NEWS 2018
Above: This sylvan scene depicts the crossing of two railways near Port Penrhyn, Bangor: one remains in use while the other is now a multi-use trail. The viaduct carries the LNWR's still operational Chester-Holyhead line, while the trackbed below – once part of the Penrhyn Railway – now serves walkers, cyclists, etc. The Penrhyn Railway was constructed to carry slate from Lord Penrhyn's quarries at Bethesda to Port Penrhyn at Bangor, and the modern trail links the same two places, albeit by using part of the Penrhyn Railway and part of the later LNWR Bethesda branch. 13th July 2017. (Jeff Vinter)

January 2018. Bristol to Bath and Midsomer Norton, Avon. A public exhibition of plans to build new office space and residential units in Bath has just been publicly announced. The design of this development will allow access to the former Midland Railway bridge (situated directly behind a redundant warehouse, which will be demolished) for cyclists and pedestrians to cross the River Avon, thus connecting the Bath to Bristol Railway Path with the more recent Two Tunnels Trail, which – beyond Midford – uses much of the old Somerset & Dorset line right through to Midsomer Norton. The developers have stated that they are very keen to make their plans cycle and walking friendly, and this plan meets that objective handsomely. The double-track girder bridge is currently owned by the Historic Railways Estate of Highways England, and would need an inspection by bridge engineers before its proposed restoration and conversion could hopefully be taken a stage further to accommodate cycles. The developers, Merrion, are organising a public exhibition which will be held at Bath Green Park Station on Wednesday 24th January from 12 noon until 7 pm; all are welcome. (Matt Skidmore)

January 2018. Preston to Longridge, Lancashire. BBC Lancashire has reported that Preston Trampower Ltd has appointed Eric Wright Civil Engineering to build the Preston Tramway. It is early days yet, but this project will affect – between Deepdale and Grimsargh – the railway path which occupies part of the old Longridge branch. We hope that the project will provide a new facility for walkers and cyclists along the same corridor, as has happened elsewhere when old trackbeds have been re-used, e.g. between Bathgate and Drumgelloch in Scotland; but this railway path is in England, so will the same fairmindedness apply? (Keith Holliday)

January 2018. Havant to Hayling Island, Hampshire. BBC News for Hampshire has reported that the ferry linking the west end of Hayling Island with Eastney on the eastern edge of Portsmouth is in financial difficulty. The service closed down in 2015 but was reinstated on 5th August 2016 under new owners. The ferry is an integral part of NCN2, the South Coast Cycle Route, which accesses Portsmouth via the former Havant–Hayling Island branch line. As we observed in 2016, the loss of the ferry would require residents and visitors travelling from the island to Portsmouth to take a very long detour via Havant, travelling north initially when they really needed to go west. We suspect that the problem is the 'seasonality' of the service; personal visits suggest that it is well used in the summer months, but it must be a different story in the dead of winter. (Keith Holliday and Jeff Vinter)

January 2018. Blaenau Ffestiniog to Trawsfynydd, Gwynedd. Further to previous reports, especially that from September 2016, an article in the Daily Post newspaper of 3rd January suggests that the scheme to restore the railway between Blaenau Ffestiniog and Trawsfynydd Lake Halt is now in severe jeopardy. Clearance work on that section has been suspended because a bridge near Trawsfynydd Lake was damaged during operations in August last year, resulting in a public footpath being closed on safety grounds. It was hoped that it could resume following completion of a Network Rail investigation; instead the licence to carry out clearance work issued to Trawsfynydd Railway Company has now been revoked. The newspaper understands that a 10 tonne digger may have been used whereas no machinery heavier than 5 tonnes had been authorised. Blaenau Ffestiniog & Trawsfynydd Railway Society, which provides the volunteers, feels that the company should step down and allow the society to take the lead in the project. If all this comes to nought, the route would make a superbly scenic trail. (Chris Parker)