Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

24 February 2014

Last issue


RSS feed RSS

Link to this issue
Share this issue

Contributions and comments are encouraged: see the Contributions Page

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This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page.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.

February 2014
Thursday 27 February  Merseyside Railway History Group Allan Lewis 'Union Pacific Steam'

March 2014

Tuesday 4 March North Wales Railway Circle Ken Robinson shows 'Chester to Holyhead  including Llandudno branch' slides.

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.

Monday 10 March   Wrexham Railway Society. Geoff Morris- Railways of New Zealand a digital presentation based on two steam-hauled trips around New Zealand in 2011 & 2012 including both preservation activities and the rapidly-changing current railway scene on the other side of the world.

Tuesday 11 March 8E Railway Association Paul Shackcloth – Locomotives of the L&YR-Part 1.

Thursday 13 March Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society 'The Dinorwic Quarry Railway & its locomotives' Eric Lander

Monday 17 March  RCTS Merseyside, Chester & North Wales ‘The Ugly Duckling’: Bob Casselden looks at the transformation of B.R.’s ‘Other Provincial Services’ via ‘Regional Railways’ into today’s privatised railways
Friday 14 March  Altrincham Electric Preservation Society A Selection of Doug Darby's UK PHOTOGRAPHS by Paul Shackcloth (Photographic Officer, Manchester Locomotive Society)

Thursday 23 January Locomotive Club of Great Britain  Neville Bond “From Sea to Shining Sea” 30 years of North American scenes

Thursday 20 March Locomotive Club of Great Britain  Dr Michael Bailey "The Manchester Ship Canal Railway"

Thursday 27 March  Merseyside Railway History Group AGM & Members Slides

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 27  August 1950.

Tuesday 1 April  North Wales Railway Circle Dave Rapson of Connah`s Quay  presents a pictorial record of The Bidston - Wrexham Line.

Tuesday 8 April  8E Railway Association Chris Banks – Engine Sheds Pt. 3 Consett to Eastbourne.

Thursday 10 April Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society 'Welsh Wanderings in the 1980’s & 90’s' Geoff Morris   

Thursday 10 April  Merseyside Railway History Group Ted Lloyd 'Quiz and informal evening'

Friday 11 April  Altrincham Electric Preservation Society Slides from the Manchester locomotive society collection by David Young.  Mainly steam locomotives taken 1950s and 1960s

Monday 14 April   Wrexham Railway Society. Jon Penn.   Railway Pictures From the  1960’s – scanned black and white negatives and vintage colour slides, favouring the Cheshire and surrounding areas.

Monday 28 April RCTS Merseyside, Chester & North Wales ‘South of the Border steam in the 50s and 60s’ by David Kelso, David travels from Kent to present a follow up to his  earlier North of the border presentation, including a period when he was resident in the West Riding of Yorkshire.
Thursday 17 April Locomotive Club of Great Britain  Norman Matthews "Steam in Central America"

Saturday 26 April Excursion Chester Model Railway Club / FR Dee and Mersey: 'Somerset Coast Express' Hooton, Bache, Wrexham, Gobowen and Shrewsbury to Bristol, Weston-super-Mare, Taunton and Minehead.

May 2014
Friday 2 May (Change of Date) Mid-Cheshire Rail Users' Association Excursion from Chester and stations on the mid-Cheshire line to Dumfries, Kilmarnock and Ayr.

Tuesday 6 May  North Wales Railway Circle A.G.M.  followed by Members Videos, Prints, Slides, and Digital work in the Photo Competition.

Thursday 8 May Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society 'The Deganwy Dock Story' Eric Smith

Tuesday 13 May  8E Railway Association Les Nixon - Railways of Scotland.

Thursday 15 May Locomotive Club of Great Britain  AGM and Members/Visitors Slides & Digital Photos.

