Vale of Rheidol hit by major hillside fire

By Cliff Thomas

THE recent heat wave which saw Porthmadog named as the hottest place in Britain produced problems for Welsh narrow gauge lines.

By far the worst affected was Vale of Rheidol Railway (VoR), which had to halt operations on June 28 when a major hillside fire broke out in the Rheidol Valley.

VoR staff worked with fire service crews to keep the fire under control as the weather caused more outbreaks of fire along the valley. Some 1½ miles of valley hillside above the railway has been burned, resulting in damage to the line.

The Vale of Rheidol’s fire train in action. IAN JONES

No trains could run in the first week of July with VoR’s permanent way team having to repair the track. The railway reopened on July 11.

A gorse heathland fire, which started on June 26 and reportedly blackened the surrounding sand dunes, caused suspension of Fairbourne Railway services while the blaze was tackled.

High temperatures and risk of lineside fires led Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway, Brecon Mountain Railway, Corris Railway and Snowdon Mountain Railway to suspend steam operation at the end of June/beginning of July and run diesel-hauled service trains.

Isle of Man’s Groudle Glen Railway acted similarly and Scarborough North Bay Railway suspended operation of its steam loco 0-4-0ST Georgina.

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