Richard Klaus Thoughts

The World according to Richard Klaus..Trains, Planes, Cars, Wales,Scotland.

Just a couple updates.

Dateline: 6/16/2010.

I’m in Tennessee tonight. Brought a load of plywood from Baltimore to a small town in Tennessee, then got a load of casting sand to go to New Jersey.  Not my favorite state to deal with, toll roads, crowded, and right now muggy.

Hopefully something headed west from New Jersey will turn up.

In other news. The Welsh Highland, cross town link to the Ffestiniog Railway will be approved for operation in October. I expect that a full schedule will wait for the 2011 season. The hold-up seems to have been the design an installation of the warning light on Britannia Bridge. This is the sort of thing that happens when governments are involved. It’s not like anybody had to invent the train crossing.

I find that in the interest of accuracy, I must modify this post. Sometime ago, I read somewhere that there was a bureaucratic hold up on the Welsh Highland cross town link.  As Chris was correct to point out, this was a funding problem.  Furthermore the Welsh Government has been a big help in completing this huge project.

My personal funds may permit a trip to Dublin next year, my Wife really wants to see Ireland. A quick boat ride to Wales seems like a good idea.


June 17, 2010 Posted by | trains, Truck Stuff, Wales | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Latest travel deal. $6 a day train travel!

Just an update to those that might travel in Wales.  The railcar on the right in this photo is on the Conwy Valley  Line, a delightful ride from the North Coast to Blaenau Ffestiniog .

The little train on the left is on the Ffestiniog Railway and a great way to get to Porthmadog on the coast. And of course as I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, later this year the connection with the Welsh Highland Railway.

The new news is the price. A full day pass on the Conwy Valley Line is (drum roll please) 3 pounds sterling, less that $6.00 for the whole day.

Considering the area served by the Conwy Valley Line, this might be the best travel buy on the planet.

Thanks to John for pointing this out.  The Cambrian Coast Line “One Day Ranger” pass is 8 pounds sterling, or in U.S. terms. A little less than $16 for a days travel.

April 7, 2010 Posted by | trains, Uncategorized, Wales | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Wales without a rental car.

Just a quick taste of Wales.  This particular photo from Arriva Trains Wales web site.

I’m working up a sample trip from Manchester to Llandudno Junction, then to Blaenau Ffestiniog. There transfer to the Ffestiniog Narrow gauge to Porthmadog.  In Porthmadog a person could ride the Welsh Highland round trip to Caernarfon, taking a few hours to see the huge castle at that end of the line. Remember that also in Porthmadog there is the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway a short ride with a stop at the shops working to restore some of the old engines. Very nice “Tea Room” as well.

Back on the standard gauge line south to the Talyllyn Railway. This little railway is a great ride, well worth the time.

The Talyllyn also hosts a very nice museum.

On to  Aberystwyth and the Vale of Rheidol. A first rate operation although lacking in some of the personality of the Ffestiniog or Talyllyn, the Vale of Rheidol runs deep into dense forest, clinging to hillsides, up to Devils Bridge.

Back at Aberystwyth, it’s an easy connection back to Manchester.

This trip could be made without the use of a rental car or bus transfers. The airport at Manchester has a train station in the terminal, that has frequent service to Manchester Piccadilly (that’s the main train station).

April 6, 2010 Posted by | trains, Uncategorized, Wales | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland this summer?

I’ll let the links speak for themselves.

And, if you decide on a trip to the Ffestiniog/Welsh Highland check out the Oakeley Arms Hotel. Large rooms for the U.K., and great food. In the Pub, on cool nights they have a coal fire going in the fireplace. The coal warms you to the bones.

New this year to Porthmadog  a Travelodge. Provides the equivalent of US turnpike, motel service.  For those on a budget, this could make the difference.

Remember also Port Merion is just nest door, for you Patrick McGoohan fans, Port Merion is the Hotel/Town that served as the setting for “The Prisoner” BBC TV Show.

For those of you that are “Bucks UP” The Village is operated as a Hotel, although the tariffs are breath taking.

The grounds are however open to us commoners for a small fee. It’s worth an afternoon walkaround.

December 28, 2009 Posted by | trains, Uncategorized, Wales | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tal-y-Llyn Railway troubles

DSCN0572 Small Web view

Just getting the word out. Not sure how to help, but the Tal-y-Llyn railway on the coast of Wales would seem to be suffering from the slack economy. Word is that the operation lost about 100,000 pounds, roughly $180,000 last year.
The Tal-y-Llin is one of the oldest restored railways in the U.K., but suffers from being some distance off the be beatin track. About halfway between Porthmadog, and Aberystwth Wales, this wonderful little railway is passed by on the way to other destinations.
Check them out at it’s worth the look, and if you happen to get to the U.K. a trip through Wales is worth the time. You don’t really need a rental car as the train service is good. The only notable gap in transportation, being that the west and north coast railways have no direct connection. If you have the time, one can take the Ffestiniog from Porthmadog to Ffestiniog, and catch the Conwy Valley standard gauge line to the coast.
The Cambrian Coast route stops right at the west end of the Tal-y-Llin railway, a 1/2 block walk to the narrow gauge station and museum.
Anyway here’s the question for you. Any ideas on how to get the word out about the trains of Wales. I know there are sites out there (Great Little Trains of Wales) and other, but their visibility seems low. I’m not in the travel industry, but it seems like that might be the key to helping out these small railways. It would be a shame to lose some of them.

