Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

29 June 2015

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This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page.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

July 2015

Friday 3 July Excursion West Coast Railways The Conway Valley Explorer
Via the Scenic Conway line (with Ffestiniog Railway option). From Grantham, Peterborough, Stamford, Oakham, Melton Mowbray, Leicester, South Wigston, Hinckley, Nuneaton, Tamworth, Lichfield TV, Rugeley TV & Stafford to Betws-y-Coed & Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Saturday 4 July Excursion West Coast Railways   The Conway Valley Explorer From Lincoln, Newark NG, Grantham, Bottesford, Bingham, Radcliffe, Netherfield, Nottingham, Tutbury & Hatton, Uttoxeter, Blythe Bridge & Stoke to Betws-y-Coed & Blaenau Ffestiniog. (with Ffestiniog Railway option).

Sunday 19 July Steam on the Coast. Railway Touring Company North Wales Coast Express. Liverpool - Holyhead and return

Tuesday 21 July Steam on the Coast. Railway Touring Company. Welsh Mountaineer. Preston - Blaenau Ffestiniog.

August 2015

Sunday 2 August Steam on the Coast. Railway Touring Company North Wales Coast Express. Liverpool - Holyhead and return

Tuesday 4 August Steam on the Coast. Railway Touring Company. Welsh Mountaineer. Preston - Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Sunday 16 August Stockport Railshow, Stockport station.

Sunday 16 August Excursion West Coast Railways Holyhead, Llanfairpwll, Bangor, Llandudno Junction, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl, Flint, Chester, Frodsham, Warrington, Preston, Lancaster & Oxenholme to Edinburgh.

Tuesday 25 August Steam on the Coast. Railway Touring Company. Welsh Mountaineer. Preston - Blaenau Ffestiniog.

28-30 August. Bala Lake Railway: 'Winifred' gala.

September 2015

Wednesday 9 September Excursion West Coast Railways   The Conway Valley Explorer
Via the Scenic Conway line (with Ffestiniog Railway option) Sheffield to Betws-Y-Coed and Blaenau Ffestiniog. From Sheffield, Rotherham Central, Swinton, Moorthorpe, Normanton, Shipley, Keighley, Skipton, Hellifield, Carnforth & Lancaster.

12 September  Excursion West Coast Railways The Conway Valley Explorer Via the Scenic Conway line (with Ffestiniog Railway option) Scarborough to Betws-Y-Coed & Blaenau Ffestiniog. From Scarborough, Seamer, Malton, York, Wakefield, Brighouse, Sowerby Bridge, Hebden Bridge, Todmorden & Rochdale.

Monday 21 September RCTS: Railway Correspondence and Travel Society, Merseyside, Chester and North Wales Branch. LNER an appreciation by John Feild. Local member and keen follower of anything LNER John takes a look back at locomotives of that company and of its predecessors including some of them at Chester Northgate station

Friday 25 September. Great Western Society NW Branch. P. Spilsbury. Steam Miscellaneous.

October 2015

Saturday 10 October  Excursion West Coast Railways  The Conway Valley Explorer
Via the Scenic Conway line (with Ffestiniog Railway option) Hereford to Betws-Y-Coed
Departs – From Hereford, Ledbury, Gt Malvern, Worcester FS, Droitwich, Barnt Green, Walsall & Wolverhampton.

Monday 19 October  RCTS: Railway Correspondence and Travel Society, Merseyside, Chester and North Wales Branch.  Aspects of the Chester & Birkenhead Line by John Ryan To mark the 175th Anniversary of Railways across Cheshire former BR Civil Engineer and local rail historian John looks at the more recent rail aspects of this line

Friday 30 October. Great Western Society NW Branch. Mike Kenwright. Cutting of the Manchester Ship Canal.

November 2015

Monday 16 November  RCTS: Railway Correspondence and Travel Society, Merseyside, Chester and North Wales Branch. LNER, an appreciation by John Feild. Northern Delights by Steve Batty
Steve our RO Branch News Editor and railway author from Selby reviews modern traction in Northern England 2002  2009.

Friday 27 November. Great Western Society NW Branch. John Hobbs. A Black & White presentation, North Wales Circular  1963  - 66  (Steam)

December 2015

Monday 21 December  RCTS: Railway Correspondence and Travel Society, Merseyside, Chester and North Wales Branch.   Arriva Trains Wales. Last 10 years going forward with Ben Davies. This is an opportunity to hear about more about one of our local Train Operating Companies from one of its locally based officers.

