Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

02 July 2014

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This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page.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

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.

67 001 powers through Ruabon on 24 June at 07:43 with the Holyhead to Cardiff Express service; DVT 82308 brings up the rear. Picture by Martin Evans.

Don't miss the extra issue from 28 June

Concrete Bob rides again

It's pleasant to see 37 425 Sir Robert McAlpine / Concrete Bob making an appearance on its 1990s stamping ground of the North Wales Coast, even if 'only' working a Network Rail  test train. Above, heading west through Rhyl on a run from Derby to Llandudno Junction and back, the Sir Robert McAlpine nameplate can be seen. Picture by Roly High.

Nameless 37 405 on the other end was never a North Wales regular, but is a welcome sight nonetheless (Roly High).

At Llandudno Junction, the Concrete Bob name on the other side of 37 425 in view (Peter Lloyd). DRS have done a fine job not just in getting this machine back in traffic, but re-applying the famous names, which first adorned the loco in 1986 when working the West Highland line in the 1980s, but survived when it was painted in Regional Railways livery for North Wales, only to be removed when transferred to South Wales duties. The nameplates are in different locations from the original, to avoid the DRS branding, and eagle-eyed enthusiasts have note that they have swapped sides of the loco compared with the earlier version. 'Concrete Bob' was on the side with the large radiator grille to the left when viewed side-on.

The nameplates are, we assume, not the originals, which were claimed by the Railway Heritage Committee and were on loan to the Glenfinnan station museum when we last heard of them. Or are they?

Conwy Valley Price-buster

Save up to 21% on local rail fares in the Conwy Valley this summer! Arriva Trains Wales has cut back its fares by up to 21% for local journeys in the Conwy Valley over the summer period.  The special pricebuster' promotion applies to local journeys , both single and day return tickets for travel between any two stations in the Conwy Valley until the 13 September. A day return from Blaenau Ffestiniog, for example, is £6.70 instead of £8.60. (The examples on the ATW website seem to be a little out-of-kilter as they show the return cheaper than the single.)

Tickets can be bought from on-board from the conductor or from the nearest ticket office; at the time of writing the offer price is not available on the online booking system.

Cambrian News - pictures by John Cowlishaw

158 823 (above) arrives at Harlech on 24 June with train 2J19, the 14:09 Birmingham International to Harlech, having divided from 1J19, the service to Aberystwyth at Machynlleth. 

Services currently terminate here with a 5-minute turnaround time before the unit leaves as 2G75 the 18:35 to Machynlleth.  A road coach working Pwllheli - Harlech with a staff member was here directing passengers to and from the station but the numbers using the rump of the service was very low and much lower than would have been expected in summer.  The very rusty state of the up loop shows the absence of traffic on the line beyond Harlech following the damage to the Briwet bridge near between Llandecwn and Penrhyndeudraeth back in January during construction work for a new bridge.

Tygwyn (above) and Talsarnau (below) stations are shown, both neatly kept even if devoid of trains since the new year. Ty Gwyn reports only 2,000 passengers per year but notwithstanding this, is beautifully maintained by the local group, in complete contrast to the weed-filled track.

The stations are complete with litter bags and signage indicating the lack of a service, but in the case of Talsarnau, it is not obvious where the bus would go from, it is doubtful it would be able to reach the station. 

The latest news from Gwynedd Council, who are in charge of the bridge work, is that Gwynedd Council trains will not start running over the new bridge until September 2014. Concrete decking will be poured in coming weeks, allowing work on the railway line itself to start. Other work will see Welsh Water replacing and relocating an old high-pressure water main to the new bridge.  The road section of the bridge, which remained open for a while but was closed for safety reasons, now seems to have an opening date of December.

Past times with Dennis Kerrison - Prestatyn B1s
Captions by John Hobbs

Ex-LNER 4-6-0 61094 leaves Prestatyn on 1 June 1963 with train 1X37, which will be an inter-regional train; it could be a train booked in the timetable to start later in the Holiday Season but running as an additional service in the Special Traffic Notices (STN) ahead of its official introduction. Notice three roads are pulled off and its obviously a busy day on the North Wales Coast. The train is a mixed rake with Stanier, Gresley & Thompson stock in its eight car formation. B1's usually appeared on trains from Sheffield where Canklow (41D at this time), often provided the traction; this had been an LMS shed but had an allocation of B1s under Eastern Region control in the sixties.61094 was at 41D until its closure in 1965.

