Friday, 19 April 2013

Work continues on the heritage carriage

The construction of the Heritage carriage has come on leaps and bounds in recent weeks. Garmendale Engineering Ltd has completed the main super structure and is being test fitted onto the chassis.  The brake rod has been attached to the bogies and the structure has been sent off to be powder coated. Hunslet Engine Company has updated the pivot point design to accommodate the height of the bogies.
 Holes have been pre-drilled into the chassis structure ready for the seating to be dropped into place. The timber for the windows has been fitted with the corner detailing, typical of a Victorian carriage, are ready to be attached.

Our engineering team uncovered a true treasure while dismantling carriage 2, the donor carriage for the heritage carriage, original brass handles! These handles have been stripped of their black paint and polished up ready to be used on the Victorian carriage.

Tickets for the Heritage Steam Experience includes an incredible site-seeing trip spanning up to 3 hours.
There is a lot of work still to be done on the heritage carriage but with progress ahead of schedule everything is looking good ready for its launch in June. 

To avoid disappointment, tickets can be pre-booked either through our website or by calling the booking hotline on 0844 493 8120 every day from 1pm.

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Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Service resumes after heavy snow

After a tremendous effort from our Permanent Way team we are now back to business and running to halfway up Snowdon. The extremely heavy snowfall is very unusual for spring – this time last year the summit building was open and we were enjoying a glorious heat wave!

The team have been working in extreme conditions with 30 feet snow drifts and bitterly cold temperatures of -10°C, wind speeds have peaked as high as 103mph at Clogwyn Station. The weather was even putting our machinery to the test with 2 excavators taking 10 days to reach the half-way point. The team are doing their very best to uncover more track so that trains can reach higher parts of the mountain. 

We are still hopeful to be running to the summit by early May. Once the track is clear there is a ten day commissioning period to set the building up ready for passengers and climbers.

The weather in Llanberis today is beautiful sunshine and blue skies, it is the perfect day for the visiting us. The BBC joined us yesterday; you can see what happened on The One Show later this evening at 7.00pm.

Monday, 18 March 2013

First day of the season

The start of the season has kicked off to a great success after a busy few weeks of preparation. On Saturday, we welcomed the first of our passengers with a hot panad before they boarded the train to ascend up to Clogwyn Station (3/4 up Snowdon). Heavy snowfall over night resulted in one of the excavator being sent up to clear the snow ready for our trains.

The first train journeys of the season will be pushed by our Traditional Diesel Service with its new contemporary carriages. These stunning carriages were partially funded by the Welsh Assembly Government and built in a partnership between Garmendale Engineering Limited, Hunslet Engine Company and the Snowdon Mountain Railway. You can watch Ninian pushing carriage 14 for its first journey up Snowdon on YouTube.

Peter Johnson kindly joined us in the gift shop afterwards to sign a few copies of his comprehensive publication 'An Illustrated History of the Snowdon Mountain Railway'.

The season has now begun and we look forward to welcoming all our passengers in 2013.

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Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Arrival of carriages 15 and 16

It’s been a busy morning at the Railway with carriages 15 and 16 being lifted onto the tracks. These carriages are the second and third of four new contemporary carriages that the Railway will take delivery of before the beginning of the season. 15 and 16 will now begin the commissioning process to make sure everything is ready ahead of the start of the season.

The last of the new contemporary carriages, 17, has come out the paint shop and is in its final stages of construction. The flooring, windows and doors are to be attached to the carriage structure and the final wiring, lights and brakes are to be fitted. Carriage 17 will be delivered 13th March.

It has been a bright and sunny start to March but snow still covers the peak of Snowdon making the likely destination for the beginning of the season to be Clogwyn, three quarters up the mountain. It’s going to be an exciting year for the Railway and we can’t wait to get started!

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Thursday, 21 February 2013

Work begins on the New Heritage Carriage

The plans have been finalised and work is now underway on our heritage carriage. To create a truly memorable experience, attention to detail was top on the list of priorities when the designs were being formulated. This carriage will be characterised by its big windows and corner features inspired by the original carriage design and depicted in our photographs taken in the Victorian era - but with a twist - there will be glass in the windows to prevent the loss of hats and other items! Even the original company name, Snowdon Mountain Tramroad & Hotels Company Limited, is to be placed above the carriage – another echo of our unique past.

The engineering team have been working tirelessly with Garmendale Engineering Limited to make the construction of the carriage feasible. Several meetings have taken place to discuss the redesign of the carriage body on the bogies (a wheeled structure underneath a train). One of the biggest obstacles that the partnership had to overcome was the modern bogie pivot design which created a higher step-up from the platform up onto the carriage than identify on the specification. After the application of some engineering ingenuity – voila - a solution has been found.

The carriage is being built using the original chassis and bogies from 1922. Original carriage 2 was the donor carriage and has been stripped down and prepared for the new carriage body. Refurbishment of the brakes and bogies was carried out by the maintenance team at the railway ready for Garmendale to work their magic on the chassis. The parts used on this classic carriage are a combination of the latest technology and sustainable materials, something which has never been done before.

The team are working hard to comply with the delivery date which is being anticipated as the middle of May 2013.
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Wednesday, 6 February 2013

The Beginning of a New Era

For a number of years, the management group at Snowdon Mountain Railway have had a vision to improve the quality of everything we do at the Railway in order that we might exceed our thousands of customers’ expectations. An integral part of this was the bringing to fruition the complex project to replace our Snowdon Summit destination with a state of the art visitor centre named Hafod Eryri that opened in 2009.

For the three years prior to this significant work to the track and infrastructure took place and the vision was that on completion attention would move to improvements to the rolling stock. Customer intelligence told us that even though trips by Steam train would cost more, providing the trip represented value for money, our customers would be happy to pay for the appropriate quality. In addition, it was our vision to provide an improved passenger experience for all of our customers in modern contemporary carriages pushed by refurbished and improved Hunslet Diesel Locomotives. These projects were long in gestation but from order to delivery were less than 12 months.  Major Capital projects of this type have historically been rare events at the Railway. New locomotives in 1896 to open the railway were not added to until 1923 and diesel locomotives were added in 1985. Likewise passenger carriages were a rare addition with the current stock in part dating from the opening in 1895 and some from 1923.

New contemporary carriage being pushed by diesel loco
The planned development of new contemporary carriages and a more traditional carriage for the steam service is truly of enormous importance for the continued success of our railway. Our first contemporary carriage for diesel service was delivered and commissioned in November 2012 and an additional three carriages will follow on February 2013 in time for the new season that begins in March. The Traditional Diesel Service offers a more contemporary style of travel with the addition of four new carriages. Designed and build in the UK by a partnership between Garmendale Engineering Limited, Hunslet Engine Company, and Snowdon Mountain Railway. These carriages boast higher levels of space and comfort for our passengers compared to the previously used carriages. This innovative lightweight design not only holds an increased carrying capacity of 74 passengers but also enables disabled access for every trip as opposed to the four trips a day previously. The diesel locomotives are powered by 320 Horsepower (238 kW) six cylinder turbocharged Rolls Royce diesel engines of 12 litres capacity. 

The Railway holds a wealth of history, spanning three centuries, something we are proud of and want to share with each passenger who travels with us. The primary concept for the Heritage Steam Experience was to take passengers back in time for a journey not too dissimilar to what our first passengers experienced over 100 years ago. With an original 1895 steam locomotive and 21st Century Victorian style carriage, it would be the ultimate heritage experience. The Heritage Steam Carriage is currently in the pre - production phase and the plan calls for its arrival in Llanberis, May 2013 ready for service in June.

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