January 2016

Monday 18 January  RCTS: Railway Correspondence and Travel Society, Merseyside, Chester and North Wales Branch.    BRANCH A.G.M  followed by Back to The 60s with Geoff Coward. Geoff highlights photographs in various locations of the last few years of steam (1964-1968), including early diesels, mostly in the North West of England.

February 2016

Monday 15 February   RCTS: Railway Correspondence and Travel Society, Merseyside, Chester and North Wales Branch.  "American Wanderings - Heading East" by Gordon Davies. Gordonm our RCTS National Chairman gives a digital presentation showing the American railroad scene in the eastern states depicting diesel locomotives working passenger and freight trains as well as electric locomotives, light rail and preserved steam in operation on preservation lines.

March 2016

Monday 21 March   RCTS: Railway Correspondence and Travel Society, Merseyside, Chester and North Wales Branch.  "20 Years Of The Privatised Railway - What Does The Future Hold?" by Bob Casselden. Bob, a retired former B.R. manager looks at the changes to Britain's privatised railway over the last twenty years and reflects on what the future might bring.

April 2016

Monday 18 April  RCTS: Railway Correspondence and Travel Society, Merseyside, Chester and North Wales Branch.  One Mans Rubbish is Anothers Treasure by Russell Hatt. Russell presents a selection of historic railway photographs that whilst too poor for publication are of interest to the railway historian.

May 2016

June 2016

Study in front ends: 37 688 and 158 827 at Llandudno Junction, 23 June. Picture by Jim Johnson.

Catching up ... don't miss our 25 June extra issue.- Charlie

Route learning loco causes problems

A series of driver router-learning runs have been operating from Network Rail's Coleham depot at Shrewsbury to Holyhead using Class 37 locos: 37 601 Class 37 - Fifty was photographed heading west through Llandudno Junction on 26 June by Peter Lloyd.

Sadly, and most unusually for DRS traction, 37 601  became a failure near Shotton at about 12:20 while running earlier than scheduled, causing a lunchtime build-up of trains at Llandudno Junction (Peter Lloyd).  The 12:32 Holyhead - Maesteg, seen in Platform 3, left Lnandudno Junction 54 minutes late and was later terminated at Chester.

The problems followed on from earlier troubles with the loco-hauled train on the Manchester diagram; the train has been held at Chester in the morning due to a fault with its TPWS safety system, and replaced for the rest of the day by a Class 150, seen above on the 13:01 Holyhead - Manchester waiting behind Virgin's London train at Llandudno Junction.

This problem turned out to be a 'blessing' of sorts, as the loco and coaches, being coupling-compatible with the failed 37, was s ent from Chester to rescue it.

A few days earlier on 22 June, 37 688 Kingmoor TMD was on the route-learning duty, photographed by Matthew Travis near Bagillt ...

... and by Jim Johnson approaching Llandudno Junction.


More old style signage from Birmingham Moor Street, with 68 010 on the 15:55 to London Marylebone on 29 June. Alas, Platform 5 on the right is not connected to the network (Chris Morrison).

158 826 has just come off the new Bont Briwet with 2J02 the 06:43 Machynlleth - Pwllheli on 26 June.On the left, last minute work is being carried out in connection with the imminent opening of the road bridge on 13 July. Picture by Ken Robinson.

Barmouth bridge from the Mawddach trail, 22 June (Ian Wright).

The curious sight of 60009 Union of South Africa parked in om front of the former Dallam loco shed at Warrington Bank Quay on 14 June, as seen from the adjacent road by Frank Nicholas. Apparently it had failed with a hot axlebox the week before, and was waiting for road transport.

60 087 Clic Sargent brings the 6J37 Carlisle to Chirk(Kronospan) logs through Chester on 23 June. Surprisingly, as this train was running earlier than normal it was sent through on the single line ahead of the 18:28 Chester to Cardiff Central passenger service, which consequently was delayed at Wrexham while waiting for the 60 to set back into the sidings at Chirk. The usual practice is for the logs to follow the 18:28 (Martin Evans).

Loco and station are looking good as 45690 Leander takes over a Settle-Carlisle line excursion at Hellifield on 23 June (Greg Mape).

The Ffestiniog Railway's new observation car, no.150 is currently on show at London Paddington, along with the sail car (Richard Putley).

