Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

21 September 2020


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(see also our Calendar page for venues)

Note:  we have removed all entries relating to meetings as the events are cancelled.


158 840 and 158 838, Sandycroft, 14 September. Picture by Tim Rogers.

Page Updated 22 September.

Colas 67s in action

The Class 67-worked measurement train visited the Coast line on 14 Seprember, working 1Q30 10:55 Derby to Crewe via Holyhead, Crewe and Liverpool, pictures above westbound at Sandycroft by Tim Rogers.  The formation was: 67 023 Stella;
Mk1, Generator van, 6261; Mk2f, High Speed Track Recorder, 999550; Mk2f, Plain Line Pattern Recognition vehicle "PLPR3" (ex RFO), 1256; Mk1, Network Rail Brake Force Runner (ex Motorail Vehicle), 96609 ...

 ...  67 027 Charlotte.

Llandudno Junction (Ryan Lloyd).

Cambrian Corner

Ken Robinson writes: 'A visit to Harlech station on Thursday 17 September reminded me of a similar visit made in May 1989 - attached are two 'comparison shots' from both dates. Above:  37 429 Eisteddfod Genedlaethol with the 15:05 Pwllheli - Euston, formed of Network South East carriages,  on 20 May 1989.'

158 840 with the 15:37 Pwllheli-Machynlleth on 17 September 2020.

On 16 September Tim Rogers paid a visit to one of our favourite stations, the tiny request stop at Llanaber, which, with a number of others, is not being served by train at present for social distancing reasons (See Richard Putley's story below).  The picture is taken from the foot crossing leading to the rocky beach (where Charlie once slipped and broke two fingers). The un-fenced sea wall on the right is not a right-of-way and the footbridge to the main road is fenced-off.

Beyond the footbridge the line is fenced, and one can walk alongside it to the end of Barmouth's promenade. 158 825 is working the 2G65 15:37 Pwllheli to Machynlleth.

158 824 approaches Barmouth with 2J19 15:28 Shrewsbury to Pwllheli. (Tim Rogers).

Growlers - from Dave Sallery's Archive

37 425 Concrete Bob leads 37 405 Strathclyde Region  out of Prestatyn, 12 July 1995.

A bust moment at Penmaenmawr quarry 26 August 1994, with 37 108 and 37 686 on loaded ballast trains.

 37 408 Loch Rannoch - the last to retain the 'Large Loco Blue' livery at Holyhead, 9 June 1993 against a background of Royal Mail vans.

37 413 Loch Eil Outward Bound, a real rarity on the Coast,  calls at Colwyn Bay, 13 May 1996.  413 has had its cab end numbers altered to 418 in grease,' to confuse the bashers'.

67 017 in Holyhead - by Stuart Broome

67 017 (formerly  Arrow), looking very much 'ex-works' at Holyhead on 16 September.  I last saw 67 017 at a Crewe works open weekend. I had a stand with my 3-inch gauge pacific Sir William A Stanier FRS on show and 67 017 was behind me. Next to me was Sir William's grandson who sat on my stand for most of the weekend, together with Phil Hawkins who was promoting his latest painting of 46256 Sir William A Stanier FRS. They both signed my copy of the print. Happy

Loco-hauled update

A short summary of what we know about the current status of the project to introduce Class 67/Mk4 coaches formations on TfW services.  Three sets of coaches (now refered to as HD 01-03) have been transferred to TfW as planned, and five Class 67s have been fitted with the necessary extra wiring and sockets:  67 014, 67 017 and 67 025 which are now in TfW livery, plus 67 008 and 67 015 which have not been repainted and will be used when necessary.

The intention is to have two daily diagrams on the Holyhead - Cardiff axis; whether the third set will be kept as spare or used on a Manchester service is not clear, although test runs to Manchester are reported  to have taken place. Of course there have been delays in staff training, and it's unlikely that 'premier' services will be introduces while passenger numbers are so low.

The Mk3 carriages used previously are no longer in the TfW fleet, having been sent to store at Long Marston, and more recently some have been reported at Castle Donnington freight terminal.

Shrewsbury Scenes, 16 September - by Graham Breakwell

Another sign of the imminent leaf fall season, 97 302 and 97 303 viewed from the closest public access at Network Rail’s Coleham depot. 

158 830 is departing from Shrewsbury’s platform 4 on 1W93 the 13:27 to Holyhead on 15.9.20 whilst two other 158s head the 13:28 Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth and Pwllheli.

That measurement train again:  at Platform 4 in Shrewsbury at 13:32 on 15 September, 67 027 at the rear of the 07:50 Crewe CS to Derby RTC via Newport.

158 827 departs from Platform 3 under the interesting 'hybrid' gantry on 1D14, the 14:26 Shrewsbury to Holyhead.

A better view of the signals as 158 825 is seen approaching the lower quadrant, short masted home signal for Shrewsbury’s platform 4 at 14.27  with 1V96 from Holyhead, whilst the tail end of 158827 can just be seen heading the opposite way. Shrewsbury's semaphore signals still control most movements.


