Hysbysfwrdd Rheilffordd Arfordir Gogledd Cymru

A New Year's Day view from near the site of the old 'Hotel 70 Degrees' at Old Colwyn, as an unidentified class 175 passes on the 11:20 Cardiff Central - Holyhead on 1 January. Picture by David Parry.

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04 January 2010

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Club 55 rides again
Interesting news from Arriva Trans Wales is that their 'Club 55' bargain offer for travellers over 55 is to be available again from 10 January to 19 March. With Club 55 you can travel anywhere on the Arriva Trains Wales network - even Holyhead to Milford Haven - for a remarkable £15 return (£13 for Senior Railcard holders.)  Full details are on the ATW website.

New Year 'Drag'

The Saturdays-only operation of trains 1D83 London - Holyhead, and 1A55 14:36 Holyhead - London, with Pendolino trains which need haulage by diesel loco west of Crewe, continues into 2010. The picture above, by Paul Williams, shows 57 302 Virgil Tracy at Crewe on 2 January, waiting for its train to arrive from London.

Attached to 390 032 City of Birmingham, and ready to go. The two drivers (one to drive the loco and one in the 390 to handle the on-train services and computer) have a discussion before departure. The details of the working are:

1D83 08:50 London Euston - Crewe (add loco 10:35 - 10:50) Holyhead 12:56
1A55 14:36 Holyhead - Crewe (detach loco 16:43 - 16:57) - London Euston 18:36

Arrival at Llandudno Junction (Peter Lloyd) ...

... and departure (Peter Lloyd.)

Some time later, Richard Fleckney was at the level crossing at Llanfair PG to photograph the return train for us. The London train is preceded by the 14:23 Holyhead to Cardiff  (taken at 1/400th sec, F5.6.) Thirteen minutes is the shortest practical headway between trains out of Holyhead because of the long block sections.

13 Minutes later, 57 302 and 390 032 roll by eastbound (1/100th sec, F4)  then for Richard Fleckney a quick dash to Pringle's for a cup of hot tea and bun while the rain came down.

Looking back at 2009 - with 'Route19'

Ten favourite images from the 'Route19' train archive from 2009, to commemorate the passing of the year and the decade. Above: 150 253 leaving Betws-y-Coed for Blaenau Ffestiniog, working the 13:20 from Llandudno. 2 January.

175 114, then still in FirstGroup colours, arriving at Llandudno past Maesdu Golf Course, a favourite location of mine, working the 08:50 from Manchester on 14 March.

158 841 and 150 217 at Llandudno, having worked the 16:50 from Manchester and about to work the 19:03 to Blaenau respectively, on 30 April (The 150 came from Chester to replace a failed unit).

Network Rail unit 950 001 near Deganwy. A lucky sighting at Llandudno Junction allowed me to get this shot on 27 May.

175 116 passing Maesdu Golf Course in glorious evening sunshine working the 19:42 Llandudno a- Manchester on 22 June.

158 830 near Deganwy working the 11:40 Llandudno- Llandudno Junction, in a period of when there were three 158s in a row on Sundays. This is 28 June.

66 053 and 67 029 on the banks of the river Conwy working a Coventry - Blaenau Ffestiniog 'Northern Belle' charter on 22 July.

45231 at Tal-y-Cafn in 1955... not quite! It is in fact a Preston - Blaenau Ffestiniog charter on 5 August 2009.

57 307 Lady Penelope  and 390 012 Virgin Star at Prestatyn; my only shot of a Pendolino this year.
It is the 08:50 London - Holyhead on Saturday 8 August.

D1015 Western Champion makes history as it passes Tal-y-Cafn on the Didcot Parkway - Blaenau Ffestiniog charter, bringing 'Maybach Music' to the branch for the first time, on 19 September.

Christmas on the (other) GWR

27 December on the Gloucester Warwickshire Railway was a 'festive diesel day' featuring a good selection of preserved locos. Above, 47 105 looks good in standard 'corporate' blue with working headcode display. Picture by Richard Putley.

At the other end of the train, 47 376 Freightliner 1995 carries the first version of Freightliner livery. Both 47s are owned by the Brush Type 4 Fund, along with 47 746 which is currently store at Long Marston.

Among stock stored in the yard was a steam heat boiler van, bought from Irish Railways where it was their no. 3188. This started life as a BR Southern region Mk 1 Brake Second coach. which was converted to a boiler van about 30 years ago, and sold to Ireland. It is intended for use when diesels without their own steam-heat boilers are required to pull the GWR's coaches which are steam-heated only; it has been mounted on standard-gauge bogies in place of the 5 foot 3 inch-gauge Irish ones, but we understand that further work is required before it can be used.

Also in service was The Growler Group's 37 215 (above, by Richard Putley) top 'n tailed by 20 137.

Brake-van rides with shunter traction were also available. This is D4157 - on the other end is 08 683. (Richard Putley)

Resident on the GWR is 24 081, a loco of particular interest to North Wales fans as it was a regular performer on our lines before withdrawal by British Rail, and also spent many years on the Llangollen Railway before moving to the GWR.  (Picture by Barrie Hughes.) The headboard carries 'Resistance is Futile' the catchphrase of the 'Borg' beings in the 'Star Trek Next Generation' TV series and the film 'First Contact', who bore a certain resemblance to the security staff who patrol Merseyrail trains, although that is probably not the reason for the name.)

Blast from the Past - by Barrie Hughes

And here indeed is 24 081 (right) at Llandudno Junction on 12 June 1977, as, paired with a 25, it shunts off a Main Line Steam Trust 'North Wales Land Cruise' special from Kettering and Leicester. This clockwise tour, taking in the Cambrian and Ffestiniog, was matched with an anti-clockwise tour the same day.

And some more 24s: above, on 28 July 1977 24 023 is seen 'light engine' at Rhyl.

Also on 28 July 1977, 24 091 is shunting coal wagons at Blaenau Ffestiniog, with the Crosville bus depot in view on the site of the old loco shed. A 'Park Royal' railcar set, common in the area at that time, stands in the North station, at the time the terminus of the passenger service, and now disused, since the current Central station opened in 1982.

On 30 (or 31) July 1977, 24 087 leads 25 043 on a Permanent Way train through Chester station.

[Mention of 1977 brings to mind the large and impressive 'Mostyn' exhibition layout built by the Barrowmore Model Railway Group which recreates the Coast in the summer of that year in 1:76 scale.]

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