Phase 4: Rhyd Ddu to Porthmadog

Porthmadog Harbour Station

Phase 4 pages:
Beddgelert: Bridges & Station
Porthmadog Harbour

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.


Arrangements for accommodating WHR as well as FR services at Harbour may be summarised as making space for the WHR platform on the landward side of the station, and fitting arrangements for running round WHR trains and servicing locos into the existing station, which at present has six lines running part or all of the way through, known as 1 to 6 roads, 1 being closest to the buildings.

Emerging from the short street section, WHR trains will enter a new platform on the right (as viewed from a train arriving from Caernarfon. The platform will start on the "town" side of the building, close to where the parked car is seen in the first picture below, and will extend out onto the start of the Cob, meeting the FR on its opposite face. The junction with FR metals will be made via a new turnout beyond the platform.

Accommodating the platform and the WHR track means moving the Cob end of 1 road a short distance to the seaward side, with consequent movement in the same direction of the rest of the station throat. The FR platform will thus start to curve away earlier than it does at present, but the visual relationship to the buildings will remain much as before as the extra curvature can be accommodated beyond them at the Cob end.

These changes mean a slight widening of the Cob itself for a distance, on the seaward side. This has been reinforced with extra stone on a regular basis over the years, meaning that this work is not a particularly radical departure.

The current plan for running round WHR trains is that 6 road, at present a siding, will be extended and made into a loop. WHR trains, with passengers disembarked, will draw out onto the Cob and set back into 6 road, with the loco then running round via the existing FR run round on 3 road.

Loco servicing would be at the existing water tower (or a larger replacement) and fuelling area, but on the opposite side (nearest the camera in the picture below) to that used by FR locos.

An additional option for reversing trains without using the run round is envisaged, with a loco stabling siding to be built in the Llyn Bach area of the Cross-Town Link; one loco would bring the WHR train into Harbour, and a second would come in from Llyn Bach to couple up and take it out again. This does however mean more movements via the street section.

The new permanent junction points for where the WHR and FR meet have been manufactured by a contractor in South Wales, at the same time as catch points which will be installed either side of the Cambrian Crossing. This comes a little over 50 years since the old junction was last relaid, on the old location (closer to the station buildings than the new one will be). Mike Schumann's picture below shows the scene in the first week of April 1956, with Will Jones closest to the camera. The WHR leads out of view in the bottom left-hand corner; the spur was kept in place for many years afterwards, and was a convenient place for delivering rolling stock brought in by road - including the ex-WHR carriage that became FR no. 26, and Garratt K1.

WHR Construction Ltd began physical exploration of the ground conditions on the beachfront at Harbour on February 5th 2007.

The trial excavations were dug down approximately 2.5 metres, and initial impressions suggested that the underlying ground conditions were encouraging.

On September 10th 2007 marine ecologist Dr Albert Nottage was taking silt samples off the Cob, as part of the environmental survey associated with the Cob widening works; the survey was completed in the following weeks.

The layout changes at Harbour require four new turnouts, which are being supplied by Holdtrade (UK) Ltd. FR Permanent Way Supervisor Fred Howes is seen discussing their details with Holdtrade's Peter George in October 2007.

The Cob Records Building

Getting the WHR into Harbour Station required mitigation works to this building behind the station building, which is not owned by the FR but is used for storage by the record shop across the road.

It has been shortened at the end facing the road, and lengthened in compensation at the end facing the harbour, with the lengthening being done first. The contract wa let to Penrhyndeudraeth-based firm Porthmadog Demolition. The building was fenced off on January 21st 2008, and work started the following day. The first of these pictures shows excavations for the foundations of the extended end on January 25th 2008.

These pictures date from January 31st, February 6th and 13th 2008.

The floor of the extension was cast on February 18th 2008, and the slates were removed from the roof of the adjacent part of the building the next day (right).

By March 2nd 2008 the rafters had been removed, and breeze blocks were on site for extending the walls.

The extension walls are seen on March 7th and 14th 2008.

A crane was in attendance on March 20th 2008, to lift the roof joists for the extension into place.

At the end of the month the new gable end was taking shape.

Roofing work was in progress on April 8th 2008.

On April 10th 2008 one side of the roof had been slated, the other was about half done, and window frames were being fitted.

Ten days later the extension had been fitted with its doors.

Work on the exterior resumed after a break on May 12th 2008. All slates were removed from the old section of the building, some being used straight away to complete the roofing of the new section. A new telegraph pole had been installed well back from the old one at the corner of the building (to be removed, being foul of the railway route), and ducts were being installed from the new pole to a manhole cover in the roadway. Note also the "DEMO" marking indicating how far this end of the structure was due to be demolished.

The demolition was carried out on May 13th 2008.

Foundations for the new gable end wall were under way when seen on May 19th 2008. The line of the new wall is parallel to the railway, and is thus not at right angles to the side walls.

Two days later the wall was being built, and repairs to the roof were continuing (first picture). The second picture dates from May 24th 2008.

