Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

05 August 2013

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Forthcoming events

This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page.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

August 2013

8-11 August  Llangollen Railway Day Out With Thomas

Friday/Saturday 9 - 10 August Talyllyn Railway beer festival

Saturday 17 August  Steam on the Coast Vintage Trains 'The Welsh Dragon' Tyseley - Llandudno Junction and return. Loco 5043. Times: Outward / Return

Saturday 17 August Excursion NENTA Train tours: Llandudno & Ffestiniog Explorer Norwich - Blaenau Ffestiniog (fully booked). Traction: WCRC 47 /57.

Sunday 18 August Steam on the Coast Railway Touring Company 'North Wales Coast Express' Crewe - Holyhead, steam-hauled Manchester Piccadilly - Altrincham - Chester - Holyhead and return. Note change of route.  Times: Outward / Return

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.  Times: Outward / Return

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

Saturday 24 August Excursion Compass Tours Perth - Holyhead. Traction: WCRC diesels.

Saturday 24 August Wirral 0 Gauge Group Open Day,  Unit 7, The Odyssey Centre, Corporation Road,
Birkenhead  CH41 1HB Amwerican 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' steam-hauled Manchester Piccadilly - Altrincham - Chester - Holyhead and return. Note, does not start from Crewe due to engineering works.

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.

Friday 6 September  Clwyd Railway Circle Larry Davies  '1962, A year of so much change'  Major changes were about to happen on the national network; Larry shares his observations with us.

Sunday 8 September Steam on the Coast Railway Touring Company 'North Wales Coast Express' steam-hauled Liverpool - Chester - Holyhead and return. Note change of route.

Wednesday 11 September Excursion Mid-Cheshire Rail Users Association Settle & Carlisle Express Scenic Railtour. Outward journey via the Settle & Carlisle Railway, a stopover in Carlisle and returning via the Cumbrian Coast line. This year the train starts at Hooton, then picks up at Chester, most stations on the Mid Cheshire Line, Stockport and Reddish South. As usual, there are reserved seats, a buffet car, trolley service and a MCRUA detailed route description.

Saturday 14 September Llangollen Railway Murder Mystery evening

Saturday 21 September Llangollen Railway Diesel Day

28 September Community Rail Festival at Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog in conjunction with the Community rail awards.

October 2013

Friday 4 October   Clwyd Railway Circle   Ian Mainprize  'Narrow Gauge Railways of the Harz Mountains' The talk comprises a section by section description of the narrow-gauge system, each section being illustrated by a map followed by photographs taken by Ian during the early 1990's. The history, infrastructure, rolling stock and locomotives are covered, and the railways are placed in context with regard to the history, geography and people of the area.

Saturday 5 October Steam at Chester West Coast Railway Company 'Welsh Borders Steam Special.' Cleethorpes - Shrewsbury and return. Steam-hauled Crewe - Chester - Shrewsbury - Whitchurch - Crewe by 44932, 45699, 46115, or 48151.

12 October Llangollen Railway Real Ale Train evening

Saturday 19 October Steam at Chester West Coast Railway Company 'The Cheshireman' Cleethorpes - Chester. Steam-hauled by 70013: Cleethorpes - Doncaster - Sheffield - Altrincham - Chester - Doncaster.

19-20 October Llangollen Railway Days Out with Thomas

26-27 October  Llangollen Railway Days Out with Thomas

31 Oct  Llangollen Railway Ghost Train evening

November 2013

Friday 1 November   Clwyd Railway Circle  Paul Davies   'The Buckley Railway and the Industries it served' The talk celebrates the 150th Anniversary of the railway.     

Saturday 2 November  Llangollen Railway Murder Mystery evening

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

Sunday 3 November Llangollen Railway Ride the Rocket evening

9-10 November Llangollen Railway Remembrance Weekend

30 November Llangollen Railway Santa Specials

December 2013

1 December Llangollen Railway Santa Specials

Friday 6 December   Clwyd Railway Circle   'Members Night & Christmas Celebration' 
Members are invited to give a 15/20 minute presentation of their choice (any format). This will be interrupted by festive treats (all high calories). Members must book their slot no later than 16th November by telephoning David Jones.