June 2014

July 2014

Sunday 27 July Steam on the Coast. Railway Touring Company. 'North Wales Coast Express' Liverpool, Broad Green, Warrington BQ, Frodsham and Chester to Llandudno, Bangor and Holyhead.

Tuesday 29 July Steam on the Coast. Railway Touring Company. Welsh Mountaineer. Preston, Warrington BQ, Frodsham and Chester to Blaenau Ffestiniog.

August 2014

Sunday 3 August  Steam on the Coast. Railway Touring Company. North Wales Coast Express Crewe, Wilmslow, Stockport, Manchester Piccadilly, Altrincham and Chester to Llandudno, Bangor and Holyhead. Diesel-hauled Crewe - Manchester.

Sunday 10 August  Steam on the Coast. Railway Touring Company. North Wales Coast Express Crewe, Wilmslow, Stockport, Manchester Piccadilly, Altrincham and Chester to Llandudno, Bangor and Holyhead. Diesel-hauled Crewe - Manchester.

Sunday 17 August Steam on the Coast. Railway Touring Company. 'North Wales Coast Express' Liverpool, Broad Green, Warrington BQ, Frodsham and Chester to Llandudno, Bangor and Holyhead.

Tuesday 19 August Steam on the Coast. Railway Touring Company. Welsh Mountaineer. Preston, Warrington BQ, Frodsham and Chester to Blaenau Ffestiniog.

September 2014

Tuesday 2 September Steam on the Coast. Railway Touring Company. Welsh Mountaineer. Preston, Warrington BQ, Frodsham and Chester to Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Sunday 7 September  Steam on the Coast. Railway Touring Company. North Wales Coast Express Crewe, Wilmslow, Stockport, Manchester Piccadilly, Altrincham and Chester to Llandudno, Bangor and Holyhead. Diesel-hauled Crewe - Manchester.

Saturday 20 September Steam on the Coast. Steam Dreams: Cathedrals Express. London - Holyhead.

Early morning at Chester: see report below. Picture by John Murray.

Riding with 'Gerald' - with John Murray

A work meeting in Telford took me on the Premier Service, a.k.a. 'WAG Express' a.k.a 'Y Gerallt Gymro', departing Chester (above) at 07:15  to Shrewsbury on 19 February. The train was hauled into Chester by 67 001 which then propelled the train for the rest of the journey via Wrexham.

There is an earlier direct service from Chester to Telford, the 07:02 to Birmingham International, which is routed via Crewe and Whitchurch, adding about 30 minutes to the journey and is overtaken between Chester and Shrewsbury by 'Gerald' en-route. On this occasion this service was formed of 158 818 - shown on the page-heading picture waiting to depart from Chester.

We arrived at Shrewsbury on time with DVT 82308 leading the train ...

 ... which departed on time with 67 001 propelling the train past the soon-to-be-replaced lower quadrant semaphore signal for the line towards Hereford. Shortly after the departure, 158 818 arrived and waited in platform 7 for sister 158 819 to be coupled to the rear before departing for Birmingham.


My return from Telford (above) was on the 14:52 London Midland service to Shrewsbury formed of 170 506 coupled to and 170 512.

Half-term on the Talyllyn - pictures by Martin Evans

Talyllyn Railway loco no. 2 Dolgoch enters Abergynolwyn with the 10.30 am service from Tywyn Wharf.

Dolgoch runs round its train at the terminus, Nant Gwernol. This loco was was built in 1866 by Fletcher, Jennings & Co, and was the only engine in working order when the line was taken on by preservationists in 1951 to become the first 'heritage railway.'  One of the first 'preservationists', J.B. Snell, who fired Dolgoch on the first train to run on the Talyllyn under preservation, died in January 2014.

The classic Talyllyn scene as Dolgoch takes on water at its namesake station while working the 2.0 pm service from Tywyn Wharf. The loco is running in Crimson Lake livery for one year only, prior to its ten-yearly boiler examination. The line is now closed until Sunday 9 March, then runs on Sundays only until 6 April when daily service begins. See the Talyllyn website for details.

