Phase 4: Rhyd Ddu to Porthmadog

Porthmadog Cross-Town Link (1)

Phase 4 pages:
Beddgelert: Bridges & Station
Porthmadog Cross-Town Link

Recent updates are underlined and in red.

Click for a map of the Phase 4 route in a separate window.

The route section of the site includes detailed illustrated descriptions - Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert and Beddgelert to Porthmadog.

This page covers background to the Cross-Town Link, and work up until June 30th 2008.
Coverage from July 1st 2008 onwards is continued on this page.

The initials CTL or CTRL apply to this section- while the Channel Tunnel Rail Link claimed the latter set of initials first, they also seem to have stuck to the Porthmadog link!

Immediately beyond the Cambrian Crossing, the line enters the site of the 1923 Portmadoc New Station. This is not the most attractive stretch of the WHR. Lying on the edge of town and only reached by side roads, this was never a good site for a station, especially one for which there were high but misplaced hopes. In the run up to rebuilding it had become an overgrown embankment with light industrial and commercial premises to either side; those to the right (as approaching from the Beddgelert end) are on the site of the former station premises. The one tangible reminder of the old railway was the reinforced concrete base of the water tower, very similar to the one at Beddgelert.

At the end of this stretch the line crosses the large drainage channel known as Y Cyt on UB220, and emerges between the frontage of the Snowdon Mill on the left and commercial premises on the right. This section and the crossing beyond would be laid in tramway rails.

The crossing of Snowdon Street (LC123) lies immediately beyond, and the railway then enters the area where there is the most significant deviation from the original route, which has been designed to harmonise with traffic and the current usage of this side of the town; the original route passed in front of where the 1980s store now stands, and emerged from Madoc Street before running along the street to Harbour Station. The new route passes along the eastern edge of the main tourist car park, and then behind the store to emerge at the Britannia Bridge (UB221) for a much shorter section of street running to Harbour, which will be controlled by traffic lights.

The line enters the car park area on the site of its former exit to Snowdon Street. The fenced and overgrown area seen on the left below, also bounded by Snowdon Street, was the site of the town's former gas works. Most of this has now been redeveloped as car parking, including a new car park exit clear of the Snowdon Street crossing, so it will not generate extra road traffic across the crossing. The gas works site has been handed over to the local authorities in return for the land taken for the deviation, and the space it offers is appreciably larger than the car parking space taken by the new railway formation.

At the Snowdon Street end of the car park section there will be an accommodation crossing giving access to the council depot housed in a former foundry (part of which is seen behind the recycling bins in the above picture). This will be followed by what has already been nicknamed the "Gasworks Siding", where a locomotive can be held when wanted, ready to run light engine to Harbour to pick up a WHR train without needing to run round there. This siding will be at this end, rather than closer to Harbour as it was shown in some earlier drawings. There will then be two foot crossings giving access from the car park to the grassed area along the shore of Llyn Bach.

There will be a local diversion of the existing footpath running behind the store between the car park and the Britannia Bridge.

The building of the cross-town link is being largely undertaken in winter periods, in order to minimise disruption to the town during the main tourist season. The first substantial works to be undertaken were in and around the main car park, as outlined above.

The entire route of the CTRL can be made out in these aerial views taken in early August 2007. Notable visible features include the former gas works site, showing as the darker area of the car park, and the curved green line of the old Portmadoc New station section, between Snowdon Street and the Cambrian Crossing.

Welsh Highland Railway Construction Ltd entered the gas works site during September 2005, and cleared the extensive undergrowth. This cleared the way for topographical survey of the car park extension.

Autumn 2005 also saw clearance of the encroaching undergrowth through the site of the 1923 Portmadoc New Station.

In mid-February 2006 the fence along the eastern side of this section (the side opposite to the former station) was relocated and replaced, as the previous one encroached on the railway. This work revealed an unexpected feature, the remains (in poor condition) of retaining walls, which appeared to have been buried at some earlier stage.

There was considerable speculation in railway and non-railway circles about the possibility of acquiring the former Co-op building (after the supermarket closed in Autumn 2005) and adapting it as part of a new station alongside the car park. Had most WHR trains terminated here rather than at Harbour, the number of train movements along the roadway section could have been much reduced. A purchase was indeed considered by the FR Company, and a strong business case was prepared; however in December 2005 the Company Board determined that bids for the premises had risen to a level which precluded the railway from moving forward with this project, and therefore confirmed that Harbour Station would be the initial location for the joint FR/WHR station in Porthmadog. The building was later sold to a hardware retail chain.

WHR Construction Ltd press statement, May 31st 2006:

Porthmadog Cross-Town Link Project Manager

To further strengthen the WHRC Ltd engineering team David High will be joining the Company on 1st July as Welsh Highland Railway Porthmadog Cross-Town Link (CTL) Project Manager. David will look after building the line across the town, as well as the redevelopment of Harbour Station to handle WHR trains, working in conjunction with WHRC Ltd CTL Director Roger Dick.

