This site is dedicated to all our regular contributors and supporters,
and especially the all rail staff of North Wales. Below: some views of the
regular North Wales scenes, from our regular contributors.
July 2010 Friday 16 July
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.
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.
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
So many pictures were received of the visit to our area on 26 June by
37 409 and inspection saloon 'Caroline' that we could not resist
creating a slideshow on YouTube with appropriate(?) musical
DMUs at Llangollen
The Llangollen Railway DMU gala on 26-27 June was a great success
thanks to glorious weather and good support, particularly on the
Saturday when the railfans turned out in numbers. The star attraction
was the German Diesel Railbus M79964 from Worth Valley Railway making a
rare appearance away from home - the first to another preserved line.
The Waggon & Maschinenbau 4 wheeler, 56 seater is seen above at
Berwyn on Sunday about to depart to Llangollen. Picture by George Jones.
With a near half hourly service operating through the day
Berwyn was seeing trains pass at 15 - 20 minutes intervals in the peak
of the day as five DMU sets, plus the steam auto train ran a multiple
service on the Dee Valley line. Nothing like this in BR days!
A contrast in front ends at Carrog: the railbus and the steam push-pull
train. (George Jones) On
Saturday the railbus ran 'full and standing' with railfans anxious for
a ride. On Sunday lesser numbers allowed for more leisurely travel and
those attending probably sought to get away from a big event
taking place elsewhere involving 22 men and a ball. The railbus showed
it could cope with light traffic numbers but did not have the capacity
to cope with peaks, one of the reasons why they were not as successful
as had been hoped on rural lines.
Above, the interior, showing the bus-type accommodation also
the driver's cubby-hole - similar to the 158 in terms of isolation!
However the unobstructed front window gives a great view forward,
better even than a normal DMU when the blinds aren't drawn. In the
German Railways railbuses on which this design was based, the driver is
not cut off from the passengers, and the controls were in a lockable
It is interesting to note that when the Ruabon to Barmouth line was
under threat in 1964 local rail staff suggested the line be worked by
railbuses but the idea was turned down by British Railways management
as not having sufficient speed to maintain section timings and an
inability to carry numbers adequate to meet costs for the length of
Former BR guard Mike Smith from Stockport visited Llangollen to renew
his acquaintance with the German railbus. He knew it in the early 1960s
when it worked the branches from Witham in Essex and regaled us with
stories of passengers sharing the limited accommodation with the cargo
of fish. He is seen here the left with LR Guard Allen Chatwood and
Worth Valley driver Chris Smyth at Carrog. (George Jones)
After the closure of the Essex branches, and a brief stay on the Alston
branch, this this vehicle was seen much nearer to Stockport, as along
with 79961 it saw service on the Miller Dale - Buxton branch, taking
over from the Park Royal railbuses previously tried. It worked in the
Peak District from summer 1966 until withdrawal in spring 1967 after
the Millers Dale service ceased to run. (Although your compiler never
managed a ride, as my visits to the line found a normal DMU in use for
the handful of passengers on offer.) Of the five of this type
built, four still exist in preservation. Of the various railbuses built
by different manufacturers in the 1950s, these were potentially the
most useful, as they were the only ones fitted with standard buffers
and couplers, giving them the potential to haul one of two wagons,
although this was never seriously tried. (See the superb Railcar
Association website for a full story.)
Above, The railbus at Carrog on 26 June, as the LR's own unique Class
109 unit arrives with the 14:00 from Llangollen. (Chris Jones-Bridger)
Glyndyfrdwy, with Class 104 unit 50454 / 50528 working 14:25 from
Llangollen, showing the destination 'Buxton' - this type was much more
familiar to Buxton area passengers than German railbuses, the type
having been used on the service to Manchester Piccadilly from their
construction 1957 until replaced by Class 108s in the 1980s, and indeed
also sometimes on the Millers Dale branch. Picture by Chris Jones-Bridger.
This particular unit worked for many years (with a centre trailer car)
on the Buxton line, and on Saturday May 6 1989, as M53454 +
M59187 + M53528 (these vehicles were latterly renumbered from the 50xxx
series to 53xxx to avoid clashes in the Tops computer database) it
formed the 'Buxton 104 Farewell', an
express run from Manchester Piccadilly to Buxton and return, as part of
an event to mark the changeover to Class 150s. The picture from our old
slide box shows this train shunting between platforms at Buxton, with
its 'B3' headcode specially simulated for the occasion. The unit was
one of the last in BR service, having been latterly reduced to two
cars, and allocated to Chester. It came to Llangollen in 1993.
