Liverpool firm invests £1.1m in Snowdon Mountain Railway

Heritage Great Britain is acquiring new hybrid diesel locomotives for the Snowdon Mountain Railway, one of the most popular attractions in Wales. Tony McDonough reports

Snowden Mountain Railway
Mount Snowden and its popular railway in North Wales


Liverpool-based Heritage Great Britain (HGB), which operates tourist sites across the UK, is investing £1.1m in new hybrid diesel locomotives on its Snowdon Mountain Railway attraction.

Snowdon Mountain Railway is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Wales and attracts thousands of people every year from the Liverpool city region. Merging greener technology with the historic landmark, the new locomotives developed by Clayton Equipment, will come into service in May in time for Snowdon’s busy summer season.

The locomotives will run alongside the traditional steam and diesel trains which will continue to carry passengers to the summit of Snowdon to enjoy views of the glorious Snowdonia National Park – one of the most scenic points in Britain. 

With an investment of £1.1million and only nine months between the order being placed, the new locomotives reflect a commitment by Heritage Great Britain to reduce their carbon footprint without impacting on the hugely popular tourist experience.

HGB also the operator of the RLB360 attraction at Liverpool’s iconic Royal Liver Building which has attracted tens of thousands of visitors since its launch last year. Other HGB sites include The Needles at the Isle of Wight’s renowned Westerly Point.

Since its launch in 1896, the Snowdon Mountain Railway has welcomed 12m tourists from across the world. The service has run uninterrupted, with the exception of during both World Wars. When it reopened in 1946 old army boots were burned in the boilers of the engines to help power the carriages due to a fuel shortage.

The new locomotives will be driven by maintenance free electric motors which will be powered by traction battery and a diesel generator. On their descent from the summit the diesel generator in the locomotive will be switched off whilst service braking recharges the battery, preparing the engine for its next ascent.

The diesel generator engines are Euro 5 standard and are much more fuel efficient and far lower in emissions than the existing diesel fleet. Mike Robertshaw, senior engineering manager at Snowdon Mountain Railway, said: “We are extremely proud of the development of our new Hybrid Diesel Locomotives.

“This is a significant investment in new technology which will not only allow us to carry more passengers but also allow us to help the environment. This is just the beginning of further investment as we make it sustainable for the years ahead.”

The railway was constructed between 1894 and1896. In just 14 months a workforce comprising of 150 men laid the track up the highest mountain in Wales. The summit is 1,085 metres above sea level with one of the UK’s, if not one of the worlds most stunning views. It is the UK’s only rack and pinion railway.

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