Arup Rail Ltd are working in support of the CTL project, and are charged with the detailed design and construction of the Welsh Highland Railway from the Britannia Bridge (adjacent to Porthmadog Harbour Station), through to the north side of the Cambrian main line railway crossing. R. Broun consultant engineers are similarly involved with the reorganisation of the town centre car park, which is being significantly expanded onto adjacent derelict land, to help provide parking for the increased number of visitors who are expected to be attracted to the town by the new Railway.

The expanded CTL team complements the WHRC Ltd civil engineering staff based at its Dinas offices. That team led by WHRC Ltd Manager Pete Gray comprises Alasdair Stewart, Owen Duncan and Stuart McNair, who are looking after the engineering work involved in reconstructing the Railway from Rhyd Ddu to the north side of Porthmadog.

Chartered Engineer David High has been associated with the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways for much of his professional life. Previously with Caernarfon based consultant engineers Datrys, David has been actively involved in reconstructing much of the WHR, and enjoys spending his spare time working on Ffestiniog Railway where he is a volunteer locomotive driver.

Mike Hart, Chairman of WHRC Ltd said, "we are very lucky indeed to have such a dedicated and skilled team, all working hard together to ensure the completion of the Welsh Highland Railway ready for the opening of the line through to Porthmadog at Easter 2009."

A short length of training wall on the shore of Llyn Bach collapsed on February 6th 2007, adjacent to the Britannia Bridge and the spot where the link span will take the railway away from the road towards the section alongside the car park. Cyngor Gwynedd Council mobilised repair operations as of February 12th.

The work was under way when seen below on February 16th and 17th 2007.

It was announced at the sponsors' event on March 24th 2007 that the main CTRL contract had been awarded to Carillion Rail - the firm which carried out the Cambrian Crossing installation in November 2006. Carillion's contract section extends from Pen y Mount (see Traeth Mawr - Cambrian Crossing) to Harbour Station (effectively outside the entrance to Spooner's bar). Arup are the managing contractor for this section, as for all those south of Bryn y Felin.

It has been agreed with the Welsh Assembly Government (who are responsible for the road across Britannia Bridge as it is a trunk road) that the permanent repair to the training wall will be included in the CTRL contract.

Work had however proceeded on the separate contract for the gasworks site, which had been let to Gelli Civil Engineering. The first below, looking towards Snowdon Street, shows initial clearance of the site in early February 2007. The track centreline will run between the two men and the excavator in the foreground, through the dump truck and then on through the gap in the buildings (in line with the distant red dot). The "Gasworks siding" for transhipping road/rail loads will be in the centre of the photograph. The second picture, looking the other way, was taken in mid-March. Capping material had been imported to raise the level of the site to that of the adjacent car park.

The gasworks site is seen below on March 23rd 2007.

The following views (looking towards Snowdon Street) show the car park extension and railway formation taking shape on May 5th 2007, with robust fence posts between the two areas.

The car park extension was handed over and in use in time for the Whitsun 2007 Bank Holiday, together with the new exit onto Snowdon Street. The new recycling area on the Snowdon Street side of the site will also serve as road access to the gate leading into the railway area, where the siding will serve as a useful transhipment point for rail vehicle movements by road.

The work on the car park includes sufficient space to allow car parking to be withdrawn from Harbour station at a future date, as access to Harbour will become more congested once the rail link is installed along the boundary between the car park and the footway. Part of the old car park is to be landscaped, to compensate for the area of the public open space that will be occupied by the railway behind the old Co-op building.

Closer to Harbour, a small additional parcel of land has been purchased behind the store to ease the alignment past the building, as indicated by the new fence seen in the first picture below. The second and third pictures show the stretch near the Britannia Bridge in early March 2007, following tree clearance done prior to the bird nesting season; the line of felled trees coincides with where the track will be laid. The radius leading the railway onto Britannia bridge will start near the dark line visible on the tarmac path.

The sections along the road from Harbour, and across Snowdon Street and in front of the adjacent former Snowdon Mill, are to be laid in tram rail, which has a special profile with flanges running in a groove in the top, rather than along the inner edge of the rail. The correct section is not available in the UK, and the rails have been manufactured by voestalpine Schienen GmbH of Linz, Austria. The Ri52-13 grooved rails were delivered in late June 2007, to the CTRL formation alongside the car park extension. The rails have been pre-curved and are ready for installation. This specific profile has been selected as it has a shallow profile (130mm high) which will allow it to be installed over Britannia bridge without the need to affect the existing reinforced concrete slab or waterproofing layer. It also has a (comparatively) wide flangeway width of 42.52mm which provides sufficient clearance for both NG15 and NGG16 class locos to negotiate the 50m radius curve coming off the bridge. The tramway tracks at both locations will be laid (by the contractor, Carillion) within a concrete slab, with the rails continuously welded and encased in a "rail boot". The concrete slab will be made in two stages. The rails will be fixed to the first, lower part using a series of baseplates and tie bars; once the rails have been fixed, lined and levelled a second stage concrete pour then brings the surface up to the top of rail level. The sections of plain track will be laid by volunteers.

This picture shows a sample section of the rail plus the rail boot.

