Page last updated at 17:31 GMT, Wednesday, 7 April 2010 18:31 UK

Snow clearing on Snowdon railway


There are thousands of tonnes of snow to be cleared before the train can reach the summit

Diggers are being used to clear snow drifts from the railway track up Snowdon in a bid to reopen the summit visitor centre and cafe in May.

The building, Hafod Eryri, is always shut over the harsh winter months but this time workers admit the clear-up is even harder than usual.

After the digger shifts the snow, a blower is used to remove the last icy traces.

The new improved £8.4m Hafod Eryri building opened in June last year.

Doug Blair, the senior engineering manager with the Snowdon Railway, said the clear-up this year was "a challenge".

Ice and snow

"It is work which has to be done very carefully along the edge of the Clogwyn cliff face," he said.

"Once we use the excavator to clear the snow we then have to blow the snow out of the rack and if any bad weather reappears, and there's more snow, it ruins everything we've done," he said.

The object was to open Hafod Eryri in "one swoop", he added.

"Then if the building is cut off it can survive on its own for a bit," he said.

Clearing snow on Snowdon railway track
The snow is first cleared by the digger then a blower finishes the job

Apart from the snow the track can also be damaged by ice and frost, he added.

"I sometimes look at people who run railways on the flat and think they have it easy", he said.

The target is to reopen Hafod Eryri by early May, according to Jonathan Tyler the railway company's marketing manager.

"Many people have been inquiring about going to the summit and hopefully the weather will be okay," he said.

John Ifor Jones has worked for the railway for 30 years, and he said conditions had been "pretty bad" this year.

"We come prepared, with plenty of clothing, and you get used to working here," he said.

"Drifts can get up to 15 feet deep. We need plenty of sunshine, and also rain and mist which eats away at the snow," he added.

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