Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

12 June 2020


Wrexham, 2009.

Forthcoming events

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Note:  we have removed all entries up to the end of August as the events are cancelled.  The Railway Touring Company North Wales trains in July are no longer being advertised.

September 2020

Saturday 5 September Steam at Chester 'The Cheshireman' (Railway Touring Company). Norwich to Chester. Loco 6233 for part of the journey.


Making an unusual and colourful livery variation with the 15:05 departure from Llandudno (13:24 from Crewe) formed of 153 313 in East Midlands livery with Transport for Wales lettering, together with unbranded ex-Anglia livery 153 314 depart Deganwy heading for Llandudno Junction and Holyhead on 8 June.  Picture by Garry Stroud.

Apologies for the  error which caused time-travel,  uploading an old page recently. Tonight's extra issue is a little 'lacking' due to un-planned time spent doing multiple updates of the feature about Edward Colston on my John Cassidy, Sculptor website.  Next update on Moday evening as usual. - Charlie

Conwy Valley re-opening delay

Press release from Network Rail:

Network Rail is currently working between Tal-y-Cafn and Llanrwst to reopen the Conwy Valley line which, for the second time in recent years, has been literally washed away because of flooding. The line runs through fields in an area prone to flooding from the River Conwy.

Extreme rainfall in north Wales in the last two years has caused significant flooding in this area and the power of the rising water has washed away the line. This has resulted in the line being closed for several months whilst it has been repaired. In 2020 alone this has cost £1m to the taxpayer and prevented passengers from using the railway for to get to school, work and other journeys.

Whilst work continues to reopen the Conwy Valley line following its most recent flooding, Network Rail has now identified additional work, on top of reinstating and re-opening the current line, to help protect the line from being washed away on this catastrophic scale in the future.

This work includes installing rock armour and this will help to add additional resilience to the line. Around 20,000 tonnes of rock will be installed to just over a mile of embankment. Work carried out by Network Rail in 2019 was successful in protecting the line south of Llanrwst from more significant damage during this year’s storms. This will now be replicated along further sections of the line.

The work will cost around £2.2m and will extend the closure for an additional 10 weeks, however this investment and continued disruption to passengers will be worth it to mitigate the risk of long closures due to wash-outs in the future.

The line will be reopened following this work, which is expected to be completed in September.

The DRS flask train

We are informed that the flask train run on 3 June was a pathing run by DRS to keep the path open for future use, and  was also an opportunity for DRS to give 37 407 a test run after receiving recent repairs. One reason for keeping the path might be that there are opportunities for freight in the future: traffic from Penmaenmawr Quarry is confirmed to be re-starting this year, and there is some movement at the Llandudno Junction freight depot: the gates to the sidings at Llandudno Junction near Macdonald's have had some attention, and will soon be adorned with  Breedon Aggregates signage.  Clearance of the track doesn't seem to have started yet, though.


On the subject of slate, Mark Doran writes to remind us that the material loaded into ships should be described as 'decorative chippings' rather than 'slate waste' . Whilst the Penrhyn and Cwt-y-Bugail (near Manod) quarries still produce world-class roofing-slate, the real success story in recent years has been decorative garden chippings, often retrieved from slate tips. What was once dumped as rubbish is now the source of serious revenue, after grading and washing. Indeed for Caernarvonshire Crown and Llechwedd/Maenofferen it's the main type of production.

Looking back: Ellesmere Port and Helsby - with David Pool

A large logo 56 134 is at the Cawoods terminal at Ellesmere Port on 14 November 1987, offloading containers of coal for Northern Ireland from the PFA wagons.

On 20 February 1988 Hertfordshire Rail Tours ran “The Mersey Docker”, departing from Euston at 07:45 as 1T05, and visiting many lines in the Manchester district and Cheshire.  It was rare to see a passenger train on the freight line between Mouldsworth and West Cheshire Junction, and 45 128 Centaur is passing the remains of Helsby and Alvanley station as it approaches the Junction.

The Merseyrail Sandite train was very elusive to photograph.  On 13 January 1999 I happened to see it at Chester, and learned that it would be going to Ellesmere Port.  It had been dull and wet at Chester, but the sun was trying to come out at the Port, and for once I was lucky with the shot.  Electro-diesel 73 901 is sandwiched between Watford Class 501 cars, now numbered NMA 6910 and NMA 6911.  73 901 later went to the Dean Forest Railway, but recently has moved to Crewe, where it is in blue livery as 73 001.

Pathfinder Tours were using Class 46 D172 Ixion on 10 July 1999.  The train was 1Z18, running from Edinburgh to Cardiff with a Thames-Clyde Express headboard – not what you would expect to see at Helsby!  D172 had been renumbered 46 035 in 1973, and was particularly well travelled, being seen in Cornwall, South Wales and Scotland in addition to the Transpennine route.

Another train is looking out of place at Helsby with the First Great Western coaches, but on 7 April 2003 Res liveried 47 746 was on the 17:19 Manchester Piccadilly to Holyhead.  This train often had coaches in mixed liveries, so I was pleased to see a matching rake.  47 746 was a Crewe locomotive for many years, carrying the name The Bobby.

