FR Carriage Formations

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The carriages of the Ffestiniog Railway's operational fleet are normally marshalled in fixed sets. These sets vary from one period of operation to another, with exact make up depending on the operating requirements at the time.


The Ffestiniog Railway timetable requires three trains of corridor carriages. These should each contain a first class observation car, a guard's van, a toilet, a buffet car and a number of wheelchair spaces. The requirement to get all of these features into each set restricts the combinations of carriages that can be used together. Further restrictions are imposed by the need to ensure neighbouring corridor connections and electrical connections are of matching types.

The main sets are supplemented by additional carriages that are added according to anticipated demand. These additional carriages are known as spares and are often non-corridor compartment carriages (known by the staff as lock-ups).

The carriage sets are identified by letter. The three main FR sets are A-Set, B-Set and C-Set whilst those on the WHR are E-Set and F-Set. At special events other letters may be used for non standard or vintage sets. Commonly used ones are V-Set for a Victorian train, W-Set for the 1930s train and X-Set for a 1960s train.

Note: Trains in normal service can reach a maximum of twelve barn length coaches and a Double Fairlie before becoming too long for loops. Thirteen may sometimes be possible depending on the locomotive and the exact carriages (it is a tight squeeze). Following the introduction of the Superbarns, which are longer than any previous FR coach, the normal limit is now eleven.

Current Strategy[edit]

The current carriage strategy was outlined in FRM 237 (Summer 2017). When this is completed each of the two main sets (currently A-Set and B-Set) will be formed of a core of seven carriages: a Pullman observation car, a Service Car, four third class saloon Superbarns and a third class top-end observation car.

C-Set which is only used during the high peak and special events will be known as "The Modern Heritage Set" as its irregular use makes it unjustifiable to construct new carriages for it but it is a good use of the older Barns and other stock. It represents the first 50 years of the FR revival.

During the busy summer season, the main sets will often have additional carriages marshalled onto the front; these spares are often taken from the vintage compartment stock when no additional corridor coaches are available. Under the new strategy, there are two levels to strengthening. The first is relatively modern carriages (either two or three Barns or two or three Carnforths) which are not up to the standard set by the new Superbarns. As corridor carriages are time-consuming to attach, they tend to be added on a medium-term basis but would be coupled inside the top-end observation car. The next level of strengthening is the non-heritage compartment carriages such as 22, 26, 37 and 38 which are quick to add and would be put between the top-end observation car and the loco. Under the new strategy vintage compartment stock would not normally be used for this purpose. C-Set can be supplemented where required by any spare carriages available.

Vintage Sets[edit]

The Ffestiniog railway has restored several of its original carriages and marshals them to form several vintage trains representing different eras.

The 1860s Train[edit]

Following the introduction of replica Van 3 in 2014 the FR has run a train of four wheel vehicles to represent the earliest passenger trains.

This train is made up of some or all of the following:

The most common formation is:

The 1870s Train[edit]

Created to represent the passenger trains running on the Festiniog Railway in the Victorian period, the carriages of the Victorian train carry a livery of Cream and "Royal Purple" lined out in gold. The make up of the 1870s train varies, depending on demand and carriage availability, but the full (and most common) formation is:

V1 - 19 - 18 - 15 - 5 - 2 - 11 -10

Since the introduction of the 1860s train this train often runs without the four wheel carriages. The train is also often used without four wheelers for special trains outside of special events.

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The 1930s Train[edit]

Created to represent the passenger trains running on the Festiniog Railway, in the period when the railway was run jointly with the Welsh Highland Railway (to which it was connected). The carriages of the 1930s train carry the austere livery of unlined green, with red ends and solebars, which was carried by the carriages of both railways at the time. This livery is often referred to as "The Colonel Stephens Livery", after the man who managed both railways. Although the train represents the railway of the 1930s, the carriages used are all much older and date from as early as 1864. Unlike the 1870s Train, the make up of the 1930s train varies much more, depending on demand and carriage availability, but can consist of the following Vehicles:

At the 2005 RhE Superpower Event, the formation was:-

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Classic Set[edit]

Used for various special trains in 2015 this set consists of some or all of:

Vintage Train Programme 1990[edit]

In the summer of 1990, a Vintage Train programme was run on Summer Saturdays. The formation was:-

Carriage 11 - Carriage 12 - 23 - 16 - 15 - 5 - 8.

At this time Van 4 and Van 5 were running as Carriages 11 and 12 respectively.

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Main Passenger Sets[edit]

To run the full summer timetable three sets are required. These are designated as A, B and C sets. The formation of each set varies from year to year, as outlined below.


