Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

25 March 2019


Contributions and comments are encouraged: see the Contributions Page

Forthcoming events

April 2019

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 Grainger

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 Alf Storey.

Monday 15 April RCTS Chester "Steam on the North Wales Coast" (Video Presentation) Ron Watson Jones

May 2019

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. Competition.

June 2019

Tuesday 6 June  Steam on the Coast: West Coast Railways: London Euston - Holyhead
Steam  Crewe-Holyhead and return

July 2019

Sunday 21 July  Steam on the Coast: West Coast Railways. Liverpool-Holyhead.   45690: Liverpool - Chester - Llandudno Jn - Holyhead - Chester

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

August 2019

Saturday 3 August Steam on the Coast: UK Railtours, 'The Irish Mail' London Euston - Holyhead
34046, 46100 or 70000 Crewe - Holyhead and return

158 820 and 158 827 pass the closed signalbox at Prestatyn with 1D14 13:08 Birmingham International to Holyhead  on 22 March. Picture by Tim Rogers.

Loco-Hauled passengers and flasks - pictures by Sean Thomas

68 018 Vigilant and 88 003 Genesis  passing through Llanfairfechan with 6K41 Valley Nuclear Electric to Crewe coal Sidings, running 47 minutes early on 19 March.

88 009 Diana and 88 003 Genesis approaching Llandudno Junction with 6D43 Crewe Coal Sidings to Valley Nuclear Electric,  20 March.

67 029 Royal Diamond approaching Llandudno Junction with the 09:53 Manchester to Holyhead service on 20 March.

67 029 worked the Manchester services on 20 and 21 March after 67 014 became unusable on the previous day. Above, 67 029 propels the 13:07 Holyhead - Manchester at Penmaenbach on 20 March.

88 007 Electra and 88 003 Genesis passing through Penmaenbach with 6D43 Crewe Coal Sidings to Valley, 22 March.

The return train to Crewe on 22 March approaches Llandudno Junction.  [We think that the debut of 88 007 means that all the 88s have now visited Valley except 88 010.]

Tornado is back

On 23 March,  promoted by UK Railtours/A1 Steam Locomotive Trust,  The ‘Bard of Avon'  excursion was steam hauled throughout the journey from Manchester Piccadilly station to the medieval town of Stratford upon Avon,  the first time LNER Peppercorn Class A1 60163 Tornado has departed Manchester Piccadilly.  Peter Cross photographed the train approaching Stockport ...


... and arrived, with plenty of seam to spare.

The tour picked up passengers at Stockport, Wilmslow, Crewe and Shrewsbury, then routed via Wolverhampton, Birmingham New Street, and then proceed on the scenic North Warwick Line to Stratford on Avon.The return journey took the alternative route to Birmingham via Lapworth, Solihull, Walsall, and on to Wolverhampton, then returning by way of the outward route back to Manchester Piccadilly.

Tornado crosses the Shropshire Union Canal at Nantwich over the recently refurbished bridge number 89A  (Robert Meredith).

Transport for Wales 230

Some details of the five Class 230 'D-trains' on order for Transport for Wales service on the Wrexham - Bidston line. Converted by the Vivarail company from London Underground 'sub-surface line' D stock'  which has been retired prematurely, they have been replaced in London by new 'S stock' trains.

They are available to rail companies in a choice of various configurations. Welsh Class 230s are three-car sets. The end vehicles are  'battery driving motor' cars, the centre  car has four diesel generator sets under the floor whose purpose is to keep the batteries charged. This sort of 'Hybrid' arrangement has been widely used on buses in recent years, it is not quite the same as a 'bi-mode'.  The train is GPS-equipped to switch the engines off at specified locations - stations, or environmentally-sensitive areas if required.  One car has three doors per side and an accessible toilet, others retain the original Underground four-door layout to keep station dwell times to a minimum. The Welsh version will have air conditioning and luggage racks.

It appears that the Bidston line will now be the sole user of these trains, contrary to early suggestions that they would initially work the Conwy Valley (where it was claimed they would carry a refreshment trolley!) or the Crewe - Chester shuttle which probably needs the higher speed of a Class 150 (75 mph against 60) to keep to the timings. Conwy Valley passengers will, it seems, travel in the same comfort as those travelling from Manchester to Tenby.

Hopefully the final design will involve a rethink of the cycle space as illustrated in the artist's impression, which seems to require the ghostly cyclist to hold his bike to prevent it rolling into the doorway every time the train accelerates.

