Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

14 June 2010

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This site is dedicated to all our regular contributors and supporters, and especially the all rail staff of North Wales.

Forthcoming events

June 2010

26-27 June.  Llangollen Railway Heritage Railcar Gala. An intensive service with the resident railcars and a special visitor - a German-built railbus - plus the steam autotrain.

July 2010      

Friday 16 July Excursion Compass Tours to EDINBURGH (via WCML) Picks up: Hereford, Leominster, Ludlow, Craven Arms, Shrewsbury, Gobowen, Wrexham General, Chester, Frodsham & Warrington Bank Quay Expected to be hauled by class 67s.

24-25 July. Llangollen Railway Ivor the Engine weekend with a return visit from the Welsh engine for a fun weekend. Includes Ivor the Engine in Concert on Saturday evening.

26-30 July: Cambrian Steam: 44871 Machynlleth - Porthmadog or Pwllheli and return.

Wednesday 28 July Conwy Valley Steam: Railway Touring Company. The Welsh Mountaineer Preston - Blaenau Ffestiniog.

31 July-1 August. Llangollen Railway 1960s weekend. Intensive service with a mix of steam, diesel and railcars with opportunity to appear in period dress.

August 2010

2-30 August, Mondays - Fridays only: Cambrian Steam: 44871 Machynlleth - Porthmadog or Pwllheli and return.

7-15 August. Llangollen Railway Day out with Thomas (again) the summer time visit by No.1 and friends.

Sunday 8 August Excursion Compass Tours to SKIPTON & KEIGHLEY (out via Bentham, return S&C + Shap) Picks up: Holyhead, Llanfairpwll, Bangor, Llandudno Junction, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl, Flint, Chester, Frodsham & Warrington Bank Quay. Expected to to be hauled by a class 67.

Sunday 8 August Steam on the Coast. Railway Touring Company. The North Wales Coast Express. Liverpool - Holyhead

Wednesday 11 August Conwy Valley Steam: Railway Touring Company. The Welsh Mountaineer Preston - Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Wednesday 18 August Conwy Valley Steam: Railway Touring Company. The Welsh Mountaineer Preston - Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Sunday 22 August Steam on the Coast. Railway Touring Company. The North Wales Coast Express. Liverpool - Holyhead

Wednesday 25 August Conwy Valley Steam: Railway Touring Company. The Welsh Mountaineer Preston - Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Monday 30 August Excursion Compass Tours to DURHAM + optional add-on tour via Hartlepool to Newcastle (routes covered include Cumbrian Coast, Tyne Valley, ECML, Aire Valley & Hellifield to Carnforth) Picks up: Crewe, Hooton (after runnning round), Ellesmere Port, Frodsham, Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster & Carnforth This train is booked to feature D1015 Western Champion throughout.

See the Calendar page for more details.

37/4 to the fore: 37 423 Spirit of the Lakes, with 37 607, approaches Shrewsbury with the 'Powys Chugger' railtour of 5 June. Picture by Stavros Lainas. Lots more loco pictures below!

North Wales LocoFest

Saturday 5 June 2010, a fine summer's day, was notable for the remarkable number of locomotive-hauled trains to be found running on the National Rail lines covered by our site in the course of the day, and the variety of traction classes involved. In summary:

One Class 57/3 on the London - Holyhead Virgin Pendolino turn;
Two Class 57/3s on an extra Holyhead-Cardiff for the rugby match;
Two Class 66s on a Compass Tours excursion from Holyhead to Cardiff (it was thought - see later) via the Central Wales line;
Two Class 47s on an excursion from Grantham to Blaenau Ffestiniog;
Two Class 37s on a railtour from Bristol to Welshpool and Newtown;
One Class 67 on each of the three Wrexham & Shropshire service diagrams;

Most of these, as well as some of the less glamorous trains of the day, were captured by our faithful contributors: thanks as always to them, and indeed everyone involved in the running of the trains, for what follows.