The first passenger train back to Blaenau Ffestiniog on 25th May 1982 saw the following carriages in use:


During summer 2001, the three main carriage sets were as follows:

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Each of the three sets in use in 2005 consisted of 6 corridor carriages each:


Formation of C-set for Winter 2005/06 was as follows:

- Source Winter 2005/06 Operating Department Provisional Timetable

Other Winter 2005/06 changes:-

16 November 2005 - 111 substituted for 102, and 110 detached from the formation to give a five carriage set for the 10:15 and 13:35 trains to Blaenau Ffestiniog.

17 November 2005 - 111 substituted for 102 on the 10:15 and 13:35 trains to Blaenau Ffestiniog.

1 December 2005 - 110 detached from the formation to give a five carriage set for the 10:15 and 13:35 trains to Blaenau Ffestiniog.

21 to 23 February 2006 - Set formation used 111 - 117 - 114 - 122 - 112 - 110. 118 was added for the 10:15 and 13:35 on Wednesday 22 February 2006 and on 10:15 on 23 February 2006.

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At Easter 2006 the sets were as follows:


Summer 2006 sets are as follows:

--with strengthening spares organised as follows:

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On the 6th September 2006, A-set was reformed into an all barn set, B-set was reformed as follows:-

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These sets remained until the great carriage put away weekend on the 3rd/4th/5th of November. On the 3rd 103 was withdrawn and replaced in A set which was reformed as follows:

This set is not required for most of the winter and was stored, whilst B set was dissolved, again for winter storage. C-set, as below, was used for the trains up to 1 January 2007.

Carriages 118 and120 were used for strengthening purposes. Carriages 102, 105, 26, 18, 5 and 2 where placed in winter storage at Glan-y-pwll on 30 December 2006; joining Van 4, Van 5 and Carriage 116 previously placed in store for the winter.

As with January 2006, special trains to Trwyn-y-Garnedd are being run from 5 January 2007 to 8 February. A minor reformation of C-set will be used for these trains making use of the driving compartment for the downtrip to from Trwyn-y-Garnedd to Minffordd.

On January 2nd 2007 at 12:37 C set was reformed as follows:

However, due to contract work at Boston Lodge, Carriages 100 and 124 have been delayed in the final stages of construction.

As such C set was reverted to its original formation on February 7th 2007 at 15:36 as follows.

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The formations for Spring 2007 are:-


The formations for Summer 2007 are:-


Carriages 22 and 26 may be interchanged.

Late Summer[edit]

The formations for Summer 2007 are:-


Carriages 22 and 26 may be interchanged. Carriages 111 and 116 withdrawn.

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The formations for Spring 2008 were:


Carriages 103; 116 and 121 were out of service

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It was announced in Mid June 2009 that there would be some shuffle of carriages to accommodate the increase in passengers following the extension of the WHR. The formations for the FR side became the following:

and that Carriage 119 & Carriage 120 (1980) would be temporarily moving the WHR side of the operation

In the autumn B set was disbanded and 107, 14, 104 and 110 were used as spares, resulting in several trains of 10 corridor cars running throughout.


At the end of October the carriage put away took place, and the winter set was formed up as follows:

100 - 124 - 122 - 116 - 106 - 110

with 113, 117 and 118 being left in 4 road at Harbour Station as spares. 111 and 114 swapped with 100 and 124 for the January shuttles to Trwyn-y-Garnedd, as they require the use of the driving cab in 111.

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In February once the Trwyn-y-Garnedd shuttles were over and with the entry into traffic of 103 the main carriage set was reformed ready for the half term week as follows:

100 - 103 - 124 - 116 - 110 - 113

with 117 and 118 as the spares.


A Set 100 - 103 - 124 - 116 - 106 - 118

B Set 111 - 113 - 117 - 104 - 110 - Van 5

C Set 102 - 105 - 107 - 14 - 122 - 112

With spares being picked from the available Bowsiders and Brown Marshalls bogie carriages. Due to the fire on 114, the third buffet car (required for B Set) had to be improvised by using Van 5. Of the remaining modern carriages 119 is in use at the WHR; 120, 114 and 101 are all in the carriage works undergoing rebuilds/repairs.

High Summer[edit]

By High Summer, the set formations had changed to incorporate carriages which had completed rebuilds

A Set 100 - 103 - 124 - 116 - 106 - 118

B Set 111 - 120 - 113 - 14 - 104 - 110

C Set 102 - 105 - 107 - 114 - 122 - 112

Carriages 117 and 119 are in service at the WHR, 101 remains out of service.

