Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

24 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.


Train 9Z48, 09:12 Cardiff Central to Holyhead 'proving run' passing Bagillt
with 67 008 propelling, 20 May. Picture by Tim Rogers.

Quite a lot of contributions this week! Apologies, not every picture has been included due to time and page size considerations. Thanks to all.- Charlie

News items

Main Line trials of the new Class 197 units have begun between Crewe and Stafford; not an ideal photo subject though, as the runs take place in the early hours.  197 002 is now at Crewe for commissioning; later their will be test runs on the Coast line.

On the Borderlands line, Class 230 training on the Bidston line has re-started, and  also be continuing driver route learning to Birkenhead depot for the next few weeks using Class 153 units.

A colour-matched combo pictured at Bangor by Jim Johnson on 19 May: 158 823 and 158 825 augmented with 153 353 on 1I26 15:38 Holyhead -Birmingham International. (Yes, that's a capital letter 'I' in the headcode: taboo in the days when headcodes were actually shown on the front of trains.) More trains are running now, but there is still no through weekday service between North Wales and points south of Shrewsbury.

Black Bridge

The Shrewsbury - Machynlleth section of the Cambrian is closed until 28 June, which Network Rail engineers raise the level of 'Black Bridge', a plate girder structure which crosses the river Dulas near Machynlleth, to reduce disruption by flooding. Trains are running  on the Machynlleth - Aberystwyth and Machynlleth - a bus shuttle  be operating from Shrewsbury to Machynlleth. No doubt there is a good reason why Newtown and Welshpool cannot be served by train. Machynlleth depot is isolated, so a Class 158 will be stabled at Holyhead for the duration.

Network Rail's page about this work is interesting viewing; apparently the Dulas is a fish-spawning river, so there is only a mimited time to do the work.

Excursions re-start

Wednesday 19 May saw the first excursion train to visit the North Wales lines since the start of 'lockdown.'  Operated under Jeremy Hosking's Statesman brand it was the 05:49 Hull - Blaenau Ffestiniog. We pick up the train at Rhyl, with 47 593 Galloway Princess leading ...

... and D1935 Roger Hosking MA 1925-2013 on the rear. Pictures by Roly High.

The sunny weather was ideal for photography. Gary Thomas captured the train approaching Abergele ..

... and heading on towards Rhyl.

Rounding the curve into Llandudno Junction (Ryan Lloyd).

The train reversed at Llandudno Junction to reach the Conwy Valley branch: D1935 takes the train out of Platform 1 (Garry Stroud) ....

... crosses the Up main line  ...

... and round the curve on to the branch with 47 593 trailing (Ryan Lloyd).

After arrival at Blaenau Ffestiniog the train was moved to the loop line to allow the arrival and departure of the Transport for Wales service train  (Gary Thomas).

At 15:53 it was shunted out of the station  ...

... and back towards the platform line (Ken Robinson).

...only part of the 11-coach train fitted alongside the  platform (Gary Thomas).

Ffestiniog Railway loco no. 2 Prince shunts the connecting train (Gary Thomas).

Departure at 16:08 (Ken Robinson).

Approaching Dolgarrog on the return journey ...

... and D1935 on the rear with Dolgarrog's newly-rebuilt station in view (Gary Thomas). Notice that the built-in tail lamps on the loco are in use, whereas on the main line journey earlier a batter-powered portable lamp was attached.

Approachin Llandudno Junction (Gary Thomas).

Arrival in platform 2 prior to reversal (Garry Stroud).

 Departure from Llandudno Junction, with the battery tail lamp back in action was at 17:38, for arrival in Hull at 23:27 (Garry Stroud). 

Near Flint (Stephen Dennett).

The tail lamp is back (Stephen Dennett). Perhaps it is thought that if the built in light were used out on the main network, signallers in traditional mechanical boxes might report, as they are required to do,  the lack of a lamp which suggests that the complete train has not passed them.

Ther excursionists were lucky: a few days later on 23 May the Conwy Valley line was closed (again) due to flooding, and remains closed on 24 May due to 'predicted flooding'.

