Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

19 March 2012

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Forthcoming events

March 2012

Wednesday 21 March Excursion Compass Tours 'Cumbrian Mountains & Fells Explorer' Codsall, Telford Central, Wellington, Shrewsbury, Gobowen, Wrexham General, Chester & Frodsham to Carlisle via the Settle & Carlisle Line outwards and returning via the Cumbrian Coast Rail route.

Wednesday 28 March Excursion Compass Tours 'Welsh Mountaineer': Huddersfield, Brighouse, Sowerby Bridge, Hebden Bridge, Todmorden, Rochdale, Denton, Stockport, Wilmslow & Crewe to Cardiff Via the Heart of Wales route.

Thursday 29 March   Merseyside Railway History Group   AGM     Members Slides

Saturday 31 March Llangollen Railway Diesel Day

April 2012

Friday 6 April  Clwyd Railway Circle  change of date and speaker for this month only: see 13 April, below.

Tuesday 10 April 8E Railway Association  Stephen Gay presents Walking The Line - Discovering Lost Railways            

Thursday 12 April Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Clive Myers "The Llandudno & Colwyn Bay Electric Railway"

Friday 13 April Clwyd Railway Circle  new date. Geoff Coward will
be showing Black and White slides mainly of steam from 1905 to 1950.

Friday 13 April  Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society North West Film Archive Evening featuring historic footage of buses, aircraft, trains and trams across the North West

Saturday 14 April Excursion Cheshire Cat Tours  Aberystwyth, Borth, Machynlleth,  Newtown, Welshpool,  Shrewsbury, Whitchurch and Crewe to Carlisle. Outwards via Shap, Return via Settle to Carlisle Line.

Saturday 14 April Steam to Chester Steam Dreams 'The Cathedrals Express' London - Chester

Monday 16 April RCTS Chester    Branch AGM (Members only)

Wednesday 18 April Excursion Compass Tours 'The Roses Express'
Hooton, Chester, Delamere, Northwich, Knutsford, Altrincham, Stockport & Denton to York. Scheduled for haulage by a Steam Locomotive from Preston.

Saturday 21 April Excursion Chester Model Railway Club Shrewsbury , Gobowen, Wrexham, Bache, Hooton and Frodsham to Edinburgh Waverley. 2 x Class 67s (top & tail) Tickets available in first and standard class. Includes Chester avoiding line and Hooton - Helsby through running as rare track.

21 - 29 April Llangollen Railway / Betton Grange Society Steel, Steam & Stars III Gala 'featuring up to 12 main line steam locos including 6 guests.'

Thursday 26 April   Merseyside Railway History Group  Geoff Coward:    Quiz and informal evening

May 2012

Sat - Mon 5-7 May Llandudno Transport Festival. (No specific rail content this year but worth a visit, especially if interested in buses)

Saturday 5 May Excursion Mid-Cheshire Rail Users' Association. The Lincolnshire Poacher Railtour to Lincoln, Wainfleet and Skegness from most Mid-Cheshire Line stations. Further Details at:

Saturday 5 May Steam to North Wales Vintage Trains 'Llandudno Victorian Fayre' Tyseley - Llandudno

Saturday 5 May Excursion to North Wales Statesman Rail 'Llandudno Victorian Extravaganza' Departing from: Swindon (06.50/21.55) Kemble (07.05/21.30) Stroud (07.25/21.15) Stonehouse (07.35/21.05) Cheltenham Spa (08.00/20.40) Worcester Shrub Hill (08.25/20.15) Droitwich Spa (08.35/20.05) Kidderminster (08.55/19.50) Stourbridge Jct (09.10/19.30) Tame Bridge Parkway (10.00/18.30) to Llandudno Junction and Llandudno.

Saturday 5 May Excursion to North Wales NENTA train tours 'North Wales Extravaganza' from Norwich, Ipswich & East Anglian stations to Chester and Llandudno Junction (coach transfer to Llandudno).

