Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

17 October 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

October 2011

29/30 October Merseyside Model Railway Exhibition at Pacific Rd Arts Centre, Woodside, Birkenhead with full size tramway operating outside.

November 2011

Friday 4 November  Clwyd Railway Circle  Geoff Coward: The Worlds Last Real Working Steam – China 2002. The Ji-Tong line featured frequent 2300 tonne trains, 1 in 80 gradients, snow, mountains and huge steam locos. Other locations include coal trains, passenger services and a steelworks, all steam operated in November 2002, now all gone.

Tuesday 8 November 8E Railway Association  Bill Andrews presents Life As An Engine Driver

Friday 11 November Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society "Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Locomotives Part 1" by Paul Shackcloth, Photographic Officer, Manchester Locomotive Society

Saturday 5 November      Stephenson Locomotive Society     Mike Crabtree, I.Eng., M.I.E.T.    The Great Orme Tramway, Llandudno – a History of the Line . An illustrated talk describing the history of the line and a description of how the line has been rejuvenated to meet the challenges of operating in the 21st century.                
Thursday 10 November  Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society    Larry Davies    "Summer Holidays by Train"

Monday 14 November.  Wrexham Railway Society A Colour Rail Journey - The new proprietor of Colour-Rail Paul Chancellor will talk about the difficulties of dealing with old colour slides and will present a UK wide journey with illustrations taken over the past 60 years.

Monday 21 November  RCTS Chester  Edgar Richards: North Eastern Part 1. Our very own Edgar Richards returns with views of the northern part of the former North Eastern Region.

December 2011

Friday 2 December  Clwyd Railway Circle  Xmas Celebration –
A film show to whet your appetite before our interlude of festive goodies.

Saturday 3 December     Stephenson Locomotive Society -  Malcolm Dickin            THE CHAIRMAN’S CHRISTMAS QUIZ   

Thursday 8 December Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Members Night/Xmas Social

Friday 9 December  Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society "Current Developments on Metrolink" by Tony Williams, Manchester Area Officer, Light Rail Transit Association

Monday 12 December. Wrexham Railway Society AGM and Rail Review with members' material on show

Tuesday 13 December 8E Railway Association  AGM followed by Steam Around Chester by Jon Penn
Monday 19  December RCTS Chester    Members Evening:30 slides or digital images of your choice. Please advise Alan Donaldson if you intend to make a presentation and to what format you will be using.

January 2012
Friday 6 January  Clwyd Railway Circle  Brian Roberts: Reflections of the 1990s,  Brian’s presentation will visit many different locations across the national network, with some emphasis on the Merseyside area, in an attempt to portray a decade of considerable change.  Passenger operating companies will be reviewed, largely via their ever changing liveries, and there will be glimpses of some of our preserved lines. The freight scene will be recalled, too, not least by showing images taken on freight only lines, at industrial plants and at several collieries prior to closure.

Monday 9 January. Wrexham Railway Society The Many Varied Railways of Australia . Geoff Morris will show the great variety of rail action Down Under.
Tuesday 10 January 8E Railway Association  Karl Jauncey & Dave Richards from PSOV present Mainline Steam 2011

Thursday 12 January Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Society Tribute - the late Bill Rear       

Friday 13 January  Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society "Steam Across Java in 1980" by John Sloane
Monday 16  January  RCTS Chester  Barry Shore: Terminus Part 3
Barry continues his Terminus series, this time off the Network, The Preservation Scene and offshore including the Isle of Man and Ireland.

Saturday 21 January    Stephenson Locomotive Society    Area A G M followed by:  Professor Colin Divall   - Down the American Road? Industrial Research on the LMS, 1923-1947 The Big Four are often criticised for an over-reliance on traditional forms of engineering. However by the late 1930s the LMS had developed a sizeable Research Department dealing with a wide range of technical problems. This talk examines the Department's origins and activities, and asks how successful it was.

Voyager 221 109 Marco Polo heads the 09:10 London Euston to Holyhead into Llandudno Junction tailed by 221 107 Sir John Frobisher (nearest the camera) on 30 September (Larry Goddard)

Freight events: RTZ and ballast

A train of aluminium ingots from the smelter at Lynemouth, for re-melting and casting at the Anglesey Aluminium plant near Holyhead, following a test run earlier in the year lefr Lynemouth (Northumberland)  on 10 October.  The next morning dawned with it standing in Warrington marshalling yard, reportedly awaiting a driver for the next leg of the journey. In the end it seems to have run from Warrington to Holyhead in darkness early in the morning of 12 October, as by 12:00 on 12 October it has been unloaded and was on its way back. Alan Crawshaw photographed the train at Bangor (above) surprisingly routed through the platform line.

An action shot as the train passes Marion Road, Prestatyn (Dave Sallery)

Flint (Mark Barber). The destination of the empty wagons was Tyne Yard; whether this is to be a regular working is uncertain.

