Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

06 June 2011

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Forthcoming events

June 2011
Sunday 19 June  Steam on the Coast:   Northern Belle Father's Day Special. Note: This was advertised as 'Crewe-Holyhead and return with 46201 Princess Elizabeth' but we believe it will now be diesel-hauled.

July 2011      

Saturday 2 July North Wales N Gauge Model Railway Club first Exhibition in Conwy. The show is dedicated to N Gauge and has appearances of layouts from Chester, Abergele and Caernarfon as well as the clubs' exhibition layouts. Opening hours are 10.00am to 4.00pm. The venue is St. Michael's church hall in Rosemary Lane, Conwy (off Lancaster Square in the heart of the town.)

2 & 3 July – Welsh Highland Heritage Railway, Porthmadog – Steam in the Sheds. 'Over a hundred very small steam engines will be on display and working in the Engine Sheds.  Some are so tiny they can almost fit into your hand!  Many of them will be working to show the power and magic of steam, whatever the size.  There’s also chance to have a ride behind a small steam engine on our miniature railway during the weekend.'

Tuesday 26 July Conwy Valley Steam: Railway Touring Company, 'The Welsh Mountaineer' Preston - Blaenau Ffestiniog.

August 2011

Note: The Railway Touring Company tours in August can also be booked together as a week's package which also includes steam trips on the 'Cumbrian Mountain Express' and 'The Cambrian'.

Sunday 7 August Steam on the Coast: 'The North Wales Coast Express' Railway Touring Company  Liverpool and Chester to  Colwyn Bay, Llandudno, Bangor and Holyhead. Hauled throughout, by one of  6100 Royal Scot,  6201 Princess Elizabeth, or 60019 Bittern.

Tuesday 9  August Conwy Valley Steam: Railway Touring Company, 'The Welsh Mountaineer' Preston - Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Sunday 14 August Steam on the Coast: 'The North Wales Coast Express' Railway Touring Company  Liverpool and Chester to  Colwyn Bay, Llandudno, Bangor and Holyhead. Hauled throughout, by one of  6100 Royal Scot,  6201 Princess Elizabeth, or 60019 Bittern.

Saturday 20 August Steam on the Coast: Vintage Trains Tyseley - Llandudno and return with 5043.

Sunday 21 August Steam on the Coast: 'The North Wales Coast Express' Railway Touring Company  Liverpool and Chester to  Colwyn Bay, Llandudno, Bangor and Holyhead. Hauled throughout, by one of  6100 Royal Scot,  6201 Princess Elizabeth, or 60019 Bittern.

Tuesday 23 August Conwy Valley Steam: Railway Touring Company, 'The Welsh Mountaineer' Preston - Blaenau Ffestiniog.

27, 28 & 29 August –August Bank Holiday Weekend Welsh Highland Heritage Railway, Porthmadog – Fun Whatever The Weather!
'Who cares if it rains over the Bank Holiday?  We’ve organised a special fun weekend, including chance to win a prize if you find the Welsh Dragons hiding in the Engine Sheds.' 
See the Calendar page for more details and later dates.

A slideshow recalling some of the interesting special trains which ran during May 2011. Pictures by M. Lloyd Davies.

Author seeks Class 40 picture

Steve Morris writes: I am currently compiling a new book covering English Electric traction between Chester and Holyhead. As part of this I am looking for an image of 40 195 en route from Crewe to Holyhead on a 15:05 Control Relief with a rake of Mk3 coaches. The date was 2 September 1983 and as far as I am aware it was the only class 40/Mk3 rake into Holyhead.

It worked back out with the empty stock to Edge Hill so a view of it on the return would also be of interest. I was on it, just by chance really, but did not have my camera! Got home and managed to get a shot of it leaving Holyhead, this image is in my Class 40's to Holyhead book but is not a particularly good one.

If anybody can help, Steve can be contacted at

On the 'Parliamentary' - report by Chris Coxon

Northern Rail 150 205 awaits departure from Chester at 07:55 on 4 June, a specially extended Parliamentary Service to Liverpool South Parkway, calling at Helsby, Frodsham, and Runcorn - the normal destination of this Summer-only weekly service, which runs over the Halton Curve, which legally has to have a passenger service, however minimal, to avoid the Parliamentary procedure required to close the line to passengers. The North Cheshire Rail Users' Group worked with Northern Rail to arrange this extended service, repeating a similar event in 2010. Interestingly, the Passenger Information Screens, at Chester, showed the destination of the service as being Allerton [the name of the station previously on the site of Liverpool South Parkway]. Also, interestingly, a Single Ticket, with Senior Railcard Reduction, travelling by this route, to Liverpool South Parkway, from Chester, costs £5.70, compared with the Merseyrail price of £3.40.