Sat - Mon 5 -7 May Ffestiniog Railway 'Blaenau 30' - celebrating the 30th anniversary of the re-opening to Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Sat / Sun 5 - 6 May Welsh Highland Heritage Railway 'Elements Gala'

Tuesday 8 May 8E Railway Association  Les Nixon presents The A to Z of Railways Around the World

Thursday 10 May   Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society   "End of Indoor Season Special"

Saturday 19 May Steam in North Wales PMR Tours 'The Welsh Dragon' Bristol to Holyhead

Friday 25 May Excursion to North Wales Compass Tours 'Snowdon Mountaineer' Carnforth, Morecambe, Lancaster, Preston, Wigan North Western, Garswood, St Helens Central, Liverpool Lime Street, Liverpool South Parkway & Runcorn to Betws-Y-Coed & Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Friday 25 May Excursion to North Wales UK Railtours 'The Snowdonian' London, Milton Keynes and Rugby to to both Llandudno Junction and Bangor. From Llandudno Junction coaches for the scenic trip up the Conwy Valley to Blaenau where the greatest narrow gauge journey of all begins, right the way through via Porthmadog to Caernarfon, where coaches will be waiting for the short hop to Bangor where our main line train is rejoined. Half the passengers will do the 'circuit' in the opposite direction.

Saturday 26 May Excursion Cheshire Cat Tours Holyhead, Bangor, Llandudno Junction,Colwyn Bay, Rhyl, Prestatyn, Flint, Chester and Warrington to Carlisle. Outwards via the Settle to Carlisle line, Return via the Cumbrian Coast Line

June 2012

Sat / Sun 2 - 3 June Welsh Highland Heritage Railway 'Family Fun Weekend'

Friday 8 June Excursion Compass Tours  'Dorset Coast Express' Holyhead, Llanfairpwll, Bangor, Llandudno Junction, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl, Flint, Chester & Crewe to Brockenhurst, Bournemouth or Weymouth.

Sat / Sun 9 - 10 June Welsh Highland Heritage Railway 'Teddy Bear weekend. 'Children go FREE if they bring a teddy bear.  Find the bears hiding in the Engine Sheds and win a prize.'

Saturday 16 June Excursion to North Wales Scottish Railway Preservation Society From Glenrothes with Thornton, Kirkcaldy, Dalgety Bay, Edinburgh Waverley, Kirknewton over Beattock and Shap summits to Chester and Llandudno. (diesel-hauled)

Saturday 16 June Excursion Cheshire Cat Tours Whitchurch, Wem, Shrewbury, Wellington, Telford Central, Codsall, Wolverhampton, Tame Bridge Parkway, Birmingham International to Canterbury.

Sat / Sun 23 - 24 June  Llangollen Railway Heritage Railcar Gala

Sat / Sun 23 - 24 June Welsh Highland Heritage Railway Slate industrial exhibition

Saturday 30 June Excursion to North Wales Compass Tours  'Snowdon Mountain Ranger' Skipton, Keighley, Shipley, Wakefield Kirkgate, Huddersfield, Denton, Stockport, Altrincham & Knutsford to Betws-Y-Coed & Blaenau Ffestiniog

July 2012      

Saturday 7 July  Excursion to North Wales UK Railtours 'Chester and the Pennines' Stevenage, Potters Bar, Finsbury Park to Chester (break) and then through Wigan, Blackburn and Accrington to  Copy Pit Summit, Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd before descending to Wakefield and finally joining the East Coast Main Line to head homeward.

Sunday 22 July Steam in North Wales Railway Touring Company 'North Wales Coast Express' Crewe, Wilmslow, Stockport, Manchester Piccadilly, Frodsham and Chester to  Llandudno, Llandudno Junction, Bangor and Holyhead (arr 15:10 dep 17:45).

Sat / Sun 28 - 29 July  Llangollen Railway 1960s weekend

Sunday 29 July Steam in North Wales Railway Touring Company 'North Wales Coast Express' Liverpool Lime Street, Broad Green, Warrington Bank Quay, Frodsham and Chester to  Llandudno, Llandudno Junction, Bangor and Holyhead (arr 14:30 dep 16:30).

Tuesday 31 July Steam in North Wales Railway Touring Company 'The Welsh Mountaineer' Preston, Warrington Frodsham, Chester to Llandudno Junction and Blaenau Ffestiniog (arr. 13:15 dep 16:10)

[Note: again this summer there will be no steam trains on the Cambrian Coast line due to the rail industry's continuing inability to adapt the new ERTMS signalling for use with a steam locomotive.]

August 2012

Sat / Sun 4 - 5 August Talyllyn Railway Tom Rolt Steam & Vehicle Rally

Sunday 5 August Steam in North Wales Railway Touring Company 'North Wales Coast Express' Crewe, Wilmslow, Stockport, Manchester Piccadilly, Frodsham and Chester to  Llandudno, Llandudno Junction, Bangor and Holyhead (arr 15:10 dep 17:45).