Another B1 4-6-0, 61153 leaves Prestatyn with ten coaches, two weeks later on 15 June 1963; the weather is not so good and a pall of black smoke rests above.  The loco has been on an empty stock working (3X16) before working before this turn, which was probably from Sheffield as this is a 41A - Sheffield Darnall - locomotive.

61093 comes off Prestatyn water troughs on 25 July 1964 with 1M65, the 10.37 from Sheffield Midland to Llandudno which departed Prestatyn at 1.53 pm.  B1s started working into North Wales on ordinary services after this time; this was because they appeared on parcels and newspaper trains form Manchester and sometimes they worked back on the 16:45 Holyhead to Manchester (Exchange).
Durham and Beamish Statesman

When an excursion runs to take North Wales residents to destinations in England or Scotland, photographs get usually three days to photograph the train on the coast line, as it will arrive empty (most often from Carnforth)  the day before the tour and return to England the day after. Above, on 27 June 57 313 heads through Rhyl  at 15:37 with empty stock, on this occasion from West Coast Railways' London base at Southall, to Holyhead where it will spend the night before running empty to Bangor, the first pick-up station of Statesman Rail's 'Durham and Beamish Statesman' to Durham and Newcastle. Picture by Roly High.

The train left Bangor next morning, Saturday 28 June, at the unearthly-sounding time of 05:32, and was photographed by Peter Lloyd calling at Llandudno Junction at 05:57. 57 316 was leading eastbound. For the day's events, see the following article.

The next day, Sunday 29 June, offered sunny weather for photographers to capture the return empty-stock train, 12:15 Holyhead to Carnforth, seen above at Llandudno Junction (Peter Lloyd)...

... and on the sea wall at Ffynnongroyw (Stavros Lainas).

The trip to Beamish - pictures by Roly High

The 'Durham and Beamish Statesman' runs into Rhyl, where Roly boarded the train, at 06:20 on 28 June, behind West Coast Railways locomotive 57 316.

Departing Durham for Newcastle, 57 313 was on the rear.

Passengers could choose to alight at Durham and, for an extra £20 including the entrance fee, take an optional coach trip to Beamish Open Air Museum.

At the entrance to the museum, a 'chaldron wagon' of the type used on early coal-carrying lines.

A tram service takes passengers from the entrance around the museum site. Tram No. 196 originally worked in Oporto, Portugal.

A Blackpool 'balloon' car has been painted in the livery of Sunderland corporation, which once operated similar vehicles.

196 at the 'town centre.' The livery is that of the former South Shields tramway.

31 is a Blackpool Corporation car of a classic British design.  It was rebuilt in its Blackpool days from a four-wheeler to a bogie configuration.

The railway station exhibit, and a wooden coal hopper of a type used in large numbers by the old North Eastern Railway: most of that company's stations had 'coal drops' and where coal could be dropped through doors in the wagon floor for collection by merchants.

No trains were running on the railway exhibit, due to shortage of a driver.

A CrossCountry Voyager departing from Durham with a service to Plymouth (left), and the Statesman departing Rhyl at 22:03 for Bangor to set down its last passengers, and then to Holyhead to stable before returning to Carnforth the next day; a long day out.


Telford at Euston: It seems that quite a variety of locos are used to haul the Empty stock of the Caledonian Sleepers from Euston to Wembley Carriage Sidings. On 17 June, former Wrexham & Shropshire loco 67 014 Thomas Telford performed this function (Richard Putley)

Standard Tank at Llangollen: 2-6-4T 80072 is a regular performer again at Llangollen following repairs: here it has arrived with the 12:00 from Carrog on 17 June (Peter Dickinson).

Raynes Jetty, Llanddulas, on 12 June, with Wessels Sipping Company cargo ship Theseus (Greg Mape). This ship is of interest in being the first to be equipped with the Skysails auxiliary propulsion system; the blue object in the bow is a telescopic mast from which can be flown a what looks like a large version of a para-glider. See the Skysails website for a video of this equipment in use.

