Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

23 July 2018


Contributions and comments are encouraged: see the Contributions Page

Forthcoming events

July 2018

Tuesday 24 July Steam on the Coast Railway Touring Company Welsh Mountaineer Preston - Blaenau Ffestiniog. 45690 (?) or 48151: Preston - Chester - Llandudno Junction - Blaenau and return

August 2018

Wednesday 1 August: Steam at Chester. UK Railtours / A1 Locomotive Trust. Darlington - Chester with 60163 Tornado.
Postponed to Spring 2019

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

Friday 7 September Clwyd Railway Circle “North Wales, the Future”. With Arriva's withdrawal from the next Wales and Borders franchise, what will this mean for passengers and staff? Our speaker will be able to bring us up to date with the latest news; Ben Davies - Arriva Trains Wales, Stakeholder Liaison Manager

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

29 September Llangollen Railway Diesel gala

29 September  Steam on the Coast  UK Railtours Leicester to Holyhead with 60163 Tornado

October 2018

Friday 5 October Clwyd Railway Circle “Snowdon Mountain Railway”A presentation given by Mike Robertshaw  Msc IEng MIED, Senior Engineering Manager of the railway. Mike Robertshaw

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

November 2018

Friday 2 November Clwyd Railway Circle “The Development of Railways in the UK”A look at rail development from Trevithick through to the 23,000 miles of railway in the UK by 1921.  Mike Blackburn

December 2018

Friday 7 December Clwyd Railway Circle “Members Night & Christmas Celebrations”Members are invited to give a 15 minute presentation of their choice (any format). FREE tea/coffee & festive treats during the interval. Contact David Jones 01244 537440 to book a slot.

January 2019

Friday 4 January Clwyd Railway Circle “West Country Memories” An illustrated talk which includes all the branch lines of Devon and Cornwall. Dave Southern

February 2019

Friday 1 February Clwyd Railway Circle “The Glorious Steam Railways of India” The images were taken when it was a fully steam worked system, with a variety of steam across four different gauges. John Sloane

March 2019

Friday 1 March Clwyd Railway Circle  “Annual General Meeting” followed by “Chairman’s Choice” A night of self indulgence from the retiring chairman, David Jones

April 2019

Friday 5 April Clwyd Railway Circle  "Scotland in the 1960s" The talk covers the whole of Scotland - going up the west side to Wick and Thurso and returning down the east side from/to Carlisle.
John Cashen

68 016 Fearless brings the return excursion from Crewe to London through Ruabon, 21 July. Picture by Martin Evans.

Colwyn Exhibition
Colwyn Model Railway Club annual exhibition takes place on Saturday 28 July (10:00 - 17:00)  and Sunday 29 July (10:00 - 16:00)  at Craig Y Don Community Centre, Queens Road, Craig Y Don, Llandudno LL30 1TE. Around 15 layouts and dioramas are being shown, and 7 model railway and transport related trade stands. Adults £4.00 Children £3.00 (free for under 5s).

Nick Gurney, a long-time supporter of our website, will be exhibiting his (work in progress) layout of Maentwrog Road set in 1986/87 when the siding had been laid to cater for the explosives traffic
from Cookes of Penrhyndeudraeth.

Mk5a coaches at Holyhead

Following our earlier report, a rake of Mk5a coaches intended for use by TransPennine Express have arrived by road for temporary storage at the Anglesey Aluminium sidings, having arrived by ship at Immingham. Several coaches, built by CAF in Spain, have been in Britain since May, having been transported by rail from Portbury dock to Manchester Longsight depot, so why these had to go by road we are not sure. There will eventually be 13 sets of five coaches.

Photograph from a passing train, anyone?

DRS Open Day special

On 21 July DRS staged an Open Day and their Crewe depot (pictures welcome) and UK Railtours ran an excursion from London Euston for the event.  The return train was hauled by 68 016 Fearless, photographed at Wrexham by George Jones.

... and tailed by electro-diesel 88 005 Minerva, photographed by George Jones at Wrexham General. The outbound train ran direct along the West Coast main line, returning via Chester, Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton.

Looking Back with Barrie Hughes - 1978

These slides were taken over two days in August 1978, probably 26 and 27 August, with three pictures from each day. Any confirmation of the dates is welcome.  40 181 on tanks prepares to leave Chester freight loop on a westbound train (fuel for Holyhead depot?). This loco survived another seven years and was withdrawn at Springs Branch 21 January 1985 and cut up at Crewe Works on 1 October 1986.

A class 47/4 snakes its way into Chester from the coast on a Mk II rake passing Chester depot, full of DMUs.

