Phase 4: Rhyd Ddu to Porthmadog

Rhyd Ddu Station

Phase 4 pages:
Rhyd Ddu Station
Beddgelert: Bridges & Station

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.

The southern terminus of WHR(C) since August 2003 started out as a deliberately simple affair. When Phase 4 opens it will become a passing place, and it has been equipped with much improved facilities ahead of this. These improvements were among the earliest Phase 4 works to be started and completed. The works may be summarised as extension of the loop, extension of the platform and completion of its second face, overspill car park, turn-in point for road coaches, platform lighting, erection of a shelter, two water towers, and ancillary works. In construction company terminology these works formed Contract 4A-1A, which was further subdivided into two stages.

The contract for the first phase of works (car park surfacing, surfacing access route to platform, bus pull-in, installing services, etc.) was let to local firm Phasey Construction (builders of Plas y Nant Halt) in late June 2005, and work began on site within days.

The overflow car park and improved zig-zag access to the platform were close to completion when seen below in mid-August 2005.

The overflow car park was used on an improvised basis over the August 2005 Bank Holiday weekend, and work continued afterwards. The access steps from the car park to the platform are seen below at the start of September.

A week later this stage of the works was complete apart from some tidying, and the overflow car park, steps and zig-zag were all in public use. The parking area was laid with a "Grasscrete" surface, with a concrete surface with shaped holes for grass to grow through, and which was already sprouting quite vigorously.

The official launch ceremony for Phase 4 construction took place at the south end of the station site on August 1st 2005, with a ribbon cut by the Rt Hon Rhodri Morgan AM, First Minister of the Welsh Assembly Government.

As a neccesary preliminary to this work, the siding at the south end of the station was lifted by volunteers on October 17th 2005.

Management of the works to complete the station (apart from trackwork) was contracted to Posford Datrys of Caernarfon. The work was then put out to tender, and the contract was awarded to G.H. James Cyf of Trawsfynydd.

The containers forming Phasey's working base were moved in late November 2005 to new positions alongside the trackbed at the south end of the station, clearing the trackbed for ballast laying to join up the station with the ballast bed leading south. This had been laid by November 27th, and the bank to the east, which had previously been rough excavated giving a straight drop down to the trackbed, had been graded to a neater slope.

The track laid here used up the last of the South African rail ordered for Phase 3. These rails were sent away to be re-rolled, correcting the damage they suffered in transit from South Africa (as was done for the other affected rails in late 2002 and early 2003). On return they were delivered direct to Rhyd Ddu.

The first tracklaying activity in the push south towards Porthmadog took place on schedule, on December 1st 2005. The turnouts for the south end of the loop and the siding were craned into position, making use of the crane which was there to unload the re-rolled South African rail which would be used to complete the extended station layout and then start the extension southwards. This was formed into two rail stacks, one adjacent to each turnout. The siding turnout marks the far southern end of the station site.

Some new sleepers were moved to Rhyd Ddu in the following week. Over the weekend of December 10-11th volunteers from the Black Hand Gang were at work on site; two lengths of track were laid, between the two turnouts. Volunteers are seen below doing further work on this section on December 29th, using the familiar materials purchased from South Africa. Note also that the work base had been moved again, with the containers now alongside the road boundary of the site, making way for work to proceed with the platform extension and other station works.

Following this, trial tracklaying was done over four panels south of the siding points, using the new-style materials purchased for Phase 4; this enabled the volunteers to familiarise themselves with the Pandrol clips and the special levers used to fit them into the sleepers' integral baseplates.

James's work on the station contract started with the bases for the water tanks, which required dumper access along the existing platform. The pictures below show work underway on the platform (extended edging on the eastern face, and the bank on the western face cut back), and the base for the tank at the northern end, adjacent to the platform end.

A week on from the above pictures, edging was in place for the new western face (with the width of the platform also being increased), and the core of the southwards platform extension was largely in place. At the far south end of the site, landscaping of the bank overlooking the line was being completed.

Even before completion of the platform, volunteers were able to start relaying the loop line - or rather, the new platform road for southbound trains, as it becomes in the revised layout; the Black Hand Gang are seen below at work on February 18th 2006.

Further south, some additional excavation had been done on the west side, past the Beddgelert end of the car park. At the far end of the site, installation of the ATP (automatic trailing point) mechanism at the south end of the loop was also underway on February 18th; this matches the one previously installed at the north end, and has made loop operation fully automatic.

The earthworks were to make space for a long siding, able to take a 10-car train; it passes underneath the southern water tower structure. Progress can be seen below (left) a week on from the above picture, including the platform extension, and the ATP cabinet is visible in the distance - illustrating just how much extra extra length the station is gaining. Towards the northern end, the site for the shelter was being prepared (right), with services laid in. The wooden building was built by a contractor, who assembled it on site.

Despite snow, the galvanised steel support structures for the water tanks were erected at the start of March 2006; they are very similar to those at Caernarfon and Waunfawr. The first two pictures show the one for the north (Caernarfon-bound) tank, with cross braces still to be fitted; the others show the south (Porthmadog-bound) one, with cross braces in place. The structures are not identical, as the south one has been designed to accommodate the siding underneath it (see above).