To the Conwy Valley

The Grantham - Blaenau Ffestiniog excursion, organised by a company new to us,, headed west along the coast with two West Coast Railways locos top-n-tailing: 47 826 hauling, and 47 804 riding on the rear. We pick it up at Bunbury between Crewe and Chester at 10:24 (Stavros Lainas)

Passing the semaphore signals on the approach to Abergele, with some 'clag' in evidence (Andrew Vinten)

Arrived at Llandudno Junction (Larry Davies). The train reversed here to access the Conwy Valley branch, giving 47 804 the chance to attack the gradients with the heavy train. Departure from here was 15 minutes earlier than the times obtained by some contributors who thus missed the chance of a picture.

47 804 gingerly passes the roadworks for the A470 road deviation just to the north of North Llanrwst station. (Richard Billingsley)

150 230 calls at the lonely outpost of Roman Bridge working the 13:20 Llandudno - Blaenau Ffestiniog. (Richard Billingsley)

The excursion in North Llanrwst station, waiting for the branch train to clear the single line section south. (Richard Billingsley)

Passing the platform of Blaenau Ffestiniog North station, which closed when the current joint station with the Ffestiniog Railway opened in 1982 (Greg Mape). The station building, built in the 1950s, survived until quite recently in decrepit condition.

47 804 winds the train round the curves on the approach to Blaenau Ffestiniog station. (Richard Billingsley) This short section of line connecting the LNWR and GWR lines was only built in 1960, to enable trains to reach Trawsfynydd nuclear power station after closure of the line from Bala. 

Arrival at Blaenau. as seen by Ffestiniog Railway staff member Phil Brown.

47 826 still has the awful Scarborough Spa Express advert plastered over one side, seen in the loop at Blaenau. (Richard Billingsley)

47 804 near the current end of line at Blaenau Ffestiniog (Greg Mape)

Ready for departure (Phil Brown)

The return working at Colwyn Bay, with 47 804 leading (Stéphanie Durrant)


The 'WAG Express' stock, minus the mk3 buffet car and with two extra standard class coaches, was used on 5 June for a relief working from Holyhead to Cardiff and back in connection with the Wales vs South Africa rugby match. Above, 57 315 leads the train past Abergele, with 57 313 on the rear. (Andrew Vinten)

Passing Bunbury between Chester and Crewe at 09:55 (Stavros Lainas)

57 313 enters Rhyl with the evening return working (Richard Billingsley)...

... now with 57 315 dead in tow on the rear (Richard Billingsley). Wales lost the match 31-34, by the way.

Compass to the Heart of Wales

Conwy Town Clock is just about to strike 7am as 66 056 bursts out of the Conwy Tube with the Compass Tours  'Heart of Wales'  excursion on the glorious morning of 5 June. (Larry Davies)

Arrival at Rhyl. Picture by Roly High, who travelled on the train (see below)

Heading along the sea wall an Ffynnongroew (Andrew Vinten). This train had a more uniform rake of coaches than some recent excursions, albeit in de-branded Virgin livery.

Passing Hargrave on the Chester - Crewe line (Stavros Lainas)

The advertised destination of the train was Cardiff, but when it was realised that there would be two rival political protest demonstrations there, by organisations which have clashed with the police in other cities,  as well as the Rugby match, it was agreed and arranged between Compass Tours, Network Rail, DB Schenker,and Arriva Trains Wales to divert the train to Carmarthen with a call at Kidwelly where the passengers could spend their break in peace. Well done to the all concerned for making this change at short notice. Roly High's picture, from a pedestrian crossing, shows 66 056 after arrival at Carmarthen.

66 090 ready to lead the return train (Roly High). Behind the loco is a vehicle equipped with a diesel generator to power the train heating, etc, as steam locos, and also Class 66 diesels which are designed for freight duty, no not have this facility. It is Riviera Trains Mk2b coach 17105, built in 1969 as a brake compartment first class carriage. It was converted in 1977 for Royal Train use as a 'Royal Couchette & Generator Coach' and re-numbered 2905. A sister vehicle, 2920 (ex-17109), converted in 1986, runs in the current Royal Train.

