Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

16 August 2021


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


In the Avanti livery, 221 116 and 221 111 pass Bunbury on 12 August. The September issue of Today's Railways UK magazine has a detailed feature on the history of these units. Picture by Greg Mape,  who, like several other contributors this week, was hoping to see a railtour which never arrived.

Chester Observations - by Geoff Morris

The morning of 11 August turned out to be quite productive. I had noticed a Short Term Path on Real Time Trains from Warrington Fuel Apron to Croes Newydd, which then did a return trip from there to Chester before returning to Warrington.  I assumed that this might be a DB route learner and this turned out to be correct when 66 198 passed Chester Locks.

DB class 66s are relatively unusual sights at Chester nowadays so I decided to photograph it again.  It ran early on the second part of its schedule and I had to dash from home to nearby Northgate Cutting to photograph it heading back towards Warrington.

As I arrived at the cutting I was surprised by the appearance on 82229 + 67 013 on a Crewe - East Usk Yard training run – this diagram hasn’t run very often recently and I hadn’t thought to check it in RTT.

As I had just missed what I assumed to be a class 197 run from Llandudno Junction to Chester I hung on to see it if would return in its booked path c. 15 minutes later.  While I waited 175 106 passed on a Llandudno – Manchester service: nothing out of the ordinary although it is maybe noteworthy that this is one of the decreasing number of 175s that still carry Arriva colours.

Finally 197 001 appeared  returning from Chester to Llandudno Junction – the first time that I’d seen this particular unit. Overall a good time with plenty of variety despite  the non- appearance of a Tyseley – Llandudno charter behind a pair of class 20s (which failed soon after leaving Tyseley and was eventually caped).

Real Time Trains update

Users are surely pleased to see that Transport for Wales have joined Northern, GBRf  and others in allowing the fleet number of the loco or unit to be included in the data displayed by the Real Time Trains website.

Impressively, it seems that the unit displayed is in its actual livery, as illustrated here. The examples are from last week; the system does not run to details of replacement buses which are all that is to be seen this week, as 'Buses replace trains between Wrexham General and Bidston from Saturday 14 to 07:00 Monday 23 August' - for engineering work.

Unusually, on 12 August a pair of Class 153s were used for part of the day. Perhaps Chester depot had only one Class 150 available for the early morning start from Chester to Wrexham.

North Wales scenes - by Stephen Dennett

70 801 passes Balderton Crossing on 9 August with another load of logs for Chirk,  9 August.

Stephen writes: 'Like many people, I suspect, I went out on 11 August to photograph the Class 20s on the “St Tudno Express”, only to be disappointed by the failure in the early stages of the run, so I made do with a test run of 197 001 ... 

... and an interesting combination 153 918 which is non-PRM compliant leading PRM-compliant Class 153, 153 369  ...

... ... with two-car Class 158/0, 158 824 on the rear. They formed a service from Holyhead to Birmingham International.

47 830 Beeching's Legacy passes Buckley on 12 August on a route-learning run.

60 001 passes Buckley on 13 August with the late running overnight steel train from Margam to Dee Marsh. It's not often that a Class 60 is seen on this run.

Looking back: Steam and Diesels 1992  - by  David Pool

The Class 50s  were ending their regular workings on the Western Region by 1990, and became favourites for Railtours in the early 1990s, appearing in a variety of liveries.  On 13 June 1992 the 'Court Chester' was one such Railtour, running from London Waterloo to Chester.  The motive power was the celebrity green 50 007 Sir Edward Elgar plus 50 050 in blue with its original number D400.  The train has just left Guide Bridge, heading for Denton and Stockport. 

The return journey apparently did not go according to the planned route, suffering diversions and late running.  It was leaving Chester half an hour late and approaching Saltney Junction.

In September 1992 the Standard Tank 80080 ran on the Cambrian Line from Shrewsbury to Machynlleth.  The challenge of the climb to Talerddig in both directions would guarantee interest, and the first trip was scheduled for 13 September as “The Cambrian Limited”.  With no turning facilities at Machynlleth I was not sure which way round 80080 would be running, and it was bunker first when I photographed it leaving Shrewsbury.

The weather had improved on the following Sunday, and I was tempted to try to get a shot near Talerddig, since a similar trip “The Cambrian Coast Express” was running with steam from Crewe, also offering a separate trip from Machynlleth to Talerddig and return for passengers joining at Machynlleth.  I saw it at Newtown, and confirmed that it was again bunker first to Machynlleth, then set off to explore the photo possibilities at Talerddig on the Cemmes Road side.  Somehow I found a clearing in the dense foliage, and I was eventually rewarded by the sight of 80080 making a spirited climb, clearly enjoyed by the footplate crew and the passengers.  

