Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

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This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page.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

September 2014

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

Friday 5 September Clwyd Railway Circle Working Steam in the 21st Century: James Shuttleworth

Sunday 7 September  Steam on the Coast. Railway Touring Company. North Wales Coast Express Crewe, Wilmslow, Stockport, Manchester Piccadilly, Warrington Bank Quay (Note change of route) and Chester to Llandudno, Bangor and Holyhead. Diesel-hauled Crewe - Manchester. Cancelled.

Monday 8 September  Wrexham Railway Society: Scottish Branch Lines: John Ryan

Thursday 11 September Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Disappearing slides:  Larry Davies   

Monday 15 September   RCTS Merseyside & North Wales: All the Colours of the Rainbow.  David Walker

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

October 2014
Friday 3 October Clwyd Railway Circle Dinorwic Slate Quarries - The Lower Levels - Part 1: Dave Sallery

Thursday 9 October Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society The Railways of Wirral Dave Southern

Monday 13 October Wrexham Railway Society:The Railways of Wirral: Dave Southern

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.

Monday  20 October  RCTS Merseyside & North Wales: Railways in a Yorkshire Landscape.  Stephen Gay. Stephen joins us again with his latest slide show of his railway rambles with his faithful German Shepherd dog Wrawby, this time in his native Yorkshire

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.

Friday 7 November Clwyd Railway Circle German Mainline Steam: Ian Mainprize

Monday 10 November  Wrexham Railway Society: 'Fun With Southern Steam In The 60's : Malcolm Garner

Tuesday 11 November Shrewsbury to Chester Rail Users Association  public meeting  featuring guest speaker Professor Paul Salveson MBE. The meeting will be held at the Church Hall of All Saints' Church, Chirk Road, Gobowen, Shropshire SY11 3LL. Access is from the rear off Old Chirk Road. It's 5-10 minutes' walk from Gobowen Station, depending on the fitness of the walker. The start time is 19:30 which allows time to connect with trains arriving at Gobowen from Chester and Shrewsbury directions.

Paul's presentation to our meeting is titled 'A Peoples Railway for Wales & the Borders' . This will look at his 2013 publication 'Rail Cymru - A Peoples Railway for Wales' which examines the case for a publically run 'not for dividend' rail franchise for Wales & the Borders.

Thursday 13 November   Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society   AGM Members Evening   Keith Jones/Bob Barnsdale/Llew Groom

Monday 17 November  RCTS Merseyside & North Wales: Scottish Steam in the 1960s.  John  Cashen

December 2014

Friday 5 December Clwyd Railway Circle Members Night & Christmas Celebrations

Monday 8 December   Wrexham Railway Society: Annual General Meeting

Thursday 11 December   Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society   Xmas Social/ Arriva Trains Wales: the first 10 years & the future: Ben Davies                

Monday 15 December  RCTS Merseyside & North Wales: Steam Sheds through the years: Part 1.  John Sloane

January 2015

Thursday 8 January    Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society   The Corwen Extension - Llangollen Railway:  Steve Jones

Friday 9 January Clwyd Railway Circle Severn Valley Railway - Past, Present and Future: Nick Ralls

Monday 12 January  Wrexham Railway Society: Phil’s Quiz: Phil Davies
Monday 19 January  RCTS Merseyside & North Wales: Branch A.G.M followed by members slides and digital presentations

February 2015

Friday 6 February Clwyd Railway Circle A Year in the Life of an International Train Spotter: Phil Thomas

Monday 9 February  Wrexham Railway Society: Rossett – Saltney Junction Re-doubling: Speaker from Network Rail

Thursday 12 February Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society A black & white circle of North Wales:  John Hobbs

Monday 16 February RCTS Merseyside & North Wales: Welsh Wanderings in the1980s".  Geoff Morris. A trip through Wales in a decade during which livery variations started to appear and steam reappeared on a scheduled basis along the Cambrian & North Wales Coasts.

