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The Vale of Rheidol Railway - News

Discussion in 'Narrow Gauge Railways' started by ValeOfRheidol, Nov 12, 2014.

  1. ValeOfRheidol

    ValeOfRheidol New Member

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    Providing coloured blooms at every turn, the woodlands of the Rheidol valley come into their own this Autumn.


    Throughout November the Rheidol valley is to be illuminated by the autumnal sunshine and fiery leaves that line the valley. During this time the Vale of Rheidol will be running special Sunday Lunch and Autumn Colours train journeys up the valley every Sunday, giving everyone the chance to see the beauty of the valley throughout autumn.


    Departing at 11.30 from Aberystwyth and Arriving at Devil’s Bridge for 12.30. The train waits for about 2 hours at Devil’s Bridge, providing enough time for visitors to munch a delicious Sunday Lunch delight at the Hafod Hotel. There’s even enough time to go for a refreshing after lunch walk around the famous Devil’s Bridge falls!


    Typically, many of the Great little trains of Wales wind down at the end of the summer; however, the Vale of Rheidol is bucking the trend. The Railway wants to showcase the beauty of the valley during autumn and what better way is there to see it than getting a unique perspective of the valley from the comfort of a heated carriage.


    On the 9th November, There was a Remembrance Day special. During the war, the railway played a major role in carrying the troops to Territorial Army training camps in the Rheidol valley. As part of the Remembrance Day passengers took the same journey as the troops did, in remembrance of those that fought during the war and may have also traveled on the line! Along the journey, the engine carried a wreath up to Devil’s Bridge, where it was then placed on the war memorial near to the Devil’s Bridge Station.


    So come visit the Vale of Rheidol this November and see the valley change colour into a dazzling autumnal blaze.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2014
  2. Journalist

    Journalist New Member

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    Really impressed by the amount going on at the Rheidol these days. Paid my first visit there in 29 years in August for one of the summer evening trips and was massively impressed. Because the peak service isn't as intensive as the Talyllyn or Ffestiniog, I hadn't had the same urgency to get back up to the VoR as some other Welsh lines when I got back into the hobby, but the views, gradients and the quality of driving from the (young) crew actually made it the highlight of the three-day sweep of Welsh lines that Dad and I had in the summer. For a line that had long been under my radar due to what felt like a lack of variety, it's now firmly among my favourites in the country and innovations like the evening services, the winter running and visiting engines are great to see. There aren't many steam railways of any size where mid-journey I'm texting my wife to say 'you HAVE to come here next year, you will adore it', but the VoR had that effect. And the sentiment still applied when there was enough signal for the text to send, a few hours later...
     
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  3. MuzTrem

    MuzTrem Member

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    Personally, I think that "lack of variety" is, in some ways, part of the Rheidol's charm. The locomotives and rolling stock have, basically, remained unchanged since the 1930s, with no second-hand stock or new builds added. So you know that you'll always get a truly authentic experience, every time you go.

    That said though, the occasional visiting engine is always fun - I enjoyed Palmerston's recent visit, and it would be great to see more!
     
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  4. weltrol

    weltrol Active Member

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    But remember Palmerston had visited the VoR as a working loco last century, in independent days. How many railways can do that?... Guaranteed authenticity
     
  5. ValeOfRheidol

    ValeOfRheidol New Member

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    The Llanbadarn Straight gets some much needed attention at the Vale of Rheidol Railway


    In December 2013, a tremendous task was put upon Adam Young, Volunteer coordinator and his team of volunteers at the Vale of Rheidol Railway. The task was to clear the Llanbadarn straight. Running from Aberystwyth Station to the Level Crossing in Llanbadarn Fawr, the straight had become over grown with willow scrub and Japanese knotweed, obstructing the views and causing havoc with the abundance of catkins produced. It is thought that the Llanbardarn Straight section of the line was last cleared 15 to 20 years ago, so a large task was in hand.


    Historically, the Llanbadarn Straight has always been cleared to provide access to the buildings along that section of the line, such as the original pump house. The pump house is a very important feature to the heritage of the railway as it was once used to pump water from two bore holes in ground to what is now Aberystwyth mainline Station. The pump house provided one of main reasons to start the clearance, in hope that once the straight was cleared the views of this historical feature would be greatly improved. This would then make the structure more visible to the visitors that come to visit the Vale of Rheidol Railway, showing them a little bit of history along the way. There is now hope to re-establish the pump house back to working conditions within a few years.


    The clearing has also allowed access to the culverts along the straight. These culverts hold particular importance and are fundamental to the drainage of both the mainline and the Vale of Rheidol line by providing a channel for excess water to flow. By clearing it has allowed better access to the culverts which will then allow the Vale of Rheidol team to maintain them better, preventing flooding such as that seen during 2012. Now that the access has been greatly improved the next step will be further work with diggers to ensure proper drainage of the area.


    It is now November and the team have finally completed the project. Adam and the volunteers, Robert and Steve, have spent the past 11 months battling through large amounts of willow scrub and other shrubs to open up the line. Willow is a rigorous grower, flowering with catkins in early spring. Although, they do look rather attractive once in bloom, the catkin “fluff” produced did cause problems. The engines and carriages were constantly full of catkins throughout the spring and early summer which was not making it easy for any of the crew.


