Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

21 May 2019


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Forthcoming events

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: Preston-Blaenau Ffestiniog  48151 or 45600: Preston-Manchester-Chester-Llandudno Jn-Blaenau and return Cancelled?

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

158 826 displaying full Transport for Wales  / Wales and Borders livery at Rhyl on 15  May  working the 12:12 Llandudno to Manchester Airport service. Picture by Matthew Hobbs.

Wrexham - Liverpool service starts - report by George Jones

On Monday 20 May I joined the 'Great and the Good' at Wrexham General for the first direct service to Liverpool Lime St at 06:35.

New-liveried 158 826 arrived coupled to  the 150 for the Bidston line (above)  and split at Croes Newydd.

158 826 in the platform ready for the celebration.

After speeches (including by Ken Skates AM, above) we headed off on time and paused outside  Chester  for platform 3 and away on time at 07:03 to call at Helsby, Frodsham and Runcorn, via the Halton Curve.

View from the curve.

At Speke we were put onto the slow down line which allowed a London Northwestern class 350 to overtake at South Parkway and made Liverpool Lime Street  08:00.

The VIPs were waiting to meet us and more speeches before a return at 08L36 to Chester at  09:21 and easy connection onto the 09:27 Cardiff train back to Wrexham. A  very pleasant occasion and now there's a need to promotion the travel options.

The evening service from Liverpool Lime St, due 18:50, arrived at Wrexham General slightly early with 150 237 - no doubt seen by some as a useful extra service from Chester.  Sent down to the Croes Newydd loop to await the passing of the 17:09 Birmingham International to Llandudno due at 19:01, it came out early into platform 2 and waited time to 19:09 as the 19:01 was running late.

The information on the Llandudno service does not tell the full story - it turned up at 19:13 and followed the Liverpool service to Chester.


The Valley - Crewe flask train at Chester on 15 May with 88 003 and 88 005;  on arrival at Chester the train crew seemed a bit concerned with one of the wagons as seen inspecting it in the photo by David Wood.

70801 heads 6J37 Carlisle - Chirk logs past Blea Moor, Settle - Carlisle line,  on Tuesday 14 May (Ian Pilkington).

A different pair of 56s on 21 May's  logs and running in the early path too. 56 090 and newcomer  56 049  at Green Lane south of Saltney Junction (Bob Greenhalgh).

Irish Journey - with Richard Putley

As a curtain-raiser to their three day Steam Tour of Ireland, the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland (RPSI) often run a diesel hauled day trip using their set of 1950s Coras Iompair Eireann (CIE) Cravens coaches. These are painted in the blue and white livery that the old Great Northern Railway, Ireland (GNRI) used to paint its railcars and buses.

This year’s Diesel Day Trip was on 10 May to Sligo. Hauled by 071 class loco 074, it departed from Dublin Connolly at the very pleasant time of 10:30. After a brief photo stop at Longford, we paused at Dromod for an hour and a quarter to visit the Cavan and Leitrim Railway Museum there. They were showing off newly restored 0-6-0T steam loco Nancy.  Although three-foot gauge, she worked in England, not Ireland.

The C&L also have a plethora of diesel locos and a couple of West Clare Railway railcars. Plus quite a few buses.

Carrying on to Sligo at 14:00 we arrived there at 15:13. Because only one platform is in use for passenger trains there, the stock had to be shunted into the now disused platform. But this was the ideal place for us to photograph it in, which we did. Returning to Dublin, we left Sligo at 16:35. After an uneventful run back, we arrived in Connolly station punctually at 19:53.

I had hoped that this would be third time lucky for me. The previous two tours I’ve been on the the steam loco, Merlin, Great Northern Railway, Ireland, No 85, has failed to run. But at Connolly Station on the morning of 11 May we were greeted with the news that she’d once again developed a fault.  Diesel loco 074 was still at the head of the coaches from the previous day's trip to Sligo. She backed them out , ran round them and propelled them back in to the station.

So we set off on the first leg of the tour, to M3 Parkway station. This is a new station on a new stretch of line to the north of Dublin. So at least this was new ground for me. Although DMUs operate all normal passenger services, Irish Rail have provided a run round point for loco-hauled trains; a contrast to Tweedbank Parkway on the Borders Line in Scotland which has two platforms but no run round.

