Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

01 May 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.

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  Cancelled

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

Barmouth Bridge as seen from the Fairbourne Railway, 23 April. Picture by Alisdair Macdonald.

Freight Views

66 756 Royal Corps of Signals passes Hope with 6M42 09:20 empties from Avonmouth  to Penyffordd Cement  running 27 minutes early (Tim Rogers).

70 814 with 4C33 Longport  Penmaenmawr Quarry. Taken from the lineside public footpath between Flint and Bagillt on 27 April  (Stephen Dennett).

66 776 Joanne at Slack Lane bridge with 6V75 Dee Marsh to Margam Steel. Taken at Slack Lane on 26 April (Stephen Dennett).

The Wellingborough stone empties took a very round the houses route on 1 May, involving Nuneaton, Wolverhampton, and a reversal at Chester. Bob Greenhalgh took the photo at Green lane crossing, Saltney.  The loco is 66 761 Wensleydale Railway Association.

Passing Prestatyn (Ivor Bufton).

Ffestiniog Round Robin

Perhaps not as well-known as it should be is the Ffestiniog Round Robin ticket,  which offers 'a circular journey in either direction around the circuit between Shrewsbury - Chester - Llandudno Junction - Blaenau Ffestiniog- Machynlleth - Shrewsbury on Transport for Wales services, plus a single journey on the Ffestiniog Railway in the direction of travel.' The ticket is 'Valid for travel every day at all times' - quite a bargain at £40 for Chester, Crewe or £45 if you start from Manchester, Birmingham, Stockport, Wilmslow, Hooton, Runcorn, Warrington, Birkenhead, Liverpool or Wolverhampton.  The full details from TfW, strangely headed by a picture of some happy people people at South Stack,  are here.

How this corresponds to the Ffestiniog's 'simplified' service idea is not fully clear: the information for the FR 'Mountain Spirit' service which runs just twice per day between Porthmadog and Blaenau implies that seats have to be booked.  Some careful study of timetables is going to be needed: for example the 10:28 (Weekdays) from Llandudno Junction will give you an hour for lunch at Blaenau before the 12:35 Ffestiniog train to Porthmadog,  which seems feasible.  Have any readers used this ticket? Reports are welcome.

News and comments

Merseyrail Stadler units 777 004 and 777 013 at Kirkdale.  The 777s have now taken over most Kirkby and Ormskirk diagrams. Still a few gremlins as 777 013 had just been failed in the station.  Interesting units but as with all new trains comfort is bottom of the list (Dave Sallery).

230 008, running 12 minutes late  at Hope with the 15:34 Wrexham General - Bidston, (Tim Rogers).    A two-hourly train service was running, but trains gradually got later, until the 18:27 from Bidston arrived at Wrexham Central 43 minutes late and ran empty to Birkenhead North Depot, the end of train service for another day.

Saturday 29 was buses only, with no atempt to run a service; Sunday, on the other hand, saw a (mostly) hourly service worked by 150 213 and 150 269.  Bank Holiday Monday 1 May and things changed again: no buses, and an hourly train service. 230 009 appeared in service for the first time, alternating with 150 235.

George Jones writes: ' I joined a return train to Wrexham on Thursday 27 April from Bangor and was surprised to find 67 022 and 67 017  in the down side siding, one ticking over. I am now told that one had 'brake issues' and must have been rescued. At least my TFW 158 at 1406 ran to time. ' Was this connected with the fatality incident the day before?

Elsewhere I see Transport Focus complaining to TFW about the unreliability of the loco hauled trains from and to Cardiff. Going back to Wrexham and Shropshire days the class was never top notch for consistent performance. You can read their letter here.

Going solo: Recent days have seen the appearance of Class 153 units running singly rather than paired with another: mostly on the Crewe - Chester shuttle (picture from 21 April, by Eli Jones)  but the nadir was reached on 25 April when 04:35 Cardiff-Manchester on 25 April and 08:30 return booked for a Class 67 and coaches, were worked by 153 327.

Stuart Broome writes: we went to the Victorian Weekend by train from Valley to Llandudno Junction on Saturday 29 April.  All went well, until our connection from the junction to Llandudno arrived.  A packed platform 3 and
two car 175 001 arrived 14 minutes late, already full. Few got off and we were lucky to get aboard as it was 'heaving'. Many passengers were left behind. Poor planning for such a popular event.


Statesman  Rail's 'Llandudno Victorian Statesman'   ran from Didcot Parkway (06:00)  to Llandudno hauled by two Locomotive Services 47s 47 810 (D1924) Crewe Diesel Depot and  47 593 (D1973) Galloway Princess, seen above passing Flint (Glyn Jones).