37 612 in Test Train action

A Network Rail train ran from Crewe to Bangor on 19 May via Chester,
Shrewsbury and Chester, it was scheduled to reverse at Cosford but due to late running did so at Abbey Foregate in Shrewsbury. HNRC's 37 612 provided power with a driving trailer at the other end. Above, passing Flint (Stephen Dennett).

Arriving at Llandudno Junction (Garry Stroud).

Having visited Llandudno, with 9714 on the front, 37 612 passes Deganwy
Station en route back to Llandudno Junction and onward to Bangor.

Arrived at Bangor, 15:57.

Stabled for the night at Bangor (Jim Johnson).

Next morning, 20 May, in the rain, shunting over to Platform 1 ...

... and departing eastbound at 10:21 (Jim Johnson).

Balderton Crossing  (Bob Greenhalgh).

Traction mixture

For the return proving run on 20 May (see heading picture) 67 008 was replaced by 67 010, seen at Bagillt by Tim Rogers.

A run by the New Measurement Train from Derby R.T.C.(Network Rail) to Crewe C.S. (L&NWR Site) via Holyhead and Liverpool Lime Street featured two ex-LNER locos, 43 290 (in view) and 43 299 (on the rear). Picture at Sandycroft by Tim Rogers.

66 501 on route-learning duty pass the rural station of Capenhurst on 21 May, under a bridge built of the red sandstone typical of the area (Stephen Dennett).

70 817 approaches Aisgill Summit with 6J37 Carlisle - Chirk logs on 18 May (Ian Pilkington).

67 023 Stella (and 67 027 Charlotte on the rear) at Shrewsbury while working a measurement train from Tyseley to Derby  taking in Wrexham General, Rugeley and most of the Black Country routes on 21 May (Graham Breakwell).

GB Railfreight’s 66 793, the first of five Class 66 locomotives to be imported from Germany thanks to the partnership with Beacon Rail Leasing, was in Shrewsbury on 19 May. Sporting the British Rail Railfreight Construction livery, it worked in on the 10:14 from Acton Yard arriving at Coton Hill at 15:45, where it ran round before drawing the train of 19 empty VTG wagons through the yard for the mechanical shovel to load small aggregate.  The picture shows the loaded train, 19:58 Coton Hill to Wellingborough, catching the evening sun at Upton Magna between Shrewsbury and Wellington (Graham Breakwell).   

From Dave Sallery's archive

37 415 unusually working ballast from Penmaenmawr, 6 March 1996.

37 715 at Bangor with fuel tanks for Holyhead depot, 16 October 1993.

After Lockdown - with David Pool

The Network Rail HST has been operating recently with an ex-LNER power car, and on 22 April 2021  43299 was photographed at Mold Junction with the regular North Wales Coast working from Derby.  43 062 was on the rear. 

On 30  April 2021 the Welsh Highland Railway’s Garratt No.130 hauled its first loaded train after restoration, conveying WHR Society Members from Caernarfon to Beddgelert on the “Gelert Explorer”.  Two Observation Coaches were provided, and the invited guests included Peter Best, the sponsor of the locomotive’s rebuilding. 

The weather forecast for Snowdonia had not been good, so I went to Dinas, where there was a mix of sun and heavy rain, and got a reasonable shot at Cae Moel.  It looked as though there were breaks in the cloud, so I headed for Waunfawr.  Much as I like the locations between Waenfawr and Castell Cidwm, the scenery near Rhyd Ddu is superb, particularly at the Ffridd Isaf horseshoe curve, with Snowdon in the background.  My dog and I got there with time to spare, and heard No.130 leaving Waenfawr.  It was dull, and there was no snow on the peaks, but we both stayed dry and enjoyed the sight and sound of the Garratt coming up the valley. 

I thought that this would be my last photograph of the train, but it was still at Rhyd Ddu when I got back to the station, and we hurried to my car.  The road traffic was very light, so I parked by a gate and got my final shot as No.130 left the station, climbing to the summit of the line. I think it is Jonathan Whalley on the footplate.