The loco and first coaches were well of the platform at Carmarthen before departure, which would have prevented the use of the starter signal. Is this why the 'not to be moved' flag was attached? (Roly High)

The returning train (above) running into Rhyl, with 66 090 now at the helm. (Richard Billingsley)

66 090 prepares to head west from Rhyl.  (Richard Billingsley)

The following day, the train ran empty back towards Crewe, seen from a high viewpoint passing Mochdre (Peter Lloyd)

The Pendolino Drag

As is usual on Saturdays, the 1D83 08:50 London Euston - Holyhead and
1A55 14:36 Holyhead - London Euston featured haulage of a Class 59 'Pendolino' by a Class 57/3 diesel over the non-electrified section between Crewe and Holyhead. The 'down' train passed Stavros Lainas at Bunbury at 10:57 (above).

This picture by Andrew Vinten from the path to the foot crossing on the Ty Gwyn caravan park near Abergele.  In the cab with the driver is one of the winners of our recent charity cab-ride auction; incidentally 'our man from Virgin Trains' completed the London Marathon in a creditable 3 hours 40 minutes.

Locomotive in both directions was 57 311 Parker and the train 390 032 City of Birmingham. Older readers may remember an earlier bearer of this name, a sister loco to Duchess of Sutherland, being a regular performer on this line. The picture of the return train at Waverton is by Stavros Lainas.

The Powys Chugger

Star of the Cambrian Lines on 5 June was an enthusiasts' tour run by Pathfinder with one of their silly names 'The Powys Chugger.' Is their an obscure pub in there somewhere? In this case we had a contributor, Richard Putley on board the train as well as at the lineside. Pictures and text are by Richard unless otherwise shown.

The tour started from Bristol hauled by 59 202 and I joined it at Chippenham. We then picked up at Swindon (above), where we were booked to wait for ten minutes to allow an HST to overtake us.

We continued on to Oxford and Banbury (above), where we were again looped to allow both a Cross Country Voyager and a down Wrexham and Shropshire train (with 67 014 Thomas Telford)to overtake us. I saw 66 542 on a southbound Freightliner train there, and a Chiltern class 165 DMU was in the up bay awaiting departure for Marylebone. Heading north we passed another charter train, hauled by a 67. We also passed several container trains, all hauled by 66s though one of them was a DB Schenker one.

This station still retains semaphore signals, some of them GWR pattern lower quadrants.

Further pick-ups were made at Leamington Spa, then were looped at Kenilworth to allow a northbound Voyager to overtake us,  Coventry and Birmingham International where 92 017 Bart the Engine resplendent in Eddie Stobart livery took over for the run to Bescot, where we ran through the down yard reception line (above)...

... and then on to Crewe Basford Hall Yard. Here a variety of both electric and diesel locos could be seen and  two DRS 37s, 37 423 Spirit of the Lakes and 37 607 replaced 92 017 and took us round the Gresty Curve and on to the Shrewsbury line.


As we left Crewe we saw a variety of locos stabled at the DRS depot in Gresty Lane (above), including members of classes 20, 37 and 47.

George Jones photographed the passing Whitchurch.

We ran through Shrewsbury station without stopping but we were held briefly at Sutton Bridge Junction, which provided an opportunity to photograph the three class 97/3’s that were stabled there including 97 304 John Tiley. Most people on the tour opted to get off at Welshpool and visit the Welshpool and Llanfair Railway; I gather they had the Rumanian 0-8-0T for haulage.

But I continued on to Newtown (above), the tour’s final destination. We had a break of an hour and half but this gave ample time to both get refreshment and film the locos running round. The crew also very obligingly positioned the train in the up platform so we could photograph the locos alongside the well-maintained station canopy.  Return from Newtown was at 16:15; we left on time and ran through centre road at Wellington.

At Bescot, 59 202 was attached to the rear of the train; we then reversed out of Bescot an up to Walsall then on the freight only Sutton Park line to Water Orton and thence to Nuneaton. We then returned to Coventry, passing a 'Black 5' steam loco with a support coach on the viaduct just outside Nuneaton, and to our respective set down stations; arrival at Chippenham was about 10 minutes early.

This view of the two locos at Newtown is by Andrew Vinten.

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