    A large amount of Japanese Knotweed was another plant tackled. Japanese knotweed is a highly invasive species which needs to be eradicated by law. Thanks to clearing the area, the team can now see how much work needs to be done to clear the Japanese knotweed and how long it should take. A 5 year plan has now been put in place to eradicate the Japanese knotweed completely, hoping for 30% clearance each year.

    Adam Young, Volunteer coordinator commented on the project “This has been a yearlong project, with work being carried out by myself and my fantastic team of volunteers. Working through all seasons and weather conditions has been a big challenge. The view down the straight is now fantastic! And now we can commence with re-establishing the ditches and the pump house!”


    Although a lot of trees have been removed in the process, there were plans to only remove those that were necessary to be remove. With this in mind, some trees have been left to add to the scenery. Many mature native trees, such as English oaks, have been left to add to the natural beauty of the area. Another way the team reduced the removal of trees was by only cutting back some of the growth or siding the taller trees. This has now created a wonderful attractive avenue of silver birch as the train line enters the Llanbadarn Straight.


    The train can now be seen as it passes through Llanbadarn, making a significant difference to views for passers-by, who can now see the steam engine as is steams its way past the rugby club and under the foot bridge. It has even opened up a better view of the main line next to it.

    The Llanbadarn straight at the Vale of Rheidol Railway is now the tidiest and most presentable it has ever been, with the removal of messy scrub, the opening of the pump house and the isolating of the more beautiful trees. This project along with other developments will complement the station restorations across the line creating a new perspective and enhancing the visitor experience at one of Wale’s most unique narrow gauge railways

    For photographs go to https://www.flickr.com/photos/127671968@N04/sets/72157648744185867/
     
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  6. ValeOfRheidol

    ValeOfRheidol New Member

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  7. philw2

    philw2 Member

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    I'm trying to work out how much Japanese Knotweed grows back each year if clearing 30% per annum takes 5 years..
     
  8. Martin Coombs

    Martin Coombs New Member

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    Even if it didn't grow back at all, removing 30% per year would never clear it, and certainly not in five years. 100 x (0.70 to the power of 5) = 16.807% still remaining.
     
  9. MuzTrem

    MuzTrem Member

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    That's good to hear. It's an interesting and unusual structure, but one that would struggle to find any alternative use. Obviously, it is more likely to survive if it is being used, and the best purpose for it is its original one :)
     
  10. ValeOfRheidol

    ValeOfRheidol New Member

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  11. *8A*

    *8A* New Member

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    Great news at the VoR, work has at last started on No7, out of service since 1998 - the frames have been moved into the new shed and the VoR have been awarded £288,000 from the Coastal Communities Fund to develop heritage skills in a project called "Our past is their future". Full details on their FB pages for those who have access but in short the grant will '... provide high quality heritage skills training within the working environment of one of Wales' premier scenic railways' which will include the restoration of No7, hopefully completed in about 2 years.
    FB link https://www.facebook.com/ourpastistheirfuture
     
  12. MuzTrem

    MuzTrem Member

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    Fantastic news. Good luck to them! :)
     
  13. NGChrisW

    NGChrisW New Member

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    Excellent news indeed.
    Looking at the photos of the new machinery in the shed, is that perchance the Kerr Stuart Sirdar "Diana" I see lurking in the background in one shot?
     
  14. ValeOfRheidol

    ValeOfRheidol New Member

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  15. ValeOfRheidol

    ValeOfRheidol New Member

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    “Our past is their future”
    Vale of Rheidol scoops Coastal Community Fund grant.

    The Vale of Rheidol Railway is delighted to anounce that it has been awarded £288,000 from the Coastal Communities Fund to develop heritage skills in a project called "Our past is their future"

    WHAT WILL IT DO?
    The project will provide high quality heritage skills training within the working environment of one of Wales' premier scenic railways.
    • Initially the project will help to equip the railways new engineering workshop with additional machinery and specialist tools.
    • It will develop a sustainable training school and engineering business within the railway’s new workshops.
    • The project will employ two new engineers and an additional four apprentices.
    • They will start the restoration of iconic VoR steam locomotive No 7 “Owain Glyndŵr” which has been out of service for many years.

    HOW WILL IT HELP?
    The Vale of Rheidol recognises the importance of the next generation of staff, who will keep the railway running for many years to come. It aims to ensure that the existing skilled staff are able to pass on their specialist knowledge to ensure the Vale of Rheidol has a sustainable engineering future and make sure the specialist engineering practices of the past are not lost forever.
    During the project, the apprentices will be learning ‘on the job’ alongside skilled craftsman whilst attending college to achieve nationally recognised qualifications, and more importantly they will be learning skills in the work place which are not taught in college.
    By expanding the engineering team, it will allow the railway to tender for external engineering contracts making the Vale of Rheidol less reliant on seasonal funding streams and provide a service to other railways and museums throughout the UK.
    The all party parliamentary Group on Heritage Railways produced a report highlighting the success of the Heritage Railways in the UK and the importance of sustainable training.
    The report highlights the need to support railways like the Vale of Rheidol and the huge economic benefits they bring, not only in tourism revenue, but also offering training for skilled workers who then move to other well-paid jobs within the areas.

