Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

24 July 2020


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(see also our Calendar page for venues)
Note:  we have removed all entries up to the end of August as the events are cancelled.  The Railway Touring Company North Wales trains in July are no longer being advertised.

September 2020

Saturday 5 September Steam at Chester 'The Cheshireman' (Railway Touring Company). Norwich to Chester. Loco 6233 for part of the journey.


230 006 at Wrexham. Picture by George Jones

Class 230 action

So we finally got to have a look at a Class 230 unit, as test runs on the Borderlands line which is to be operated  by the type,  have commenced.  As mentioned last issue, 230 006 travelled from Long Marston to Wrexham on 20 July.  Chris Parker photographed the unit during its stop waiting for a service train to clear the section to Croes Newydd ...

... and during its rapid departure after the signal cleared. Chris notes: 'I reckon the station can't have seen that rate of acceleration since the days of Oswestry - Wrexham lightweight steam auto trains! '

Stabled in one of the bay platforms at Wrexham General, making an interesting comparison with 150 253, which is a few years younger that the 230 in its original London Transport 'D78' stock origin. Picture by Bob Greenhalgh.

The crews for these runs are being supplied by Rail Operations Group. The plan had been for 230 006  to continue on 22 July via Bidston to Birkenhead North  and return on 23 July but this didn't happen. However, a Wrexham to Bidston test run departed Wrexham on 23 July departing at 08:59 did  returning the same day.

It then made a second, shorter,  run to Dee Marsh Junction and back: the return run was seen at Gwersyllt by John Cowlishaw. 'The whine is most peculiar to us in this part of the world', John notes. The train paused here;  here is a  YouTube video of the arrival at Gwersyllt by Colin Edwards.

A third run, this time to Bidston, was made in the afternoon, seen above at Heswall.

This  time the train continued on the return to Wrexham Central, which is currently not served by normal trains.  George Jones was there to watch the arrival.

The three-coach train stopped close to the buffers ...

... but did not quite fit the platform. Some adjustments will no doubt be made.

From Central it headed north yet again as 15:02 from Wrexham Central, and this time did reach Birkenhead North depot, arriving at 16:13, where it spent the night. Of the rest of the batch of five units on order, 230 007 is undergoing daily free running on Cotswolds line now, with 230 008 to start soon too. A report in the press mentions that tey will also be used on the Chester - Crewe service, but elsewhere we have read that the proposed half-hourly Borderlands service will need four units, leaving just one as a maintenance spare.

Freight scenes - by John Cowlishaw

At last I found the opportunity to get out and photograph something, or to be more precise, two freights in 15 minutes.  Just to the south of Penyffordd,
66170 arrived first with the 10:29  Margam - Dee Marsh via LLanwern steel
coils  ...

... and then 66 715 Valour passed with the 09:20 Avonmouth  - Penyffordd Cement empties.  Just to add good value 150 235 went south with the 17:45 Bidston - Wrexham Central in between, all in just over 20 minutes.

Heritage railways awake: Ffestiniog - report by Jim Johnson

On Saturday 18 July the Ffestiniog Railway ran a series of 'Covid era' test trains between Porthmadog Harbour and Tan-y-Bwlch. These were not  available to the general public, but Welsh Highland and Ffestiniog Railway Society members were invited to travel on them, provided they pre-booked.

There were six departures from Harbour Station: 10:00, 11:05, 12:10, 13:15, 14:20 and 15:25. The 12:10 and 15:25 were diesel-hauled byUpnor Castle while ex-Penrhyn Railway Blanche and newly-restored George England No.5 Welsh Pony  handled the other services. I travelled on the 13:15 ex-Porthmadog, hauled by 'Welsh Pony.' Here  are
a few stills from my video. Top picture: Welsh Pony at Porthmadog Harbour, prior to working the 13:15 departure. Name and works plates are still awaiting fitting.

At a rain-sodden Tan-y-Bwlch, Upnor Castle' s driver awaits the 'right away' back to Porthmadog.

Welsh Pony running round at Tan-y-Bwlch.

Guard and driver converse in the rain.

Welsh Pony propelling its train, to move over to the 'down' platform...

... and running into the down platform.  An unconventional occurrence.

Blanche arriving at Tan-y-Bwlch with the 14:20 ex-Porthmadog.

FR General Manager Paul Lewin at Minffordd, about to hand over the token (with what appears to be the driver's lunch attached!) to the crew of Upnor Castle on the 15:25 ex-Porthmadog. Despite the weather, a very enjoyable day, and credit to the
Ffestiniog Railway for organising it. There was no on-train catering, because of covid restrictions, and Spooners at Porthmadog and Tan-y-Bwlch tea rooms were open for a  takeaway service. Let's hope the WHR and FR deemed the operation a success, with a view to at least partial re-opening in the near future.

