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Trawsfynydd re-opening proposed

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keith1879

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This might help flesh out peoples' understanding of the past:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Festiniog_railway_station

Please let me know of errors and omissions.

Not sure if it is clear up the thread but the line from Bala to Blaenau was never actually connected to the Conway Valley route. It was only after closure that a connection was made between the GWR and LNWR stations to allow running as far as Traws.
 

Doctor Fegg

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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)

Yes, indeed. Rail trails usually cater for the family market, the beginning cyclist, and the tourer, so reusing the trackbed here would add another string to Blaenau's bow. It would also link up neatly with the new cycle path around Trawsfynydd lake, and the existing Sustrans route 82 which passes through Trawsfynydd village. It's always a shame to see a railway line go, but given the better scenery of the Ffestiniog and WHR, I can't see a better use for it.
 

paul1609

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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?
On the Northiam to Bodiam section of the Kent & East Sussex Railway after 10 years out of use the formation needed a complete re-build with new track on top about a miles worth of the original rails were reused. Trees up to 12 inches in diameter had grown through the track and in some cases around the fishplates. Rabbits had undermined the formation in places to a depth of 6 feet, many of the drains had totally collapsed.
 

QueensCurve

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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.

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.

The track remains as far as the power station railhead, But the formation seems clear as far as the old Trawsfyndd station - which wasn't central to the vilage either.

Extending the Ffestiniog would mean lifting the standard gauge track and replacing it with 2' gauge. Doable but is it desirable?

Some sort of extension to a location closer to Trawsfynydd village might be doable.

The formation is substantially intact along the Cwm Prysor (and into Cwm Treweryn up to the point it is drowned by the Llyn) but again not a lot of habitation or amenities. Spectacular scenery though.
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Couldn't agree more. Why would anyone want to go to Trawsfynydd?

Given a suitable service, commuters to the power station?
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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?

You can't miss it.

trawsfynydd.jpg

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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.

Historically it was the Great Western route to Blaenau Ffestiniog until that route was drowned by Lynn Celyn. Blaenau to Traws was retained via the connection to the LNW route for flask trains from the power station. Given this route existed a location close to the old GW station in Blaenau was later chosen for the BR/Ffestiniog interchange.

If my memory serves me rightly there are 2 standard gauge tracks through the station at Blaenau so one of these could be used for NR and one for Traws.

"Tran crew operated gates" conjures up a lovely image.
 
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edwin_m

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If my memory serves me rightly there are 2 standard gauge tracks through the station at Blaenau so one of these could be used for NR and one for Traws.

There are two SG tracks but only one is next to the platform, the other being a run-round for the occasional loco-hauled train. The configuration north to south is:

[Platform]
<SG platform track>
<SG run-round track>
<NG platform track 1>
[Platform]
<NG platform track 2>
<NG run-round track>

It was suggested further back that NG platform track 1 is hardly ever used and could be replaced by another SG track. I don't know if there is enough space to do this, and the platform height might be a problem especially as the NG platform is very low and has a canopy over most of their length.
 

snowball

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It decommissioned years ago, so the only workers there now are those dismantling it. Not sure how long that has to go.

In this report from 2013 pages 108-113 are about Traws. It last generated power in 1991 and should be passing from decommissioning to "C&M" (the care & maintenance phase) in this financial year. It is one of two Magnox sites on this accelerated programme.

http://www.magnoxsites.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Magnox-Plan-Summary-2013.pdf

C&M is expected to be costing £40M a year in 2023-24, declining to £1M in 2027-8. It looks as though the reactor will not be dismantled until 2083. There's a graph of building demolition activity against time on page 111.
 
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QueensCurve

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It decommissioned years ago, so the only workers there now are those dismantling it. Not sure how long that has to go.

Nuclear decommissioning is protracted and labour intensive (although supposed to be accelerated fro Traws). I believe there was some suggestion of some sort of replacement employment being provided.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
In this report from 2013 pages 108-113 are about Traws. It last generated power in 1991 and should be passing from decommissioning to "C&M" (the care & maintenance phase) in this financial year.

I don't believe that will happen so soon, but it may happen in name.
 

Xenophon PCDGS

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The track remains as far as the power station railhead, But the formation seems clear as far as the old Trawsfyndd station - which wasn't central to the vilage either.

Extending the Ffestiniog would mean lifting the standard gauge track and replacing it with 2' gauge. Doable but is it desirable? Some sort of extension to a location closer to Trawsfynydd village might be doable.

I wonder what price tag can be attached to these "do-able" aspirations?

Trawsfynydd had a population of 973 residents in the 2011 census, of which 81.7% were fluent speakers of the Welsh language.
 