March 2015

Friday 6 March Clwyd Railway Circle Annual General Meeting followed by an illustrated talk entitled Back to the ‘60s by Geoff Coward

Monday 9 March  Wrexham Railway Society: A view from a signal box window:  Adrian Bodlander       

Thursday 12 March Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society A view from a signal box window:  Adrian Bodlander        

Monday 16 March RCTS Merseyside & North Wales: A History of Railway Preservation in Britain. Robert Gwynne .Bob is the Associate Curator Rail Vehicles at the NRM in York

April 2015

Thursday 9 April Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Railway enthusiasm - international: Phil Thomas    

Friday 10 April Clwyd Railway Circle The View From a Signalbox Window: Adrian Bodlander

Monday 13 April  Wrexham Railway Society: Back to the ‘60s :Geoff Coward

Monday 20 April RCTS Merseyside & North Wales: 21st Century Steam in China.  Geoff Coward. Geoff presents video and stills from his visit in 2002.

May 2015

Thursday 14 May    Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society 6G locomen: personal reminiscences by A Guest Panel

37 402 leads the Flask train past Bagillt, 28 August: picture by Matthew Travis. More freight and locomotive pictures will appear an extra issue later in the week.

Class 68 down the Coast

A surprise event on 27 August was a test run from Crewe to Llandudno Junction and back by brand-new locomotive 68 011, one of the newest batch of locomotives in the UK, although since then 68 012 - 68 014 have arrived on our shores, along with class leader 68 001 which has remained on the continent for tests and will be leaving again soon for the InnoTrans trade fair in Berlin. Matthew Travis photographed the loco (above) on its outward run passing Bagillt.

Admiring the newcomer at Llandudno Junction is station operator Rodney Fitzgibbon;  with 50 years service he must be one of the longest-serving staff members on the network. When he started work, Classes 37 and 47 were the latest thing (Larry Davies).

No. 1 end: Note the Vossloh builder's plate.  Picture by Peter Lloyd.

A good view of the roof detail as 68 011 passes Beeches Farm bridge on the return journey (Bob Greenhalgh). These locos are owned by leasing company Beacon Rail, and all will be leased to DRS. Some of them, including this one, will be used in place of Class 67s on Chiltern Railways' London - Birmingham trains, and have been delivered in Chiltern's 'Mainline' colours which many will recognise as originating with the short-lived Wrexham & Shropshire operation. It's useful for picture-caption writers to tell which way a loco is facing...

Also available: a YouTube video by Caz Jones of the departure from Llandudno Junction.

Briwet Bridge open to traffic

Briwet rail bridge is now open to public rail traffic following a long period of rebuilding, and a few days of 'ghost' working to re-familiarise the train crews with the route. Above, a picture by Eryl Crump of the 07:24 Pwllheli - Birmingham making its way across, with the now-disused old bridge in the foreground. This was not the first public train; the 05:07 Machynlleth to Pwllheli was the outward working by this unit, and the 06:29 Pwllheli to Machynlleth was worked by a unit which had spent the night at Pwllheli. Indeed, if Real Time Trains is to be believed, on the evening before, the 16:07 Birmingham - Harlech, train 2J23, continued to Pwllheli as a public train, at 20:17 from Harlech to Pwllheli.

Update from Martin Stone of Criccieth:
'Indeed, train 2J23 did run in service to Pwllheli late on Sunday evening. I was on an un-lit Criccieth Station platform when it drew in. One passenger was aboard, who frankly looked lost. But definitely available for public use. I understand from the occupier of the station building, Criccieth TV, that two trains on Saturday 30 August were also in public service – complete with platform announcements. Real Time Trains shows them as 2Z03 and 2Z45.

