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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