Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

20 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

Saturday 5 May Stockport Community Rail Festival at Stockport Station.

Attractions include:
Webb Coal Tank steam locomotive
Modern diesel locomotives
Model Railway layouts in operation
Vintage Stockport Corporation buses
Original Stockport Tram
Horse drawn dray
World War One trench
tramway petrol locomotive
See how trains are signalled
through Stockport
As well as:
Local traders
Stands from todays railway
Community Rail displays
Preservation Society Stands
Talk by local expert Paul Shackcloth

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

2-6-2T 5199, with realistic weathering applied, simmers at Llangollen waiting to depart with the 13:00 to Corwen East during the gala even on 14 April. Picture by Martin Evans: more below.

This is an 'extra bonus issue': don't miss the regular 16 April edition. The next update will be published on the evening of Tuesday 24 April. - Charlie

Sunday Block - pictures by Peter Lloyd

Sunday saw four infrastructure trains in the Flint - Holywell area, where Network Rail were re-laying a section of the down Holyhead line at Holywell Junction. Seven locos were in attendance:  66 419, 66 589, 66 606, 66 511, 66 512, 66 602, and 66 415 (above) which is one of the batch originally ordered by DRS and still carrying their blue livery.

66 589 shows off the 'low-emission' body style with three doors on one side.

66 606 is one of the 'heavy haul' type with lower gear ratio intended for use on heavy mineral trains.

The scene at Holywell Junction, with dis-armed semaphore signals in evidence. The wagons are standing on the 'Down Goods' line, once part of a four-track mail line with loop lines on either side. The former branch line from Holywell Town curved in from the left, under the Dock Road bridge, on which Peter was standing, and into a short bay platform at the station; branch trains could only access the main line by a reversal.

Looking the other way, towards Chester, from the same Dock Road bridge. The outer pair of the four-track layout were retained when most of the line reverted to double track, but in recent times gave been covered by encroaching woodland. Sleepers can be seen stacked on the Down line between the two 66s.

Dave Plimmer has recorded the final signalbox diagrams at this and the other recently-close signalboxes on his superb 2D53 website.

The view from the next bridge to the east, looking towards Holywell Junction, with 66 511. The Up line has the pink ballast used in re-layings since Network Rail stopped sourcing ballast from Penmaenmawr.  The site of the extensive Courtaulds factory in this area has been re-developed as a business park, which cannot easily be seen from the train.

The line was closed all the way from Chester to Bangor, with bus replacements; at Llandudno Junction a smaller job was under way, replacing a set of points near the Queens Road bridge. New ballast is being brought to the work site.

Birch woodland continues to claim the former sidings, although we understand that they are officially still part of the network.

Looking back: Chester 1978 - by Barrie Hughes

Spending a few summer holiday days with my parents in Buckley I had a look around the Chester triangle area. I was lucky to see a lot of action in the hour or so I was there on (probably) 24 August 1978. The first picture (above)  shows a 47 departing for Holyhead under the impressive gantry of signals on the curve. In the foreground are the triangle sidings used only occasionally by passenger trains. Chester DMU depot is visible to the left with a parcels DMU visible. To the right are the wagon works and postal sidings, the latter ripped up by this time. The burned out DMUs from the Chester General accident of 8 May 1972 (see Wikipedia) were stored there for a while in full public view. See 

25184 with aluminium ingots in open wagons from Anglesey Aluminium passes under the suspended Chester No.5 signalbox which controlled the Chester South Junction area where the triangle freight lines re-joined the coast line. This loco was withdrawn on 28 August 1983 and scrapped at Swindon on 11 February 1984

The new Northgate Arena is visible in the background occupying the site of the CLC/GC Chester Northgate station, closed from 6 October 1969. Freight to Shotton Steelworks used the Northgate bypass triangle until October 1992; since then all freight to factories in the Shotton Industrial area has had to reverse in Wrexham and use the Borderlands Line.

A Class 40, still with front door and discs, prepares to depart the long platform 3/4 past Chester’s No.4 signalbox. A further set of gantry signals controls the Up arrivals at Chester next to Hoole Road bridge.

