Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

01 August 2011

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Forthcoming events

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.

Sunday 14 August Excursion  Holyhead (dep. 07:30) to Bath or Salisbury, 'Western Cathedrals Express' with Class 52 loco. Postponed to 5 October.

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.' 

September 2011

Friday 9 September  Clwyd Railway Circle  Edgar Richards: Railways of the North East, 1965 onwards (part 1). After recovering from an injury sustained in 2010, our top link speaker is back. This time Edgar takes us on a journey from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Durham.
Saturday 10 September Steam to Chester The Cathedrals Express  London Euston - Chester. Steam Dreams 60163 Tornado: Euston-Chester and return

Saturday 10 September – Welsh Highland Heritage Railway, Porthmadog – Lace on the Train. 'It’s National Lace Making Day, and a team of master lace-makers will be travelling on the train demonstrating the art of making lace with pins and pillows.'

Saturday 17 September – Welsh Highland Heritage Railway, Porthmadog – Cob 200. 'The Great Embankment which allowed Porthmadog to be built was completed 200 years ago this weekend.  Two centuries on, The Cob is still there and still doing its job.  We’re planning a day of celebrations as part of the festivities going on in town, including a visit from the man who built The Cob – William Madocks himself.'

Saturday 24 September - Welsh Highland Heritage Railway, Porthmadog – Railways on the Air. Railway enthusiasts get together with amateur radio enthusiasts to broadcast around the globe from our station at Pen-y-Mount, and celebrate the 200th birthday of the Cob. Listen out for call sign GOWHR.

October 2011

Wednesday 5 October  Excursion Compass Tours - from Holyhead (dep. 07:30) and stations to Crewe, to Bath or Salisbury, 'Western Cathedrals Express'

Friday 7 October  Clwyd Railway Circle  Larry Davies:  Railway Wanderings in North Wales. A collection of slides around North Wales presented by a great favourite with our members.

Back to the 60s at Carrog - see report below. Picture by Glyn Jones.

Western postponement

The Compass Tours excursion from Holyhead to Bath and Salisbury, the  'Western Cathedrals  Express' planned for 14 August has been postponed until Wednesday 5 Oct 2011 apparently the 'Train to be used is not available on that date.'

70 on the sand - report by Paul Shannon

70 006 hauled the 6Z89 Ellesmere Port to Crewe sand empties on 25 July  - seen (above) on the Ellesmere Port Docks branch awaiting a path into the station ...

 ... and entering Helsby station. I believe it is the second time a 70 has worked this train.

Clwyd Railway Circle news

We've received the Clwyd Railway Circle's list of monthly meetings for 2011-2012, which take place on Friday evenings in Prestatyn. See our Calendar of Events for details.

Marine Views

The Saturday London - Holyhead Pendolino at Rhyl on 30 July with 57 304 Gordon Tracy (Stéphanie Durrant).

A visit to the Rhyl Miniature Railway on 30 July (Darren Durrant) ...

... a chance to see a water-skier on the Marine Lake racing against the  afternoon train to London (Stéphanie Durrant).

What goes on with WAG?

The December 2011 Arriva Trains Wales timetable has now been made available for consultation, and it has been noticed that, contrary to earlier statements, the Holyhead - Cardiff via Wrexham 'WAG Express 2' continues to be timed for a Class 175 railcar rather than a locomotive-hauled train, and insiders have been told that this will be the case for the 'foreseeable future.'

In fact there are virtually no changes to the timetable at all; additional trains to Aberystwyth, making use of recent track and signalling improvements, are also absent. Assembly Members who have asked the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) Minister about this - and also the time-scale for the proposed double-tracking between Wrexham and Saltney Junction - are told to wait for the 'National Transport Plan Prioritisation' to be published in the Autumn. (The 'five-year National Transport Plan' was published in March 2010.) There is, it seems, a controversy raging between the politicians about even the cost of the current loco-hauled Holyhead - Cardiff train (pictured by Steve Conway at Rhyl on 21 July with 57 316) in the present atmosphere of 'cuts', and given that the current contract with Arriva for running the train ends in December.

However, we hear that drivers who work the express have been told that they are to be 'converted' - given a short course in the differences in driving - from Class 57 to Class 67, which suggests that the train will continue. Mind you, they have been told this more than once in the past and it has yet to happen. Apparently Arriva have yet to apply for the necessary regulatory approval. Regarding the use of Class 175s, the question arises whether Arriva are actually permitted to hire out rolling stock to the Welsh Government which is part of its franchise fleet intended for use on franchised services.

