Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

28 June 2014

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This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page.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

June 2014

Saturday 28 June Excursion Compass Tours 'Chester and North Wales Explorer' Ayr (& stations to Penrith) to Chester with optional extra to Holyhead.

July 2014

Saturday 5 July North Wales Area Group of the N Gauge Society. Welsh N Gauge Model Railway Show. St Mary's and St John's Halls, Rosehill Street, Conwy. What?  -  The largest gathering of N Gauge model railway layouts in Wales Opening times  - 10.00am to 4.00pm Admission 4.00 adults  -  3.00 concessions - Children under 15 Free when accompanied by a paying adult.

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.

October 2014

Saturday - Monday 18-20 October Land Cruise Compass Tours  Autumn Highlander. Holyhead, Llanfairpwll, Bangor, Llandudno Junction, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl, Flint, Chester, Delamere, Northwich, Knutsford, Altrincham, Stockport, Manchester Victoria, Bolton, Preston, & Carlisle to Inverness and Kyle of Lochalsh. A 3-day weekend break by rail to the Scottish Highlands, inclusive of two nights stay in quality hotel accommodation at Inverness. From 329.00 each.

November 2014

Saturday - Sunday 1/2 November Wirral 2014 Model Railway Exhibition at Mosslands School, Mosslands Drive, Wallasey, Wirral CH45 8PJ . 18 layouts, 13 traders, demonstrators and Society stands, refreshments, free vintage bus rides.

66 621 near Whitchurch on 22 June with the Sundays-only Tunstead - Westbury cement train. Picture by Stavros Lainas.

Another 'Picture Extra' ... Next main update will probably be on 2 July. -C.

Freight scenes

The South Wales - North Wales steel traffic continues to produce some interesting locomotive power, such as 60 099 in silver Tata Steel livery working 6M76 Llanwern - Dee Marsh through Cefn-y-bedd on the morning of 11 June (Mark Riley).

A little later in the morning, 66 174 passes Wrexham's Premier Inn as it takes the Borderlands line with 6F41 Arpley-Penyffordd coal in MEA wagons (Mark Riley).

On 12 June, 60 099 again worked to Dee Marsh and back to South Wales, this time observed passing Croes Newydd with the now empty steel coil carriers for Margam (Mark Riley).

25 June, and 66 199 is in charge of the loaded steel train to Dee Marsh passing Penyffordd station at 18:31 (Bob Greenhalgh).

Also on 25 June at Penyffordd, 66 154 passes at 18:47 with the empty coal wagons from the cement works after running north to Dee Marsh to run round the train before heading to Doncaster, whence the wagons will be returned to New Cumnock in Scotland (Bob Greenhalgh). Interestingly, the apparent 'bug' in the Real Time Trains system which affected this train, due to passing the same place twice, seems to have been fixed.

An unusual working operated on 19 June from Llanwern to Crewe via Chester. It was booked for a class 66 (hence the headcode 6Z66) but instead a Colas Rail 56 was on it. It was reported that the wagons were going to Crewe to have their tyres turned.  56 113 passed Stavros Lainas at Christleton at 15:06.

Sunday afternoon is a good time for freight-watching on the Mid-Cheshire line with two trains scheduled just minutes apart; Les Burton was there on 15 June.  Above, 66 614 comes off the single line from Hazel Grove at Northenden Junction (booked time 14:38) with the 13:54 Tunstead to Westbury Lafarge weekly cement train. The siding on the right serves Northenden Greater Manchester Waste Disposal depot.

The 14:06 Tunstead - Lostock Works (Northwich) stone train on the same day (Passing time at Northenden 15:06) heads through Mobberley station with 60 092. Although there has been a decline in traffic to Northwich, these trains still operate (although 22 June's Lostock train was cancelled) within minutes: the differing trailing loads necessitate differing point to point timings (Les Burton).

66 847 passes Green Lane level crossing on the Saltney Junction - Wrexham line on 19 June with logs for Chirk (Bob Greenhalgh). Note the ballast ready for the second track.

Another load of logs for Chirk passes Chester on 21 June, again with 66 847 (Darren Durrant).

Trains of new ballast for the track doubling have added to the freight scene. On the evening of 22 June, the ground is a sea of pink granite as 66 535 and 70 003 (possibly the first Class 70 on one of these trains) stand on the single line at Rossett with a relatively short train, one of the few to arrive in daylight, waiting to be unloaded, having arrived two hours earlier. The ballast drops are gradually getting closer to Broad Oak crossing (Mark Riley).

