Rebuilding the Welsh Highland Railway

Phase 2: Dinas to Waunfawr, 1999/2000


This page details how the line from Dinas to Waunfawr has been rebuilt; the general route description is now on a separate page.
Will past photographic contributors to this website, and to this phase of construction, please refer to the annoucement on this page.


Pictures on this page were taken from points with public access outside the construction sites, or by persons duly authorised to be on the site in question.


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The second phase of the Welsh Highland Railway Project represents the reinstatement of the original North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways line from the original terminus at Dinas to Waunfawr, at a cost of around two million pounds. After the long wait for approval to proceed, the work needed to reopen took almost exactly a year, from the first fencing work to the start of passenger trains in August 2000. It had been hoped to open as early as the end of May, but in the event this did not prove possible, mainly because of delays attributed to the extremely wet (even for North Wales!) 1999/2000 winter weather, which slowed down work on drainage of the trackbed at numerous Phase 2 sites.

The task of rebuilding this section of the WHR came under four main headings:

  1. Clearance and Fencing (one contract)
  2. Bridges and Culverts (two contracts plus some in-house work)
  3. Civils and Earthworks (one contract)
  4. Tracklaying (Welsh Highland Light Railway Ltd)

In contrast to Phase 1, the Dinas-Waunfawr work was broken down into a number of sections with work proceeding at multiple sites simultaneously, so these jobs were not consecutive over the whole length. Progress over several months is shown on John Sreeves's construction maps, accessed via the links below - which should open the maps in a (single) separate window so you can consult it in parallel with this page.

[January 2000 ] [March 21st] [April 10th] [April 17th] [May 2nd] [May 8th] [May 16th] [May 24th] [May 31st] [June 5th] [June 12th] [June 19th] [June 26th] [July 5th] [July 10th] [July 17th] [July 24th] (all J.C. Sreeves)

Detailed scans of the gradient profile for Phase 2 ( FR Company) are available c/o Steve Harris via his WHR Maps site, or go straight to the clickable gradient profiles map.

Clearance and Fencing were, essentially, self-explanatory. The process was that the contractor (Achnashean Contractors Ltd, of Llandygai) initially cleared a vehicle-sized route to allow access and safe working, then worked back from one end of the section completing the undergrowth removal needed for the railway, followed by fencing. Decisions on trees to be felled or retained outside the structure gauge were taken in close consultation with environmental consultants, and with a tree protection officer from Gwynedd Council. Overall, this section of the line was more overgrown than the remainder of the WHR trackbed, thus the shape of the railway has emerged quite dramatically from the dense foliage that concealed it for so long. Boundary fencing is of a traditional stock-proof type already familiar in the area, indeed along sections of the trackbed, and is less obtrusive than the type dividing the railway from the adjacent cycle track on the Caernarfon-Dinas line.

The two Bridges and Culverts contracts (both awarded to Mulcair Ltd, of Caernarfon) involved substantial work on six NWNGR overbridges, one underbridge (another was worked on by WHLR Ltd.) and on drainage culverts under the trackbed. Work started at the beginning of November 1999 on the first contract, which covered the work needed on bridges between Waunfawr and Tryfan Junction Station, and certain stream bridges further on. The second contract covered the remaining bridges from Tryfan Junction back to Dinas, and work started during January 2000. Apart from general renovation, the trackbed was lowered by about 1 metre under the overbridges, to give clearance for the new rolling stock. The bridges were underpinned, and the approaches to these bridges regraded to give as smooth a transition of gradient as possible. All bridges and culverts on the operating railway are numbered (a Health & Safety requirement) in a sequence starting at Caernarfon; however it should be noted that the numbers used on this page derive from a sequence allocated to Dinas-Waunfawr for construction reporting purposes. The construction list ran from OB1 (i.e. an OverBridge, the 1st bridge or similar), the A487 bridge at Dinas, to OB42, the A4085 road bridge at Waunfawr. The high number reflects the quantity of minor drains and culverts - many only came to light as clearance has progressed - which do not feature in the final bridge numbering sequence, which only identifies major structures. The fitting of the required bridge number plates has been done.