Conwy Valley in Rail Express

Steve Morris writes: 'Part 3 of my series on 'North Wales Branch lines' Diesels is in the March 2014 issue of Rail Express magazine, now available.. This one covers Blaenau Ffestiniog/Trawsfynydd and contains images from well known local photographers.' The sample above shows the first two pages.

Picture assortment

Train 6J37 Carlisle-Chirk logs was despatched over the Settle-Carlisle route on Saturday 22 February, seen south of Langwathby with 56 087 in charge. Picture by Ian Pilkington.

A new Monday - Friday freight flow of 'biomass' (imported bits of wood?) from Liverpool Bulk Terminal to Drax Power Station, operated by GB Railfreight, runs via Earlestown, Hartford Junction, Northwich, Stockport, Denton Junction, Thorpes Bridge Junction, Rochdale, Mirfield, and Wakefield Kirkgate. The return empty wagons are timed through Stockport station at 15:13, and are seen above (slightly late) on 24 February: 66 727 Andrew Scott CBE looks uncharacteristically dirty for a GBRf loco. Beware: our first attempt at this picture, on 19 February, was thwarted when the train was diverted by the signallers to Platform 1.  Picture by Charlie Hulme.

66 086 powers through Gobowen at 10:20am on 24 February with train 6V75 empty steel coil wagons from Dee Marsh Junction to Margam (Martin Evans).

Greg Mape writes: ' I was in Aylesbury, shopping at Morrisons, which is across the road from Chiltern Railways' Aylesbury Depot with plenty of class 121 single car railcars outside, including the ex-Arriva Cardiff Bay Class 121 55022, that was slowly moving under its own power coupled to a Chiltern one in BR blue & grey.The pair were initially parked on a siding by the station.'

A view across the depot includes some interesting items, including shunter 01 509 Lesley. Built in 1963 for the Ministry of Defence, it originally worked at the Central Ordnance Depot, Chilwell, Nottinghamshire.

The Valley - Crewe flask train passes Roodee Junction, Chester on 19 February, hauled by 37 610 T.S.(Ted) Cassady and 37 609 (Bob Greenhalgh).

With the Grand Union Canal in the foreground, the 12:10 London Euston - Chester on 18 February passes Berkhamsted on the southern section of the West Coast Main Line (Greg Mape).

Carlisle on 20 February, with the first of the new TransPennine Express electric 'Desiros' 350 401, still in a plain livery, working the 08:14 Edinburgh to to Manchester Airport (due at Manchester Piccadilly 11:26). Picture by David Peacock. This train will reach Manchester over the newly-electrified route via Parkside and Castlefield Junction: an interesting website called Northwest Sparks has been created by Phil Wieland to chronicle the progress of the electrification work going on in the Lancashire area.

Northern Rail 142 045 waits at Chester to form the 08:04 t0 Manchester via Northwich on 15 February (Peter Dickinson). Is the 'WN' sticker some amateur adornment, or does it have some meaning?

Welsh Highland painting for sale

Two watercolours featuring scenes on the Welsh Highland Railway, by Welsh artist Hugh Warren Williams (1863-1941) have been sent from Canada to be auctioned - lots 136 and 137 - at a Welsh Sale (catalogue) by Rogers Jones & Co. of Colwyn Bay on 1 March. Williams did not normally paint trains; it seems that these works were commissioned by the Welsh Highland Railway in the 1920s, as a monochrome reproduction of the one above appeared in the Snowdon and Welsh Highland Holiday Book in 1923.   The auctioneer's estimate for each is £500-600.

Llangollen Railway update - by George Jones

No First Train on 1st March: Regrettably, despite the best efforts of everyone involved, the current situation as regards outstanding works means that the ambition of running a first train to Corwen on St David’s Day will not be met. Whilst this is disappointing, as an expression of good faith and future intent, it is planned to run an engineers’  works train to the head of rail, wherever that may be, on Saturday 1 March. The intention is to run the Class 03 03 shunter down the extension to overbridge 28A (seen above) around mid-day to allow an opportunity to see a train on the new section of track.