What we did on our holidays: diesel-hydraulics 218 313 and 218 314 await departure with a southbound InterCity train at Niebüll, north Germany, on 23 June (Charlie Hulme).

Miscellaneous items

While updating our 'calendar' section we notice that there is a reduction in the number of steam trains on the North Wales line this summer compared to previous years. The Railway Touring company are offering just two Liverpool - Holyhead trains, and no services from Manchester, which is bad news for the organisers of the Stockport Station Railshow on 16 August which in the past has been planned to coincide with a call by the steam special. Three 'Welsh Mountaineer' services are planned, but it's tedious to discover this from the Railway Touring Company website which no longer features a simple list of the trains on offer, or a scroll-bar at the side of the screen. 'Mobile-friendly' perhaps?

The Hunslet narrow-gauge loco Irish Mail, normally based at the West Lancashire Light Railway, has been overhauled and will be in action in Leeds on track laid at the site of the Jack Lane works as part of the 'Hunslet 150' celebrations organised by the Middleton Railway on 18-19 July. More details.

We understand that the re-signalling scheme for the North Wales main line, which would have seen signalboxes closed and signals controlled from Cardiff, has been further delayed due to financial over-runs on implementations in South Wales, and may not now occur this decade. Under the original plans, it would already be complete as far as Llandudno Junction.

The re-opening of the Gaerwen - Amlwch branch for normal passenger service as far as Llangefni seems to still be a live project supported by the Welsh Government, although details are vague; meanwhile the volunteers hoping to make a heritage railway have launched a new website chronicling their activities.

Steam in the Dee Valley

To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the opening of Llangollen Railway, our contributor Peter Dickinson has  published a new book entitled 'Steam in the Dee Valley'. The book covers the history of the Ruabon to Corwen section of the line from the 1850s to the 1960s.

It is an A5 sized paperback, with 76 colour pages and has chapters covering 1) the promotion and construction of the two railways (the Vale of Llangollen Railway and the Llangollen & Corwen Railway), (2) the history and operation of the line, (3) a detailed route guide, (4) accidents and incidents on the line, (5) an overview of the civil engineering and (6) the full manuscript of Vale of Llangollen Railway Act from 1859.   The majority of the photographs used are previously unseen and sourced from a number of private collections.

Well-written, with much useful information in a concise form at a very reasonable price.

The picture we reproduce above was taken on 20 April 1963 at Ruabon, showing 4472 Flying Scotsman arriving with the London Paddington to Ruabon leg of a Festiniog Railway Special.

If you are interested in Steam in the Dee Valley it can be purchased from Llangollen or Berwyn Station for just £10. Or you can call Llangollen Railway office on 01978 860979 (open Monday to Friday - 9am to 5pm, closed 1pm to 1.30pm for lunch) Please note there will be a P&P fee of £2.50 for any telephone bookings.

Cambrian Adopters Confer - report by Gareth Marston

The Cambrian lines Station Adopters were invited to the annual conference by Arriva Trains Wales held at Portmeirion for the second year running on Wednesday 23 June. The adopters got a free return ticket from their home station to Minffordd. I took the 08:04 from Newtown (the 06:25 Birmingham New St to Aberystwyth) and the 08:52 Machynlleth to Pwllheli. The first two pictures are at Dyfi Junction, with Machynlleth station now very much a building site for the 'Access for All' lift, passengers on trains not carrying through portions onto/off the coast line are being advised to change at Dovey Junction. 

The double length of the Aberystwyth-side platform can be seen  with the 06:24 from Birmingham New Street  behind the camera and the 08:30 Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury at the opposite end having arrived first. The 08:52 from Machynlleth to Pwllheli had followed behind us pretty smartly and was pulling in to the coast platform before we could all walk down to it!

ATW laid on a coach to take around 20 station adopters to Portmeirion: it is seen on the A487 road above the 08:52 from Machynlleth. We also carried five normal punters heading for Portering,  a good gesture from ATW Schools Officer Phil Cornwall who met us at Minffordd. Incidentally the coach was driven by a son of long-serving but not retired Gwynedd County Council Public Transport Officer Malcom Cowtan.

The 15:45 Ffestiniog service from Porthmadog to Blaenau grabs the attention of the adopters on their way home.

The 15:37 from Pwllheli emerges through the vegetation at the top of its 1 in 50 climb from Porthmadog.  Despite the indicator it was only going to Machynlleth.

The classic view across the Dyfi estuary.

