Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

10 April 2023

Contributions to the Notice Board are welcome, although they may not always be used, due to time constraints, especially if they don't follow the file name convention given on the  Contributions Page.

Forthcoming events

Charter trains, and meetings, may be subject to cancellation or postponement. See our Calendar Page for Club and Society details.

April 2023

Sunday 16 April Railway Touring Company The Great Britain XV: Day 2.
Steam: Bristol - Shrewsbury - Wrexham - Chester - Holyhead.  WCRC Class 47/57 Holyhead - Llandudno Junction

Saturday 29 April Statesman  Rail Llandudno Victorian Statesman   Didcot - Llandudno

May 2023

Monday 1 May    Midland Pullman  'Llandudno Victorian Pullman' Bournemouth - Llandudno      

Monday 1 May     Branch line Society 'Calan Mai'    Derby to Llandudno and Holyhead via goods loops: locos      50 008/2x20

Wednesday 10 May    Statesman Rail 'The Snowdonia Statesman'   Chesterfield - Betws-y-coed/Blaenau Ffestiniog.

June 2023

Wednesday 7 June    Statesman Rail The Snowdonia Statesman    Hull Manchester Victoria - Betws-y-coed/Blaenau Ffestiniog          LSL Pullman

Saturday 24 June North West Rail and Transport Collectors' Fair.  Crewe Alexandra Football Club. Alexandra Stadium, Gresty Road, Crewe CW2 6EB (5 mins walk from Crewe Station) |0.00am - 3.00pm
Admission - £2 Adults, Children Under 16 Free

July 2023

Wednesday 12 July     Statesman Rail  The Snowdonia Statesman    Kilmarnock IST Lancaster - Betws-y-coed/Blaenau Ffestiniog        LSL Pullman

August 2023

September 2023

Friday 1 September Clwyd Railway Circle A Year in the Life of an International Train Spotter  - Part 2. Phil Thomas

Wednesday 13 September    Statesman Rail The Snowdonia Statesman    High Wycombe IST Birmingham NS - Betws-y-coed/Blaenau Ffestiniog          LSL Pullman

October 2023

Friday 6 October Clwyd Railway Circle A History of The Internal Railway at Shotton Steelworks and its Links with the Main Line.
Glyn Jones

11 October   Statesman Rail The Snowdonia Statesman    Stevenage - Nuneaton - Betws-y-coed /Blaenau Ffestiniog       LSL Pullman

November 2023

Friday 3 November Clwyd Railway Circle The Railway in Conway.  Larry Davies

December 2023

Friday 1 December Clwyd Railway Circle Members Night Presentations.  Members are invited to give a 15-minute presentation of their choice.

(see  our Calendar page for meeting venues)

North Wales Coast Railway website created and compiled by Charlie Hulme

The view from Beeston Castle  on 7 April as D6817 and D6851, with D213 Andania at the rear, pass by with the Llandudno - Crewe leg of a private charter. Picture by Ian Pilkington.

Andania's 'jolly'

Chester; both loco and coaches were beautifully painted and a joy to the eye. (Bob Greenhalgh). The train arrived at Chester from the Severn Valley Railway on 6 April.

Chester Locks (Geoff Morris).

D213 (40013) slows for an unscheduled signal stop (late running TfW 158 ahead of it) as it passes through Rhyl (centre road) on Thursday 6 April 2023
whilst working 1Z22 16:20 Kidderminster S.V.R. to Llandudno (Ivor Bufton) .

Towyn (Gary Thomas).

Deganwy (Geraint Williams)

Return journey, 7 April

Deganwy (Gary Thomas).

Approaching Llandudno Junction (Garry Stroud).

After the overnight stay at Llandudno 40 013 is seen exiting the Northgate tunnel at Chester returning from Llandudno.  It took the curve round to Chester North Junction where D6851 and D6817 attached to the rear and then worked the train forward to Crewe where the class 40 was detached before the 37s continued with the coaches to Bristol.  (Geoff Morris).

After turning on the triangle with D6851 and D6817 leading, the train heads to Crewe (Dave Jepson).

Class 230

The much-reported introduction of the Class 230s on the Borderlands Line  service appears to have been somewhat premature. In the first week there were cancellations,  turnbacks at Wrexham Central to regain lost time ... and since 6 April they have ceased operation altogether.

We do  wonder whether the automatic shutting-down of the diesel engine (that charges the batteries) in stations to avoid noise is really necessary. Most of the testing runs has been done without station stops.

Ron Owen and the Vale of Rheidol

Chris Magner writes: ' This week in Crewe the funeral will be held of Ron Owen, former Public Relations Officer of BR Stoke Division. To save BR jobs on the Cambrian Lines he formed the Vale of Rheidol Railway Supporters` Association in January 1970 as the VoR was in danger of being sold. VORRSA was formed to keep the VoR in BR`s hands and so save Cambrian jobs.

'BR Stoke did not want the Cambrian Lines to close (against the Government`s wishes) so by keeping the VoR it gave BR another reason to keep Pwllheli / Aberystwyth - Shrewsbury going with the  Many good people helped keep the VoR going until 1989 and without doubt Ron Owen saved many jobs although many may not know this.'

