The Talking Train / Y Trên Siarad

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The world's oldest iron-framed bogie carriage, no 15, invites passengers to enjoy it's delights on the return journey.   (03/05/2004)

The Return Journey

All too soon Taliesin returned to the platform with its venerable rake of carriages and it was time for the return journey.  As the train was relatively quiet we decided to try out a different carriage and found ourselves in the beautifully restored carriage 15.  At the time of it's construction in 1872, carriage 15's arrival at Porthmadog must have been greeted rather like the arrival of a spaceship - the Ffestiniog was at the forefront of railway technology at the time and No 15 was the first iron-framed bogie carriage on any railway, standard gauge or narrow gauge, at home or abroad.  A wonderful restoration job, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund but the work of the railway's own craftsmen, the Talking Train is the perfect place to appreciate this historically important carriage (and it's twin in the 1930s train).

The beautifully restored interior of carriage number 15.   (03/05/2004)

The view on the left shows the spartan third class compartment of carriage 15 in which we travelled back to Porthmadog.  Alternatively we could have ridden back in one of these two "Bug-Boxes" (right), the rather tongue in cheek term used to refer to the original 1865 carriages which were always marshalled at the uphill end of pre-preservation trains; needless to say the two Talking Trains are no exception.

Known as ‘Bug Boxes’, the two 1865 carriages in the Victorian set, nos 2 & 5 stand in the siding at Tanybwlch.   (01/05/2004)

The commentaries for the return journey are mostly the same as those on the outward trip, perhaps now is the chance to sit back and enjoy the ride without having to concentrate quite so hard on listening for the whistle and selecting the correct tale.

James listens to another story on his Talking Train handset.   (03/05/2004)

I was surprised to find that as a 10 year old, James found the ride as absorbing as I did, sometimes we found ourselves listening to the same recording, at other times we had ended up down different avenues of the commentary - that's part of the experience, the wide range of subjects covered allow each person to select what may they feel may be of interest to them and perhaps skip others.  The Tanybwlch stop allowed us to exchange thoughts on the things we had listened to and gave us the chance to find out what we had missed by listening to additional tales.  Some of the gems we found hidden among the recordings were the tale of the trainspotting buzzards near Tanybwlch and James was amused by the engine that set fire to the driver's trousers; you will have to ride the Talking Train to find out which one...
All too soon the tale of the early 19th century murder near Boston Lodge had come to an end and we had once more turned to head along the Cob back to Porthmadog, the view over the sands to Borth-y-Gest being particularly fine in the afternoon sun.

The Ffestiniog may well remain unique in being able to operate this service, passengers have to be locked in the old carriages (by order of the Board of Trade in 1865), so the guard ensures the return of the audio guide by exercising the power invested in his key!  James and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and despite many years of travelling on the Ffestiniog I learned much that I did not previously know and had my most enjoyable ride on the line.

Looking seawards towards Borth-y-Gest as the Talking Train trundles across the Cob.   (03/05/2004)

The Talking Train deserves to be a roaring success, it has great promise and may well appeal to an even wider audience than expected.  James started out the ride as a button-pushing 10 year old but ended it enjoying the experience on it's own merits.  Those already familiar with the line have the opportunity to see the railway from a new viewpoint.  The casual visitor will be entertained and informed, the non-railway enthusiast will find ample to entertain and educate them without needing to know about the difference between a single and double fairlie locomotive.

Go and try it yourself - you won't regret it.

For further details and the latest Talking Train schedule, visit the The Ffestiniog Railway Web Site

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