The Civils and Earthworks contractor (Jones Bros. Ruthin [Civil Engineering] Co. Ltd.) completed and ballasted the trackbed ready for tracklaying to proceed. The trackbed was released to WHLR Ltd for tracklaying in sections. The trackbed was first covered with a layer of rolled slate waste, supplied from the Hafod-y-Wern quarry near Betws Garmon (once connected by its own tramway to the old WHR), and then with granite ballast from the Hanson quarries at Penmaenmawr, which has supplied huge quantities of ballast to railways around Britain for over 120 years.

In addition, the work involved a firm of Consulting Engineers (Symonds Group Ltd, of Colwyn Bay) with a Resident Civil Engineer based at Dinas, acting as a link between WHLR Ltd and the outside contractors, and ensuring smooth running of the contracts.

These were major civil engineering contracts, and they all went to local firms. Welsh Highland Light Railway Ltd also recruited local people for rebuilding work; thus the WHR Project was seen to make good on its commitment to helping the employment position in the area.

Tracklaying was the preserve of WHLR Ltd staff, plus the two Welsh Highland Railway Society volunteer track gangs. Also a welcome working visit from the WHR(P) track volunteers took place over the weekend of June 24-5th 2000. The stocks of Umzinto-Donnybrook rail imported from South Africa in 1996-7 were adequate; however more sleepers were needed to complete Phase 2, and a further supply was obtained from South Africa. Like the steel sleepers used on Phase 1 and those still in stock at Dinas, these come from the lifted Umzinto-Donnybrook line. In addition wooden sleepers have been used, mainly at Waunfawr, and at the overbridges. Unlike the pattern of tracklaying on Phase 1 (Caernarfon-Dinas), where tracklaying started at Dinas and continued end-on to Caernarfon, Phase 2 saw work at a number of sites, which gradually extended to join one another. A novel approach to ballast tamping (working the sleepers down into the ballast) was tested at Dinas for possible use on Phase 2. This involved using a roadbuilding vibrating machine to "rattle" the sleepers into place. However in the end more traditional methods (mainly Kango hammers) were used, after a prolonged failure of the railway's self-propelled ballast tamper. While work continued on this machine, the Ffestiniog Railway's Matisa tamper Stefcomatic was moved (June 27th) to the Cae Wernlas Ddu tracklaying base. However it too suffered a breakdown, not having been in regular use for some time (stoneblowing is now usual practice on the FR). A valuable contribution to the tracklaying effort came in the form of the secondment of surveyor James Murray from GTRM, which helped surveying, marking out and alignment of track to be done to a very high standard, with the help of sophisticated instrumentation. In mid-May, WHLR Ltd engaged a further twenty temporary employees (in addition to those already on the staff) to help with completion of Phase 2. In the latter stages of tracklaying, staff worked to a shift system (0600-1400 and 1400-2200) taking advantage of the long days of June and July.

Before Phase 2 could open for train services, it of course had to be subjected to stringent inspection by the Railways Inspectorate (HMRI), whose requirements must be complied with. A preliminary inspection visit took place on June 22nd. The Safety Case exemption was received on July 7th. This was the official permission to operate trains to Waunfawr, subject to the inspection of works required to gain permission for opening. The final, successful inspection took place on July 21st, leaving just a snagging list to be worked through prior to opening.


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Phase 2 starts here (geographically); behind Upnor Castle and the Dinas yard buffer stop, the historic NWNGR/WHR trackbed was crossed by a sewer pipe (visible above) which needed to be put underground in a trench; this involved temporary severing of tracks outside the engine shed. Mulcair Ltd completed the sewer diversion, and the obstructing pipe was removed. The track had to be lifted temporarily for this work. There were alterations to the layout in preparation for the extension, and some further relaying also took place. Laurence Armstrong's photo below shows the view towards the cutting.

At the rear of the picture, the line passes under the main A487 road at a point adjacent to the village pub, Y Mount. Substantial excavation work was required here, where the cutting beyond the road bridge was filled in somewhat prematurely in 1988. These short sections either side of the A487 had been sold off before the railway acquired the trackbed, and have subsequently been brought back into railway ownership. With the help and cooperation of all parties concerned, access was gained for work to begin on deepening the formation under the A487 bridge (OB1) and carrying out the necessary excavation of the cuttings on either side, not least removing some 80,000 tonnes of fill from the cutting beside the pub. Mulcair Ltd tackled these intimately connected jobs jointly. A rapid start was made on clearance of the cutting on the station side of the bridge, seen below on the left, looking back to the Phase 1 railhead. The middle picture shows the deepened and strengthened cutting three months later, and the right-hand one shows it with track in place.