25 216 propels three red departmental coaches (a breakdown train?) into Chester freight yard. This widely-travelled loco lasted less than two years being withdrawn at Crewe on 28 December 1980 having been allocated to Eastfield, Haymarket, Cardiff and Laira in its final six years! The loco was cut up at BREL Derby on 1 February 1983.

On the following day from the previous views, a class 40 with split headcode box hurries along the coast with coal from the Pont of Ayr undersea colliery. There was plenty of room for a station at this location and a four platform station with another Italianate building suitable for Lord Mostyn, the local landowner. It closed on 14 February 1966 along with other local stops on the route except for that of the the county town Fflint. The coal was probably destined for Connah’s Quay Power Station which operated until 1984. This northerly view is from the Mostyn footbridge and also shows hopper wagons, probably those used in Sulphur traffic, stored in the Mostyn Docks exchange yard. Nos 40 125-144 were fitted with split headcode boxes to allow for the doorway for staff transfer between locos when double headed.

An unidentified Class 47/4 embellished with silver buffers passes westbound through Mostyn as seen from the footbridge. Four tracks were crammed through this narrow space at one time. The former Mostyn steelworks occupied the site of the white buildings in the background.

A southerly view into Mostyn signalbox from the adjacent footbridge. Mostyn box (a Listed building grade II), having been only open when required for some years, closed completely when control of the line from Chester Powerbox area to Colwyn Bay has now passed to a workstation at Cardiff Regional Operating Centre from 23 March 2018.

Tatton Park Flower Show special

Northern Belle charter (1Z78) on 20 July 2018 ran from Euston to Knutsford (via the Middlewich branch) for the Tatton Park flower show. Phil Clarke's picture taken from a safe location by the foot crossing near Plumley shows 47 832 leading, rather in the style of a 1960s British Rail poster.

It ran empty from Knutsford to Altrincham with 47 832 (above) on the front and 57 314 on the rear (Greg Mape).

Altrincham station (Greg Mape). The train was supposed to reverse at Altrincham (Deansgate Junction signal DJ19 to be exact) and return empty to Crewe, returning in the evening to pick up the passengers.

The train ended up blocking both Network Rail lines as it was apparently too long to fit the track length available for the move, and a Knowsley - Wilton refuse train was held in platform 3 to get past,  so the special went onto Northenden Junction to reverse (Greg Mape).

Metrolink car 3028 heads for Piccadilly (Greg Mape).

The return train at Northwich (Phil Clarke).

The Royal Windsor Express II - report by Ken Robinson

I travelled on the West Coast Railways charter to Windsor and Eton Riverside on 19 July. We got there this time - in May 2017 we ended up in Milton Keynes! The train kept good time all day and we negotiated some interesting track in the London area - the return journey was slightly different to that of the outward route in this area. Above, 1A44, the 06:44 to Windsor and Eton Riverside arriving at Chester station, with 57 313 on the front.

Passing some very interesting traction at Wembley. Rail Operations Group 37 601 Perseus was built in 1961 as D 6705, later renumbered 37 005, and is one of the oldest diesel locos remaining in main line service. Of the Class 37s, just two older examples survive in preservation: D6700 by the National Railway Museum and D6703 (37 003) by the Class 37 Locomotive Group which always welcomes new supporters.

37 005 was rebuilt in the 1980s to become 37 501, and was later taken over by Eurotunnel and 37 601 and modified to haul (double-headed with a generator van) as far as the Tunnel the overnight trains to Europe from the west of England, which never materialised. Sold to DRS with other 37/6s. it worked flask trains and other jobs until declared redundant and sold, ending up with 'Europhoenix' and working for the Rail Operations Group. It has been fitted with couplers and connections to haul newly-built Class 345 Crossrail units from Bombardier in Derby.

92 019 Wagner is one of the class of 46 locos intended to haul Cross-Channel overnight trains, on electrified lines, as well as freight services through the tunnel. It is one of the handful that is still on tunnel-related duties, now for DB Cargo.  Most others are either in store or working abroad, apart from those used by GBRf on Scottish sleepers.

Back on the excursion, 57 313 (and 458 519) after arrival at Windsor and Eton Riverside - 2 x 5-car 458 units are the usual formation on the direct services to/from Waterloo.

47 826 entering Windsor and Eton Riverside with 5Z46 - the empty stock from Acton Reception Sidings - the locos had been 'swapped over' at Acton leaving 57 313 'up front' on the return journey as well.

(loco history notes by Charlie Hulme).

North Wales Coast Express 22 July

The Railway Touring Company's 'North Wales Coast Express' from Manchester to Holyhead and back on 22 July was hauled by 45690 Leander (confusingly carrying an 'Irish Mail' headboard) with 47 746 tucked behind rather than at the rear of the train as usual. Phil Clarke's picture includes the temporary footbridge at Helsby which is in use while the proper footbridge is refurbished.