Many of the Avanti West Coast Voyagers are now in the latest Avanti livery, but 221 101 is still different.  It had received the final revised Virgin livery, and was the first Avanti unit to be refurbished.  The Virgin branding was removed, and the Avanti logo appeared on the plain white body.  On 6 May 2021 at Pensarn the 13:53 from Holyhead to Euston was formed by 221 101 and 221 116.  The latter unit was in the full Avanti livery.

The Welshpool and Llanfair Railway reopened after Lockdown on the May Bank Holiday, but the steam locomotive Zillertal had to be replaced by a diesel for the first week, so I delayed my visit.  The W & L Facebook page reported that Zillertal was to appear on 11 May, so that was the day I chose for our visit.  Our journey there took us past Blodwell Junction, between Oswestry and Meifod, where I spotted a diesel in the disused sidings. 

The Tanat Valley railway preservation group and Cambrian Heritage railways both plan to reach Blodwell Junction in the long term, but I am not sure who is the owner of this locomotive, which I later found to have been built by English Electric in 1967.  My dog Jack is only interested in locomotives which move!

It was rather dull at Heniarth for the first train from Llanfair to Castle Caereinion, and we headed for Welshpool, the destination of the afternoon train.

The Covid restrictions had resulted in the station being closed to visitors, so we parked near the level crossing on Cwm Lane (Golfa) and waited.  The weather alternated between sunny periods and heavy rain, but I was able to get shots of Zillertal in each direction.

The train had stops on the return to Llanfair, so I hurried to Heniarth to get my final shot of the day. This location is very good for afternoon shots, but the sun had disappeared by the time the train arrived.  At least the wind was blowing away from the locomotive!

Bala 're-railed' event

On 12th and 13th June from 10am to 4pm, the Bala Lake Railway Society will be hosting an event at the Bala Lake Railway's future Bala Station site, running a Quarry Hunslet and some 7¼" guest locos on a short length of specially laid track. The event will be the first time a steam service has operated in the town of Bala in over 50 years. The event, organised in conjunction with the Railway and the BLR-Trust, is intended to raise awareness of the Railway's extension plans, these being set to take a big leap forward later this year when National Resources Wales (with whom the BLRT has been working) start their own work to improve Bala's flood defences. NRW have generously allowed the BLRT in incorporate the Railway's extension footprint in their engineering blueprints.

The Bala Lake Railway will be operating, although it is advisable to book on the BLR website.  A vintage bus service is promised between the event and the BLR station; Bala town can be reached from Wrexham or Barmouth by the Traws-Cymru T3 bus service.

Pacers to Oswestry

On 18 May the two ex-Northern Rail 'Pacer' units, 144 006 and 144 007 which have been stored in the siding at Gobowen were removed by road to Cambrian Heritage Railways base at Oswestry, pictured above by Gareth Thomas. The Railway's website relates that they have already been on a test run.

Another arrival is a former LNER HST buffet car, 40751; this has been purchased to act as a static sales point for light refreshments at our Weston Wharf Station.

Booze and Cruise - report by Rhodri Williams

Stena Line at Holyhead has started doing a round trip with their new duty-free store. On 21 May I caught the 14:45 Stena Adventurer on a round trip, with the needed upgrade to first class there and back (£20 per person per way). Bit of a rough journey there, but was far better on the way back. On the way back, the store opened at 11pm on deck 7 (subject to status).

The offer is not part of 'Rail and Sail', but additional sailings are operated next week because of the Bank Holiday, and the additional sailings will be perfect for passengers outside of the Anglesey area (since connections are

Irish Ferries Ulysses at her berth.

Passengers won't have to self-isolate upon arrival as long as they do not disembark at Dublin, and they are not required to prove their > immunity / negative testing. Booking online is recommended (because it may become busier in the following weeks). Passengers will know about their allowances since it shows it on the screen near the store on deck 7.

Information and booking on the Stena Line website.

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