Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways

January 24th 2013

New wagons arrive from South Africa

They were loaded at Durban on December 15th and arrived at Immingham Docks earlier this month, being delivered to Dinas yard on Thursday January 24th.

Their purchase has been funded by a specific donation from a supporter through the FR Trust.

The Sandstone Heritage Trust operates a 26-km 2-ft Narrow Gauge railway on a private agricultural estate in a remote part of South Africa adjacent to the Lesotho border. 

The South African National Railway authority, Transnet, has been issuing tenders over a number of years relating to the disposal of narrow gauge assets. Sandstone, in order to build its own collection of the iconic South African narrow gauge rolling stock, bid on many of these tenders and was successful.

Sandstone also reached agreement with South Africa’s largest reclamation company, Reclam, to acquire wagons and spares parts for items that they have purchased from the railways. The result is a very large collection of freight wagons, arguably far too many to ever be used by Sandstone itself.

"The Welsh Highland Railway already makes extensive use of railway technology sourced from South Africa, including its NG/G16 Garratts locomotives, as well as freight rolling stock," says Sandstone's Wilf Mole. 

"Our guys put an inordinate amount of work into it. We asked them to do a good job and they took it seriously. We had an independent railway professional come in and check them for flaws before they went out and he was very happy with them.

"The logistics of getting them to Durban was not easy. We transported the wagons ourselves using our Freightliner and my own personal Kenworth, which our General Manager drove to Durban and back twice.

"We believe these wagons will make a very useful contribution to Welsh Highland Railway’s operational efficiency and will provide an added attraction for the many supporters and followers who enjoy visiting this world class railway in North Wales."

The F&WHR already owns eight similar B Wagons, which are in daily use on both the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland lines for transporting coal, ballast, ash and brash from lineside clearance work. The six new wagons will be put to work as soon as F&WHR engineers fit them with standard chopper couplings.

The WHR now has the potential to run a Garratt-hauled recreation of a full length train of SAR bogie freight stock, together with the newly-restored SAR brake van – a piece of South African railway history in the mountains of Snowdonia.

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