THE NORTH WALES COAST RAILWAY:  TRAFFIC

Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru Traffic

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Last update 21 June 2014


This page is mainly intended for railfans and others interested in trains: for general timetable information please see our Travel Information section.

Passenger | Freight | Rail Head Treatment Trains


For information:  National Rail Guidelines for Railway Enthusiasts

PASSENGER TRAINS




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 single-car 153 units or 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.

The only exception to the railcar world of Arriva 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 Driiving 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 21#0:44, 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.
Virgin Trains
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 Calendar page for details. Howver, 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.

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.


FREIGHT TRAINS

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.

The Real 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)

Saturdays:

6V75 09:30 Dee Marsh - Margam (passes Wrexham 10:00)
6M88 07:04 Llanwern - Dee Marsh (passes Wrexham 13:35 - runs when required)
6V90 15:34 Dee Marsh - Margam (passes Wrexham 16:05 - runs when required)

Sundays:

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)


Rail Head Treatment Trains


Summary Timings for the Autumn Railhead Treatment Trains will appear here when available.


Further reading

We highly recommend the regularly-published book 'Freightmaster'  for more details of freight services in the area and everywhere else in Britain. For on-line orders for this and all other transport books and videos , we recommend the Transport Diversions Emporium.

For fully up-to-date info you can buy a subscription to the online version of Freightmaster: see the Freightmaster website for details.

We acknowledge the help of Todays Railways UK magazine in compiling the above information.

Tweets by @NWrail1


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