Leaving Conwy tubular bridge (Garry Stroud).

The return train between Llandudno Junction and Colwyn Bay, taken from Cystennin Road to avoid direct sunlight (Greg Mape).

Cambrian Holiday - with Charlie Hulme

In early July Joanna and I returned after a five-year gap to a holiday destination we once visited every year: the Llwyndu Farmhouse hotel at Llanaber on the Cambrian Coast line, served by one of the country's smaller stations, the request stop at Llanaber. The couple captured above were a rare example of other passengers from this halt, hailing the train with great enjoyment.
This was undoubtedly our final visit to Cambrian before the end of Arriva's franchise later this year, and a rather disappointing travel experience it turned out to be.  The weather was very hot and sunny, and we got off to a bad start when the train from Stockport to Shrewsbury  rolled in. Not the expected class 175, but a class 158 with failed air-conditioning - as was the case in every other 158 we travelled on during the week. Our next train arrived from Birmingham with just one very crowded 2-car 158, and no through coaches to Pwllheli, so we had to change at Machynlleth.  As the days passed we discovered that some booked trains were removed from the timetable due to shortage of rolling stock ('more needing repair than expected') and train crews (illness and holidays). On our journey home, passengers were told at very short notice over the PA that the 'front two coaches' - from Pwllheli - were to be detached at Shrewsbury, to the dismay of some elderly people with luggage. How do you know which are the front two coaches if the train you joined only had two?

The Llanaber area still shows evidence of the severe storm in January 2014 which overcame the heavy-duty protective wall and piles of large rocks, leaving the rails dangling in space and closing the line north of Barmouth until May 2014.  The repaired section can be recognised by its paler concrete to the left of 158 830.

On 6 July we took the train to Harlech, with its well-preserved Cambrian Railways station building.

A sign of the times on the walk to the beach.

The beach is reached by quite a long walk, some of it across a golf links and over dunes; it rarely gets very crowded.

After a paddle in the sea, avoiding the jellyfish, we returned to the town and the castle, as we had been told that there were some changes since our previous visit. The former 'Castle Hotel' has been purchased by Cadw (Welsh equivalent of English Heritage) and a new visitor centre and café (with a great view) created plus a walkway to the castle entrance. The only downside (from our point of view anyway) if that what was formerly a lawned area had become the inevitable car park.

Of course we had to climb to the castle ramparts to capture the view across Cardigan Bay towards Snowdon with a train calling at the station.

As mentioned by Ken Robinson in an earlier Cambrian Corner, Ysgol Ardudwy, a secondary school serving a wide area, is adjacent to the station, and its management works with the railway company to allow as many of the pupils as possible to travel by train.  School start and finish times are earlier than normal, synchronised with the trains which depart in each direction at 14:30.

Flashback to 1985, with a Class 101 passing one of the very comfortable class 120 Cross-Country units.  Quite a few other differences: for example the prefabricated building in the 1985 view, once served by a siding, has gone and the area is now a small industrial estate. The large shelter from 1985 has been replaced by another nearer to the station building.

The view from the footbridge. The train is negotiating the level crossing which with its acute angle has caught out a few cyclists in the past.

7 July was the day for a journey to Tywyn to visit the Talyllyn Railway. A splendid little railway, but does anyone know why their timetable has a leaving Tywyn Wharf station at 11:40 when main line trains call at the National Rail station at 11:30? It's possible to walk between stations in time, but it seems like a rush, especially on a hot day. Another five minutes would make a significant difference.

Edward Thomas at Dolgoch. I first came here in 1966, and took a photo which is too poor to include here, but I didn't venture far into the attractions of the place. This time, we walked the whole route past the falls and up the valley; a lot of work has been done, including new bridges, to create an excellent and shady - if a little challenging in places - walk through the woods.

Back at Barmouth, we did not cross the bridge by the footpath on this occasion, but took the time to look at the view towards Cader Idris. The footpath has survived a threat of closure; cynical locals suggest that the furore generated by this proposal deflected attention from other council cutbacks such as the closure of libraries. We can't possibly comment.

An improvement that many visitors would welcome is a safer access to the bridge from the town, and being promoted by the Barmouth Viaduct Action Group, by which a path would pass around the small headland seen above, and emerge on to the road near the point where I took the picture,

This is the current route to the bridge, up a steep hill on the main road, and a right turn on a blind corner to a steep slope down to the bridge.

Finally, here is a sunset as seen from the beach path near Llanaber.

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