Sunday, 18 April 2010

a welsh tramway

(All pics 28.5.1978 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

An excellent Welsh tramway survivor is the Great Orme Tramway, which starts from an impressive station in the back streets of Llandudno, uses a narrow road, then runs roadside before reaching the Great Orme itself, where it continues through an increasingly bleak landscape until it reaches the summit. Not much has changed with this line for many years and it's still doing the job it was designed to do, no doubt making a good profit for its owners.

Llandudno once boasted a second tramway which ran along the coast to Colwyn Bay, which was stupidly closed in 1956. There are now serious attempts to reinstate at least part of this route, which would be an incredible tourist attraction as well as providing a useful transport alternative to spluttering buses!


More info (from Wikipedia)

The Great Orme Tramway (WelshTramffordd y Gogarth) is a cable-hauled 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) gauge tramway in Llandudno in north Wales.
This is Great Britain's only remaining cable-operated street tramway and one of few surviving in the world. It takes passengers from Llandudno Victoria Station to just below the summit of the Great Orme headland. Operation of the tramway differs from the better-known San Francisco system in that it is not a cable car but, rather, operates on the funicular principle where the cars are permanently fixed to the cable and are stopped and started by stopping and starting the cable. As one car is ascending, the other is descending, and they meet midway.
The line comprises two sections, where each section is an independent funicular and passengers change cars at the halfway station. Whilst the upper section runs on its own right of way and is very similar to many other funicular lines, the lower section is an unusual street-running funicular, similar to Lisbon’s GlóriaBica, and Lavra funiculars.


The tramway was opened in its two stages: the lower section on 31 July 1902 and the upper on 8 July 1903. The line was initially provided with seven cars, three freight cars numbered 1 to 3 and four passenger cars numbered 4 to 7. The passenger cars were each named after a local Welsh Christian saint and are still in service. The freight cars were for the carriage of goods and parcels, as stipulated in the tramway's original Parliamentary Order, but were withdrawn from service by 1911. The freight vans were also used to carry coffins for burial at the church on Great Orme. There were two methods of using the freight tramcars - they could be placed on the track ahead of a passenger tram, and propelled up the incline, or the cable could be detached from a passenger tram and attached instead to a freight tram, which then operated alone up the incline. All seven trams were fitted with couplings, which would have allowed the passenger trams to tow the freight trams, but there is no evidence that this type of operation ever actually occurred.
The original power house, at the Halfway station between the lower and upper sections, was equipped with winding gear powered by steam from coke-fired boilers. This was replaced in 1958 by electrically powered apparatus. In 2001, the entire Halfway station, its control room and its power plant were completely rebuilt and re-equipped.
The tramway has three main stations, a lower station named "Victoria" after the hotel that formerly occupied the station site, a middle one aptly named 'Halfway', and the Great Orme Summit station. Passengers must change trams at the Halfway station as upper and lower funicular sections are physically separate.
The two sections operate independently, with two cars on each section. The lower section is built on or alongside the public road and has gradients as steep as 1 in 3.8 (26.15%). The cable on this section lies below the road surface in a conduit between the rails. The bottom half of the section is single-track, but above the passing loop it has interlaced double track. In comparison, the upper section is less steep, with a maximum gradient of 1 in 10 (10%), and is single-track apart from a short double track passing loop equipped with points actuated by the flanges of the passing cars. The rails are interrupted to accommodate the cable.


Tram numberTram nameTypeEntered ServiceNotes
1No name16'7" four-wheel freight tram car1902Withdrawn in (or by) 1911
2No name16'7" four-wheel freight tram car1902Withdrawn in (or by) 1911
3No name16'7" four-wheel freight tram car1902Withdrawn in (or by) 1911
4St Tudno37' bogie passenger tram car1902Still in service
5St Silio37' bogie passenger tram car1902Still in service
6St Seiriol37' bogie passenger tram car1902Still in service
7St Trillo37' bogie passenger tram car1902Still in service


An overhead wire telegraph was formerly used for communication between the tram and the engineer-driver in charge of winding the drum, and has been replaced with an induction-loop radio-control system.

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