Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

16 April 2018


Contributions and comments are encouraged: see the Contributions Page

Forthcoming events

April 2018

Thursday 26 April Brian Yates: Light Rail Transit Association (Manchester) The Tramways of Berlin, Potsdam, Lyon and Grenoble.

Friday 27 April  Shropshire Railway Society AGM, followed by Member's talk

Saturday 28 April Steam on the Coast UK Railtours  Ynys Mon Express. Leicester - Holyhead  60163 Tornado  Derby - Holyhead - Derby.

May 2018

Tuesday 8 May  North Wales Railway Circle AGM and Annual Photographic Competition  

Thursday 10 May  Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society  W. Gordon Davies:  A taste of Japan

June 2018

Saturday 2 June Steam on the Coast. Saphos Trains. Crewe - Holyhead and return. 46100, 34046 or 70000.

2-3 June  Llangollen Railway Heritage railcar gala

30 June Llangollen Railway Classic transport

July 2018

Sunday 22 July Steam on the Coast Railway Touring Company North Wales Coast Express
Liverpool - Chester - Llandudno Junction - Holyhead and return. 45690

Tuesday 24 July Steam on the Coast Railway Touring Company Welsh Mountaineer Preston - Blaenau Ffestiniog. 45699 or 48151: Preston - Chester - Llandudno Junction - Blaenau and return

August 2018

Saturday 4 August. Steam on the Coast. Saphos Trains.  Bangor (07.00/22.15) Llandudno Jct (07.25/21.55) Colwyn Bay (07.35/21.45) Rhyl (07.50/21.30) Prestatyn (08.00/21.20) Flint (08.10/21.10) Chester (08.30/20.50) Crewe (09.30/20.00) Stafford to Stratford-on Avon. 46100, 34046 or 70000.

September 2018

Saturday 8 September Steam at Chester Railway Touring Company Norwich - Chester. 60009: Norwich -Peterborough - Nuneaton - Chester - Peterborough

29 September Llangollen Railway Diesel gala

October 2018

12-14 October Llangollen Railway Autumn Steam gala

Friday 19 October Steam on the Coast Golden Eagle Luxury Tour (Day 5 of 12) (Provisional)  Chester - Blaenau Ffestiniog 46100: Llandudno Junction - Blaenau Ffestiniog, Holyhead - Crewe

Earl of Merioneth making lots of noise on its last weekend leaving Tanygrisiau with the 13:40 from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog. See report below. Picture by Jack Bowley.

Thanks everyone for the plethora of great contributions - We'll do an extra issue later in the week to use more of them. - Charlie

Looking back: Rhyl 1997

Charlie's favourite loco, 37 422 Robert F. Fairlie, passes under the 'H' bridge at Rhyl while working a Bangor - Crewe service, on 18 August 1997, with summer strengthening vehicle in GW livery, hired from Riviera Trains, behind the loco, illustrating one way in which locomotive haulage can be more flexible than the 'units' which reign today.  From Dave Sallery's archive.

It's pleasant to report that 37 422 has survived to the present day, working passenger trains for DRS in East Anglia.

North Wales Coast Express

Saturday 14 April saw the first public passenger working by new Train Operating Company Locomotive Services TOC Ltd, an excursion under the 'Saphos Trains' banner. 46100 Royal Scot was the power for an excursion from Crewe to Holyhead and back, hauling a mixed rake of smartly-liveried Mk2 air-conditioned First Class coaches, and older Mk1 vehicles as the 10:00 Crewe - Holyhead and 15:55 return. Phil Clarke photographed the train ready to start at Crewe.

Passing Oakenholt, east of Flint  (Bob Greenhalgh).

Approaching Abergele & Pensarn (Ian Pilkington).

Storming through Colwyn Bay (Jim Ikin).

Arriving at Llandudno Junction (Garry Stroud).

Heading across Conwy Cob ...

... with Class 47 Craftsman on the tail, to help with shunting and take over in emergency.  (Garry Stroud).

Recovering from a short wheel-slip leaving the Conwy tubular bridge (Jim Ikin).

Outward passing Dwygyfylchi  (Ian Pilkington).

Iron horse and black horses at Bangor (Alan Crawshaw).

Outward approaching Rhosneigr (Ian Pilkington).

At Holyhead, water was taken at platform 1 after the loco returned from turning at Valley, 16 minutes late at 15:06. John Dent's picture shows the hose reel bring deployed. The watering operation took somewhat longer than planned, resulting in a 27-minute late departure.

The return train passing Rhosneigr (Ian Pilkington). The 'support coach' has been shunted to the other end of the train but not turned, so its brake van section is now at the end away from the loco; always a useful hint when trying to establish the direction such a train.