And yet - back in January we were told that 'Thanks to £3.5 million support from the Welsh Assembly Government, Arriva Trains Wales is developing plans to lease additional rolling stock to operate the extra services from Holyhead to Cardiff. By paying to lease the trains up-front for seven years, as opposed to on an annual basis, the Assembly Government will save the tax payer £350,000.'

In a statement to the Assembly in March 2011 (full text as PDF), the then Minister wrote about the second express:  'The Class 175 service will have an enhanced at seat trolley service including some hot food [and does it?]. From the timetable changes in December 2011, the Class 175 train will be replaced by a Class 67 locomotive with carriages similar to those used on Y Gerallt Gymro. This service will be able to have a first class carriage and dining facilities similar to those currently available on Y Gerallt Gymro. I am funding a substantial refurbishment before these carriages are brought into service.'

What do we make of this? Anyone's guess. It was assumed by many that the new carriages would be from the Wrexham & Shropshire fleet, given that that Arriva is owned by Deutsche Bahn which was also a major shareholder in W&S.  Incidentally, the 'five-year National Transport Plan' was published in March 2010.

While on this subject: it was noticed with some annoyance by local users that while the 'WAG expresses' not run on bank holidays, a 'normal' morning train has been diverted away Mondays - Fridays to find a path for the Wrexham version, with the result that on Spring Bank Holiday morning there was a long gap in the southbound service at Wrexham from 08:34 to 10:42. We are now assured that the service train will be re-diverted back on August Bank Holiday.

Excursion newsreel

Friday 22 July saw a 'Northern Belle' excursion from Newcastle-on-Tyne to Knutsford (for the Tatton Park flower show) with DRS 47 818 hauling and 47 790 Galloway Princess on the rear as it passed Stavros Lainas at Ashley at 12:05.

Later the same day Stavros Lainas was Dunham at 16:12 to see 'Large Logo' 47 580 County of Essex top'n-tailed by 47 760 with the empty stock 5Z21 Carnforth to Chester. This was the stock move for the following day's Llandudno – Ravenglass excursion, Statesman Rail's 'The Lakelander.'

Unfortunately, the next day, 23 July, the loaded train ran into problems, and at Rhyl it was decided to run 47 580 round to the front of the train, watched by Steve Conway who took this sequence of pictures....

... backing on ...

... eventually ready to start, an hour late.

Stavros Lainas took this view at Knutsford at 09:35, by which time the train was running an hour and a half late. At Carnforth, steam took over as planned in the shape of 8F 2-8-0 48151.

Another special on 23 July was Compass Tours'  Hooton – Edinburgh charter. Above, 47 804 takes the train through Mobberley in the early morning  with 47 851 on the rear (Stavros Lainas).

Capenhurst station does not appear often in these pages: above, on 24 July 47 804 heads the empty stock of the previous day's Edinburgh train from Hooton to the West Coast Railways base at Carnforth, with 47 851 on the rear. Picture by Andrew Vinten. This was one of several 'Lakelander' runs to Ravenglass on Saturdays this summer, with a different start point each week. The 6 August train starts in the West Midlands and will be running via Wrexham and Chester.

Another weekly steam train this summer is the Friday 'Scarborough Flyer' from Crewe. Above, 29 July's trip behind 34067 Tangmere passes Chelford station  on time at 07:42. Chelford is a great place to see it as it waits a few minutes in the down loop to allow a Manchester-bound Arriva 175 to pass,  so it is always working hard as it leaves the loop and enters the station (Steve Morris).

Prestatyn progress - report by Dave Sallery

Some recent view of work on the new footbridge at Prestatyn ...

... which, it seems,  might be open in the 'next few weeks'. 

I've also heard, not officially, that the wooden LNWR station building is in very poor condition and may have to be demolished.  No work has been carried out on it for many weeks, not since the new slate roof was put on.  Arriva also want the blue temporary ticket office container moved the platform as they are losing a lot of revenue.

Beatles to Beeching at Llangollen 30-31 July

The 1960s Weekend at the Llangollen Railway on 30-31 July was full of interest: here is a selection from the fine selection of pictures from our contributors. Above, on Saturday 30 July, the line's resident Wickham-built diesel railcar, very redolent of the period, stands at Llangollen (Glyn Jones).