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In the early part of 2011 the FR was closed due to construction of a bridge over the new Porthmadog by-pass - however an FR set was used on WHR services starting from Porthmadog. This set was as follows:

100 - 103 - 124 - 116 - 122 - 112 - 110 - 118 - 119


For the start 2011 season the sets were be formed as follows:

A Set 100 - 103 - 124 - 106 - 120 - 118

C Set 102 - 105 - 114 - 112 - 110 - 113

Carriages 111 - 119 - 14 - 107 - 104 - 123 were spare at this point though will form the backbone of B set at Easter.

Carriages 116 and 122 were are also spare but will be in service at the WHR during the main season.

Carriage 117 was still awaiting completion of its winter overhaul, and was hoped to be complete in time for Easter.


The start of 3 train services at Easter the sets were formed as follows:

A Set 100 - 103 - 124 - 106 - 120 - 118

B Set 111 - 119 - 113 - 14 - 107 - 104

C Set 102 - 105 - 114 - 112 - 110 - 117 - 123

Carriages 116 and 122 are in service at the WHR

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For the main 2012 season sets were formed as follows:

A Set 100 - 103 - 124 - 121 - 106 - 120 - 118

B Set 111 - 113 - 14 - 107 - 119 - 123

C Set 102 - 105 - 114 - 112 - 110 - 117 - 104

This resulted the FR's two main sets (A and C) being seven cars long for the first time (previously the standard length was six).


After October half-term, a single set was formed of heated carriage to operate the two days a week service on the FR, and two days a week on the WHR between Porthmadog and Beddgelert.

A Set 100 - 103 - 124 - 121 - 112 - 117 - 110

Carriages 113, 118 & 120 are available as spares when required.

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Low Summer[edit]

To begin with in 2013, the sets were formed as in 2012:

A Set 100 - 103 - 124 - 121 - 106 - 120 - 118

B Set 111 - 113 - 14 - 107 - 119 - 123

C Set 102 - 105 - 114 - 112 - 110 - 117 - 104

High Summer[edit]

However, to take into account busy loadings on the Welsh Highland Railway, a rejigging of carriages resulted in the following sets for the High Summer service, with 113 having transferred to the WHR F-Set.

A Set 100 - 103 - 124 - 121 - 106 - 120 - 118

B Set 111 - 119 - 14 - 107 - 110 - 123

C Set 102 - 105 - 114 - 112 - 117 - 104

On Friday 30th August 2013, the sets were once again reformed for the final two days of FR Yellow service. 110 was moved back into C Set, to leave 7 carriage A and C Sets. Of the remaining 5 carriages of B set, 111 was stored in the Old Loco Shed and saw occasional use on charters and test trains; 119, 14, 107 and 123 were used as spares to the main sets, remaining when not in use in 6-road at Porthmadog.


Following the end of the Daily Service, A-set was reformed for the winter trains from Minffordd to Blaenau Ffestiniog, in a 5-car all Barn/Superbarn formation. With Porthmadog closed, spares were available in Glan-y-Mor 14 Road.

A Set 100 - 103 - 124 - 121 - 108

To avoid the time-consuming coupling and uncoupling of Welsh Highland style corridor connections, this formation was later changed to.

A Set 100 - 103 - 124 - 121 - 108 - 112 - 117

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The carriage sets were shuffled for various reasons at the start of 2014, beginning the new season as follows;

The spares at Porthmadog and remainder of the corridor carriages were ready to form the backbone of B-Set at Easter, with the exception of 113, 116 and 122, which were long-term allocated to WHR Sets and 123 which was temporarily part of F-Set.


After some minor shuffling, the three sets were formed for the three-train service at Easter.

Carriages 104 and 118 were later swapped to give an all-Barn A-Set, and primarily tin car C-Set.

These formations remained until the first week of September when B-Set was broken up and its carriages used as spares for the other sets. The old Carriage 119 (1980) was withdrawn at this time and replaced by the new Carriage 119.


Following the end of the three-train service and the introduction of the new 119, the following sets were in operation.


Following the end of the daily service, A-Set was reformed for the winter season as follows.

This gave a set of carriages fitted entirely with the new (WHR-style) corridor connections, for use on November & December trains to Beddgelert. For some lightly loaded services, only the first four carriages were used (100 - 103 - 124 - 121).

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Through out 2015 the following carriages were allocated to the WHRː 122 - 113 and 116


For the start of the new season, the carriage sets were as follows:

Over the Easter weekend, a three-train service was in operation, but with the middle trains (1045 & 1430 Porthmadog - Blaenau Ffestiniog) operated by a Heritage (Green) 1960s set.

Unfortunately, 12 ran a hot box on Good Friday, so was replaced by Victorian 10 for the remaining days.