Trainloads of stone ballast from Penmaenmawr to Guide Bridge for Manchester Metrolink continue to run as required. Above, train 6H45 passes Llandudno Junction at 14:59 on 10 October with 66 514 and 17 loaded wagons (Peter Lloyd).

Above, 66 560 arrives at Chester on 12 October (Mark Barber).

66 508 is seen above near Colwyn Bay on 14 October (Darren Durrant).

Mid-Cheshire steam revival?
Report by John Oates, Chairman, Mid-Cheshire Rail Users' Association

Many readers will remember the very successful Mid-Cheshire Steam days that the Community Rail Partnership ran in conjunction with us a few years ago.  We’re hoping to do this again in 2012, but it’s going to have to be different this time. 

Running steam trains is not cheap!  Previously, in order to make the fares affordable for families we were able to obtain sponsorship, this mainly coming from local councils and the tourist board.  Times have changed and given the public sector cuts it is unsurprising that these authorities find they cannot provide this sponsorship, much as they might like to, given the thousands of people the event draws to the line.  Around £15,000 in sponsorship would allow us to run the event again, the balance to be made from fare revenues. 

To our great pleasure, two private individuals have come forward and offered us in excess of £5,000 in sponsorship.  Thus, that’s less than £10,000 to go.  If you know of anyone, or any business or other organisation which might be willing to put forward sponsorship – anything from £100 upwards, please mention this to them and ask them to contact me (john.oates[at] or our Community Rail Officer, Sally Buttifant – railofficer[at] 

There will be extra benefits for sponsors from all day 1st class rovers to naming individual coaches for the day and for 'a few pennies more' (!!) even the train!  These steam days have been real fun in the past, drawing large crowds and lots of excited children, some not that young!  It would be great to be able to run another.

Pontruffydd Bridge - report by Dave Sallery

The Chester - Mold - Denbigh - Ruthin line closed in April 1962.  I
remember after closure this stretch was used to store surplus iron ore
hoppers, about a mile of them!  The bridge over the River Clwyd at Pontruffydd near Bodfari, which dates from 1869, has survived until the present day, but now its owner, BRB (Residuary) Ltd - the company which was formed at the time of privatisation to deal with things that were not to be handed to the private companies - wants to demolish it for safety reasons. A public footpath passes under one of the outer arches of the bridge.

However, local residents say that it is home to a bat roost and other wildlife including badgers, which means the government-owned company, which doesn't generally require consent, will now have to apply for planning permission and have full ecological surveys carried out. New legislation also means that members of the public will be notified of the demolition proposals, which are yet to be submitted to Denbighshire Council.

English Electric Traction Chester to Holyhead

Steve Morris has just complied and published a new book under his Ty Mawr Publications imprint: English Electric Traction Chester to Holyhead volume 1, 1959 to 1983. It is A4, hardback, 96 pages and contains over 200 images, the majority in colour. Highlights include class 40/50 combinations, Gas Turbine loco 'GT3' on test in 1961, the first class 20 to visit the route in the same year, 1970/80’s class 37 workings (including a previously unrecorded one) and of course numerous class 40 images, a number dating back to the 1960’s including several Royal Train duties plus 233 on a boat heading for Barrow in 1970!

The book is well-produced, in a simple classic style with informative captions. As well as the interesting trains including the plethora of Class 40s, it's also noticeable how much the North Wales lineside has changed since the period covered by this volume: for example, the Courtaulds Factory has vanished without trace, as has the Penmaenmawr Youth Hostel in which your editor once spent a memorable holiday, and of course the A55 road has appeared.

The book costs £17.95 and can be obtained by putting the title into Ebay, emailing Steve at, from The Class Forty Preservation Society or from all good bookshops.

The song of Essex Colin

(After Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

"Businessman who planned to review railway vanishes".- Newspaper

By the shores of Llyn Trawsfynydd
By the shining nuclear water
Stands the empty Lakeside Café
Recently refurbished café
Part of Essex Colin's project
For a boat and re-born railway

Colin Dale, our Essex Colin
63, his age in brackets
(Not the same-named Raving Loony)
Businessman with great ambitions
For the railway beyond Blaenau
From Trawsfynydd down to Blaenau
Trains would run again for tourists
Network Rail would give no trouble
Two years later, nothing's happened

But then in the Caernarfon Herald
A story read that he had  'vanished'
Unpaid bills and angry partners
Disillusion in all quarters
It seemed the scheme had been abandoned

Now we see just one week later
Again in the Caernarfon Herald
Kevin White the ace reporter
Gets a call from Essex Colin
'Had to go home due to illness
Disappointed with the critics
Paid the bills and work continues
Volunteers will the clear the railway
Waiting for the boat we ordered
Planning to revive the café'

So we wait with cameras ready
For the next train to Trawsfyndd
On the footplate, Essex Colin
All the best to Essex Colin
For his boat and Lakeside Café
As for hopes to run the railway
In the great god Network Rail's ways
We'd suggest another answer
Hire a vintage bus to Blaenau.

