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The CTRL is the name given to the project to link the Festiniog and the Welsh Highland Railways through the streets of Porthmadog from Cae Pawb to Harbour Station - hence the term Cross Town Rail Link. The name is also a play on words - at the same time, the Channel Tunnel Rail Link was under construction far away in England.
The CTRL replaces the Junction Railway, built in 1923, and the former Croesor Tramway route which formerly linked the two railways through the town, though not along exactly the same alignment. For the purposes of the rebuild, it refers to the line from the junction at Harbour Station to the junction with the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway at Pen-y-mount.
The embankment built for the former Croesor Tramway was in a poor state from Gelert's Farm to Pont y Cyt, so it was dismantled and replaced with a structure made from steel gabions filled with stones. The concrete tower for the water tank at the Portmadoc New Station of 1923 is still in situ, but is not so obtrusive, in the industrial surroundings of the backs of Porthmadog, as is its twin in the sylvan setting at Beddgelert. The Welsh Highland Heritage Group designed and built a signal box to replicate that used in the 1920s, but this has not yet been erected; the Cae Pawb crossing is operated from a standard steel box at the side of the line. North of Cae Pawb, past the old Beddgelert siding where slate from Croesor and Rhosydd was transshipped to the standard gauge, the Gas Board built a contraption on the trackbed which has necessitated a minimal deviation of RhE round its side, so the alignment is not so straight as it once was.
North of Britannia Bridge the line runs to the east of the original line, along the bank of Llyn Bach, thus avoiding the end of Madoc Street.
There are two underbridges and two principal level crossings.
(1) The two underbridges are
(a) Pont y Cyt, a single-arched stone bridge across Y Cyt, originally a navigable cut or canal from the Llyn Bach to Tremadoc. The navigation was abandoned perhaps in the 1830s and the channel used for land drainage and, at one stage, for discharge from the sewage works (this last has now been much improved and discharges under the Britannia Bridge; the sewer lies beneath the railway as it runs beside Llyn Bach). Presumably Pont y Cyt dates from 1864-7; it was still adequate to carry the new RhE line in 2008 without serious structural alteration - it has new parapets.
(b) Britannia Bridge - the main road A487 across the Cob - forms the third railway crossing of Afon Glaslyn. The piers seem to have been built in the dry about 1810 before the Cob was completed, and the river turned through it when the Cob was completed in 1811. The huge stone blocks of which the bridge piers are constructed are thought with sound reason to be the work of Jesse Hartley (1780-1860), one of the greatest dock engineers of the nineteenth century: his work at Liverpool is astonishing and includes the famous Albert Dock. The deck of the Britannia Bridge has been renewed several times, lastly about 1990 when evidence of the original Cob Tramway of 1807-11 was found. The RhE track across the Britannia Bridge is of welded tramrail, specially chosen and imported from Austria because it fitted between the concrete road foundation and the level of the surface of the carriageway. This same tramrail is also fitted across Snowdon Street and round the corner to Pont y Cyt - it is wise to have a transition from tramrail to railway rail on the straight.
(2) The two principal level crossings are at
(a) Snowdon Street, a fairly conventional crossing with train-operated wig-wags (alternately flashing) lights to warn road users. One entertaining problem arose here when the Council wanted to make a little lane from the west into a one-way street, but the lane proved to be part of the Gorsedda Junction & Portmadoc Railway of 1872, and derelict since about 1914: it is still a statutory railway.
(b) Britannia Bridge, which was used for slate trains between 1836 and 1946, for passenger trains between 1923 and 1937, and again since 2010. Originally the new line across the bridge was intended as a tramway, but HM Railway Inspectors decided that it should be a railway, with six sets of flashing lights and, between but not including the Inner Home Signal on the Cob and the ALLAN sign at the petrol station, there seem to be 70 (seventy) notices of one kind or another. Is this a record? The time taken for a train to clear Britannia Bridge varies as its length, but from operating the 'start' mechanism at either side to the whistles stopping and the lights going out after the passage of the train, 60 to 100 seconds seems usual.
(c) There are other lesser crossings at the Council Yard and a foot crossing from the Car Park to Llyn Bach.
There is a point for a siding alongside Llyn Bach; this is sometimes referred to as Gas Works Siding or Porthmadog Gwaith Nwy, from the former use of the site. It was originally intended to be a transshipment point for railway vehicles from road to rail.
Apart from the Gas Works Siding, the CTRL is now complete and in full use. For details of its construction and continuing developments please refer to these sites, both voluntarily run and regularly updated.
There are also some documents, copyright © WHRCL, which are available to view. It should be noted that these are the planned arrangements as of the date that appears on them.
Full CTRL section Between the original drawing, Feb 2007, and the final commissioning, late 2010, there have been significant changes to the plan. It is retained purely to give the reader an outline to what is involved