Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

28 June 2018

Contributions and comments are encouraged: see the Contributions Page

Forthcoming events

June 2018

30 June and 1 July  Llangollen Railway Classic Transport Weekend

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

158 821 crosses Barmouth Viaduct, 20 June. Picture by Tim Rogers: more Barmouth views below.

Don't miss our extra issue dated 23 June.  Next update will be at end of day on Monday 2 July.

Armed Forces Day Services and other changes

Saturday 30 June is Armed Forces Day - 'a military-themed even for all the family' with an event based based at Llandudno including air displays, and Arriva Trains Wales will be rising to the challenge of carrying the extra visitors. 4-car 150/158 combinations and 4/5 car 175 combinations  will be in service. To release a unit, ATW intend to hire one from from Great Western, which if it is a 158 will work:

05.33 Cardiff - Milford Haven
09.10 Milford Haven - Manchester Piccadilly
15.31 Manchester Piccadilly - Pembroke Dock
21.09 Pembroke Dock - Carmarthen

The Crewe-based loco-hauled set is planned to work the following diagram (full details are on Real Time trains):

1T20 07:48 Crewe - Llandudno
1T30 09:31 Llandudno - Chester
1T22 10:45 Chester - Llandudno
1T32 11:59 Llandudno - Crewe
5T40 14+59 Crewe - Llandudno (empty stock)
1T40 16:30 Llandudno - Chester
1T50 17:45 Chester - Llandudno Junction
5T50 19+09 Llandudno Junction - Llandudno (empty stock)
1T42 19:25 Llandudno - Crewe

The week beginning 2 July there are major engineering works in association with the electrification of the South Wales Main Line.  All Arriva services will terminate / start back from Cwmbran.  The Holyhead-based loco-hauled set will work 1K31 07:15 Holyhead - Crewe and 1T32 18:17 Crewe - Holyhead rather than working down to Cardiff.

Flying Scotsman to visit the Coast

60103 Flying Scotsman at Chester in 2017 (Roly High) The following press text is supplied by the East Lancs Railway:

What better way to explore the North Wales Coast than a trip behind the Flying Scotsman? To assist in raising funds for the purchase of steam locomotive, City of Wells, the East Lancashire Railway will be running a one-off steam hauled excursion to North Wales on 15 September. The train will be steam hauled throughout direct from Bury Bolton Street Station.

Calling to pick-up passengers at Heywood, Manchester, Newton-Le-Willows and Warrington, this train will make its way across the North Wales Coast to Holyhead, where a two-hour afternoon break is available to explore the old harbour town. Travellers also have the option to leave the train at Llandudno Junction to explore Llandudno; coaches will be waiting to take travellers direct into the town for a four hour break.

The trip is the latest fund-raising initiative that will help the railway secure the future of City of Wells which is being purchased as the railway continues to develop and grow its steam locomotive fleet. Fundraising has been extremely positive with over £200,000 being raised so far as the railway bids to raise £340,920 towards the purchase. It is expected that this special trip will close that gap even further.

Operating the tour wouldn't be possible without the help and assistance from West Coast Railways, Riley and Son (E) Ltd and the Class Forty Preservation Society who have all been instrumental in assisting in this extremely special excursion. For ticketing and booking information visit the ELR website.

A visitor from Northern - pictures by Sean Thomas

Saturday 23 June was one of three days that week on which Northern conductors withdrew their labour in protest against the Government-inspired plan to work some trains in the future with the driver operating the doors at stations, with a second members of staff 'normally' on board the train. On a previous occasion, one of the units which stables overnight at Chester was loaned to sister company Arriva Trains Wales for the Chester - Crewe shuttle, but on this day 150 223 spent the day on the Conwy Valley service, certainly the first time Northern's over-fussy new livery has been seen there.

Northern are refurbishing these units with 'persons of restricted mobility' features, but - unfortunately for the taller or wider passenger - they are retaining the cramped 3+2 seating layout, which was replaced in Arriva Trains Wales's units some years ago by a more spacious 2+2 arrangement.

Patrolling Conwy bridge

Regarding our recent item about Conwy tubular bridge after any steam loco has passed, through we've been assured that this procedure has been in operation for some time, although it only recently appeared in the Notice we quoted.

