At present, both Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland trains have to share a single platform at Harbour Station, dating back to January 6th, 1865. This results in inconvenience for passengers and adds operational complications for railway staff and a million pound station improvement plan has been drawn up.
The first phase of the plan involves the delivery of some 25,000 tonnes of rock from the nearby Minffordd Quarry to enable the westernmost 260 metres of the 200 year old Cob embankment to be widened to enable the construction of a new platform for use by Welsh Highland trains and to completely rework the station layout.
"We're delighted to be working with Jones Bros again," says F&WHR director Mike Hart. "Our collaboration on the Porthmadog Bypass bridge works under the Ffestiniog at Minffordd and over the Welsh Highland at Pont Bodawen was extremely successful and we look forward to working with them in 2012."
Work will commence in January and is scheduled for completion by early Spring. Local hauliers will transport the rock from Minffordd quarry to a new haul road constructed across the station at Porthmadog. Jones Bros supervisory staff, machine operators and labourers all worked on the Porthmadog Bypass project and live locally.
"It's great to be able to keep our bypass team together as a result of winning this contract," adds Huw Jones, Managing Director of Jones Bros, which has its UK head office in Ruthin, Denbighshire. "Our work on the sea defences at Tywyn demonstrates our capabilities for this kind of challenging work and the good relationship we built up with F&WHR during the bypass construction should ensure a smooth-running project."
In addition to staff working on the Cob, others will be based at Minffordd to select rock and supervise loading the wagons. Road transport for the two mile journey was chosen on environmental grounds and to avoid the double-handling of the rock involved in delivery by rail or sea. After delivery, rocks will be put in place one by one at low tide using specialised plant, resulting in a widened and strengthened sea defence.
"To make sure that we take advantage of the window offered to us by the Ffestiniog Railway, we will be importing the total quantity of 25,000 tonnes at 60 vehicle movements per day," says Hefin Lloyd-Davies, Contracts Manager at Jones Bros. "If we can also utilise Saturday mornings, we will take advantage of this."After the Cob widening phase of the project is complete, railway engineers and volunteers will begin the process of laying track and building new platforms at the historic station. The project is scheduled for completion in time for the main operating season in 2013.