A curious mixed train was in operation through the weekend, starring some nicely-restored British Railways standard 12-ton vans, once one of the most familiar sights on the network. The loco was visiting 'Austerity' saddle tank built by Hunslet in 1952 (works number 3777) which had recently been running in a fictitious BR guise as class 'J94' 68030. (BR did have some locos of this type.) The train is seen after arrival at Carrog with the 13:30 from Llangollen (Chris Jones-Bridger).

At Llangollen (Glyn Jones).

The 'SLS Special' headboard of the Stephenson Locomotive Society appeared on some remarkable rail tours in the 1950s and 1960s, including runs in open wagons behind a real 'J94' on the Cromford and High Peak line (George Jones).

Class 47 D1566 at Llangollen with the 1700 departure to Carrog (Chris Jones-Bridger). This loco, later 47 449, was new in 1964. Incidentally, Murray Brown, who was instrumental in its preservation, has been re-appointed to his old role as editor of Rail Express magazine in place of Gareth Bayer who, we hear, is off to Japan to teach English.

D1566, which carried the two-tone green colours of the 1960s, seen at Berwyn after arrival with the 17:00 from Llangollen. The loco was shut down after arrival and the crew were giving attention (Chris Jones-Bridger).

'Black 5' 44806 was running without its usual nameplates, which have been added in recent years, and looking very clean - no doubt it had been 'bulled up by enthusiasts' as some locos were in the final years. Train '1T57' was the 'last steam train' special run by BR in August 1968, which has come to called the 'fifteen-guinea special' after the fare charged (Glyn Jones).

Class 26 D5310 arrives at Llangollen platform 1 (Glyn Jones).

A feature of the weekend was attempt to re-create the condition of the ex-Great Western 'Manor' class locos which had survived until the mid-60s as they would have looked when sent for scrapping. Above, 7822 Foxcote Manor minus name and number plates was masquerading on the driver's side as 7800 Torquay Manor 'en route for Cashmores Scrapyard' (Glyn Jones)

The same loco, on the fireman's side pretending to be 7825 Lechlade Manor 'en route for Bird's, Newport Scrapyard' see at Carrog (Glyn Jones).

City of Chester double-decker 35 (FFM 135C), a 1965 Massey-bodied Guy Arab, acting as a 'replacement bus' (Glyn Jones).

D6940, seen at Carrog, built in 1964, shows off its blue livery. It had its original 1960s look, as seen here, with round buffers and 'cowls' around the buffer beam, restored for last year's 1960s gala (Glyn Jones).

Also in traffic was the former LNER four-wheel pigeon van as restored but minus its 'Clarabel' features usually seen on 'Thomas' events. A ride down the line in this with J94 haulage proved an interesting trundle on the hard class benches. Not as unpleasant as might be thought! (George Jones).

The cheerful bar staff of the LNER Thompson 'Elizabethan' buffet car  as reintroduced into service as E1706E in its 1950s décor. It was running in the the rake carmine and cream stock seeing, haulage by D1566.

On to Sunday 31 July, and Halton Transport No.38, a Leyland Titan PD2, at Carrog as part of the Carrog - Llangollen Rail 'replacement bus service'. The bus came from the North West Museum of Road Transport, St Helens (George Jones).

7822 Foxcote Manor, in dirtied 1965 condition, runs round at Llangollen. The 'dirt' was due to be washed off and loco returned to polished condition by Monday  (George Jones).

Class 31 5580 runs round - it had run double headed with class 37 6940 on first train of the day (George Jones).

A sixties icon - a Mini Moke on display at Llangollen - operated by the Liverpool Motor Club on the Aintree circuit (George Jones).


'68030'  contrasts with a D6940 at Llangollen (Larry Davies).

The beautifully-restored Wickham Class 109 56171/50416 is an absolute
treat and the views of the Dee valley it affords are second to none (Larry Davies).


At the end of the day, the 'Manor' was depicted as going to the breaker's
yard and is seen here at Carrog before that "last journey"  - Enthusiasts of another era have expressed their sentiments! (Larry Davies)

'Off to the scrapyard.' Picture By Larry Davies.


A good weekend was had by all (Larry Davies). The next event to look forward to is the 'Classic Transport' weekend on 27-28 August when vintage transport with be gathered at stations along the line and a rail replacement bus service will operate Glyndyfrdwy to Corwen to allow for sight of the line extension project to be viewed at high level from the A5 and provide for visits to the intended terminus station site a Corwen.The first train service to Corwen....will be a bus in 2011!

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