News pictures

Gary Thomas writes: After a few weeks of absence, trains returned to the Blaenau branch on 8 April. I'm not sure what has happened to the rolling stock situation to enable this, but trains have returned. The picture shows  second run of the day, at Betws heading to Blaenau. It was particularly well loaded to the former.

Stuart Broome writes: 'On Thursday 6 April I visited Holyhead in order to see the stored 175 units.  It is quite amazing so many are stored awaiting parts!  Also they are not to easy to identify.  Pictures taken from the bridge at the end of the station.

175 004 which wasn't stored as it worked to Llanelli coupled to 175 003 on Good Friday.

175 102 in Holyhead Station with the 10:40 to Llanelli.

Penmaenmawr quarry is back in action: on 4 April Colas 70 810 passes Llandudno Junction with empties to be loaded for Longport (Greg Mape) ...

... and attending the loading process before departing at 13:25 for Longport (Ken Robinson).

Also on 4 April, 67 014 on the 06:48 Cardiff - Holyhead passes Penmaenmawr station (Ken Robinson).

On a misty 5 April, 67 014 propels the 10:52 Cardiff - Manchester on to Stockport viaduct.  The situation regarding these services has still not stabilised, pairs of 153s and even single 150s still appear.  Note the 'plain-lined' points, and crossings sitting nearby.

Empty  aggregate wagons from Wellingborough to Llandudno Junction taken during a sudden  heavy shower at Chester Northgate cutting.  Loco is 66 723 Chinook (Geoff Morris).

Shrewsbury notes - by Graham Breakwell

Taken through the window of an Aberystwyth bound service, about as close as it’s possible to get legally, on 29 March passing 97 304 and 37 405 in Coleham Depot.  The WNXX website reports that Cambrian line is currently short of traction with two of the three Class 97s and assisting loco 37 405 on thin tyres. 97 303 has a power unit problem while 97 304 has a generator fault. 37 116 has been out-stationed at Coleham, arriving on the 1st with 97 302 after 97 302 has taken 97 303 from Coleham to Derby Technical Centre.

We were honoured in Shrewsbury on 5 April when 66 779 Evening Star appeared with 6M05, the 15:01 from Tinsley Yard to Coton Hill empties.  Seen here standing with the return service, 6E97, whilst the loading takes place using a single front loader in the yard.

Later on. 97 302 and 37 115 worked 6C75, the 21:49 from Crewe Basford Hall to Welshpool no photos though with it passing in the dark through Shrewsbury,  TfW and LM services saw considerable disruption that night, due to the theft of signalling cable at Telford Central the night before and motive power failures on services to and from Cardiff and Manchester, the worst being to the 23:09 to Cardiff that departed 121 minutes late.

Class 231 in service - Report by Eryl Crump

Class 231 FLIRT (Fast Light Intercity and Regional Trains) diesel-electric multiple units, built for Trafnidiaeth Cymru/Transport for Wales(TC/TfW) for Wales by Swiss rolling stock manufacturer Stadler Rail, were officially launched by Welsh Government ministers on March 29. A visit to south Wales found four of the units out on service and the opportunity was taken to travel on 231 008 from Cardiff Queen Street to Caerphilly.

The eleven-strong fleet are in service on the Rhymney Valley line from Rhymney to Cardiff Central and onwards to Penarth. They entered service in mid January and are gradually replacing Class 150 and Class 769 trains. It is expected they will also operate services between Maesteg and Cheltenham Spa, and between Cardiff Central and Ebbw Vale Town replacing the Class 170s.

The trains were ordered by the previous Wales & Borders rail franchisee KeolisAmey Wales as part of an £800m investment by TC/TfW but retained by the Welsh Government after it took over the service.

Bodyshells were built at the Stadler plant in Hungary and assembled at the company's Bussnang factory in, Switzerland. The units began testing in Switzerland in July 2021 and the first two units were delivered to Cardiff Canton depot in November 2021.

Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters MS launched the trains, which will offer increased capacity and improved seating as well as air conditioning and power sockets.

Bilingual passenger information screens display up-to-the-minute travel information and entry to the trains is step-free with retractable steps emerging as the doors open.

Class 231 units have four passenger vehicles, along with a separate "Power Pack" vehicle at the centre of the unit that contains four diesel generator sets. The Power Pack is technically a fifth vehicle, but as it contains no passenger accommodation it is excluded from the count of passenger cars.  Ther unit is articulated, riding on 'Jacobs Bogies'.  Similar 'Flirts' have been operating for some time on Great Anglia routes.

A central gangway allows access for passengers from the first two carriages (A & B) to the sole toilet on board located in carriage C.

The trains are capable of 90mph which will be useful on the Great Western Main Line but speeds on the Valley lines are much lower and the gradients tested the trains previously used . Acceleration from Queen Street was brisk, smooth and very quiet. Gone is the loud revving of the engines before the trains move off! Few will mourn the loss of the former Class 142 and 143 Pacer units in use on the line until their withdrawal. Enthusiasts, however, will remember when this line was the preserve of loco-hauled trains with Class 37 and 50s roaring into the valleys.

