Jack drifts down towards Leadhills station © Geoff’s Rail Diaries 2011 The prime objective for this trip was the district of Ffestiniog, rather than the railway of same name (which would figure in our plans later on). The nuclear power station at Trawsfynydd had ceased to generate electricity some time before - perhaps the previous year - but it would take a while to move all the remaining spent fuel from the site, by rail. Once the fuel was gone, the standard gauge line from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Trawsfynydd would close. "We'd better go and get some pictures"... Festiniog... Standard gauge - two class 31s on a spent nuclear fuel train, on the horseshoe curve which was originally contructed for the 2' gauge Festiniog and Blaenau Railway. Narrow gauge - Linda and Blanche are working hard for a living, at Blaenau and near Tan-y-Grisiau The short stretch of track south of Blaenau Ffestiniog is the last remnant of the former GWR branch from Bala - we had travelled via Bala that morning, and seen the trackbed at various points - including the fine viaduct at Cwm Prysor. Curiously, the line between the two Ffestiniogs was built as a 2-foot gauge line, the Festiniog and Blaenau Railway, opening in 1868, but was absorbed by the GWR (under the aegis of the Bala and Festiniog Railway) and regauged in 1883. I suspect the spectacular horseshoe curve a mile or so north of Ffestiniog would have been less spectacular if the line had been built to standard gauge... A pair of 31s, led by 233 "Severn Valley Railway", stood ticking over in the transfer sidings at Trawsfynydd, and looked likely to move soon. We found a good viewpoint beside the aforementioned horseshoe to record their passing, then drove on down to Blaenau - where the train stood waiting to gain access to the station area and the Conwy valley line. We hurried on down to the area beside the tunnel mouth - only to hear the train passing, out of sight below us. Services were operating on the Ffestiniog Railway - we spent some time near Tanygrisiau, where trains in both directions have to climb on the relatively new deviation line. The weather seemed to be deteriorating - it was a cold day, and a sleety snow shower rattled down upon us as Blanche climbed towards Blaenau. We packed our bags and headed for the coast. Once again we were greeted by a pair of 31s - 235 and 203 - entering the ballast sidings at Penmaenmawr, while a variety of trains passed on the main line. The 31s shunted around and began the slow process of weighing wagons. We moved on to "The Junction". An overbridge to the east of Llandudno Junction station provided a reasonable - and quiet - vantage point. Inevitably, someone started a car and drove away just as the 37 was approaching... After the 37, a 158 headed east, while, on the main line, those 31s (from Penmaenmawr) were rolling slowly through, waiting for a green. The flask train stood in the sidings, ticking over - no doubt it too would be heading away before long. In the meantime, having had enough excitement for one day, we jumped into the car and set off home - passing on the way the 31s on the ballast train - we might just get one more shot... Penmaenmawr and Llandudno The 31s in the sidings at Penmaenmawr; later, near Llandudno Junction, the 37 departs, followed by the 31s with their load of ballast
Is this a branch line? 31s at Trawsfynydd Maentwrog Road station Entering the horseshoe The flask train at Blaenau Ffestiniog Linda approaches Blaenau Ffestiniog 31s 235 and 203 arrive at Penmaenmawr sidings Shunting at Penmaenmawr 37 420 The Scottish Hosteller at Penmaenmawr 101 678 approaches Penmaenmawr station Westbound 158 at Penmaenmawr 37 422 "Robert F Fairlie" etc leaves Llandudno Junction 158 755 leaves the junction; the 31s roll slowly through Those 31s (from Penmaenmawr) were rolling slowly through... ...waiting for a green "We might just get one more shot..." - near Llandulas