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Earl of Merioneth to bow out at Ffestiniog

Discussion in 'Steam Railway' started by Thomas Bright, Mar 7, 2018.

    Double Fairlie Earl of Merioneth will haul a revenue-earning train for the last time on April 8, as the 0-4-4-0 is set to semi-retire from service on the Ffestiniog Railway.

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    Set to be withdrawn semi-permanently on April 8, Earl of Merioneth undergoes winter maintenance at Boston Lodge on January 24 2017. THOMAS BRIGHT/SR

    Built in 1979, Earl of Merioneth is arguably the first major new-build steam locomotive built in Britain in the preservation era, and will be the first new-build engine to be withdrawn when it hauls its final train into Porthmadog on April 8.

    ‘The Earl’ will depart Porthmadog at 13.35 on the day, with the return trip from Blaenau Ffestiniog expected to arrive back at the terminus at 16.15. Although the train is a regular scheduled service with no premium ticket prices, early booking is recommended as tickets are expected to be in high demand.

    The Ffestiniog Railway is also offering the chance for two people to win a footplate ride on Earl of Merioneth’s penultimate train on April 7. Details of how to enter can be found here.

    Affectionately known as ‘The Square’ owing to its angular appearance, the double Fairlie’s ten-year boiler ticket is due to expire, and requires a new boiler, boiler cradle, smokeboxes, chimneys and water tanks before it can steam again. Its current power bogies, built in 1986, will be overhauled and used in the construction of a new double Fairlie, James Spooner (see SR474).

    Earl of Merioneth will be placed in dry storage on its original 1979-built power bogies, so as not to preclude restoration at a later date.

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  1. MellishR

    MellishR Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    It is surprising that the boiler can be simultaneously good enough for the loco to have deserved some maintenance this winter and to be hauling trains next month, and bad enough to need complete replacement.
     
  2. Miff

    Miff Part of the furniture Friend

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    The article makes it quite clear the loco is being withdrawn upon expiry of the 10-year boiler ticket so no reason not to keep it in service until then with routine maintenance when required. However, building a new loco is seen as better value than another 10-year overhaul for this one.
     
  3. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    The thing which slightly surprised me is that it is being withdrawn with no replacement double loco on hand as an immediate replacement. A straightforward cost consideration, I guess .... and anyway, the FR's management no doubt have matters well under control.

    I suspect double headed 'Ladies' (and possibly even 'Boxers') may become a more familiar sight on service trains for a few seasons. "Merddin Emrys" and The Soup Dragon may be in fine fettle, but they'll still need the odd spot of TLC and perhaps a washout or two. Cameras at the ready, folks!

    When I first knew the Ffesterbahn back in the early 70's, it always seemed to be operating right on the edge of a loco shortage. Actually, thinking back, it pretty much always was! With so much more stock to hand these days, I can't imagine there's any real risk and certainly no desire to return to semi-permanent crisis management mode of those years.
     
  4. huochemi

    huochemi Part of the furniture

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    Re EoM, there's an enigmatic comment at the end of the latest C2 Project update (plus images of it on a works train). http://c2project.org/index.php?page=news&sp=2
     
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  5. Miff

    Miff Part of the furniture Friend

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    I guess when the C2 is finished the FfR might have a ‘shed in need of a project’ - one can hope. :)
     
  6. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Good spot! The lack of anything much elsewhere re:JSII has been noticed.

    The C2 always seems to fly under the radar ..... that's the first update I've read this year. Odd to think they're restoring a "commercially constructed" loco built this side of the FR reopening to Blaenau!
     
  7. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    Do you not long for return to the days of Prince and Upnor Castle double-heading on 12?

    Maybe a Prince-Welsh Pony double header - just to see how much better a ‘large England’ is :)

    But more seriously EOM is a classic example of how tastes and attitudes change. When it was first built it was always described as ugly etc, and was quite unpopular, but it was designed to do a job which it did. It has become an iconic loco - hauled the first train to Blaenau, and is a key part of the railways history and development. I am very pleased that plans to make it ‘more traditional’ have come to naught so far. I hope that it will be back sooner rather than later (I hope it won’t be out of traffic as long as Mountaineer has been).
     
  8. huochemi

    huochemi Part of the furniture

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    Probably being lined up for Rachel Parry. :eek:
     
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  9. RLinkinS

    RLinkinS Member

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    Do you not long for return to the days of Prince and Upnor Castle double-heading on 12?

    Or Mountaineer and Moelwyn, the only time I have ever ridden in a train when you could hear the cinders bouncing off the coach roof
     

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