Although the Coronavirus outbreak has delayed the start of the tourist season in Wales, one of our neighbours is especially looking forward to welcoming passengers when it's safe to do so.
This year, the Snowdon Mountain Railway introduces two brand-new, hybrid battery-diesel locomotives. At a cost of £1.1 million they will run alongside SMR's existing diesel and steam engines, increasing the number of visitors to the summit of Wales's highest mountain but without compromising emissions in the National Park.
The locomotives have been built by specialist manufacturer Clayton Equipment Ltd; the company usually builds engines for use in tunnelling and mining so this is a first for Clayton too.
Quieter and with lower emissions than a standard diesel engine, the hybrid units are driven by maintenance-free electric motors, switching between traction battery and diesel as the need arises.
As the engine makes it descent from the summit with the diesel generator switched off, the brakes recharge the battery ready for the next ascent!
As well as being altogether more efficient the new locomotives will also permit more passengers to travel on the diesel service - each locomotive carrying an extra 12 passengers per journey.
Senior Engineering Manager for Snowdon Mountain Railway, Mike Robertshaw, said: “The existing diesel locomotives have been the backbone of Snowdon Mountain Railway since their introduction in 1985.
"Investing in these two new hybrid locomotives is a great opportunity for the railway to move the fleet forward into the next generation."
The Snowdon Mountain railway is located just across the road from our hotel. Since opening in 1896, it has ferried more than 12 million passengers to the summit of Snowdon.
Robertshaw added: “For most people walking up a mountain like Snowdon is a challenge. A walk to the summit and back can take six to eight hours, whereas the train takes two and a half hours. SMR makes it possible for all people to reach the summit.”