    LOCOMOTIVE No 7
    Vale of Rheidol Locomotive No 7 is one of trio of distinctive locomotives that were designed to replace locomotives supplied by Davies & Metcalfe. Built in 1923 at Great Western Railway’s Swindon works alongside sister locomotive No 8. It gained the name “Owain Glyndŵr in 1956 named after the Welsh Prince. Over the years it has clocked up thousands of trips along the scenic route to Devil’s Bridge until being withdrawn from traffic at the end of the 1998 season. It has been stored pending overhaul since then.
    Work has already commenced with the frames being shot blasted and the wheels re-profiled.
    It will require heavy boiler work, new tanks, platework and a full overhaul of the chassis. As much as possible will be done in house by the railway engineering team. The overhaul work is likely to take two years.
    During British Rail’s ownership of the line, No 7 was well regarded by crews as being the ‘best of the fleet.’ In 1988, No 7 gained the distinction of hauling the very last steam hauled train operated by British Rail.
    Locomotives No 8 “Llywelyn” and No 9 “Prince of Wales” have operated all services since 1998.

    QUOTES:
    Robert Gambrill, Director/ Manager Vale of Rheidol Railway and Phyllis Rampton Narrow Gauge Railway Trust said:
    “This grant represents the end of a lot of hard work started many years ago by the team at the Vale of Rheidol. The seeds planted in 1989 are starting to bear fruit! With this fantastic help we can now finish the new workshops and eventually fulfil our ambition to see locomotive No7 running again. This offers the Railway a sustainable future for the long term. The economic value of the Railway to Ceredigion is vital to see growth training and prosperity in the region.”
    “I would like to thank the help and support we have received from Ceredigion County Council without which we would not have been successful.”

    NOTES:
    Opened in 1902, the 11 ¾ mile Vale of Rheidol Railway has been operating a passenger service for tourists for over a hundred years. The line, which runs from Aberystwyth to Devil's Bridge is well known for its scenery, sharp curves and steep gradients and is a popular choice with holidaymakers in the region.

    The railway is a quality assured visitor attraction as designated by Visit Wales and attracts around 50,000 visitors annually from all over the world. The estimated economic impact of visitors to the Vale of Rheidol Railway was worth just under £1.3m to the local economy in 2011. Since this assessment has been carried out, visitor numbers have increased dramatically so it is estimated that the economic value to the area is now over £2 million annually.

    For many years the Vale of Rheidol Railway "Y Lein Fach" was part of the national rail network and rose to fame being the only steam on British Rail before the line was sold in 1989, becoming the first part of BR to be privatised.

    The railway has one of the largest collections of narrow gauge steam engines in the UK and has ambitious plans to display them in a purpose built museum in Aberystwyth. The workshop development is integral to the scheme.

    The railway has a proven record working with major grant funded schemes including.
    • A European funded development grant helped to to renew and upgrade the track.
    • Construction of our running shed and workshop with help from the Welsh Government Single Investment Fund and the Phyllis Rampton Narrow Gauge Railway Trust at a total cost of £1.3million.
    • A project to rebuild all the intermediate stations on the railway. This project was funded as part of Axis 3 of the Rural Development Plan for Wales (2007-2013) which is funded by the Welsh Government and European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. The railway completed all works required and delivered all the required outputs.The current team have applied for and delivered the last two projects.
    Further details can be found on the Vale of Rheidol Railway's website:www.rheidolrailway.co.uk.

    For photographs, please contact the railway on 01970 625 819
     
  16. andrewshimmin

    andrewshimmin Active Member

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    Great news!
     
  17. houghtonga

    houghtonga Member

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    Great news.

    Has a decision been made whether #7 will be restored in the GWR/BR condition with the low cab profile or with the Brecon Mountain Railway modifications to match her siblings?

    Kind regards,
    Gareth
     
  18. Selsig

    Selsig Member

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    I'm half certain that No. 7 only ever had the bufferbeam cutouts and air brake mods done, and never had the cab and chimney raised like the others, nor the smokebox cladding removed, but I can't be certain.

    A picture on t'web at http://icdn.images.touristlink.com/...rheidol-railway-v-o-r-7-_-abery-2_400_300.jpg suggests no real difference from BR days at https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5477/12559893385_d21b94f42d_b.jpg

    She certainly never had the massive lift received by No. 9 at the Brecon (which was later reduced a bit IIRC) http://www.westwales.co.uk/graphics/powales.jpg shows just how much she towered above the carriages following that initial rebuild.
    John
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2015
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  19. ValeOfRheidol

    ValeOfRheidol New Member

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  20. timmydunn

    timmydunn Member

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    Also - interestingly - there's news in there about Diana, the little Kerr Stuart tank (ex Kerry Tramway).
     
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