Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

07 December 2015

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Forthcoming events

12 December Llangollen Railway 'Real Ale Train' 6.30pm departure from Llangollen Station 'Step on-board and soak up the atmosphere whilst enjoying the Real Ales on offer at our well stocked bar.  Double return journey – arrive back approximately 9.30pm.  Ticket price includes a free glass and pint for all pre-booked tickets.'

12-13 December Llangollen Railway 'Santa Specials'

12-13 December Bala Lake Railway 'Santa Specials'

12-13 December Llanberis Lake Railway' Santa Specials'

12-13 December Cambrian Heritage Railways 'Santa Specials' (Saturdays at Oswestry, Sundays at Lynclys)

Monday 14 December  Wrexham Railway Society, Annual General Meeting and Rail Review Entertainment, a mixture of members' slides, DVD's and other
interesting items.

19-20 December Talyllyn Railway 'Santa Specials'

19-20 December Llanberis Lake Railway 'Santa Specials'

19-20 December Cambrian Heritage Railways 'Santa Specials' (Saturdays at Oswestry, Sundays at Lynclys)

19-22 December Rhyl Miniature Railway 'Santa Specials'

20 December Llangollen Railway 'Santa Specials'

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.

22-24 December Llangollen Railway 'Santa Specials'

24 December Talyllyn Railway 'Santa Specials'

26-29 December Llangollen Railway 'Mince Pie Specials'

January 2016

2-3 January Llangollen Railway 'Winter Warmers'

Tuesday 5 January North Wales Railway Circle Member Clive Evans starts 2016 with a show of his own work starting back in the sixties.

Friday 8 January Clwyd Railway Circle Dave Sallery Dinorwic Slate Quarries - Part 2 This is the final part of Dave’s fascinating journey around the quarry.

Friday 8 January  Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society "The History and Development of the National Tramway Museum" a colour slide presentation by Mike Crabtree.

Monday 11 January Wrexham Railway Society, Woodhead - The Lost Railway by Stephen Gay describing the former Great Central main line from Manchester to Sheffield across the Pennines via the Woodhead tunnel closed in 1981 with  photographs along the route of the former railway.

Thursday 14 January Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society    Dave Southern: Chester - Pwllheli - days long gone                    

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.

Friday 29  January Great Western Society NW Branch W.J. Denning: The West Somerset Railway, a personal view. 

February 2016

Tuesday 2 February  North Wales Railway Circle 'The First Penrhyn Railway' Dafydd Gwyn, industrial archaeologist, author of The Slate and other publications and fireman on The Bala Lake Railway will be talking about the first tramway that served Penrhyn Quarry.

Friday 5 February Clwyd Railway Circle John Sloane: Chinese Steam in the 1980's This is drawn from the first part of a tour in the winter of 1986/87 and centres on railways in what at one time had been the Japanese occupied area known as Manchuria in the north east of China. This was still a busy steam operated railway with plenty of variety and steam locos were still being built at that time.

Monday 8 February Wrexham Railway Society, Steam in the East Midlands in the 1950's by Fred Kirk. Local Member and keen cyclist looks back at
previously unseen pictures of those main lines accessible from his home city of Leicester ranging from the East Coast Main Line at Stoke to the Great
Western's line to Birmingham Snow Hill, also the West Coast, Midland and Great Central lines.

Thursday 11 February Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society    Geoff Morris: Welsh Wanderings in the 1990’s   

Friday 12 February  Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society "Prince of Wales, Britain's most powerful steam locomotive. The Project to build a new P2 Locomotive" a digital presentation by Graham Nicholas.

Monday 15 February   RCTS: Railway Correspondence and Travel Society, Merseyside, Chester and North Wales Branch.  "American Wanderings - Heading East" by Gordon Davies. Gordon,  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.

Friday 26 February Great Western Society NW Branch  Group Annual Meeting, afterwards possibly Members slides.

March 2016

Friday 4 March Clwyd Railway Circle Annual General Meeting followed by: Dave Southern, A journey from Chester to Pwllheli in colour looking at the closed lines both standard and narrow gauge including closed steam sheds and some goods yards.

Tuesday 8 March North Wales Railway Circle 'Railways of Ontario' Chairman Brian Bollington shows a mix of slides and video he has taken of the railway scene in Ontario and Quebec, Canada.  Including main lines, short lines, preserved lines with steam and museums. Due to Saint David's Day bookings this meeting has been arranged for the second Tuesday of the month.

