Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

14 November 2016

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Forthcoming events

This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived issue. For full information visit our Calendar page.

November 2016

Saturday 19 November Buckley and Connah's Quay Heritage Open Day, Quay Watermen's Association, Kathleeen and May Heritage Centre, Dock Road, Connah's Quay 10:00 - 16:00

Monday 21 November RCTS Chester
Change of speaker: Sixties Steam on Shed, with Barry Shore. A digital presentation based on Barry's monochrome negatives of the 1960s, obtained during his travels around various sheds and depots all over the Britain, concluding with the final days of steam on British Railways at Lostock Hall and the other last sheds.

Friday 25 November Great Western Society North West Branch. GW Steam in S. Wales and S West. Alf Storey

December 2016

Friday 2 December Clwyd Railway Circle Members' Night & Christmas Celebration

Tuesday 6 December  North Wales Railway Circle Christmas Bash. A free buffet is provided this evening and members are invited to bring their own slides/digital pictures and videos to entertain

Thursday 8 December Llandudno & Conwy Valley Railway Society Christmas Social / An evening with Norman Kneale        

Wednesday 7 December RCTS Liverpool Paul Wright: The 8D Association. Paul is Editor of the Association’s Journal.

Friday 9 December  Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society Lecture Steam in colour on the Somerset & Dorset Railway and the Great Central main line. A colour slide presentation by Alf Storey

Wednesday 14 December Welsh Highland Railway North Wales Group Julian Birley - Double Bill - The Bala Lake Railway Extension + The Repatriation of Penrhyn Quarry Loco ‘Winifred’

Monday 19 December RCTS Chester John Hobbs:  North Wales in Black & White.John lives in Warrington and is well known for his presentations covering the final years of steam in North Wales and around the north west. He is a member of the Branch and is actively involved in railway preservation.

January 2017

Tuesday 3 January  North Wales Railway Circle Secretary’s Evening. North Wales Railway Circle Secretary, Peter Hanahoe, presents a selection of his vast catalogue of photographs he has taken on the international railway scene.

Friday 6 January Clwyd Railway Circle The Ffestiniog Railway. A short history featuring FR steam locomotives and a trip up the line using photographs from the 60's onwards. By Geoff Coward

Wednesday 11 January Welsh Highland Railway North Wales Group Dr. Dafydd Gwyn - The First 80 Steam Locomotives.

Friday 13 January Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society Lecture Steam in the North West of England and Scotland in 1965 (Part 2). A digital presentation in black and white by Noel Coates

Thursday 12 January Llandudno & Conwy Valley Railway Society My favourite memories of preserved steam on the Coast by Ron Watson Jones

Monday 16 January RCTS Chester AGM - Followed by John Feild with a slide presentation Non-members are welcome after 20.15 hours for John’s presentation which will
cover our Branch’s 2016 outdoor visits and other topical items. He is a long standing RCTS member and now President of the Branch.
Friday 27 January Great Western Society North West Branch. North of Preston Barrie Rushton

February 2017

Wednesday 1 February  RCTS Liverpool  Mark Youdan. North West Railway Photography, 1995-2015. Mark, a Branch member, is a Driver/Trainer for Arriva Rail North and held the same position with Northern Trains.

Friday 3 February Clwyd Railway Circle BR Steam - The Splendid Years (1959-65 in B&W) Steam around the regions in the early 60’s by John Sloane.

Tuesday 7 February     North Wales Railway Circle Birkenhead to The Coast. North Wales Railway Circle life member Ken Owen entertains us with a selection of pictures starting in Birkenhead, visiting his home town of Wrexham and travelling via his present home Redhill to Eastbourne and Margate on the South Coast.

Wednesday 8 February Welsh Highland Railway North Wales Group Gareth Haulfryn Williams - The Vale of Rheidol Railway.

Thursday 9 February Llandudno & Conwy Valley Railway Society Snowdon Mountain Railway, by Mike Robertshaw

Friday 10 February  Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society Lecture The Splendid Years of BR Steam 1959-1963. A digital presentation by John Sloane

Monday 20 February RCTS Chester Fred Kirk: Leicester Area Steam Days. Fred, from Leicester, spent a lot of his time bicycling around with his camera at the ready to various locations on all the main lines within reasonable reach of his home.