A visit to Burton Point - with Ian Henderson

Ian visited Burton on 13 March, and  walked to the nurseries about 300 yards past the former Burton Point (for Burton and Puddington) railway station on the Wrexham - Bidston line. The timing gave the opportunity to photo 150 283 on the 12:30 Wrexham to Bidston In the cutting on the approach from Dee Marsh ...

 ... and through the former platforms. A not-often photographed location, and a closed station not yet on the list to make a comeback. Opened on 1 August 1899, it closed  well before the 'Beeching cuts' on 5 December 1955; the main building still stands.

The Ruby Vampire second bite

Balderton Crossing, 24 March (Bob Greenhalgh)

Stranger at Rossett,  24 March (Tim Rogers)

Following on from the problem-hit  'Ruby Vampire' railtour run by the Branch Line Society on 4 November 2018 - to raise money for the Merseyside Blood Bikes charity and celebrate the 40th anniversary of Merseyrail - a second version ran on Sunday 24 March, advertised as:
The second bite at an easy day out 'Track & Traction' loco-hauled railtour with West Coast Railways (WCR) booked to feature two Class 33 locomotives operating top 'n tail exploring the North West and the DC network on Merseyside. Highlights include Chester Goods No 2, Bidston Stabling Siding, Chester Curve, Wrexham Up Bay and the much sought after strategic connections at Bootle Jn AND Southport.

Running from Croes Newydd loop into the bay platforms, once the stabling point for Wrexham & Shropshire trains ...

... and arrived in the bay (George Jones).

Traction was top-and-tailed West Coast Railway 33 029 and the 71A locomotive Group's 33 012 Lt Jenny Lewis RN , with just three Mk1 open coaches  (4905,  4994 and  99327)
and one brake-second (99723) for reasons of restricted train length for some of the moves. Open to members only, the train rapidly sold out. The planned itinerary was:
Crewe P11 PU (09.05) – Chester Goods No 2 Reception – Wrexham General PU (09.57) – Croes Newydd Loop (RM) – Wrexham Up Bay (RM) – Croes Newydd Loop (RM) – Bidston P1 – Birkenhead North EMU Depot (RM) – West Kirby (RM) – Bidston Stabling Siding (RM) – Bidston P2 – Wrexham General – Croes Newydd Loop (RM) – Chester Curve – Hooton – Rock Ferry (RM) – Hooton – Ellesmere Port – Acton Grange Jn – Warrington Bank Quay Dn Slow – Wigan Wallgate – Southport P3 (break / RM) – Formby – Bootle Jn – Olive Mount Chord – Huyton – Ince Moss Chord – Warrington Bank Quay P2 SD (19.53) - Up Helsby – Crewe P1 SD (20.34) - Up & Dn Potteries Loop (RM) - Crewe P12 SD (20.57)

Hawarden (Tim Rogers).

Penyffordd (Bob Greenhalgh).

Not on the list this time was the visit to the sidings at Dee Marsh, the site of a minor carriage derailment last time. A significant inclusion was a  run along  the 'Bootle Branch'  from Bootle Junction and along the Olive Mount Chord (closed in 1987 and re-opened for freight in 2009) towards Huyton. The plan to run from Hooton through Ellesmere Port to Helsby was thwarted, and the train ran direct from along the Merseyrail route Hooton to Chester. Helsby Junction signalbox is normally 'switched out' on Sundays, with the route set for the main line; the organisers had asked for it to be open, and according to one report, it was staffed. Communication failure, perhaps.

West Kirby (Ian Henderson).

Coming off the 'Chester Curve' which allows trains from Wrexham or North Wales to travel on towards Hooton without reversing on the station. No regular trains make this movement, but the 'triangle' it completes is occasionally used to reverse locos, or complete trains, especially excursions terminating at Chester. Picture taken with a long lens from Bache station, a still from Bob Greenhalgh's YouTube video of the day.

At speed through Port Sunlight station. There were four tracks on this section when it was  used by London - Birkenhead expresses until the 1960s (Ian Henderson).

Picture news - with Tim Rogers

On 19 March,   221 106 Willem Barents  (still wearing is adornments advertising the annual 'Festival No.6' at Portmeirion) and  221 114 Royal Air Force Centenary 1918 to 2018
 are 1A48 13:58 Holyhead to London Euston passing Sandycroft.  An event that escaped our attention at the time is that in August 2018  the vinyl 'nameplate' of 221 114, which carries the station crest of the RAF Valley, was unveiled there at a ceremony by veterans Mary Roberts and Wing Commander John Wynne, both of whom served in World War II.

