Phase 3 pages:
Rhyd Ddu North
In mid-May 2001, the "second front" for Phase 3 reconstruction was started, quite discreetly, near Rhyd Ddu. Work started towards the end of the period when Foot and Mouth Disease restrictions applied locally (but after the "infected area" zone around the Anglesey outbreaks had been reduced in size, removing it from this area), so method statements for the start of work were agreed with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF - later DEFRA), in addition to consultation with the Snowdonia National Park Authority (SNPA); the work near Rhyd Ddu represented the start of reconstruction work within the National Park. At the point when footpaths were reopened as of May 25th, the railway exercised the powers under the Welsh Highland Railway Order 1999 to close the permissive footpath which had existed on the trackbed northwards from Rhyd Ddu towards Glan yr Afon. A new gate and fencing were erected across the trackbed at Rhyd Ddu.
The site immediately to the north of this point is the work base known as Rhyd Ddu North (Safle Ogleddol Rhyd Ddu), whose main function was to serve as the Contract 3E-2 tracklaying base. Clearance of the site is seen below in late August 2001.
The following pictures (WHLR Ltd) show a rock pecker at work at Rhyd Ddu North in mid-September 2001; part of the village is visible in the left-hand view.
The next two pictures (WHLR Ltd) show earthworks in progress at the station end of the work site on the same day, in murky conditions. There is a deviation here from the original route, as the original station site is the present car park; hence the excavation needed at the station throat.
The two pictures below (Jan Woods, WHLR Ltd) show Rhyd Ddu North on September 21st 2001, when a load of slate waste was delivered to the site. The excavation exposed a large boulder to the right of the original formation, as seen in the right-hand picture.
A temporary direct site entrance from the road was created, 20m to the south of the southern entrance to the car park at Rhyd Ddu - i.e. the opposite end of the car park from the Rhyd Ddu North site. This allowed the 60-foot lorries carrying rails to pull off the road and reverse back through the car park to unload at the Rhyd Ddu North rail store. Where this route crossed the grass at the edge of the car park, the short slate waste roadway has been laid on protective matting.
The usual lorry load of 33 rails weighs 19.8 tonnes net, which would have exceeded the 17-tonne weight limit applied to the A4085 bridge at Pont Betws before its 2001-2 rebuild. WHLR Ltd thus reduced each load to 22 rails, giving a load which was agreed to be acceptable by Gwynedd Council Structures. Ballast deliveries from Penmaenmawr came by a different route, avoiding the bridge.
The first batch of rail was moved from Waunfawr to Rhyd Ddu North on October 25th 2001. The first photos below (Jan Woods, WHLR Ltd) show loading at the rail store adjacent to Waunfawr Station.
On arrival at Rhyd Ddu, the lorry was able to enter railway land at the Beddgelert end of the station through the temporary entrance created for the purpose. At this point it got stuck on wet ground in very heavy rain, requiring a tow from a JCB into the car park. From here the lorry was able to back through the car park and into the Rhyd Ddu North site at the far end.
On arrival at the site, the lorry is seen on the site of the original track. The red pegs visible in the right-hand picture mark the track centreline to be taken by the deviation into the new station site.
Volunteers then barred the rails from the lorry on to the new stack, ready for WHR (Caernarfon)'s first tracklaying within the Snowdonia National Park. A second delivery was also made on the 25th, and a third on the 26th, prior to the start of tracklaying the next day. Work can be seen in progress in the foreground to assemble the first of two temporary lengths of track leading from the rail store to the trackbed proper.
Given the ever-increasing distance of the Head of Steel from the Rhyd Ddu North rail store, a works diesel locomotive for taking materials to the Head of Steel became a necessity by Spring 2002. A point (formerly at the Phase 2 Cae Wernlas Ddu site) was laid at Rhyd Ddu North on March 9-10th, for a siding leading into a secure temporary shed structure. A container was delivered to Rhyd Ddu North by Easter for this purpose.
However, it proved that the point had been installed in not quite the right spot! On April 6th it was lifted and repositioned slightly further away from the rail store (to give enough space for the curve of the siding), by a gang led by construction manager Roland Doyle, while the rest of the track gang was at work further back towards Glanrafon.
The photo below (Jan Woods, WHLR Ltd) shows the site a few days later, with the point in place and a start made on the track at its Rhyd Ddu end.
The small Simplex diesel Dolgarrog, loaned by energy company Innogy, was moved to Rhyd Ddu North on May 3rd; the photos below (Jan Woods, WHLR Ltd) show it being loaded for transport from Dinas, together with two additional pairs of RRMs.
The loco was launched into service on May 4th, after being formally handed over by Innogy Resource Manager John Baxendale. The braked four-wheel flat wagon previously at Dinas was also moved to Rhyd Ddu North, and is seen in use as transport for a portable generator. For safety reasons the loco was placed at the downhill (Glanrafon) end when transporting rails suspended from RRMs; the idea was that one gang transported rails from the Rhyd Ddu North store, while a second concentrated on laying the track. There was a certain poetic irony in the use of a Simplex for this reconstruction work - a basically similar loco hauled the trains for dismantling of this section of the line in September 1941.
The pictures below (Jan Woods, WHLR Ltd) show the loco in use with RRMs at the rail store on June 3rd, and also going "on shed"; few loco sheds, permanent or temporary, offer such a fine view!
Following completion of tracklaying back to Glanrafon at the end of June, the material remaining in the rail store at Rhyd Ddu was moved to a new one at Glanrafon, making space for a ballast dump at Rhyd Ddu North. Dolgarrog and its shed were moved to Snowdon Ranger in March 2003.
In mid-October 2002 Jones Bros started the work required to connect the Rhyd Ddu North site to the rapidly developing station site; the two are separated by the track leading up Snowdon, also used by farm vehicles and for other vehicular access to properties. This is also the point where the line makes a new turn to the east, to enter the new station alignment. This runs to the right (as seen below) of the boulder exposed a year earlier, which was marked for planned trimming by the rock pecker, which is parked on the left, on the original railway formation. In the event no trimming was needed.
Ballast was laid either side of the level crossing site (which was left clear) in the second full week of November; on the northern side this curved around on its new alignment towards the existing track, while the new ballast south of the crossing completed the length already laid through one platform, and incorporated the wider base for the loop points.
In late March 2003 the track and siding by the now empty rail store were lifted, together with the point, to make way for the permanent track arrangement leading into the station. The point is seen below split into two parts, ready for installation at the north end of the run-round loop.
Permanent track was laid through the Rhyd Ddu North site in the last days of May 2003, to allow the construction stock delivered to Rhyd Ddu Station the previous week (right-hand picture) to finish off the line north from this point. When the pictures below were taken, the rail joint remained to be made at the point where the new track met that laid previously (third picture).
Phase 3 pages:
Rhyd Ddu North