KTHV

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Off Topic - but I went on a family holiday up to Bala and Trawsfynydd a few years ago when they were just beginning to decommission the power station - and you could still have a look around the visitors centre and plant itself.

Just happened to be the same day the BBC were there doing a feature on it for Countryfile - and managed to meet John Craven with the Countryfile Land Rover.
 

headshot119

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Sorry I didn't make myself clear. I mean't to say the points and signals that control access to the branch from the rest of the network.

The line was simply an extension of the Conwy Valley line, and continued under the road bridge past the buffer stops just south of Blaenau Ffestiniog, and onward through to Trawsfynydd.

Now the line has been severed just past the current buffer stops, but that wouldn't take much to reinstate.

The biggest problem I can see is where do they want to actually run trains to? There'd need to be modifications to Blaenau Ffestiniog mainline station, and the signalling in order to allow trains on the preserved line to access the station, and I can't see it being an easy negotiation with Network Rail, just look how much effort Swanage have had to put in at Wareham.

If they aren't going to use the mainline station, where do they run to?

And if they do want to use the mainline station there's the issue of the level crossing in Blaenau Ffestiniog to consider can it just be brought back into use in it's present form (Tran crew operated gates) or will significant investment be needed in order to satisfy the regulatory bodies.

As far as I know the ground frame to access the loading siding for Trawsfynydd nuclear power station is still in place. Now what I don't know from there plans is where they plan to run to in Trawsfynydd, the village itself, or as far as the loading site only.

The track doesn't exist much further past the loading siding ground frame, but the track bed does. Whether that is still covered by a transport and works order I don't know.

As a continuation of the Festiniog branch I can't remember any signals on it, after the joint station.
If they were wooden the locals would probably have burnt them, like they have sleepers around the Manod Cemetery area. Rumour has it even rails are missing!

The line didn't have any signals at the point of closure, just a one train staff kept at Llanwrst box.

It was presumably signaled in some form prior to closure of the through route to bala, though I imagine all of that is long gone by now, even if any did survive the closure.


From chatter on there Facebook group, and other social media sources, it seems reopening Blaenau Ffestiniog - Trawsfynydd is "Phase 1" of the plan, "phase 2" is reopening Trawsfynydd to Bala, though they don't seem willing to address some of the major stumbling blocks with that idea, Llyn Celyn being one of them!
 
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Llanigraham

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The line didn't have any signals at the point of closure, just a one train staff kept at Llanwrst box.

It was presumably signaled in some form prior to closure of the through route to bala, though I imagine all of that is long gone by now, even if any did survive the closure.

From chatter on there Facebook group, and other social media sources, it seems reopening Blaenau Ffestiniog - Trawsfynydd is "Phase 1" of the plan, "phase 2" is reopening Trawsfynydd to Bala, though they don't seem willing to address some of the major stumbling blocks with that idea, Llyn Celyn being one of them!

As I thought.
Confirmed with a friend who lives in Manod, sleepers and rails are missing in places, it is massively overgrown in some parts and used as a footpath in others.
The comment from them was "Dim cyfle!!" (No chance!!)
There does seem to be some local support for extending the Ffestiniog instead, but even this could not reach Traws village or the proposed landing site for the "lake cruisers" due to having to cross the A470. At least that would make use of the current Ffest platform.
If it was run as a separate entity that "connected" with the Ffest, they could use the little used "middle" road, on the "big railway" side.
 

QueensCurve

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According to the Daily Post, volunteers are starting to clear the tracked of vegetation this weekend, with the aim of returning steam services between Blaenau Ffestiniog and Trawsfynydd

http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/blaenau-ffestiniog-steam-railway-line-11912243

It seems the man behind this, Colin Dale, has proposed similar schemes before, including boats on the lake, and a pedal-powered cycle train. I am not sure we have enough market for another preserved railway up here, albeit standard gauge and connected to an established NG line. Somehow I can't see this ever happening.

I believe he used to own the cafe which was open in the summer months adjacent to where the power station access road joins the main road opposite the railhead.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
How long is the route? Is all the track intact? What's the scenery like on the route?

Intact but overgrown and lacking in maintenance. A flask train when to the power station and back a few years ago.
 

headshot119

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As I thought.
Confirmed with a friend who lives in Manod, sleepers and rails are missing in places, it is massively overgrown in some parts and used as a footpath in others.
The comment from them was "Dim cyfle!!" (No chance!!)
There does seem to be some local support for extending the Ffestiniog instead, but even this could not reach Traws village or the proposed landing site for the "lake cruisers" due to having to cross the A470. At least that would make use of the current Ffest platform.
If it was run as a separate entity that "connected" with the Ffest, they could use the little used "middle" road, on the "big railway" side.

I wonder if the Ffestiniog is actually interested in getting to Ffestiniog "proper". You'd lose the headshunt on the NR side if they wanted to go out on the original alignment, not sure how much of an issue that would actually be these days though.

