Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

04 May 2021



Forthcoming events

(see also our Calendar page for venues)

Note:  we have removed all entries relating to meetings as the events are cancelled.


37 521 on a training run from  Crewe  to Holyhead then Blaenau Ffestiniog via Llandudno approaching platform 3 at Llandudno on 20 April. Picture by Ryan Lloyd.

Here's a selection of the many fine contributions in our inbox - hopefully an extra update will appear at the weekend. Thanks to all for your support. - Charlie

Coleham Scene 30 April - images by Graham Breakwell

On Friday 30 April TfW carried out a 'swap' of Class67/Mk4 rakes, for maintenance purposes by arranging a meet at Wrexham General, one train arriving in Cardiff and the other from Chester. Above,  67 017 passing Sutton Bridge Junction  in Shrewsbury leading 5J41, the Cardiff Canton Sidings to Wrexham General  ...

...  and passing 97 302 and 97 303 stabled at Coleham depot.

3. Left to right: 97 304, 97 302 and 97 303 at the depot, DVT 82226 on the rear of 5J41 and a jungle of Network Rail vegetation.

97 302 and 303 nose to nose with 97 304 behind. The fourth ERTMS-fitted loco 97 301 hasn’t been seen for a very long time, anyone know where it’s got to?

Special Traffic Notice

A 'full distance trial' of the loco-hauled stock is planned for 6 May. Not quite a 'managers' jolly' as we frivolously dubbed the previous one,  All on-board facilities need to be tested on each rake individually, and they are also testing the fuel consumption with different loads.

The workings are 1Z48 07:18 Cardff - Holyhead and 1Z39 12:39 Holyhead - Cardiff. There's no information to hand at present about when the public service will start.

New freight traffic

Let's look again at the situation regarding the forthcoming return of freight to the Coast line.  We understand that stone traffic is to resume soon from Penmaenmawr Quarry, and the traction will be provided by Freightliner.   Meanwhile, there is some activity at Llandudno Junction - delivery of equipment for vegetation clearance - that suggests the long-awaited flow of slate waste from Penrhyn quarry might actually become reality.  The operator will be GBRf,on behalf of Breedon Aggregates and the material will be brought by road to Glan Conwy sidings. 

Neither of these services have yet appeared as paths in Real Time Trains, however, and there has been no publicity from the companies involved.

Looking back:  Bala Lake Railway, Part 1 - by David Pool

The BR line from Ruabon to Barmouth Junction was closed in 1965, and when I visited Bala on 29 August  1969 the track had been lifted.  Parked in the town was this Crosville Commer PB minibus CFM 356B, fleet number SCP 2.  Railway Modellers may know that this particular vehicle has been produced in 1/76 scale by Oxford Diecast. 

My next visit to Bala was on 12 May 1973, when I went to see what was happening at Llanuwchllyn, the opening of the new narrow gauge line having taken place in the previous year.  The only motive power visible was this Ruston diesel, which I have recently been trying to identify.  It does not appear to be the Lady Madcap (the oldest Ruston in the current fleet) and I understand that several Ruston diesels formerly working on the Oakeley Quarry system might have been at Llanwchllyn around the time of my visit.  Ruston 432652 seems most likely, as the other Ruston 182137 is reported as arriving in 1975.  Can anyone tell me which diesel is in my photograph, and where is it now? 

Returning a few months later on 27 August 1973, the trains were being worked by a brand new Severn Lamb diesel named Meirionnydd, the shape of which was based on the BR Western Region diesel hydraulics.  The station at Llanuwchllyn had retained its GWR appearance, and a good number of passengers had been travelling on the train. 

There were no steam-hauled trains on that day, but Helen Kathryn, a locomotive built by the German firm Henschel in 1948, was on display outside the shed.

After several seasons at Bala, Helen Kathryn later moved to the Llanberis Lake Railway and then to the South Tynedale Railway, where I photographed it near Gilderdale on 13 September 1997, by then painted red  (above)   It is now apparently in blue, but I have not been able to confirm its location.  It may be in store awaiting an overhaul. 

Hunslet 822 (1904) Maid Marian is the locomotive which many visitors to Bala will have seen, since it first arrived in 1975 after a working life at Dinorwic quarry which lasted until 1964.  It was awaiting its turn of duty on 19 April 1976, and has been associated with the Railway ever since.