The new gable wall had reached full height by June 8th 2008.

The gable end is being faced with riven slate, which also extends just round the corners. This picture taken on June 17th 2008 shows this work in progress, with window frames installed, and roof felt complete.

The opposite ends of the building are seen on June 20th and 22nd 2008, at which point the shortened end was having the roof slated, and the end of the work on the building was approaching.

When all works are complete, at this point there will be a footway adjacent to the carriageway (leading to the Cob footpath), iron railings, then the railway, followed by a 2m wide footpath/platform extension, and finally the new gable wall of the building.

Cob Widening

Since the Transport and Works Order was made, the Cob widening site has been brought within the Lleyn and Sarnau Special Area of Conservation (SAC), and thus has an enhanced protected status. To gain authorisation for the work a Marine Construction Licence was applied for under the Food & Environment Protection Act (FEPA); the granting body is the Marine and Fisheries Agency (MFA), and the application is supported by a comprehensive environmental statement. The delay incurred owing to this process has meant that it has not been possible to carry out the Cob widening in Winter 2007-8 as first planned. The Marine Construction Licence was granted on February 20th 2008, and Cyngor Gwynedd Council granted Planning Permission for the works six days earlier. This means that full authorisation for the Cob widening works is now in place.

The WHR/FR Junction

The initial connection between the two railways is more or less on the location of the original one. There will not be enough time to complete all of the alterations at Harbour before reopening, and the work mostly has to be done outside the peak season. The intention is now that for the first season, the two railways will use essentially the existing layout, which will require the use of a pilot locomotive for shunting WHR trains. The timetable is likely to see FR and WHR trains alternating at Harbour.

A point connection has been added to the existing FR platform line. Before reopening, it will give a very useful capacity for movements of construction and test trains between the FR and WHR. It will also prove useful for movement of Romanian carriage no. 2060 and Garratt no. 87, as neither will fit under Rhiw Plas bridge for an exit via Minffordd Yard.

The point is right at the beginning of the existing platform road curve, and uses a standard FR bullhead rail point. A dropped section of the platform surface has been constructed where the WHR track crosses through the platform. The civil engineering contract for this also included the first short section of WHR platform in front of Spooner's, to try and minimise further disturbance in that area the following winter.

The turnout was installed between February 22nd-26th 2008, followed by the first short length of track leading towards Britannia Bridge on March 7-8th.

The FR permanent way train (hauled by Harlech Castle) was stabled at Harbour on February 21st 2008, with the components for assembling the turnout on board.

Work got under way on schedule on February 22nd 2008; the second row of pictures were taken on the 23rd, the third on the 24th, and the fourth on the 25th.

The point installation was completed on schedule on the 26th (apart from permanent fitting of one of the blades), allowing FR trains to use the platform again the next day.

The third and fourth of these views give some idea of the route of the temporary spur towards the Cross-Town link.

Laying of the spur (two panels in length) started the day after these pictures were taken on March 7th 2008. The post and chain fence had been removed, and its concrete footings were being broken out prior to digging out the trackbed for the spur; local contractor Gelli Civil Engineering was doing the work. In the third picture, the marks in the foreground indicate the track centreline (C2) and the future platform edge (P1).

The spur was laid on March 8-9th 2008. Like the point, it is in bullhead rail, believed to be ex-Penrhyn Quarry Railway. Timbers were being laid to make up the platform surface between the rails towards the end of the weekend.

Further back towards Britannia Bridge, the first works in the roadway involved excavation for telecoms cable ducting, plus an inspection chamber for the ducts.

By March 14th 2008 most of the spur had been covered up temporarily, and the cable ducting work was done.

In the following week revised kerb lines were established on either side of the entry to the access road to the station and South Snowdon Wharf.

The Gelli Contract

Gelli Civil Engineering carried out a contract in July 2008 to modify part of the existing Harbour platform and create the first section of WHR platform, as part of the works to connect up Harbour to the CTRL. When pictured on July 10th 2008 they were digging a trench for drainage across the FR platform, leaving space for trains a little tight.

The trench was being pushed west on July 14th 2008, with the east end of it being filled back in as soon as work permitted.

The following day the drainage installation was complete, and Gelli were digging out a shallow trench for track between that already laid from the junction turnout and the CTRL tram track.

Progress is seen below on July 16th and 17th 2008, with brick paving being trimmed back. In the third picture, the workers are sitting on the edge of the new WHR platform. The row of edging behind them would separate old and new platforms; the paving would be reinstated as far as this line, and the new platform would then be laid in asphalt.

On July 18th 2008 (first picture - others taken on the 20th) the brickwork on the FR platform had been put back in, and the WHR platform section was being rolled ready for tarmac. Ballast had been laid over geotextile for the track between the end of the CTRL tram track and the lengths already laid at the junction.

The platform section was surfaced on July 23rd 2008. The second pair of pictures show it in use as outdoors seating for Spooner's a fortnight later.