7-8 December Llangollen Railway Santa Specials

14-15 December Llangollen Railway Santa Specials

20-24 December Llangollen Railway Santa Specials

7 December Llangollen Railway Real Ale Train evening

26-31 December  Llangollen Railway Mince Pie Specials.

January 2014

1 January 2014 Llangollen Railway Mince Pie Specials.

Friday 3 January   Clwyd Railway Circle  David Rapson  'Wrexham to Bidston Line' A history of the route illustrated with pictures covering the last 70 years.

February 2014

Friday 7 February    Clwyd Railway Circle   Brian Bollington & Peter Hanahoe  'Polish Steam' The presentation is a mix of slide shows and video showing steam on the national network, including shed scenes, taken in the 1990’s.  

March 2014

Friday 7 March    Clwyd Railway Circle    The Committee & David Southern AGM followed by the talk 'Railways of the Wirral'    After the formality is over, we can look forward to Dave sharing his railway experiences of 60 years living on the Wirral.

April 2014

Friday 4 April    Clwyd Railway Circle   Ron Watson-Jones   'The Irish Mail Train Crash at Penmaenmawr Aug 1950' Ron’s account of the accident on 27th August 1950.

Train 1Z27, 16:00 Blaenau Ffestiniog to Preston return railtour, between Llanddulas and Abergele & Pensarn station, 30 July. Picture by Ian Wilson.

December timetable news

Above, 67 001 with the summer-Saturday 14:40 Crewe - Holyhead relief train on 3 August (Peter Lloyd).

We hear from several sources that the new timetable from December 2013 will see changes to the Monday - Friday northbound run of this train on the 'Premier Service'  - although it should be said that timetable information available at this stage should be taken as provisional, and subject to consultation. Adam Barnard writes:

I was having a look at the Open Train Times website and I have discovered that Gerald has been re-timed to depart Cardiff at 17:16 as of December, replacing the current 17:21 Cardiff - Holyhead. This has presumably been done in an attempt to attract more custom. The 18:21 departure from Cardiff now forms part of a Llanelli to Chester service, run as the return working of the newly extended 10:40 Holyhead to Llanelli. The old 17:21 stopping service from Cardiff is replaced at the northern end of the line by a 19:24 Shrewsbury to Holyhead. The lack of 1st class and restaurant service being shown are a clerical error, as funding from the assembly for them both is still in place.

Other changes include the 17:30 Holyhead to Shrewsbury running fast between Llandudno Junction and Chester, being replaced at stations along the coast by a Llandudno Junction - Chester stopper, and the 17:08 from Birmingham International and 17:50 ex-Manchester swapping destinations.

When the Cardiff departure of the loco-hauled express was changed from 16:16 to 18:21 a couple of years ago, many people, including your compiler, thought 'someone has blundered', and so it has proved, with the restaurant car reportedly serving just one or two people on many journeys.  Just about suitable for passengers from Cardiff, people boarding at points further north (Shrewsbury 20:05 for example) will surely have already eaten an evening meal.

Re-instating an evening peak train from Manchester to Holyhead, in a further departure from Arriva's prized 'clock-face' timetable, will be welcome, although one imagines that most commuters would the 17:19 timing which for several years operated as a loco-hauled train.

We are still hearing of possible diversion to the Llandudno - Manchester service to Manchester Victoria and on to Stalybridge; it seems there is such a plan for the future as part of the 'Northern Hub' scheme, but it won't be happening in December 2013 as there are major engineering works at Manchester Victoria station.

North Wales Coast Express, 4 August

The 'North Wales Coast Express' from Crewe to Holyhead and back, organised by the Railway Touring Company on 4 August, followed a somewhat complicated route on its English section. Starting from Crewe, the train ran to Manchester Piccadilly hauled by diesel 47 580 County of Essex, with 45 231 The Sherwood Forester tender-forward on the rear of the train. In this configuration it stopped to pick up passengers at Wilmslow where Vince Chadwick was on hand with his camera.