Looking in the opposite direction from the South Yard, the cleared cutting is seen prior to excavation to gain the extra depth needed for the approach to the underpinned bridge (see below). The new concrete deck was then cast, and the deepened trackbed through the cutting ballasted. Tracklaying outwards from the South Yard began in the first week of July. This section was soon joined to the long section previously laid beyond the bridge at Cae Moel (see below).

On the other side, obstructing trees and undergrowth were cleared, and the blocked cutting was excavated Although sites such as this inevitably look raw at this stage of work, it was soon noticeable that greenery was quickly re-establishing itself alongside the line from Dinas to Waunfawr - perhaps one advantage of a damp Spring!

An early goal was to expose the Waunfawr side of the bridge, giving access for underpinning. It was found that the bridge structure had suffered from water washing through the stonework, so cement was injected into the structure. Unlike the other NWNGR overbridges, this one was extended (in original style) when the A487 was widened in 1937 (after closure of the railway!), by about three metres on the northern side. As this bridge carries much the widest road of any on Phase 2 (or indeed elsewhere on the WHR), the railway's passage underneath it is the longest of all the bridges being underpinned under present contracts. This means that the excavation is noticeably deeper than in the cases of the bridges at Tryfan Junction and Waunfawr (see below). This photo gives a good idea of the proportions; the braced girders mark the original ground level.

John Peduzzi's photo below shows the completed job from the level of the lowered trackbed.


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The line now curves back sharply on itself, and passes under another overbridge at Cae Moel (OB6), carrying a road to the villages of Rhos Isaf and Rhostryfan. Most unusually, the road overbridge was combined with an underbridge crossing a stream. This arrangement was changed at the initiative of Mulcair Ltd, by diversion of the stream through a new opening which was made through the road embankment (on the Dinas side, near the foot of the road ramp), involving excavation of the road, with side walls above the new stream passage very neatly matched to those on either side. The opening for the stream is seen below.

The stream then passes under the railway and rejoins its original course alongside it. A new underbridge (UB5) has thus been constructed, and the stream was diverted through it on June 26th. The view below (27.05.00) shows one abutment cast, and shuttering in place for casting the other.

The pictures below show the finished bridge after the stream diversion.

This new arrangement was a late change to plans, to reduce the risk of flooding of the railway when the stream is in spate, something which (from obervation) may have been a problem even with the old trackbed level, regardless of lowering it as done. The lowering of the trackbed through OB6 took advantage of the extra depth that was originally built into it to accommodate the stream. The left-hand photo below shows the girders that carried the original track over the stream before their removal; the right-hand one shows the lower level of the trackbed approaching the bridge from Dinas.

The Dinas railhead advanced past this point to join the track laid earlier on July 15th.

The line now crosses fields on low embankments. The pictures below show the changing scene at Cae Moel, as it were "before" and "during" work on the trackbed. At this point, the railway has acquired fields on either side of the line, the intention being that the one on the seaward side (to the left of the trackbed as seen below) will be developed as a nature conservancy area, planted with examples of interesting species found along the line. It was used as a delivery point for ballast, with a substantial pile delivered for laying on the trackbed by Jones Bros, working initially towards the Rhostryfan Road. Ballasting and tracklaying on the section onwards from Cae Moel to the Rhostryfan Road (see below) left Cae Moel as one of the Heads of Steel for some weeks.

The line now crosses Plas Bodaden farm, where a NWNGR underbridge has been restored. This is also the section where members of the WHRS West Midlands group laid a "First Track Panel" in November 1999.


(pic by Mike Hadley)

Not quite up to the usual standard (the lengths of rail were unearthed during clearance work), but we are assured it IS to the correct gauge!


