Ffestiniog Railway gets new £600,000 heritage train
Two heritage rail lines in north Wales have been celebrating the first outing of their new £600,000 train.
The new carriages will run along the world's oldest narrow-gauge track on the Ffestiniog Railway in Gwynedd, and also on its sister line, the Welsh Highland Railway.
Pride of place is a new £250,000 Pullman curved glass observation car.
Eventually ten new carriages will run on the lines between Blaenau Ffestiniog and Caernarfon.
"Sometimes we might celebrate a new engine or a carriage - this time we've actually launched an entire train," said the rail companies' general manager, Paul Lewin.
"I just don't know anywhere that is doing anything quite like this. I mean, we are very well connected in the world of railways, and I'm really pleased to say that we are leading the way."
All the new cars making up the train were designed and built at the rail operator's Boston Lodge works at Porthmadog, which has become a major employer for the town, with both skilled engineers and training a new generation of apprentices.
"We're the second biggest carriage-maker in the UK at the moment," boasted Norman Bond, who is head of carriage works at Boston Lodge.
"We've been able to build on the skills that were there from 1950s when the railway was restored, right through to today.
"I'm very proud, very proud. Every time I see one of our carriages going past, I think: 'Yes - we did that'. I'm extremely proud of what we have achieved."
Perhaps the crowning achievement in the whole enterprise is the work of design student Dan Jones, who came up with the plans for the new Pullman observation car.
"The general manager came into the office and said: 'We know what you are doing on your degree - do you want to have a go at designing a new observation carriage?'," he said.
"I jumped at the chance.
"It's fantastic to see it come off the digital world and to be created by the craftsmen at Boston Lodge.
"It's hard to believe it's all come true really. But here it is."