Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

13 September 2021


Forthcoming events

Contributions welcome.  Charter trains may be subject to cancellation or postponement.

Tuesday 14 September Excursion: The Dalesman (West Coast Railway Company) Diesel: Chester  - Frodsham  - Warrington Bank Quay - Leyland  - Preston  - Hellifield. Steam: Hellifield - Settle - Carlisle;  Carlisle - Shap - Carnforth  Diesel: Carnforth - Preston - Leyland - Warrington Bank Quay - Frodsham  - Chester.

Monday 20 September RCTS Zoom online Maggie Simpson “The Rail Freight Group” (Note Time – 19.45 Hours)

Sunday 26 September:  Northern Belle: North Wales Great Sunday Lunch.  Diesel Birmingham - North Wales - Birmingham

Wednesday 29 September:  North Wales Pullman (West Coast Railways) Diesel: Skegness - Llandudno (break) and return.

Sunday 30 September  The Wirral Squirrel (Branch Line Society). Crewe and Liverpool to unusual track in the Wirral and Merseyside area. Locos D213 and D345.

October 2021

Monday 18 October  RCTS Chester Mike Lister “The Railways Of Port Sunlight”

November 2021

Wednesday  3 November RCTS Liverpool Paul Wright “Goods Depots Around Liverpool, Part 1 – The Docks”

Saturday 13 November The Cheshireman (Railway Touring Company) Steam: 60163 Bristol -  Hereford - Shrewsbury - Wrexham General - Chester (break) and  return

Monday 15 November Online Zoom RCTS David Postle “Kidderminster Railway Museum”

Saturday 20 November The Cheshireman (Railway Touring Company) Steam: 60163 London Euston -  Crewe - Chester and return

December 2021

Monday 6 December Chester Christmas Market (Spirit Of The Lakes (West Coast Railways) Diesel: Skegness  - Chester and  return

Saturday 11 December The Northern Belle: Christmas Lunch Diesel
Crewe  - Chester  - Liverpool Lime Street and  return

Saturday 11 December The Christmas Chester Cracker (Pathfinder Tours)  Eastleigh -  Gloucester - Newport - Maindee Junction - Abergavenny - Shrewsbury - Crewe - Chester and return

Monday 20 December RCTS Chester Dave Southern “Chester To Pwllheli”

January 2022

Wednesday 5 January    RCTS Liverpool    AGM    followed by: Paul Chancellor    “ColourRail - 9th Journey”   (Non M,C&NW Members and Non-RCTS Members will not be able to take an active part in the AGM) 

Monday 17 January    RCTS online Zoom    Professor Stuart Cole    “Rail Policy in Wales”

February 2022

Monday 21 February RCTS Chester Martyn Hilbert “Network North West”

March 2022

Wednesday  2 March RCTS Liverpool Paul Shackcloth “L & Y Engines At Work, Part 1”

Monday 21 March RCTS online Zoom Geoff Plumb “The Wrexham & Shropshire Railway”

April 2022

Monday 25 April RCTS Chester David Powell “Merseyrail Fleet Replacement”

(see  our Calendar page for venues)


On the final day of Steam Dreams' five-day excursion returns past Abergele from Bangor on 8 September, diesel hauled by 47 746 to Crewe (having run empty from Crewe to Bangor earlier in the day) - it would be steam-hauled to London Paddington. Picture by Jim Ikin.

Welsh Dragon - continued

Following the earlier problems,  when a large part of its intinerary had to be cancelled due to the blockade of the Cambrian lines by an serious 'bridge-bash' at Machynlleth;  the train was diverted to Crewe and the passengers were transferred to a convoy of Alpine Coaches vehicles to travel to Bangor.

The 8 September final leg was hauled by 47 746 to Crewe and by steam in the shape of 45596 Bahamas and and 61306 Mayflower from Crewe to London. 

Here's a view of the train at Llandudno Junction by Garry Stroud.

Mike Stone writes:  'The leg to Crewe should have been 47 237, but on arrival at Crewe it was immediately despatched to Bromsgrove to rescue loco 31 128 which itself was collecting 57 313 from Pengam which had disgraced itself by failing and scuppering the 'Northern Belle' - it was supposed to have run via the Marches. 