The hybrid 127/105 unit departs Glyndyfrdwy with 16:25 Llangollen
- Carrog, Class 127 M51618 leading. Note the 'Corwen' destination
display. Much more information about the railway's railcars can be
found on the Llangollen
Railcars website. (Chris
The gala event was a great success and thanks are due to all
the Llangollen Railway
staff from all departments who came together to put on the event with
its intensive timetable and the railfans and public who supported
The Halton Curve special - report by John Hobbs
The North Cheshire Rail
Users' Group, in conjunction with its
twentieth anniversary, requested that Northern Rail make special
arrangements on 26 June to extend the 07:53 Chester to Runcorn train to
Liverpool South Parkway and for it to call additionally at Helsby and
We are pleased that Northern were able to comply with this request and
the event went off very smoothly; 66 interested passengers
travelled over Halton Curve on the 'Parliamentary Train'; they were
supported by Mark Barker, Customer Stakeholder Manager from Northern, a
Driver Manager and an on-train customer support attendant as well as
Driver Dave McGuire and Conductor Steve Peers of Liverpool depot, who
posed for Mark Youdan's camera
at Chester before departure.
Incidentally, the train does not appear in the Great Britain Timetable
(GBTT) this year; Mark Barker explained that this was due to the large
number of errors in the summers timetable and the fact that Halton
Curve does not fall into any timetable slot; however he pointed out; it
does appear in the Northern Trains timetable leaflet No15; in addition;
if interrogated the national railway computer also advises that the
Enquiries at Chester revealed that the 07:53 train was destined for
ALLERTON, so that was different and raised a few smiles! However
it proved possible to by tickets from Chester to Liverpool South
Parkway at very reasonable prices £2.90 with a “Senior Railcard”!
At Chester, elements from the Shrewsbury - Chester Rail Users
Association (SCRUA), the Branch Line Society (BLS), Mid-Cheshire Rail
Users Association (MCRUA), and also representatives of Cheshire
West & Cheshire (CWAC) Council were ready for this unique
Above, the passengers pose with 150
148 at Liverpool South Parkway. Helsby's contingent included
members of Helsby Parish Council and Fran Miller representing her
husband Andrew Miller; at Frodsham 'The Mayor' greeted the train while
representatives of Frodsham Town Council joined it; furthermore Steve
Eccles and colleagues from Halton Council also joined us, for the ride
over Halton Curve to Runcorn Main Line. The importance of elected
representatives and council officers on the Halton curve service cannot
be over stated as it all adds to the impact of the Chester to Liverpool
Airport Project (CLARP).
The train ran on time and even carried one additional 'normal'
passenger from Runcorn to Liverpool South Parkway (LSP also formerly
known as Allerton!) and it also unusually arrived at platform four.
Mark Barker had made arrangements for a headboard to be produced for
the train which proved to be the first scheduled train from
Chester to the new Liverpool South Parkway station, replica headboards
were presented to Janet Briggs (NCRUG Chairman) and Christine Garner
from Cheshire West & Chester(CWAC) on arrival at Liverpool South
Parkway. Above, Christine Garner and Mark Barker show off the headboard.
Once all the photography was completed and the empty stock had
departed; passengers were guided to the refreshment bar where cups of
tea and bacon sandwiches etc were enjoyed; this being due to the
necessarily early start required to travel over Halton Curve. At
9.30, fully refreshed, we all enjoyed a guided tour; by the
Assistant Station Manger, of the facilities at LSP which took us to all
the platforms and covered the environmental aspects of the station and
the modification undertaken since its completion. These included
increased car parking facilities, a luxury waiting lounge and a more
user-friendly travel centre.
Arrangements for return to originating stations required road transport
and John Oates of MCRUA kindly provided two vintage single-decker
Crosville buses for the return journey. LFM 759 (right, above), built
in 1950, is a Bristol LL6B type, whilst LFM 810 is one of the wider
LWL6B examples from 1951. Due to lane closures on the road bridge it
was thought prudent to have these vehicles waiting at Runcorn (Main
Line) station; the participants therefore reached Runcorn (Main Line)
on the 10:44 London Midland Service to Birmingham.
After a suitable interlude for photographs we departed in 1950s style
to Chester, calling at Frodsham and Helsby; passengers were given the
chance to swap vehicles at Frodsham so that they could 'cop' both
buses! Much amusement was caused en-route by potential passengers
attempting to flag us down; I know it was Chester race day but do the
public really think that sixty year old half-cab buses, in Crosville
livery, provide stage carriage services on this route?
