Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

28 May 2018

Even new-looking buildings can be in the way of development: Premier House in Chester, May 2018

Contributions and comments are encouraged: see the Contributions Page

Forthcoming events

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

7-8 July North Wales N Gauge Model Railway Show, Conwy.  With 12+ layouts on show with trade support and second-hand sales. Refreshments available and full disabled access. Saturday 10:00 - 17:00, Sunday 10:00 - 16:00. Adults 4, Children 2. Ysgol Porth y Felin, Llanrwst Road, Conwy LL32 8FZ

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

66 133 brings its Eastleigh - Liverpool 'Chester and Liverpool Explorer' excursion through Ruabon, 26 May. Picture by Martin Evans.

Franchise news

This week's headline news is that the Welsh Government announced on 23 May  that it intends to appoint KeolisAmey as Operator and Development Partner (ODP) for the Wales & Borders franchise and the South Wales Metro network. The contract will be signed following a 10-day standstill period and runs from 4 June 2018 to 14 October 2033, with rail services transferring from incumbent operator Arriva on 14 October 2018.

KeolisAmey says it is unable to comment on the award until the procurement process concludes and the contract is signed, so we'll have to wait for full details of what they have promised, but it's already clear that the 'South Wales Metro' is the big event. How much we we will get of the North Wales (or North East Wales) Metro, or a better service on the coast line, remains to be seen.

The Wales & Borders franchise has been operated by Arriva Trains Wales (ATW) since December 2003. Arriva withdrew from the contest for the new franchise in October 2017, leaving KeolisAmey, Abellio Rail Cymru, and MTR Corporation (Cymru) in the running for the contract. Unfortunately the bid from Abello (Netherlands Railways) bid was joint with doomed monster Carillion, so they had to withdraw.  KeolisAmey is mostly owned by the French state railway, and currently operates Manchester Metrolink.

Trouble with fluff

150 285 made an unusual appearance for the class in platform 1 at Holyhead on 28 May, having been called to action following problems with the Class 175 units. 175 106 had failed at Colwyn
Bay with only one engine running and 175 101 which had been used to assist it to Holyhead, itself only running one two engines due to the radiators being infused with 'fluff' from plants. There does seem to be a great number of catkins of some kind lying on the ground recently.

Visitors at Wrexham - report by George Jones

To cater for the Chester Races crowd on Saturday (a day of Northern conductors' strikes), Arriva Trains Wales put on a Wrexham shuttle service using borrowed Northern unit 150 223, seen above at Wrexham General due for departure 11:20 after picking up any passengers left behind by the over-full 158 units at 11:02. Might have helped if a prior announcement as to extra capacity has been made known.

It appears from the Realtime Trains database that Arriva had indented to provide this service with a unit to travel light from Cardiff Canton, but this move was cancelled in favour of an offer from Northern.  There was no corresponding working in the evening for returning punters, so far as I could see.

This is the probably the first Arriva Northern unit to visit Wrexham and shows a degree of co-operation between neighbouring franchises when Arriva is the parent company. [Also, Arriva Trains Wales trains between Manchester and Llandudno were calling additionally at Patricroft, and is was announced that Northern train tickets would be accepted on Arriva North West buses if appropriate. C.H.]

Next came an excursion originating from Eastleigh at 05:00 bringing patrons to the north-west on Saturday intent on visiting Chester and Liverpool; the latter was for the Tall Ships regatta and other events. Additionally, the train stopped at Gobowen to allow an optional visit to the Pontcysllte aqueduct by excursion coach. The trains was top-and-tailed by 66 133 (above) ...

... 66 198. It passed Wrexham slightly ahead of time at 11:25, breathing down the neck  of the Chester shuttle service which had departed minutes earlier, but it was 'right time' at Chester.
It was due at Liverpool Lime Street at 13:04 and made it only four minutes late despite being 12 late at Earlestown after delays through Frodsham and Warrington. Arrival back at Eastleigh was 23:57 after a long day.

Narrow Gauge views - by Jim Ikin

During a walk on 14 May around the beautiful Plas Tan-y-Bwlch enjoying magnificent views, we caught the train from the Ffestiniog Railway request stop at Plas Halt. Above, 2010-built Lynton and Barnstaple loco Lyd arrives with our train. The halt was provided for the use of William Oakley who built the house at Plas Tan-y-Bwlch and created the gardens.

We alighted at Tan-y-Bwlch, where watched the exchange of single-line tokens with the crew of David Lloyd George, and walked back to Plas Tan y Bwlch through the woods.

[Here's some news of another of the FR's halts, Coed y Bleddiau.]

A view of Elidir on a Llanberis Light Railway return trip on 21 May, taken from Hospital Hill.

Looking back with Barrie Hughes - North Wales 1977

More from my holiday in North Wales in June 1977 using a North Wales '5 in 7' Week Ranger with my wife whilst staying at parents in Buckley. Any help with dates appreciated. Above, 24 023 stabled in Rhyl Permanent Way yard on 28 July 1977. This loco was to last another year before being scrapped at BREL Doncaster on 3 September 1978. The interesting Derby Sulzers website  reveals that this was one of the last eleven of this once common class that numbered 151 examples.