The Llangollen Railway fully intends to operate trains to the phase 1 station at Dwyrain Corwen East during 2014. Although a specific date cannot be given at this time, the prospects are for trains to operate on the extension during the summer peak period and the Railway’s timetable for 2014 reflects the train times for this, although for the moment trains continue to terminate at Carrog.

The removal of the contractor’s scaffolding on completion of repairs to over bridge 28A opened up the track bed for further track laying during January. Within the limits of readily available stocks of sleepers, the permanent way team laid four track panels to bring the head of steel up to the bridge. This work saw the arrival of the works train on site, propelled by the class 03 shunter 03162, now out stationed at Carrog, making another notable train movement west of Plas Bonwm, the second locomotive to pass the site of the former Bonwm Halt.

Work clearing the vegetation in the cutting beyond over bridge 28A occupied the volunteer work force for much of January and continues during February, with a notable improvement to the view of the over bridge as seen from the A5 road and the track.  A fifth track panel was laid on 1 February which brought the railhead through the bridge arch, an operation seen by those who availed themselves of the escorted track viewing walk from Carrog to Corwen.

A further 40 panels of track are needed to reach the station site, but, for the moment, the railhead remains at this point whilst further supplies of concrete sleepers are sought for delivery. A good response to the Corwen Sleeper Appeal has provided the necessary cash, but finding them at the right price and grade is proving difficult, also bearing in mind the added costs of transport to the site from wherever they are available. Base ballast is being delivered to site for spreading on the track bed and further work is going on to attend to the many specific items of infrastructure which require completion, as with the provision of surfaces at level crossings, for example.

Top ballast delivered to Carrog yard has provided several loads of stone for the ballast train to bring out and deposit on the stretch leading up to Bonwm Halt, again propelled by the 03 diesel shunter. Given the situation at locations on the mainline requiring repairs, it will come as no surprise to find that availability of ballast is currently at a premium.

During February the Project team hosted an informal inspection of the extension works by Steve Turner from the Minor Railways Team at the Office of Rail Regulation, who pointed to items of detail still needing attention but, overall, the work met with general approval.

Dwyrain Corwen East station: Contractors gained access to the station site on 15 January and marked out the location of the footings for the station platform along the embankment. Excavations quickly followed and, with concrete poured, the 66 footings were completed in seven days. They now clearly mark out the station site as seen (above) from the A5 road, but the five coach platform will not be installed until the track is in place.

Reinstatement of the level at the location of the former bridge 30 has been undertaken and has allowed for vehicular access to the trackbed, although the contractor for the Corwen Flood Alleviation Scheme continued to require access to the riverside. The high level of the water in the River Dee has frustrated their aim to complete the work on the drainage outflow which remains on hold. It is now expected that the works site for this major civil engineering project will be vacated and the area restored during May.

Meanwhile the area known as Corwen Common through which a public footpath will lead visitors from and to the station site remains underwater and completion of this facility must await better ground conditions.   Finally, within the station area, underpass bridge 29 has been rebuilt to allow pedestrian access to the riverside nature reserve and only awaits provision of the handrails.

Continued support needed: Thanks are due to all those who have contributed to this long drawn out railway restoration project which continues to require the provision of resources to see its completion. Those wishing to give their support to this final stage of the project are asked to donate to the Corwen Sleeper Appeal which remains open to receive funds c/o: Mr Paul Bailey, Dolwen, Bryneglwys, Corwen, Denbs, LL21 9LY, remittances payable Llangollen Railway Trust Ltd.

47 down the Coast

West Coast Railways sent their loco 47 237 from Chester to Llandudno and back on 24 February, presumably on a driver training / route learning run?  Bob Greenhalgh photographed it passing the supermarket car park at Saltney.