This picture by George Jones shows a plaque in the Wrexham branch of Morrisons supermarket; it is accompanied by a framed photo of a 28XX locomotive on a freight as taken by Brian Cowlishaw. As well as covering the site of the loco shed, the car parks for the store and the adjacent hospital extend along the line of the former Brymbo branch parts of which are now a footpath.

Clearly, Morrisons like this kind of thing: visitors to their Stockport store will find photographs of Cheadle Heath station which stood on the site.

DRS 'Northern Belle' loco 47 832 Solway Princess languishes in Gresty Bridge depot on 21 June, having suffered a 'blown turbocharger' while working a charter train (Darren Durrant).

A lengthy 16.23 Crewe - Chester train on 28 June passing the newly completed embankment strengthening at  Beeston Castle below the site of the old up platform. Network Rail contracted out this work which took 2 -3 months to complete and an exceedingly robust job it is. No doubt giving the owners of the recently revamped "Lockside Cafe" some comfort, several stretches of the upside embankment have had similar but less involved work done over the last two years or so. Note the landscaped finish to the embankment side (Tony Robinson).

Climbing Snowdon - with Martin Evans

On 28 June I visited and travelled on the Snowdon Mountain Railway and found the following locos in service: Steam locos no 2 Enid and no 6 Padarn were working the steam heritage service using the 'Snowdon Lily' 2013 built heritage coach. Hunslet diesel locos in traffic were No 12 George, 9 Ninian, and 10 Yeti. The diesels were hauling new carriages built in 2013 by Garmendale engineering of Derby. Above, original steam loco Enid which was built for the line when it opened in 1896 departs Llanberis with a 'Snowdon Lily' heritage service. 

Hunslet diesel No 12 George built in 1992 waits to depart with the 2.30pm service from Llanberis.

A very misty summit of Snowdon.

Hunslet diesel Yeti just arrived at Llanberis from the summit with one of the older coaches in use.

Original steam loco Padarn takes on water at Halfway station ready for the final assault on the summit.

Palmerston at Porthmadog - report by John Roobottom

One of the little pleasures of life is sitting drinking a pint of Purple Moose beer (brewed in Porthmadog) in the new area set aside on the Harbour station at Porthmadog.  On a sunny day, the outside area surrounded by glass partitions is particularly impressive.   

So when Palmerston appeared with the Vintage set of coaches just a few feet away it was an added bonus. 

According to the Ffestiniog Railway website, Palmerston was manufactured by George England and Co. in 1864 - 150 years ago, and is the oldest operable locomotive on the railway.   It was restored in 1993, having been used as a stationary boiler at Boston Lodge previously. 

The loco and the historic stock are in pristine condition and it is hard to believe they are not brand new...

 ... even the interior of the first class coach takes some beating ...

... and the rear of the curly roof van ('the Curly Whirley') is impressive. This vehicle was built at the FR's Boston Lodge in 2004, a replica of an 1873-built van.

Welsh Highland Heritage Railway - a visit with George Jones

A visit to the Welsh Highland Heritage line near Porthmadog station - not to be confused with the Welsh Highland Railway at the other end of town -  on 18 June found off peak weekday services operating hourly with Emma a Hunslet Barclay 0-4-0DM originally built for, and acquired from contractors for the Jubilee underground line in London.  It has a sister engine Kathy which has donated some parts.

The  HEC worksplate shows 1994 as the built date and explains it as a 12 Ton 63kw Diesel.

Quite adequate for the three coach load down the ¾ mile track to Pen y Mount.

The loco ran round in the loop, set against the famous view incorporating Cnicht amongst the Snowdonia range on a day of clear visibility

The Welsh Highland Railway 'main line'  is a close neighbour over the fence but does the station see any traffic? In fact we departed Pen y Mount just minutes too soon to see the 13:15 WHR departure steam past out of Porthmadog.

The trip on the line includes the Museum visit where Karen a Peckett 0-4-2T of 1942, was on display - once a stalwart of the train services, it has been out of use for some years and requires a major overhaul.

The Museum display includes a World War 1 section with a restored Motorail Simplex No.264 of 1916 and behind it a petrol engine, although said to have been restored with a diesel unit - an unusual item.