Abergele (Greg Mape).

Deganwy (Geraint Williams)

 Westie Dog' nostalgia (Stuart Broome).

A train from Birmingham run by Vintage Trains featured steam in the shape of 7029 Clun CastleGeoff Morris captured it passing the CAF depot at Chester en route to the loop at Chester  North Junction where the train reversed to allow the class 47 to drag the whole  ensemble to Llandudno allowing 7029 to be in the correct position to work the  return leg through to Birmingham.

Virgin Trains' loco 47 773 hauled the train past Deganwy (Garry Stroud).

Llandudno (Stuart Broome).

Despite the extra capacity from the parcels van converted to a water carrier,  which can be seen behind the loco in the images, more water was needed, and 7029 ran to Llandudno Junction to be refreshed from a road tanker (Gary Thomas).

Passing Deganwy on the return journey (Gary Thomas).

Abergele (Jim Ikin).

Prestatyn (Ivor Bufton).

Beeches Farm (Stephen Dennett)

Roodee, Chester (Tony Thomas). 7029, built at Swindon for British Railways in 1950, was one of the pioneers of man line locomotive preservation. Sold for scrap at £2,400 to Patrick Whitehouse in 1966, its ownership then passed to 7029 Clun Castle Ltd. In preservation, it has been based at Tyseley TMD, now Tyseley Locomotive Works.

(The visit of the 'Midland Pullman' on 1 May must wait until next time.)

News from Bala

Bob Greenhalgh writes: ' I was delighted to spend Saturday driving Quarry Hunslet Holy War at the Bala Lake railway's "welcome back Holy War and Alice"' weekend after they returned to service after 10 year overhauls. Holy War ran as sweet as sugar! Picture above by Jim Ikin.

Alice (Jim Ikin).

The happy event was soured somewhat by planning permission being refused by the National Park, even though the residents and businesses are all in favour, for the extension into Bala Town.  The primary reason appears to be that an increase in visitor numbers might create an increase in phosphate levels in the River Dee.   Surely Bala needs to attract tourists, and if the public infrastructure needs improving, so be it.

Llangollen 'Diesel Weekend' - report by Ken Robinson

The Llangollen Railway timetable on the weekend 29-30 April was unusual in that it was the only 'diesel only weekend' (outside of galas of course) that the railway has this year. In action on the Saturday (29 April) was 31 271 and the Wickham DMU. The weather wasn't too bad on this day, and a visit was a must, despite other 'action' on the North Wales Coast line!

31 271 at Carrog, preparing to depart with the 11:40 to Llangollen. This photo was possible due to the shorter length of the train - in this case three suburban coaches.

31 271 after arrival at Llangollen with the 11:40 from Carrog.

Glyndyfrdwy, with the Wickham DMU (class 109) on the 13:15 service to Llangollen.

From Dave Sallery's archive

'Quarry Hunslet' Velinheli at Caernarfon during a Welsh Highland Railway Gala, 2016.

47 714 passing Clapham Junction on 29 June 1991 on an up Salisbury service. Some of the coaches from this service later made their way to the North Wales Coast line.

66 166 in Immingham reception sidings with an MGR train in 2014.  Note the piles of coal in the background.

Looking back -   Preserved Narrow Gauge in South Wales - bu David Pool

One of the lesser known narrow gauge railways in Wales is the Teifi Valley Railway.  This is a 2ft gauge line built on the route of  the  branch from Carmarthen to Newcastle Emlyn, which had originally been built to Brunel’s 7ft gauge, later becoming standard gauge as part of the GWR network.  Passenger traffic ceased in 1952, but freight lingered on until 1973, after which the track was lifted.  A group of enthusiasts bought part of the trackbed in 1983, and laid some 2ft gauge track at Henllan towards Pontprenshitw, reaching Llandyfriog in 1987.

I made a brief visit to the line at Henllan on 13 September 1987, when a Hudson Hunslet diesel No.2433 (1951) with the name Sholto was providing the motive power, as shown in my image in the Notice Board of 30 November 2020.  This locomotive had come from the MoD system at Long Marston.  Sholto then headed for the station, where a couple of coaches formed the train. 

The railway began to suffer in 2010, when a loss of trained personnel made it difficult to run trains regularly, and it seemed likely that the railway would have to close. A local businessman then took over the operations, but it appears he wished to profit by providing access to a commercial timber plantation at Pontprenshitw, and started to dismantle the track, offering instead a “Road Train” to convey visitors.  By 2014 the railway had suspended operations, and later that year the owner declared himself bankrupt.  At this stage a new group took over the task of reopening the railway, and since then has relayed the track from Henllan to Pontprenshitw, and is making progress towards Llandyfriog. 

