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At Snowdon Mountain Railway we have five miles of track and our annual maintenance has to be carried out during the winter season. If we could re-lay 260-300 metres of track each year it would take 18 years to do the whole track; by which time the first piece would need doing again, just like the painting of the Forth Road Bridge used to be. The other key issue is the weather during the winter and, by the very nature of the beast, the further up the track work is being carried out then the less time we have to do the work. Doing track work high up the mountain in the winter is difficult and we have to be realistic because we may not be able to get there.
This year a major overhaul of the track across Afon Hwlch viaduct, just outside Llanberis, was undertaken and, as the rack and pinion system is a complex one, it was decided that the best route for a long term solution was to completely renew the track and the formation and the drainage on the viaduct. We needed to put a drainage medium in to make sure that any water running down into the viaduct could get away easily so a drains blanket, which is a textile membrane, and all new ballast have been laid. The sand and ballast have been levelled and compacted giving a good strong foundation for the new track. At the bottom end of the viaduct there was a quick rate of gradient changes and these have now been eased and slightly changed the geometry of the track to make it easier for the locomotives.