Preparatory work has started at the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway Station at Porthmadog for its major Cob widening project.
The work is needed in order to improve the historic station – which dates from 1863 – to enable it to be used by Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland trains simultaneously. At present, the single platform layout precludes a direct interchange between services from Blaenau Ffestiniog and Caernarfon.
A temporary crossing over the rails and an access ramp from the station siding area to the beach will allow access for the plant and some 5,000 tons of fill material required to widen some 200 metres of the 200 year old embankment on the seaward side to allow additional railway tracks to be laid at the Porthmadog end.
Says project manager Mike Hart: “The crossing will be completed in December ready for closure of the station in January when the basic Cob widening gets underway. The challenge is to have taken all the fill material over to the seaward side of the Cob before start of services in March – although stone deliveries will have to largely stop for the half term week services in February.
“By then we anticipate having completed most of the work to widen the Cob with finishing taking another few weeks past then in finally shaping up the embankment using material that will, by then, already be on site. Opening up the wall along the back to of the station helps us access the site over the next few days to dig some trial holes to double check ground conditions.”
When the widening work is completed, volunteers will start to lay track on the new section of the Cob over next summer, which can be done without interfering with passenger services. Track materials will be delivered to site by rail. Winter 2012/2013 will then see the new platforms constructed and the rest of the trackwork and signalling completed.