All change at Dovey Junction again, as the 17:30 from Aberystwyth to Birmingham International arrives. Dovey Junction is now seeing more usage than at any time since the 1980s. Both trains on the coast had people standing at some point, not bad for dull overcast non school holiday day.

Tim Rogers visits Anglesey

On 22 June, 67 022 crosses Malltraeth arches with 1D34 09:50 Manchester Piccadilly to Holyhead.

24 June at Ty Croes: 67 002 propels 1W96 17:16 Cardiff Central to Holyhead, with Driving Van Trailer 82307 on the front end.

Viewed from Bodorgan station platform,  67 022 approaches with 1D34 09:50 Manchester Piccadilly to Holyhead on 25 June.

25 June at  Llanfair-yn-Neubwll (RAF Valley) - 222 105 William Baffin is Virgin train 1A43, 12:43 Holyhead to London Euston....

... and soon afterwards, 82308 leads 67 022 as 1H89 13:01 Holyhead to Manchester Piccadilly.

67 022 on the rear as the 1H89 heads east past the airfield buildings.

The Cathedrals Express (or Explorer)

The 'Cathedrals Express' operated by West Coast Railways on behalf of the Steam Dreams company on 25 June was a rather odd affair, as it started at Crewe (after running empty-stock from Carnforth) and ran to Holyhead, then returned via Crewe to London Euston. The idea was, one imagines, to make extra revenue from what the last leg of the 9-day 'Emerald Isle Explorer' rail tour of Ireland, given that some of the participants on that even would have travelled home from Ireland by Air. There had been suggestions on the Steam Dreams that it might be steam-hauled part of the way, but this did not happen and West Coast provided 47 245 and 47 746 Chris Fudge 29.7.70-22.6.10 in top-and-tail mode. Roly High photographed the westbound train at Rhyl with 47 746 leading (above).

47245 is on the rear passing Valley airfield (Tim Rogers)

Platform 1 at Holyhead, with 47 245 ready for the return journey (Tim Rogers).

47 746 is on the rear as the train snakes its way out of Holyhead as the 14:15 Holyhead to Euston. Unlike most memorial loco names, such as those found on DRS locos, Chris Fudge, who sadly died aged only 39, was not a member of West Coast Railways staff, although he was a railwayman, latterly working for Arriva. He was an rail enthusiast: a supporter of the Brush Type 4 fund, which owned this locomotive for a period from 2007 after it was withdrawn from normal traffic; they sold it to West Coast in 2011 and it re-entered service in 2013.

An interesting fact recorded on the Brush Type 4 Fund website is that it last revenue-earning duty for a mainstream train company before being stored at Crewe depot was on 15 December 2003 when it hauled 1H44, 06:38 Bangor - Manchester Piccadilly, in the period when First North Western still had a new loco-hauled North Wales trains. Then in Rail Express Parcels livery and named The Bobby, it featured many times on our site at the time.

Bangor (Rowan Crawshaw). The headboard, which was not carried on the outbound run, reads 'The Cathedrals Explorer'.

47 746 on the rear leaving Bangor (Rowan Crawshaw).  Alan Crawshaw made a video of the departure which is available on YouTube.

Passing Rhyl (Roly High). 

Some coaches had 'Cathedral Express' roof boards (Roly High).

Unfortunately, especially given the uneasy truce existing at present between West Coast Railways and the Rail authorities, 47 245 gave up the ghost at Norton Bridge, and the train stood there for 45 minutes from 17:09 to 17:54. 47 746 was started up on the rear and propelled the train at low speed to Stafford station, taking over an hour for the five miles. There, 47 746 was run round to the front in a long-drawn-out process which took an hour, all recorded by an cameraman from the Hope Trains YouTube channel.

The train arrived at Milton Keynes at 22:17, 170 minutes late, and was terminated there,any passengers for London who hadn't already left at Stafford making their way home by service train.

Llangollen Railcar Gala scenes

Visiting 'bubble car' 55006 at Llangollen on Sunday morning 21 June (John Young).

Class 104 unit at Berwyn, seen from the Chain Bridge Hotel - happy memories of the Buxton line (John Young).

Perhaps one day a more suitable typeface could be found for the headcode? (Dave Sallery)

Waiting to depart for Carrog on the 4.30pm service on 21 June, the hybrid 108/127 set, car numbers M56223 / M51618 (Martin Evans).

The rare Wickham-built twin-unit (Dave Sallery).

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