Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

30 April 2012

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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

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:
(now fully booked but a waiting list is in operation.)

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, Llandudno Junction (coach transfer to Llandudno), Bangor and Holyhead.

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 Cancelled

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. Cancelled.

Saturday 15 September Excursion Cheshire Cat Tours Aberystwyth - and stations to Crewe - to Carlisle.

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. Cancelled.

Pictured by David Parry from the first public train from Bonwm to Llangollen on 21 April, a historic meeting of the Ffestiniog’s Palmerston and the Talyllyn’s Dolgoch takes place on specially-laid dual-gauge track, under the watchful eye of a volunteer ensuring it doesn’t turn into a 'battle of gauges.' Many more Llangollen Gala pictures below; our thanks to all who sent them.

Freight update

Colas locomotive 66 850 on 6J37 12:44 Carlisle - Chirk log train, Tuesday 24 April. The train has reached the summit of the 4½ mile climb at 1 in 90/85 from Whalley Viaduct to Brownhill on the edge of Blackburn, at about 15 mph (Ian Pilkington).

The Chirk-bound log train passes through Chester station, 19 April, with 66 846 in charge (Dave Sallery).

Cargoes of ballast stone for Manchester Metrolink extensions are still running on an irregular basis. Above, train 6D22 Crewe to Penmaenmawr with 66 616 + 22 empty wagons approaching Llandudno Junction in the pouring rain 173 minutes late at 13:23 on 20 April (Peter Lloyd).

Above, 66 607 heads along the Coast at old Colwyn with 6H45 Penmaenmawr - Guide Bridge on 27 April. Also available on video. (Darren Durrant)

A little bird(!) tells us that Karen and Kim the dummy hawks (falcons?) at Prestatyn station (last issue) are named in honour of two Arriva Trains Wales managers for the North Wales area. We hope they consider it an honour...

Back to Marc Jones' picture of steel-carrying wagons being scrapped at Dee March (16 April issue, repeated above). Thanks to Michael Cox who writes: 'I was on a visit to Dee Marsh signal box last year and in the yard there were 4 IHA bogie curtain-sided steel wagons. These IHA wagons were a longer version than used on the steel trains at present. 31 87 4904-032-9, 4904-046-9, 4904-020-4, and  4904-031-1. Looking at the photo, I think these could be the ones. They are not in the current Inter-City Railway Society wagon book.' The GE Information sheet suggests they were built in the 1980s - now, why were they scrapped?

An interesting recent feature in the Middlewich Diary blog tells of the 'Pull and Push Farewell' railtour operated by the Locomotive Club of Great Britain (hence the LCGB headboard) on 5 February 1966 which visited Middlewich station.

Following the death of owner Gregory Fox, the publication of the 'Foxline' series of illustrated railway books has passed to Book Law Publications of Nottingham, and we are pleased to see that among the first books to re-appear are two North Wales-related titles: Return to Pwllheli Please by Derek Lowe, and The Llangollen Line: Ruabon to Barmouth by Bill Rear and Norman Jones, which has been reprinted with additional material by Derek Lowe.

57 313 worked the 'Pendolino drag' on 28 April after a week without one; it is seen above with the distinctive spire of Rhyl church. (Picture by Darren Durrant). The Monday - Friday Arriva Trains Wales express is now 67-hauled, so this train cannot be used for changing over its locos as has sometimes been the case in the past. The same Class 57 that goes to Holyhead with the 'Pendo' will always (failures excepted) return with it to Crewe and then run light-engine to Manchester Longsight depot via Stockport where it can often be seen on Saturday afternoons waiting in one of the loop lines.

Class 158 refurbishment work continues as planned. Peter Spence writes to tell us that the 15th unit to be done, 158 841, is now back in service, and the 16th, 158 839, entered the LNWR works at Crewe on 16 April. This leaves just 8 more to be done, five of which still wear the old Wales and Borders silver-grey livery.

Steel, Steam and Stars 3 - nine days at Llangollen

Having arrived at Llangollen on Wednesday 18 April, and prior to its appearance in the Steel, Steam and Stars III (SSS3) Gala, 60163 Tornado worked the 11:00 Llangollen - Bonwm on 20 April, the first passenger train to work beyond Carrog since 1965. Primarily for staff and workers on the extension, it was nevertheless a service train and for a nominal extra £5, the fare-paying public could stay on at Carrog to ride along to the temporary railhead limit. Fortunately, the squally heavy showers of rain and hail abated by the time Tornado reached Mark Riley's photographic location (above), and the train is shown slowing on approach to Bonwm farm. 7822 Foxcote Manor is out of sight at the rear of the train.