GarethJohn

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This should not get any Public money. So If he uses his own money then good luck.
I do hope it won't be another Narrow Gauge as this wouldn't even be recreating a time gone by, there are plenty in the area already covering pretty much the same thing.
I hope he is not another ''Dreamy Enthusiast'' that wants to play trains who cannot get his way with members of the established heritage lines.
There are plenty of these about usually close to the Big heritage Railways, running clapped out DMU's along 1 mile tracks.
 

krus_aragon

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I do hope it won't be another Narrow Gauge as this wouldn't even be recreating a time gone by, there are plenty in the area already covering pretty much the same thing.

Well technically it could be recreating a time gone by, as the Ffestiniog and Blaenau Railway was 1ft 11 1/2in for the first 15 years of its life.
 

LDECRexile

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Well technically it could be recreating a time gone by, as the Ffestiniog and Blaenau Railway was 1ft 11 1/2in for the first 15 years of its life.

What's more, when the Festiniog & Blaenau (that's how the railway was titled, don't throw things at me) was being converted to standard gauge as part of the Bala to Blaenau line it was briefly mixed gauge, with ng and sg tracks on common sleepers, so there's even a precedent for that between Llan Ffestiniog and Blaenau Ffestiniog.

However, as this was in the early 1880s there probably aren't too many folks around who could nostalge for those days.
 
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Cowley

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What's more, when the Festiniog & Blaenau (that's how the railway was titled, don't throw things at me) was being converted to standard gauge as part of the Bala to Blaenau line it was briefly mixed gauge, with ng and sg tracks on common sleepers, so there's even a precedent for that between Llan Ffestiniog and Blaenau Ffestiniog.

However, as this was in the early 1880s there probably aren't too many folks around who could nostalge for those days.

I love the area and have been up there quite a few times but have learnt a lot of new stuff from this thread, thanks guys.
 

Old Yard Dog

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I remember going on a special from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Maentwrog Road about 20 years ago.
 

6Gman

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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.

You mean the keen environmentalists on Countryfile don't use public transport? :o
 

Dr_Paul

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When I last saw the line in Blaenau Ffestiniog, about three years back, it was very overgrown and the sections in a cutting were, as is often the case, used as a local rubbish tip. I doubt if there had anything down the line for several years previously, and the track looked in a pretty rough condition.

I agree with previous posts that say that there is very little in the way of a viable destination. Trawsfynydd is a nice little village, but is not a tourist attraction, and the hulk of the power station is hardly appealing. I believe that there is talk of turning it into some sort of lakeside attraction, but whether a nature trail and sailing on the lake would generate much rail traffic is doubtful. The best bit of the line is further on at Cwm Prysor, with its viaduct and excellent views, but, again, is this enough to generate traffic even if rebuilding the line to there is a feasible project?

The best idea for the line would be to extend the Ffestiniog Railway to Llan Ffestiniog, with the option of going further if desired.
 

LDECRexile

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Modular nuclear power generators at Trawsfynydd would require reinstatement of the railway and secure its future and that of the Conwy Valley line, as well as provide secure local employment and juice for the area.

Passenger specials could then use the line as they did up to closure in 1998.

If I were on the FR Board I would wish a stand alone tourist railway well, but avoid it like the plague.

I wish the current promoters well, but I fear they'll find the line a bottomless money sink unless it has a major commercial user besides them.
 

Andyjs247

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I agree with previous posts that say that there is very little in the way of a viable destination. Trawsfynydd is a nice little village, but is not a tourist attraction, and the hulk of the power station is hardly appealing. I believe that there is talk of turning it into some sort of lakeside attraction, but whether a nature trail and sailing on the lake would generate much rail traffic is doubtful. The best bit of the line is further on at Cwm Prysor, with its viaduct and excellent views, but, again, is this enough to generate traffic even if rebuilding the line to there is a feasible project?

The best idea for the line would be to extend the Ffestiniog Railway to Llan Ffestiniog, with the option of going further if desired.

Both the FR and WHR actually provide links that are useful not just for tourists. However I can't see any likelihood of the FR wanting to extend beyond Blaenau Ffestiniog. Neither Ffestiniog nor Trawsfynydd are tourist destinations. And the railway stops some way short of the village in any case. If it was extended to Bala you might have a tourist destination. But Bala is a good 20 odd miles further; there's not much of note in between apart from a large reservoir across the track bed. And I can't see any non tourist potential either. Any extension is a complete non starter in my view.
 

Xenophon PCDGS

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You mean the keen environmentalists on Countryfile don't use public transport? :o

There are some places they have visited where the presenters would have grown old waiting for non-existent public transport.
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If they are Welsh speakers....????

