With the opening of the Welsh Highland throughout in 2011, it became clear that the gleaming new WHR stock rather outshone the carriages of its older sister. But in 2016, all that is set to change. The Ffestiniog will not simply get a new carriage or two; it will get an entire new train, with a specification matching or even exceeding that of the Welsh Highland stock.
Glaslyn, one of the Welsh Highland’s Pullman cars named by Her Majesty the Queen in 2010. Designed and built entirely in-house, 150 will take to the tracks this spring, together with its companion service car 125, which will enable FR passengers to the standards of service already offered on Welsh Highland trains.
Along with the new observation car, four standard class super saloons - offering what would be considered first class accommodation on most heritage railways - will form the core of the new train, which will eventually consist of ten carriages capable of running over the entire 40-mile route between Blaenau Ffestiniog and Caernarfon. Each of these carriages carries a £100,000 price tag.
But the Welsh Highland hasn’t been forgotten, and a new carriage built to that line’s more generous clearances is already under construction with more set to follow.
Since the Ffestiniog reopened for traffic in the 1950s, we have steadily introduced new carriages and their design has evolved over the years. We’ve been at the forefront of passenger carrying innovation for over 150 years and we are now one of the leading carriage makers in the UK.
In a few years’ time the F&WHR will boast two full sets of the larger WHR stock, while the FR will have two made up of slightly-smaller carriages and a third capable of operating on both lines.
And, rather than an appointment with the scrap man's torch, the old FR carriages replaced by the new builds are being refurbished and finding a new lease of life at other narrow gauge lines in the UK.
Like its sister Pullman cars, 150 will eventually carry a name, yet to be decided. Watch this space...