'There was a lot of confusion over the Saturday/Sunday service. It seems the bus times were not loaded and the normal Working Timetable left – causing the National Rail and Arriva Trains sites to show a normal service, but with a note against each journey that trains started on 1 September. I drew this to Arriva Trains' attention on Friday morning and at first they were emphatic there were no scheduled services on Sat/Sun and then I could hear the jaws dropping as they checked. Attempts to correct the data overnight left a complete mess so they promoted some trains to public service to cover the gaps with a rapidly re-scheduled bus service.'

So the actual 'first train' available to passengers over the new length of track was the 10:30 Harlech to Pwllheli on Saturday 30 August. Were any readers on board?

A wider view, showing the replacement Llandecwyn station beyond the bridge. The old bridge will need to be removed (despite its Grade II heritage listing) before the road section of the new one can be completed (Eryl Crump).

Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas (in red tie), Plaid Cymru Assembly Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd and President of Bangor University,  presided over a ceremony at Llandecwyn station on 1 September. Arriva have reduced some of the line's fares to celebrate the full opening: see their website for details (Eryl Crump).

Llandecwyn sees about 2000 passengers in a normal year, according to official figures; it is doubtful whether the old platform ever saw so many people at once. Picture by Eryl Crump who was in attendance to cover the event for the Daily Post: watch his video on the Daily Post website.

However the road section of the new bridge is not yet ready, so pedestrians and cyclists will find the train useful to reach the facilities at nearby Penrhyndeudraeth. There is some concern in Network Rail that people will be tempted to walk over the bridge, but this is, of course, unsafe and absolutely forbidden.

Richard W. Jones, who was also present at the event and has a good collection of pictures on his website, including the Pwllheli one above, writes: 'I have been told that the Maentwrog road diversions are scheduled to last until April 2015, suggesting that as the date when the road bridge will be opened. The GWR boundary post at Llandecwyn halt has fortunately been saved and is in safe hands. Some information has come to light about the original construction of the bridge in the 1860s: the contractor boldly claimed that the timber bridge had a 17-year lifespan, after which it was going to be replaced by an iron bridge ... I guess that didn't take place. Network Rail have asked to salvage as many good timbers on the bridge as possible, to be used to maintain the other timber trestle bridges on the Cambrian.'

The view across the sands (Richard W. Jones). In autumn 2013 National Grid identified a problem with the electrical pylon adjacent to the bridge. The road and rail bridge had to be closed for safety reasons which meant that piling for the new rail bridge was delayed whilst a new pylon was erected; this was in additional to the other troubles experienced.  Although it was a replacement for the pylon which had started to list, we understand that this one is now having to be removed and replaced by a third structure.

Also now online: BBC Wales Today report on the opening day.

Wrexham Railway Society news - by George Jones

The Wrexham Railway Society has announced its programme of meetings for the 2014/15 season (see the calendar in the left column). Monthly meetings are held on the second Monday of each month from September through to April and have a range of speakers or activities for local rail fans starting on Monday 8th September.

The first speaker is Mr John Ryan from Wirral who will present a selection of archive colour slides from his collection featuring the Scottish Branch Lines in the early 1960s, when steam power was still operating on many remote lines in the scenic Highlands.The venue for the meetings is St Mary's Catholic Club, Regent St, Wrexham with doors opening at 7.00pm and speaker from 7.45pm.

An introductory digital presentation will provide a news round up of rail activity from near and far based on members submissions and is one way to keep abreast of local rail developments. An annual membership fee of £6 is available, otherwise visitors are asked to pay a fee on the door to cover expenses.

Once again we have a diverse set of rail subjects as topics for the monthly meetings which will appeal to young and old rail fans in the Wrexham area. Membership is one way of remaining informed about rail affairs in a period when the local rail network is seeing some long overdue investment in track renewals north of Wrexham.

Black locos at Llangollen

Some views from the Llangollen Railway's steam gala of 29-31 August. Above, GWR 2-8-0 loco 3802 departs from Berwyn station with the 3.5pm service to Carrog and Bonwm on 29 August (Martin Evans).

