INCA Programme

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The INcreased CApacity Programme was a series of improvement projects carried out on the Railway in the early 1990s, which were funded by grants from the EEC via the Welsh Office as a National Programme of Community Interest for promoting tourism in Gwynedd, Powys and Dyfed, and a grant from the Welsh Tourist Board under the 1969 Development of Tourism Act. The total grant value was £430,000.

Since the grants were in cash it was possible to employ contractors to complete projects quickly rather than rely on the limited resources and extended timescales of in-house and volunteer labour. The INCA (Increased Capacity) programme included several projects already under consideration that could be contracted out, though in practice some of them were to involve increasing amounts of in-house effort as the project developed. The projects all improved visitor amenities and increased capacity, but also improved maintenance facilities and reduced reliance on historic rolling stock. The programme was prepared under the direction of General Manager David Pollock and announced in 1989[1].

As originally listed the projects were -

1. Station building at Blaenau Ffestiniog with canopy, toilets and refreshment counter. In 1990 it was decided to include the platform paving and laying track at the second platform face on the BR side of the platform[2].

2. Improved toilets at Tan y Bwlch. This later became a general extension and improvement of the cafe in the former Goods Shed there, and some renovation of the old Station Building.

3. Improvements to the Little Wonder cafe-bar at Harbour and extension into the Museum area. As part of this Topsy was given a new display case and the whole establishment renamed Topsy (inevitably known as Tipsy). Later it was to become Spooner's. Trade was much improved though sadly the Museum space was reduced and now mostly confined to the walls.

4. A new boiler for Earl of Merioneth - this is how it was originally expressed, however it eventually emerged as an overhaul of the Earl plus a completely new locomotive which was turned out as David Lloyd George / Dafydd Lloyd George (though originally it ran on borrowed bogies). The boiler was designed for oil firing by Robert Meanley of Tyseley and built by Bloomfield Construction; the loco was assembled at Boston Lodge.

5. Three new carriages for the Push Pull train, Numbers 112, 113 and 114. These were built at Carnforth under contract, but with bogies and interiors by Boston Lodge. Although they were in Push-pull livery, they were also suitable for general use, and were given standard livery at their first repaint.

6. A 'new' Diesel loco for works train use. This was the nearly-new Baguley which became Harlech Castle after a new transmission was fitted and the superstructure modified.

7. A new two-road Carriage Shed at Glan y mor which became building 115, accommodating five carriages on each road (albeit of the shorter length then standard - it has subsequently been extended to accommodate five Super Barns each side).

Carriage 111, which entered service in 1990, is sometimes considered as an INCA project but in fact it had been largely completed at Boston Lodge before. It was built as a driving trailer for the push-pull set, having a driving cab, 11 first-class seats, a guard's van and a toilet. It also had the green and cream livery and often worked with the Carnforth carriages, which were fitted for Push Pull working.

The INCA projects were mostly completed by about 1992, the ongoing and out-of-scope work to produce two locomotives from one did take somewhat longer if you include the new bogies for DLG which were ultimately provided.


See also[edit]

  • ^ "News from the Line", Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 125, page(s): 191
  • ^ "Company Board Notes", Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 128, page(s): 327