Unique Sur­viv­ing Whr Gem Un­der­goes Se­cret Test Run To Bed­dgel­ert Ahead Of Event In 2019.

Steam Railway (UK) - - NEWS FOCUS -

Rus­sell, the last sur­viv­ing orig­i­nal Welsh High­land Rail­way lo­co­mo­tive, has re­turned to the Aberglaslyn Pass for the first time in over 80 years. The Novem­ber 25 test run was in prepa­ra­tion for a cel­e­bra­tory pub­lic event star­ring the lo­co­mo­tive next June.

The 1906-built Hun­slet 2-6-2T com­pleted a suc­cess­ful gaug­ing and in­spec­tion run be­tween Pen-y-Mount and Bed­dgel­ert as part of a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the Welsh High­land Her­itage Rail­way, which owns the lo­co­mo­tive, and the Ffes­tin­iog & Welsh High­land Rail­ways. The trial, which took place un­der a cloak of se­crecy, with only a hand­ful of peo­ple from each rail­way aware it was hap­pen­ing, rep­re­sents the thaw­ing of his­tor­i­cal an­i­mos­ity be­tween the two or­gan­i­sa­tions.

Rus­sell will re­turn to the WHR next year for a spe­cial event on June 21-23, in which it will haul rev­enue-earn­ing pas­sen­ger trains be­tween Pen-y-Mount, Pont Croe­sor and Hafod y Lyn over the orig­i­nal route for the first time since 1937, when it was with­drawn. F&WHR Gen­eral Man­ager Paul Lewin told Steam Rail­way that owing to Rus­sell be­ing air-braked, it will likely run ei­ther dou­ble-headed or top-and-tailed with an­other lo­co­mo­tive to haul the WHR’s vac­uum-braked stock.

Mark Seale, who is project manag­ing the joint event on be­half of the WHHR, said: “It was im­por­tant for us to make sure that Rus­sell was fit and well be­fore we made a fi­nal com­mit­ment to par­tic­i­pat­ing in the event.

We are aware that many rail­way en­thu­si­asts are very keen to see Rus­sell run­ning up the line and this is some­thing that we our­selves have wanted for some time.

“The in­spec­tion run went very well and we are very ex­cited to be sup­port­ing the event.

“The pri­mary goal for the in­spec­tion run was to en­sure that Rus­sell’s rather spe­cial de­sign of pony truck and run­ning gear will ne­go­ti­ate the curves of the re­in­stated rail­way and en­sure that enough move­ment from the trucks is ev­i­dent on the tight­est curve. While the in­spec­tion run took place, Ffes­tin­iog Rail­way en­gi­neers were in­vited to take a closer look at the lo­co­mo­tive. The lo­co­mo­tive team at the Welsh High­land Her­itage Rail­way will now have the win­ter to pre­pare the lo­co­mo­tive.”

Mr Lewin adds: “June 21-23 will be the nar­row gauge event of the year. 2019 is shap­ing up to be an epic year for the Welsh High­land Rail­way, 21 years on from the first trains run­ning out of Caernar­fon.

“Not only will we see the open­ing of two new sta­tions [at Caernar­fon and Waun­fawr], we will also en­joy vis­it­ing engines that will go a long way to­wards recre­at­ing so many Welsh High­land her­itage scenes of years gone by, and there will be some fas­ci­nat­ing vis­i­tors too.

“I would like to add at this point that we have re­ally en­joyed work­ing with the team at WHHR on the tech­ni­cal tests. We are look­ing

back in the Aberglaslyn pass for the first time since 1937, Rus­sell – the only sur­viv­ing Whr lo­co­mo­tive – hauls its test train on novem­ber 25, in­clud­ing one of the orig­i­nal north Wales nar­row gauge rail­way’s car­riages. for­ward to shar­ing the plea­sure of see­ing Rus­sell in ac­tion with our many sup­port­ers and friends.”

It was not the first time the 2-6-2T had op­er­ated over the orig­i­nal WHR since the line closed al­to­gether in 1941; it ran on the north­ern sec­tion be­tween Caernar­fon and Waun­fawr in 2000, but this will be the first op­por­tu­nity for Rus­sell to stretch its legs on a longer run since it was re­stored in 2014 to as close to orig­i­nal con­di­tion as pos­si­ble.


Team ef­fort: the del­e­ga­tions from the Ffes­tin­iog & Welsh high­land and Welsh high­land her­itage rail­ways, who helped make Rus­sell’s his­toric test runs hap­pen. F&Whr gen­eral Man­ager paul lewin is stood un­der the dome, whilst the Whhr’s Mark seale – who is project manag­ing the joint event next year – is stand­ing to the right on Rus­sell’s foot­plate.

Rus­sell takes water at bed­dgel­ert, fol­low­ing its suc­cess­ful out­ward run from pen‑y‑Mount.

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