LMS 'Black 5' loco 45337 powers through Berwyn station with the 3.19 pm non-stop demonstration freight for Carrog on 29 August (Martin Evans).

Visiting BR Standard Class loco 46521 has just arrived at Carrog with the 1.10 pm service from Llangollen on 29 August (Martin Evans).

3802 departs from Llangollen station with the 11.35am non-stop demonstration freight for Carrog on 29 August (Martin Evans).

46521 departs from Llangollen with the 3.55pm service to Carrog on 29 August (Martin Evans). This loco has seen moments of media fame and notoriety.  In the 1990s it starred as Blossom in the BBC sit-com 'Oh Dr Beeching!', and in April 2013 at the Great Central Railway, following a misunderstanding between driver and signalman, it was derailed on trap points in full view of an enthusiast with a video camera who gained himself over 200,000 YouTube 'hits'.

At Berwyn, Alasdair Rodgers and station master Ben Jackson unload a batch of milk churns for restoration (left), and volunteers Matthew Jackson and Peter Dickinson stand ready with a batch of Cuthbert Seeds for the local train (George Jones).

The passing scene at Llangollen Goods Junction from the two-coach suburban set, hauled by the green Class 26 diesel, with adjacent lines occupied by 3802 on the Goods train and black Class 08 shunter 13265.

46521 at Carrog while working 1158 Bonwm to Llangollen, 30 August (Chris Jones-Bridger).

46521 at Llangollen after arrival at Llangollen from Bonwm, 30 August (Chris Jones-Bridger). Since completing an overhaul in 2011 this loco has been painted black with the early-1950s version of the British Railways logo

45337 being detached at Llangollen from rear of the 13:26 Bonwm to Llangollen after late arrival following earlier points failure at Deeside, 30 August (Chris Jones-Bridger).

80072 'light-engine' at Llangollen after taking water prior to working delayed 14:55 to Bonwm with 3802 attached at rear  to work the 15:51 return departure from Bonwm, 30 August (Chris Jones-Bridger).

On 31 August, 46521 (above) about to take water at Llangollen, but ...

... always make sure the bag is inserted correctly before opening the water valve  (Glyn Jones).

Club 55 is back

Text from the Arriva Trains Wales website follows:

Arriva Club 55 is a low cost off-peak return train ticket special offer for everyone aged 55 and over. From only £23 return*, you can go anywhere on the Arriva Trains Wales network. Destinations include Manchester, Cardiff, Birmingham, Chester, Shrewsbury and loads of other great places.

This autumn we've frozen the price for travel on the Arriva Trains Wales network with a Club 55 ticket, so the fares are the same now as they were during the previous offer period (autumn 2013).

You can purchase as many Arriva Club 55 tickets as you want, so why not go somewhere exciting today? Buy them at any train station ticket office or at:

We have also teamed up with a number of other train companies to help you travel even further afield when you also buy an additional low cost add-on fare. Find out about all the places you can visit on our network map:

Don't forget, the Arriva Club 55 ticket is a time limited offer only available until 23 October 2014, so start planning those amazing journeys now to make sure you get the most from this fantastic deal. Please note, you may be asked to show specified proof of age 55 or over when travelling with an Arriva Club 55 ticket.

When you buy with us, there are NO booking fees, NO credit card or debit card fees and NO ticket delivery fees (except next day delivery). You only pay for the price of your ticket.

Have a great journey,

The Arriva Club 55 Team

*Terms & conditions apply. Visit the Arriva Trains Wales website for further details.

What is this 'specified proof of age' of which they speak? Well...
We only accept valid, original documents from the following list: passport, driving licence, proof of age related pension, Senior Railcard or birth certificate. Please note bus passes are not accepted. Customers who are unable or refuse to provide proof of age on request will be required to purchase a new ticket as if no Arriva Club 55 ticket is held. No credit will be given for the Arriva Club 55 ticket originally issued.
So if you are under 60, don't drive and have never been abroad, start looking for your birth certificate!

