The Talking Train / Y Trên Siarad

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The Next Tale Along The Line

All too soon we heard the "toot-toot-toot" indicating it was time to key in the number for the next geographical tale.  Ffestiniog engines have always carried two whistles of different tones, one is used for sounding warnings along the line, the other was traditionally used to give signals while shunting.  This second whistle is used on the Talking Train to tell the passengers it is time to move to the next recording.  Our ears soon became attuned to the whistle and we found it a simple and effective way of communication.  I'm not sure how well it would work on a wet day with all the windows closed, but then everything tends to steam up in the older carriages, so quite a few of the windows would probably be cracked open at least a little.  So how does the driver know where to sound the special whistle?  New 'TTT' signs have been placed along the line for the crew in the same style as the numbered signs for the passengers to be found at stations - see right.

The TTT (Talking Train Toot) sign above Penrhyn Crossing, time for the passengers to select another tale.   (03/05/2004)

The bright morning sun lights ‘Taliesin’ and the Victorian set at Minffordd.   (03/05/2004)

Minffordd Station

The timetable includes an extended stop at Minffordd station and everyone is encouraged to get off and wander around, there being a number of signs around the station referring to different recordings to listen to.  The wait at Minffordd allows plenty of time to photograph the train and have a look in the other carriages.  Photographers should take advantage of the stop as Minffordd will give you your best views of the train, the need to keep out of the way of the other scheduled services means that the arrival at Tanybwlch quickly becomes a brisk shunting exercise.

‘Taliesin’ sits under the tree at Minffordd Station with the Talking Train.   (03/05/2004)

The audio guide told us all about the oak tree that stands on the platform at Minffordd, the same tree that is to be seen in photographs taken in the 1880s - a truly venerable tree, surely unique in occupying such a prominent (and inconvenient) position on the platform of an active station.

Below on the left James is standing by the Talking Train sign 132 at the bottom end of Minffordd down station.  132 is the number for Spooner's Exchange Sidings; despite riding past many times and even wandering around it in the past, this is probably the first time James had the opportunity to hear about the original purpose for of the yard.

Canterbury cricket ground had it's tree in the outfield, Minffordd still has it's ancient oak tree on the up platform.   (03/05/2004)

James learns about Spooner's Minffordd Exchange Sidings as he listens to story number 132 at the end of Minffordd platform.   (03/05/2004)

Soon we heard the sound of another train arriving from up the line as Linda ran into the loop.  The single line tokens were exchanged and after quickly rounding up the passengers we were soon on the way again.

The value of the different commentaries over the rest of the journey to Tanybwlch was such that after travelling over the line regularly, and carrying enough knowledge to bore anyone rigid if necessary, I still found snippets of previously unknown information.  For instance, the commentary on the surrounding woodlands has furnished me with additional boredom ammunition, I now know what a Sessile Oak is!

Passing trains - ‘Taliesin’ waits for an arriving train at Minffordd station.   (03/05/2004)

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