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Shortly past this point, the trackbed crosses two small streams, where new bridges were completed as part of the first Bridges contract, and then runs parallel to another road to Rhostryfan for a short distance, before passing under it at Wernlasddu by a concrete bridge which replaced the original in 1933 as part of road improvements (OB14). This was one of the main working sites, giving access to a substantial length of trackbed, both back towards Dinas and towards Waunfawr in the opposite direction. Gwynedd Council completed work on the road surface above the top surface of the concrete "box" of the bridge (parts of which were revealed in the process) to make changes to the sides of the roadway. The structure of this bridge, unlike those of the 1870s originals, already had almost adequate clearance for the Garratts, and the work required was limited to making its parapets conform with current Highways standards, which included the fitting of new side screens on either side of the road, and Armco barriers on its approaches, plus waterproofing and resurfacing of the road. A relatively small amount of excavation was needed under the bridge, and a concrete invert to carry the track and brace the abutments was installed.

Work underneath the bridge took longer; in view of this delay, an extra tracklaying base was established on the Dinas side of the Rhostryfan Road, with track materials moved in by road from Dinas. The initial stockpile is seen below (left), further materials were moved from Dinas subsequently, and they were quickly used up as rapid progress was made with tracklaying back to Cae Moel.


The first train ran through OB14 on June 21st, coinciding with a full-page feature on the work at this point in the Caernarfon & Denbigh Herald. John Peduzzi's pictures below show work in progress around the OB14 area a few days beforehand.



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Beyond the Rhostryfan Road, the crosses Cae Hen farm, where a field was rented to serve as a base for the Civils and Earthworks contractor, and then as a base for tracklaying. A temporary access roadway was created from the Rhostryfan Road near Wernlasddu bridge, and WHLR Ltd moved the first 300 tonnes of rail (enough rail for about 3km of track) and other track materials to this site from the stockpile at Dinas. This was also a location for ballast deliveries. This site is known as Cae Wernlas Ddu [Cae = field]. Although it had been anticipated that Waunfawr would be the first tracklaying site, this section between the Rhostryfan Road and Tryfan Junction was the first place where track was laid on Phase 2. The Civils and Earthworks contractor moved on to this area in early February, following work North from the Waunfawr base. As a preliminary to tracklaying on the main line, a construction train siding was laid on this field site in March. Cae Wernlas Ddu was the base for diesel Upnor Castle (with a temporary engine shed), DZ wagon no. 1424, and sets of RRM (Roland's Rail Movers) rail grab trolleys. In addition, the railway's ballast tamper and the pair of self-discharging ballast wagons from South Africa were moved to the site in early June, followed by the FR's Matisa tamper.

The first panels of track on the main line were laid by the WHRS North Wales Group track gang, together with other volunteers and WHLR Ltd. staff, over the first weekend in April. The views below show the "Black Hand Gang" at work on the first weekend of tracklaying.


(Thanks to Andy Goodman for the pictures)

Rapid progress was made, including 650 metres of track laid in the second week of April by crews working in both directions from Cae Wernlas Ddu. Within a month there was track in place right across the Cae Hen stretch, i.e. from close to Rhostryfan Road almost as far as Tryfan Junction. The dramatic results of this work are illustrated by these views from the Rhostryfan Road railhead at Easter, showing the long straight with its 1 in 45 gradient, looking towards Tryfan Junction; the Cae Wernlas Ddu site is just visible in the middle distance, to the right of the track.

At the far end of the Cae Hen stretch, a new farm access road was constructed to replace the original, which crossed the line by a small overbridge (OB18) which was demolished some years ago. In the picture below taken from the adjacent road bridge, the hump in the middle distance indicates the site of the demolished bridge. This point has acquired the nickname "Morgan's Hump" after the farmer at Cae Hen.

The new farm access involved a substantial stream culvert under the new roadway, which then allowed removal of the hump. In similar fashion to work done elsewhere on Phase 2, gabions were installed to strengthen the slope that was left to one side of the line, as seen in the left-hand view below; the middle one shows the same spot five weeks later, and also shows the restored stream underbridge UB19. The right-hand photo shows the view from "Morgan's Hump" towards Tryfan Junction. Note the ballast "shoulders" laid using the hopper wagons.