Some steam locomotives have been acquired for use, including  Sgt Murphy, Kerr Stuart 3117 (1918).  This was  used by the Admiralty at Beachley Dock, Chepstow, and later at the Penrhyn Quarry.  I photographed it at Boston Lodge, Ffestiniog Railway, on 1 January 1996. 

Another narrow gauge railway making use of the trackbed of a closed line is the Brecon Mountain Railway, based at Pant, near Merthyr Tydfil.  My first visit to the line was on 15 April 1982, and my impression was that this was a very well funded enterprise, with a large car park and a modern station building - a far cry from the more usual narrow gauge railway scene of a collection of locomotives and rolling stock awaiting restoration.  The locomotive in steam was equally impressive.  Built by Arnold Jung in 1908, Graf Schwerin Löwitz (Works No. 1261), came from the Mecklenburg-Pommersche  Schmalspurbahn in East Germany. 

It seems the intention was to run a steam powered scenic narrow gauge railway using international rolling stock, so there was no desire to replicate the appearance of a typical Welsh narrow gauge railway.  The closed Brecon and Merthyr Railway provided the trackbed and the scenery, and the first stage was to rebuild the line from Pant to Pontsticill, with a station alongside the reservoir.

This section was opened in 1980, and my next shot shows the train shortly after leaving Pant.

On 6 March 1983 I made a return visit to the railway, photographing the train arriving at Pontsticill.

Subsequently the line was extended to Dolygaer in 1995 and finally to Torpantau in 2014.  The climb to Torpantau required a powerful locomotive, and an American Baldwin built locomotive was the preferred choice, although not many would be available in the 2ft gauge - most narrow gauge lines in the U.S.A. would have been 3ft gauge. The first Baldwin obtained by the BMR (identified as No.1) had been built for a railway in Brazil and converted to 2 foot 6 inches gauge, then later was brought to the UK to be regauged back to 2ft.  The work was unfortunately not completed, nor was to an acceptable standard, so when it was purchased by the BMR in 2002 it needed to be rebuilt, eventually entering service in 2019. 

A second Baldwin (No.2) was purchased as salvage and brought to the BMR in 1993.  It had been built for a Cement company in South Africa, but eventually written off in an accident there.  A major rebuild was completed in 1997, and my photograph was taken at Pant on 22 June 1998.  The BMR is planning to build two new locomotives to Baldwin designs, a 2-6-2 tender locomotive (No.3) and a 2-4-4 Forney type (No.4).  

I have liked the Baldwin narrow gauge locomotives ever since the first one I saw on 23 October 1977 in the Allaire State Park, New Jersey. No.26 had been built in 1930 for the Surry, Sussex and Southampton Railway in Virginia, U.S.A., which was a 3ft gauge line associated with the Surry Lumber Company.

Another Baldwin ran on the Georgetown Loop Railroad at Silver Plume, Colorado, a 3ft gauge tourist line.  No.40 had been built in 1920 for the International Railways of Central America, an American Company which operated railways in Guatemala and El Salvador.  It was in steam and working the train at the time of my visit on 31 August 1984. 

Welshpool Gala - from a press release

Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway (W&LLR) will stage an Anniversary Gala weekend on June 17 and 18 to celebrate two significant events, one exactly twice as old as the other. On April 6, 1963, 60 years ago, the W&LLR reopened as a heritage railway run by volunteers. Another  60 years and two days earlier, on April 4, 1903 the line had opened for the first time with much pomp and ceremony in both Welshpool and Llanfair Caereinion.

The gala event will celebrate the line’s history and future. Without doubt, the highlight is  set to be the return to service of 0-8-0T steam locomotive 699.01 ‘Sir Drefaldwyn’, following a long overhaul delayed by such issues as the Covid pandemic.

The Anniversary Gala will also recall important parts of the W&LLR’s history and will include  a return to the line for one of the first carriages secured by the preservationists. With the W&LLR’s own carriages having been scrapped in the 1930s, following the withdrawal of  the passenger service, the new company had to look for stock and, in 1961, secured a set of very basic ‘toastrack’ carriages from the Upnor & Lodge Hill Railway, a naval line in Kent. Thanks to the S&KLR, one carriage will return to Wales to recreate the look of trains in the line’s earliest preservation years.

Other highlights of the weekend will include re-enactments of important events in the railway’s  history. Among these are the cutting of the first sod ceremony and the chairman's speech on re-opening to a recreation of the jazz trains run in the 1980s and an evening dining train. It is also hoped to have other visiting vehicles on static display.

Trains will run between Welshpool and Llanfair Caereinon throughout the weekend. Full details  of the event and ticket booking facilities will be found on the railway’s website.

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