June 26, 2009 Posted by | trains, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Welsh Highland Golden Spike

Saturday, February 2009 the Welsh Highland and Ffestiniog Railways will be linked in a golden spike ceremony, in Porthmadog, Wales. Actually a golden clip, they do things a little different over there.

Now the work begins for those of us in the U.S.  Time to spread the word, with the world economy going in the tank, it would be a shame for the Welsh railways to fail after all they have done to restore the lines.

I know that not everybody can afford to take off every other year or so, but, for a relatively inexpensive trip Wales works.

Give it a thought. Castles, little trains, mountains,sea,and great people.

I’ve been to London several times (big city) and York (old city) great trains museum there.  But if you would like to visit an area that lets you turn your mental clock back 50 years, it’s got to be Wales, OK Scotland was pretty cool to.

I’m going to work on a trip plan next time I get home, but I’m thinking there’s a loop from Manchester west along the north coast, then south to Aberystwyth (ask Avrila) then back to Manchester.  Train travel is very reasonable, and fast.  If you rent a car, try Avis, avoid National.  Someday I’ll have to tell about the Vaxhaul, $1600 for two weeks (OUCH).

Might be a good year to go if you can afford it. Lots of people are going to stay home and there might be some good deals to be had.

February 28, 2009 Posted by | trains, Wales | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Welsh Highland Update 3.0

vacation-oct14-004-small-web-view1 Latest news is that  the Welsh Highland will begin service to the public over the entire route in July 2009.

Might be worth planning some vacation time for late summer or early fall. The dollar is quite strong against the pound right now, and airfares have dropped to levels we haven’t seen in a year.

If you are thinking about a day or two in Porthmadog, the Oakeley Arms, about 5 miles from Porthmadog in Maentwrog, is worth a look.  A delightful hotel with a Pub/Restaurant in the building.  And old building with many odd hallways, and stairs, it’s easy to get lost on your way to your room.  When we checked in last year, the desk clerk had some time finding our rooms.  Oh the food in the pub is first rate, and priced for a budget.

For those on a tight budget, a Travel Lodge has opened in Porthmadog.  The rates are on a par with U.S. motels.

vacation-day-1-044-small-web-viewRemember to stop by Spooners in the Ffestiniog station at Porthmadog and have an ale with “The Princess”

January 17, 2009 Posted by | trains, Uncategorized, Wales | , , , , | Leave a comment

Welsh Highland update (update)

Just so you know.. While pretty much complete, the link from the Welsh Highland Railway to the Ffestiniog will become fully operational during June 2009.  And it looks at this point like those who want to take the entire trip will have to change trains twice.

The Welsh Highland out of Caernarfon will operate as far as Beddgelert.  From Beddgelert to Porthmadog looks like a combination of Welsh Highland Porthmadog, and some Ffestiniog trains.  Then of course from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog will be much like the current Ffestiniog service.

Probably this is a good thing. Quick walk changing trains, and you will get to see at least three different locomotives in the process.

For those of you that haven’t been to Wales, and I suspect that’s most of you.  Wales is a step back in time, the Railroads, Castles, and most of all, the people are great.  Less expensive than a vacation in England and a bit less frantic.  I have other posts that go into some detail on the railways of Wales, if your interested it’s worth a quick look.  In that post I’ve covered the railways I have seen in person. But there are many more, and I may add an additional post using some second hand information, until I can get to them as well.

My daughter rode the Vale of Rheidol Railway, out of Aberystwyth, and she tells me it’s a very nice ride, and a well run operation.

The other must ride (although I haven’t as yet) would have to be Snowdon Mountain Railway. This railway is so steep that the locomotives have a cog wheel under the center of the frame that runs on a third rack rail.

Start saving now, it’s worth the trip.  Just a quick thought.  After mid September air fairs and room rates drop quite a bit, and Wales in fall is very nice.

October 26, 2008 Posted by | trains, Uncategorized, Wales | , , | Leave a comment

Finally made some model trees.

After years of putting it off, I got the bits together and built a couple trees for the model railway last night.

For the Ffestiniog model I need quite a bit if forest, and at 10 bucks for a pack of 4 ready made trees, it just was not going to happen.

Big tip of the hat to Tom Fassett, and his site
Finally got me going, and it’s easy. My first two are a bit on the large size for a 009 layout, but I want to create the feel of the trains running through rather than past a forest, so these slightly overscale trees will be just fine.

As you can see their on the large size, got to remember to have one of the locomotives on hand whenever I build bits for the railroad.

These took about 10 minutes each to make, and look more real than the offerings at the hobby shop. I really didn’t need a forest of clones.

August 18, 2008 Posted by | trains | , , | 2 Comments

Welsh Highland Railway update.

Latest news from Wales is hat that last sections of the Welsh Highland may be set in place sometime late this month. This makes the Easter 2009 open for passenger traffic, look like a go.

A Garrett at Caernarfon, on the Welsh Highland.

Next year it will be possible to take a train from Caernarfon, south through the Snowdona National Park to Porthmadog on the west coast, then east on the Ffestiniog Railway to Blaenau Ffestiniog. That’s about a 40 mile trip, plan for the whole day for this trip.

Not sure at this point what locomotives will run the through trips, the big South African Garratts are too large to run past the yard at Boston Lodge, so I assume the the Double Fairlies from the Ffestiniog will handle any “express” trains.

Double Fairlie on the Ffestiniog.

For any train buff, this is worth the trip. Several airlines serve Manchester, England. For those that dont want to deal with London it’s a great way to get into the U.K.

Take the time to check out the other little railways in the area.

August 13, 2008 Posted by | trains, Wales | , | 3 Comments