Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

24 June 2013

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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

This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page. For the current list visit our Calendar.

July 2013

Saturday 6 July. The Welsh N-Gauge Model Railway Show, organised by the N-Gauge Society North Wales Area Group.An exclusively N-Gauge Exhibition with layouts from the Group and visiting layouts in British and American outline. St Mary's Church hall, Rosehill Steet, Conwy LL32 8LD,10.00am to 4.00pm, adults £3.00  Children £1.50 Refreshments available. Hall fully disabled accessible - car parking, bus stops and rail station adjacent.Further information: 01492 572633.

Saturday 6 July Excursion Statesman Rail 'Welsh Mountain Statesman' Saturday 25 May 2013 Sheffield, and stations to Wolverhampton to Aberystwyth for the Vale of Rheidol Railway. (Fully booked.)

Saturday 6 July Hooton to Helsby 150: special train and other events.

Saturday / Sunday 6-7 July Llangollen Railway Classic Transport Weekend

Saturday / Sunday 6 July Talyllyn Railway Garden Railway weekend.

Saturday 13 July Llangollen Railway Murder Mystery evening

Saturday 20 July Excursion UK Railtours Cardigan Bay Panorama London to Aberystwyth. Note: entirely First Class Dining, fare £169.

27-28 July Llangollen Railway July 1960s weekend

Sunday 28 July Steam on the Coast Railway Touring Company 'North Wales Coast Express' Liverpool - Holyhead - Liverpool. Loco 45305, 46233, 60009 or 70013.

Tuesday 30 July Steam on the Coast Railway Touring Company 'The Welsh Mountaineer' 
Preston-Frodsham-Llandudno Jc -Blaenau Ffestiniog and return. Loco 45305 or 61994.

August 2013

3-4 August Llangollen Railway  Day Out With Thomas

Sunday 4 August Steam on the Coast Railway Touring Company 'North Wales Coast Express' Crewe - Holyhead, steam-hauled Manchester Piccadilly - Altrincham - Chester - Holyhead and return by 45305/70013

8-11 August  Llangollen Railway Day Out With Thomas

Friday/Saturday 9 - 10 August Talyllyn Railway beer festival

Saturday 17 August Vintage Trains 'The Welsh Dragon' Tyseley - Llandudno Junction and return. Loco 5043

Sunday 18 August Steam on the Coast Railway Touring Company 'North Wales Coast Express' Liverpool - Holyhead - Liverpool. Loco 45305, 46233, 60009 or 70013.

Tuesday 20 August Steam on the Coast Railway Touring Company 'The Welsh Mountaineer' 
Preston-Frodsham-Llandudno Jc -Blaenau Ffestiniog and return. Loco 45305 or 61994.

Thursday 22 August Talyllyn Railway Children's 'Duncan' Day

Saturday 24 August Wirral 0 Gauge Group Open Day,  Unit 7, The Odyssey Centre, Corporation Road,
Birkenhead  CH41 1HB American model trains running 13:00 to 17:00.  Admission £2 - ample free parking. Nearest Station Birkenhead Park. Contact 0151 653 0637or j.elliott37[at] for more information. 

30-31 August and 1 September  Llangollen Railway Steam gala

September 2013

Sunday 1 September Steam on the Coast Railway Touring Company 'North Wales Coast Express' Crewe - Holyhead, steam-hauled Manchester Piccadilly - Altrincham - Chester - Holyhead and return by 45305/70013.

Tuesday 3 September Steam on the Coast Railway Touring Company 'The Welsh Mountaineer' 
Preston-Frodsham-Llandudno Jc -Blaenau Ffestiniog and return. Loco 45305 or 61994.

Sunday 8 September Steam on the Coast Railway Touring Company 'North Wales Coast Express' Crewe - Holyhead, steam-hauled Manchester Piccadilly - Altrincham - Chester - Holyhead and return by 45305/70013.

14 September Llangollen Railway Murder Mystery evening

21 September Llangollen Railway Diesel Day

Steam was represented for the weekend of the Llangollen DMU gala by an older answer to branch line working, pannier tank 6430 and push-pull 'autocoach' seen above amid the lush scenery of the Dee valley. Picture by Jack Bowley.