On the Narrow Gauge

Welsh Highland Railway Garratt 143 brings the 10:00 Caernarfon to Porthmadog past Plas y Nant halt on 18 June (Alan Crawshaw).

Also on 18 June, Garratt 87 passes the town car park in Porthmadog with the 15:40 arrival (George Jones)...

... and at Pont Croesor the return Welsh Highland working was captured on the road crossing as No.87 headed north onto the roadside bridge - a scene which, not so long ago, was only a dream (George Jones).

Three pictures by Martin Evans from a visit to the marvellous Welshpool and Llanfair line on 19 June, featuring Kerr Stuart 0-6-2ST Joan, no 12, seen above at Llanfair Caereinion with the 11.10 am service from Welshpool, as seen from one of the best picnic areas on any heritage line. The ex-Salzkammergut Lokalbahn coach on the right was about to be added to the train for the next run to Welshpool.

Above, she waits to depart Raven Square, Welshpool with the 2.10pm service to Llanfair Caereinion.

Departing Raven Square, Welshpool with the 2.10 train, about to climb the famous 1 in 29 Golfa incline. Two Hungarian bogie coaches and one Austrian four-wheeler, all with open end balconies and drop-down windows. Who could ask for anything more?

The Vale of Rheidol Railway received a visit from Edwina Hart AM/AC, Welsh Government Minister for Economy, Science and Transport, to reopen Aberffrwd Railway Station on 19 June The Minister travelled to Aberffrwd from Aberystwyth on a special double-headed charter train, made up of heritage coaches. (Pictures by Janet Baxter.)


The Station Restoration Project is the line's first large volunteer project, restoring many of the stations and halts with replica buildings, traditional fencing and in some cases gas lighting to give visitors a flavour of how the railway appeared in the 1920s.  Other improvements include raised platforms and shelters, to make the stations more visitor-friendly. (The press release does not explain the bird.)

The re-opening ceremony was attended by about eighty dignitaries, friends of the railway, other guests and the media, Ceredigion County Council leader Ellen ap Gwynn sharing a platform with the Minister.  After speeches, Aberffrwd Station was blessed by the Venerable Dr. Will Strange, Archdeacon of Cardigan.  Guests were serenaded on the train by the Ysgol Penweddig Youth Band, and at Devil's Bridge by a choir from Ysgol Mynach.     ​

On the Bala Lake Railway, the Driver Experience Days are proving very popular at 300 per day. Above, loco Alice plays its part on 23 June. The experience includes preparation of the locomotive of your choice (subject to availability), Driver instruction, two full return trips down the line (18 miles in total), lunch and refreshment breaks. You can bring up to three guests for a ride on your train. The next events are in September, and will be booking up fast. Picture by Bob Greenhalgh.

Recently, plans have been revived to extend the line from the present terminus near what was Bala Junction in standard-gauge times,  to a terminus in Bala town, if funding can be found (BBC report). This surely would undoubtedly benefit both the railway and the town.

The Llanberis Lake Railway is holding a "Pen yr Orsedd gala" the first weekend in July, billed as 'A rare chance to ride behind the National Slate Museum's Una, reunited with her ex-Pen yr Orsedd stable mate Britomart from the Ffestiniog Railway. The Vivian incline behind Gilfach Ddu station, which uses balanced platforms, will also be demonstrated in fully working mode with the wagons being loaded and unloaded at the head and foot of the incline in prototypical manner.'

Yellow loco in view

June 18 saw an unusual working on the Chester-Wrexham single line when 97 303 travelled as 6Z97 from the depot of the 97/3s at Coleham, Shrewsbury and back on a training run, with seven loaded 'Seacow' wagons. The train was diverted from its originally planned route along the  Cambrian due to 'problems with that line's ERTMS signalling. 97 303 is seen above racing through Rossett shortly before noon. Picture by Mark Riley.

Reverse angle (also by Mark Riley), with much of interest in my opinion simply due to the rake of wagons. 'Seacows' are of an earlier generation of engineers' stock, with the similar 'Sealion' and 'Walrus' wagons (differing principally in the type of brakes fitted) being among the first British Railways high capacity bogie ballast wagons; many were built between 1954 and 1982, although the basic concept was much older, dating, it is said, to a London and South Western Railway design of 1903. See LTSV wagons for much detail.

The train is about to pass Station Road crossing and the compound where supplies/equipment for the double track project are based. Somewhere in this picture, the double line/extended loop will begin. The existing single track in the picture and up to Saltney Junction is also to  be replaced and upgraded as part of the project.