Hunslet 125 - report by Jim Ikin

We visited the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways on 22 June, during the weekend of celebration of 125 years of the Ffestiniog's ex-Penrhyn Railway locos Linda and Blanche, built by the Hunslet company, Leeds in 1893. Hunslet-built locos visited from other railways, and the railway's own small Hunslets were also in action. We took advantage of a limited-number trip up to Beddgelert Ė triple headed on the way up, double on the return with Alice attached to the rear. Our return journey was held up for a few minutes at Nantmor whilst a grass fire started by the train on the way up was extinguished.  Above,  Alice (b.1902), Britomart (b.1899) and Lilla (b.1891) ready for the off at Porthmadog.

Arrival at Beddgelert.

Lilla and Britomart.

Alice takes water, although water control was difficult as flow is usually controlled from atop a Garratt!


Britomart and Lilla on the front ...

... and Alice on the rear.

An evening line up at Minffordd with (l to r) Winifred, Gwynedd, Margaret and Hugh Napier.

Pictures from 23 June by Dave Sallery:

At Minffordd on the Ffestiniog route, demonstration slate train with George B and Alice from the Bala Lake Railway, plus Cloister from the Purbeck Mining and Mineral Museum in Dorset. The Quarry Hunslets website is a mine of information about these little locos.

The 'birthday girls' themselves in action.

Seen at Tal-y-Cafn - pictures by Ian Wilson

Tal-y-Cafn ('place by the ferry') is a small settlement which grew up by a crossing of the Conwy river, perhaps a ford in Roman times,  the a Medieval ferry, and since 1897 a bridge which is the only crossing between Conwy and Llanrwst. The station on the Conwy Valley line has been adopted by the Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society, who maintain a garden on the disused platform (there was once a passing loop) and have erected a rather splendid old-style name board which gives a former name of the station with the name of a nearby village.

The road to the bridge crosses the line on the level adjacent to the station, and the hand-worked gates are operated by a Network Rail staff member - one of a rapidly-decreasing number of places where this occurs.  Tal-y-Cafn is the nearest station the National Trust's Bodnant Gardens, although it is a stiff uphill walk to the entrance.

Ian's reason for the visit was to photograph the 'Northern Belle' excursion seen across the river ...

... and from a nearby hillside.

150 240 plies its trade between Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Seen on a cycle ride - pictures by Greg Mape

Three images from a cycle ride from Trafford to Prestatyn on 22 June. Above, 150 131, one of the Class 150/1 units recently transferred from Great Western to Northern and yet to be repainted, negotiates the level crossing at Hale station on a Manchester - Chester service. Hale is the last station in Greater Manchester on this line. The signalbox, behind the train, is no longer used but has been retained as a Listed structure, along with the attractive station buildings and canopies. The crossing is one of three controlled from the busy Deansgate Junction signalbox in Timperley.  In the distance is the village's Millennium Clock Tower.

London Northwestern Railway 'Desiro' 350 244 seen near Acton Bridge. The new West Midland Trains franchise holder has chosen to use two brands: London Northwestern Railway for its long-distance services (and the St Albans Abbey branch) and West Midlands Railway for local and suburban lines. The company is owned by consortium of Abellio (Netherlands Railways) and two Japanese companies.

The view across Chester depot, with Merseyrail 507 014 passing on a service to Liverpool, as a train from Liverpool arrives. The depot was built in the 1990s as part of the deal with Alstom to build and maintain the Class 175 units. Its long-term future is uncertain, as the new franchise owner plans to dispose of the 175s in favour of new stock from other builders.

On the morning of Sunday 24 June, 175 114 passes Gwrych Castle, working the 07:50 Holyhead - Manchester Piccadilly.  The modern building in the middle distance is in the North Wales Business Park, which is being developed on 37 acres of former farmland between the A55 and the old main road. [Notes by Charlie Hulme.]

Cambrian Corner

Tim Rogers spent a few days in the highly-photogenic Barmouth area from 18 to 21 June.  Here is a selection of his pictures.  Above, Barmouth station on 18 June with 158 837. The power in the background belongs to the local fire station.

158 821 departs for Pwllheli on 19 June. The siding, a fragment of the former goods yard, has been retained for use principally by Engineer's trains, although the headshunt which adjoins the car park has been used on occasions when failed trains have been loaded on to low-loaders for road transport. Old-style bull-head rail prevails here, and we understand that there is no plan for wholesale replacement.