Friday 24 February Great Western Society North West Branch. Group AGM

March 2017

Friday 3 March  Clwyd Railway Circle Amlwch Branch Line and Annual General Meeting Chairman of the Lein Amlwch - Central Anglesey Railway Company, Walter Glyn Davies  will give a presentation on the progress of the lines revival. The talk will be followed by the Annual General Meeting.

Tuesday 7 March   North Wales Railway Circle The Abergele Accident. Tony Griffiths gives a talk on the accident that occurred on 20th August 1868 at Abergele involving the Irish Mail and a part of a goods train that was being shunted.

Wednesday 8 March  Welsh Highland Railway North Wales Group Speaker to be confirmed

Thursday 9 March  Llandudno & Conwy Valley Railway Society    ... And we run trains too! Clare Britton (Ffestiniog Railway)

Friday 10 March  Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society Lecture Eric Lomax, Railwayman of War and Peace. Images of steam in the UK before and after the Second World War with a few taken in India during the war; featured locos are a mixture of industrial and main line, mostly in Scotland A digital presentation of black and white images by Dr Michael Bailey

Monday 20 March  RCTS Chester    Paul Chancellor. A Colour-Rail Presentation. Paul, from Bromsgrove, is owner of Colour-Rail and will highlight the work of many fine railway photographers covering the better part of 70 years. He is also the RO Editor for the ‘Preservation and Other Railways’ section.

Friday 31 March  Great Western Society North West Branch.  Birkenhead Joint Railway.  Paul Wright.

April 2017

Tuesday 4 April    North Wales Railway Circle Bangor to Hong Kong by Rail. Adam Fetherstonhaugh gives an account of his epic journey by rail from Bangor to Hong Kong via Beijing and then on to Vietnam and Cambodia.

Wednesday 5 April RCTS Liverpool David Rapson. Railways - The Digital Effect David, who lives in Connah's Quay, has worked on the railways for many years spending a lot of his life in Control positions and now works for West Coast Railway Company. He is also a Branch member and for those who read Rail Express will be aware of his contributions.

Friday 7 April Clwyd Railway Circle Railways of North Cheshire in Early BR Days Being a Manchester lad, Russell Hatt was able to capture the busy scenes around his home area.

Friday 7 April  (note: first Friday  of the month) Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society Lecture The Last Years of British Trolleybuses A colour slide presentation by Brian Yates  

Wednesday 12 April Welsh Highland Railway North Wales Group Norman Kneale, Renowned railway photographer.

Thursday 13 April Llandudno & Conwy Valley Railway Society Barry Wynne's Steam Odyssey.

Monday 24 April   RCTS Chester   George Jones : Onwards to Corwen.George lives in Wrexham and for many years has been an important publicist for the Llangollen Railway and certain of its locomotives. He will cover the railway’s reinvigoration of the line to Corwen and look at its future prospects.       

Friday 28 April Great Western Society North West Branch. The L&Y in BR days.  Noel Coates.

May 2017

Tuesday 2 May   North Wales Railway Circle AGM and Annual Photographic Competition.  The Annual General Meeting of The North Wales Railway Circle will be followed by the annual photographic competition.  Members are invited to submit their work in three categories, prints, slides and video.  Video to be kept reasonably short, approx. 5 mins.  In line with Circle rules all work should have been taken in the last 12 months.

Wednesday 10 May  Welsh Highland Railway North Wales Group Group’s AGM + John Ellis Williams - The Continuing Story.

Thursday 11 May   Llandudno & Conwy Valley Railway Society   A tribute to the late David Jones, by John Myers 

Positively glowing in the sunshine, 67 013 calls at Llandudno Junction with train 1V90, a Holyhead - Cardiff extra train for a rugby match on Saturday 12 November. Picture by Peter Lloyd. (Wales beat Argentina 24-20.)

Franchise news

The contract for Arriva Trains Wales to run our trains expires in 2018, and the Welsh Government  recently announced the four groups who have qualified to bid for the next franchise, starting in October 2018.  In addition to existing operator Arriva, they are Abellio (subsidiary of Netherlands State Railway), Anglo French consortium KeolisAmey, and MTR Corporation, whose roots lie in the Hong Kong Metro although they already have some operations in England.