Progress on the extended platform is seen below on March 6th.

By March 11th scaffolding had been erected around both water tower bases, ready for assembly of the tanks, new panels for which had been delivered to site.

The south tank had been assembled by March 18th, seen below with the Black Hand Gang at work on the loop and siding. Unlike the Caernarfon and Waunfawr tanks with their wooden lids, these tanks are enclosed, with a breather fitted on top.

The wooden platform shelter was erected on March 20th 2006, and is seen below awaiting its slate roof. In the left-hand picture work can also be seen in progress on the north water tank.

The platform's tarmac surface was laid on March 22nd and 23rd, followed by installation of lamp standards. The scaffolding had been removed from the south tank by the 25th, allowing tracklaying to proceed on the siding running underneath it. The north tank had also been assembled.

The north tank had been revealed a week later, complete with its water level gauge (right).

Scaffolding was being re-erected around both towers in late January 2007, in preparation for painting; it is normal to allow galvanised steel to weather for some months to gain a "key" for painting, otherwise paint tends to peel rapidly.

Painting by volunteers from the WHRS West Midlands Group was in hand in early February, starting with the south tank.

On a further weekend visit in mid-February 2007, the West Midlands volunteers continued with the north tank, and also worked on the planters featured within the extended platform, supported by a works train on the Saturday.

The north tank is seen below with the scaffolding removed.

On March 3rd 2007 the West Midlands volunteers used a tower to paint the underside of the south tank, and other parts which had been inaccessible before.

A fortnight later the volunteers did the same job on the north tank. The outlet and valve had been fitted to the south tank, although it had not yet been connected up to the mains.

The south tank was first used on March 21st, and was fitted with a "bag" on the outlet very shortly afterwards.

Staff from Brunswick Ironworks then proceeded with piping of the north tank; in this case the position where locos will stand for watering was at first going to be offset from the tank, hence the pipe seen below.

This design was changed as seen below on May 27th 2007, with the cranked delivery pipe much closer to the tank.

The tank was plumbed into the water supply and fitted with an outlet hose in the last week of November 2007.

The track gang completed laying the loop on April 2nd 2006, ready for top ballasting and tamping - the works train was in attendance complete with the ballast hoppers, and the Matisa tamper. Track was also connected up to the container forming the temporary loco shed for Simplex Dolgarrog, including the headshunt points; the turnout for access between the sidings and the main line was also worked on. Unlike the "end-on" connections used into the container shed on Phase 3, this time the shed will be accessed via the yard layout, giving a clear run between the operating railway and the new line for works trains.

The next day the sidings were being fenced off from the main line. Electricians were at work connecting up the platform lights and the electrical supply to the shelter, which was also receiving attention from roofers, preparing to add the slates. Dolgarrog had been run out of and back into its container.

The views below show the station on April 5th. The lamp standards were complete, platform furniture was back in place, and roofing of the shelter was almost complete. New signage was in place at the entrance.

The photos below show work in progress the day before opening on the occasion of Sponsors Day on the 8th, and the station on the first day of public services the next day. Failure of the tamper with a broken timing chain meant that the right-hand road was not yet ready for trains, so they were terminating in the left-hand road as a temporary measure pending adjustment of the right-hand road to the correct level to be passed for use by carriages. The long siding was completed over the weekend.

Over the following weekends volunteers continued with the yard layout, including point levers. The works train began to use the long siding, which was due to receive another larger container "shed" for the KMX tamper, rapidly approaching completion at Boston Lodge.

The rail transporter is seen below in the long siding on April 29th 2006, following its successful first test a few days earlier. The third photo shows work in progress applying woodstain to the exterior of the shelter on the same day, and the fourth shows the necessary procedure for over-riding the ATP mechanism and clipping the turnout in position while the station was being used "wrong road".

The pictures below taken on May 20th show the recently installed container which would house the Plasser & Theurer tamper, and the part-laid permanent way siding, already in use by the Matisa tamper and the ballast plough.

The completed shorter siding is seen below on May 28th, complete with buffer stops.

By June 3rd a solar panel had been installed on the roof of the tamper shed.

Following tamping, the station was converted to right-hand running as of the 1220 ex-Caernarfon on June 1st 2006, seen below in the first two pictures below. The remaining pictures were taken two days later. At this point the turnout at the north end was still having to be clipped in place as a safety precaution; although the ATP mechanism is hydraulic, the circuits for the white warning light telling crews how the points are set had been knocked out by a lightning strike.

Fixed signals for the signalling and shunt token systems needed for when the station becomes a passing place started to appear in mid-November 2007, and the installation (by WHR Construction Ltd and local contractor Highrail Systems Ltd) was completed before the end of the month, together with work on the point indicator at the Beddgelert end. The signals were then covered up, prior to the FR Company carrying out inspection and acceptance tests, which were planned for December 14th 2007.

On July 6th 2008 the Black Hand Gang fitted four timbers to form the base of a lever frame for the yard at the south of the station.

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Maintained by Ben Fisher; last updated July 8th, 2008