25 185 creeps around the curve on the triangle line at Chester passing Chester No.5 signalbox controlling Chester North Junction where the triangle rejoins the Chester-Rock Ferry line. This loco was withdrawn on 5 November 1984 and sold to the Dart Valley Railway for preservation. Now repainted in green and named Mercury, the loco is mostly used on permanent-way turns but hauls or assists passenger trains on occasion.

The DMU depot, with its carriage washer, to the left holds a DMU in the short-lived white livery and a few Swindon Class 120 units used on the Marches route.

An unidentified Class 24 passes the site of the future Roodee Junction under the Chester Walls footbridge near Bonewaldesthorne’s Tower. The train is possibly the 09:42 Llandudno - Manchester Victoria. The six-coach train of Mk1 coaches includes at least three first/second class corridor composite (CK) vehicles, a feature also visible on a published picture of the Llandudno working in June 1978. A large batch of these was built, but by 1978 there was little use for them on front-line trains.

Only six Class 24s remained in service at this time (Nos. 24 023, 035, 047, 063, 081 and 082).  24 081 soldiered on for another year and a half until 7 January 1980 as Crewe diesel’s celebrity loco.

Western Changeover Gala at Llangollen

The Llangollen Railway's Gala on 13-15 April was designed to replicate the period when diesel was taking over from steam 50+ years ago.  On Friday the occasion was marred by rain, but Saturday was better and the sun even shone.  Above, Class 37 6940 departs Llangollen at 9 45am with a demonstration freight train to Carrog with BR tank 80072 waiting to depart with the 10:15am service to Corwen East. Picture by Martin Evans.

Unfortunately the morning's proceedings were disrupted by the failure of the 6940 on the demonstration freight west of the tunnel. (Some might say it was realistic of the c.1965 diesel performance!) The Class 47 1566 went to the rescue and brought the freight back to Dee Junction where 6940 retired hurt with an earthing fault to the yard. Class 26 D5310 took its place on the weekend roster.

Meanwhile the second passenger train of the day was held in Llangollen station (above, picture by George Jones) and 80072 posed with 2-8-0 3802 bringing in the empty stock  for the third train. Some slick working got the timetable back on schedule later in the day.

BR Standard tank 80072 waits to depart Llangollen with the delayed 10:15, which eventually got away at 10:50 (Martin Evans).

3802 'light loco' at Carrog prior to attaching to the rear of the 11:45 from Llangollen as tail locomotive to Corwen (Chris Jones-Bridger). The intended star of the show, 3802 has returned to steam after its ten-year boiler overhaul.

Later at Corwen East,  5199 was on tailing on the train from Carrog (George Jones).

80072 approaching Carrog with the 14:22 Llangollen to Corwen (Chris Jones-Bridger).

Back at Llangollen the Brush Type 4 1566 basked in the afternoon sunshine (George Jones).

5199 at Berwyn waiting the 'right away' while working the 14:40 Corwen to Llangollen

Sunday 15 April

Another disappointing day weather-wise, but trains operated to plan. Plenty of trains were on offer throughout the day  with variety of workings as the railway was working to near-capacity on the ten miles through to Corwen East. The suburban coach E48004 was sampled by three of the local Llangollen Railway lads with Station Master David Shilliam offering encouragement in the art of railway enthusiasm (George Jones).

The Brush Type 4 offered 'superpower' on the four-coach suburban set and contrasted with the Pannier tank taking water.

Later the Pannier contrasted with the Prairie tank which brought in the goods (George Jones).

Included in the Goods is the restored LMS-pattern Guards Van B950237 as built at Derby in 1950. It was once a derelict wreck in the sidings at Holyhead prior to recovery in 2009 and rebuilding by a group of Llangollen Railway members at Nantmawr. (George Jones).

 Above, at Llangollen it awaits its next call of duty (George Jones).


On 17 April 80072 left Llangollen by road transport, photographed passing the village of Trevor by Martin Evans. Destination is the North Norfolk Railway, who wanted a member of the class for their Spring Gala on 20-22 April. The Llangollen Railway-based 2-6-4T replaced, at short notice,  unavailable Southern Locomotives Ltd. 80104, which itself was announced as a replacement for the North Yorkshire Moors Railway’s 80136.