Thanks for all the pictures of the DMU Gala at Llangollen: we have grouped them by day of operation and interspersed them throughout this issue. - Charlie

Conwy - Llanrwst 150 - report by Larry Davies

There was a very successful celebration of the 150 years of service from the Conwy - Llanrwst Railway on Monday 17 June, 2013 North Llanrwst Station.  Above, the big day starts at Llandudno Junction at 07:30, as the train crew prepare to take the token for the single line section to North Llanrwst.

The train was eagerly awaited at North Llanrwst.

The ceremony was opened by the Community Rail Officer, Larry Davies who welcomed Ben Davies, Arriva Trains Wales Stakeholder Manager (on the right in the picture above) who talked of his times on the line and the family connections. Jo Reeve spoke of the enjoyment that she and her colleague Soroptomists from the Dyffryn Conwy Branch have volunteering as the station adopters.  The children of Ysgol Bro Gwydyr sang local songs and they really added to the occasion.  The children, after all, are the future of the line.   Prior to the arrival of the 10:08 train from Llandudno, the Mayor, Cllr Garry Lloyd Jones unveiled a plaque on the station to commemorate this milestone.


The unit officiating on the day was 150 282 (complete with 6G shed plate) the same unit that was on duty on the 22  July, 2009 when a similar celebration took place at Dolwyddelan to commemorate the 130 years of the whole line to Blaenau.  Again, special headboards were carried.

The Llandudno & Conwy Valley Railway Society have prepared an exhibition of history and photos of the line which is on display at St Crwst Parish Church, Llanrwst for two weeks.

Also, other members of the Society who are the station adopters at Tal-y-cafn ...

 ...have added their own contribution at their station.  Both well worth seeing.

End of the day: 150 282 on the last train of  the day on 17 June slows for Glan Conwy station.

Llangollen railcars: the prelude

A late and very popular addition to the roster for the Llangollen Railway's 'DMU gala' on 22-23 June was single-unit railcar 55032 (unit number 121 032) which, refurbished for Arriva Trains Wales, worked the Cardiff Bay branch until recently, as photographed (above) at Cardiff Queen Street in 2010 by Ken Robinson.

Earlier this year it was withdrawn, reportedly because of the difficulty of keeping an 50-year-old non-standard vehicle operating, and sold to Chiltern Railways who are (according to reports) to use it as a source of spare parts for their own vehicles, so the weekend was the last chance for a ride. It was photographed (above) by George Jones on 17 June shortly after arrival from Tyseley.

Later, around 17:00 the class 26 D5310 was being off loaded in the yard after a visit to Loughborough (George Jones).

The Arriva 'bubble-car', having previously propelled a Class 105 vehicle (currently under restoration) from Pentrefelin yard to Llangollen station at around 5.30pm. did a photographic charter on the Friday evening 21 June (6pm start) from Llangollen, seen above at Berwyn (Peter Dickinson).

Liverpool railcars


A selection of pictures by Martin Evans of trains under the roof at Liverpool Lime Street on 20 June. Martin notes: 'Although not as attractive as locomotives, the pictures show the varied stock in use today.' Above, 'Pacer' units 142 036 (right) and 142 055 await their next duty. Unit 055 has the original front-end style with a roller-blind destination indicator.  036 does not have this, as it is one of a batch  (142 041-049 / 051-058) which were refurbished under the auspices of the Merseyside Passenger Transport Executive and feature electronic destination displays as well as diabolically cramped low-back seats. The ventilation grilles on the front also vary: some units have both types.

TransPennine unit 185 138 waiting to begin its journey via Manchester and Leeds to the east coast. These German-built diesel trains, augmented by a small group of 170s, are the mainstay of the TransPennine Express (TPE) fleet, soon to be joined ten new four-car electric trains of Class 350, also built by Siemens in Germany, which will be used on the Manchester Airport - Scotland service from December 2013 - by which time installation of overhead wires on the 'missing link' from Castlefield Junction to Parkside is planned to be complete. TPE have a web article with video about their new stock.


East Midlands Trains (EMT) units 158 854 and 158 847 wait under the graceful curve of the roof for  their next journey to Norwich. Many of these trains are now formed of four coaches, at least as far as Nottingham. Fast services to Manchester via Warrington Central are shared between EMT and TPE, with different Advance ticket offers: only TPE offer a First Class option.