The nameplate (Vince Chadwick). 45231, built in 1936 by Armstrong Whitworth, survived in British Railways traffic until the last year of steam, 1968, when it was allocated to Carnforth depot and was bought from there for preservation. Since then it has had a number of owners; while at the Great Central Railway in 1976 it received the name 3rd (Volunteer) Battalion The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment, replaced in 1997 by The Sherwood Forester. It was first re-certified for main-line running in 2007. 'Royal Scot' class loco 46112 carried this name, but without the 'The.' Curiously, the nameplates for 45231 have been cast in the curved shape designed to fit over the 'splashers' found on large locos, even though the 'Black 5' type does not have this feature.

The crew of 45231 relax at Wilmslow (Vince Chadwick).

The train continued in reverse formation, passing non-stop through Stockport station, to Manchester Piccadilly where passengers were picked up and the steam loco then headed the train back to a pick-up stop at Stockport, which coincided with a 'rail day' event which was taking place (see item below).

Arrived at Stockport's platform 2, where spectators look penned-in behind the anti-suicide fence. Behind, the early work on the new multi-storey car park makes its presence felt. It will be interesting to see what possibilities this offers for train photography.

Departure, with safety-valve blowing off madly, as enthusiasts on platform 3, whose view had been blocked by an arriving Pendolino from London, ignore the station staff's exhortations to 'stay behind the yellow line.'

From Stockport, the train headed for Altrincham, where it picked up more passengers before continuing to Chester and North Wales. Vince Chadwick took this picture from from a stile where a public footpath crosses the line near Mobberley.

Hard on the heels of the special was 175 107; Arriva service towards North Wales are diverted this way on Sundays at present due to electrification work on the normal route via Eccles (Vince Chadwick).

A bird gets out of the way of the train approaching Greenbank (Eric Scott)

A 17-minute stop for water was booked at Greenbank: note the hose across the platform (Eric Scott).

The excursion seen crossing the Shropshire Union Canal outside Chester (Jeff Albiston).

An 'old-fashioned' view approaching Abergele (Greg Mape).

45231 with a rather dirty fire passes through the ever-encroaching trackside greenery as it approaches Flint (Glyn Jones).

Llanddulas viaduct, with the North Wales Coast cycleway in the foreground (Peter Basterfield). The train called at Llandudno Junction for more water, but did not venture down the Llandudno branch like some excursions, calling only at Bangor on the way to Holyhead where the train was serviced and the loco turned on the Valley triangle.

In the rain at Bangor on the return journey (Peter Basterfield).

Bangor (Tom Peacock).

leaving Conwy and heading for the Penmaenbach  Tunnel. (Peter Basterfield).

Passing Gwrych Castle. 4 August was the 45th anniversary of the last day of steam working on British Rail normal service trains, the famous '15-guinea special' on 11 August 1968 was an excursion. Picture by Larry Goddard. In 1968 Gwrych Castle was a tourist attraction: today it is vandalised wreck awaiting the outcome of yet another proposal to develop it as a hotel, this time from a firm called Castell Developments. Picture by Larry Goddard.

Rhyl (Roly High). The presence of two cars hints that, following a shift change, the outgoing signaller stayed to watch.

Pulling away from Rhyl: 47 580 on the rear (Roly High). The rolling stock, as usual with Railway Touring Co. day trips, was supplied by West Coast Railways. From what we saw, the standard-class accommodation was well-filled from Manchester, although the Pullman class seemed sparsely populated.

A brief editorial comment: the standard class fare on these trains, £69, compares quite well with the £46.90 'anytime' return from Manchester to Holyhead (although cheaper 'Advance' tickets are available) but how does the experience match up? A mundane loco hauling some slightly shabby coaches, some might say.