These pictures show a sample section of rail boot, plus a special tiebar to be used in the process of laying track on Britannia Bridge. The nuts supporting the upper plate allow adjustment of the rail height and cant; the clips are slotted to allow the rails to be moved laterally to the correct position. These bars are for adjustment only - in the final condition the rails are supported by the surrounding concrete infill, which also bears the load.

Carillion moved in at the start of August 2007, setting up a work base by the original car park exit onto Snowdon Street, which had been closed and coned off. The first work was a trench parallel with the crossing at Snowdon Mill and extending into the roadway, possibly for locating existing service ducts.

Carillion increased the area of the site compound and moved more containers on to the site after the August 2007 Bank Holiday.

The first task to be carried out was replacement of the embankment through the old New Station site with new gabion wall construction. The old water tank support will be retained. Another area of work to be tackled shortly was the repair of the bridge (UB220) over Madocks' canal, Y Cyt. The bridge is a Listed Structure. The work includes the construction of new parapet walls in a similar style to the long-missing originals.

Carillion started ground works on September 3rd 2007, on the Snowdon Mill - Cae Pawb (Cambrian) Crossing section, i.e. the 1923 Portmadoc New Station site. There is a human link between the first and last parts of the Caernarfon-Porthmadog rebuilding; the Carillion CTRL foreman is Chris Topps, who was Mowlem's foreman for the Phase 1 Caernarfon-Dinas contract in 1997.

Work is seen below on September 7th 2007; in the first picture the weakened side of the embankment is being cut back in preparation for placing gabions to form a new, stronger side.

The northern end of the old embankment had been largely removed by October 2nd 2007, with preparations visible for the new gabion edges.

By the 8th the gabion walls were being put in place. The sand fill was temporarily moved to the Llyn Bach compound, to be returned later for remaking of the embankment.

This work was advancing a week later (left). The second picture shows an area alongside the tramway section past Snowdon Mill in use for storing materials.

These pictures show different parts of the embankment in distinct stages of reconstruction.

Work was under way on the gabions at the Snowdon Street end of the section (adjacent to UB220) when seen on November 5th and 17th 2007.

Carillion staff were carrying out investigations to see what lay beneath the road surface between Harbour and Britannia Bridge on September 13th 2007.

While working on ground clearance on the section in front of the Snowdon Mill, Carillion uncovered and lifted a small amount of old rail, FR bullhead in S-chairs (illustrated below), from the former flour mill loop. A point blade, a length of point rodding and an angle crank were included. Arrangements were being made to take these materials to Minffordd Yard.

Gwynedd Council issued the order for temporary closure of the footpath running between the car park and Britannia Bridge, in order for the railway works to be carried out. The closure order came into effect on October 13th 2007, and was extended in April 2008 for up to a further six months to October 12th 2008.

On November 1st 2007 Carillion fenced off the previous footpath and provided a diversion closer to the water, and were at work removing the section of wall behind the former supermarket which was foul of the railway alignment on the short section of additional purchased land (see above). The boundaries of the car park compound had been extended along the railway route for almost its full length through the car park site.

Recently delivered points are seen below in the Carillion compound on November 2nd 2007. They include the wide-to-gauge catch points for Cae Pawb crossing, one of which can be seen clearly at the bottom of the stack.

The plain (non-tramway) track on the CTRL, and northwards to Pen y Mount, will be laid on wooden sleepers. In addition to giving a traditional appearance, this also facilitates the track circuiting needed around the Cambrian Crossing.

These mid-November 2007 views show (left to right) cable ducts being installed near the old Portmadoc New water tower (as the CTL has a lot of signalling in comparison with the remainder of the WHR, cable ducts are being installed from Pen y Mount through to Harbour); work at Snowdon Street, clearing an area for diversion of the public footpath to ensure it passes outside the level crossing signals (the man in the right is saw cutting a slot on the line of the new wall to the Council depot on the right); and the spot where the railway crosses the line of the removed edging wall on the former boundary of the car park. The number 880 visible comes from measurements specific to the length included in the Carillion contract.

The following early December 2007 pictures show (left) a new gabion wall going up on the edge of the trackbed between UB220 and Snowdon Mill, a trench for cable ducts and new kerb line in Llyn Bach car park, and the previous path behind the former Co-op being stripped down to topsoil. At this point contractors for the new owners of the building (Wilkinson's hardware) had finally started work on adapting it for its new purpose, and ending long speculation over whether or not the building had in fact been sold. Wilkinson's contractors have erected barriers around their entire site, and have set up a work base parallel to the CTRL where it runs behind the store; their base is thus adjacent to the Carillion compound but is entirely separate from it.

A new wall forms the revised barrier between the railway and the council depot to the north of it, immediately up chainage of Snowdon Street; the wall is seen under construction on December 11th 2007.

The section behind the Wilkinson's building and Britannia Bridge runs above a main outfall sewer, protection for which has been put in place before the trackbed above it is completed. This photo shows excavation in mid-December 2007, prior to the laying of a parallel "insurance" pipe and casting of the protective concrete structure.