Return leaving Llandudno Junction, now 49 late after another extended stop (Ian Pilkington).

Abergele station, with  large crowd of onlookers, one of them disturbingly beyond the yellow line. (Picture by Jim Ikin). The times of the train had been published in the Daily Post, enabling many non-enthusiasts to attend.

Heading east from Abergele. Note the temporary speed restriction over the recently re-laid Down line through the site of the former pointwork (Jim Ikin).

Return passing Rowton east of Chester (Ian Pilkington).

Running into Platform 12 at Crewe at 19:30 instead of 18:38 (Phil Clarke).

D1944 (47 501) on the rear of the special and 57 309 Pride of Crewe (originally D1931) on Crewe 'Thunderbird' duties (Phil Clarke).

John Dent notes: 'The locos and stock are in superb condition and provided an excellent run. The only problem we were aware of was the difficulty filling the tender at Holyhead This caused considerable delay and made my the journey back home to Lancaster by train only just possible with a change at Preston into the last train of the day to Barrow. Whilst this did not spoil our enjoyment of a splendid day out it will be something to consider before booking another trip starting at Crewe.' [Oddly, Direct services on Saturdays from Crewe to Lancaster, despite both being on the West Coast Main Line, are almost non-existent].

Tornado problem

Saturday 28 November is the date of another steam special along the coast,  the (sold out) 'Ynys Mon Express' from Leicester to Holyhead and return, planned to feature new-build pacific 60163 Tornado.

However, this may now be in doubt. As the owners write on their website:
The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust is disappointed to announce that No. 60163 Tornado failed whilst hauling ‘The Ebor Flyer’ on Saturday 14 April 2018 south of Peterborough. The failure was due to damaged inside motion. At this time the cause of the damage is not known but is not thought to be speed-related. Tornado was taken off the train at Peterborough and will be moved to the Nene Valley Railway for inspection and repairs. The Trust is conducting a thorough investigation. Further announcements will be made when the Trust has more information.
'Inside motion' refers to the fact that, for extra power,  this loco has a third cylinder between the frames in addition to the ones on either side, and this has its own connections to the driving axle axle as well as the necessary valve gear as can be seen on either side of the loco.

Tornado and support coach were shunted off the train at Peterborough by GBRf 66 744 Crossrail and the train continued, three hours twenty minutes late, behind 66 106; there is a video on Youtube showing the events at Peterborough. The passengers still had two hours to explore York.  Let's hope the damage is not too serious.

More specials at Crewe, 14 April  - pictures by Phil Clarke

The 'Cumbrian Hoovers' was a fund-raising special for the Railway Children charity, from Birmingham to Carlisle to mark the 50th anniversary of the Class 50 diesel locos. Haulage was by privately-owned 50 007 Hercules (D407) and 50 049 Defiance (D449), two of the six examples cared for by The Fifty Fund, three of which are available for main line running. When new, the class were common sight at Crewe, as, working in pairs, they hauled expresses to Scotland until the continuation of electrification from Weaver Junction (north of Crewe) and Glasgow was completed. Picture by Phil Clarke.

A 'Northern Belle' excursion from London to Liverpool and Chester in connection with the Grand National horse race was worked by 57 313 (above) and 57 316 on the other end. A company 50% owned by West Coast Railways has taken the operation of this luxury train from the Belmond organisation, and it will have West Coast traction in future, instead of the DRS locos that have served for some years. Just months after Belmond signed a ten-year contract for the stock to be stabled and serviced by the Severn Valley Railway, the train has re-located to West Coast's base at Carnforth.

The 'British Pullman' luxury train, which normally works in the south of England, including the British end of the 'Venice Simplon Orient Express', also made the trip north for the big event at Aintree, worked by DB Cargo locos 67 024 ...

... and 67 021, which have been given a Pullman makeover, adding yet another livery to this kaleidoscopic class.  This train, still part of the Belmond empire,  includes a number of 'real' Pullman coaches originally built for the Pullman company. This train ran from London Victoria to Runcorn where passengers transferred to road coaches and the stock travelled to Crewe Carriage Sidings for servicing. Our pictures shows the empty train in the evening heading for Liverpool Lime Street where the passengers re-joined.

Looking back: Llandudno Junction 1979 - pictures by Ken Millward

Four views from 11 August 1979. Above, 40 148 rounds the curve from the Llandudno branch into Llandudno Junction with train 1E82, 13:42 Llandudno to York. The first coach is one of the small batch of Mk1 Brake Composites, originally designed to offer first, second and guard/luggage accommodation in a single coach in the days when through coaches to branch lines would be detached from / added to expresses.