'(On 7  August, 45596, to prepare for the next day, ran to Crewe Heritage Centre  from Orton Mere on the Nene Valley Railway and for some reason the plan was to detach the support coach at Basford Hall while the loco turned on its own, but instead it ran into the station and attached 61306 and its coach to turn top and tailed. That didn't go too well as there were problems with the ground frame that works the entrance to the Centre wasn't 'inside' until 19.30, delaying the 19.24 Crewe to Chester train.)'

However, the Steam Dreams passengers did reach London Paddington via Hereford just a few minutes late at 17:33 - odd, since the advance publicity for the tour place the arrival at 'Late evening.'

Timetable Changes

There are some Transport for Wales timetable changes from 12 September, rather hidden away in the 'Service Status' section of their website.

Relevant to our area:

Cambrian Line: rail replacement buses will run between Pwllheli and Machynlleth due to essential restoration work to Barmouth Viaduct. Rail replacement bus stop locations will change at selected stations to improve journey times and bus timetables will vary throughout this period due to roadworks in the area. Please check at station or online for more details.

Holyhead – Cardiff: Direct services between Holyhead and Cardiff will be re-introduced,  increasing services along the Marches between Cardiff and Shrewsbury. The 16:50 Holyhead – Cardiff Central will call additionally at Colwyn Bay, Rhyl, Abergele and Pensarn, Prestatyn and Flint.

Wrexham – Bidston: 1234 Wrexham General – Bidston, 1334 Bidston – Wrexham General will run as a rail replacement bus services Tuesday – Thursday due to driver training. [This has been in force for some time?]

Extra service stops: Services previously timetabled to call at Conwy upon request will be re-instated, increased services will stop at Prees and Yorton and Sunday services will call again at local stations between Shrewsbury and Birmingham.

Study of Real Time Trains reveals that the "16:50" service will depart Holyhead at 16:36 and be loco-worked.

The Monday-Friday loco diagrams, if we understand rightly,  will require two sets:

1W91 06:45 Cardiff - Holyhead 11:20
1V96 11:33 Holyhead - Cardiff 15:10

1W93 11:22 Cardiff - Holyhead 16:20
1V97 16:36 Holyhead - Cardiff 21:28

in addition to the existing  'WAG' service:

1V91 05:33 Holyhead - Cardiff 09:58
1W96 17:16 Cardiff - Holyhead 21:38

Some photographic options there, even in Winter. Saturdays and Sundays still have no through Cardiff - North Wales service for now due to engineering work.

Now and Then: Holywell Junction - by Dave Sallery

47 746 passes through the thicket formally known as Holywell Junction with the "Steam Dreams" charter  (see above).

In former times 31 229 overtakes 37 504 and its ballast train, 9 August 1993.

Signals at Helsby Station:  an appeal for information

Helsby Junction is one of the ever-decreasing number of locations on main lines in Britain controlled by semaphore signals.  One feature which deserves recognition is the signal at the end of Platform 4 which controls trains from Ellesmere Port onto the main Chester to Warrington line.  Visibility of the signal is restricted by the curvature of the platform and by the undergrowth, so the signal has two co-acting arms, the upper one originally intended to be seen above the platform buildings and footbridge.  Freight trains leaving the branch would not then have to crawl round the curve if the signal was clear.

It would appear that very few of these two-armed signals now exist in Britain.  A few may be in Scotland, but accurate information is proving difficult to obtain.  If you have recently seen or better still photographed a similar signal elsewhere, please let us know.  The Friends of Helsby Station think that this signal may be worthy of preservation as one of the last of its kind – not necessarily in its present location.

The photograph by David Pool of Fastline 66 434 on the empty log train from Chirk was taken on 13 April 2010, and shows the signal in question. 

Holyhead doings - by Stuart Broome

I called in at Holyhead Station on 8 September after seeing scaffolding in the last issue. At the time I  arrived platform 2 was closed (it opened later), so to get to platform 3 entailed a very long walk down platform one, across the bridge over the water to get there. If you are going to catch a train it would be no good arriving ten minutes before!  Above, 158.829 on 1J96 11:33 to Shrewsbury.

150 285 and 158 838 on 11:48 Holyhead to Wolverhampton.

The car park was totally full, I had to park on Lidl's and walk back. The interior of the station is a forest of scaffolding,  but signposted well to the platforms.  The staff and security were friendly so I was able to get some photographs. It was also 30°c (86 F) , so a trip to air conditioned Lidl was a must for ice-pops afterwards.  It seemed fair as use of their car park was had.

221 106 arrived on 1D83 10:49 Crewe to Holyhead amidst the scaffolding
on platform 2.

 View from the platform end.