The second Dinorwic Hunslet to arrive on the Bala Lake Railway was Holy War, Hunslet 779 (1902). In 1967 this was the last quarry steam locomotive to be withdrawn, and was restored at Buckingham Railway Centre (Quainton Road), where I photographed it on 31 May 1971. After being sold in 1975, it arrived at the Bala Lake Railway in 1979.

I have never found it easy to photograph the Bala Lake trains with a scenic backdrop.  The line alongside the lake provides a few locations, but the lake background can be rather featureless.  My favourite viewpoint is near Llanuwchllyn, looking towards Arenig Fawr.  On 5 April 1983 there was still some snow on the hills as Holy War had just left Llanuwchllyn station. 

Llanberis question answered - by Geoff Monks

With regard to David Pool's query (19 April issue) about the loco he saw behind Diana at Gilfach Ddu in 1972  [picture repeated above] I believe the loco is not a Hunslet at all because it has a completely rounded tank rather than the type of semi flat-sided tank the the Hunslets carried.

I visited Gilfach Ddu in May 1973 and was allowed round by a co-operative person there and the only loco I recorded that seems to fit is Peckett 1327/1913 MESOZOIC.  The loco originally worked at the Southam Works, Warwickshire, of the Rugby Portland Cement Co. Ltd., to where it was delivered new. It was in the possession of a machinery dealer in Northants in the late 1960s and is currently with a private owner in Herefordshire (The little-known Bromyard and Linton Light Railway) as far as I know.

I have found some pictures online of MESOZOIC and it looks the same, including the presence of the lamp bracket on the back of the cab. 

[The Southam company liked to name its locos after geological eras: Triassic survives today with the Bala Lake railway (although not operational) and Jurassic lives on at the Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway. An article on the Warwickshire Railways website about the Southam site is worth a read.]


Locomotive Services Limited ran another of its round trip training runs on 30 April from Crewe via Chester, Shrewsbury, Telford and Stafford. Above, the train approaches Christleton Tunnel between Crewe and Chester (Dave Jepson).

Chester Locks.  Picture by Geoff Morris, who notes: '46100 could be heard in the Northgate Tunnel long before it passed my vantage point.  It  was hauling a Mk 1 support coach plus a set of 7 (1st Class) Mk 3 coaches  with 47805/D1935  bringing up the rear.'

46100 near Rossett at the start of Gresford bank. The coaches are  mainly newly-painted mk3s in Intercity livery (Dave Jepson)

A water stop in Coton Hill aggregates yard (Graham Breakwell). 46100 is filling up from the road tanker.  The yard is served by trucks bringing loads of small aggregate from local quarries. Empty trains run in from various NR yards on an “as required” basis from depots such as Bescot, Radlett, Tinsley, Wellingborough, Humberstone Road and Acton, are filled using the yellow shovel and depart full about 4 hours later.

46100 restarting from a signal check at Abbey Foregate, on the the heels of LM’s Shrewsbury to Birmingham New St service (Graham Breakwell).

D1935 on the tail,  on its second trip through Shrewsbury in two days having passed through on a Crewe to Bristol Temple Meads round trip on the previous day (Graham Breakwell).

Class 153 activity

Geoff Morris writes: 'While waiting at Chester locks for the  steam train on 30 April, a former East Midlands Trains class 153 appeared and was switched on to the Up Slow line at Roodee Junction. The unit now belongs to TfW and has been renumbered 153 910 to distinguish it from the units that have been modified to be Persons with Reduced Mobility compliant. The class 153/9 can only run in passenger service with a modified unit, but here it was being used for crew training run from Bidston to Chester and so could run alone.  According to RTT it was running about an hour early.'

On Sunday 2 May, Llandudno Junction - Llandudno  was closed for engineering work, with a bus service operating. A Llandudno Junction - Llandudno shuttle was provided using ex-EMR 153 972 ...

... and 153 333, which was previously a First Great Western unit but has had the full TfW makeover. Pictures at Deganwy by Greg Mape.

On Sunday 2 May Rhodri Williams took an evening ride from Bangor to Holyhead on train 1D26, 20:19 Llandudno Junction to Holyhead, worked by 153 333 and 153 972.  Above, arriving at Bangor ...

... and after arrival at Holyhead at 21:10. 153s are not a common sight at Holyhead in normal times. The train glimpsed in Platform 3 will form the 21:40 to Llandudno Junction.