After a brief stop at Caerphilly - the basic service is four trains an hour on the core Caerphilly to Cardiff route with some trains terminating at Bargoed or Ystrad Mynach - I took the next service south. It was 231 010 in charge this time. The trains offer 170 seats, plus 36 tip-up and 180 standees. If the overcrowding seen on previous Rhymney Valley line trains is repeated then grab handles may need to be installed.

Despite the official launch, not all Rhymney Valley line services on this particular day were operated by the new trains. At least two Class 769s were in use along with a Class 150 and some services even saw a pair of Class 153s in use. This was on a day when bus replacement services were operating north of Pontypridd as engineering work took place.

Very similar 'Flirt' trains, but with tri-mode power (Diesel, Electric, Battery), designated Class 756,  will enter service on the first stage of the South Wales Metro later this year.  A total of 24 units are to be built, split between seven three-car units and 17 four-car units.
We may not see these trains in North Wales but TC/TfW would do well to consider them for the branch lines which are similar in many respects to the Valley Lines.

From Dave Sallery's archive

101 685 near Dolgarrog on a Blaenau service, 14 June 1994.

31 327 on the rear of the "Trawsfynydd trekker" leaving Llanrwst for Trawsfynydd.  On the front of the six coach train was 31 190.

37 407 near Tal-y-Cafn with an inspection saloon for Blaenau, 13 May 1993.

37 886 near Roman Bridge on the rear of a "Northern Belle" in October 2002.

Looking back:  South Wales in 1991  part 5  -by David Pool

Passenger services to Ebbw Vale had been withdrawn in 1962, but the line was kept open, and in 1991 there was freight traffic to the Tinplate and Galvanising Works of British Steel.  This was my target for my final visit to South Wales in 1991, and my first shot was at Aberbeeg on 10 September, when 37 026 was heading up the valley with empty steel carriers.  At this point there was previously a junction with the line from Abertillery and Brynmawr, but this line was also closed in 1962 for passenger traffic, although freight survived until 1989.  The Ebbw Vale line reopened for passengers in 2008, following the closure of the steel site, but plans to reopen the line to Abertillery now seem to have stalled. 

The village of Cwm is mid way between Aberbeeg and Ebbw Vale, and there was time to see the train here 37 026 was in Railfreight Distribution livery, being based at Tinsley and carrying the name Shapfell.  Some years previously it was a regular performer on the Far North lines in Scotland, and at that time was named Loch Awe.  

I carried on towards Ebbw Vale, and at the Exchange Sidings a Hunslet-Barclay diesel Gillian, Works No. 6769 (1990) was waiting with a train of loaded steel.  This may have been a rebuild of an older locomotive, as were the sister locomotives Laura and Tracey

37 026 soon arrived, and was preparing to come off the empty wagons. The loaded wagons would have come down the gradient from the Works at the higher level. 

I decided that Cwm would be a good place for a shot of the loaded train, and eventually 37 026 appeared.  In the distance, the white tent-like structures were on the site of the Ebbw Vale International Garden Festival which was due to take place in 1992. 

Looking through my index of slides, I saw that the next time I photographed 37 026 was on 23 February 1995, when it was passing through Bromsgrove with a Nuclear Flask train from Oldbury, still in the now faded Railfreight Distribution livery. 

I was reminded of my first visit to Bromsgrove on 30 July 1954, when I was able to photograph Big Bertha, although I was a little disappointed that I never saw any of the Beyer Garratts on coal trains up the Lickey Incline! 

After my visit to Ebbw Vale, I hoped to see one of the Oldbury trains on the branch from Berkeley Road to Sharpness.  Thanks to some helpful contacts at Oldbury I had been able to arrange an escorted visit to the Railhead at Berkeley, which was the loading point for Oldbury flasks.  On 12 September 1991 it was 31 217 which appeared from Crewe, and eventually propelled the flask wagons into the siding.  I got the shots I wanted, so there was no point in waiting for all the flasks to be loaded,  and with thanks to my hosts I left for Plymouth, where there was to be an Open Day at Laira Depot a few days later.

In 2015 a 'Cable Car' [funicular, or cliff lift] connecting the station to the town was opened in Ebbw Vale, the cost of £2.3M being funded by the European Union.  This has had many unreliability problems, and Blaenau Gwent County Borough council has now decided it should be closed to save on the running costs in this time of financial pressures.  Apparently this decision seems to be supported by the majority of local residents. Report in the South Wales Argus.

Easter at Llangollen - report by George Jones

Saturday 8 April at Llangollen brought out the crowds and justified two-train operation on a 'timetable B' schedule.

The return of first train of the day was passed at Goods Junction with J94 68067.

I rode the 12:05 with 31 271 in charge of three suburban carriages and the inspection saloon which offered the observation view down the line.

On return at 13:50 31 271 ran round its train.

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