On 20 June, 158 821 for Pwllheli crosses Barmouth viaduct ...

... and tackles the tight-radius check-railed curve towards the station. Cader Idris is bathed in cloud. The '35' sign is the speed restriction over the bridge in km/h - as required by the ERTMS signalling.

The line continues over this concrete bridge, which replaced a timber version, perhaps sometime in the 1950s. This view shows 158 823 on the 21 June.

The view of the mountains across the Mawddach was clear on 21 June as Tim made headed across the bridge to the Mawddach trail.

The driver of 158 836 poses for the camera as his train heads for Machynlleth.

A high-level view of the viaduct. The builders had to allow for sailing ships to pass up the Mawddach: the right-hand of the two spans could be swung to give clearance for masts, as far as we know this is is no longer possible.

'Out and About' section

A Day out in Cornwall Ė Sunday 17 June 2018 - with Richard Putley

I rode on the Pathfinder 'Cornishman Express' Steam Tour to Par which was hauled by Merchant Navy loco 35028 Clan Line; I joined the tour at Yatton (above). I got there in time to see prototype Class 150 150 002 on the 07:39 to Penzance. The tour was delayed which enabled me to photograph an Up HST with 43 070 on the rear. The next train on the Down was 150 266 on the 08:43 to Penzance, then the tour arrived, about 25 minutes late.

Despite the late start, good work by the crew ensured that the water stop at Tiverton Loops was done in less time than allowed. A good climb of the steep section between Newton Abbot and Plymouth meant we were only ten minutes late arriving there. Again good work by the crew meant they were able to water the loco in only ten minutes which enable a departure less then five minutes late.

I opted to get off at Liskeard (above) and take the branch train to Looe.

150 216 was the unit, seen at Looe. (GWR are retaining their 150/2 sets). Getting a ticket proved to be a bit of challenge. Although the Booking Office at Liskeard was manned, the Booking Clerk also has to despatch trains. No problem I thought, Iíll just buy a ticket from the guard. But he didnít have enough change and could not get a network signal so he couldnít accept contactless. Eventually when we got to Looe, he was able to get a signal so I made my purchase then.

I returned from Looe on the 14:31 departure and spent the rest of the afternoon watching the trains at Liskeard. I saw several HSTs including one on the Down Line with Power Car 43 188 Y Cwmro / The Welshman on the rear. The tour arrived a few minutes before itís booked time of 18:09.

Coming back we had a more leisurely half hour for water at Plymouth. This gave plenty of time for taking photographs. A punctual departure would have been possible from Plymouth but it was decided to hold the special for four minutes to allow a preceding train to get clear of the steep Hemerdon Bank, with a maximum gradient of 1 in 41, to the east of the city which we had to now climb. But Clan Line made such a good start that we caught up that train. As a result we got a Single Yellow and had to slow down! Thus Hemerdon Summit was topped at a mere 15mph. After that we regained time and had a good run back. All in all a very enjoyable day out.

On the Great Central - pictures by Greg Mape

Some views from the Great Central Railway's 'Model Railway Event' on 17 June. 'Britannia' pacific 70013 Oliver Cromwell, famous as one of the locos used on the '15 Guinea Special' in August 1968.

70013 in action on a realistic seven-coach train.

Another 'standard' loco, 4-6-0 73156 - a type largely based on the LMS 'black 5' class with slightly larger wheels. 172 Standard fives were built between 1951 and 1957. Withdrawals began in 1964 and at the end of 1968 all had been taken out of traffic. Why so many new steam locos were needed, and why  a new design was required, are subjects endlessly debated by rail enthusiasts. Withdrawn in 1967, rescued from Barry scrapyard in 1985 and initially taken to the East Lancashire line, where work was done but never completed, 73156 was re-located to the Great Central in 2011 and finally steamed again in May 2018.

Also in service was the railway's award-winning  Class 101 Metro-Cammell multiple unit ...

Greg commented when sending the pictures that a DMU at Windermere would be better that the Rail Replacement Coach service then in force, but since then the West Coast Railways loco-hauled service has appeared on the Windermere branch - some would perhaps still prefer a 101?

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