... Ready for departure as 1D68 21:15 back to Bangor and Llandudno Junction...

... and Bangor station at 21:44. - Not many passengers, or indeed staff, in view.  The pink objects are 'social distancing' boards.

Lein Amlwch news

The following appeared on Facebook on 30 April:

The board of directors of Anglesey Central Railway Ltd. are pleased to announce, after 6 years of detailed discussions and lengthy negotiations with Network Rail Infrastructure Limited, we formally completed the legal due process on the 29 April 2021, and now are in a position to convey to you and state, Anglesey Central Railway Limited have a legally mandated and contracted lease for the rail corridor, designated The GLA Line north of Gaerwen, Anglesey, between Gaerwen Junction and Amlwch, for the period up to and including the 29 April 2120.

We wish to express our sincere appreciation and gratitude to all members of Lein Amlwch and also to those members of the community of Ynys Môn who have given their unstinting support during this extended period of negotiation.

We would also wish to place on record, and acknowledge, the support received from various elements of the commercial and industrial sectors of the community and couple with these the efforts of the Island’s political representative in the Senedd, who has been assiduous in advancing the case for the reinstatement of the operational railway.


Work nears completion on the remnant of Colwyn Bay pier, 29 April (Jim Ikin).

Gareth Thomas writes: 'With the current interest in Barmouth Bridge I thought that I would send you this alternative view. It was taken on 9 May 2012 when I sampled the morning shuttle from Valley to Cardiff on the service operated then by Manx2. Unfortunately, no train was crossing at the time but I was lucky to get this photo from around 9,000 feet.'

'All stations stop' at Abergele, Sunday 2 May.  Transport for Wales, with the help of a £210,000 grant from the Railway Heritage Trust, are refurbishing the station buildings here with a view to commercial use. Meanwhile, the disused signalbox, repainted by Network Rail before closure, awaits a future as a historic relic: like the station buildings, it is 'Grade II listed', but cannot be reached without crossing the rails. Picture by Greg Mape.

97 304 John Tiley at Gobowen on  27 April  with a training run from Coleham, Shrewsbury to Liverpool James Street and then over all of the Merseyrail Wirral Lines. Picture by Chris Scott, who notes: 'I believe it did the circuit twice. I bet it woke a few passengers up on the underground sections. '

LSL's green-liveried D213/40 013 Andania and D6851/37 667 passing Shrewsbury golf course on 27 April on the out and back 09: 29 Crewe to Bristol Temple Meads training run  ...

... and 40 013 Andania in Shrewsbury station (is that an inspection saloon?) on 25 May 1985 (Graham Breakwell).

From Dave Sallery's archive

Rhyl on 24 July 1993, with 37 421 departing on the 12:06 Llandudno - Birmingham service. Routine Class 37 haulage had begun in May 1993 using locos transferred from the Freight sector and coaches from Network South East.  The Class 101s in the engineers' siding was moved there after the transmission of one of the cars failed at speed near Abergele.

The classic scene: in May 1994 37 421 The Kingsman on an Up train passes Bodorgan station, with  its  low platforms and mobile steps. The building   is one of several designed for the Chester and Holyhead Railway by Francis Thompson, featuring a nameboard made of North Wales slate.

In November 1993, after a repaint from freight livery,  37 421 was named 'The Kingsman' after the North-west's King's Territorial regiment, and given their crest above the nameplate. (The name had previously been carried by 86 417.)  It became a stalwart on the North Wales services as well as the 'Club Trains' between Manchester / Liverpool  and the Blackpool / Southport until transferred to South Wales valley service in 2000.

As mentioned in previous issues, this loco is still very much in use, now with Colas Rail.

Trixion - a correction

In an early version of the 26 April issue, by an editorial error we claimed that Barrie Hughes' picture (repeated above) of the Llangollen loco now for sale was taken in 1971, for reasons not clear - the LR wasn't in existence then!  Under the name of Trixion and number 40 it was photographed giving brake van rides at Llangollen on 4 July 1999 during a Diesel Gala with 20 142  and 20020 also visible.

The loco appears in the latest auction list (see item below) still wrongly described as 'Type 13' diesel shunter (Advised as runs but loses coolant and requires a full bottom end overhaul). Current bid £7000.