Thursday 10 March Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society    Alan Roberts: Railway signalling in the Conwy/Llandudno area

Friday 11 March  Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society "A Photographic Tribute to Alan Gilbert. Steam on the main line in the 1950s and 60s" a digital  presentation by Paul Shackcloth.

Monday 14 March 2016 Wrexham Railway Society, Railways Of Wales in the 1980's - Geoff Morris describes a trip through Wales in a decade during which livery variations started to appear and steam re-appeared on a scheduled basis along the Cambrian & North Wales Coasts.

Friday 25 March  Great Western Society NW Branch  Railway Images, Thirty Miles around Warrington, Barrie Rushton.

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

Friday 1 April Clwyd Railway Circle Denbigh Film Club. Railway Enthusiasts Film Night. A night of nostalgia and fun with a selection of films old and new to end our season in great style.

Tuesday 5 April North Wales Railway Circle 'All Steamed Up' Mr Barry Wynne presents a selection of his work from his vast catalogue of photographs.

Friday 8 April  Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society "Steam in the North West of England and Scotland in 1965" a digital presentation by Noel Coates.

Monday 11 April 2016 Wrexham Railway Society 'Days Gone' A Nostalgic Look Back at the 1960-90's by Larry Davies, looking at the enormous changes which have taken place on the railways in North Wales during the last four decades of the last century illustrated, mostly by Larry's own work.

Thursday 14 April Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society    1960/70s North Wales Railway Recollection Barry Wynne/Steve Morris

Monday 18 April  RCTS: Railway Correspondence and Travel Society, Merseyside, Chester and North Wales Branch.  One Mans Rubbish is Another's 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.

Friday 29 April    Great Western Society NW Branch    A tribute to Tom Lewis, Railway cameraman 1947-1970, Paul Shackcloth.

May 2016

Tuesday 3 May North Wales Railway Circle AGM and Photographic Competition.

Thursday 12 May   Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society    Ray Bailey: Steam into Holywell.

The sun shines on Cefn Mawr viaduct on 4 December as 57 305 Northern Princess and 57 301 Goliath cross with 1Z72 the 'Northern Belle' 11:58 Birmingham International to Chester. Picture by Tim Rogers.

Weather Woes

North Wales and North West England were battered by rain and gales on Saturday 5 December. Arriva Trains Wales imposed a precautionary speed restriction on the more exposed western parts of the Coast line, and things were going reasonably well until train 1V95, 08:20 Holyhead - Cardiff,
formed of 175 111, came to stand in Penmaenmawr station with a large piece of debris stuck under its front wheels.  Our thanks to the passengers who provided these pictures of the scene.

BBC, and other media copying their story, reported the event as involving a 'bus shelter at Llanfairfechan'. But this picture from inside the train gives a clear idea of what happened: the remains of the small portable building alongside the Penmaenmawr sidings, presumably used as an office in connection with the nearby quarry.  Apparently the heater was still plugged in!

Passengers were evacuated from the train, as it was to be pulled back clear of the debris and there was a risk of damage. They were taken by road coach to Llandudno Junction for a train to Chester for connections to Cardiff, arriving two hours late, but it was felt that Arriva staff handled the situation as well as possible under the circumstances. (Our thanks to Alan Haydock for assistance with this item.)

The train does not appear to be derailed out of line, although the leading wheels seem to be standing on part of the debris. Quite a tricky problem, but working with difficulty in the rain, the staff in attendance managed to move the train eventually.  Virgin's 08:55 Holyhead - London was stuck at signals behind the stricken train, arriving at Llandudno Junction two hours late at 11:40. The following 09:23 Holyhead - Cardiff waited at Bangor for over an hour before being able to proceed, only to be terminated at Llandudno Junction 88 minutes late.

This turned out to be the last service to either arrive at or depart from Holyhead that day, as the line across Anglesey became flooded, reportedly near Bodorgan, and trains ran east of Bangor only. The next day, Sunday, a few early trains did not run, but the 09:23 from Crewe arrived just a little late at 11:57. The first departure from Holyhead was the 11:30 to London which left at 12:30 and made it to London 52 minutes late at 16:34.

Predictably, the Conwy Valley line also suffered, and was still closed beyond North Llanrwst on Monday 7 December.

