18 March 2019
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Tuesday 2 April North
Wales Railway Circle Gareth Haulfryn Williams,
archivist and author, on 'Rails to/from Bethesda.'
Wednesday 3 April RCTS
Liverpool "Manchester to Liverpool by CLC" Ken
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
Friday 12 April Altrincham
Electric Railway Society Great Western and Southern
Steam in the West Country. A colour slide presentation by
Monday 15 April RCTS
Chester "Steam on the North Wales Coast" (Video
Presentation) Ron Watson Jones
Saturday 4 May Steam on the Coast: Vintage
Trains: Llandudno Victorian Extravaganza -
Dorridge - Llandudno 7029: Dorridge - Wolverhampton -
Llandudno and return
Saturday 4 May Steam on the Coast: A1 Steam Trust: 'The Ynys
Mon Express' 60163: Leicester-Holyhead-Crewe
Tuesday 7 May North
Wales Railway Circle AGM and Members' Photo.
Tuesday 6 June Steam on the
Coast: West Coast Railways: London Euston - Holyhead
Steam Crewe-Holyhead and return
Sunday 21 July Steam on the
Coast: West Coast Railways. Liverpool-Holyhead.
45690: Liverpool - Chester - Llandudno Jn - Holyhead -
Tuesday 23 July: Steam on the
Coast: West Coast Railways, Welsh Mountaineer:
Liverpool-Holyhead Preston-Blaenau Ffestiniog
48151 or 45600: Preston-Manchester-Chester-Llandudno
Jn-Blaenau and return
Saturday 3 August Steam on the Coast: UK Railtours, 'The
Irish Mail' London Euston - Holyhead
34046, 46100 or 70000 Crewe - Holyhead and return
LMS Pacific 6201 Princess Elizabeth is back
on the main line after a long absence. In Ian Pilkington's
picture she passes Long Preston with a Carnforth -
Hellifield test run on Thursday 14 March. Hopefully we'll
see her on the Coast line before too long.
Branch Line News
Transport for Wales had planned, as on a previous
occasion to reduce the Bidston - Wrexham line to a
two-hourly service (with bus replacements in the other hour)
to release rolling stock for the rugby crowds expected in
South Wales on 16 March, but in the event the normal
service ran, but the Conwy Valley service was, also also
planned replaced by buses.
Over the weekend, the Conwy Valley line was overwhelmed by
flood waters yet again - the picture is from Network Rail,
and the bus service is likely to remain for some time until
the damage, at three or more locations, is assessed and
Another 175 fire
175 107 is currently running without its centre car,
which was damaged by a fire in on 15 February at Pontrilas while working 08:31
Manchester to Milford Haven (see picture
on Twitter). The passengers were evacuated
safely. Gareth Thomas captured it at Wrexham
General on 15 March working a Holyhead - Cardiff service.
The 175s are good trains - we'll mist them - but they do
have a very poor record of such events, possibly due to the
way the engine and underfloor equipment are packed in behind
Another repaint (or vinyl?) - pictures by Sean Thomas
150 253 and 158 830 at Crewe working 5Z30,
Crewe carriage sidings to Shrewsbury Abbey Foregate
carriage sidings on 18 March. 158 830 is the second 158 to
be out-shopped in Transport for Wales Livery.
Mixed pair on the flasks - pictures by Sean Thomas
88 005 Minerva and 68 005 Defiant
made an unusual pairing on the flask train on 15
March. Above, the Valley-bound train passes Llandudno
Junction in the morning.
The return working at Valley, having reversed out of the
loading siding into the station in preparation for the
return to Crewe with three wagons.
The 88s have a subtle addition to their livery in the form
of thin red lines across the doors. It's interesting that
the two types can work in multiple; does this also work when
the 88 is in electric mode?
Inspired by our report in the recent use of 37 418 on the
Cambrian and its earlier appearances in 1991, Ken
Robinson sends this scan of a slide showing what was
then Pectinidae in Railfreight Petroleum livery
on train 1G12, the 09:36 Pwllheli - Birmingham New
Street leaving Pwllheli on 20 July 1991. It would haul the
train as far as Shrewsbury. Note the coach in
unmodified Network South East colours; the main influx of
these coaches to Wales came in 1993 after Class 159 units
took over the London Waterloo - Exeter services.
Petroleum's small fleet of 37s were for services over lines
for which their Class 47s were considered too heavy,
including the Stanlow - Aberystwyth tanks which 37 418 did
work on occasion.
Back to 2019, and 37 418 in the siding Aberystwyth on 9
March, as the ballast train waits for the start of work.
On Sunday 17 March the work site was the little station at
Caersws, with track renewal and ballasting under way. 37 418
(above) in attendance ...
... with 97 304 John Tiley on the other end.
(Pictures by Richard W. Jones). More on Flickr and YouTube.
Thanks to Andrew Royle for some more information
about the Autoballaster wagons: 'The majority of these
operate in sets of five, with the fifth wagon having the
generator. Whilst some of the later built ones are in NR
yellow livery, most still have the Railtrack blue and light
brown, as these vehicles go for many years between
We think the 97/3s are in need of a lot of TLC; the body
panels are clearly rusting in places.
The 97 3s are also required to pilot on-track to and from
work sites on the Cambrian while the live is open to normal
traffic. Above, 97 303 is returning a tamper from
Barmouth to Newtown on 14 March, at 12:30, delayed by some
kind of signalling problem. Newtown was reached 152 minutes
later than scheduled, and after stabling the tamper there,
the loco proceeded to Coleham depot, arriving 224 minutes
On 18 March a different tamper, SB Rail DR 73804 James
Watt , was brought on to the Cambrian Coast by 97 304.