Balderton Crossing on 24 June, another run with the same train (Bob Greenhalgh). Note the temporary fence attached to the track, which allows workers to be adjacent to the line.

Also at Balderton, two more of the road-rail cranes we mentioned last week on the Cambrian line (Bob Greenhalgh).

Stoneblower ahoy!

Network Rail's Pandrol Jackson 'Stoneblower' DR80211 has been about in our area of late. A stoneblower is officially described as machine that pneumatically injects ballast to automatically restore the vertical and lateral alignment of the track, as an alternative to the traditional method of 'tamping. Above, it was at Green Lane crossing on the Chester - Wrexham line on 19 June (Bob Greenhalgh)...

... and on the evening of 22 June spotted leaving the tamper siding at Llandudno Junction for work on the Blaenau Branch (Peter Lloyd). Oddly, Network Rail also has a vehicle numbered 80211 without the 'DR' - a Mk1 bogie brake van used as a staff and tool van. Track machines are not in the same database as ordinary rolling stock, it seems.

'Parliamentary Report' - by George Jones

On 21 June I travelled on the first run of the year of the so-called ''Parliamentary' train, 07:53 to Runcorn, Summer Saturdays Only, extended on this one day to Liverpool South Parkway. on arrival at Chester the board announced the 0753 in style - although the destination displayed as Allerton (the Parkway station has replaced Allerton on the same site) was archaic!

Northern Rail 150 214, which formed the train, posed in platform 5: eleven passengers joined the train here.

In platform 3 opposite, 158 829  had arrived for Holyhead but due to the power failure (see report in last issue) was cancelled and ran back to Manchester.

The good weather and high elevation beyond Frodsham provided a for a few views. Above, the River Weaver.

The M56 from the Halton Curve.

The Mersey - more or less high tide at Runcorn.

Harry Needle-owned shunter 08 924 was glimpsed shunting car-carrier wagons at Speke.

150 214 posed with 156 420 La'al Ratty at Liverpool South Parkway.

Later, 507 031 in the new vinyl scheme took me to Bidston (above).

The revised station building at Bidston with 'greenhouse' waiting room incorporating booking office was new to me and must be a notable improvement in poor weather at this sometimes bleak location.

150 229 arrived to form the 09:30 to take me home to Wrexham. My assorted tickets for the trip around were honoured in view of the difficulty at Chester. Another good occasion by the North Cheshire Rail Users Group and Northern Rail to promote use of the Curve and another opportunity to remember how quick and easy the trip to Liverpool is this way round.

Flasks Galore

The flask trains to and from Valley have been running much more often than normal, as usual with interesting combinations of DRS locomotives.  An interesting telephoto taken from the public road by Peter Basterfield showing the transfer taking place between road and rail on 18 June.

A cow showed interest in Peter as he photographed the road vehicle, again from a public place. It seems that a person was interested too, as he was reported to the constabulary who traced him through his car number and visited him at home, but left satisfied on discovering that he was only a well-meaning website contributor. It's reassuring to know that someone keeps an eye on things. Locomotives 57 002 and 57 004, which worked the train on 16 and 18 June, wait behind.

Incidentally, there's a superb picture on the National Railway Museum website showing the 1961 version of a flask transporter serving Bradwell power station in East Anglia.

57 002 and 57 004 on 18 June have reversed out of the sidings ready to depart for Crewe (Mark Youdan).

The station building at Valley, which like the signalbox is a grade II listed building, survives more or less intact; it is ' Bodorgan, a good example of Francis Thompson's "small" country station design.' The part of the building nearest the camera here is an extension dating from 1870, which upset the symmetry of Thompson's design.  The station was closed in 1966, with others on the North Wales line, but re-opened in 1982 - for which a new 'down' platform had to be built,  although for some reason the listing document, dating from 1991, describes it as closed. The Disused Stations website has some interesting pictures.

Beeches Farm (Bob Greenhalgh).

Llanfairyneubwll, 20 June, with 20 304 and 37 667 (Mark Youdan).

Bangor (Richard Fleckney). Two wagons: one is more common.

Talybont, east of Bangor, sign of recent tree-cutting (Alan Crawshaw).

Approaching Mostyn (Tim Rogers). A recent article in the Daily Post informed readers that Wylfa power station has generated no power since January 6, when the power station was shut down for planned maintenance work, which took longer than planned due to a problem which occurred during testing. It is now planned to restart in July.

Crossing the River Lane bridge at Saltney, where once several railway lines passed below - see our 3 February 2014 issue for a map (Bob Greenhalgh).

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