Voyager curiosities

Readers may recall that Virgin Trains recently disbanded one its four-car Class 221 trains, 221 144, placing the two end cars in 'warm storage' and using the two inner vehicles to make up the other two four-car sets to five cars. But it appears that a use for them has now been found as a static staff-training classroom: Peter Lloyd took this picture on 31 May of the 'mini-voyager' in Crewe's bay platform 8 with 57 314, which had perhaps shunted it into place. Apparently the unit cannot run under its own power in this form as it depends on the other vehicles for the supply of air for its brakes.

Tim Fenton, who took the above view on 1 June, reports: 'The set had its engines running when I arrived, and the displays suggested it was the 0709 to Edinburgh!'

And here's another of the red-and-silver machines in an odd place. Ash Rulton writes: 'I took the attached picture from the road bridge into Wrexham General's bays on the morning of Tuesday 31 May at 05:50.
I have never seen the morning Wrexham - London Voyager sitting here before, as it usually sits at Croes Newydd until it moves into platform 2 shortly after the departure of the 06:04 Arriva service to Chester. I don't think this has happened before.  The unit is 221 113.

'I know that residents of the neighbouring estate to the loop at Croes Newydd have long complained about the Voyager engines bumbling away for about an hour every weekday morning, maybe this is going to be the new solution, or was there a problem this particular morning. Either way, I would much rather be looking into the bays at the former Wrexham & Shropshire stock, this Voyager looks too smug.'

Would any other early risers care to comment? This procedure has the disadvantage that it requires the level crossing barriers to be lowered for the movement into the bay, and again to come out and reverse into platform 2; there are sometimes complaints about the frequency of the barriers closing, as Watery Road serves the hospital.

The bay platforms (known as a 'depot' in Wrexham & Shropshire days) have also found a use in the evenings when an empty train from the Bidston line lodges there, waiting to become the 20:49 local to Shrewsbury connecting with the Virgin service from Euston, as seen in the picture by George Jones showing 150 250 on 1 June.  It looks less impressive than a 67 and stock but does deny the statement by Arriva that they would have no use for the bays when they were brought back into use in 2008 - the Welsh Government paid some of the cost on the basis that the 'depot' could be used by companies other than W & S.
Unfortunately, trains cannot pick up customers in the bay platform and offer a cross-platform connection, as the points aren't passed for use by trains with passengers - so the 150 has to reverse out and cross over to platform 3 to pick up. The train servicing equipment remains redundant - the carriage watering hoses can be seen in the picture.


66 425, on 6J37, Carlisle Yard to Chirk, with Loaded Logs, crossing the River Dee, at Chester, between Roodee Junction, and Saltney Junction, at 18.49, on 3rd June, 2011. Following unloading, the loco, and empty wagons, moved to Ribblehead for loading there (Chris Coxon).

Andrew Vinten captured Colas Rail 47 739 hauling track machine DR73909 from Penrith to Rugby on 31 May.

Rhyl Miniature Railway centenary

In typical Bank Holiday weather, a number of our contributors braved the wind and rain showers at Rhyl on 28 May to witness the first day of the Centenary celebrations at the Rhyl Miniature Railway. The railway put on an excellent show with six locomotives, built by by Albert Barnes & Co of Rhyl to a design by Henry Greenly, back in town together. Gorsaf Ganolog translates as Central Station, by the way.

Of the six locos built by Barnes between 1920-30: Joan has been an stalwart in recent times; Michael - returned to steam on
RMR in 2011; Billy,  cosmetically restored, is based at RMR; John was visiting from the Evesham Vale Light Railway; Billie - unrestored, privately owned and visiting from Canterbury (never worked at Rhyl, built for use at Margate); Railway Queen is unrestored, and based at the RMR. It is recognisable by having two separate driving wheel splashers rather than the continuous LNWR-style splasher of the others.  The American-built Cagney loco, no. 44, has been based at the RMR since 2003.

Finally, there was  Prince Edward of Wales (above). This loco, visiting Rhyl from the Windmill Farm Railway in Lancashire, has a confusing history, having first taken to rails as recently as 1991. It was re-named for the occasion from Red Dragon to recognise that it contains some parts of the original Basset-Lowke Prince Edward of Wales which was used in the early years of the Rhyl line, before the construction of the first Barnes loco in 1920. As we understand it, the original, which worked on the Fairbourne Railway for a time, still exists in a rebuilt form in the USA. (Is that right?)

