Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

30 August 2021



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On 30 August,  D1935 (a.k.a. 47 805) departing Llandudno Junction with the 08-30 Bangor to Carlisle Statesman tour. Note the vegetation clearance now being carried out in the formerly vegetation-covered sidings.

Statesman Settle and Carlisle Circular

Excursions seem to be coming 'thick and fast'  now that restrictions have been relaxed. The 'S &C Circular' on 30 August run under the Statesman brand of Locomotive Services Ltd started from Bangor at 08:35 and travelled to Appleby for a break, then continued on to Carlisle and then the 'Shap' route through Lancaster, Preston and Warrington, Chester and Bangor.

Interestingly, the commonly-seen 'Top-andTail' formation was eschewed in favour of haulage by a single locomotive, 47 805, Roger Hosking MA, seen above heading past Abergele in the morning (Greg Mape).

Picture by Gary Thomas.

On its return at Dwygyfylchi a couple of minutes early. Picture by Gary Thomas, who notes: 'Freezing cold this morning, a lot better this evening!'

Passing the newly-cleared sidings ...

... and into Llandudno Junction (Greg Mape).

Looking back: Diesels 1993-4 - with David Pool

The Merry-go-round coal trains from Gladstone Dock in the early 1990s had generally been worked by Class 20s, often with four locomotives for the climb up to Bootle Junction.    The advent of the Class 60s ended these workings, and a single locomotive was possible.  On 2 October 1993 60 032 William Booth was bringing a train of empty wagons back to the Docks, with Bootle Town Hall in the background.

The Pathfinder railtour 1Z44 from Bristol on 30 October 1993 has featured in several NWCR webpages, usually showing 50 033 and 50 007.  The third locomotive used was 56 096, and after the train reversed at Eccles it is heading down the gradient towards Weaste.  Later it would visit Runcorn Folly Lane and Seaforth Docks.

The line between Dolwyddelan and Roman Bridge is particularly attractive, but the curvature makes it difficult to photograph more than a few coaches.  The three car Metro-Cammell unit 101 683 has left Blaenau at 12:05 for Llandudno on 16 July 1994. 

Another Class 60 in Railfreight Coal livery, 60 060 James Watt, was approaching Runcorn East in the early afternoon of 30 July 1994 with logs, probably to Chirk.  I think this train would have started from Warrington, and I assume the logs would have been originally loaded at Carlisle.  Any clarification would be appreciated. 

Railtours in 1994 provided an interesting selection of locomotives.  The “Slim Jim” Class 33/2s were not at that time generally seen away from the South East, having been built for use on the Hastings line with its restricted gauge, so when 33 208 and the more familiar 33 116 were paired on “The Cheshire Kitten” on 21 August 1994 it was not to be missed!  Hertfordshire Rail Tours had arranged for this “add on” to their “Cheshire Cat” railtour from Euston to Crewe Rail Fair.  The pair of 33s had worked from Crewe to Chester, then across to Northwich and back down to Crewe, here passing through Middlewich.  Both locomotives are now preserved, 33 116 (D6535) at the Great Central Railway and 33 208 (D6593) at the Battlefield Line. 

The celebrity green Class 101 was seen regularly in North Wales.  On 27 August 1994 101 685 was arriving at Blaenau Ffestiniog with the 10:40 from Llandudno.

The Trawsfynydd Trekker railtour 1Z46 from York followed the unit, top and tailed with 31 490 and 31 327.  I waited for it at Maentwrog Road as it slowly made its way to the Trawsfynydd railhead.  Apparently it was advertised as the Trawsfynydd Trekker II, but the original railtour Trekker I had been cancelled a couple of months earlier. 

One of my favourite photographic locations on the line was Teiliau, between Llan Ffestiniog and Manod.  The “Red Stripe Railfreight” liveried 31 327 was now leading the returning train.

RCTS meetings restart

The  Railway Correspondence and Travel Society, Merseyside, Cheshire and North Wales Branch are restarting their meetings programme, starting from 8 September in Liverpool. However, they are also retaining a series of 'Zoom' meetings in parallel. For full details see our Calendar page.

Organiser John Cashen writes: 'Because of the uncertainty of any possible future Covid restrictions, plus the facts that Zoom meetings have proven to be very successful and, as we get older, a larger number of people are more reluctant to want to venture out during evenings, especially when the weather is not very good, the Committee has decided to do an equal number of Chester, Liverpool and Zoom meetings for the 2021/22 indoor meeting season.'

News from the line

Trains are now calling again at some of the stations with short platforms, which have been closed since the start of the Pandemic because if only one train door is to be opened, as is the usual procedure, the conductor would come too close to the alighting and boarding passengers. Stations re-opening in our area are Valley, Llanfair PG, Llanbedr, Abererch, Prees and Yorton.   The picture above shows the 15:38 Holyhead - Birmingham calling at Valley on 27 August formed of 153 361 and 158 838 (Stuart Broome)

Conwy apparently remains open for two-coach trains only until 12 September (how does a passenger know that in advance?), while for some reason Tygwyn, Llanaber and Llandanwg remain closed.  The list given in Modern Railways magazine lists Llanaber instead of Llanbedr. Real Time Trains describes the closed stations as 'Service stops for staffing reasons .'

Another snippet from the railway press is that when the dining service re-starts on the Holyhead - Cardiff loco-hauled trains there will be provision for breakfast, lunch and dinner for 41 'covers' - all of the first class coach - and that seven chefs and 14 'Premium Hosts' have been recruited. We look forward to taking a ride!

Corris and Talyllyn Galas

On 4 and 5 September Talyllyn loco no. 4, which originally worked on the Corris Railway, will be working at Corris again in a special gala to celebrate the loco's Centenary.   Pre-booking is not  required - details are on the Corris website.

On 11 and 12 September there is a gala on the Talyllyn Railway featring Corris loco no. 7. Pre-booking for that event is required.

From Dave Sallery's archive

Dave's first visit to a mecca for train-watchers, Acton Bridge station on the West Coast Main Line, in August 1968 produced a southbound express hauled by D1961.

Cardiff in October 1966:  D6603 which became: 37303, 37271, 37333, before being cut up at Crewe works, July 1997. Just one of an almost continuous stream of freight trains passing through.

Changing places

It's not often these days that a train is timetabled to change its formation twice in a single journey, but this happens on Transport for Wales in the current timetable.  For example, the 11:06 Birmingham International to Holyhead starts its journey as a pair of Class 158s. At Shrewsbury one of the 158s is detached, to be attached to the 09:23 Holyhead - Birmingham International. (Passengers beware!)  Then at Crewe, a Class 153 single car is attached to at the rear.  Above, 158 827 and 153 369 approach Holyhead on 26 August.

153 361 on the rear, with 158 838 leading, past RAF Valley, 17 minutes late, 27 August.  On the return journey, the 153 would be detached at Chester.  There are some 90 mph sections on the course of the journey; 158s can travel at that speed, while 153s are limited to 75 mph, but it doesn't seem to create a great deal of lateness. Pictures by Stuart Broome.

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