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Ffestiniog Railway Society
Cymdeithas Rheilffordd Ffestiniog


COVID 19 Summer

10 September 2020

Welsh Pony at the water tower Linda at Tan y Bwlch

From the initial kick off of the COVID19 secure service in July, the Ffestiniog Railway has run daily services to Tan y Bwlch, come rain or shine. Whilst at Tan y Bwlch many of the passengers have enjoyed the refreshments in the busy tea room or explored some of the attractive paths around the station.

After a Society funded £265,000 seven year rebuild, Welsh Pony launched the service and has seen almost daily use since – not bad for a loco that had been out of traffic for 80 years and was expected to be a high days and holidays loco.

Welsh Pony on Gwyndy Bank on the first service, 25 July Welsh Pony arriving at Tan y Bwlch in dismal weather

Also in the launch lineup were Penrhyn ‘ladies’ Linda and Blanche. The COVID19 service required trains with 22-23 individual compartments, so were largely formed of vintage stock, some dating all the way back to 1864 (as well as newer replicas, including carriage 21, only completed in September 2019).

Blanche leads the set round Boston Lodge Curve Carriage 21, the newest 'vintage' carriage, in daily use in the new service

The service duly settled in with up to 6 departures daily. Additionally, Prince joined the lineup, enabling a pool of 4 largely interchangeable locos to be available each day to satisfy the requirement for 3.

Prince arrives at Tan y Bwlch as Linda prepares to leave Tan y Bwlch tea room, the destination Prince climbing away from Boston Lodge Linda trundles through the woods, nearing Tan y Bwlch

The third working England loco, Palmerston, has been on reduced mileage as a result of wear on its axleboxes. The Ffestiniog Railway Society provided the financial support to fund the work, which was completed in mid August. After trial trips, Palmerston duly joined Prince and Welsh Pony on the roster.

Palmerston leads Prince on the approach to Rhiw Goch Palmerston and Prince approaching Boston Lodge

Despite Storm Francis rumbling through in August, the views to behold of and from the railway are just as good as they have ever been.

Palmerston on the Cob Looking down towards Porthmadog from above Cei Mawr - Palmerston heads a down train towards Penrhyn. In the background, you can see the Cob and out to the Llyn Peninsula

August Bank Holiday provided a bit of interest with double fairlie Merddin Emrys joining the lineup whilst on Sunday the service was run solely by the three England locos.

Merddin Emrys heading away from Boston Lodge Merddin Emrys on the approach to Rhiw Goch Merddin Emrys on the Cob Merddin Emrys passing Welsh Pony at Tan y Bwlch Prince on the 1950s set on Whistling Curve Palmerston heading towards Rhiw Goch loop Welsh Pony at Boston Lodge Halt Palmerston at Whistling Curve

The Appeal launched in March is still open for donations to ensure the railway can be prepared for when the current pandemic is over. Please consider any support.

The train service is expected to run until the end of October. Please see the website for booking details.

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