Summer Half-Term[edit]

With the yellow timetable now operating without the Victorian Train, B Set made its debut this year. A Set and C Set are unchanged, but peak trains having additional non-corridor (and carriage 123) coaches added.

At the end of the school holidays, B Set was broken up and the spares returned to Boston Lodge/Minfford or remaining in road 5 or headshunt 4, no longer allocated to specific sets. The other sets remained the same, with 14 - 107 - 110 - 117 - 123 - 22 - 26 - 37 - 38 - 39 as the spares in either Road 5 or headshunt 3 (order varies).

High Summer[edit]

B Set reverted to its previous form at the resumption of the yellow timetable at the end of July, whilst A and C set remained the same. The spares in use also follow a similar pattern to those used during the summer half term, with matching liveries grouped together.

  • S1 26 - 20 - 16 - 39, usually used on the 1010 and 1335 trains.
  • S2 123 - 22 - 37, usually used on the 1135 and 1545 trains.


Following the end of the yellow timetable B-Set was broken up with 117 going for withdrawal and the rest of the set being used for spares.

Additionally a classic set was made up for use on some special trains:


Beginning with the Santa trains on the 12th of December the following set was used:

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113 - 116 - 122 were allocated to the WHR.

14 was undergoing repair during the first part of the year.

111 has been transferred for use by the Infrastructure Department.


The following sets were in use for the start of the new season. With an early Easter, there was no need for a third set until the May Day bank holiday, at which point the new B Set would be launched.

123 - 26 - 17 - 20 - 16 were spares at Porthmadog. 112 - 117 - 119 - 150 were in storage awaiting the formation of the new B-Set.


After the introduction of the new B-Set, the following sets were in use.

Various spares were used to lengthen trains during the bank holiday weekend and following half term week, normally grouped as follows:
  • Spares 1 26 - 20 - 16 - 39, usually used on the 1005 and 1335 trains.
  • Spares 2 V12 - 17 - 38, usually used on the 1125 and 1545 trains.
  • Spares 3 22 - 37, used with C set on 1035 and 1430 trains.

High Summer[edit]

During the main summer season, the following sets are in use.

For the first time there were enough corridor carriages available for all three sets to have seven corridor connected carriages.

Various spares were used to lengthen trains, normally grouped as follows:
  • Spares 1 26 - 22 - 20 - 39, usually used on the 1005 and 1335 trains.
  • Spares 2 V12 - 17 - 16 - 38, usually used on the 1125 and 1545 trains.


Following the end of the daily service, a single set was formed of all 'Superbarn' carriages.

123, 116 and 120 were stabled in Porthmadog 4-road as spares.

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116 - 122 were allocated to the WHR.



May Day Weekend[edit]

This was the annual gala so three sets were in use. This weekend saw the introduction of the new 118.

After the weekend event 16 was taken out of A-Set and 114 out of B-Set. 16, 17 and 20 were available as spares at Porthmadog.

May Half Term[edit]

Low Summer[edit]

For the low-summer green timetable period the core sets were as follows.

High Summer[edit]

For the high-summer red timetable period the sets were as follows. 113 was back on the FR following an extended period of use on WHR trains.


After the main summer season A and B sets reverted to the previous all corridor formations with spares added as required. For the winter services form Porthmadog (including those along the WHR) an all Superbarn set was used:

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116 - 122 are allocated to the WHR.


The start of the new season saw three sets in use over the Easter holiday period.

16, 20, 22, 26 were spare at Porthmadog

Carriage 152 entered service on the Saturday of the May Day bank holiday when it replaced 100 in A-Set.


By the main summer timetable the new carriage 120 had replaced the old one. The increasing number of Superbarns (which are longer than the carriages they replace) meant that two eleven car trains could no longer pass at Rhiw Goch. Thus two the main sets did not include an open carriage. One was added to whichever set formed to 1005 departure only, if the weather and expected load demanded it.

37 was spare at Porthmadog for adding to the 1005.


116 - 122 are allocated to the WHR.

Early Season[edit]

With 113 now available as a guards van, the early part of the 2019 season saw the following carriage sets in use:

16, 17, 22 and 26 were available as spares.

102 was in the carriage works at Boston Lodge, being converted from a first-class observation car into a "back-to-front" third class observation car, destined to eventually top the Blaenau-end of A-Set.

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See also[edit]


  1. ^ Winton, John (1986) [1975]. The Little Wonder: The Story of The Festiniog Railway. London, England, W1: Festiniog Railway & Michael Joseph Ltd. ISBN 9780718109943. OCLC 1858833. p191