The new build boiler for the recreation of a World War I Baldwin 4-6-0T which will replicate the long lost No.590 of which a water tank survives. The notice says 'This is the new Baldwin boiler that has been constructed by Newton's of Idle, Bradford. It will  be places on the chassis that is at Alan Keef's in Ross-on-Wye, when funds become available.'

In the running shed 0-6-0T was Gertrude, Andrew Barclay No.1578. the current steamer,  in use at weekends/gala events.The Bagnall 0-4-2T Gelert is stored again awaiting a major overhaul, including a new boiler. The steam fleet will be expanded when the restored Russell returns to the line and is expected back in action in August if work is completed at Alan Keefe's facility.

The WHHR provides a short, simple low-cost train ride for families with the advantage of some hands-on action in the exhibition hall, where the narrow gauge displays are really well done, but always offers some aspects of interest to the enthusiast. The video of The Runaway Train as viewed from the representative cab of a loco is a 'must'.

Out and About with Stavros Lainas

I visited the Severn Valley Railway on 21 June, as newly painted 50 026 Indomitable was being used instead of the class 20.

Whilst I was down that way and talking to a fellow enthusiast, he mentioned an extra china clay train from Exeter to Bescot was running,  along with the return 'Northern Belle' to Manchester from Bath. I photographed the China Clay train passing Dorrington (above) at 18:17 with 66 164.

Next is a going away shot of the return Northern Belle to Manchester from Bath. 47 790 was leading but the shot taken at 19:45 is of 47 853 at Walcot.

On 23 May I ventured to Steel Heath just south of Whitchurch to photograph the Fiddlers- Portbury Dock empty coal wagons which passed me at 16:10 with 66 545.

Colas 56 113 working hard up Hencote Bank just north of Shrewsbury at 17:40 on 30 June with another set of wagons destined for tyre-turning at Crewe. Sounded wonderful.

Corwen extension progress report - by George Jones

A notable occasion was achieved on Wednesday, 25 June, when the first loco-hauled train visited the Llangollen Railway's Corwen East station site – albeit only the ballast train propelled by diesel shunter 03 162.  Nevertheless, it made an impressive sight.  The picture above shows the second visit by the ballast train on 26 June. Corwen looms large in the background.

A continued famine of supplies of recycled ballast from Crewe frustrated the top-ballasting of the track during June.  The issue has been resolved by placing an order for 1,000 tonnes of new stone from the quarry at Penmaenmawr, although it does come at increased cost. However immediate delivery of stone by lorry to the yard at Carrog commenced and the ballast train began running again on the extension west of Bonwm from 23 June. These daily deliveries allowed for the ballast train to work through to Corwen East as stone was dropped west of Bridge 28A. It is anticipated that the ballasting will take four weeks to complete, to be followed by the hiring in of a tamper machine which will clearly take completion of the exercise into August.

As of the end of June the volunteer work force began laying the final panels of track which will take the railhead through to the gated access for the Corwen station site. Unfortunately, the prospect of the wooden temporary platform being erected by local contractors did not proceed as planned. The contractors have now withdrawn from the project and alternative methods for platform erection are being explored to provide a quick fix for this essential facility. In addition, the erection of the graded access ramp off the embankment is to be tackled as a volunteer lead option, once the railhead is secured.

The site of the accommodation building for the station has to be determined to allow for a concrete base to be cast, whilst the actual steel framed building is on order from the Railway’s engineering department. Solar powered lighting for the station is being investigated as the cost of a mains supply to the site is beyond the available budget. As of the end of June agencies for Denbighshire County Council were preparing the footpath below to station site which will allow access via under bridge 29 to the adjacent nature reserve. Top coating of the footpath through the Corwen Common area to the town's car park is also proceeding.

The photo above shows the nature reserve footpath route relative to the station site with the train in section. Attention continues to be given to the list of snags, large and small, on the length of the extension in preparation for the final inspection. With a range of work still to be completed, a date for the opening remains elusive at this stage. Local representatives at the Community Liaison meeting on 25 June were told that an autumnal option for a first passenger train in the Dwyrain Corwen East station is a possibility, if progress is maintained.

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