Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

20 June 2011

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

Forthcoming events

July 2011      

Saturday 2 July North Wales N Gauge Model Railway Club 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.

The Northern Belle Father's Day special at Conwy, 19 June. Picture by Jack Bowley. See below for a detailed report on this train.

Apologies for the late arrival of last week's RSS Feed. A problem occurred which I couldn't resolve while away from home.- Charlie

Class 92 Pretty in Pink

The second Class 92 electric to wear DB Schenker colours is  92 042, photographed by Tim Fenton towed past Crewe station to the International Electric Depot on 13 June.

Pullman 47 on freight - report by Mark Riley

What might have been expected to appear on the Father's Day special (see below), but didn't, was DRS loco 47 790, recently repainted to match the Northern Belle coaches. However, it was spotted on 9 June working an additional freight! I didn't think my first sighting of this 47 was to see it on anything other than a Northern Belle working, but at Acton Bridge (above) 4 7790 passes through the station with 4Z88 Daventry - Carlisle Kingmoor. (Thanks to all 'gen posters' for information on this working.)

Locos on 15 June: Pictures by M. Lloyd Davies

57 313 in the evening sunshine passing Gaerwen's very rusty Up Distant signal on the last leg of the journey from Cardiff Central to Holyhead.

31 285 on Network Rail measurement train 3Q83 takes the up main line through Bangor station, returning to Crewe after stabling all day in Bangor Carriage Sidings.

Father's Day Northern Belle

The 'Father's Day Northern Belle' luxury excursion to Holyhead on 19 June was originally advertised for steam haulage; when DRS took over the Northern Belle contract from DB Schenker, they found themselves unable to use a steam loco, so 'interesting' diesel traction was promised instead. On the day this turned out to be a pair of Class 20s, 20 209 and 20 303, with 47 818 on the rear to provide train heating supply. Above, the train rolls through Chester; note the staff sleeping car behind the locos. Picture by Bob Greenalgh.

Ian Wilson captured the train heading west (above) through Ffynnongroyw west of Chester.

Abergele (Rowan Crawshaw). 20 309 is leading.

Llanddulas (Darren Durrant)

Llanfair PG (Richard Fleckney)

Crossing the Stanley Embankment on to Holy Island (M. Lloyd Davies).

Arriving at Holyhead (Mark Riley).

The train has arrived in Holyhead, and shunting moves ensue. As usual, because the 'neck' up to the buffers is so short, the locos have to be separated to run round the train individually. 20 309 runs forward (M.Lloyd Davies)...

... to set back on to the train (Stéphanie Durrant)

20 303 follows suit, passing 57 313 stabled in the carriage sidings with the stock for the weekday Cardiff express (M. Lloyd Davies).

Ready for re-coupling, watched by a 'gallery' from the road bridge (Darren Durrant).

Ready for departure. 20 303 still wears the original version of the DRS livery (M. Lloyd Davies). DRS Class 20s are of course familiar on this line due to their activities on the flask trains to Valley, but when was the last time A Class 20 was seen at Holyhead? Could it have been back in the days when Hunslet-Barclay used them on weed-killing trains?

The trio attack the gradient out of Holyhead, showing off their three different livery styles (Mark Riley).

Climbing out Holyhead (David Lindsay)

Valley, seen from the footpath which crosses the reversing triangle normally used by DRS flask trains (Darren Durrant).

Heading home through Llanfairyneubwll (M. Lloyd Davies) ...

... and Llanfair PG (Richard Fleckney). Unfortunately, the fathers' day went somewhat pear-shaped later in the journey, when the train came to a stand at Rhyl where 20 303 was declared a failure.

The two 20s were detached and headed for Crewe, propelled by 20 309, pictured by Bob Greenhalgh at Beeches Farm bridge.

47 818 took the train on alone, now running late. Above, it passes Beeches Farm bridge (Bob Greenalgh).

Our thanks as always to all who sent reports and pictures, to all concerned in the operation of the train, and indeed to all the families who treated their fathers to this expensive treat and made it all possible!

Theft at the Conwy Valley Railway Museum

Police are investigating the theft of "irreplaceable" model railway locomotives valued at £30,000 in a raid on the Conwy Valley Railway Museum by Betws-y-Coed, overnight on Wednesday 15 June.

