Ffestiniog Railway - c1900

After The Deluge… Part 1: Slow Train

Following on from my little rant in the last couple of posts – too many ‘Whys’?? – about our culture’s obsession with speed, at the price of quality of life and experience, I thought I would start a series of articles on what I imagine post-apocalyptic life and technology might look like, starting with travel and the model for my train scenes in Renaissance: the Ffestiniog Railway.

The Ffestiniog Railway in north-west Wales is a narrow gauge railway (1′ 11 1/2″ for the geeky out there – though why not a round 2′???) that was originally built for transporting slate from the mines to the nearest port, Porthmadog. As you can see from the picture above the rolling stock is as diminutive as the track. The engines are small and so too are the carriages. Necessarily a small. low-powered, train these machines never could run particularly quickly, even if the tight turns required by the Welsh mountains could have allowed them to.

So much for the limitations. On the practical side, for a post-apocalyptic world where fuel, manpower and materials are limited, these trains ARE small and relatively simple, they don’t need the huge tonnages of fuel that the great steam engines of the same era required. Their needs in terms of infrastructure are also vastly less; bridges can be smaller, embankments can be made with lighter foundations. Yet the carriages are a fair size and it is conceivable that the creature comforts the traveler might want could be supplied, albeit in miniature. They are also quite cute little trains which, for a story teller, is a strong selling point!

48 Passenger carriage on Ffestiniog Railway – photo Noel Whalley (public domain)
thumbnail Renaissance cover

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