The gabion retaining wall alongside Snowdon Mill is seen below essentially complete on December 16th 2007 (first picture); the embankments between it and Cae Pawb also appeared complete (second picture; the barrier is at UB220). On the other side of Snowdon Street crossing, the third picture shows the new wall by the council depot, and the fourth shows saw cuts in the former car park exit, indicating where tarmac would be broken out to make the railway alignment leading to the crossing. The last picture shows the former Britannia Stores (on the far side of Britannia Bridge) in the course of major alterations; this work is nothing to do with the railway.

The embankment between UB220 and the Cambrian had been completed but not yet ballasted when seen on December 23rd 2007; note the edge of the new embankment passing on the outside of the old water tower base.

In mid-January 2008 ballasting had started on the completed embankment between Cae Pawb and UB220, and the bridge had been fitted with scaffolding for its renovation. Work had started on reinstating the parapet walls.

At the same time and closer to Harbour, the ground beams were being cast for the sewer protection works. The parallel "insurance" pipe would be placed in the gap alongside the existing sewer; following this a concrete slab would be added, then a removable cast slab would be cast over the ground beams, to ensure that no railway loads affect the sewer.

These views show either side of Snowdon Street in late January 2008. The section of side street past the mill was temporarily closed off, the: top surface along the trackbed had been removed, and profile boards were going in (left). The sewer protection work was progressing on the Harbour side of the crossing (second and third pictures).

On January 25th 2008 an 80-tonne piling crane was moved into position adjacent to the Britannia Bridge training wall repair and link span site. A few initial piles were installed on a trial basis, starting on January 28th.

Piling is seen in progress in late January 2008.

The initial trial was successful, with piles penetrating the underlying rock by 1.5 to 2 metres in depth, and with the method proven, the necessary piling work was then completed. Information obtained from the pile test was essential to inform the design process. Consulting engineers Arup are at present completing the design for the training wall/abutment that will use these piles. The steel piles will be trimmed to level and a capping beam will be cast to encase the top. The front face of the piles will be clad in masonry. The triangular bridge widening span taking the WHR on to the bridge will be supported by three pre-cast concrete beams, bearing on the piled wall at one end and on a pillar built up on the western cut water on the other. The railway centreline does not pass over the widened span, which is largely to take the footway. These pictures show the site on February 13th 2008.

The crane had been dismantled for removal from the site on February 6th 2008.

These views show aspects of the construction methods for the sewer protection structure, here in the Llyn Bach area. Once the two concrete sidewalls have been completed, the enclosed pipework (which now includes the new "insurance" pipe) is backfilled with sand/soil to within a few inches of the top. Sheets of expanded-foam flooring insulation (seen lying in the background in the second picture) are then cut and laid within the space remaining, so the top of the foam is level with the top of the concrete sidewall. A plastic membrane sheet then follows, wooden shuttering is placed alongside the outside of the walls, and steel reinforcing mesh is placed on the membrane sheet. At this point the concrete had yet to be poured; the transverse divider pieces were then cast as a series of separate slabs rather than one long continuous one, to facilitate removal of slabs for access when necessary. The third picture shows the as yet uncapped structure, with a section of the reserve sewer pipe in place. The sewer protection is in three sections rather than forming a continuous length.

Down chainage of the sewer protection works, these pictures from early February 2008 and a short distance down chainage, the left-hand picture show a trench for telecoms cable ducting on one side of the formation passing Snowdon Mill, work in progress on the parapet walls of UB220, and complete, ballasted trackbed between UB220 and Cae Pawb.

Work for the link on to Britannia Bridge was getting under way when seen on February 18th and 19th 2008. Markers showing the track centreline have been enhanced and joined up digitally in some of these pictures.

Kerbstones were being laid (chamfered edge outwards) along the edges of the railway formation at Snowdon Mill on February 21st 2008, and revised pavement layouts for the adjacent roads were also being put in place.

The first of these pictures taken a week later shows the formation at Snowdon Mill. One of the sections of sewer protection is visible, complete, in the second picture.

These pictures from March 2nd 2008 show scenes between the approach to Britannia Bridge and UB220, whose reinstated parapet walls had been completed.

By March 7th 2008 UB220 had emerged from its scaffolding, and mesh for the reinforced concrete base for the track was being put in place at Snowdon Mill. It is reported that for laying the tram track, Carillion are bringing in staff with experience from the construction of the Nottingham tram system. The last picture shows the formation being rolled just short of Britannia Bridge.

The first section of slab track base was freshly poured when seen on March 12th 2008.

At Easter 2008 steel studs for the tram rail alignment clips (see above) had recently been grouted into place in the recesses provided in the first section of slab base.

In late March 2008 the ground behind the new piling at Britannia Bridge (and around the earlier repair piling) was excavated in preparation for the link span work.