Thanks to John Oates for providing the vintage vehicles, Northern Rail
for making the necessary arrangements with Network Rail,
Merseytravel for their support and tour of Liverpool South Parkway,
Arriva Trains Wales for facilities at Chester, London Midland for their
assistance, Halton Borough Council, Frodsham Town Council, Helsby
Parish Council and Chester West and Cheshire and all other bodies who
supported this venture.
Finally our thanks to Cedric Green who put the whole plan together and
is presently recuperating from a sudden illness; get well soon Cedric,
we need to do this again next year!
Chester to Liverpool
thoughts - a viewpoint by Nigel Green
I read the item on the Chester to Liverpool South Parkway one way
service with interest. I have always wondered why the Merseyrail
electric service has never been extended beyond Chester to go round via
Runcorn to Liverpool South Parkway and then onto Southport (along the
current Hunts Cross to Southport line).
This would create a service that served a larger area and enabled easy
access to Runcorn Helsby etc, though it would be a long journey for
the Train; Southport to Liverpool loop then back round to Southport
(i.e. trains terminate at Southport not Chester). Also the Wirral
Line Ellesmere Port service continue onto Helsby to come around onto
this new line to terminate at Southport.
This to me is a way of integrating a larger part of the Mersey area,
and give passengers access to just having to get one train between
home, work and pleasure.
Carnival at Dolwyddelan - report by Larry Davies
On Saturday 26 June, along with colleagues at the Ffestiniog and Welsh
Highland Railways, the Conway Valley Rail Partnership and Arriva Trains
Wales were invited to exhibit and participate in the Annual Carnival at
Dolwyddelan, a village that has a strong tradition of Welsh culture and
in its heart has a fond place for the railway.
It was a glorious day and the exhibition and information marquee had
many interested visitors and true to form the local station adopters
had risen to the occasion and the station and former goods yard was a
sheer delight with a wealth of floral colour the subject of high
praises. It was the 'Cylch yr Ifanc' Group from this village that
won the overall award in the Arriva Trains Wales station adopters
(North Wales and Borders) 2010 Awards for the best station garden
tended with loving care.
600 minutes early!
Recent changes to the software of the Live
Departure Boards on the National Rail site can lead too some very
odd displays at times. The following was copied from the site by Bob
Hargreaves on the afternoon of 9 June, being a live departures list for
Due Destination Status
16:55 Wrexham Central 16:57 2 mins late 16:59 Manchester Piccadilly 17:17 18 mins late 17:00 Bidston 17:03 3 mins late 17:04 Llandudno 17:07 3 mins late 17:35 Holyhead 17:44 9 mins late 17:58 Manchester Piccadilly On time 18:04 Llandudno 08:04 600 mins early 18:09 Wrexham Central 18:11 2 mins late 18:13 Bidston 18:15 2 mins late
No doubt the 600-minutes early running is the result of a typing error
... but more seriously, something thing that's changed about this
service is that 'On Time' is now shown as the default status. It's
necessary to choose the 'details' link to find out whether the train
has in fact begin its journey on time, unless a platform number
is shown; this also indicates that the information is 'genuine.'
Apparently this is because the data is now taken from a different, and
supposedly more accurate, source than before.
Mold Junction turntable revived - report by Roger Carvell
On 24 March, the turntable which was once located at Mold Junction
shed, was restored and recommissioned at Rowsley South, on the line of Peak Rail, which has a 3½
mile section of track running northwards from Matlock (Riverside) to
Darley Dale and Rowsley South. The revived line forms part of the
former Midland Railway main line from Derby to Manchester which closed
in the 1960s. Class 44 1Co-Co-1 'Peak' D8Penyghent was used for
static loading tests, followed by Class 37 Co-Co 37 152 for the dynamic tests which
involved turning the locomotive by hand and using the
The turntable passed with flying colours and on May 1, Pete Waterman
formally opened it for the business with restored crimson lake Class 8F
2-8-0 8624, the first steam
locomotive in 44 years to use it. 8624 has since left Peak Rail and in
early May the long-serving Willesden engine was at the East Lancashire
Railway for a short visit. Peak Rail now relies on an 0-6-0 'J94
style' Hunslet saddle tank for steam haulage but there are several main
line diesels to hand and a large collection of BR shunters, which will
feature in an 'Anything Goes'
on 10-11 July.
The turntable shows a very high standard of restoration, resting on the
original Rowsley shed turntable pit. Built by Cowans Sheldon, the
60ft turntable was first installed in March 1937 at Mold Junction, as
part of an LMS programme of modernising motive power depots to take the
new bigger (and longer) Stanier-design steam locomotives. After closure
shed in April 1966 the turntable lay derelict for many years but it was
removed in 1983 and taken first to Buxton and then to Darley Dale and
finally to its latest resting place, Rowsley South. Rowsley South takes
its name from the signal box that once stood on the site.