40 110 has arrived with train 1D35, 11:05 Manchester Victoria to Holyhead. The DMU in the bay platform has one coach in the short-lived colour scheme devised for refurbished units at the time. Today, light grey has become the standard livery required by the Department for Transport.

40 110 departs, with members of the 'basher' fraternity visible in the front coach. The train would return from Holyhead as the 18:05 Holyhead - London, the 40 working as far as Crewe. (Thanks to the Class 40 motherlist for these details.)

Class 25 locos were also to be seen on passenger work in the 1970s. 25 194 approaches The Junction with 1D38, 10:10 Stalybridge to Llandudno (Thanks to

Welcome to Llandudno Junction

Jim Ikin writes: 'A number of ‘Welcome’ signs have sprung up around Llandudno Junction featuring 'Britannia' pacific 70023 Venus. In real life 70023 worked along the coast in the early 1960s while based at Crewe, and was shedded at 6G (Llandudno Junction) for five weeks in 1966 before going to Crewe South and Carlisle Kingmoor whence it was withdrawn and cut up at Ward's scrapyard near Killamarsh.'

We wonder what original image was used as a basis for this sign; any ideas? The 'arts and crafts' facade of the Old Station Hotel locates the scene, but the inclusion of the obelisk on Ffrith Hill is an anachronism, as it was only erected in the early 1990s by the owner of the Bodysgallen estate, generating much controversy and demands that it be removed.

Rhiw Goch loop - pictures by Michael Baker

Photographed by Michael Baker while on duty as signaller at Rhiw Goch passing loop, between Minffordd and Tan-y-Bwlch on the Ffestiniog Railway, Blanche pauses with the 10:40 Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog.

The signalbox itself is a nice example of railway architecture, dating in its current form from 2007, although the passing loop, which existed for a short time in the 1830s, was re-instated in 1975, reduced to a siding in 1989 and opened again as a loop in 1999. The location has no public access.

The Earl's last day - report by Jack Bowley

Earl of Merioneth, the green square Double  Fairlie engine on the Ffestiniog, retired on 8 April after 39 years of service. There are various reasons, some controversial, as to why it's retired. But the engine is well and truly exhausted, and I went out on 7-8 April to record its last weekend. Above:
on Saturday at Porthmadog with the empties to form the 11:25 to Blaenau.

Accelerating out of Garnedd Tunnel.

Passing Minffordd Hostel on the last train of the day.

Sunday 8 April, and Dduallt spiral with lots of 'thrash'.

Dduallt spiral complete with 'Trawsfynydd castle' - the closed-down nuclear power station.

Dduallt station, stopping to pick us up. I was lucky enough to be the guard on the final train that the Earl pulled, the 18:00 staff special on the Sunday.

The voyage of the Lily B - by Nick Gurney.  Pictures by Dennis Oliver

A sequel to the shipping news in the last issue: the vessel Lily B, loaded with ornamental slate chippings, sailed for Rotterdam around midnight. We believe she suffered engine failure as she passed Beaumaris and ran onto a sandbank. Holyhead Towing despatched one of their tugs, the Afon Alaw, that attempted to re-float her.

She was re-floated on the next tide and towed clear of the Menai Straits and anchored off Puffin Island. I expected the Lily B to be towed to Holyhead for repairs but I was surprised to see the Afon Alaw changed her AIS destination to Rotterdam and off they went on 1 April showing an estimated time of arrival as 21.00 on 3 April. The tow took a little longer due to them having to shelter off the south coast due to the weather. A nice job for Holyhead Towing.

Narrow Gauge Miscellany

At Betws-y-Coed on 5 April, a new loco in steam. 2-4-4T single Fairlie Geirionydd at the Conwy Valley museum’s 7¼" gauge line. It was built at the railway’s workshops and entered service   In the late summer of 2017 (Martin Evans).

Holy War in steam on the Bala Lake Railway, 9 April (Jim Ikin). This curious name was conferred  in 1908, after a famous racehorse of the time. Built in 1902, in 1967 it became  the very last loco to work at the Dinorwic quarry.

The new station building under construction for the Welsh Highland Railway at Caernarfon, seen from the castle on 1 April (Greg Mape).

Salford from above

Greg Mape visited a multi-storey car park near Salford Central station to get this view of a train on the new Ordsall Chord line between Deansgate and Manchester Victoria.

A Northern class 150 calls at Salford Central.

This Class 319 is working a Liverpool to Manchester Victoria service via Eccles.

The car park.

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