Travel using a Club 55 ticket is not permitted before 09:00 Monday to Friday except between the following locations:

    * Shrewsbury – to or from Aberystwyth/Pwllheli
    * Shrewsbury – to or from Llanelli/Swansea via Llandrindod
    * Chester - Holyhead/Llandudno/Blaenau Ffestiniog
    * Neath - Milford Haven/Pembroke Dock/Fishguard Harbour.
    * Wrexham Central - Bidston

As last year, Chester - Shrewsbury is missing from this list, which seems a shame as it apparently renders the ticket invalid from Chester, Wrexham or Gobowen on the southbound loco-hauled express which calls at Chester 07:15 and Shrewsbury 08:10. But the question arises: can one travel 'Club 55' on this train from North Wales stations (as Holyhead - Chester is excepted from the restriction) through to South Wales? Or is the North Wales Coast exemption only for 'down' trains? Or does it mean you cannot be actually on a train at all before 09:00, even though such things usually refer to one's departure time? Authoritative answers welcome.

Past Times with John Hobbs - 8Fs at Abergele

LMS 8F 2-8-0 48655 approaches Abergele with hoppers conveying Sulphur from Mostyn Dock to Amlwch on the 12 June 1965. This was a regular traffic depending on a ship discharging cargo at Mostyn, a traffic that was rare being entirely in Wales. Look at all that lovely point work, not to be seen any more.

48246 passes Abergele with an up Ballast train on 26 March 1964. The Camping Coaches are still in situ behind the platform, despite this being the end of the winter, with no residents as yet; in previous years they had been away for overhaul or parked inside Rhyl carriage shed.

Waverley visits North Wales (almost)

Report by Chris Jones-Bridger

The preserved Clyde paddle-steamer Waverley was planned to make two trips from Liverpool to North Wales on 26-27 August, but due to adverse weather conditions the trip on Tuesday 26th was cancelled, the ship not leaving the Clyde till Tuesday afternoon, navigating to Liverpool overnight. Above: Waverley tied up at the cruise terminal at Liverpool.

My wife Delyth and I had booked to travel on the Wednesday trip which was to call at Llandudno and then spend the afternoon cruising Anglesey before calling again at Llandudno at teatime. The full cruise itinerary was already fully subscribed when we booked so we were booked only as far as Llandudno. Waverley's call at Llandudno was to mark the official reopening of the pier after refurbishment and a full civic reception was laid on.

The container ship MSC Alyssia inbound to Liverpool at the Liverpool bar taking on tugs fore and aft for the final navigation into the Mersey.

As we approached Llandudno expecting to disembark a PA announcement was made that docking had been aborted. The captain had considered sea & wind conditions to be adverse and deteriorating during the afternoon. So after a sail past we proceeded to Anglesey following the east coast as far as Wylfa before turning and heading back directly to Liverpool.The sea conditions off Anglesey were decidedly choppy.  Above, Llandudno Pier from the Waverley with the gathered crowd for the aborted civic reception (picture by Delyth Sheppard).

Waverley was booked to head to the Bristol Channel directly after disembarking from Liverpool, but got no further than a safe haven off Rhos-on-Sea where she remained at anchor for two days until the weather was favourable to make the navigation.

Report by David Parry

This was expected to be the highlight of our summer, and we were not disappointed! On Wednesday 27 August, we crossed the splendidly remodelled Pier Head and joined the throng of about 800 passengers, eager to share an experience that is rarely possible in the 21st Century – to cruise along the North Wales coast under steam.   The occasion was what turned out to be the PS Waverley’s only cruise this season from Liverpool, its schedule having been disrupted by adverse weather conditions.

A brief history:  she was a post-war replacement for her namesake predecessor of 1899, lost by enemy action off Dunkirk in 1940.  The last sea-going paddle steamer in the world, she was saved from the scrapyard by the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society in 1974 and restored to perform an extensive cruising schedule around Great Britain.  