A 35-minute stop at Rhyl was incorporated in the schedule, to allow other trains to pass. Above, The driver telephones the signalbox. Hoping for an earlier start?

150 227 calls at Rhyl on the 11:44 Llandudno to Manchester Piccadilly, again this week, 150s are working the diagram intended for 158s.

175 109 departs with the 10:50 Manchester Piccadilly - Bangor, after which the 47 could proceed.

Soon afterwards, the 'down main' line was used again, by Colas Rail's Plasser & Theurer 08-4x4/4S-RT switch & crossing tamping machine DR 73909 Saturnen route from Warrington to Llandudno Junction in preparation for overnight work.

Above, the loco crawls through Llandudno Junction westbound (Peter Lloyd).

Returning through Deganwy station (Peter Lloyd).

Passing the tamper at Llandudno Junction (Darren Durrant).

The schedule showed that the loco was to lay over in the rarely-used siding at Holywell Junction from 15:04 to 16:10, but this did not happen, it continued to Chester an hour early, in front of the 13:50 Holyhead - Euston which, although a couple of minutes late, managed to depart on time from Chester.

Excursion news

This year's excursion, the Somerset Coast Express, organised by the Chester Model Railway Club and the Ffestiniog Railway Dee & Mersey Group runs on 26 April from Hooton, Bache, Wrexham, Gobowen and Shrewsbury to Bristol, Weston-super-Mare, Taunton and Minehead, with time allowed to travel on the West Somerset Railway if desired (at extra cost).

Full details and on-line booking for this very tempting trip are available at the Chester MRC website. It should be noted that the route does not pass through Dawlish, and will therefore not be affected by the blockage of the line there.  Traction will be West Coast Railway Co. Class 47 diesels.

Fares: First Class, Adults £99, Children (5-17) £59, Children under 5 sharing a seat, free. Standard:  Adults £69, Children (5-17) £39, Children under 5 sharing a seat, free.

The Robbie Burns Express advertised by the Mid-Cheshire Rail Users' Association for Saturday 3 May has been re-arranged to run on Friday 2 May, as the planned route is blocked by engineering work on the Saturday. See the MCRUA website for details and booking.

An excursion into our area on 24 May is the Seaside Flyer hauled by steam loco 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe from Tyseley, Wolverhampton, Stafford and Crewe to Llandudno for the Llandudno Air Show which is taking place that day.  See the Vintage Trains site for details.

We have now added the Railway Touring Company's proposed North Wales trains this summer to our Calendar.

Past Times with John Hobbs - Loco variety at Croes Newydd

Above, Ex-LNER J39 Class 0-6-0 64880 rests at Croes Newydd,  circa 1961; steel products and materials to and from  Brymbo used to be sent to the Sheffield area by a daily return freight working and a Gorton (9G) loco was diagrammed to take the train from Godley Junction to Wrexham  via Stockport (Tiviot Dale), Skelton Junction and Dee Marsh Junction. Formerly locomotives off the GC/CLC would have been serviced at Rhosddu Shed. Sadly not the best photograph, I was 14 at the time - camera a bit ropey -  but it is a bit of history.
Ex-LMSR 0-6-0T (A 'Jinty') 47321 runs past Croes Newydd North Fork and heads for Croes Newydd Yard on 3 August 1965; at the time the LMR Motive Power Dept. were keen to get rid of the  ex-GWR Pannier Tanks at Croes Newydd; the crews did not take kindly to this. A 'Jinty' handled by staff used to its idiosyncrasies could no doubt produce the same effort as a GWR pannier tank but Croes Newydd staff had a lifetime of pannier tank expertise, so this battle was won 'hands down' by the GWR Pannier Tanks. Many Croes Newydd turns required high power outputs,  and learning a new locomotive type on a cold wet run to Brymbo with a heavy load or climbing from Shotton (High Level) to Buckley Junction would test any footplate crew even with a familiar machine. A second-hand cast-off 'Jinty' would be a poor substitute. 47321 was formerly at Holyhead and was surplus to requirements when most North Wales coast services went over to Diesel Multiple Units on 1 February 1965, meaning that less carriage shunting was required; however someone loved it as it had been cleaned. In the event the panniers persisted until November 1966; they were replaced by BR Standard Class 4 2-6-0's on the Minera run so there must have been a dispensation from the Civil Engineer to allow running beyond Brymbo.