The pictures below show two types of fixing for the tram rails. The simpler type in the left-hand picture is the type for general use in slab track construction. This consists of a baseplate supported by two studs that are grouted into the fist stage concrete slab. The height of each plate can be adjusted by the nuts below the plates. The clips are a generous size as they fix round the rail foot enclosed in the rail boot. The clips are slotted to allow lateral movement of the rail to correct alignment. The clips and baseplates only support the rail in the temporary condition. Ultimately the whole width from kerb to kerb will be filled with concrete and in the permanent condition the rails are supported by the concrete. The right-hand picture shows a variation on the baseplate theme, to be used on Britannia Bridge. This system has a tie bar that is fixed to the concrete slab by grout. The tiebar has four studs welded into it, which support baseplates as described above. Britannia bridge has a heavily reinforced concrete deck slab, covered by a waterproof layer. This requires a system of temporary support that does not affect the bridge construction (and in particular, does not affect the waterproofing). The installation of a short stretch using this technique at Snowdon Mill served as a trial to verify that the detail will work before tracklaying started on Britannia Bridge.

The laying of tram rails started at Snowdon Mill on March 31st 2008. The rail boots had not yet been added, as the rails were in the process of being positioned rather than fixed into place at this early stage of the process.

Sections of rail boot are seen below at Snowdon Mill two days later. The short lengths and lengthwise splitting of the profile suggest that it may be fitted to the rails after they are clipped into place.

The tram rails are being joined together by Thermit welding, seen in progress in the first picture below on April 3rd 2008.

The rail boots were in the process of being fitted to the first section of tram track on April 9th and 10th 2008. The pit in the concrete seen right of centre in the third picture is a drain, at what would be the lowest point of this section of rail. Rainwater gathering in the tramway groove will drain down to here, then exit via a set of holes, yet to be drilled, through the groove into the pit.

These views show Snowdon Street on April 13th 2008, with work in evidence in preparation for extending the track slab to and across the level crossing.

WHR Construction Ltd issued the following updated programme for works in the Britannia Bridge/Harbour area on March 31st 2008:

In the next two months there will be a lot of construction activity on Britannia bridge and in the vicinity of Harbour station. Three possessions of the Trunk Road are available in the spring and Carillion have prepared a detailed programme that has been agreed with the Trunk Roads Agency for the work.

31st March to 2nd May

Objective: to install tram track across South Snowdon Wharf junction.
What will happen?
Other tasks

All tasks must be completed and traffic management removed by 14:00 on Friday 2nd May.

6th May to 23rd May

Objective: to install new bridge beams to install tram track across Britannia Bridge (westbound).
What will happen?
Other tasks

All tasks must be completed and traffic management removed by 14:00 on Friday 23rd May.

2nd June to 24th June

Objective: to install tram track across Britannia bridge (eastbound).

What will happen?
Other tasks

The traffic control was re-established at Britannia Bridge after the Easter break on March 31st 2008, and saw cuts were made in the road surface prior to breaking out tarmac along the line to be followed by the track. The damp patches on the road (water used as saw lubricant) indicate the cut lines.

The first section of road surface was then removed, between the east end of Britannia Bridge and the access road to South Snowdon Wharf.

Subcontractors Jones Bros of Ruthin were carrying out additional piling work at the link span site at the start of April 2008.

In early April 2008 Carillion had started working a seven-day week in order to be sure of completing the necessary works before the May Bank Holiday. Rapid progress was made with the first section of track slab.

This first section of slab was cast on April 8th 2008.

Two days later the slab was already advancing across the road to South Snowdon Wharf (left), and studs for rail fixings were being fitted (right).

The excavations for the link span foundations reached solid rock on April 11th 2008.

The first length of tram rail to be laid on the approach to Harbour used pre-curved rails, seen below on April 13th 2008 with two straight rails ready to be moved into position on the next stretch of slab; together, this represents the railway's exit from the A487 carriageway.

The second pair of rails were welded to the first on April 15th 2008, and the welds were being cleaned up with a profile grinder when seen in the second and third pictures below, prior to setting the rails in position.

Also, Gwynedd Council removed the lamp post which was foul of the route of the railway immediately up chainage of this point, taking most of the morning to uproot it.

These pictures show an iron ring and chain uncovered during excavation for the tram track slab. It was firmly anchored, lying exactly on a former quay edge line, and at the right level to have been on the edge of the quay.

On April 17th 2008 Carillion were making preparations to cast the concrete aprons either side of the track at the South Snowdon Wharf access. The work included precise adjustment of rail height and angle, using the adjustable clips.

The concrete pour took place the following day. The rail tops were taped over, to prevent concrete getting into the flange groove. In the second picture the men in the background were roughening the new surface with a wire brush, to provide a stippled road surface with anti-slip properties.

The slab was then put under a layer of hessian, to prevent it drying out too rapidly (the sealing spray seen in the last picture above is part of the same process), and so allowing it to cure correctly to achieve the desired strength.

The following pictures show locations along the remainder of the CTRL between April 17th and 20th 2008.

These pictures were taken on April 23rd 2008. The first shows a "dry run" for making the flangeway drainage box at Snowdon Mill. A slot was to be cut into the bottom of the flangeway, which would allow water to drain into the box, which was to be plumbed in to an adjacent gully. The second picture shows kerbstone edging being laid for the relocated footpath alongside Llyn Bach. In the third, a cherry picker access platform was in use to gain access to the cut water on Britannia Bridge, specifically the first pier from the filling station end, on the Llyn Bach side of the bridge; the cutwater was being drilled and dowel bars were being grouted in, as the first stage of the works to form the new bearing for the end of the link span beams.