The first section of Phase 2 to have its ballast laid was from here back to Cae Wernlas Ddu, followed shortly afterwards, in the opposite direction, by the stretch from Rhostryfan Road to Cae Wernlas Ddu. In each case Jones Bros laid ballast from the extremities of the section back towards the Cae Wernlas Ddu construction base. Ballasting then shifted to the section back towards Cae Moel, and after completion of this, Jones Bros next turned their attention to the section onwards from Morgan's Hump through Tryfan Junction.


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The steepest gradients on the original NWNGR section are found on the climb from Dinas to Tryfan Junction, which lies almost immediately beyond Cae Hen. This was the point where the Bryngwyn branch left the main NWNGR/WHR route, curved sharply back upon itself, and climbed to tap slate traffic from the quarries that were the main reason the NWNGR came this way in the first place. Tryfan Junction lies a little way off a very minor road, under which the line passes by a typical NWNGR bridge (OB20). Almost the whole area of the station was overgrown by a dense thicket in the years following closure, with the station building, in distinctive NWNGR style, reduced to an overgrown, roofless ruin, which is to be restored at a later date.

It is pleasing to report that the above pictures of Tryfan Junction are now very much history, as this was another of the first sites where rebuilding started, and contractors soon completed their clearance of the dense undergrowth, revealing the whole station site for the first time in many years. Ballast stockpiles either side of the building later made it temporarily less visible.

Although this was the largest intermediate site on Phase 2, it was not a base for tracklaying. Access was a consideration; the road to Tryfan Junction is quite unsuitable for lorries carrying 60' rails, so this is a site where the ground was prepared for the arrival of rails along the trackbed itself. It is intended that Tryfan Junction will become a request stop for trains, linked to footpaths in the area. The January 2000 start of the second bridge contract saw Mulcair Ltd take up occupancy of the site, and work lowering the trackbed under the road bridge (OB20) and underpinning its parapets to match was finished by the end of March. Indeed progress with this bridge was much more rapid than on the first of the type to be tackled (OB42 at Waunfawr, see below), with the concrete deck for the track cast at an appreciably earlier stage.

Alongside the area where the cutting was deepened next to the road that runs parallel to the station site, traditional stone walling was erected in place of the previous fence. It was matched and linked to renovated walling on the bridge itself, giving a particularly neat result.

By the first days of June, the Head of Steel laid from the Cae Wernlas Ddu base had passed the station site and crossed the level crossing at its far end (see below). The pictures below were taken a few days earlier, when track had just passed the bridge. Wooden sleepers were used under the overbridge itself; this allows for the fitting of check rails where required, a process which would require more drastic modifications to the steel sleepers.

Almost sixty years after the demolition trains passed this way, works trains ran through Tryfan Junction again. Upnor Castle is seen below propelling a pair of rails supported by RRMs and towing the DZ wagon carrying other supplies for the Head of Steel further up the line.

The two pictures below (credit: Clive Briscoe) show tracklaying work at Tryfan Junction on June 2nd 2000.

Immediately beyond the point where the Bryngwyn line swung away to the West at the Waunfawr end of the station, there is a level crossing where the line crosses two farm access roads (one on the Bryngwyn trackbed at this point). A small deviation from the original layout was required under present safety regulations so that the road/rail crossing could be perpendicular. In a late change to plans, this was done by changes to the roadways rather than the railway route; this has kept the access to one farm clear of the railway, reducing the amount of road traffic likely to use the crossing. The level crossing represented a further civil engineering contract in adddition to those previously let.

The left-hand picture below shows an example of the vehicle-sized route initially cleared by the contractors, immediately beyond the level crossing site. Further clearance of growth from the period of the railway's closure has now rendered the scene below quite unrecognisable - at this point passengers have views of the foothills of Snowdonia on one side, and of rolling fields, Caernarfon Bay and Anglesey on the other, rather than a "green tunnel". The right-hand picture shows almost the same spot with most of the work complete.


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Bridge works south of Tryfan Junction involved substantial modifications to two adjacent bridges, one over and the other under the line. These formed part of the accommodations reached with the neighbouring farms, and reflect the practical needs of modern agriculture - the overbridge (OB24) was too narrow for vehicle access to fields, and the underbridge (UB25) opening was too small for tractors with safety cabs, or for emergency vehicles. The masonry arch of the overbridge was thus removed, and a higher, shallower concrete arch was cast in situ - the left-hand picture below shows the bridge being prepared for this. The modified OB24 has an unusual asymetrical pattern to the arch, dictated by the site. The concrete side walls of the roadway, built to the highway parapet height that is now required for all new road-over-rail bridges (as the deck is new it has to adhere to regulations for new bridges), are dressed with local stone, which should weather quite rapidly to match the remaining original stonework.