GWR design but BR-built 0-6-0PT 1638 leads the array of GWR machines in the shed yard at Croes Newydd on 3 August 1965. 9669 can also be seen; the other 57XX is anonymous and two 56XX 0-6-2Ts keep company.

A fine line-up around the turntable with 4683, 41204, 75029 & 3855 inside the shed on 3 April 1965. This was typical fare at Croes Newydd at this time, and 3855 would make it through to August, when LMS 8F 2-8-0s would arrive.

Metrolink modifications - report by Charlie Hulme

Thursday 20 February (above) was the last day of operation of Manchester Metrolink's Victoria station before closure for a nine-month programme of alterations which will turn it into a four-platform station, junction for the planned extra cross-city link. A new turnout has been installed in Balloon Street, and it appears that the single line is being worked on the token system. The trams in the picture are 3018 (left) and 3052 (right); new cars from 3001 to 3078 are now in traffic, with more on order, up to 3104.

As can be seen, a new station roof is also being constructed above a so-called 'crash deck'.  One track will remain open through the station, but trams will not stop there to avoid congestion (they hope!), passengers being required to walk up the hill to Shudehill station. Reconfiguring of services during the work means that there is no through service, even from Shudehill, to Piccadilly station; a change of trams and/or a walk will be needed. Passengers from North Wales heading to Victoria can alight from the train at Oxford Road station and catch the no.2 free bus from there to Victoria.

I believe all the original trams in the 1000 series from the opening of the system have now been withdrawn. I was lucky to see 2003, one of the two remaining of six vehicles built to a similar design in 2000 for the Eccles line. Meanwhile, 150 116, built circa 1985, and all its sisters, continue to provide sterling service on the Northern Rail side, even if the nice new upholstery already looks tatty.

3038 squeezes under Cheetham Hill Road bridge outside the station; the Network Rail lines to the left were lowered in a recent 'blockade' to allow installation of 25 kV railway catenary.

The new street-running section in central Oldham is now in use, and involves some stiff gradients: the tram in our picture is approaching Oldham Central from Rochdale on 20 February.

Merseyrail's new look

Merseyrail 507 011 has appeared in a new vinyl-wrapped livery, seen abobe in an official picture from the Merseyrail website where we are told that it 'will give our existing fleet a brand new, fresh and exciting, look and feel ... replects what our region has to offer and illustrates how passengers can enjoy our network. There are 6 different designs, half with a sleek silver background and the other half, a bright vibrant yellow background.'

And there are prizes to be won in the Merseyrail  Selfie Competition! 'To celebrate our new look trains, we are giving away 10 £20 rail travel vouchers which can be used for local and national train travel or in any of our Mtogo stores. To enter the competition, tweet @merseyrail a selfie of you next to one of our newly wrapped trains along with #trainselfie. If you don't have a Twitter account you can send your photo to  The competition will close on Friday 28 February. Winners will be chosen by a select panel of judges. The judges decision is final.' 

There's a challenge for our contributors. First, find the train, then open your photo editor ...

Here's a reminder of the 'old' livery, no use for the selfie competition, which was applied at the last refurbishment between 2003 and 2005 and started to look untidy after just a few trips through the cleaning plant. Pictore of 507 032 at Chester on 15 February by Peter Dickinson.

North Wales Coast home pageArchivePrevious Notice Board