The first three pictures below show rapid day-to-day progress on the link span foundations on April 24th and 25th 2008. The fourth picture shows dowels grouted into the end of one of UB221's piers, the result of the work seen above.

This view shows some of the first vehicles to cross the tram track, with the work site swapped to the eastbound side of the road.

Pending the next stage of work after the May Bank Holiday, the down chainage end of the tram track was temporarily surrounded by tarmac.

Steel mesh was laid on April 30th 2008 for the second stage concrete pour on the tram track at Snowdon Mill, and rail position and alignment were checked carefully before the concrete was poured the following day.

At the same time, formwork was being assembled for casting the cutwater upstand for the end of the Britannia Bridge link span; the shape follows the existing cutwater at the base. The last picture shows the re-aligned footpath nearby.

Work on May 1st 2008 included casting the first part of the link span upstand on the Llyn Bach shore; work here had to be scheduled around tidal flows (right-hand picture).

The first part of the upstand is seen with shuttering removed on May 3rd 2008.

By the same date, a start had been made on Snowdon Street level crossing, with the road width halved temporarily by excavation for the track slab.

Carillion's work on the new trackbed and realigned path between the Llyn Bach car park and Britannia Bridge is going on at the same time as extension and conversion works on the Wilkinson's (former Co-op) building, by another contractor. Their work includes repairs to what is now the boundary wall with the railway (fourth picture), which had suffered vandalism while the building was unoccupied.

The concrete of the link span is being protected with a bitumen paint as it is being built; the worker in the second picture gives an idea of the scale.

The kerbstones forming the edge of the Snowdon Mill tram track formation were being extended towards the level crossing on May 6th 2008.

Traffic control was put back in place at Britannia Bridge on May 6th 2008, following the Bank Holiday. The second phase of the tram track works started, taking work on to the bridge itself, beginning with the removal of the road surface. Level with Harbour, the first signage associated with the railway crossing had appeared (first picture).

The base slab was cast as far as the middle of Snowdon Street crossing on May 8th 2008.

The link span site is seen the same day, with four heavy re-bars fitted through holes incorporated in the casting of the upstand, linking with the inner run of sheet piling (left-hand side of the first picture), and protruding through the main piling by the shore (second picture). The third picture shows the upstand on the cutwater, after removal of the formwork. The fourth was taken a day later, and shows spreader plates and nuts on the outer end of the rebars.

The rebar structure seen below was in the Carillion compound on May 11th 2008, and would shortly form part of the next stage concrete works at the link span.

These views from May 11th 2008 show the end of the first completed section of tram track at Snowdon Mill, and the adjacent section of first stage slab reaching to the middle of Snowdon Street Crossing.

The positions for track fittings on Britannia Bridge were being marked out on May 9th 2008 (left); two days later they were in place. No new first stage slab had been cast here, the fittings were added to the existing slab (exposed by removing the tarmac), which dated from the relatively recent strengthening of the bridge.

A pair of rails was moved into position on the bridge on May 12th 2008, and were being painted with red sealant prior to adding the rail boots.

On the same day stone infill was added within the link span, covering the steel rods after they had been wrapped in waterproofing tape, and the stone was then compacted down by vibration and rolled flat.

Rebar was being added for the next stage of the concrete structure on May 13th 2008.

This sequence illustrates the Thermit welding process for the tram rails, with two welds at Snowdon Mill on May 13th 2008. The process involves a mix of powdered iron oxide and aluminium which burns at very high temperature, vapourising the aluminium; the joint area is also heated. The moulds are specific to the rail section, and come from Germany. The actual weld takes about five minutes.

On the same day preparations were in hand at Britannia Bridge for rail welding on the 14th, to be followed by a concrete pour on the 16th.

Two pairs of welds were carried out on May 14th 2008, securing the first two lengths across the bridge. The rails at the end facing the link span were not yet in their final position; two incisions had been made into the edge of the eastbound carriageway to accommodate where the rail ends would go, indicating that the next set of welds would be well inside the eastbound carriageway, after traffic is switched onto the westbound for the last stage of the works on the bridge.

Also on May 14th 2008, rails had been positioned reaching halfway across Snowdon Street Crossing, but had not yet been welded.

On May 15th 2008 the rails on Britannia Bridge were aligned and clipped into place, ready for the concrete pour the next day. The second picture shows arrangements for drainage from the tram rail grooves, using the same system as at Snowdon Mill.

The slab was cast on May 16th 2008, and was curing under hessian when seen the following day.

The link span piles had been trimmed to their final height by May 17th 2008, and stone had been rolled up against rearward face of the piling to more or less the level that the concrete upstand had reached. Within the structure, the remaining two heavy rebar ties had been added, waterproofed and covered with stone.

At Snowdon Street, the rails leading to the middle of the level crossing had been welded to their neighbours and rail boots had been fitted. Reinforcing mesh for the second stage concrete pour had started to be added. The mesh was almost all in place when the second picture was taken on May 19th 2008, and the rail alignments had been checked.