Above, Michael departs on a service train - he looked and sounded fine (Larry Davies).

A fine line up (Larry Davies).

Another view of the  line-up (Bob Greenalgh).

Billie looks rather forlorn: hopefully one day he'll look like the others (Larry Davies).


Michael and Joan double-head as the Saturday afternoon draws
on (Larry Davies).

The double-header heads for the lakeside (Bob Greenalgh).

Cagney 44 in full flight on its journey around the lake (Bob Greenalgh).

Michael running alongside the main line (Ian Pilkington)

Michael again (Ian Pilkington)

Joan in action (Ian Pilkington).  Special thanks are due to everyone at the RMR and elsewhere who made this remarkable event possible.

The view of the main line across the Marine Lake as 57 304 Gordon Tracy hauls 390 046 Virgin Soldiers past the lake at Rhyl heading for Holyhead.

Sunday 29 May on the RMR - report by Alan Crawshaw

We drove to Colwyn Bay to visit father-in-law, and Rowan and I wandered down to the station for the 13:42 Virgin departure from Colwyn Bay only to be told that the next train was 14:46, because the timetable had been "slightly amended" for the Bank Holiday. So a two-hour gap between up trains along the coast, which I thought was rather poor. Rather than hang about for an hour for a train to Rhyl, we scrounged a lift with the others, who were heading in that direction to a garden centre.

There were plenty of customers for the Rhyl Miniature Railway's centenary gala, and no long gaps between trains. Above, the scene that greeted our arrival.

Other delights you don't get with Virgin: the wind in your hair ...

...  George Formby songs,  and of course locomotive haulage.

The RMR's excellent website is worth reading for comprehensive information on its locomotives.  The American Cagney locomotive no. 44 is also celebrating its centenary, and I was amazed to read that around 1300 of this design were built.

Also in traffic were Joan and Michael, operating both singly and also, as in the photo, in tandem.

Model railway Exhibition in Conwy

The North Wales N Gauge Model Railway Club is holding its first Exhibition in Conwy on Saturday 2 July.  The show is dedicated to N Gauge and has
appearances of layouts from Chester, Abergele and Caernarfon as well as the clubs' exhibition layouts. Opening hours are 10.00am to 4.00pm. The venue is St. Michael's church hall in Rosemary Lane, Conwy (off Lancaster Square in the heart of the town.)  The hall is a 50-yard stroll from Conwy Station, but for those who  insist on travelling by road there is car parking in the station car park which is 100 yards from the church hall.  The show is sponsored by Conwy Borough Council and Conwy Valley Railway Museum and will be officially opened by the  Mayor of Conwy at 11.00am.

Further information from John Lewis, Club Chairman, on 01492 572633.

Warrington freight variety - report by David Parry

I spent some time at Arpley Junction, Warrington on 27 May and was able to capture a variety of locos on the Fiddlers Ferry merry-go-round coal trains. Above, EWS 59 202 approaches Arpley Junction with empties to reverse at Latchford, returning via the Fiddlers Ferry line just over an hour later, presumably for Liverpool.

Two minutes later, Freightliner 66 511 takes the Fiddlers Ferry line with a loaded train.

Freightliner 70 004 approaches Arpley Junction from a loaded train from Ellesmere Port.

Having arrived off the West Coast Main Line from the north, EWS 60 040 has paused to change crew before heading for Latchford.

70 004, having run round at Latchford, takes its now-empty train back to Ellesmere Port.

The Ffestiniog Round Robin
We've been in touch with Arriva Trains Wales to clear up some misunderstandings that have occurred regarding the Ffestiniog Round Robin Ticket and its conditions as shown on their website.  There are two versions of this ticket; both are valid for one day (with no morning peak time restriction) and entitle the holder to travel on a circular route by Arriva Trains Wales trains only from one of the stations in the area described below with  one single journey in second class (either direction) on the Ffestiniog Railway. This costs £27 for an adult, £13.50 for a child, and £54 for a family of two adults and one or two children.

The lines of validity are shown on their PDF map: Pwllheli / Aberystwyth - Shrewsbury - Wrexham - Chester - Holyhead / Blaenau Ffestiniog / Llandudno, also Shotton - Wrexham and Chester - Crewe - Shrewsbury.