We then returned to Dublin Connolly. On arrival we were told that they hoped repairs to Merlin would be completed by 13:00 to enable her to haul the tour on to Waterford. The tour was booked for a 90 min layover there; this revised departure time added another hour. To free up the platform, 074 backed the coaches out and then left them in the carriage sidings.

As 13:00 drew near there was still no sign of Merlin. But smoke started to appear from the shed. At last a door opened and out came Merlin. In due course she coupled on to our coaches and then headed up the headshunt. But which platform would the tour depart from? All the terminal platforms were occupied. In due course a DMU departed leaving Platform 4 vacant. As I was
at the end of that platform, I thought great! But then, blow me down, the Grand Hibernian rolled in, hauled by 078 rather than one of its dedicated locos.

Next the 13:02 to Sligo departed from the adjacent platform, No. 3, so Merlin was at last able to back the stock into this platform. Meanwhile one of the Hibernian locos appeared and coupled on the its stock. Then at last we were off at 13:15. We remained behind even our revised schedule. But happily the weather was very good.

As well as a planned stop for water at Athy (above), we also had another stop at Bagnelstown.

At Kilkenny we had a booked stop while the loco ran round the coaches. For the remainder of the journey Merlin hauled the train tender first. On this last leg we were booked to take an hour, but a spirited run cut that down to 45 minutes.

A fitting climax to a day that did not start well. After I checked into the Fitzwilton Hotel in Waterford I took one last photo from across the River Suir of Merlin and the stock stabled.

The steam loco “Merlin” is too heavy for the Waterford – Limerick line. They had hoped to use newly restored GNRI Steam loco 131, an older and lighter 4-4-0 tender engine. But she’s not been approved for use yet in the Republic of Ireland. So instead we had the first 071 class diesel loco, 071, restored to her original 1976 livery. We started at 10:00 next day from Waterford.

Once again the weather was perfect. We had photo stops at Carrick on Suir ...

 ... and Cahir on the outward run.

Arrival at Limerick (above) was 5 minutes early. After a break of nearly 90 minutes we returned to Waterford, this time with 086 providing the power.

This time we had a photo stop at Tipperary, where are still semaphore signals and a gated level crossing.  Plus one at Clonmel which also has a signal box, passing loop and semaphores.

O86 at Waterford.

As I’d chosen  to visit the Suir Valley Narrow Gauge railway, I walked out to its Waterford Terminus. It’s about 20 minutes walk from Waterford Town Centre. They’d laid on a special evening train for us. It’s completely devoid of any facilities at all – not even a shelter. Good job it was a warm, sunny evening.

On the way there I saw 078 shunting the stock of the Grand Hibernian train which had also arrived in Waterford.

Motive power on the Suir Valley Narrow Gauge railway was an 0-4-0 Hunslet diesel loco Enterprise 3. There’s no run round loop at all so the loco propelled the two coaches back to the other end of the line. This is at Kilmeadan, 5 miles away and the original platforms survive. It’s railway is built on the trackbed of a standard gauge line that ran from Waterford to Mallow. It shares the formation with a 'Greenway' (the Irish term for a cycleway) and surprisingly there’s no fence separating them. At Kilmeadan there’s a shop and cafe housed in a BREL Mk2 coach. It was so warm we all sat outside in the sun.

Monday was again a sunny day.  Merlin backed the Craven coaches into the only remaining platform at Waterford station. We made a punctual departure at 09:00 and all seemed well on the way to Dublin. We had booked water stops at Bagnelstown (above) and Athy and arrival at Dublin Connolly was right on time.

We were booked for a two hour break here, with departure for Belfast scheduled for 13:57. The Cravens Coaches cannot be used in Northern Ireland so the plan was to swap them for the RPSI  set of BR Mk2s. Like most people, I popped out for a break. But when I returned to Connolly station at about 13:30 there was no sign of the train. I had planned to take the tour as far as Dundalk, where arrival was booked for 16:30. Then return on the 17:20 Enterprise service from there to Dublin.

But the Mk2s did not arrive from Inchicore until about 14:30, when finally 088 brought them in. By this time I realised it would be touch and go as to whether I'd get to Dundalk in time for my Enterprise Train. Also an incoming Enterprise train from Belfast arrived 45 minutes late due to a Bridge Strike near Skerries. So I decided to content myself with filming Merlin depart from Dublin Connolly. A disappointing end to a day that had started well.

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