At Britannia Bridge on May 19th 2008, the hessian had been removed from the track slab, and formwork was being assembled for casting the second stage of the link span upstand. At the opposite end on the immediate approach to Harbour, marks had appeared showing where the end of the tram track section would be.

Excavation for this last section of slab track is seen the following day, having reached solid rock a few inches below the surface.

The second stage slab for the first half of Snowdon Street crossing had been completed when pictured on May 20th 2008. The recesses were for vehicle deterrent paving.

On May 21st 2008 contractors for BT had arrived on site and dug up the pavement on the seaward side of Britannia Bridge to install new telecoms ducting; this work was done and tidied up by the end of the week.

At the opposite end of the bridge, the second part of the link span upstand had been cast.

One side of the newly cast section was promptly painted with waterproof coating, and more stone was tipped and rolled within the site.

The edges of the Britannia Bridge westbound carriageway slab were tidied up with tarmac on May 23rd 2008 ready for a week of two-way traffic starting with the Spring Bank Holiday weekend. Outside the carriageway, work had pressed on with the remainder of the tram track on the approach to Harbour, with an initial rough concrete cast carried out in the recent excavation.

At Snowdon Mill, markings were observed on May 22nd, thought to indicate adjustments to be made to roadway levels in the area adjacent to the tram track at the conclusion of the works. As at Britannia Bridge, temporary tarmac was used to reopen Snowdon Street to its full width for the Spring Bank Holiday; a start had been made on what would be the short length of slab needed immediately up chainage of the second half of the crossing (last picture).

WHR Construction Ltd makes a monthly progress report to local councillors; the May 2008 one gave July 28th 2008 as the anticipated completion date for CTRL contract works.

Immediately after the Spring Bank Holiday, the second half of Snowdon Street crossing was excavated.

At the link span, a work platform was rigged on to the piling. The surface comprised hundreds of steel rods (looking not unlike a woodworking profile gauge) between the two runs of piling, held clamped in place by the red painted channels. The ground behind the piling was being levelled off.

Work continued on the last section of slab on the approach to Harbour, with a channel being cut into the underlying rock for a pair of ducts.

The first stage slab for the remainder of the Snowdon Street tram track was cast on May 29th 2008.

A further section of slab was cast the same day on the Harbour approach. The work here had revealed two lengths of bullhead rail set vertically in concrete; the best explanation of these to date is that they may be remnants of gate posts in the wall that separated the former Oakeley Quarries wharf (now Harbour car park) from the road; a siding passed through this gate.

New kerb lines were in place either side of Snowdon Street crossing on the Harbour side of the road when seen on June 1st 2008 (there is no pavemement on this side).

This picture taken on the same date shows fencing between footpath and railway behind Wilkinson's.

On June 2nd 2008 the telegraph pole that was foul of the formation on the approach to Harbour was removed, straight after the cables had been transferred to the new one nearby. The slab cast the week before was being drilled for rail fittings, formwork was being assembled in anticipation of the second stage pour, and excavation was continuing towards the final limit of the slab (indicated by the cones in the second picture). On the bridge, traffic lights were back in place, initially to allow more work on the ducts under the pavement on the seaward side, and to give parking space for the dumper clearing spoil from the slab excavation.

At the link span, T-shaped supports had recently been welded to the face of the piling, and steel strips were being bolted to their upper surfaces.

These pictures from June 4th and 5th 2008 show: (i) the final pair of Snowdon Street tram rails in place, and then welded up and being fitted with rail boots; (ii) rapid progress with the pile capping section of the link span, plus rebar showing that there would be an additional upstand to be added; and (iii) the approach to the end of tram track at the WHR entrance to Harbour.

On June 6th 2008 the second stage slab had been cast at the second half of Snowdon Street crossing, completing this section of tram track. The tarmac was being removed from the eastbound carriageway on Britannia Bridge. On the approach to Harbour, reinforcing mesh was in place for the first stage slab through to the end of the tram track section, which extended slightly further than the earlier markings had indicated.

On June 8th 2008 the last part of the Snowdon Street slab was curing under hessian, and there appeared to be relatively little remaining to do to complete the main works at this site. The fencing of the footpath between the car park and Britannia Bridge was as complete as possible ahead of completion of the link span, and materials on hand in the Carillion compound suggested the fencing to be built either side of the railway where it passes along the edge of the car park would be in a similar style. Tarmac removal from the eastbound carriageway of the bridge had been done.

The most dramatic developments were at the link span, where the shape of the riverbank part of the structure was becoming much clearer. The first section of upstand was being joined by ones on either side; the one adjacent to the bridge would sit on top of the capping beam which had now been cast on top of the piling. Formwork was in hand for a third section of upstand on the river bank on the upstream side; the rebar core previously seen in the Carillion compound had become a part of this wall. A large chamber access had been installed (just visible on the left of the last picture), presumably for access to the protected sewer pipes; it also appeared to be in line with the (presumed) drainage outfall/overflow visible in the third picture.