A version of the ticket (which unfortunately doesn't have a specific name) also exists, which combines the above with a return journey to the area from Birmingham, Manchester or Liverpool. This costs £32.00  adult,  £15.50 child or £64.00 Family. The routes you can use are shown on the map by broken lines: travel by other companies' trains is allowed on this part of the journey.

Discounts are available with the following railcards: Senior Railcard, Disabled Railcard, Young Person Railcard. The official version can be found on the Arriva Trains Wales website. The Ffestiniog Round Robin Ticket is not available to buy over the phone or online, but 'tickets can be purchased at most staffed railway stations and National Rail Appointed Travel Agents throughout Britain.' Apparently it cannot be bought from train conductors, which is a drawback, especially for those starting from  Cambrian coast line stations. We'll try to get clarification of this.

This now the only ticket which can be used for the whole of the circuit: the 4-in-8 'Explorer' passes now only give a 50% reduction on the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland (Caernarfon) lines rather than 100% as previously. We'd be very interested to hear from anyone who uses a Ffestiniog Round Robin ticket: Dave Sallery's Cambrian Rail Cruise website is full of advice and information for travellers.

Chester to Rhyl with Middleton - review by George Jones

The latest Middleton Press volume is now available featuring stations and locations between Chester & Rhyl. Usual format applied, 120 assorted black and white photos illustrating the years, plus vintage OS map sections. Included are separate sections on the Holywell Town and Dyserth branches.

Some quirky photo captions to my mind show a lack of local and recent knowledge but still a good effort to add to the collection.  The usual gaudy cover has two colour pictures on the back - a 37 at Rhyl and a 31 at Point of Ayr, although the captions have been transposed.

No doubt the route through to Holyhead will be completed in one or two more volumes; already issued are Bala to Llandudno and Bangor to Porthmadog.

An interesting traffic comparison shows the peak of services in 1939 with 41 weekdays plus 12 on Sundays, 1958 saw 41 and 5 with many extras on Saturdays whereas 2011 has 29 and 19 - and no extras ... I believe!

The book is a hardback, 96 Pages, with  120 B&W Photographs, and costs £15.95 from the usual suppliers including the Llangollen Railway shop or online from the Transport Diversions Emporium.

Welsh Heritage in Sussex - pictures by Dave Howsam

The Bluebell Railway in Sussex was one of the first standard-gauge preserved railways, and was able to 'snap up' some very interesting locomotives and stock, including some from the lines in our area, such as 'Dukedog' 4-4-0 9017 Earl Of Berkeley which spent its first lifetime on the Cambrian system.

9017 was recently seen in Wales on a visit to the Llangollen Railway, but is now back on the Bluebell, where it is seen above while running round the 'Golden Arrow Dining Pullman' train, which makes several runs up and down the line while the passengers enjoy a meal. To the regret of railfan passengers, it does not make a run-past with its train to allow a picture.  Such things never seem to happen in this country any more, no doubt because of so-called 'Health and Safety' which is usually a euphemism for not wanting to be sued.

A North Wales classic is London & North Western Railway observation car no. 1503, one of three built in 1913 for use principally on the Conwy Valley line. Displaced by the new diesel railcars in 1958, it was used for driver road-learning for a while before being sold to the Bluebell in the early 60s. The LNWR was the biggest of the pre-1923 companies, but very little of its rolling stock has survived into the preservation era, as the LNWR society's list testifies, but the Bluebell line has this one as well as 'semi-royal saloon' no. 803 which runs in the dining train.

To the banks of the silvery Tay

A few more from the Compass Tours excursion to Dundee on 13 May, seen above departing from Llanfair PG in the early morning with 47 804 leading (Steve Jones).

Roly High, who travelled on the excursion, writes: 'Good time was made to Carlisle where we held  for approximately 20 minutes; another similar stop was made in the loop at Beattock before heading  towards Falkirk, Stirling and Perth. From Perth, we took the line to Dundee, after
the one and a half hour stay, during which I took shots of  the ship Discovery ...

and the Tay rail bridge,it was time to watch 47 804 hauling our stock back into  the platform after servicing. 47 826 now became the lead loco, ready to turn left up the incline and onto the Tay bridge, onward over the Forth bridge to retrace our  steps back down the West Coast Main Line.

The shot I took on of the coaches (below) had traces of Pullman regalia inside, but in fact it is a British Rail Mk2f buffet / first class vehicle which in its former existence was last used on Virgin Cross Country services in pre-Voyager days.

Many thanks to everyone for a well organized day

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