Garmendale Engineering Provides Innovative Lightweight Carriages for Snowdon Mountain Railway

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Garmendale Engineering designs and builds high quality, lightweight, environmentally friendly new carriages for Snowdon Mountain Railway. State of the art manufacturing techniques and new composite material have the potential to deliver innovative solutions for the theme park industry.

Garmendale Engineering Limited (GEL), specialist engineers and one of the UK’s leading ride manufacturers, has designed and manufactured four innovative new carriages for Wales’ historic mountain railway.

Snowdon Mountain Railway (SMR) has been taking visitors to the summit of Wales’ highest mountain since 1896. This iconic visitor attraction will reopen for the 2013 season on March 16th with new carriages designed and built by GEL.

The single gauge rack-and-pinion railway is a much loved feature of the highest mountain in Wales. Snowdon Mountain Railway, one of a number of high profile attractions operated by Heritage Great Britain plc, and set out challenging specifications for the new carriages. Not only did the replacement coaches have to fit the existing narrow track and withstand the punishing weather on the mountain, but the client required an increase in capacity and window size together with a reduction in weight. In addition it was essential that the appearance of the carriages should be in keeping with the heritage of the railway, with safety and quality as the overriding priorities.

Garmendale Engineering, based in Derbyshire in the UK, have extensive experience in delivering imaginative engineering solutions for the leisure industry, with a focus on innovation, quality and safety.

GEL’s radical solution for SMR was based around the innovative use of a new composite material for the carriages. Previously used in road freight vehicle applications, the polyurethane and fibre glass composite is a strong, lightweight, durable material with effective thermal insulating properties that has the added advantage of being 100% recyclable.

Working closely with SMR engineers, GEL developed ground breaking manufacturing methods which allowed the fabrication of carriages with larger windows and a curved shape with no loss of strength, meeting stringent safety standards within the client’s budget. The carriage capacity was increased from 56 to 74 passengers, including wheelchair access, with a remarkable reduction in weight from 10 tonnes to just over 7 tonnes. With customary attention to detail GEL even designed the door lock mechanisms to produce an authentic “clunk”.

The lighter carriages are durable and vandal proof resulting in lower operational costs for SMR and a reduced carbon footprint.

GEL’s Sales and Marketing Director, Zoe Shelmerdine, said, “We were delighted to have the opportunity to work closely with Snowdon Mountain Railway on this unique project. Our engineers rose to the challenge and spent many hours developing solutions around alternative materials and manufacturing methods in order to deliver an excellent solution.

We’re now very excited to explore the ways in which this 100% recyclable composite material, together with the manufacturing techniques that we have developed, can be applied within the theme park industry to deliver radically reduced operating costs and cost effective green solutions.”

Alan Kendal, General Manager of SMR said, “Heritage Attractions and Snowdon Mountain Railway have enjoyed a long working association with GEL, culminating in their appointment as a lead contractor on our 2012 Carriage Project. GEL’s innovative approach, in particular their choice of material for the construction of the carriage body, is unique within the industry, leading to significant weight savings and providing the carriages with essential durability and resistance to severe weather.

“The building of new carriages at Snowdon Mountain Railway is a once per century event, and we are confident that our partnership with Garmendale Engineering Limited has delivered the best possible outcome for our Railway and its future.”


About Garmendale Engineering Limited
Garmendale Engineering Limited is a second generation family business, designing, developing and manufacturing engineered solutions in-house at our facilities in Derbyshire, UK.

Garmendale has seen significant change, growth and development since the early days as a specialist welding solutions provider, but our values of quality, safety and reliability have remained our heartbeat since 1980.

Significant milestones in our work for the attractions industry include:

  •     Creating safety solutions for some of the UK’s fastest rollercoasters with our highly developed and engineered gating systems to SIL level 3/performance level E.
  •     In 2010, developing a trackless ride system that allows our clients to make the most of small spaces.
  •     The launch of GEL Rides in 2013 to consolidate our many years of experience in providing Dark Rides, Track Rides, Water Rides, Suspended Systems and small family coasters to the attractions industry.

Driven by our desire to Engineer the Future we have provided innovative engineering solutions to many industry leaders including Merlin Entertainments, Heide Park Resort, Gardaland and Ferrari World.

We are incredibly proud to be British Engineers who design and manufacture at our own facilities.

Our strengths are our teams and our can do attitude.

About Snowdon Mountain Railway
Snowdon Mountain Railway (SMR) is Britain’s highest track railway taking passengers to the top of Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales and England at 3,560ft. At the summit of Snowdon is Hafod Eryri visitor centre, the highest building in the UK, which was built to an award winning design by Ray Hole Architects.

SMR is owned by Heritage Great Britain plc which operates some of the United Kingdom's most outstanding and beautiful landmark destinations.

The railway will reopen to the public on March 16th 2013.

See for more details.

For enquiries, please contact:

Zoe Shelmerdine
email: zoe(at)garmendale(dot)co(dot)uk
Tel: +44 (0) 115 9327082

Notes for editors:

Larger images are available on request from Rachel Read at pr(at)blooloop(dot)com.

Image credit: Ray Wood and Snowdon Mountain Railway

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Zoe Shelmerdine

Rachel Read
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