Stockport 170 - report by Charlie Hulme

Stockport station was en fȇte on Sunday 4 August, raising money for charity and continuing the celebration of the 170th anniversary of its opening by the Manchester and Birmingham Railway in 1843, on completion of the nearby viaduct.  There were stalls from various groups and traders, and some model railways, and, most interesting in my view, DB Schenker sent a Class 60 locomotive, the regular power on limestone trains from the Peak District,  to sit in bay platform 3A, accompanied by its friendly driver. The picture above shows two classic British products: the Class 60 freight loco (built in Loughborough with a diesel engine built by Mirrlees in Stockport) and the author's Dawes bicycle. The loco entered traffic in 1991, and was recently overhauled; the bike dates from 1995 and has had most of its parts replaced over the years.

The train in the background is Italian-built Virgin Pendolino 390 156, which had just been named Stockport 170 in a ceremony carried out by ubiquitous railway celebrity Pete Waterman. Tweets from Virgin Trains had claimed this would take place at 11:30 ...

... but in fact it happened at 10:30 and I missed it. Never mind, I have seen Mr Waterman before.

60 020 was looking very good in its German livery, and cab visits were being encouraged...

... an experience not to be missed, I thought.

The cab layout looks very tidy.

Some of the dials. The brake pipe pressure in Bars, the 'dartboard' indicator of the Automatic Warning System which reminds the driver he has acknowledged a warning of an approaching stop signal, and two speedometers. The one on the right, reading 0 -3 mph, applies when 'slow speed control' used when the train is passing through loading or unloading facilities.

For whatever reason. DB Schenker does not use the standard Deutsche Bahn DIN 1451 typeface for its numbers, which would look like the right-hand version above.

Oh yes, and the 'North Wales Coast Express' called at 11:00 (see item above).

The West Shore Railway - pictures by Dennis Oliver

The West Shore Miniature Railway in Llandudno is operated by the North Wales Model Engineering Society, and is offering ride to the public on its new site. The present track layout requires 'top-n-tail' operation, but when complete there will be a continuous loop.

Trains will be running every Saturday and Bank Holiday Weekends in July and August from 11:00 to 16:00 (12:00 to 16:00 the rest of the year). (Is that a Class 37?) The mixed-gauge track allows use by locos of two different scales.

Rides are for all ages, although to ride on the trains, footwear must be worn. See the Society website for more information.


Birkenhead Corporation tram no. 20 approaching Woodside from the Wirral Transport Museum in Taylor Street on 3 August 2013. The imposing ventilation tower for the Queensway Road Tunnel under the Mersey (built in 1934) can be seen in the background. Picture by Chris Morrison.

Following its role in the Llangollen Railway 1960s gala, 45337 (stripped of its 45156 identity, but still complete with 'weathering' and inscriptions,  has now moved back to the North Norfolk Railway for a further loan after proving itself following repair. Peter Basterfield came across the 'Black 5 on the A5' , on an Alleleys road vehicle on 31 July, and managed to get ahead of it to stop and take a picture for us.

Cheadle Hulme station on 1 August, as 60009 Union of South Africa heads to Crewe with its support coach (Greg Mape).

A pair of 'yellow perils'  going south over Barmouth viaduct, returning from Porthmadog at just after 18:00 on 18 July (Kate Jones). A chance to mention that Richard W. Jones has now published the second part of colour book about locos on the Cambrian, this one, entitled Canaries on the Cambrian,  being devoted to the yellow 97/3s. See the Blurb website for details. A third book will be available which will be a combined volume, though with a few images taken out (to avoid too much unnecessary duplication).

150 260 picks up passengers at Dolwydellan while working the 11:46 Blaenau Ffestiniog to Llandudno on 30 July, day of the 'Welsh Mountaineer' excursion's visit to the line. The trains would later be delayed in the passing loop at North Llanrwst due to the late running of the excursion (see item below). Picture by Larry Goddard.

Ffestiniog Railway replica Lynton & Barnstaple 2-6-2T Lyd heads the 14:25 Porthmadog - Blaenau Ffestiniog past Llyn Ystradau on 31 July. The original trackbed and Moelwyn Tunnel entrance can be seen in the background (Ian Pilkington).

