Reopening the WHR from Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert

April 7th, 2009

The WHR was reopened from Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert on Tuesday April 7th 2009, before the resumption of regular public services the following day.

The "Special First Train" took invited guests from Caernarfon to Beddgelert, hauled double-headed by NGG16 Beyer-Garratts nos. 87 and 143; the day marked no. 87's launch into passenger service, together with new Pullman observation car no. 2100. Diesel Vale of Ffestiniog ran south light engine earlier in the morning to check the line, which led to the discovery of vandalism at Rhyd Ddu apparently intended to disrupt train operations. The special departed a little late from Caernarfon and ran slower than planned to Rhyd Ddu while the damage was rectified.

At Beddgelert, the assembled crowds witnessed speeches by Welsh Highland Railway Construction Ltd Chairman Mike Hart, Festiniog Railway Trust and Company Chairman Dr John Prideaux, and Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas, Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales, marking the formal reopening to Beddgelert. The train was then packed out by local residents who had responded to an invitation to ride the "First Passenger Train" from Beddgelert to Rhyd Ddu and back; the place of honour in the end of the observation car was reserved for 93-year old Beddgelert resident John Pritchard, who had travelled on the old WHR in his youth. Invited guests took lunch at the Royal Goat Hotel while the residents' train made its run, and later returned to Caernarfon by the return working of the "Special First Train".

YouTube video (John Wooden, FR Co).

Public services started the next day, with trains crossing at Rhyd Ddu or Waunfawr.

Over the Easter weekend - which was also the first weekend of public trains to Beddgelert - trains were running with eight carriages and a bicycle wagon, and in numerous cases ran almost full. In addition to passengers travelling from the Caernarfon end of the line to Beddgelert, numerous campers joined trains at Meillionen Halt to travel north.

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Authored by Ben Fisher; last updated April 13th, 2009