Llangollen Railcars: Saturday 22 June

The first train on Saturday 22 June, Day 1 of the Llangollen Railway's DMU gala was this mega 9-car consist which formed the 09:15 from Llangollen for Carrog,  seen above 'thrashing' towards Berwyn in the rain. Nearest the camera is the other weekend visitor, Class 122 single-unit 55005, from the Battlefield Line in Leicestershire. Class 122 cars are very similar to Class 121, but were built by Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon rather than the Pressed Steel company, and despite the class numbering, are actually older than the Class 121 type. Picture by Jack Bowley.

With the rain now out of the way for a few minutes, the huge 9-car consist rounds the bend out of Glyndyfrdwy station with the 09:50 from Carrog (Jack Bowley).

Jack Bowley writes: 'I was very happy to see ex-Arriva 121 032 (a.k.a. 55032) come around the bend whilst the sun was still out. The 'bubble' heads out of Glyndyfrdwy with the 13:20 Bonwm to Llangollen.' The single unit 'bubblecars' were created for the Western Region of British Railways for use on branch lines, although some did migrate to other areas.

6430 and autocoach 168 at Llangollen (Roger Carvell)

Berwyn, with 55032 (Richard Putley).

55032 exchanging tokens at Deeside loop (Roger Carvell).

55032 at Glyndyfrdwy (Roger Carvell). Above the cab is the box which contained the four-character roller-blind headcode display; the older Class 122 type does not have this, making identification easy.

Token exchange at Carrog (Richard Putley). All the BR 'first-generation' railcars have the engine exhaust pipes at the end, but on the normal type they are at the non-driving and and so less conspicuous.

Carrog (Stuart Harvey). Originally ever5y seating bay had a door, but some were sealed during the Arriva refurbishment, when central door-locking was fitted to the remainder. Are there any records of these Class 121 and 122 units operating on the ordinary lines in North Wales?

Class 108 56223 and the Wickham unit at Carrog (Roger Carvell).

The railway's Derby-built Class 108 at Berwyn (Peter Dickinson)

Cravens-built trailer 56456, currently under restoration, was on view at Llangollen (Roger Carvell).

The interior of 56456, giving an idea of the work involved in the restoration of these vehicles (Roger Carvell). Roger writes: 'The DMU volunteers are to be given a large pat on their back for their professionalism and dedication to keeping the DMU flame (and blue exhaust!) alive.'

Driver experience runs took place on the Saturday evening with the final arrival into Llangollen at around 22:15, using the Class 104 (Peter Dickinson).

Freight views

Flask train 6K73, Sellafield - Crewe, hauled by 37 605 and 37 601, photographed at Acton Bridge by Andrew Vinten on 19 June.  At Crewe the train would be divided to serve different destinations.

56 087 and 56 105 on train 6J37 Carlisle – Chirk logs at Coppull Hall, north of Wigan, Monday 17 June. Picture by Ian Pilkington, who notes: 'I took advantage of a dull evening to photograph from the east side of the line. Class 56 locomotives were never common on this stretch of West Coast Main Line even in their heyday and double-headers unheard of; we’ve now had them on successive Mondays.'

20 309 and 20 305 pass Llandudno Junction heading for Crewe with three flasks, running some two hours early, on 14 June (Jack Bowley).

66 040 and several classmates all queued up on engineering trains between Dorrington and Bayston Hill on the Shrewsbury - Hereford line, Sunday 23 June (Richard Putley).

66 739 Bluebell Railway passing Helsby on 24 June with empty biomass wagons from Edge Hill Tuebrook to Ellesmere Port (Mark Barber). This loco became a celebrity on 28 March when it hauled the first passenger charter over the re-opened connection from the national network on to the Bluebell Railway, and was named to celebrate the occasion.

Steam double

Another view of the strange double header of the Duchess and Castle, mentioned in the last issue, passing Daresbury on 14 June. Picture by Graham Bond who notes: 'The weather changed just in time for the passing as they breezed past.'

A sunny afternoon - with Stavros Lainas

An assortment of pictures taken on the afternoon / evening of 19 June. First was Colas loco 56 094 erupting as it applies power passing Gobowen at 14:16 with log empties for Baglan Bay.

Second is the regular limestone train to Oakleigh from Tunstead. 60 091 was passing Mobberley at 16:42.

A long drive ensued to Cheney Longville, north of Craven Arms, to capture the evening Cardiff - Holyhead service passing me at 19:46.