Approaching Glyndyfrdwy on Saturday 21 April, the classic duo, LNWR Coal Tank 58926 piloting Super D 49395. Picture by David Parry (some vegetation edited from the foreground.)

At rest in the Llangollen headshunt in the early evening, Caledonian 828 epitomises the art of the Victorian locomotive engineer (David Parry).

828 works a freight at Glyndyfrdwy on 21 April (Martin Evans).

'Black 5' 44806 and 70000 Britannia at Llangollen at 5pm on Saturday 21 April (Martin Evans).

Mark Riley writes:  'On the morning of 22 April, my attempt (and everyone else's) at photographing Tornado departing with the 09:00 from Llangollen went a bit awry when the driver opened the cylinder cocks on approach to the Goods Junction. It was worse for poor David Wilcock, Steam Railway magazine photographer, and the official photographer for the Gala, who was at the lineside at the time (he's under all that steam somewhere).'

Great Western GWR '5101 class' 2-6-2T 5199 heads the 13:55 Carrog - Llangollen demonstration freight towards Glyndyfrdwy on 22 April (Ian Pilkington).

On 23 April, 70000 Britannia heads along the extension towards Bonwm on a fine morning and with a packed-out train. 44806  is pushing at the rear (Mark Riley).

On 24 April 7822 Foxcote Manor was providing 'driving experience' runs between Carrog and Bonwm. Taken near the crossing on the footpath linking the A5 with Carrog village, Robert Darlaston's picture above shows the loco returning tender-first towards Carrog.


Above: 5199 at Carrog with the 14:30 from Llangollen on 24 April (Robert Darlaston). This train should have continued to Bonwm with 5199 and 49395 "topping and tailing" but the Super D had been failed with a broken spring, so the train was unable to go further because of the lack of run-round facilities at Bonwm.   5199 has only recently been restored to the unlined BR black livery (with "mono-cycling lion" crest) which it had worn in the 1950s.   The loco has an 84F shedplate, reflecting its allocation to Stourbridge Junction throughout the 1950s when it was a regular performer on Birmingham area locals including services from Snow Hill to Kidderminster and Bewdley.


5199 at Glyndyfrdwy with the 13:35 Carrog - Llangollen on 24 April (Robert Darlaston).

Mark Hambly writes:  'Two pictures from a very wet day at SSS3 at Llangollen on Thursday, 26 April. I went specifically to see the 'Coal Tank' and 'Super D' 0-8-0 49395 as I had last seen the Coal Tank running on the brewery shuttles out of Manchester Victoria in the 1980s and had never seen the Super D working. It was great to be there despite the weather. In the course of the day the pair worked their train westwards from Carrog (above) over the Corwen extension as far as Bonwm three times.

'Above, the pair at Glyndyfwrdwy. The focus was on commemorating the use of a similar pairing on the Stephenson Locomotive Society tour marking the closure of the line from Abergavenny to Merthyr on 5 January 1958. Carrog to Bonwm and return was worked 'top & tail', with the 0-8-0 at the Corwen end and 58926 at the Llangollen end.'

Saturday 28 April: The London & North Western double header on the 12:05 Llangollen - Carrog at Garth y Dwr (Ian Pilkington).

2' gauge meets 2'3" gauge at Carrog: Ffestiniog Railway 0-4-0ST Palmerston of 1864 and Talyllyn 0-4-0WT Dolgoch of 1866 at rest after a day's work giving footplate rides (Ian Pilkington).

The crew of BR 2-6-4T 80072 (piloting BR 4-6-2 70000 Britannia) pass the time away at Glyndyfrdwy on the 2035 Carrog - Llangollen, 28 April(Ian Pilkington).


Mark Riley writes: 'The finale of SSS3 on 29 April saw nine locos linked up for a cavalcade to Carrog. Weather was appalling, having rained all day. I gave up after five minutes at Carrog in driving rain and took a chance at Glyndyfrdwy where it was still raining but less head on! The cavalcade was over an hour late and light was even worse by then, but I just salvaged this poor quality picture of it approaching Glyndyfrdwy station. Note that these were the locos only timetabled for the Sunday, and therefore the line-up didn't include 44806 or Foxcote Manor.

George Jones writes: The weather forecast was certainly accurate for Sunday with rain and a chill wind in the Dee Valley. The field at Glyndyfrdwy was becoming waterlogged and by midday exhibitors were calling it a day and heading home.  The Corwen exhibition closed at 15:00 when the supply of visitors finally dried up and there were two hours to wait for the scheduled cavalcade. However the timetable had gone awry. The cavalcade was heard coming round from Deeside at 18:50t; my picture above shows the Coal Tank in the lead.

