by Cliff Thomas

Twice the steam on Snowdon

Published: 21st April 2015

Delivery of new coach allows doubling of steam operations to Snowdon summit

The Snowdon Mountain Railway (SMR) took delivery of a new heritage-style carriage on April 15. The £150,000 investment is aimed at running twice the number of steam worked services up the mountain from Llanberis to meet public demand.

New carriage fleet

Four new 74-passenger coaches were supplied by Garmendale Engineering in 2012-13 to work with the SMR’s Hunslet 0-4-0DH diesel fleet. Arrival of the modern fleet was intended to upgrade passenger services on the mountain and the pre-existing carriages, by then decidedly long in the tooth, were withdrawn and the frames sent to off-site storage.

One of the redundant chassis’ was resurrected in 2013, utilised under a new heritage-style body built by Garmendale Engineering. Named ‘The Snowdon Lily’, this vehicle was worked by steam to provide a heritage experience option to supplement the modern diesel-worked carriages.

Proven passenger popularity of steam

During 2014 heritage services provided by ‘The Snowdon Lily’, worked by a rotation of vintage steam locomotives drawn from No. 2 Enid, No. 3 Wyddfa, No. 4 Snowdon and No. 6 Padarn (SMR trains comprise a single carriage propelled up the mountain by a locomotive – steam or diesel) were regularly fully booked. With the popularity of steam with the public proven, SMR decided to have a second heritage-style vehicle constructed utilising another of the stored frames. The new coach, also built by Garmendale Engineering, employs the frames and bogies from the old carriage No. 5, built by Lancaster carriage works in 1896 (which was re-bodied in the 1950s) and will be named ‘The Snowdon Mountain Goat’. It is based on a similar design to ‘The Snowdon Lily’ but with a different (red) livery “to present its own personality”.

Overhaul for Moel Siabod

With the new vehicle due to enter service for the high season and consequent doubling of steam operations, a steam locomotive withdrawn in 2000 and then thought unlikely to run again is now to receive a new lease of life.

No. 4 Snowdon is not available this year, hence 1896-built Swiss Locomotive and Machine Works 0-4-2T rack locomotive No. 5 Moel Siabod (withdrawn 15 years ago after failing an inspection due to firebox damage) has been taken out of off-site storage and is undergoing an overhaul back at Llanberis.

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