The Branchline Wanderer - an Irish Journey by Alan Crawshaw

Rowan and I crossed the Irish Sea to travel on the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland 'Branchline Wanderer' railtour which ran on 7 April. The morning Swift fast ferry on 6  April was cancelled because of rough seas so we took the Manchester to Holyhead loco-hauled (above) and the afternoon Ulysses crossing. With an early Saturday start and a late finish, we needed to stay in Dublin city centre hotels, which run to around 200 euro per room per night at the weekend so we stayed in hostel dorms. The current exchange rate makes Ireland an expensive country for British visitors.

Class pioneer 071 eased us out of Connolly station at 08:45 for the run to Waterford. Muine Bheag offered a photo stop (above) in weak sunshine ...

 ... but Waterford was appropriately wet. Line closures have reduced the station to one platform, still known as platform 5 and with no run-round loop, we jettisoned 071 at the buffers and 074 conducted us along the cross-country route to Limerick Junction.

A few photo stops along the way.  Above: Clonmel. Below: Cahir.

This line sees only two passenger trains per day in each direction Mondays -Saturdays.

Control made the extremely cautious decision to hold us at Limerick Junction to follow the Limerick shuttle railcar so we were late into the city where 086 took over for the delightful amble along the jointed track of the line to Ballybrophy via Nenagh. This line has been under threat of closure with a sparse service and journey times inferior to the competing bus service.

From the bay platform at Ballybrophy, 086 propelled the train onto the main line and into a through platform where we rejoined it to run south to Thurles where passengers needing connections to destinations south of Dublin alighted. The run round was executed south of the station, the plan being to return non-stop to Dublin but again control decided to hold us until the Cork to Dublin express had passed so an additional photo stop at the station was allowed before a fast run back to Connolly, arriving around 35 minutes behind schedule. Another very enjoyable tour. 

The RPSI's rake of Cravens Coaches was used for the tour. 57 were built in 1963-4 by Cravens of Sheffield, some delivered partially completed and finished by the Railway's own works at Inchicore. They were used by Irish Rail until 2006, latterly in decreasing numbers on secondary services, and ten have passed into preservation.

These vehicles have a distinctive style; perhaps they give a clue what British Rail might have had if the decision had not been taken to design and build the BR Mk2 fleet in BR works rather than employ outside contractors such as Cravens.

Seen at Bagillt, 9 April - pictures by Tim Rogers

221 104 Sir John Franklin & 221 115 Polmadie Depot on 1A48 13:58 Holyhead to London Euston.

150 267 on 1H90 14:40 Llandudno to Manchester Piccadilly. Class 150s (maximum speed 75 mph) have been noted in use on several long-distance services recently, including Manchester - South Wales.

68 001 Evolution and 68 023 Achilles with FNA wagon 550038 are 6K41 14:58 Valley Nuclear Electric to Crewe Coal Sidings.

Severn Valley activity - report by Tony Robinson

A visit to the Open House Weekend at  Bridgnorth on the Severn Valley Railway on 7 April. Among locos to be seen were 7802 Bradley Manor ...

... and 34027 Taw Valley.

The ladies lending a hand with Great Western tank engines outside the shed.  0-4-2T 1450 and dates from the 1930s, and 0-6-0 pannier tank 1501 built at Swindon works just after the GWR had been nationalised.

The Open House included access to the works, where Stanier 'mogul' 42968, once allocation to Mold Junction, is undergoing an overhaul. Information displays gave an idea of the work to be done. 'Cylinder bores have been overhauled and pistons refurbished. Valve bores to have liners fitted. Extensive frame repairs in progress: rear of frames and dragbox renewed, section of frame at RH driving axles being replaced, considerable work to be carried out on axle-box horns, etc. Locomotive wheel types being re-profiled.'

'Boiler stripped and assessed.  ¾ Door plate (steel) required, pressing to be ordered. Lower steel sides to be replaced. Possibly needs a new front tube plate. Repair duration estimate 12 Months.'

The owing group, the Stanier Mogul Fund, welcomes members and/or donations; the website is full of information about the class, this example, and the overhaul work.

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