The original underbridge was largely replaced with a modern structure giving adequate clearance and meeting the relevant Health & Safety requirements; the exposed concrete as seen in the left-hand picture below was later dressed with stone as seen in the middle picture, and the galvanised steel beams were due to be painted black to give a more traditional appearance from the lineside than the pictures below may suggest. Upnor Castle is seen in the right-hand view returning to Cae Wernlas Ddu to collect another pair of rails.

Similar bridges to the originals exist elsewhere on the line, indeed a long-disused underbridge of very similar type has been restored to use nearer to Dinas (UB10 at Plas Bodaden), accommodating the particular needs of the farm in question. Similarly, the stream underbridge near Tryfan Junction (UB19) has also been restored to heritage appearance, with a concrete slab cast above its arch within the original structure, to restore structural integrity and carry the track. It should also be noted that "untouched" examples of NWNGR bridges remain in place nearby (and now back in railway ownership) on the trackbed of the Bryngwyn Branch, for which there are no restoration plans.

Beyond the Tryfan Junction area, a great deal of consolidation work was needed at the site of a landslip caused by failure of drainage after the long dereliction of the trackbed. After detailed excavation this proved to be worse than first anticipated; a solution was thus agreed between the Civils and Earthworks contractor and the Consulting Engineers; stabilisation of the slip involved a substantial amount of new material, and strengthening using gabions. A volunteer gang from WHR (Porthmadog) made a welcome contribution to tracklaying on this length over the weekend of June 24/5th.


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On the approach to Waunfawr, the line runs by the side of the meandering Afon Gwyrfai, on a most pleasant and picturesque section, with the first close views of the mountains (starting with Moel Eilio almost directly ahead) rising above the trees as the trackbed skirts the floodplain of the river. Erosion protection work was done at an early stage where river and railway are at their closest. A temporary ballast stockpile was established on a rented field adjacent to the trackbed, in the area of the woods known as Coed Cyrnant.

The photographs below show views on this section leading from Waunfawr, with most of the undergrowth clearance done. These pictures below taken on the trackbed on 18.09.99 were under special arrangements for the WHRS AGM, when part of the construction site was temporarily closed to allow access for a members' guided walk back from Waunfawr towards Tryfan Junction.


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At Waunfawr, the line passes under the A4085 by a bridge (OB42) which was the first one started on by contractors, at the start of November. Like others, the underside of the bridge arch retained the soot left by Russell and other locos in the 1930s. Yet again these recent views are already history, as the bridge contractors have done their work here, The cutting sides were consolidated and the trackbed lowered, and the bridge itself was underpinned in the same manner as OB20 at Tryfan Junction; the Waunfawr bridge was a more substantial task, as the road is wider and the railway passes under it at a skew angle, thus the arch is longer.

While underpinning was in progress, the abutments of the bridge were securely braced using steel girders and props, ensuring the integrity of the structure without any need for disruption to use of the road above. The two left-hand pictures below, taken three weeks apart, illustrate the extra clearance achieved by excavation and underpinning, while the character of the original arch is left unaltered. Subsequently, new concrete walls were cast in situ below the level marked by the supporting girders in the second picture, and drainage of the lowered trackbed in the immediate vicinity was improved. The reinforced concrete deck was then cast between the lower parts of the new walls, combining to form a trough, and the girders and braces were removed. The third picture below shows the bridge at this stage. Finishing work was then done on the upper structure of the bridge, and the right-hand picture features the finished product. Nearby, work was done to consolidate a short secondary channel of the river which runs closer to the railway than the main flow when the Gwyrfai is particularly full, and which has its own opening in the road/river bridge (Pont Cyrnant) adjacent to the road/railway structure.