Hertiage Railways awake: Llangollen - report by George Jones

The easing of Welsh Government restrictions allowed Corwen Project team members to recommence work on the platform after appropriate social distancing measures had been put in place. Other than the weed growth, the site survived the lockdown remarkably well and tasks resumed where they had left off on 21 March with the laying of more surface drains and a start at spreading the limestone fines for the paving area This is such that the eastern end of the platform looks tidy on the Down side with tactile edging on hand for laying.

The last 'big-dig' of the project also resumed with the preparation of shuttering in the excavation for the a substantial foundation base which will anchor the last pair of columns for the canopy. As of Saturday the reinforcing bars were in place and the retaining bolts for the columns fitted, as arrangements are made for delivery of upwards of 14 cubic metres of cement to complete the job. This sizeable job is needed after re-assessment of the measures required to ensure the canopy, when in place, does not blow away in high winds at this exposed location. see pic

When this work is complete, the remainder of the platform area through to the stairway can also be surfaced in preparation for the pavers, but is likely to require a few more weeks effort. Then there is the matter of ballasting the loop and bringing in a tamper to pack and align the track before any train makes it to a completed station facility.

In the meantime, the 08 shunter 13265 made it to Corwen on 6 July and is seen  crossing the 'golden fishplate' where once there was a large gap in the embankment. An uplifting moment indeed!

The weeds on the Down platform at Glyndyfrdwy last week occasioned comment. After a lot of volunteer effort, the scene this week is much improved. The running-in board awaits return from refurbishment.  The running-in board awaits return from refurbishment.

Volunteers are getting Llangollen station ready for reopening on 1 August and carriage cleaning was underway with General Manager Liz McGuinness and volunteer  Kate Alston tackling the table tops.

Heritage Railways awake: Bala Lake - report by Jim Ikin

Our first post-Wales-covid-restrictions-easing trip took us to the Bala Lake Railway on 16 July. The railway has done a magnificent job to comply with various restrictions so do take a trip and support the railway. A one-way system operates in the shop and the cafe is open for takeaways only. Although extra coaches have been put on trains the 10.15 from Llanuwchllyn was lightly loaded with passengers as it passed Llangower -the same wasn't true for the rest of the day. At this time Llangower is closed to passengers.

Holy War awaits the return of its boiler at Llanuwchllyn.

George B brings the 12pm from Bala back into Llanuwchllyn.

George B at Bala.

An indication of the reduced seating - a maximum of twelve in three family units so presumably only three people if they were unconnected individuals.

Cambrian Coast Collection

When steam excursions still ran on the Cambrian Coast,   BR Standard Class 4 4-6-0 75069 (still active today on the Severn Valley Railway) approaching Penhelig, between Dovey Junction and Aberdyfi with the 'Cardigan Bay Express' in the summer of 1987 - before it suffered a crack in the firebox and was replaced with 2-6-0 46443. Picture by Graham Brakewell.

Ken Robinson writes: the recent item 'Bangor 9 July 37410' got me thinking, and searching. On 19 May 2007 Pathfinder ran a tour from Cardiff Central to Pwllheli called 'The Snowdonian'. It was hauled by 37 406 and 37 410 to Machynlleth, whereupon 37 410, on its own, took the train to Pwllheli and then return to Machynlleth.  Above,  the train, with 37 410 up front, passing Minffordd Quarry on its way to Pwllheli. I hadn't realised that the train had 11 vehicles on it, as I had to rush back to the car so that I could get to Merllyn Crossing at Criccieth in time!

The second shows the train passing the aforementioned crossing.  I thought that I could fit the whole train into the photograph - no chance. (I believe that the normal load for a single class 37 on the Cambrian was 9 coaches!)

The whole train (!) at Penrhyndeudraeth on the return journey to Machynlleth.

97 303 waits in Harlech station with a Network Rail train, 17 July 2018 (Tim Rogers).

The driving trailer vehicle, part of the normal rake, is behind the loco as push-pull working cannot be usd, since only the loco is fitted with the ERTMS cab-signalling equipment.

158 823 crosses the A496 at Harlech, 19 July 2018 (Tim Rogers).

153 823 meets 153 824 in Harlech station (Tim Rogers).

158 836 seen from the Harlech beach walk, 19 July 2018 (Tim Rogers).

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