Then they would really feel at home..:D.....Perhaps they could pay for their tickets with coins bearing the image of Llewelyn ap Iowerth.
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I thought the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth reopening was bad enough...

Indeed so. However, for health purposes, it is not advisable to burst into bouts of side-splitting laughter on a regular basis..:D
 

LDECRexile

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Please find below the text of an article in the current Railway Herald.

From “Railway Herald” Late September 2016

The first steps have now been taken towards restoring a train service between Blaenau Ffestiniog and Trawsfynydd, with clearance work being undertaken on a short section of the trackbed at Blaenau on 24th September.The line was opened by the Bala & Festiniog Railway in November 1882, originally linking Bala with Llan Ffestiniog, and it was extended the following year by taking over the trackbed of the 1ft 111⁄2 in gauge Festiniog and Blaenau Railway, and from then on terminated at the GWR station of Blaenau Ffestiniog, connecting with the Ffestiniog Railway until the latter’s closure in 1939. At its opposite end, it also connected with the GWR line from Ruabon to Barmouth at Bala Junction, and was absorbed into the GWR in 1910. This line was a pre-Beeching era casualty, however, losing its passenger service in 1960 and closing in its entirety in 1961. Part of the line was subsequently flooded with the building of the Llyn Celyn reservoir.With the opening of the Trawsfynydd nuclear power station, a way needed to be found to transport the fuel flasks to the site, and a short new section of line was constructed in 1964 through Blaenau to connect to the Conwy Valley Line, and the six-and-a-half miles of the original line to a point just north of the former Trawsfynydd Lake Halt was reopened to handle this traffic. With the reopening of the Ffestiniog Railway to Blaenau in 1982, a new nterchange station was constructed on the site of the former GWR station, with all BR trains using the newly constructed link from the Conwy Valley Line from this point onwards.With the closure of the power station at Trawsfynydd in 1998, the line was mothballed, and despite two previous preservation attempts, has gradually been taken over by encroaching vegetation ever since. The recently formed Trawsfynydd and Blaenau Ffestiniog Community Railway Company has obtained a licence from Network Rail to commence clearance on the line in order to assess the condition of the track, embankments and structures with a view to operating passenger services to Trawsfynydd in the medium term. The line takes a meandering route through some stunning scenery in the Snowdonia National Park, and could potentially provide a valuable tourist lifeline to an otherwise remote part of Wales. The first step is to clear approximately 275 metres of the line and complete a survey along this stretch of the railway. Colin Dale, of the Trawsfynydd and Blaenau Ffestiniog community railway company, says he hopes the clearance project could be completed within eight months. It is hoped that the full clearance work will be completed by next summer, allowing detailed surveys of the bridges and viaducts on the route to be undertaken. Network Rail will continue to work closely with the Trawsfynydd Railway team, but no commitments have yet been made to reopen the eight-mile line. It remains to be seen if there is sufficient tourist demand for another line in the area, which will be competing against the well-established Ffestiniog Railway and the rising popularity of the Welsh Highland Railway, especially with the lack of a high-profile destination. However, with the vast majority of the trackbed beyond Trawsfynydd emaining intact, there is always the distant possibility of a link-up through Bala to the Llangollen Railway at Corwen.
 

Llanigraham

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No mention at the end of that piece on how they would get past the flooded section at Llyn Celyn
 

A0wen

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I thought the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth reopening was bad enough...

Quite - like a few of the other madcap suggestions which keep getting peddled around here - my personal favourite being the suggestion of re-opening Northampton - Bedford in order to run a circular Northampton - Bedford - MK - Northampton service.
 

HowardGWR

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Quite - like a few of the other madcap suggestions which keep getting peddled around here - my personal favourite being the suggestion of re-opening Northampton - Bedford in order to run a circular Northampton - Bedford - MK - Northampton service.

Now, now, naughty, don't start that again!:D
 

krus_aragon

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No mention at the end of that piece on how they would get past the flooded section at Llyn Celyn

A deviation was planned back when the reservoir was being built. The decision was later made to close Traws-Bala (and Ruabon-Bala-Barmouth), and build the cross-town link in Blaenau instead.
 

Dr_Paul

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'However, with the vast majority of the trackbed beyond Trawsfynydd emaining intact, there is always the distant possibility of a link-up through Bala to the Llangollen Railway at Corwen.'

Well, that I would like to see; it would be a lovely run. Apart from the lake at Arenig, a bit of road-building on the formation, the odd building on the trackbed at Corwen, one or two missing bridges, no problems!

An extremely 'distant possibility' I think.
 
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