24 May 2021
(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'
with 67 008 propelling, 20 May. Picture by Tim
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
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.
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.
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.
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
... 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
... 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
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
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
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
Arriving at Llandudno Junction (Garry Stroud).
Having visited Llandudno, with 9714 on the front, 37 612
Station en route back to Llandudno Junction and onward to
Arrived at Bangor, 15:57.
Stabled for the night at Bangor (Jim Johnson).
Next morning, 20 May, in the rain, shunting over to Platform
... and departing eastbound at 10:21 (Jim Johnson).
Balderton Crossing (Bob Greenhalgh).
For the return proving run on 20 May (see heading picture)
67 008 was replaced by 67 010, seen at Bagillt by Tim
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Irish Ferries Ulysses at her berth.
Passengers won't have to self-isolate upon arrival as long
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
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