The engines behind were in chronological age order - the  final view of the rear shows Tornado pushing.

All those involved in operating the trains and the railway, in whatever capacity, and the organising Betton Grange Society are to be congratulated for their efforts over the nine days, and more, often on the most trying of circumstances. It was a maximum effort. One hopes all the effort involved in putting the show on the rails will produce a positive result for the organising group and spin-off for the railway.

Talyllyn Railway news - press release

There have been several pieces of good news lately from the Talyllyn Railway. First final traffic figures for 2011 show that passenger journeys increased by 2.1% to 86,975, which made for a satisfying conclusion to its Diamond Jubilee year as the world’s first preserved railway.

However, since then there has been further good news. First of all came a significant increase in passenger numbers for the December Santa Specials. In 2010 these had been badly affected by snow and had to be curtailed or cancelled, but in comparison with 2009 when the specials ran normally, 2011 passenger numbers showed no less than a 73% increase.

This trend has continued into the new year with traffic on the Sundays only service in March being encouraging. However, the recent Easter week services showed no less than a near 30% increase over the Easter week in 2011. Many trains had to be strengthened with additional carriages during the week.

Meanwhile on the line other work has been going on. Track-relaying on the section of line between Tywyn Wharf and Tywyn Pendre is more or less complete with only some finishing off work remaining to be done. At Quarry Siding the structure of the new shed for the storage of engineering stock is complete and awaiting track-laying. The shed will be known as 'The Guest House' in honour of the late long standing TR volunteer and driver Phil Guest. (The pictures show the exterior and interior of the new structure.)

Elsewhere work on the new body for carriage No.21 is proceeding at Boston Lodge works on the Ffestiniog Railway. In the works at Tywyn Pendre progress continues on locomotives No.6  Douglas/Duncan and No.7 Tom Rolt, while the boiler for No.4 Edward Thomas is away at Israel Newton and Son’s boiler works for substantial repairs to be carried out. No.3 Sir Haydn will continue in service until, as previously announced, it will going to the Corris Railway where it will be running for the final weeks of its boiler certificate.

Dave Scotson,  Chief Executive of the Talyllyn Railway comments: 'While we recognise this is still only early in 2012, the passenger figures are most encouraging, and with all the other activity taking place shows that the TR is moving forward.’ For further information call Tywyn Wharf on 01654 710472, or visit

Waverley Express - report by Ken Robinson

We had a great day out on Saturday 21 April's 'Waverley Express' organised by the Chester Model Railway Club from Shrewsbury , Gobowen, Wrexham, Bache, Hooton and Frodsham to Edinburgh Waverley - a day which started pretty early for some as the 0Z44 light engine move for 67 027 Rising Star and 67 005 Queen's Messenger from Crewe depot at 03:40! After picking up the stock from Crewe holding sidings, departure for the train (1Z44) was at 06:40 from Shrewsbury, and it kept to its timings more or less throughout the day. The first I took was of the green liveried D5613 at Warrington Arpley sidings.

Next (above) comes the station at Waverley shortly after arrival, with our train at platform 8 - as can be seen there's lots of work going on at the moment - due for completion in September.

Third comes 67 027 entering platform 8 as the 5Z45 empty stock working from Millerhill sidings.

Then it's a close-up of 67 005 at the rear of what had become 1Z45, the return excursion, clearly showing the nameplate.

Last it's a photo of a string of ex-North Wales/Cambrian 37/4's at DRS Kingmoor depot near Carlisle, which includes 37 410, 37 426, 37 406 and 37 401. Others were present including 37 422 and the original Bont Y Bermo - 37 427. It's good that DRS are taking these on.

Editor's note - two others, 37 419 and 37 425, have already been overhauled at Barrow Hill and should be seen in traffic soon. We understand that others will be returned to traffic using parts from DRS class 37/0 locos which will be withdrawn. 37/4s are more versatile as they are able to provide a heating and lighting supply to a passenger train.

Compass Tour to York, 18 April - report by Roly High

Above, 47 580 County of Essex drags the empty stock into a wet Hooton station. Due to constraints by Network Rail the scheduled steam
loco (48151) replaced the 47 at Preston.

47 580 carries the unofficial Stratford depot 'Cockney Sparrow' divided in the 1980s.

48151 at Preston.

The shunter at work coupling the loco's support coach to the train.

47 760 on the back of the train.

Some of the coaches were hired from Hogwarts Railways!

Inside the National Railway Museum, York.

Visit the Compass Tours website for details of their forthcoming tours.

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