NMT at large

The New Measurement Train visit North Wales on 9 September powered by   43 062 John Armitt ...

... and ex-LNER  43 296 on the rear (Garry Stroud).

Passing RAF Valley on the approach to Holyhead (Stuart Broome).

Bala Lake Railway AGM - report by Jim Ikin

The Bala Lake Railway held its AGM on the evening of Saturday 11 September at the railway's Llanuwchllyn Heritage and on Zoom. During the day, as well as normal service trains operated by Winifred and Maid Marian, extras were put on put on presided over by Dai the dragon.

Slate wagons being positioned by hand at Llanuwchllyn.

Coupling-up with Winifred.

The slate train pulls away.

Chilmark with hopper wagons.

Maid Marian arrives with a rake of slate wagons.

A members' trip had been arranged to Llangower and on to Bala and return using two replica Penrhyn quarrymen's coaches hauled by Winifred in the afternoon - hard going on passengers' rear ends!  Above,  Chilmark and the quarrymen's train are held in the loop at Llangower as a service train hauled Maid Marian approaches.

The quarrymen's train prepares for departure from Bala.

Incidentally, the railway had its best month ever in terms of passenger numbers in August – up 32%.

Looking back: Diesels 1995, Part 1 - by David Pool

I returned to Blaenau Ffestiniog on 13 April 1995, and the 7D39 flasks from Trawsfynydd on that day were hauled by 31 255 and 31 201.  The train comprised two barrier wagons (an RNA flat and an HEA hopper), two flask wagons (FNA) and two brake vans (CAR).  The sheep on the right is not impressed.

After photographing the flasks again at Roman Bridge, I headed for the coast, knowing that more flasks would be coming from Wylfa to join the Trawsfynydd flasks at Llandudno Junction.  The sun at Dwygyfylchi was not in the ideal position for a shot, but a two tone grey 37 108 duly appeared on 7C40 with two more flasks, two RNAs and a single CAR brake van.

The A55 enabled me to overtake the trains at Llandudno Junction, and the Queensferry district was the obvious place for a final photograph.  Beeches Farm near Broughton was easily reached in time, and I was very happy to see 7C40 now triple headed.  Two of the brake vans had been taken off, and the remaining wagons combined for the journey to Sellafield. 

On the following day the 14:24 Crewe to Holyhead  was headed by 37 402 Bont y Bermo  (Barmouth Bridge) , here approaching Shotton Low Level with a Mk1 and Mk2A mix of four Regional Railways coaches plus one ex-Network South East  coach. 

Saturday 24 June 1995 was a successful day for my railway photography.  My first shot was taken at Llanfairfechan, where a Transrail liveried 37 509 (previously a Trainload Freight locomotive) was working the 10:23 Bangor to Crewe. 

I had been waiting for the returning oil tanks from Holyhead to Ellesmere Port, but as they came into view  the sound of another Class 37 behind me was not welcome.  Fortunately 37 429 hurried past with the 08:10 Birmingham to Bangor, while 37 107 with the tanks was travelling at a more leisurely pace. 

Moving on to Holyhead, there were several ships to photograph, together with an HST, two 37s and a Class 101 unit, but Dutch liveried 31 134 waiting to depart with the 13:56 to Crewe made a pleasing shot.

An hour later the 14:53 to Crewe had left with another Transrail Class 37, the recently overhauled 37 407 Blackpool Tower, previously Loch Long.  The once busy locomotive depot was now just a basic refuelling point. 

Merseyrail 777 - report by Stephen Dennett

I went to the first public view of the Class 777 at Birkenhead North Station on Thursday 9  September, in the shap[e of 777 010.  It generated a lot of interest; it's good to see the amount of public consultation that has gone into the interior design and layout.

First impressions were the pleasing amount of space despite the number of seats being the same as in a 507/8, clear displays, and the very welcome sliding step access to the platform.

It has an almost “tram-like” feel, with the articulated body.

“Ironing board” seats are not great though. The very helpful staff could not give a start date for their introduction. COVID has obviously not helped the testing of the units.

I travelled to a Birkenhead North from Buckley via Bidston, which was a quick and easy way to get there. I know Merseyrail make noises about extending the scope of the new trains, including the Borderlands line to Wrexham, as the capability is there.

Whether the right circumstances will present themselves is another matter. 230s and 777s on this line would certainly be an upgrade on the 150s!

North Wales Coast home page | Archive | Previous Notice Board