The freighter Peru (gross tonnage 2993 Tonnes), loading stone at Raynes jetty on 25 July, before sailing for Ghent (Dave Sallery).

Freight report

The flask train re-appeared in North Wales on 1 August after several weeks' absence, starring 37 603 and 37 607. Photograph at Bangor by Peter Basterfield.

Llandudno Junction at 15:51 on 1 August. Picture by Peter Lloyd who writes: 'What a treat that was: when the driver opened up it shook the station and scared all the seagulls on the roofs.'

An unidentified Colas class 56 leads the Carlisle - Chirk Kronospan logs over the Cefn Mawr viaduct on 1 August (David Parry).

An interesting development in the Manchester area is that electric freight trains are now allowed on the Great Eastern line, with the result that Trafford Park - Felixstowe container trains can be hauled by electric locos rather than than Class 66 diesels. Above, seen from the Metrolink station on 31 July, the 14:16 Trafford Park - Felixstowe passes Deansgate station hauled by 92 032 ImechE Railway Division, the only 92 currently in the colours of GB Railfreight. The loco actually belongs to Europorte, a fellow subsidiary of Eurotunnel. The others are in a version of their original grey; we believe the working fleet comprises 92 010 / 028 / 032 / 038 / 043  /044.

Later that afternoon, the Freightliner train to Felixstowe, 16:16 from Trafford Park was noted with a pair of Class 86/6 electrics.

Voyager Numbers etc.

Many thanks to Jack Bowley for the answer to our question about the re-location of the numbers on Virgin Trains Class 221 Voyagers, and the picture showing both varieties. It transpires that new skirting around the nose of the leading cars is being fitted. The skirts are the same ones as used on the Class 222 'Meridians' as the Voyager ones are not in production any more. The more streamlined shape has meant the numbers have had to be moved up to the red part of the body-shell. It's all part of the 'Voyager Upgrade Scheme which includes:  Improved TMS (train management computer system),  new skirts, and refurbished toilets which talk to customers. Let's hope they are also less smelly.

The Welsh Mountaineer, 30 July

'The Welsh Mountaineer' was Railway Touring Company excursion from Preston to Blaenau Ffestiniog on 30 July, hauled by former London and North Eastern Railway locomotive 61994 The Great Marquess, assisted by 37 516 Loch Laidon.  We pick up the train at Rhyl in two views by Roly High.

The loco is running tender-first from Chester in order to be running forwards up the gradients of the Conwy Valley: the train crew need to hang out of the cab windows for a clear view ahead.

The train was running late after being held by the railway Controllers at Warrington Bank Quay station for 50 minutes in the early morning. The reason for this delay, as we understand it, can be traced to the working of the Colas Rail log train from Baglan Bay to Chirk. This arrived at Chester on 29 July, planned to stable there overnight. The length of the train was shown on the computer as over 1300 feet, too long for any of the loop lines, so it was placed on the 'up and down main' line between platforms 3 and 4 on the assumption that it would depart for Chirk at 05:23 as booked. Unfortunately, due to a 'staff problem' - apparently no driver was available - it did not depart until much later. With the up and down main road blocked, the crossover in the middle of platform 3 was also unusable. It was necessary to run the steam loco round the triangle west of the station so it could haul the train tender-first to Llandudno Junction, and the coaches would have had to be left in a platform during this.  It was felt that with only one through platform available for both directions during this operation there would be serious congestion, so the excursion had to wait until something was sorted out.

Larry Goddard photographed the train near Dolwyddelan on the Conwy Valley line. 61994 had been run round the train for the necessary reversal at Llandudno Junction, leaving the diesel on the rear.

37 516 on the rear, under orders to assist the train to reduce fire risk from the steam loco,  was putting out as much smoke (and a lot more noise!) as 61994 as the train climbed in earnest through Dolwydellan (Larry Goddard).

Entering Blaenau Ffestiniog past the slate mountains (Larry Goddard).