Thieves broke in by smashing a rear outer door; CCTV cameras were sprayed with paint by the thieves. Marion Turner, who manages the museum and shop, told the press: 'We have lost a lot of rare, valuable and irreplaceable stock and the police have told us that it looks very much like a well-organised crime.'

Items stolen include two rare German-made LGB steam-type engines worth £2,000 each, together with another collectors' item no longer in production, an LGB garden-size "Crocodile" locomotive. Five Bassett Lowke model engines produced by Hornby in limited numbers - and worth between £500 and £750 each - were also taken, along with dozens of other Hornby boxed locomotives and expensive coach sets.

Anyone with information about this crime, or who is offered any models in suspicious circumstances, is urged to contact PC 659 Andy Davies at Llanrwst Police Station on 101 if in Wales, 0845 6071001 (Welsh line), 0845 6071002 (English). Alternatively, text 66767 or call Crimestoppers Wales on 0800 555111.

'Tug' news

Class 60 locos are always popular, and Andrew Vinten was at Plumley to take this view of 6H03, Oakleigh - Tunstead empty stone hoppers with 60 049 in charge on the morning of 9 June, having been recessed in Northwich yard overnight for some reason.

It's rare that Class 60s are seen on the North-South Wales Steel trains (Dee Marsh-Margam/Llanwern) these days, but on 20 June, 60 011 in DB Schenker livery worked 6M76 Llanwern - Dee Marsh loaded steel coils and the 6V75 Dee Marsh-Margam empty wagons. Seen working 6V75, 60 011 approaches Wrexham General with a light load of just three empty steel coil carriers (Mark Riley).

Viewed from the rear, 60 011 approaches Wrexham General (Mark Riley). The building just left of centre is the second phase of student flats at the rear of the Racecourse ground. The future views from the roof will be pretty good, especially in the afternoons when its sunny - if you can get up there ...

Mini-Voyager carries passengers

The pair of spare Virgin Trains Class 221 driving coaches, recently seen in Crewe station in use for staff training, returned to Central Rivers depot for an event organised by the Preserved Locomotives Enthusiasts Group on 11 June, in which the two vehicles, which cannot work alone, due to lack of brake compressors, were used with loco 57 308 and 08 943 to transport enthusiasts over the various tracks within the depot. The PLEG website has a detailed report on this fascinating occasion.

Mersey Ports Potential - report by George Jones

Published on 7 June by Peel Ports was the Mersey Ports Master Plan Consultation for integrated strategy. This seeks to expand maritime activities between Liverpool and Manchester . A new river side berth for larger ships at Seaforth River Terminal is planned for 2014 with additional developments all the way down the River Mersey and through the Ship Canal.

The potential for new rail freight connections is indicated on the Master Plan Maps:

1. Rail extension within dock estate to serve the Seaforth Riverside terminal.
2. Potential for rail connection into Huskisson Dock (via former Canada Dock station facility)
3. Birkenhead bring back into use the former MD&HB line from Birkenhead North/Bidston
4. Port Wirral on the MSC -  bring disused line back into use at Ellesmere Port
5. Port Warrington - a new line off WCML at Warrington yard to serve Canal side location
6. Port Bridgewater, an additional line
7. Port Salford, a freight connection

Details and the plans can be found at

The timescale for all this extends to 2020 / 2030 so I might not be around to see it all happen; it might be said to be putting back rail facilities that mostly once existed.

News from Llangollen - report by George Jones

An 'Austerity' saddle tank (Hunslet 3777 of 1952) disguised as British Railways 'J94' class 68030, has arrived at Llangollen Railway for an annual maintenance overhaul, and is seen above 'on shed' awaiting attention. The loco was formerly used at Cheddleton where it ran as Josiah Wedgwood for a time; latterly it has been at the Strathspey Railway.

In action on 11-12 June was Ivor the Engine with supporting cast of Jones The Steam (not me!), Dai Station, and Mrs Porty, the roles provided by actors (above).

For its size the loco is a noisy little beast, but it gave visitors a close up of the action with a shuttle train service in platform 2 at Llangollen making a contrast alongside 5643 and 3802. Unfortunately Sunday was a wash-out thanks to the rain but it is also a pity the Welsh character engine doesn't appear on the main TV channels to boost its appeal with the younger generation.

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