Since the demise of steam, the Bidston to Wrexham line has seen a wide variety of diesel units.  After many years of Class 101, 104 and 108 units, followed by the Class 142 “Nodding Donkeys”, the new single unit Class 153s gradually took over in the early 1990s.  On 17 October 1992 unit 153 367 in Provincial livery was working the 1641 Bidston to Wrexham, arriving at Heswall.  Note the remains of the crossover, which can seldom have been used.

A few months earlier, on 11 May 1992 I was astonished to see a Western Region 'Bubblecar' single-car unit 55032 on the line.  I hurried to Bidston with my camera to see it returning, but unfortunately the light was poor.  Nevertheless I got the photographic evidence that a 'Bubblecar did reach the Merseyside electrified lines! 

Another pair of Class 50s came to North Wales in 1992, when on 5 December  D400 in blue and 50 033 in Network South East livery travelled between London Waterloo and Blaenau Ffestiniog with the “Festive 50s” Railtour. The sun was out when the train passed Ruabon.

I headed for the A5, and reached Blaenau comfortably in time to see the train arriving.  After the delights of the North Wales coast line and the Conwy and Lledr valleys, the passengers were entering the other world of Blaenau Ffestiniog, the North station having been closed ten years earlier. The sun had long gone, and it was raining…. 

A mixed bag of pics from 2 August 2009 - from Barrie Hughes

Freshly painted DB liveried 37 670 and 37 401 Mary Queen of Scots on a Compass Tours excursion departing Llandudno Junction heading east at 12:12.

The sun went in by the time the steam railtour came in the afternoon. 6233 Duchess of Sutherland in maroon livery ...

 ...and 47 245 on the rear pass Dwygyfylchi at 14:21.

From our archive: The train, which started from Liverpool, was run by Railway Touring Company and had apparently been advertised to visit Llandudno. The local press reported 'This is big news as it's the first time steam trains have been regularly down the branch for about 20 years. The train will run down the branch to Llandudno before reversing back to Llandudno Junction and continuing on its way to Holyhead. The North Wales Coast Express will repeat this manoeuvre on its return journey.'

However, this leg of the excursion was omitted, with the train leaving directly for Holyhead after it took on water.  Someone told one of our contributors that the train was considered to be too long for Llandudno station. Sounds familiar?

Train names announced

Transport for Wales have been running a competion for schools to create 148 names for all the TfW new stock on order.  The final list is now available on the TfW website, and what an intriguing list it is - very reminscent of the LNWR's naming policy under F.W. Webb - even including The Lady of the Lake - with an added Welsh flavour. The name Osprey appears twice, which seems odd.

Not only did the winners get the chance to name the brand new Transport for Wales trains, they will also receive a special Transport for Wales creativity kit. Regional and creative winners will be treated to a limited edition Hornby Model of their special train.

Geographic and Geological errata

Our piece in the last issue about the ship loading at Llanddulas was something of a late-night editor-introduced muddle. Firstly,  the stone loaded is not granite.  It is limestone of Carboniferous age, which forms all the famous coastal outcrop and scenery from Abergele to Llandudno. Secondly, Lochaline is on the mainland, not on Mull; it does have a ferry collection with Mull.

Local Geologist Jonathan Wilkins, writing to point this out, also explains  that the rock soon to resume loading to rail at Penmaenmawr, which caused our confusion, is not actually granite either.  It is a micro-diorite, and comprises a significantly different mineral constitution.

The term 'granite' is debased in North  Wales and used by traditional quarry men to describe anything hard which was not slate. Only the quarries in the Trefor district or Tanygrisiau  produce(d) granite. Further complication arises from the working of the Pen quarries by the amalgamated "Penmaenmawr & Welsh Granite Company" which operated in both districts.

The re-start of ballast trains does seem to be getting nearer; pictures have appeared online showing road-rail machines fettling the track in the sidings.

Around Bradford-on-Avon - with Graham Breakwell

The level crossing in leafy Bradford on Avon at the mouth of the tunnel. All pictures taken on 12 August.

158 951 on 1O98 Malvern to Brighton picking us up at Freshford as 165 128 and  165 129 depart for Gloucester on 2V64 from Weymouth.

43 207 leading the diverted 1V50 Edinburgh to Plymouth through Freshford.

60 010 crossing the weir on the Avon and about enter Bradford on Avon tunnel with  the empty tanks from Theale Puma to Roberson Sidings.

The quaint halt at Avoncliff, one coach length, as 166 201 on 2V72 Weymouth to  Gloucester stops to pick us up.

[There's a small holiday flat here, called the Railway Studio, where you can watch the trains from the veranda at very close quarters.]

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