The line emerges directly into the station, on the valley floor below the village, and the vista opens up here as the valley widens dramatically. Immediately beyond the bridge, excavation of the trackbed was done to match the extra depth won by underpinning the bridge. A supporting wall for the adjacent children's play area of the Snowdonia Parc Hotel formed part of this work.

The NWNGR station building (built without proper foundations) suffered damage at the hands of evacuees during World War Two, and was subsequently allowed to fall into ruin. One of the first major volunteer tasks at Waunfawr was to carefully dismantle and catalogue what remained, for incorporation in the new station building, which will be to a similar design but extended in length to provide adequate facilities, and will be on a slightly different site, on the island platform in the middle of the new passing loop. Surviving slate platform edging from the original station is being recovered (this also surfaced at Tryfan Junction). Excavation also revealed the long-forgotten site of the coalyard, which used to supply the village and other dwellings with coal brought up from Dinas by rail - indeed some lumps of coal were discovered between the slate slabs used as a shovelling base. Following removal of the remains of the building, work proceeded with levelling the site, and installing protection against water ingress. The Welsh Highland Railway Heritage Group is playing a leading part in the important task of resiting the building with all the care appropriate to a historic structure, with the brickwork and as much of the rough stone as possible being carefully prepared for re-use in the new building. The Welsh Highland Railway Society has adopted the Waunfawr station site as a focus for its fundraising contributions to Phase 2, in addition to a track sponsorship scheme similar to the highly successful one which was a feature of Phase 1. Main platform access will be by a new footbridge in traditional style, with supervised level access for low-mobility passengers. A locomotive water tank is also to be installed, and components for a Braithwaite pattern tank similar to that at Caernarfon have been secured, and the WHRS West Midlands Group has adopted the project and started work on site. The steel support structure for this has been erected; it is somewhat smaller than that at Caernarfon.

This was the first main construction base to be established on Phase 2, and later also became a base for tracklaying, working back towards the railhead advancing from Cae Wernlas Ddu. Track materials started to be accumulated at Waunfawr in May, first in the form of bundles of steel sleepers, followed by points and other track materials delivered from Dinas on June 1st. Tracklaying started over the weekend of June 3rd/4th at the station site and for a short distance under OB42; a volunteer gang installed the bridge end point and three timber sleepered panels back under the bridge. The gang included those members who had sponsored that length of track under the Track Sponsorship scheme. The last remaining gap in the track, between Cyrnant and Waunfawr was closed on July 20th, followed by the remainder of the station track layout.

The right-hand picture above is from the same vantage point as a widely-published historical photograph of Russell and train.

The three pictures below (Credit: Clive Briscoe) show the scene on June 18th.

The stocks of wooden sleepers previously at Dinas were moved to Waunfawr, where they have been used in the area of the station. Bundles of steel sleepers were also delivered to the site, and were used further west.

The pictures below were taken on July 29th, in the run-up to opening.

The right-hand picture below shows the southern extremity of the station site, looking towards Mynydd Mawr and the prospect of Phase 3 - Onwards to Rhyd Ddu.

The station at Waunfawr opened in a basic form, with one platform face completed and footpath access to the enlarged car park which is shared with the Snowdonia Parc Hotel. To begin with, reversal of trains is being was done using a diesel shunter until the loop and completed platform came into use in September 2000. Planning permission for the footbridge and station building works and other, environmental works was granted in early July 2000. The process seems to have served as an interesting illustration of the usefulness of the deemed planning permission enshrined in the Transport and Works Order authorising the rebuilding of the railway, which meant that the local planning authority granted final permission based on the suitability of the works authorised in outline by the Order. Also, permission was given despite representations from individuals opposing planning permission on the basis of opposition to the railway as a whole.

The footbridge was delivered to Dinas in late November 2000, and was worked on gradually during 2001; it came into use for platform access in September 2001.

After opening, there remained a "snagging list" of minor Phase 2 works to be completed. HMRI gave formal confirmation on September 21st 2001 that these had been done, and gave final approval of the line from Dinas to Waunfawr under the Approval of Plant and Equipment Regulations; this marked the formal conclusion of Phase 2 construction in the view of the Health & Safety Executive.


See also:


 Back to WHR Project homepage or the Dinas-Waunfawr route description
Authored by Ben Fisher; last updated November 15th, 2012 by Laurence Armstrong