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Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd
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20 March 2023
Llandudno Junction. c. 1993. Picture from our pre-digital archive.
Shorter than usual this week due to a holiday and a lack of contributions -Charlie
The Class 175 situation described in the last issue has resulted in some drastic reductions in service. The Borderlands line and the Conwy Valley line services are replaced by buses, and the Chester - Liverpool service is cancelled without a bus replacement, presumably because Liverpool passengers can use Merseyrail. All three services are passed for new Class 197 units and have carried passengers on the Liverpool and Conwy Valley lines, whereas the TfW Main Lines through Shrewsbury and Llandudno Junction to Holyhead are not yet available to 197s. For some reason, this is not relevant in the current situation. Lines in south-west Wales are also affected.
Transport for Wales tells the press that it was struggling to get the parts it needed to bring trains back into operation. "All necessary checks and repairs must be completed on our Class 175 trains before they are allowed back into service," a spokesperson said. "For some of the trains, additional engine repair work has been found to be required."
The operator says it is trying to find parts internationally, and would gradually bring more trains back into service over the next few weeks. The depot at Chester has been transferred from Alstom surely cannot be a factor?
Seen at Chester - by Geoff Morris
On Wednesday 16 March GBRf ran what I assume to be a route learner from Liverpool to Llandudno Junction, back to Chester then on to Penmaenmawr quarry before returning to Liverpool. The Colas-operated stone train also ran that day and I assume that the initial run was terminated at Llandudno Junction as the stone train was occupying the quarry sidings. I photographed the GBRf light engine as it passed Chester Walls on its return leg to Liverpool. The loco was 66 797, one of a batch that was initially ordered for use in Europe and acquired by GBRf relatively recently. [Are the buffers slightly different?]
Only a few minutes later 82200 with 67 014 passed (twice) on the 11:25 Cardiff - Holyhead. This was my first sighting of this rake, with DVT and coaches originally intended for Grand Central’s Blackpool operation and painted in their black livery, but unfortunately the matching class 67 wasn’t with them.
I have read elsewhere that from the May timetable the class 67-DVT sets will be concentrated on the route from South Wales to Manchester and the North Wales Coast will revert to just a single train each way (as had been the case for many years). If this proves to be true then I was pleased to record one of the 'extra' services that have been running at convenient times for daylight photography.
66 797 made light engine trips along the coast on 16 March. It s seen here on the last run of the day departing Llandudno Junction in the afternoon as 0F99 on its way back to its destination of Liverpool Euro Metal sidings (Garry Stroud).
197 012 having just arrived at Llandudno at 11:58 on the 09:25 from Manchester Airport on 18 March ...
...then departing to Llandudno Junction at 12:08 past the semaphore signal gantry, now unique in Britain. This service shuttles to Llandudno Junction and back before forming the 12:40 Llandudno to Manchester Airport, contrary to TfW's on-line timetable leaflet which has the train starting at Llandudno at 12:53.
Another oddity is that Real Time Trains marks the call at Manchester Oxford Road as 'Service stop unadvertised' although the stop does appear to be advertised. Pictures by Greg Mape who writes: ' I liked the contrast of the old station infrastructure and the very new unit.'
After a few weeks' break, 66 728 Institute of Railway Operators visited Llandudno Junction on 20 March to pick up some slate. Colas ran a train with 56 113 to Penmaenmawr on 16 March, but it wasn't able to collect any stone due to electricity supply issues , believed to be on-going (Gary Thomas).
From Dave Sallery's archive
101 680 at Hope on a Bidston - Wrexham train, 26 July 2000.
142 067 at Caergwrle working from Bidston to Wrexham, 11 May 1993.
47 332 at Cefnybedd on a Sunday engineering train, 6 February 1994.
60 066 at Caergwrle with log empties, 31 May 1994.
Looking back: South Wales in 1991 part 2 - by David Pool
I was intending to visit the freight line in the Amman Valley, and found 37 264 in the siding at Pantyffynnon on 9 April 1991. The main Heart of Wales line is now single tracked through Pantyffynnon, the single storey station building being on the right near the signal. The platform on the branch had not been used since the passenger service to Brynaman closed in 1958, and only the platform on the main line is now used. [37 264 is today preserved on the North York Moors line.]
Moving on to Gwaun Cae Gurwen Disposal Point and Washery, there was still railway activity on the site, following the closure of several mines in the location. 08 598 was in the livery of Powell Duffryn Coal Preparation, shunting some MEA box wagons. This locomotive was previously at Crewe, has since moved to several different sites.
I had learned that there would be a train coming to Gwaun Cae Gurwen on the following day, so on 10 April I returned to Pantyffynnon and found 37 235 having arrived from the Swansea direction. After a few shots in the siding, I moved up the branch and found a nice location near Ammanford, where the line crossed over the River Amman.
The shots on the line through Glanaman were less interesting, so I headed for the Gwaun Cae Gurwen exchange sidings, and waited for the train to arrive. 37 235 was in Railfreight Coal livery, and came off its train of MEA box wagons, which were to be later taken into the site by 08 598.
37 235 then moved on to a train of HEA wagons and prepared to head back to Pantyffynnon. After one shot at Glanaman, I went to the location of the long closed Ammanford station, the platform being all that was left since the 1958 closure, and got my final shot on the branch. There is today an Ammanford Station, but this is on the main Heart of Wales line on the other side of the town. I understand that there have been some trains recently to Gwaun Cae Gurwen, which is now an Opencast Mine operated by Celtic Energy.
On 11 April 1991 the Deep Navigation Colliery at Treharris had just been closed, but stockpiles of coal were being moved. 37 803 would soon be leaving with MGR hopper wagons, probably to Aberthaw Power Station. The line coming in on the right is going up the Taff Bargoed valley, passing Taff Merthyr Colliery on the way to Bedlinog and Cwmbargoed.
From Treharris I went North through Aberdare to Glyn Neath, then up the A4109 towards Onllwyn, which was one of the most desolate railheads in South Wales. An English Electric diesel MP202 (Works No. 1230 in 1969) had arrived with some assorted hopper wagons, and 37 697 was preparing to leave from the loading point with a train of MEA box wagons.
I followed 37 697 down the Dulais Valley as far as Crynant, but my final view at Onllwyn was the departure past a siding of what appeared to be derelict wagons. I returned to Onllwyn later that year to photograph a railtour in sunshine, but the scenery hadn’t improved much!
It seems all is about to change, since Onllwyn is the chosen site for the Welsh Government’s Global Centre for Rail Excellence. This is a £400M project, with planning permission granted in 2021 and construction intended to start in 2023. Things may be getting interesting here in the near future!
(This picture was omitted from Part 1 in the last issue due to a technical error.) The sun was on the wrong side of the train for my shot at Llandeilo, but it was a satisfactory end to the day.
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