Both pictures by Kate Jones. Overnight work has been
taking place between Barmouth and Fairbourne.
The view from above (Ian Wright).
Down the Coast - with Charlie Hulme
Readers may be surprised to learn that I haven't travelled
the full length of the Coast line for a considerable time,
for various reasons. A short stay in Chester for an
ornithological expedition offered a chance to fit in a
loco-hauled ride starting at a reasonable hour. We arrived
at Chester by the slow Pacer on 13 March. There was
some disruption underway; 150 231 was in Platform 7
showing the destination as Maesteg, although apparently
not the 12:32 Holyhead to Maesteg which had left on
time an hour earlier.
Later we made our first acquaintance with the cavernous new
'Bus Interchange' tucked away beyond the end of Frodsham
Street; the few passengers around on our several visits
seemed to be dwarfed by the place.
We spent 14 March at the RSPB Burton
Mere Wetlands reserve, which also offers a railway
viewpoint. The train is the 14:32 Bidston - Wrexham Central,
close to the Welsh border. Shotton steelworks is on
On 15 March we headed to Chester station for the 09:53
Manchester - Holyhead which departs Chester at 11:02.
150 242 with its Heart of Wales roundel intact was
stabled in Platform 2 for some reason.
67 014 rolled into Platform 3B on time, hauled, as
expected, by 67 014, and many passengers alighted.
It was a windy day, although the weather was not as stormy
as had been forecast. At Rhyl, Network Rail staff were
trying to tame a wayward anti-pigeon net.
At Holyhead, the family tradition of a photograph with the
loco was performed; the last ever appearance of that hat
which I later left on a train. (Another custom among certain
rail staff is to claim ownership of any loco that works
In Platform 2 a London train, formed by 221 115 with its
Bombardier branding and hopeful slogan on the side. The
train departed on time at 12:53, unfortunately just before
the arrival of a contingent of passengers from a ship which
had no doubt been delayed by the weather conditions. They
were directed to the loco-hauled service which would get
them to Chester.
After purchasing some food from the station shop (and losing
out on a 'Meal Deal' by buying the wrong drink) we re-joined
the 'Manwag' for another comfortable ride as far as
Llandudno Junction. Passing Valley, I managed a 'grab shot'
of an unusual Class 68 / 88 pairing in the process of
reversing their train on the triangle.
The train departs for Manchester with 67 014 propelling.
The station is in the midst of a very thorough
overhaul. Few people will be able to read the very
small lettering next to the TfW logo.
One task which is under way is to excavate the foundations
of the columns supporting the canopy, which may well be
originals from the 1897 re-location of the station, to
check their condition and strengthen if necessary. Each
column is surrounded by a temporary wooden box which hinders
passenger movement a little. The cosmetic cast-iron bases of
the columns are stacked on pallets in the fenced-off working
We made our way to bay Platform 2 to board 175 114
departing at 14:28 on one of the workings which usefully
shuttle from Llandudno and back between Manchester services.
A member of staff travelled with us to put on the
reservation labels for its next duty...
... the 14:40 Llandudno - Manchester, seen ready to
start at Llandudno. The painted metalwork of the station,
including the iconic LMS gates, has been repainted in BR
London Midland Region maroon, although as can be seen,
Arriva blue survives in odd places.
After a walk wound the town and along part of the Marine
Drive - where we saw choughs, seals and a harbour porpoise -
we stayed for meal and formed 66% of the passengers on
the 20:08 to Llandudno, which had travelled
empty-stock from Chester to Llandudno Junction to form the
19:55 to Llandudno. It would make another foray to Llandudno
and back before spending the night in Platform 2 and
(normally) shunt to platform 4 at 04:43 to become the first
train of the day to Blaenau Ffestiniog at 05:30. On this
particular night, however, it was required in South Wales to
help with the carriage of Rugby supporters on Saturday 16
March, when the whole of the Conwy Valley service was
operated by a bus. Posters announcing this tactfully gave no
explanation or apology. As things turned out, with no winter
Sunday service on the Conwy Valley, and the flooding,
the Conwy Valley trains didn't re-start.
We returned to Chester on a Birmingham-bound 158, and the
next morning suffered yet another 'Merseyrail' Pacer back to
Stockport. At Chester we noticed the new-liveried Voyager
221 101 in the Platform 1 bay, but didn't feel like missing
our train and waiting another hour to get a picture (any
Along the way I was able to try out the abilities of my new
camera (Panasonic DMC-TZ70) with its 30x zoom and
'intelligent features' such as taking six versions of a
hand-held night shot and somehow putting them together -
here is the result when pointed at Llandudno's famous signal
gantry, perhaps the last survivor of its kind. The
camera also has a setting which, when it 'sees' an
against-the-light situation, will quickly take two frames
and merge them to equalise the exposure. One thing I soon
learned is to turn this off when taking a moving train as
the two images will differ, resulting in a strange effect.
As ever, thanks to all the North Wales rail staff, including
the helpful refreshment-trolley lady on the loco-hauled
service. A civilised way to travel, and a nostalgic
experience to hear again the squeak of gangway connections
and smell the aroma of Mk3 coach brakes.
Llyn Corwen - pictures by Paul Reynolds, notes by George
The successive days of gales and heavy rains have caused the
River Dee to run high and fast with an additional impact on
the water table of the Corwen flood plain on which the
Llangollen Railway embankment sits. As of Saturday 16 March,
a lake had appeared alongside the Corwen station side
covering the overspill car park which volunteers use for
The view across to Corwen town with a stranded car as the
water level rose past 18 inches.
The wet conditions are inappropriate for the importation of
spoil to infill the gap and a drier spell is needed if
layering and compacting of spoil is to be satisfactorily
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