Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

Updated 04 July 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.

Below: some views of the regular North Wales scenes, from our regular contributors.






Forthcoming events

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.

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 accompaniment.

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 roll-top desk.

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 line.

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 Jones-Bridger)

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 occasion.

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 Frodsham.

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 service operates.

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 experience.

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 Shotton station:
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' D8 Penyghent 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 vacuum pump.

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' weekend 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 of the 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.

[Roger's fine book The Chester to Denbigh Railway which contains much about Mold Junction and its shed, is available now.]

The Saltburn Snowdonian

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 47 270 Swift.

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 Youdan

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. We had made a party booking on the 10:30 departure from Llanberis (above). Hunslet number 10 Yeti was to be our engine.

Arrival at the summit gave an opportunity to get a photo of our engine alongside steam loco number 6 Padarn, 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 development there.

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 141 unit.

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

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