On the same day, 40 044 caught me unawares heading an Up working passing through Llandudno Junction station. This loco was withdrawn several years later on 22 January 1985. although it survived three years in store before being cut up at BREL Crewe three years later.

Again on 28 July 1977 24 091  stands in Blaenau Ffestiniog yard on a coal train with a Park Royal DMU in the background and the Crosville bus depot on the site of the old loco shed. One of these buses has been modelled for Exclusive First Editions diecast for the tourist bus that used to go to Stwlan Dam at the top of the Ffestiniog Pumped Storage scheme at Tan-y-Grisiau that proved the concept for Electric Mountain.

A surprise passing through Llandudno Junction towards Holyhead were these two light engine Class 40s. There must have been a motive power shortage at Holyhead! The date was in the period 29-31 July 1977: can anyone help with details from this and the following picture?

Also in the same period 25 043 and 24 087 double-head a morning eastbound permanent way train at Chester. The former loco was withdrawn on 1 February 1981 and the latter 28 September 1980 and scrapped at BREL Swindon Works.

Freight scenes

66 591 powers through Ruabon Station on Saturday 26 May at 11:05 with the Dee Marsh to Margam steel wagons (Martin Evans).

68 018 Vigilant and 68 016 Fearless laying over at Chester with three flask wagons. Picture by Charlie Hulme on 25 May while waiting an hour for a Merseyrail connection due to a points failure.

60 085 heads 6J37 Carlisle - Chirk logs south of Kirkby Stephen, Settle-Carlisle Line, on Tuesday 22 May (Ian Pilkington).

Inter-City or INTERCITY?

Richard Putley's picture of preserved 50 031 on the Seven Valley line prompted contributor Eddie Knorn to raise the complex subject of 1980s locomotive liveries.  The owners of this loco have chosen, as is their right, to turn it out in a colour scheme which Class 50s never wore, but did any class of loco have this exact livery which appears to be something of a mixture? Any errors in the following text are our own, not Eddie's.

When the InterCity 'Executive' livery first appeared in 1983, based on a scheme devised for the ill-fated Advanced Passenger Train, the lower side panels on the locos were painted in a limestone cream colour known as Executive Light Grey, and the upper panels and roof in 'Executive Dark Grey' with bands of 'Rail White' and 'Rail Red'; passenger coaches were painted to match. In conjunction with this, the InterCity brand was applied in the familiar Rail Alphabet typeface and locos wore the BR double arrow symbol. The picture above by J.W. Sutherland, from the Manchester Locomotive Society collectionshows  87 027 Wolf of Badenoch on the 12-coach on 15:00 Manchester - Euston at Stockport on 28 April 1989.


A new image was launched in 1987 with an italicised, capitalised and space-free INTERCITY lettering and the Swallow symbol, and at this point the lower panels and the stripe became a colour known as 'Silver white' on locos, while the carriages retained the original grey. The picture of 47 812, taken at Bolton in 1993, is by Peter Hutchinson, again from the Manchester Locomotive Society collection. This livery lasted until the takeover by Virgin Trains, who later spruced up 47 826, which apparently  had never had Virgin colours, in this livery as part of a selection of 'heritage' repaints to mark the last days of their 47 fleet.
Notice the space in the number, which was standard, and useful, but has been abandoned by most train companies, and indeed most publications by and for enthusiasts - but we have retained the convention on this site because (a) it corresponds with the way the numbers are spoken (b) there's no need to waste space by writing 'Class 47 no. 47812' and (c) it separates diesel from steam: for example, 60 022 has never achieved 126 mph as far as we know.
At some stage, a new Director of Design decided that 'passengers are not interested in locomotive numbers' and ordered the numbers to be smaller and lower.

On HST power cars, the front end had white panels and the rear end had grey to match the coaches. The colour for the upper panels and roof became 'Falcon Grey' which model paint makers list as a distinct colour, but it's hard to distinguish as such in photographs. The livery was applied to electric locos, Class 47 diesels, and a small number of Class 37s used in Scotland.

Around same time as this livery was launched, there was also a new scheme 'BR Mainline' which was intended for non-InterCity locos that were not going into the drab all-over grey of 'BR General livery, presumably because they had passenger work. 'Mainline' liveried locos had the previous IC livery and carried the double-arrow logo. 37 426, pictured above it was to be found working North Wales trains in 1995, as seen at Crewe in that year, it had lost its double-arrow and gained a name Mount Vesuvius, one of several 37/4s which had briefly worked on stone traffic in the Peak District, where they were seen to eject flames from their exhaust while banking heavy trains up to Peak Forest summit.

Returning to 50 031, it appears to have 'Executive Light Grey' lower panels, making it a hybrid of 'mainline' and 'swallow' versions, and 37 426 which was surely supposed to be 'mainline' appears to have the lower panels of the 'swallow' scheme.  Confusing ...

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