A more light-hearted note: Richard Beckley writes: 'On the Real Time Trains website on 5 December, train 1V97 12:39 from Holyhead to Maesteg is shown as cancelled throughout due to speed restrictions as a result of heat. I can't wait to see what happens in the summer. '

Ill-fated Excursion

Above, the empty stock (5Z42) for the Holyhead - Edinburgh 'Statesman' excursion planned for Saturday 5 December approaches Chester on schedule on Friday 4th (Tim Rogers).

Going well through Bangor, at 13:43 (13 minutes early). 47 804 leading ...

...  47 851 on the tail (Jim Johnson)

As may be guessed from the report above, 'on the day', 5 December, things did not go well. There must have been some thoughts of cancellation as the weather worsened, but the train left Holyhead 21 minutes late at 06:15, heading for Cumbria where the storms and floods were at their worst. Arrival at Oxenholme Lake District was at 11:09, 76 minutes late on the original schedule. Wisely, it had been decided to turn back and head home, and the train departed Oxenholme at 11:39, and after several delays en route reached Bangor four hours, twenty-two minutes later at 16:01 before running back empty to Crewe. The line beyond Bangor to Holyhead was already blocked by this stage.  In the event, it was the last train able to head south through Oxenholme that day, as flooding and power cuts closed the West Coast Main Line between Preston and Carlisle.

Wylfa to close

Wylfa nuclear power station on Anglesey, the originator of the flask trains that are the only revenue-earning freight traffic on the Coast line west of Saltney Junction, is to finally cease generating on 30 December. It has been running just one of its two reactors in recent times, having been given an extension beyond its original planned closure date of 2010; commissioned in 1971 it is the last of the 'Magnox' nuclear stations to remain in use.  There will be a 100-day 'cool down' period before full decommissioning gets under way and the nuclear fuel is removed; trains carrying the fuel to Sellafield will continue to run for two or three years. The place will then have to be left in 'care and maintenance' for years before it can be demolished. The Nuclear Decommission Authority estimates the total cost of the decommissioning of Wylfa at £728 million,  £53 billion is being spent on decommissioning the installations at Sellafield.

There are (controversial) plans for a replacement nuclear station on the site - 'Wylfa Newydd' to be built by Horizon Nuclear Power, a subsidiary if Japanese industrial giant Hitachi, which would comprise two Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (ABWRs) – generating a minimum of 2,700MW. Even if approved, it will be a long time before this will be ready to generate power.

The Daily Post has an interesting illustrated article about Wylfa.

Freightliner route learner

Freightliner have been employing Class 66 locos on route-learning duties along the North Wales line. Whether they have some traffic in mind, such as engineering trains, or just keeping route knowledge up-to-date just in case, we cannot say. (Almost certainly the latter.) Above, 66 561 at Holyhead on 1 December. Picture by Eurwyn McMahon.

Above, at Bangor on 1 December, 66 561 on the return working from Holyhead at 12:36 passes 158 822, working 1D12 09:25 Birmingham New St   - Holyhead (normally originating at Birmingham  International.) Picture by Jim Johnson.

On 2 December, 66 519 was used. Russell Withington photographed it westbound at Flint on 2 December.

66 519 seen from Bangor footbridge (Peter Basterfield).

4 December, and the return run, 150 minutes early (Tim Rogers).

61306 in Wales - and elsewhere

Preserved Class B1 loco 61306 Mayflower has been in the news recently as one of the two allowed to available for West Coast Railways, and before that for its appearance at Chester on the 'Cathedrals Express' of 21 November. Although built for the Eastern Region of British Railways, in its earlier career it appeared at least once on the North Wales Coast line. John Hobbs writes: 'B1 4-6-0 61306, then in BR lined black, heads past Fynnongroew on 5 March 1966, taken at about 2pm while I was heading along behind D300 on the afternoon Llandudno to Euston. In the background over the sands of the Dee; can be seen Point of Ayr Colliery. B1s were not unusual on the North Wales Coast line at this time, even from as far away as Hull.'

Above: On the last day of steam in the Leeds/Bradford area, 61306 - which was not named by BR - is seen at the former Bradford (Exchange) station with the 09:55 Bradford - Kings Cross 'Yorkshire Pullman' on Saturday 30 September 1967; the last steam-powered British Rail Pullman train. Some of the Pullman carriages from this train have survived to the main line steam era, but the excursions they run are not 'true' (in some sense) Pullman services (John Hobbs).