Government minister Ken Skates says:
The new Wales and Borders service from 2018 and the next phase of the Metro are part of an ambitious and creative not-for-profit model that we are building for Welsh rail ... Over the next 10 years I envisage significant strides in the delivery of our public transport network including the electrification of the Swansea, Valleys and North Wales lines, a South and North Wales Metro and widespread structural improvements that are already in the pipeline.
Mick Cash of the RMT union says (predictably, and correctly):
All these bids will mean that the foreign-owned railways will be making profit out of Welsh services whilst the Welsh public sector is not even being allowed to bid - that is a ludicrous situation that we should be uniting to fight.
We say: What actually will this 'North Wales Metro' comprise? Presumably there has to be one if South Wales has one, but North Wales doesn't have a Metropolis from which a traditional 'Metro' system can radiate.  More frequent trains and re-opening some stations closed in the 60s, maybe. How about some more-affordable fares?

Another 37/4  back in action

Andrew Vinten writes:  I was on business in the Chester area and noticed a STP (short term planning) working Crewe - Chester - Crewe, I went to Rowton  to photograph it (above) and was pleased to see it was 37 424 / 37 558  on some sort of test run.'

Purchased from a preservation group, and overhauled for use by DRS, 37 424 had been named Avro Vulcan XH558 after the famous loco, and numbered 37558 in its large-logo livery, while retaining '424' on the front end. What is its actual number we are not sure. Vulcan enthusiasts might like to know that Vulcan XM603 is now on view again following a full repaint at the Vulcan Heritage Museum on the site of the Avro works near Stockport. Well worth a visit - although at present you will need to go by car or bike, due to the development work on a housing estate on the airport site, you must sign in at the gate on the main road, and will not be allowed to walk the mile to the museum.

Coast line loco activities

37 424 must have passed the test, as on 14 November it appeared on the Crewe - Valley flask train on 14 November, along with 37 259, photographed at Llanfair PG by Rowan Crawshaw.

On 7 November the flasks were in the charge of consecutively-numbered 37 602 and 37 603, pictured by Tim Rogers near Mostyn.  Two new-model FNA wagons, FNA 11 70 9229 005-7 and
11 70 9229 001-6, sandwich older vehicle 550034.

67 003 continues its stint on the loco-hauled Manchester services. Richard Fleckney photographed the 09:50 Manchester - Holyhead passing Llanfair PG station on 11 November.

The Rail Head Treatment train in action near Menai Bridge on 14 November withclean-looking  56 078 leading (Rowan Crawshaw) ...

... having replaced 56 113 which was looking very scruffy and in need of a bath at Llanfair PG on 11 November. (Richard Fleckney). We understand that 56 087 at the other end has also now been replaced by 56 105.

Richard Jones reports that in the previous week there was some disruption to the Cambrian section RHTT routine when, on the night of Wednesday 9 November the Machynlleth leg of the diagram was cancelled due to an IT hardware failure on one of the Class 97/3 locos, two trips were made to Machynlleth on the evening of 10 November. The first was an STP at 17:20 off Coleham, and was 97 302 with 97 303. The second trip to Machynlleth used the same locos,  booked off Coleham depot at 21:20 as per the standard timetable but in fact left at 23:20, 120 minutes late. The North Wales Coast leg did run as normal on all days, however.

Traws Train

As mentioned in our 31 October issue, the Trawsfynydd & Blaenau Ffestiniog Community Railway Company, led by Essex businessman Colin Dale, has been set up to make another attempt to re-open mothballed line from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Trawsfyndd, and have begun clearing the line of vegetation with permission of Network Rail.  Their Facebook page shows that much progress has been made with the clearance.

What's not clear from what we can find on the internet is what sort of train service they are contemplating once the line is cleared. However, we have been given a copy of a flier - including a reproduction of a painting of the train some way along the lost line to Bala which tells us that 'Soon we are expecting to Start running Trains on this Beautiful Line ... lost of jobs to be done ... We would line to hear from You. Text 07957-638466 or email

Perhaps some helpful reader would care to contact them and ask how long they anticipate it will take to get permission from Network Rail and the safety authorities, and what they have in mind for rolling stock. It certainly would be good to see trains running, perhaps a diesel railcar shuttle, but we can't help feeling they have underestimated the bureaucratic and financial hurdles to be crossed, especially if running into Blaenau Ffestiniog station is contemplated.

To get an idea of the nature of the route, visit Dave Sallery's website which has several fine pictures of the line in use in the 1990s.