Llangollen Railcars: Sunday 23 June

Sunday dawned very wet at Carrog but it did not dampen a trip down memory lane to see some of the units that once we took for granted along North Wales lines.  Above, the start of service with the nine-car formation at Glyndyfrdwy. Picture by Larry Davies.  The destination blind read 'Blaenau Ffestiniog', which would be an interesting run!

55032 arrives at Carrog and the token exchange is made.  That's what you call rain!

Truly delightful (Larry Davies). Interestingly, the steam loco, built in 1937, is just a generation - 20 Years - older than the 1957-era Class 104 unit.

55032 rests at Carrog on return from Bonwm (Larry Davies).

At Llangollen (Darren Durrant).

From the Llangollen Railway forum:

 'On behalf of the Railway I would like to thank all volunteers and staff for their efforts in making the weekend’s Railcar Gala such a success. Despite running 16 trains each way each day we never got more than 10 minutes out on the timetable, passenger numbers were very good overall, but most important we all had a lot of fun. This morning I am getting a lot of feedback from satisfied customers, including quite a lot from senior members of other railways who were present and it is all very complimentary. It was great to see both railway staff and our passengers having such a good time, with many commenting that they really enjoyed the barbecue and social event on the Saturday evening. To to all of those who contributed in any way, however small, very many thanks. Your assistance and effort really is appreciated. - Evan Green-Hughes, Chairman, Llangollen Railcar Group.'

To which we at the North Wales Coast website add our thanks to all concerned on behalf of our contributors and readers.

Passenger miscellany

The longest days of the year,  and along comes the annual 'Three Peaks Challenge by Rail' train from London on its way to Bangor, passing through Chester on what was a murky evening of 20 June (Picture by Bob Greenhalgh). DRS provided the traction, in the form of 47 501 Craftsman (above) and 47 805. The passengers, mostly staff from the rail industry, would spend the night walking up and down Snowdon before returning to the train for the journey to the Cumbrian Coast for the ascent of Scafell Pike and to Fort William for Ben Nevis. The aim is to raise money for the Railway Children charity: did anyone reading this participate in the challenge?

In failing light on 21 June, 67 001 hurries past Abergele with the 18:21 Cardiff - Holyhead (Roly High).

Now in the new Arriva Trains Wales livery is 150 251, pictured by George Jones shunting to the bay platform at Wrexham General on finishing its day's work on the Bidston line.

Virgin Super Voyager 221 105 William Baffin departs Rhyl for Holyhead with train 1D83 from Crewe at 11:37 on Sunday 23 June (Roly High). This train runs 20 minutes behind Sundays-only empty stock train 5D43 from Crewe to Holyhead, also a Super Voyager (221 108 Sir Ernest Shackleton on this occasion). Would it not be more cost-effective to run these two units as one train, and split them at Holyhead?

6430 bows out - report by George Jones

The occasion of the Railway's annual Railcar Gala saw one the regular steam engines based at Llangollen operate its final passenger trains on Sunday 23 June 2013 when No. 6430 completed ten years in service since restoration to working order. The pictures above shows 6430 at Llangollen on its final day in service before overhaul, and members of the train crew as they prepare for the final departure. Left to right are: Ben Jackson driver, Wayne Ronneback guard, Martyn Amys Ticket Inspector and signalman Paul Reynolds.

The popular Great Western Pannier Tank engine is now withdrawn for a major overhaul after its boiler certificate expired. On its last day in service it ran with the Great Western Autocoach owned by the group based in Oswestry as the steam train option on a day when other train services on the Dee Valley line were provided by the heritage diesel railcars.

6430 is a brave little engine, having been restored at Llangollen from a very basic kit of parts after it had survived a visit to a scrapyard when originally withdrawn by British Railways. It is the only main line steam engine to have escaped from a scrapyard other than the famous one at Barry, South Wales from which many steam locomotives were rescued. After it had donated various parts to keep another pannier tank in service, a lot of the missing parts were re-made at Llangollen to allow the engine to be restored to working order by 2003. Since then it has achieved fame as part of the two-coach Great Western branch line auto-train. It has been a worthy ambassador for the Llangollen Railway during its visits other heritage railways in Britain during its ten years in service. We hope that a fast track overhaul of the boiler and mechanical parts will allow for an early return to service.

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