Snowdon Mountain Railway will begin welcoming visitors back this week as the mountain and the railway opens to the public following the three-month lockdown. With the Snowdonia National Park now fully open, trains will begin running again from today with significant new COVID-19 measures in place.
The 2020 season sees the world’s first rack and pinion hybrid locomotives joining the existing fleet. The railway took delivery of two new hybrid locomotives in June and are currently commissioning them ready to enter service in July as replacements for two of the existing Hunslet Diesel locomotives.
The new locomotives have been given numbers 14 and 15 following on in order of the existing fleet (with the cautious absence of a number 13 locomotive). Both locomotives have already been named and the railway is holding a competition to see who can guess either names before they are revealed later in the month.
The new £1.1m ‘greener’ locomotives, developed by Clayton Equipment Ltd, are be driven by maintenance free electric motors which are powered by a traction battery and a diesel generator. Heritage Great Britain PLC, who operate the landmark destination, say the investment in the new technology follows a commitment to reduce its carbon footprint and improve the sustainability of the experience at the stunning Snowdonia National Park.
The locomotives are already exceeding the railways expectations when compared to the design requirements. Shore power battery charging has been added to the sites infrastructure to accommodate the overnight charging of the locomotives.
New operating skills are needed for the drivers when compared with the existing locomotive fleet. 21st century operation and controls require a completely different driver skillset. Full commissioning and driver training is now underway. Not only are the new locomotives quieter with an improved driving environment and ergonomics, they’ll also improve passenger comfort with a smoother journey.
The SMR Senior Engineering Manager Mike Robertshaw said: “I am extremely pleased with the project outcome, SMR showed considerable faith in Clayton’s when placing the order and I have to say they have exceeded all my expectations so far, feedback from the staff involved in commissioning has been excellent. Clayton Equipment continued the build of the locomotives through the worst of the pandemic and although they suffered delays and staff shortages, the locomotives were delivered and the relationship with Claytons has been very good. I believe that these locomotives will ensure the future of SMR and enable future generations to enjoy the beauty of Snowdon.”