Then and Now - with Jim Ikin

This lovely old hand-coloured postcard, probably hand-coloured, shows an London and North Western Railway  express crossing Conway Cob in Edwardian days.

The view from the cycleway bridge, the nearest possible place on 13 November, with a touch of digital colouring.

Last Day of Season at Corwen East - report by George Jones

Remembrance Sunday, 13 November, saw the final train of the Llangollen Railway's 2016 season departing the temporary platform at Corwen East at 15:50. The picture above shows station staff Mrs Ronneback and Mrs Bailey saying farewell to the train crew at the end of the second full season of trains on the Corwen extension. The Standard class 4 tank 80072 carried 'The Remembrance' headboard during the weekend and on Sunday the two minutes silence was observed at Berwyn station at 11am where the stations staff had arranged specific commemoration activities.

For operational reasons trains during the festive season and the 'Winter Warmer' two day event on 30/31 December with terminate at Carrog. Whilst Corwen East will be closed for the winter, there is still much to do in terms of maintenance in readiness for reopening in February 2017 as the platform embarks upon an extended life pending completion of the terminal station at Corwen Central. One task completed this year by the station team has been the preservative coating of all 1,248 palings which make up the fencing of the platform and graded access ramp.

Earlier in the day, 80072 with the 13:00 departure from Llangollen was seen forging past the site of the former Bonwm Halt as seen from the A5 access gate.


On 8 November 60 066 approaches Dee Marsh Junction with 6V75 09:30 Dee Marsh Recp. Sdgs to Margam steel wagons.  This service appears not to be as regular as it used to be (Tim Rogers).

66 598 brings the 15:18 Trafford Park - Southampton intermodal on 7 November through Manchester Piccadilly past an unsuspecting phone user (Charlie Hulme).

The Mid-Cheshire line RHTT, formed of a pair of Multi-Purposes vehicles DR 98094 and DR 98954, climbs round the check-railed curve between Deansgate Junction and Skelton Junction on 8 November (Greg Mape).

Rhyl on 11 December. Roly High writes: A common sight here when I was a young boy was to see two trains heading East at the same time. 175 113 with the 12:53 Llandudno Junction to Manchester Airport departs and outpaces the Network Rail 'Stoneblower' DR 80211 (a machine which pneumatically injects ballast to automatically restore the vertical and lateral alignment of the track) which had arrived from Shrewsbury and is still setting back into the engineer's sidings.

Chester on 10 November: Virgin Voyager 221 107 Sir Martin Frobisher has just arrived at Chester at 15 15pm with the 13 10pm service from London Euston (Martin Evans).

Bala Lake Railway plans

Martin Evans photographed Hunslet loco Holy War in action on the Bala Lake Railway on 25 October (above and below).

The Railway's management has been looking again at was to restore a link from the current Bala station to the town centre, which requires a crossing of the River Dee, the original railway bridge on the Bala Junction to Blaenau Ffestiniog line having been removed. The new scheme is inspired by the layout of the Welsh Highland Railway in Porthmadog, and envisages taking their line across the road bridge using tramway-style rail.  Details can be found on a page of the Bala Lake Railway website.

Chirk Champions - report by George Jones

On Remembrance Sunday, 13 November,  the volunteers from Chirk mainline station paid a visit to Llangollen Railway to see how heritage railway stations tackle their gardens.

The team had something to show off to LR volunteers when they brought their latest trophy awarded for their work as volunteers at the Arriva Trains Wales station for the past 12 years. Friends of Chirk Station received a Champions Award for team work in the Scottish Power Foundation and Trinity Mirror Newspapers annual  'Community Champions Awards' held in Chester on 11 November.  The picture shows the volunteers from FoCS with Llangollen station master David Shilliam and their trophy.

Six teams were short-listed: when Angela and Neil Ree attended what was a wonderful event and received a piece of engraved (or etched?) glass  recording the Friends of Chirk station as Champion Team 2016. 

During the trip by train to Corwen East they noticed in particular the challenge of the station garden at Glyndyfrdwy and swapped experiences with station master Paul Bailey about the opportunities to gain support and recognition of the effort which goes into maintaining country stations in the traditional fashion.

Chirk should be the scene of some activity when the Christmas Cheshireman excursion from Bristol to Chester stops there for water on Saturday 19 November from 12:13 to 12:35. Double-headed 'Blak 5s' are the promised traction.

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