10 April 2023
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Charter trains, and meetings, may be subject to cancellation
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Sunday 16 April Railway Touring
Company The Great Britain XV: Day 2.
Steam: Bristol - Shrewsbury - Wrexham - Chester -
Holyhead. WCRC Class 47/57 Holyhead - Llandudno
Saturday 29 April Statesman Rail Llandudno Victorian
Statesman Didcot - Llandudno
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 -
Wednesday 7 June Statesman Rail
The Snowdonia Statesman Hull Manchester
Victoria - Betws-y-coed/Blaenau Ffestiniog
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
Wednesday 12 July Statesman Rail
The Snowdonia Statesman Kilmarnock IST
Lancaster - Betws-y-coed/Blaenau Ffestiniog
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
Friday 6 October Clwyd Railway Circle A History of
The Internal Railway at Shotton Steelworks and its Links
with the Main Line.
11 October Statesman Rail
The Snowdonia Statesman Stevenage -
Nuneaton - Betws-y-coed /Blaenau
Ffestiniog LSL Pullman
Friday 3 November Clwyd Railway Circle The
Railway in Conway. Larry Davies
Friday 1 December Clwyd Railway Circle Members
Night Presentations. Members are invited to give a
15-minute presentation of their choice.
Calendar page for meeting venues)
North Wales Coast Railway website created and
compiled by Charlie
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
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).
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.'
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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