Sunday 12 August Steam in North Wales Railway Touring Company 'North Wales Coast Express' Crewe, Wilmslow, Stockport, Manchester Piccadilly, Frodsham and Chester to  Llandudno, Llandudno Junction, Bangor and Holyhead (arr 15:10 dep 17:45).

Tuesday 14 August  Steam in North Wales Railway Touring Company 'The Welsh Mountaineer' Preston, Warrington Frodsham, Chester to Llandudno Junction and Blaenau Ffestiniog (arr. 13:15 dep 16:10)

Saturday 18 August Steam in North Wales Vintage Trains 'The Welsh Dragon' Tyseley - Blaenau Ffestiniog (Steam loco 5043 as far as Llandudno Junction; Class 47 diesel to Blaenau)

Sunday 19 August Steam in North Wales Railway Touring Company 'North Wales Coast Express' Liverpool Lime Street, Broad Green, Warrington Bank Quay, Frodsham and Chester to  Llandudno, Llandudno Junction, Bangor and Holyhead (arr 14:30 dep 16:30).

Sat / Sun 25 - 26 August  Llangollen Railway Classic Transport weekend

Sunday 26 August Steam in North Wales Railway Touring Company 'North Wales Coast Express' Liverpool Lime Street, Broad Green, Warrington Bank Quay, Frodsham and Chester to  Llandudno, Llandudno Junction, Bangor and Holyhead (arr 14:30 dep 16:30).

Tuesday 28 August Steam in North Wales Railway Touring Company 'The Welsh Mountaineer' Preston, Warrington Frodsham, Chester to Llandudno Junction and Blaenau Ffestiniog (arr. 13:15 dep 16:10)

Saturday 31 August - 2 September  Llangollen Railway Autumn Steam Gala

September 2012

Sun / Mon 1 - 2 September  Llangollen Railway Autumn Steam Gala (continued)

Saturday 15 September Excursion Cheshire Cat Tours Holyhead, Bangor, Llandudno Junction, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl, Prestatyn, Flint, Shotton, Chester and Frodsham to Edinburgh.

Saturday 22 September Llangollen Railway Diesel Day

October 2012

Saturday 20 October Excursion Cheshire Cat Tours Aberystwyth , Borth, Machynlleth,  Newtown, Welshpool, and  Shrewsbury to Bath and Salisbury.

47 832 and 47 790 top-and-tail the 'Northern Belle' over Cefn Viaduct near Ruabon. The train was returning from Shrewsbury to Liverpool Lime Street in the early evening of Sunday 18 March (Ian Pilkington).

This week we have some interesting historical items in the mix. Thanks for those, and also thanks to everyone who sent added items for the Forthcoming Events column, which has now been updated. - Charlie

Class 67 for Arriva service - planned date (updated 20 March)

The Arriva Trains Wales Holyhead - Cardiff  'rugby special' ran again on Sunday 17 March, photographed by Stavros Lainas at Hargrave heading for Cardiff. 57 313 leads, with 57 316 on the rear.

Update: contrary to eariler information, we are now being told that Class 67 working on the Cardiff express will begin on Monday 26 March, with the southbound train being the last to see Class 57/3 traction.

The 57/3s have been sub-leased from Virgin Trains, whereas the 67s are from freight company DB Schenker, which like Arriva Trains Wales is owned by the German State Railway. 67 001 - 003 have now been painted in Arriva blue, as seen above on 67 001 while on driver training duty on 7 March. Initially, the 67s may work in traditional haulage mode, with the Driving Van Trailers for push-pull working coming into service later.

57 313 also took last week's special, seen above near Mostyn on 10 March (Tim Rogers)

Rhyl 1966 - by Dave Marks

The last Notice Board featured a Class 40 at Bangor. My picture (above) shows a pair of Class 40s taken on August Bank Holiday Monday 1966 on the Down Through road at Rhyl station. From the headcode it is a class 1 train, probably to Holyhead. I assumed at the time that it was a relief to the 'Irish Mail', but I never checked it out. Maybe some of our readers will be able to identify it. I estimate the time of the two 40s passing would have been between 10:30 - 11:30 as I had to make my way back to the Wirral for late turn in Bromborough signal box.

I had just alighted from a Bank holiday special from Birkenhead to Llandudno, hauled by a 'Crab' 2-6-0 42942 (above). The Crab had been specially cleaned by a group of enthusiasts the previous day at Birkenhead and was used on a number of specials at the time, as well as Birkenhead London Woodside - Paddington trains as far as Chester.