1D14, 13:08 Birmingham International to Holyhead on 19 March passes Hawarden airport formed of a mixed pair, 158 828 and 150 281.  One of the many skills required of drivers is to remember that although the 158 is passed for 90 mph, the presence of the 150 on the rear restricts this  train to a maximum of 75.

Back in action, 67 014 passes Shotton on 22 March with train 1D34 09:53 Manchester Piccadilly to Holyhead.


We must apologise that in a recent update we erroneously  captioned two of the late Norman Jones's pictures of 1950s Mouldsworth as Mobberley ... The scene above is definitely Mouldsworth but in a more recent, but now vanished, era.  The driver (or was it the secondman?) of 47097  hands in the token  for the single-track section from Helsby West Cheshire Junction, closed in 1991. The train carried bagged fertiliser from the UKF plant, in the distinctive bogie vans built for the traffic.  The fertiliser no longer travels by rail, but there are some hopes of revival, as sidings to the Encirc glassworks nearby have recently been created. Picture by Geoff Kent, contributed by Tony Robinson.

Taliesin on the WHR - report by Martin Evans

On a visit to Portmeirion on 20 March I took the opportunity to travel on the Welsh Highland Railway between Porthmadog and Hafod y Llyn.  The loco in  service was rebuilt single Fairlie Taliesin , seen running round at Porthmadog before departing with the 11:15 service to Hafod y Llyn.

Above, the loco attaching to the coaches in the siding at Harbour station Porthmadog before commencement of services. The service was only running to Hafod y Llyn as the full line will not be open to Caernarvon until 30 March.

Taliesin is a replica Single Fairlie locomotive built at Boston Lodge works in 1999;  the original 1876-built locomotive was scrapped in 1935 after colliding with Welsh Pony. The replica used a few parts from the original (therefore making it a rebuild) but was largely built from scratch. Named after a  sixth-century Welsh poet. Having been built for easy conversion between oil and coal firing, the locomotive has been coal-fired since 2007 and is usually found on low-season trains. It was fitted with piston valves and boiler pressure increased to 200psi in 2011.


Altrincham on 21 March. 66 617 working from Shap Quarry to Tunstead passes Metrolink tram 3031. The wagons behind the loco are from the recent additional delivery of Polish built MWA wagons, which have been given a grey livery with the new Freighliner logo based on the style of owner Genessee and Wyoming.

Penyffordd on 20 March: 66 056 passes on a route-learning run. Picture by Bob Greenhalgh.

Criccieth on 19 March: A class 158 passes at 11 :51  with a service to Birmingham New Street (Martin Evans).

6-car DMU at Carrog - report by George Jones

The Peppa Pig event at Llangollen brought out the young families on Saturday 23 March to meet Peppa at Llangollen station and enjoy a trip down the line for further entertainment in the marquee at Carrog. Demand for seats was met with the heritage railcars supplementing the steam service to provide an hourly service. The six-car formation at Carrog offered a good opportunity to review the DMU fleet.

Heading the formation (above) was the hybrid pairing of the class 127/108 set. The RR powered class 127, 51618, was out of works after a major re-skinning of the bodywork, even if the paint job is not yet complete. The spare 108 trailer 56223, has also been receiving attention to the roof and one side was seen in base green livery. What has turned out to be a nine year restoration task on the former pairing with class 105 Cravens trailer 56456 continues with the good progress now being made and the prospects of it emerging from Pentrefelin C&W works later this year.

 In the centre of the formation (above) was the two-car Derby class 108, 51933 and 56504, recently delivered from Swanage, its owner having placed it in the custodianship of Llangollen Railcars. After servicing the unit was making its first passenger sortie down the line, a welcome replacement for the blue and grey 108 which is now operating at the Midland Railway Centre, Butterley. Replacement of the previously-scrapped destination boxes is planned. The BRCW class 104, 50454 and 50528,  made up the rear, having been the regular unit on the mid-week off-peak service during March. The class 109 Wickham unit remains in winter  store at Pentrefelin.

It's likely that for many of the Peppa Pig fans it was their first visit to Llangollen Railway and probably their first experience in a DMU! [or even any train - C.H.] One way of introducing a new generation to railways.

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