Itís cold, wet and dark. Halfway up a mountain with aching limbs heaving half a ton of steel with a pair of outsize tongs. This is fun. This is making friends for life. This is without doubt the most worthwhile thing Iíve ever done. This is building a railway.

Then at last itís warm and comfortable. Youíre in the pub with your mates talking about the dayís exploits. Who did something right; who did something daft; who told the worst joke. Tracklayingís great in two ways - while youíre doing it and when you stop.

It gets even better when you qualify to drive the trains carrying materials to the head of steel and far less heavy lifting and a lot more sitting down becomes the order of the day. Driving the first train for 70 years into the long tunnel at the south end of the Aberglaslyn Pass brought a lump to even this cynical throat, despite it involving sitting under a torrent of freezing water pouring from the roof.

Thereís only a small number of people who can lay claim to having played a part in the reconstruction of a railway closed for the best part of a century. The rebuilt Welsh Highland - the actual bits of stone, wood and steel we put there with our own hands - will be there for a hundred years or more, giving pleasure to literally millions of passengers.

There may be better legacies, but being part of the team that made the Welsh Highland happen will do nicely for me, thanks.

Andrew Thomas joined the Rest of the World tracklaying gang in 2006 and worked on rebuilding the Welsh Highland from Rhyd Ddu to Porthmadog. He enjoyed it so much he joined the company and now drives a desk rather than construction trains.

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