[Quick reminder of the Class 40 Preservation Society's appeal for funds.]

Lein Llangefni?

It was in 2009 that the Welsh Assembly Government asked Network Rail to make a feasibility study regarding the re-opening to passenger traffic of part the disused Amlwch Branch from the junction at Gaerwen as far as Llangefni, the county town of Anglesey. As part of this study, contractors cleared vegetation from the route, which still has track in place, having been last used by freight trains to the now-closed Octel plant at Amlwch in 1993.

The Government apparently prefers to keep the results of these studies to itself, but following a Freedom of Information Request the report, along with other rail feasibility studies, was released to the press. The Llangefni report is summarised in the March issue of Modern Railways magazine. We searched  for the full report on the Welsh Government website with no luck ... but thanks to Eryl Crump of the Daily Post, a good friend of this site, we can tell you that, the 98-page report can in fact be found on the Government site.

Network Rail have estimated the cost of re-instating the 4½ miles from Gaerwen to Llangefni at £25.1 million, including a new junction and crossover at Gaerwen and associated signalling, the previous junction having been removed a few years ago and replaced by plain track. This seems an enormous sum, especially as the building and car park Llangefni station, the only one proposed for re-opening, and already owned by Anglesey Council. Network Rail say that this large sum is a 'preliminary' figure; one imagines it will probably be large enough to prevent the project going ahead. The report does say that a 35% 'risk percentage' is included in the figure, but even so, railway things do seem to cost a lot of money these days.

The idea, it seems is to run an hourly local stopping service between Llandudno Junction and Llangefni, calling at Conwy, Penmaenmawr, Llanfairfechan, Bangor and Llanfair PG, supposedly allowing the Holyhead services to omit calls at the smaller stations. Whether the residents of those places, and visitors them, would welcome such an idea, is open to debate.

Meanwhile, the group which aims to open the line to Amlwch as a tourist railway still exists: in 2011 it was granted access to the track to clear vegetation and make surveys. Sustrans, developers of the National Cycle Network, would like to see it made into a cycleway, which may possibly be able to co-exist with a railway ... maybe one day something will result from all the effort that many people have put in to find a use for the line.

Times and Headcodes

Every individual train service that runs on Network Rail is allocated a four-character 'headcode' - so-called because at one time the code was often displayed on the front of the train. (The Southern Region had their own type of display.) The codes are used to identify trains in the railway's 'working timetable' but are not normally shown in documents for passengers, or on most websites.

However, the Railway has recently made access to some of its data available to people wishing to create their own we interfaces, and some technically-minded railfans have taken up the challenge, including Tom Cairns whose site at is shown above. Specify a station and a time period and passenger train arrivals and departures will be listed. (At present, a site such as this does not offer real-time train running information, although this may be possible in the future.) Click on the headcode and you'll see the full itinerary for that train. By choosing 'advanced' it is also possible to search for details of a train if you know the headcode. 

Note, however, that headcodes are not unique, even within an area. All the driver's diagram sheets on Arriva now show three numbers: (1) Train Headcode and driver's number for for the 'black box' data recorder, (2) A unique number for the Passenger Information System, and (3)  An unique number for every train that operates on the new GSM-R radio system being introduced across the network, or on the Cambrian ERTMS.

Heart of Wales by Club 55 - with Stephen Hughes

Having never travelled on the 'Heart of Wales' (HoW) line before, or indeed ever west of Cardiff by rail, I was determined that I would remedy that this year, and therefore. utilising the cheap fare offered to people over 55 years old by Arriva's 'Club 55' offer I set out from Bangor on Monday 12 March aboard the 06:02 express to Cardiff. It was easily possible to undertake a circular tour via the HoW either northbound or southbound, I elected to travel northbound, as I particularly enjoy the WAG express and still have some sort of perverse enjoyment in alighting at Cardiff and then not having to go to a meeting in Cathays Park!

I thought that the train seemed well loaded, and arrival in Cardiff was a minute early. The train, hauled by 57 313, included two extra coaches locked out of use. following the 'Ruggex' the previous Saturday ...

... and 57 315 dead on the rear. I had time in Cardiff for a coffee before catching the 10:40 service to Swansea (a Manchester - Carmarthen train, 2-car 175). Alighting at a very gloomy Swansea, I was not impressed with the city centre, so a quick lunch and a pint of Tomos Watkin and then back to the station for the 13:14 service to Shrewsbury, a single car 153 already waiting in platform 1. Never having knowingly travelled in a 153 I was keen (well, not too keen) to see what they were like on a four hour journey.