Here 61306 is approaching Engine Shed Junction  Leeds, from the Bradford (Exchange) direction , with the 'Yorkshire Pullman', and is awaiting a green aspect on the signal. Picture by John Hobbs, who notes: 'I spent most of the journey in the leading 'BG' brake coach with my head out of the window, but still had to pay the 'Pullman Supplement for the superior accommodation it offered! 61306 had spent all of its life at Hull's two sheds until it arrived at Low Moor in June 1967.

Withdrawn at the end of September 1967 on the closure of Low Moor shed, 61306 was sold, in working order, the following summer for preservation at Steamtown, Carnforth where J.W. Sutherland photographed it on 2 June 1968, still wearing its 55J shed-plate, which was the code for Low Moor at that time, having been changed from 56F only weeks before the shed closed. The plates are thus apparently considered something of a rarity by collectors of such items.

Manchester Model Trams

Our nostalgic mention of the large scale model trams which appeared in past Manchester Model Railway Exhibitions (23 November issue) prompted an interesting email from John Elliott of the Manchester Model Tramway Group:
It might be of interest to know that the large scale trams still exist and are in use. We normally display them at about 3 shows a year, in the past few years we have been at The Manchester Museum of Science and Industry, The National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, The National Railway Museum, and The Manchester Museum of Transport, and in 2016 will be exhibiting at the Severn Valley Railway for a week at Easter, the Ribble Steam Railway, and the Hazel Grove Model Railway exhibition.

We have been given some old Manchester exhibition programmes, and from them we reckon the model trams exhibited at the Corn Exchange first in 1955 in the current format. We can date track-piece number 1 back to this exhibition, and it is still the first on the packing list today, Blackpool railcoach 303 also dates back to that show, and London 2058 (Walthamstow car) dates from 1958, whilst at the other end of the time-line, Stockport 5, and Manx 7 were new in 2014 and 2015 respectively. As far as we are aware all of the models are still in existence today, although many of the older ones are too fragile to use. We have a fleet of over 20 serviceable cars from Blackpool 303 to Manx 7.
See our website for more details:

The trams were not at the 2015 Manchester show, but the exhibition itself seems to have done well in its new city centre venue. Jim Ikin writes: I went to the Manchester show on Sunday 6 December and would like to congratulate everyone involved; great show and also great to be back in central Manchester. I believe there were queues 'out of the door' on Saturday.

Manchester Metrolink extends (a little)

Sunday morning, 6 December, and 3088 works the first public arrival into the new Manchester Metrolink station at Exchange Square, temporary terminus of the new 'second city crossing' line. Behind is the Corn Exchange, sometime venue of the Model Railway Exhibition. Picture by Greg Mape.

'Typical' Manchester weather! (Derick Norman).

Trams run beyond the station into Corporation Street to reverse. The artistic bridge was a replacement after the 1996 bombing: the famous pillar box which survived intact can be glimpsed in the right background (Derick Norman).


175 113 at Chester on 4 December, working train 1W52, 05:55 Milford Haven to Manchester Piccadilly, diverted from the usual route because of the re-signalling closure of the Crewe - Shrewsbury line (Tim Rogers).

Test train at Bangor on 3 December, propelled by 37 603 (Peter Basterfield).

After an erratic week in which loco-haulage could not be guaranteed, 67 022 prepares to power the morning express to Cardiff on Monday 7 December (Eurwyn McMahon).

37 423  Spirit of the Lakes awaiting departure from Preston to Barrow in Furness at 10:04 on 4 December (Martin Evans).

Rail Head Treatment Train operations finish for the year with the December 13 timetable change. Peter Basterfield took this detail view of the high-pressure water jets in action at Bangor on 28 November.

Richard Clayton took this picture from a train on 2 January 1975 showing the approach to Britannia Bridge which was still in the process of being rebuilt after the 1970 fire.

Vintage Cambrian - by Barrie Hughes

Two more from June 1970, probably a few days after the general election of 18 June when Edward Heath unexpectedly beat Harold Wilson. The first image (above) shows the daily pick up goods at Towyn heading towards Machynlleth hauled by a Class 24 or 25, waiting to pass the Pwllheli-bound Metro-Cammell DMU. Freight services were to be drastically curtailed a few years later with just the gunpowder train running from ICI (Cooke's) Penrhyndeudraeth. Note the van in the Goods Shed siding on the left and the five mineral wagons delivering coal to the local coal merchant. The freight train consists of two vans, three gunpowder vans (note their low roofs)  and a brake van.

On my return to Aberystwyth the same evening I had an enforced wait at Dovey Junction for the DMU connection from Shrewsbury which gave me an opportunity to take the second image.