Clearance checks for WHR stock at Harbour were carried out on August 27th 2008, using brand new service carriage no. 2010. It was found that all was well with the carriage's behaviour around the yard, and that there was no problem about clearances with the platform canopy.

During the second weekend of November 2008 a shunt release test was carried out to simulate the operation of FR and WHR trains at Harbour under the temporary arrangements for 2009. It is expected that diesel Castell Cricieth/Criccieth Castle will be the usual Harbour shunter in 2009, shunting WHR trains between arrival and departure.

When the junction point was photographed below on November 21st 2008, the blades had recently been fitted temporarily, and set to point to the WHR.

The immediate reason for this was to accommodate the return on November 22nd 2008 of the C2 Project's 1988-built Chinese 0-8-0 tender loco, Dahuichang no. 4, which had been on display at Locomotion in Shildon. Project members had made a pair of skates (details here) to enable the 762mm gauge loco to be hauled across the Cob to Boston Lodge, where a shed is to be built to accommodate the overhaul and regauging of the loco. In order to get it onto the line, sleepers and doubled-headed FR rails (lying on their sides so the loco's flanges could rest in the webs) were placed along the as yet unfilled gap in the WHR track where it enters Harbour, and the buried lengths of track laid across the platform earlier in the year were dug out enough for diesel Moel y Gest to shunt on to the WHR line, making it the first loco to run on to the revived WHR directly from the FR. Dahiuchang no. 4 was sitting in the future WHR platform by 14.00.

The following day the loco and tender had been moved apart, and the loco was being jacked up and packed in preparation for placing it on the skates to take it to Boston Lodge. The owning group intend to make Dahuichang no. 4 operable over the F&WHR; in addition to regauging, the cab requires substantial modification if it is to fit the FR structure gauge.

Following the loco's removal to Boston Lodge the point blade was removed again. It was fitted properly into the turnout on December 12th 2008, and the three stretcher bars between point blades required for a running line point (as opposed to a single bar for a yard point) were welded in place. The middle one includes the bar that will link the turnout to the ground frame.

In early February 2009 work took place on an underground gas pipe crossing the line on the entrance from the CTRL to Harbour, ahead of the laying of track to fill the final gap in the line from Caernarfon.

The special transition rails (with short guard rails at the end facing the tram rail) were delivered to site on February 12th 2009, together with two welded lengths with flat bottom rail at one end and bullhead at the other, to be laid to make the final connection with the lengths already laid on the side of the FR/WHR junction facing the CTRL. This was the final delivery to site of rails to complete the WHR main line.

At lunchtime on February 14th 2008 volunteers were at work on the sleepers and associated base plates to support the tram rails protruding from the end of the slab track, prior to installation of the last pair of large base plates to support the actual transition between the tram rails and the transition rails with their fitted guard rails. Further on, the welded flat bottom/bullhead had been moved towards their eventual positions.

The transition had been assembled and was being top ballasted by hand when seen the following day. The four rails needed to complete the link between the railways (the pair of flat-bottom rails supplied with the transitions, and then the welded pair for the change to bullhead) were moved to one side, as problems were found that would need rectification with a digger before the link could be finished. The main problem was excess concrete outside the new platform edging (first picture on the second row) which was foul of where the sleeper ends needed to go; also, the top level of the ballast bed was too high.

Gelli were back on site on February 24th 2009 to sort out the problems; the edging had been removed temporarily from the WHR platform edge section to give access to get at the excess concrete. Also, one of the panels of bullhead track laid in March 2008 had to be dug out and lifted to give access for making up the amended trackbed level.

Volunteers laid the track towards the junction on February 27th 2009 and completed the connection in the evening.

The connection of the two railways was marked by the following day's "Golden Bolts" ceremony.

On March 9th 2009 staff from Brunswick Ironworks were on site, installing traditional-style metal fencing separating the railway and footpath on the exit from Harbour. A short length in the same style had been erected some months earlier on the opposite side of the line, on the town side of the pedestrian crossing of the line.

Gelli Civil Engineering were working on March 25th 2009 on drainage alongside the line at the "triangle" behind Spooner's where part of the eventual WHR platform would be built.

Another 'last piece in the jigsaw' to the reopening to Harbour Station was the removal of the beer store to the rear of the station. Demolition was in progress on the 13th October 20101. The removal of the beer store allows sufficient width for a platform to be built.

Demolition of the beer store - Andrew Thomas/FRDemolition of the beer store - Andrew Thomas/FRDemolition of the beer store - Andrew Thomas/FRDemolition of the beer store - Andrew Thomas/FRDemolition of the beer store - Andrew Thomas/FR

On the same day cables were being pulled through the ducts for the white light signals for the train crew's indication of the crossing and station approach.

Pulling cables through the ducts. - Andrew Thomas/FR

Harbour Station remodelling: signalling schematic and operating methods (PDF file) - note, not all track in the yard is shown.

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Maintained by Ben Fisher; last updated October 13th, 2010 by Laurence Armstrong