She is powered by an oil-fired triple expansion steam engine manufactured by Rankin and Blackmore Ltd at Eagle Foundry, Greenock in 1947.  Some impressions of the engine room are given by the pictures above.

One of the aims of the cruise was to make a call at the newly restored pier at Llandudno, recreating an event that used to be a regular summer season occurrence.   However, while the crew were standing by the gangplanks on our approach from the Great Orme side, the sea became noticeably choppier as towards pier and as we drew close, the purser announced over the PA that the Captain had decided that conditions would preclude a safe docking.    So we made a graceful sail past the crowd-thronged pier and exchanged waves with the shore-based observers, and continued round the Orme, and on to the north-east side of Anglesey, passing Point Lynas (above) turning back around ‘Middle Mouse’ / Ynys Badrig.

From Middle Mouse, we took the direct route back to the Mersey, giving the Waverley a chance to demonstrate her speed.  The trip also gave an opportunity to view the considerable off-shore energy activities – the Liverpool Bay gas production platform, and the wind farms at Burbo Bank, North Hoyle, Rhyl Flats and Gwynt y Môr, with numerous small specialised service boats and a floating hotel.      Returning past the wind farms in the early evening gave some interesting lighting effects.

Although the Waverley seemed to be sailing rapidly on the return, head winds meant that the earlier arrival expected after missing the Llandudno stops did not materialise and we arrived back at the Liverpool landing stage by about 19:45, a little earlier than the original schedule.

Overall, for those of us who were not inconvenienced by the Llandudno problem, this was a perfect trip – both evocative of past coastal cruising and informative of modern marine industry.   With the new cruise terminal at Liverpool and the rebuilt landing stage at Llandudno, I hope we can look forward to further coastal cruises.

The view from the shore

The classic lines of the ship as she passes Llandudno (Larry Davies).

And farewell to North Wales (David Sallery).

Liverpool Lime Street new memorial - report by George Jones

At Liverpool Lime Street station on 31 August, the Earl of Wessex dedicated the new memorial frieze commemorating the 'Liverpool Pals' regiments of World War I. The memorial is the work of local sculptor Tom Murphy, who also created the statues of Bessie Braddock and Ken Dodd on the station concourse. It takes the form of two bronze-coloured resin panels displayed on the concourse high above the escalator entrance to the Wirral line. The left-hand panel (above)  is entitled 'Recruitment and Farewell' and includes train embarkation.

The second pane, entitled 'Time To Go Home' features The Homecoming with an LNWR 'George the Fifth' class locomotive as a wife awaits the return of her wounded husband. The choice of this representative locomotive was suggested by Ben Jackson, stationmaster at Berwyn station on the Llangollen Railway. (See the detail view in the left column.)

A re-enactment squad poses beneath the memorial at its location above the Merseyrail Wirral line access. The current Lord Derby, whose great-grandfather the 17th Earl had the idea to recruit for the King's Liverpool Regiment what he called 'a battalion of Pals' - men from the Liverpool area who eventually formed four service and two reserve batallions - was also among the invited guests. The BBC report has more about the day's events, and the Liverpool Pals Memorial Fund has organised the memorial. The Pals took part in some of the bloodiest battles of World War I including the Somme, Arras and Passchendaele. More than 2,800 did not return home.

By contrast with the train from 100 years ago, today's example was three-coach 185 136 already 'full and standing' as the 12:05 TransPennine service to Huddersfield - a line closure east of Huddersfield for engineering work will have disrupted some journeys.

The location of the memorial as seen below the roof; the eye is somewhat distracted by the gambling advert. There is a lot of detail in each frieze but, for some, the height at which they are set will require binoculars and or telephoto lens to bring out the detail.

For more about the making of the panels, there is an article in the Liverpool Echo.

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