The Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways Infrastructure Department have introduced a progressive Autumn & Winter maintenance plan.
The plan is in response to both the Pandemic restrictions assigned to the railway and its need to run services in order to create a robust revenue stream.
Both of the railways have been operating very well, however, it has been noted that an extensive maintenance plan is essential to maintain routine work and also to catch up on improvements prevented by the pandemic.
The essential maintenance plan will see the laying of new track, signals and telegraph works as well as improvement work to buildings.
The most arduous part of the maintenance work will be the re-railing and re-sleepering of stretches of track between Tan y Bwlch which is the Ffestiniog’s halfway station, and Rhiw Goch which features an essential passing loop.
The same procedures will also be required between Rhiwplas Bridge where the main road between Porthmadog and Dolgellau crosses the railway, and Boston Lodge.
The sleepers being used are sustainably made from plastic which has been recycled from plastic milk bottles and have a much longer life span than regular wooden sleepers.
The environmentally friendly sleepers also look very similar to their traditional wooden counterpart and can also be recycled when they reach end of life and will also save valuable hardwoods being used.
The Signals and Telegraph (S&T) Department will be working at Tan y Bwlch to make the “run round” safer. This work will see improvements carried out at the Porthmadog end of the station and will mean that the token will no longer be needed to complete the “run round”, with other work including the installation of a wrong line departure signal and improvements to track circuiting.
Further work being undertaken by The S&T Department will see work at Rhiw Goch installing a mains electrical cable from Rhiw Goch Farm Crossing and will improve the power supply along with a fibre optic cable which will upgrade the signal box’s IT capability.
The Buildings Department will carry out work in the Harbour station dealing with water leaks and will need scaffolding to be put in place whilst the work is carried out. Harbour station will also undergo general maintenance to keep up the high standards of the facilities.
Following the Company Board’s decision on how next years train service will operate, improvements will be made to the facilities at Beddgelert and Tan y Bwlch.
Due to prolific vegetation growth, lineside maintenance is a continual issue causing damage to rolling stock and creating unnecessary work for the Carriage Department. When the Welsh Highland trains have stopped running, considerable efforts will be prioritised (weather permitting) on a section between Caernarfon and Dinas and once complete will move onto the section between Dinas and Waunfawr.
Work on the Vegetation management on the Festiniog will see the protection of the pole route and opening up viewing windows through woodland.
The Ffestiniog will be closed once the daily service finishes and will not re-open until March 2022 to allow this work to be carried out, however, there will be train services on the Welsh Highland from Caernarfon and Porthmadog.