THE NORTH WALES COAST RAILWAY: TRAFFIC
Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd
Last update 15 December
This page is mainly intended for railfans and others interested in
trains: for general timetable information please see our Travel Information section.
For information: National
1. Chester - Holyhead and branches
Arriva Trains Wales operate most passenger services along the
North Wales coast line. Their trunk route services are worked by
railcars, usually of Class 158 or 175, with mostly two-car
150s on the Llandudno - Blaenau Ffestiniog and Wrexham - Bidston
branches. Trains running to and from Birmingham are generally Class
158-operated; 175s are rarely seen east of Shrewsbury.
There are some exceptions to the railcar world of Arriva:
One is the 'One Wales
Express' or 'Y Gerallt Gymro' ('Gerald of Wales') which runs from
Holyhead to Cardiff Central and back once each day Mondays - Fridays.
This is formed of four coaches, including a buffet / restaurant car,
and since 2012 has operated on the 'push-pull' principle with a Class
67 loco at one end and a Driving Van Trailer at the other.
Here are the timings at all station stops:
Holyhead 05:33, Bangor 06:01, Llandudno Junction
06:19, Rhyl 06:38, Flint 06:55, Chester 07:10-07:15
(reverse), Wrexham General 07:32, Shrewsbury 08:09, Newport
09:41, Cardiff Central 09:58.
Cardiff Central 17:21, Newport 17:35, Abergavenny 17:56, Hereford
18:23, Shrewsbury 19:11, Wrexham General 19:45, Chester
20:02-20:05 (reverse), Flint 20:18, Rhyl 20:33, Colwyn Bay
Llandudno Junction 20:50, Bangor 21:09, Holyhead 21:38.
From time to time the loco-hauled train is used at weekends, espcially
when sports events are stages at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
A second locomotive-worked operation began operration on Mondays -
Fridays from 15 December 2014, also for a Class 67 with four Mk3
Coaches and a DVT. The diagram is:
1D51 07:11 Crewe - Chester 07:30
1H82 07:38 Chester - Manchester Pic 08:51
1D34 09:50 Manchester Pic - Holyhead 12:36
1H89 13:01 Holyhead - Manchester Pic 15:51
1D31 16:50 Manchester Pic- Llandudno 19:03
1K96 19:34 Llandudno - Crewe 21:06
The stock - Class 67 loco, four Mk3 coaches, and a Driving Van
Trailer - spend the night at Arriva's LNWR works in Crewe. At
Manchester, the train lays over in the 'excursion platform' line at
All Virgin services in North Wales are
worked by Class 221 'Voyager' diesel railcars. Haulage of 'Pendolino'
units to Holyhead ceased at the beginning of December 2012.
2. The Cambrian lines and Shrewsbury - Wrexham - Chester
The lines west of Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth and Pwllheli currently have
no freight service, and the routine passenger trains are always Arriva
Trains Wales Class 158s, maintained at Machynlleth depot and equipped
with the Radio Electronic Token Block signalling in use on the Cambrian
system. There are, however, special trains from time to time: watch our
for details. However, steam trains are not now allowed on the Cambrian
lines as they cannot work with the 'ERTMS' signalling now installed.
The Shrewsbury - Chester via Wrexham line sees greater variety, Arriva
Trains Wales services being a mixture of Classes 175 and 158 with the
occasional 150 or even 153, as well as the 'All-Wales Express' (see
Virgin Trains serve Wrexham General with one through train to London on
Monday-Friday mornings and one return in the evenings. The Class 221
Voyager attaches to another from Holyhead at Chester, and detaches at
Chester in the evening.
See the links on our Travel Information
page for more about passenger timetables.
These are very few and far-between at present: the usual workings along
the Coast are listed below. December 2008 saw the end of the
long-standing railway ballast stone traffic from Hanson’s Penmaenmawr
quarry, due to the loss of the Network Rail contract. Some trains
have run since, but none so far in 2014.
Photopraphers should bear in mind that freight trains often run very
early, sometimes very late and on occasions not at all.
Time Trains website is essential viewing for all UK railfans: It
tracks the running of all trains, passenger and non-passenger.
DRS (Flask Traffic)
These short, but heavy, trains are interesting for their variety of
motive power – usually double-headed by two 37s or 66s, although Class
20s, 57/0s and 47s, make occasional appearances. The service runs on
one or two days a week on an irregular basis, sometimes ceasing for
weeks at a time. The nuclear flasks originate from Wylfa power station
on the north coast of Anglesey, which uses Valley as railhead (the
flasks are moved by road to and from Valley). Loads vary from one to
three or four Flasks (and locos can even run light engine in one
direction). Trains run as:
6D41 05.35 Crewe – Valley (arrive 08.15)
6K40 14:58 Valley – Crewe
6K40 is booked to follow the 14.32 passenger train from Holyhead, so
can leave just before 15.00 – once the 14.32 has cleared the section to
Gaerwen. Sometimes it can leave early, even extremely early. The locos
use the Valley triangle to turn tound for
the return trip, the result being that the loco which headed the train
westwards also leads it on the way back. When the train is ready to
leave it sets back into Valley station, alongside the signal box,
before leaving for Crewe.
A public footpath runs close to the triangle of lines, offering good
photo-opportunities; the triangle is also used to turn round any steam
locos which reach Holyhead on excursions.
The nuclear power station at Wylfa was planned to cease operation late
in 2010, but has been given an extenson.
More to see at Chester
Chester sees more freight traffic than the North Wales Coast route as
some trains take the Wrexham line here. Trains bring timber from the
Carlisle area to the timber products factory at Chirk on the Chester -
Wrexham - Shrewsbury line: these are now run by Colas Rail using Class
57/3 locos hired from Virgin Trains, and run via Warrington Bank Quay,
Helsby and Chester.
6J37 13:27 Carlisle - Chirk : passes Chester c.18:35 Mondays,
Wednesdays and Fridays
6C37 23:07 Chirk - Carlisle
There is no crossover at Chirk: after unloading, trains continue to
Gobowen for the locomotive to run round.
On Thursdays, EWS run coal in MEA box wagons from Warrington to
Penyffordd Cement Works (on the southern section of the Wrexham–Bidston
line – the loco runs round the train at Croes Newydd, Wrexham) in the
early morning. The return is 6E41 14:57 Penyffordd–Healey Mills,
passing Chester at around 18:10.
Over the Top
In addition to the above, steel traffic from South Wales to Dee Marsh
Junction (one mile north of Shotton) can be seen using the 'top line'
(Wrexham–Bidston) which crosses the Coast line at Shotton
station. The normal daytime trains are listed below, but it
should be noted that in 2009 they have all been running on an 'as
required' basis, no doubt due to market conditions in the industry,
Mondays - Fridays:
6V75 09:30 Dee Marsh - Margam (passes Wrexham 10:00)
6M86 13:13 Llanwern - Dee Marsh (passes Wrexham 17:35)
6V75 09:30 Dee Marsh - Margam (passes Wrexham 10:00)
6M88 07:04 Llanwern - Dee Marsh (passes Wrexham 13:35 - runs when
6V90 15:34 Dee Marsh - Margam (passes Wrexham 16:05 - runs when
10:08 6M24 Llanwern - Dee Marsh (Passes Wrexham 14:05)
15:35 6V47 Dee Maesh - Llanwern (passes Wrexham 16:15)
11:02 6M30 Margam - Dee Marsh (passes Wrexham 17:05)