(41015)  In 2010 there was a dispute regarding the use of sidings in the Warrington area by GBRf  trains, so the containerised gypsum working from Fiddler’s Ferry to Newbiggin was routed to reverse at either Hooton or Ellesmere Port.  On 16 March 2010 GBRf  66 719 Metroland, in Metronet  livery, is taking the Ellesmere Port line at Helsby.

Approaching Helsby on 10 July 2011, West Coast Railways 37 685 is heading an excursion from Dundee to Chester, carrying a Royal Scotsman headboard and running as 1Z24, with 57 001 on the rear  Between 1993 and 1995 37 685 was used on sleeper services from Edinburgh to Inverness, then being in InterCity livery.

The 150th Anniversary of Helsby station was commemorated on 6 July 2013, with a Northern Rail train shuttling between Hooton and Helsby, complete with headboard.  Units 156 423 and 156 425 form the 11:37 from Hooton.  My dog Jack on the platform would have much preferred a Class 37 or even a Class 66!


Thanks to readers who have kindly written about David Pool's earlier items; the articles have now been edited. The photograph of 47 278 repeated above was taken from the Newton Lane bridge in Chester.  Mike Dunning writes: 'There was a derailment at this exact location involving many wagons. I have never been able to find any photographs of the derailment, or in fact any information. Perhaps someone may remember; it was early 70s.'

Also, we were wise to write in the last issue "Possibly the first steam working over this line since the 1960s, Jubilee 45690 Leander, currently in black livery, is emerging from the tunnel at Beechwood, with 1Z76, the 10:55 from Liverpool Lime Street to Holyhead, on 21 July 2019".  Nick Roberts writes to tell us that  60009 Union of South Africa  worked 1Z60, the 'Liver Bird' railtour from Birmingham International to Liverpool Lime Street on  2 March 2002, routed via Shrewsbury - Chester -  Halton Curve - Liverpool - Weaver Junction - Crewe - Birmingham International. There does seem to be a rule that if we claim that something is a 'first' it never was ...

Network Rail trains

Train 6C49 consisting of 56 113, with  56 094 on the rear, with empty hoppers from the Conwy Valley ballast drop, departing from Llandudno Junction, 11 June. Picture by Ryan Lloyd.

An  ultrasonic test train run on 8 June featured 37 254 Cardiff Canton, seen above propelling past Broad Oak Crossing (Peter Neve).

The ultrasonic test train headed out again in autumnal weather from Crewe for an overnight tour of the North West on the evening of 11 June, with driving trailer 9701 leading ...

... and 37 254 propelling (Greg Mape).

Also about on 11 June was the loco-worked version of the New Measurement Train, worked by 67 027 (leading) and on the rear 67 023 (pictured) propelling ...

... seen departing Northenden Junction, where the train reversed, having arrived from the Hope Valley line and retracing its steps to Chinley to cover the line to Peak Forest. The Northenden to Hazel Grove line features in a recent report by Railfuture proposing relaying the branch to Carrington and creating a new intermodal terminal there; trains would take the Hazel Grove line from Northenden as far as Adswood where a new connection (laid across a former refuse tip) would be made with the Manchester - Crewe main line at Cheadle Hulme. This would, it is suggested, remove freight traffic from the busy Manchester Piccadilly - Deansgate section.

June 2009 - pictures by Tim Rogers

4 June 2009 at Hawarden Bridge: 66 002 Lafarge Quorn on 6M76 00:37 Margam to Dee Marsh,  Loaded steel coil.

6 June 2009 at Flint:  66 152 with 6D19  (Q)  06:40 Warrington Arpley to Holyhead RTZ. Vans for Holyhead.

6 June 2009 at Holywell Junction.  57 311 Parker on hauling 390 017 Virgin Prince working 1A55 14:36 Holyhead to London Euston.

66 152 with 6F18 14:50 Holyhead RTZ to Warrington Arpley. Loaded vans for Austria.

Wrexham General on 7 June 2009: 67 007 and 67 010 with Wrexham and Shropshire trains stabled on Sunday.

8 June 2009, Rowton: 37 087 KWVR 40th Anniversary 1968 to 2008 and 37 688 Kingmoor TMD, 6K41 14:58 Valley to Crewe.

8 June 2009, Hare Lane, Guilden Sutton:  57 303 Alan Tracy on 6J37 FX 12:51 Carlisle to Chirk logs.

Brake Van Mystery - by John Eyres

I've read recent comments about the Unimog and  brake van at Shotton paper mill. Here is a shot of the said brake van, which i believe is B955172,  burnt out in July 2017 ... 

...and a recent shot after it has been moved nearer to the mill. It would be interesting to hear how it was moved as I don't believe any locomotives have been along these sidings recently.

I think it was moved sometime in 2018? Looking at the track layout it would have had to be moved over this crossing which is tarmaced over. Unless the tarmac was
put over the crossing after it was moved? it's all a mystery!

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