The DMU for Aberystwyth waits in platform 1 for the connection from Pwllheli on platform 2 while a green Class 24 with white solebar accelerates through the loop with the 18:30 Aberystwyth - York mail train with its two passenger coaches on the rear. The loop was later removed, but in recent times has come back into use, in a slightly different layout allowing Aberystwyth line trains in  either direction to call at the platform.

Any help with loco identities and dates always appreciated.

Llangollen Railway news

'Santa Specials' ran from Llangollen on Sunday 6 December. The two locos in traffic were ex-GWR 'Prairie' 2-6-2T 5199 and BR Standard Class 4 2-6-4T 80072. Above,  5199 running round after returning with the 12.15pm from Carrog (Martin Evans).

The two-day weekend 'Winter Warmer' event on 2 and 3 January 2016 will see a mixture of steam and diesel hauled passenger and goods trains, providing lots of variety and interest for everyone.
Locomotives expected to be in traffic include: (subject to availability): No. 5199, GWR ‘Large Prairie’ 5101 Class 2-6-2T; No. 6430, GWR 64XX Class Pannier Tank 0-6-0PT; No.80072, BR Standard 4MT Class 2-6-4T; D5310, BR Sulzer Type 2 Bo-Bo; Class 109 Wickham DMU. Stations along the line will be transformed to resemble different decades, and there will be  attractions for adults and and for children.
Arrangements have been made for GWR Small Prairie No.4566 to attend The Llangollen Railway  Spring Steam Gala next year. The Spring Steam Gala will be taking place over three days from Friday 8 to Sunday 10 April 2016. Featuring an intensive timetable of both passenger and freight trains, a great collection of historic steam locomotives and special attractions taking place along the line, this event certainly has something for all railway enthusiasts and families alike.
Normally resident at the Severn Valley Railway, No.4566 will be travelling by road to visit the line and will be in operation alongside the railway's own home fleet, as well as another very special guest.   Further exciting locomotive announcements will be coming very soon!

For more details about these events and everything about the Llangollen line, visit:

Timetable Change

The winter timetable starts on 13 December. Arriva Trains Wales have prepared a resumé of their important changes, of which an extract follows:

Timetable 1 Swansea – Shrewsbury - Cambrian Coast - Chester - Birmingham

On the Cambrian line, the current 17:46 (Mon-Fri) Pwllheli to Machynlleth service will be re timed to start earlier at 17:42 due to operational reasons.
Due to essential Network Rail improvement work over the winter, the current  8:30 (Sun) Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth will be replaced by a bus service and a new service 09:47 (Sun) Machynlleth to Aberystwyth will be added.

The 09:51 (Sun) Birmingham New Street to Shrewsbury will be extended to Aberystwyth (11:28 from Shrewsbury)
On the Heart of Wales line, the current 05:40 (Mon – Fri) Shrewsbury to Cardiff Central service will now start at 05:56 for operational reasons.

Timetable 2 South Wales - North Wales - Manchester

In response to  a request from local stakeholders the 16:50 (Mon-Fri) Holyhead to Cardiff Central service will call additionally at Church Stretton and Craven Arms.

The following Sunday services will stop additionally at Alderley Edge in Cheshire
   09:28 (Sun) Crewe to Manchester Piccadilly
   15:13 (Sun) Milford Haven to Manchester Piccadilly
   09:30 (Sun) Manchester Piccadilly to Cardiff Central
   22:35 (Sun) Manchester Piccadilly to Crewe

Due to Network Rail improvement work, the current 13:01 (Mon-Fri) Bangor to Manchester service will start later at 13:07.

Timetable 4 North Wales – Chester – Crewe – Warrington -Manchester

Following feedback from stakeholders, the following additional Llandudno – Llandudno Junction service has been added in order to enhance day time services.
12:46 (Mon-Sat) Llandudno – Llandudno Jn
12:57 (Mon-Sat) Llandudno Jn – Llandudno
The current  11:46 (Mon-Fri) Blaenau Ffestiniog to Llandudno service has been re-timed earlier at 11:35 to facilitate this additional Llandudno service.

The current  16:16 (Mon-Fri) Llandudno to Manchester Piccadilly will leave Llandudno earlier at 16:07 in order to connect to the Holyhead service at Llandudno Junction.

The current 12:44 (Sat) Llandudno to Manchester Piccadilly will leave Llandudno earlier at 12:36 in order to connect with the Bangor service at Llandudno Junction.

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