Coal Tank update

Following up our article (3 October issue) on the preserved LNWR 'Coal Tank' no. 1054, Larry Goddard writes: 'I took a photo from the footplate of this engine when it was being moved from Penrhyn Castle to Dinting Railway Centre in the early 1970s. It was in the lay-by at the bottom of the (then) dual carriageway in Llanddulas, later to be severed with the extension of the A55 through Colwyn Bay. The loco passed me the following morning while I was on the school bus run driving a Gold Star AEC Regent from St.Asaph to Abergele.'

We hear that the overhaul of the loco at Ingrow is progressing well, and that is a good chance that it will be running at the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway's Steam Gala in February 2012.

Rail Head Treatment scenes

The Rail Head Treatment Train is now engaged in its Monday - Saturday water-jetting round, Here are some pictures to allow us to measure how dirty a yellow locomotive can get ... above, Old Colwyn on 5 October (Larry Goddard)

Llanddulas, 7 October (Darren Durrant)

Holyhead, 7 October (Darren Durrant)

Lunch break at Holyhead, 7 October (Ken Robinson).

Llanfair PG, 7 October (Richard Fleckney). 97 302 and 97 304 worked the first week's trains.

Under the new footbridge at Prestatyn, as seen on Saturday 8 October by signalman Alan Roberts. Alan's own picture collection, since the demise of Fotopic, can now be found at

Easing into platform 1 at Bangor, 11 October (Alan Crawshaw).

Waiting in platform 1 for the 12:24 Bangor to Euston to clear, while the morning Euston to Holyhead 2 x Voyager set arrives at platform 2. 11 October (Alan Crawshaw)

Abergele, 12 October (Stéphanie Durrant)

Shotton (low level), 12 October (Mark Barber). 97 303 replaced 97 304 for the second week.

Colwyn Bay, 13 October (Stéphanie Durrant)

97 303, seen from the level crossing at Llanfair PG, 14 October (Stéphanie Durrant). 97 302 was at the other end.

The Train of Hope - report by John Young

The 'Train of Hope' steam special on Saturday 1 October was organised by myself and a group of other Virgin Trains drivers to raise funds for CLIC Sargent, the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people. I had been looking forward to the day for a long time, but it did not start well. Long after the scheduled departure time, there was still no sign of the locomotive, No. 46115 Scots Guardsman and coaches, which were due at Crewe from Carnforth.

It turned out the diesel locomotive (47 500) hauling them had broken down a few miles short of Crewe. Eventually it was agreed for Scots Guardsman to push for the last few miles. (the picture above by Ian Bowland shows the train departing from Crewe)

The late arrival went almost unnoticed by the large crowd gathered at Crewe station, who were enjoying the musical entertainment provided by the brass band. I must pay tribute to well-known celebrity and railway fan Pete Waterman. He spent time with families and individuals and nothing was too much trouble for him.

It was very emotional for me to see Scots Guardsman, bearing the Train of Hope headboard, steaming down the platform, marking the culmination of 13 months planning was here. I had to look away for fear of shedding a tear. All credit to West Coast Railways, the loco and stock was immaculate and they kindly provided the steam loco free of charge a massive saving, thank you.

Eventually we were under way, 66 minutes later than planned. Thanks to a lively run, reaching around 75 mph, we gradually made up some time. At Preston, as promised and right on cue, we were joined by our banner plane from Air Ads Ltd. It was truly spectacular to see a plane following us along the track for some 20 minutes.

Our arrival in Carlisle was only 24 minutes late. Well done to Driver Kevin Treeby and his fireman for working so hard. We were met by a fantastic crowd and The Mayor and Mayoress both looked stunning. Just as I finished talking to the Mayor solo piper Andrew Wheeler burst into tune. We left 33 minutes late to commence our return over the hills to Settle, with the scenery looking grand in the sunshine of the unexpected Indian summer.

The onboard catering team, Gravy Train, cannot be praised highly enough. Many people told me they had not had food this good in some of the top restaurants in Britain and I would agree. The staff were polite and immaculate. Chefs Richard, Cliff, Joe, and Bob should be very proud of what they did. This is what makes or breaks a trip like this and their efforts helped turn a good day into a magnificent one. Thank you all so much.

A short stop on Ribblehead viaduct, thanks to Driver Mick Kelly and his young fireman, followed by a sharp pull away made a fitting finale as we ran down to Hellifield, arriving on time. At this point Scots Guardsman departed back to Carnforth and we continued with another diesel for an effortless run back to Crewe.

