Hybrid Trains Bring Greener Ride to Snowdon’s Summit


New hybrid diesel and electric locomotives intended to reduce the carbon footprint of the thousands of tourists who visit Snowdon will start operating this spring.

Heritage Great Britain, who operate one of Wales’ biggest tourist destinations in the Snowdon Mountain Railway, have invested £1.1 million in the new locomotives.

Merging greener technology with the historic landmark, the new locomotives, developed by Clayton Equipment, will come into service in May in time for Snowdon’s busy summer season.

The locomotives will run alongside the traditional steam and diesel trains which will continue to carry passengers to the summit of Snowdon to enjoy views of the glorious Snowdonia National Park – one of the most scenic points in Britain.

With an investment of £1.1 million and only nine months since the order being placed, the new locomotives reflect a commitment by Heritage Great Britain to reduce their carbon footprint without impacting on the hugely popular tourist experience.

The new locomotives will be driven by maintenance-free electric motors which will be powered by a traction battery and a diesel generator. On their descent from the summit the diesel generator in the locomotive will be switched off while service braking recharges the battery, preparing the engine for its next ascent.

The new diesel generator engines are Euro 5 standard and are much more fuel efficient and far lower in emissions than the existing diesel fleet.

Since its launch the Snowdon Mountain Railway service has been popular with visitors from across the globe, being experienced by over 12 million since its inception in 1896.

The service has run uninterrupted, with the exception of during both world wars. In fact, when the service reopened in 1946 old army boots were burned in the boilers of the engines to help power the carriages due to a fuel shortage.

Commenting on the investment, Mike Robertshaw, Senior Engineering Manager at Snowdon Mountain Railway, said: 

“We are extremely proud of the development of our new hybrid diesel locomotives. This is a significant investment in new technology which will not only allow us to carry more passengers but also allow us to help the environment. This is just the beginning of further investment in Snowdon Mountain Railway as we make it sustainable for the years ahead.  It’s an exciting time for us all.”

The Snowdon Mountain Railway was constructed between 1894 and 1896. In just 14 months a work force consisting of only 150 men laid the track up the highest mountain in Wales and England. The summit is 1085 metres above sea level with one of the UK’s most stunning views. It is the UK’s only rack and pinion railway.

Ever since 1896 Llanberis has been extremely popular with visitors wanting to experience the unique experience of the locomotive journey to the summit and this is set to soar with the introduction of new greener technology. After all, how much greener can you get than Snowdon?