I believe he used to own the cafe which was open in the summer months adjacent to where the power station access road joins the main road opposite the railhead.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---


Intact but overgrown and lacking in maintenance. A flask train when to the power station and back a few years ago.

The last train down the branch was in 1998, that's some 18 years ago, you've only got to look at snippets of the line that you can get from Google Street View and you'll soon understand what a mammoth task this it.

You can't really just cut back growth to sleeper height and crack on, you need to assess the effect the growth has had on the formation, and what needs to be done long term to correct it.
 
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Doctor Fegg

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By a Cycle Train I presume they are looking at something like the various 'Velo-rail' operator's in France?

It's been suggested a few times, but frankly, you'd get more visitors, and do more for the tourist industry in Blaenau Ffestiniog, by simply converting the railway to a normal traffic-free cycle trail.
 

SeanG

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Bleanau has good cycle facilities at the moment, with many roadies passing by whilst pootling round Snowdonia. this is not to mention the Antur Stiniog trail centre (though as a downhiller I wouldn't want to use a cycle trail on an olf railway line as its a bit boring)
 

Tim M

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I've not walked any of the Blaenau to Trawfynedd Power Station line (the terminus is several miles short of the village and not that close to the power station/lake either), but I know others who have and report it overgrown to very overgrown, with many sleepers rotten. Drainage is also an issue (Blaenau has one of the highest rainfalls in the UK!).

The Ffestiniog Railway was closed from 1946 to the mid 50's, that's about ten years, and required major work to make it fit for traffic, and only opened in stages.

I use this as a comparison to the Bl Ff to Traws line which has not seen a train in 18 years, and must therefore be in similar or worse condition. Major work would be required before permitting any sort of vehicle to run over it, let alone a passenger train.

The connection is still in place at Blaenau station but with a buffer stop in place providing only a headshunt to run loco's round a train of carriages. Any movement towards Traws would therefore require a possession and in the long term some form of signalling installed.
 

headshot119

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I've not walked any of the Blaenau to Trawfynedd Power Station line (the terminus is several miles short of the village and not that close to the power station/lake either), but I know others who have and report it overgrown to very overgrown, with many sleepers rotten. Drainage is also an issue (Blaenau has one of the highest rainfalls in the UK!).

The Ffestiniog Railway was closed from 1946 to the mid 50's, that's about ten years, and required major work to make it fit for traffic, and only opened in stages.

I use this as a comparison to the Bl Ff to Traws line which has not seen a train in 18 years, and must therefore be in similar or worse condition. Major work would be required before permitting any sort of vehicle to run over it, let alone a passenger train.

The connection is still in place at Blaenau station but with a buffer stop in place providing only a headshunt to run loco's round a train of carriages. Any movement towards Traws would therefore require a possession and in the long term some form of signalling installed.

It wouldn't require a possession at all. I'm fairly certain the Trawsfynydd One Train staff is still kept in Llanrwst box, all you'd need to do is reconnect the track (I'm almost certain there's a couple of panels missing after the buffer stops) remove the buffer stop, and erect a STOP board around where the buffer stops are now "STOP - Obtain token to Trawsfynydd" and coming the other way "STOP - Obtain token to North Llanrwst".

That's of course assuming it was for Network Rail use, it gets a lot more complex if the Trawsfynydd line isn't classed as Network Rail.
 

edwin_m

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It wouldn't require a possession at all. I'm fairly certain the Trawsfynydd One Train staff is still kept in Llanrwst box, all you'd need to do is reconnect the track (I'm almost certain there's a couple of panels missing after the buffer stops) remove the buffer stop, and erect a STOP board around where the buffer stops are now "STOP - Obtain token to Trawsfynydd" and coming the other way "STOP - Obtain token to North Llanrwst".

That's of course assuming it was for Network Rail use, it gets a lot more complex if the Trawsfynydd line isn't classed as Network Rail.

Is there some means of surrendering the Llanrwst-Blaenau token at Blaenau so another train can be using that section?
 

DPWH

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Perhaps this is one for national-preservation rather than railukforums but wouldn't it require a Transport and Works Act Order?
 

headshot119

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Is there some means of surrendering the Llanrwst-Blaenau token at Blaenau so another train can be using that section?

Yes there's a token instrument there that allows a train to lock inside the loop, or in years gone by onto the Trawsfynydd line.

Perhaps this is one for national-preservation rather than railukforums but wouldn't it require a Transport and Works Act Order?

The line has never officially stopped being a railway, and therefore will have an act to cover it.
 

headshot119

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Think it is still there, in a cabinet at the end of the platform.

It is still there, used now and again if a charter or test train locks into the loop.

I've done some more digging and there was (still there in the undergrowth) a 2 lever ground frame controlling a set of trap points which needed to be operated to get onto or off of the Trawsfynydd branch, unlocked by the key on the one train staff.

I don't know the official name of the ground frame, though the two still present at Blaenau Ffestiniog are No2 and No3, so perhaps this was No1?
 
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