I would like to add a massive thank you to the unpaid staff who wish to donate their wages for the day to the charity CLIC Sargent - all the stewards, some of the staff from Gravy Train, the drivers, the ticket inspectors and the organisers. This was a fantastic tour and you can see some of the feedback on our website

Our fundraising target is to break £40,000 and we received a further boost when the water tanking company, Duncan Hill Ltd, and the Stratford 47 Group who supplied their class 47 diesel locomotive 47 580 County of Essex to haul the return train from Hellifield; both waived their charges.

One final massive final thank you goes to Virgin Trains and our partners. Without their help and support we would never have raised so much money.
There are still some very special items available for sale or auction on our website, including photographs of the day, an original oil painting, limited edition prints, programmes and more.

Let’s make it a special Christmas by raising even more money for CLIC Sargent to help children and their families. For further information please contact

Also seen at Crewe on 1 October was 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe leaving Crewe station for Liverpool with 'The Ticket to Ride' charter from Birmingham.  The locomotive had to gain access to platform 12 to take on water but was kept waiting South of the station because 46115, also taking on water, was delayed due to diesel failure.

RHTT and the Dee Bore - report by Geoff Morris

This picture shows 97 302 and 304 at Mold Junction returning to Crewe on their début test run along the Coast on 30 September.

While cycling down to Mold Junction to see the 97s I crossed the River Dee by the footbridge at Saltney Ferry just when the 'Bore', a wave caused by the high Autumn tide, was making its way up-river.  It wasn't travelling very quickly and I was concerned that I might miss the 97s while waiting for it to get close enough for a decent photo - in the event it came past just in time!

Class 67 in Blue

As mentioned last time, 67 003 in its new blue livery worked a charter train to North Wales on 7 October, along with 67 016. The pair are seen above passing Llanfair PG (Richard Fleckney) ...

... and running round the train at Holyhead, after leaving the passengers at Bangor for a narrow-gauge experience. (Picture by Ken Robinson.) Now we know what a Class 67 would have looked like in British Rail blue.

Indian Summer on the Welsh Highland - report by Ken Robinson

The weather at the end of September was good and, like many others I suppose, one was lured outside with the camera - to the WHR at Beddgelert in my case on Wednesday 28 September. Here are a couple of shots I took of the 12:30 from Caernarfon with some signs of Autumn in the trees.

Wilmslow to Pwllheli by Club 55 - report by Vince Chadwick

Arriva Trains Wales have re-introduced their 'Club 55' offer which a couple of us used earlier this year to travel the scenic Heart of Wales line. The offer is open to anyone of 55 years or older to travel to anywhere on the ATW network for £18 (£16 with a senior railcard). Peter and I decided to travel from Wilmslow to Shrewsbury, onwards though mid Wales to the Cambrian coast, then enjoy the coastal trip right around Cardigan Bay from the Dovey estuary to Pwllheli.

The day, 27 September, started with the 07:46 from Wilmslow, a Manchester to Carmarthen train which took us as far as Shrewsbury. Bright sunshine in Wilmslow, but across rural Shropshire between Nantwich and Wem radiation fog which had yet to burn off at this early hour hid the view. We had a fifty minute wait at Shrewsbury for our next train, the 09:27 to Aberystwyth which originated in Birmingham and we will take as far as Machynlleth. Time to photograph a couple of trains!

Our class 175  arrived on time from Birmingham, and soon we were speeding through mid Wales, through Welshpool and Newtown, to Machynlleth, arriving at 10:46. Having arrived at Machynlleth, we spy our onward train, the 11:00 to Pwllheli waiting in the siding (heading picture) before pulling forward into the station. The 11:00 to Pwllheli moved into the station from the siding, and we set off along the Dovey estuary and around the coast of Cardigan Bay. The weather had turned cloudy, so the best photographs were of the return journey down the coast; by then it was a gloriously sunny day in West Wales.

The only flat crossing of a narrow gauge railway and standard gauge in UK. The Ffestiniog Railway's Welsh Highland Line crosses the Cambrian Coast line near Porthmadog.

The train arrived at Pwllheli at 13:14 before returning down the coast at 13:42, so there's not much time to see the town. But then, in Pwllheli, there's not a lot to see.

By the time we were headed back along the coast the sun was shining. Above, the Rhinogs from west of Criccieth

Crossing the Glaslyn near Minffordd.

Barmouth Bridge.

Along the Dyfi estuary. After passing the lonely station of Dovey Junction which has no road access, and coupling up with the train from Aberystwyth at Machynlleth, we speed back though mid Wales to Shrewsbury. We were back in Shrewsbury on time at 17:23 in plenty of time for the Milford Haven to Manchester train that would take us home to Wilmslow, where we arrived at 19:00.

Not a bad day out for £16! More pictures in the full report on my Blog, Vince's World.

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