Entering Blaenau Ffestiniog (Ken Robinson). This loco was bought for preservation in the early 1960s, and restored in LNER apple green livery. In recent times, however, it has become the fashion to paint locos in the British Railways liveries of the 1950s which some preservationists remember with nostalgia, even if it seems rather boring to the general public.

Soon after arrival and a sprint up the platform by Ken Robinson.

Running round, passing 37 516 which remained at the Llandudno Junction end of the train.

Portrait of the K4 beside Blaenau Ffestiniog graveyard (Larry Goddard). The small driving wheels of the Class K4 type, designed by Nigel Gresley for the gradients of the West Highland line, and actually well-suited to the Conwy Valley, are a clear identification feature.

The train shunted to the loop at Blaenau Ffestiniog to free the platform for the service train. Picture by Aaron Proctor, who writes: 'Pictures taken from the Ffestiniog platform, not the track. I was surprised that despite plenty of staff being present people were allowed to wander off the platform at will. A poor example was set by the men in hi-vis jackets sitting on the rails after emerging from the cab of 61994. '

The train awaits its return run (Aaron Proctor). The Loch Laidon name was transferred to 37 516 earlier this year from 37 214 which is now out of service. The large, but little-known loch in question can be found by walking down the track which crosses the line at Rannoch station, on the line for which 61994 was built. Irrelevant fact: If you go to the beach at the near end of the loch, there's a chance you will get a signal on your mobile phone.

Ffestiniog Railway Merddyn Emrys entering a colourful Blaenau Ffestiniog with a train from Porthmadog (Larry Goddard).

Train 1Z27 arrives off the Blaenau branch tender-first (Peter Lloyd) ...

... then the loco runs around passing Junction box ...

Leaving 37 516 on the rear for the 18:06 departure back to Preston (Peter Lloyd). 37 516 has the large round buffers originally fitted to many of the class, but now rarely seen. The 37/5 sub-class comprised locos which went through the same refurbishment programme that created the 37/4s in the mid-1980s, but for freight use without train heating facilities. Confusingly it includes some locos with numbers in the 37 6xx series, as the 37/6 class comprises the batch 37 601 to 37 612 converted for working with Eurostars and Channel Tunnel sleepers, now all owned by DRS.

Leaving Llandudno Junction (Brian Jones).

Abergele (Larry Goddard).

Rhyl (Roly High). The Great Marquess was, we believe, Archibald, eighth Earl and first (and only) Marquess of Argyll (1607-1661), the chief of Clan Campbell.

With a slight smoke haze from the chimney and safety valves feathering, 61194 breasts the climb, on time, approaching Flint station (Glyn Jones).

The return train was ahead of schedule approaching Chester and is seen having crossed over the viaduct and passed under the Roman wall bridges to reach Roodee junction where the additional 'slow lines' begin (Jeff Albiston).

The Great Marquess prepares to leave Chester for Preston on the last leg of its tour (Martin Evans).

37 516 on the rear catches the sunlight as the train departs (Martin Evans).

Chester - Wrexham doubling postponed?

Tempers are rising again in North East Wales following a statement by Welsh Government Transport Minister Edwina Hart on 17 July that she will be 'reviewing the processes and decision making' regarding the planned restoration of double track over part of the Saltney Junction - Wrexham line, preparatory work for which has already been scheduled for this autumn by Network Rail. No detailed explanation of this decision was immediately on offer, except a comment that it was 'beset with problems concerning Network Rail', which apparently came as a surpise to Network Rail.

So inevitably, party politics took hold of the issue. Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru's North Wales AM, told the press: 'The re-doubling of the track between Saltney and Wrexham was a major priority under the One Wales Government, when Ieuan Wyn Jones was transport minister. It was due for completion this year. It's apparent that the current Cardiff Labour Government has no interest in improving the rail infrastructure in the north as the minister says this project, which is vital to enable more direct trains through Wrexham, has been put off indefinitely. I challenge the minister to explain where the money for the dualling has gone as it was ringfenced for the Saltney-Wrexham dualling. Can the minister confirm that the money has not been used to bail out other transport projects in the South?'

We await futher developments...

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