Interestingly, Mold Junction engine men once worked to Rowsley as part
of a daily freight turn.
The 'Saltburn Snowdonian' was a weekend excursion from Saltburn on the
east coast to Llandudno arriving on 18 June. It was running 80 minutes
late when photographed by Stavros
Lainas at Ashley at 15:00. Lead loco is 47 270Swift.
In Platform 3 at Llandudno after arrival from Saltburn. 47 851 at the other end will haul
the train away (Richard Billingsley)
The train returned empty for servicing, and re-appeared at Llandudno on
21 June to collect its passengers for the return journey to Saltburn.
Different locos were used, 47 804
is seen leading the empty stock at Llandudno Junction, with 57 601 at the rear. (Peter Lloyd.)
The empty stock arriving at Llandudno (Route19)
Who's this in the engine room? (Route19)
The train returned to sunny Saltburn behind 57 601 as 1Z47 10:30 from Llandudno,
seen from the Maesdu footbridge departing Llandudno for Saltburn (Route19) ...
... seen again at Prestatyn. (Richard
Billingsley) Organiser was the appropriately-named Saltburn Railtours.
Have I mentioned that the train was from Saltburn?
North Wales with the Merseyside Bus Club - report by Mark
This year saw the seventeenth annual holiday organised by the Merseyside Bus
Club, which over the years has visited most corners of Britain and
Ireland. While, as the name suggests the main interest is to see,
photograph and ride on buses of interest, there is usually some sort of
rail involvement as the organiser is also a railway enthusiast. This
year's holiday was based in Llandudno for three nights and Shrewsbury
for two nights. Our main tour vehicle (above) was ex Royal Blue Bristol
RE / ECW 837 SUO, which is now
owned by Classic
Coaches North West and superbly restored to a very high standard.
Our first rail related visit was on the first day of the holiday,
Sunday 23 May, to the Rhyl Miniature
Railway where a private train was laid on for us after the end of
normal running. Joan did the
honours, giving us two circuits of the lake, which included a non stop
run through the station. Our host informed is that this was only the
second occasion this had been done!
The next day, Monday 24 May, as part of the holiday we had a trip on
the Snowdon Mountain Railway.
made a party booking on the 10:30 departure from Llanberis
(above). Hunslet number 10Yeti was to be our engine.
Arrival at the summit gave an opportunity to get a photo of our engine
alongside steam loco number 6Padarn, which had worked the
previous departure from Llanberis ...
... and was just about to depart from the summit.
This view shows how the summit stations fits in to the new building
We were blessed with some excellent weather, as this picture shows.
After our descent, we were met by the unusual sight of a former London
Transport Routemaster, RML 2446, which was to take our party on the
next leg of our journey to Penygwryd Hotel via the Llanberis Pass ...
... where we were to board Pardarn's open top Leyland Atlantean for the
return run to Llanberis ...
... which has to be one of the most scenic open top bus journeys in the
country. For more pictures of the holiday, see my Fotopic site.
Conwy Valley marks National Carers Week - by Larry Davies
On 16 June Arriva Trains Wales and the Conwy Valley rail partnership
were pleased to host a party of some 25 carer’s from the Conwy Carers
Outreach Service on a trip on the beautiful Conwy Valley Line from
Llandudno to Blaenau Ffestiniog, where they met their counterparts from
parts of Gwynedd over lunch.
It was a glorious day and they enjoyed the scenic splendour of the
valley at its best. As Community Rail Officer for the line, it was a
pleasure to have these people, who give so much to others, with us for
the trip – a really enjoyable day.
On the Weardale Railway - with Chris Jones-Bridger
This picture was taken at Stanhope on the Weardale Railway between
Bishop Auckland and Stanhope on 23 June. North Wales interest is
provided by the use of Class 141 railbus 141 113. Although native to
West Yorkshire when in BR service, this unit is preserved by the
Llangollen Railway Railcar group. It is normally found at Butterley but
is on loan to the Weardale railway while repairs are made to their own
Daily services have been provided from Bishop Auckland (West station is
400 metres from the National Rail station which is served by trains
from Darlington) since reopening on 23rd May this year. Basic Services
are provided by railcar: from Sunday 11th July the service will be
augmented each weekend using '1950s coaches hauled by heritage steam or
diesel locomotives.' Return Adult fare is a reasonable £5.50 with
a supplement payable for heritage loco-hauled services. Timetables and
further information can be found at weardale-railway.org.uk.