The first pour for the part of the upstand furthest from the bridge took place on June 9th 2008. On the bridge, the pavement was being removed on the inland site, as was the slate facing of the end of the parapet that was foul of the new courses of the railway and footpath. The work revealed unused ducting for high voltage electricity cables, seen on the 10th in the third picture. In the last picture, the grout boxes for the rail fittings are visible on the short rail crossing of the eastbound carriageway.

More concreting was done on June 10th 2008, laying the first stage slab through to the limit of tram track, and the second stage slab on the length immediately before it; concrete was placed using an excavator bucket.

At Snowdon Street crossing on June 11th 2008, traffic had been routed across the new slab on the side nearer to Harbour; on the opposite side new excavations had been made, apparently for new kerb lines which would narrow the wide street somewhat at the crossing, allowing for various amenity improvements nearby as well as protecting the railway. The first ballast was being laid up chainage of the crossing, on a geotextile fabric layer in a similar manner to the trackbed prepared by Carillion on the far side of Cae Pawb crossing.

The eastbound carriageway on Britannia Bridge was being prepared for the last rails leading off the bridge to be welded in place possibly the next day, to be followed by concreting of this side of the road a day later. The inner concrete structure of the parapet had been revealed.

On the approach to Harbour, the rough concrete past beyond the end of the slab had been dug out, rail fixings were being added to the first stage slab, and the new gable wall of the Cob Records building (see Harbour) was starting to be faced with riven slate.

This sequence of pictures shows a busy morning's work on the CTL on June 12th 2008. The tasks being carried out included: clearing spoil and other materials from the railway route through Carillion's compound; three lorry loads of stone being delivered and tipped within the link span site; rail welding on Britannia Bridge and then on the approach to Harbour; and profile grinding of welds once cooled.

These pictures from later in the day show the tram rails on the approach to Harbour after profile grinding, ballast up chainage of Snowdon Street close to the level crossing for the Council depot entrance, and the surface created in the link span site by the fill delievered earlier in the day.

This newly made up ground was used the next morning as hard standing for the concrete crane which visited to cast the second stage track slab on the eastbound carriageway of Britannia Bridge, and the matching surface on the remainder of the bridge.

By June 15th 2008 a large area of the Llyn Bach shore was accessible again, with the site barriers outside the line of fencing between footpath and railway having been moved back to the edge of the link span site.

These views taken on the same day show Snowdon Street and the ballast laid beyond it.

On June 17th 2008 the contractors recovered stones that had rolled into the water from the link span piling protection layer, and assembled a platform giving access to the modified cutwater on Britannia Bridge, in preparation for the installation of the link span beams. The third picture also shows shuttering for casting the parapet of the wall alongside the footpath; this parapet forms the top of the upstand on the Llyn Bach shore.

At the extremity of the CTL, shuttering and rail boots were in place, almost ready for the second stage concrete pour.

The link span beams were delivered and craned into place on the morning of June 18th 2008. There are three beams linking the capping beam above the piling with the cutwater; the first one sitting snugly against the side of the Britannia Bridge, a slightly shorter intermediate one, and the longest one closing the gap to the upstand on the Llyn Bach shore. The outer beam beam has a cast-in ledge on its lower outward side, to support facing stonework. All three beams have cast-in rebar loops extending from their top surface, to key in with the deck that will be cast in situ on top.

The following day, a start was made on the slab to go on top of the beams, with ribbed reinforced sheet material being cut to shape to be fitted in the gaps between the beams before adding rebar above it for the concrete slab.

These pictures, also from June 19th 2008, show the second stage slab cast at the end of the tram track approaching Harbour, with a pad cast for a short distance beyond it, to support the transition between tram and standard rail. The second one also shows rapid progress with slating of the shortened part of the Cob Records building, which had started the previous day.

With the base of the link span slab in place, it was possible to get an idea of how the transition would look between the span and Britannia Bridge, where the concrete core of the wall had been cut back as far as necessary by June 22nd 2008.

Snowdon Street crossing was open at its full width on the same date, and the new kerb lines had been established on the west side of the road. A short distance towards Harbour, new kerbing had also been added on the road access to the council depot crossing and the future siding.

The rebar core of the link span deck was being assembled when seen on June 24th 2008, as was the core of the footpath wall parapet.

The concrete pour for the link span deck took place on June 26th 2008, and the site is seen below the following day.

The walking route alongside Spooner's had been altered slightly, to allow pavement works to proceed; scaffolding had been removed from the Cob Records building.

Snowdon Street is seen below on June 27th 2008, with the vehicle deterrent paving newly installed in the recesses on the western side; this was in line with the old pavement line, the new one would be further out into the road.

On June 28th 2008 formwork was in place for casting the last structural component of the link span, the footpath wall parapet.

On June 30th 2008 the first evidence was visible of the tarmac needed to fill in the various gaps around the railway works at Snowdon Mill and Street; at the link span, a concrete pour took place on the parapet wall.

Signalling schematic and operating procedures for the CTL, including Harbour to Pen y Mount (PDF file).

Coverage from July 1st 2008 onwards is continued on this page.

 Back to WHR Project homepage or the opening Phase 4 page
Maintained by Ben Fisher; last updated  June 30th 2008