Barrie suggests that the name Trixion may have been a reference to the 97403 Ixion (46 035) which was a BR Research Division loco after mainline use and saw further work in wheel slip tests before final withdrawal in 1990. Purchased by Pete Waterman and restored to use in green, it became the first private loco to break BR's ban on preserved locos running on the main line. It was eventually restored to BR blue. Ixion  currently resides at Crewe Heritage Centre . The Centre will reopen weekends from  1 July.

Llangollen Auction

The online auction of Llangollen Railway PLC assets is now available, with pictures. Bidding for the Mk1 Coaches starts at £12,000 each. 

A Press release from the Llangollen Railway Trust follows:
The Trust is delighted to announce it has completed a deal with the administrators of Llangollen Railway plc, Cowgill Holloway Business Recovery LLP, for an undisclosed sum, to purchase certain assets belonging to the railway along with the right to use the railway line.
This was the first key step towards recovery and thoughts now turn fully to the task of preparing for reopening as we continue on our journey to protect and preserve this beautiful part of our heritage. Talks have been initiated meanwhile with the Welsh Government, Business Wales, Denbighshire County Council and the National Heritage Lottery Fund, all of which have been positive.

The Safety Management System will have to be rewritten to some degree and fresh approval sought from the Office of Rail & Road.  Liz Parkes of North York Moors Railway has been helping us in this regard and we are very appreciative of her support.

We have been very encouraged and gratified by all the support received in our fundraising efforts and thank everyone who has contributed.  Including promises, funds raised to date are approximately £85,000.  This should enable us to submit a competitive bid in the auction on 12 May for key items, such as (at least) one carriage with accessible adaptation, function coach, road railer, telehandler and 12t crane.
Looking ahead to the preparation for re-opening phase, £100,000 approximately is needed to cover necessary overheads, for which we hope to attract at least some grant funding.  It remains too soon to speculate when re-opening might be but we are targeting the end of July or early August currently.

We would also like to acknowledge the continuing support of the media, without which our need for funds would not have reached so wide an audience.

Please donate if you can:
Online at and click the Donate button, or via our Facebook page. For taxpayers, the Railway can apply for 25% Gift Aid.  Alternatively, supporters are invited to send cheques payable to Llangollen Railway Trust Ltd to The Station, Abbey Road, Llangollen LL20 8SN. 

A legendary  Gala - report by Richard Putley

With Covid Restrictions in England at last being lifted, I decided to visit the Severn Valley Railway's Spring 2021 Gala on the Friday, 16 April. Due to the Covid rules that remain in force for now, the format of the gala was based on that of the Mid Hants Railways Steam Gala held last October. To re-cap, instead of having a Rover Ticket giving unlimited travel, you had to select which train you would start and finish your day on. Throughout the day you would have to sit on your allocated seat. But the timetable was arranged so you would get hauled by all the locomotives running. I booked a compartment which I shared with three friends.

The star guest loco was new build GWR “Saint” class loco 2999 Lady of Legend (above, both). This was her first chance to stretch her wheels on a heritage line. Hitherto she's only run on the short demonstration line at her birthplace, Didcot Railway Centre.

Also running was long term visitor GWR “Hall” 6960 Raveningham Hall but the “Hall” and the “Saint” weren't the only visitors to be seen that day.

Another long stay guest,  40 106 Atlantic Conveyor was parked in a siding at Kidderminster.

While in the Second Loop at Highley was prototype Parry People Mover No 12. Apparently it's being certified for Main Line use and has been allocated the TOPS Number 139 000!

We also saw some ex-First Great Western HST trailers stored at Kidderminster. I believe they have been acquired by Locomotive Services for use on the Staycation Express on the Settle and Carlisle line this summer.

One of the most popular SVR locomotives which often visits other heritage lines, Port Talbot Railway 0-6-0ST 813 was in action double heading with Pannier 7714. 7714 loco was sold by BR to the Coal Board in South Wales in 1965 before being bought by the SVR in the 1970s. So this gave the event a bit of a Welsh Flavour.

Talking of which, I photographed the Barry Railway coach that's being restored at Hampton Loade station. (I believe Prof. Parry, inventor of the People Mover is a native Welsh Speaker, so that adds another Welsh Dimension!)

The Gala all seemed to go well overall. It would have been nice to have a bit more time at Bridgnorth, where we only had 20 minutes between turn rounds. Those at Kidderminster were more generous typically about 45 minutes. But we had three trips up and down the line, giving nearly 100 miles of steam haulage. My friends and I are thinking of returning next month for the Diesel Gala!

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