My first surprise was that the 153 was already comfortably full, and I
wondered how far this state of affairs would last along the line. My fellow
passengers seemed to be a rather disparate group, there were young locals, a few young families, some 'tourists' heading for Llanwrtyd Wells and the inevitable 'rucksacks' who slept for most of the journey. I think that I was the only person along for the ride.

After the reversal at Llanelli, the sun came out and as we travelled north
it became a glorious early spring day, and my misgivings felt in Swansea
about choosing the wrong day to travel soon disappeared. I wasn't
disappointed either, with some stunning scenery, and generally felt that the HoW line was everything that it was cracked up to be.

Most passengers left at Llandeilo, Llandovery and Llanwrtyd - all pretty
stations - I can recall only one exiting at a request stop. After Llanwrtyd, less than a dozen remained.

At Llandrindod (Llan'dod), one of the five crossing places on the line, our train arrived a couple of minutes before the 14:04 ex Shrewsbury, I was able to alight and stretch my legs, here also the crews swapped. Upon departure from Llan'dod, the wonderful scenery continued and I caught a glimpse of the sweep of Knucklas viaduct probably a couple of miles before we reached it - an impressive sight. Before long we joined the Marches route at Craven Arms and arrived at Shrewsbury a couple of minutes early. The 153 was tolerable enough for such a long journey but of course I had plenty to see, however it would have been good to have had an open window!

I decided to spend an hour in Shrewsbury (a much better centre than
Swansea, in my opinion) to wait for the northbound Premier service which
arrived, well loaded and on time (above), behind 57 315 - we were a few minutes ahead of time as we approached Crewe but were held at signals which led to a late departure. A pleasant run then ensued arriving at Bangor about ''right time.'

A good day out and a very impressive scenic route in such glorious weather. Given the nature of today's service it was hard to imagine that this was once a busy through route from the north-west of England to South Wales, and with only (it seems) a handful of excursion trains a year the tourist potential of the line isn't really exploited enough.

The Club 55 Offer runs until 28 March.

Bersham 1987 - by Robert Meredith

Following the recent photographs from Mark Riley of the current scene at the former Bersham Colliery sidings, these pictures show what is believed to be the last 'Merry-Go-Round' train leaving the colliery with 47 320 on 10 January 1987 for Ironbridge Power Station.

Cardiff to Rhyl 37s - pictures by Dave Sallery

The use of Class 37/4 locos on the North Wales main line from 1993 - 2000 became famous, and indeed led to the foundation of this website, but some years earlier, in 1989, for a short period there was a daily Class 37/4 to be seen on a Cardiff - Rhyl and return working. Above, on 4 May 1989 Cardiff-allocated  37 427 Bont Y Bermo is seen near Prestatyn. This diagram was intended for one of the the then-new Class 155 railcar sets, but after incidents in which the doors of those trains opened while the train was moving, they were all withdrawn for modifications and 37/4s were brought in to take over these and the Manchester - Cardiff trains.

Some former Scottish 37/4s were also pressed into service. Above, seen at Prestatyn Frith on 6 May, is 37 422 complete with 'Westie Dog' symbol of Eastfield depot, Glasgow. un-named at that time, this machine later became Robert F. Fairlie under Regional Railways and a regular North Wales performer.

12 May, and 37 431 Sir Powys / County of Powys. Later that year the 155s re-appeared, and the 37/4s returned to their more normal work such as the through trains to the Cambrian line from London. Later still, most of two-car 155s were split into single coaches, and altered to become the 153s we know and love(?) today.

Conwy Valley engineering - pictures by Peter Lloyd

On the night of 14 March a ballast train ran on the Blaenau Ffestiniog line. The train was 6L94 with 66 002 (above), 66 109 on the rear and 10 'autoballaster' hopper wagons. The train is seen after arrival at Llandudno platform 4 at 21:35; it and went on the branch at 22:15.

The procedure was repeated the next night, this time as 6L96 with 66 20666 185  (pictured, at 22:30) and again 10 autoballasters.

Virgin views

Now-nameless 57 304 appeared again on the Saturday Pendolino working to Holyhead on 17 March, as these pictures by Darren Durrant illustrate.

For a Video version, visit Darren's YouTube channel.

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