Prestatyn has become the first town in North Wales to have the latest fashion in bus operation, a system in which anyone with the app can request the bus to take them to any point in the defined area, and watch the progress on the bus online. The Welsh version, which is also being piloted in some South Wales areas, is branded as 'fflecsi' and replaces Prestatyn's town bus route 40. More detalis at the fflecsi website.

Media reports indicate that the proposed 'Wylfa B' nuclear power station is now unlikely to go ahead as Hitachi has 'pulled the plug' on its paer in the project. The BBC website has the full story.  On the subject of power, the biomass power station that was mooted for the Anglesey Aluminium site also appears to have  fallen by the wayside.

The returning Grand National excursion hauled by 44688, photographed at Chilwall on 31 March 1962 (6 September issue) has been identified as originating from Kings Norton. Thanks for due to Mike Delamar for this.

A week in North Wales: Part 2  - with Richard Putley

Monday 14 September

I caught the 15:15 service from Llanuchwlyn on the Bala Lake Railway. Motive power was Hunslet 0-4-0ST No 680 George B. A very pleasant trip in an open carriage.
Afterwards I drove on to Tremadog where I stayed for the next four  nights in the 'Golden Fleece'. I was certainly very lucky with the weather, it being warm and sunny for the next few days.

Tuesday 15 September

I arrived at Porthmadog Harbour station to see Linda depart with the 10:00 service for Tan-y-Bwlch. At the moment this is as far as Ffestiniog Railway trains are running. While waiting at the Harbour I also managed to photograph a 158 on the Cambrian Coast Line arriving at Porthmadog.

I was booked in the 11:05 train to Tan-y-Bwlch, so I was a bit disappointed when her sister Blanche arrived from Boston Lodge to haul this departure, seen on arrival at Tan-y-Bwlch.

But sure enough, newly restored No. 5 “Welsh Pony” was in steam at Boston Lodge. It headed the next service to Tan-y-Bwlch so I was able to photograph it on arrival there.

In the evning I popped over to Criccieth on the 16:53 from Porthmadog which
was formed by 158 837.

I also took a photo of the next Down service, the 17:57 departure from Porthmadog passing Black Rock Sands with Moel-y-Gest towering over.

Wednesday 16 September

I caught the 09:57 service from Porthmadog to Tywyn today. As this is an unstaffed station, like almost all on the Cambrian Coast Line, I assumed I would buy my ticket on the train. So I was dismayed when the guard said she could not sell me a ticket and that I would have to install an app on my phone. “So what do people do if they don’t have a suitable phone?” I asked. No reply! She just walked on. I wonder how much money TfW are losing because their guards won't sell tickets on the trains? Most stations on the Cambrian coast line are unstaffed and do not have ticket machines. I for one am unwilling to install any apps on my phone. I did however manage to buy one online via National Rail enquiries. But of course I could not print it out.

At least the train was on time, formed by 158 818 and a punctual arrival at Tywyn at 11:30 meant there was plenty of time to get to the Tal-y-llyn Railway station for the 11:45 departure on which I had booked a compartment. The loco was No 3 “Sir Haydn”. The other ex Corris loco, No 4 “Edward Thomas” was also running.

On the way I saw the compound at Morfa Mawddach where materials and plant are being gathered for the upcoming work on Barmouth Bridge.

Indeed on the return journey I noticed that the JCB had ventured out into the sands now that the tide had gone out.

I returned to Porthmadog on the 15:23 from Tywyn, formed by 158 827. I was surprised to be asked by a TfW Official on Tywyn Station which train I was catching. I told her and she said I was OK to travel, but that they were monitoring and restricting the number of people boarding trains to ensure social distancing could be maintained. I have never ever seen any railway staff at Tywyn Station. Yet strangely she did not ask to see my ticket! So I could have got away without buying a ticket!

Again the train was on time and about half full. The journey back was uneventful. I had originally planned to stop off in Barmouth and catch the following train on to Porthmadog. But as I did not wish to risk getting stranded in Barmouth, in case another TfW official might decided the next train was “too full”, I stayed on the 15:23 all the way to Porthmadog.

I also noticed that TfW have taped off the rear doors on their 158s.  This reduces the number of doors through which passengers can board or alight. I don’t think GWR have done this. I would have thought this was not a good idea as it reduces the number of doors passengers can use, thereby increasing the risk of infection. I wonder if they’d made seat reservations mandatory. (Not according to National Rail enquiries).

[TfW are determined to keep their staff away from any infection by close contact with passengers, which is also the reason why  passengers are currently not allowed to join or leave trains at short-platform stations  where the guard has to attend and open one door, so 'close-passing' with passengers.  An explanation of this and a list of stations affected can be found (with some difficulty) on the TfW website, which states 'For alternative transport arrangements serving these stations phone 0333 3211 202'. Has anyone tried this?- C.H.]

Thursday 17 September

My original plan was to spend the day in Criccieth, walking and visiting the Castle with a friend. But as we were unable to get tickets for the Castle we decided to spend the day in Porthmadog instead. But as the 13:52 train from Criccieth back to Porthmadog was cancelled. In over 40 years of visiting the Cambrian Coast Line this is the first time I have seen a train service cancelled - In good weather too -  so we caught the bus instead. We had a late lunch at Spooner’s Bar and watched the Ffestiniog Railway trains from their outdoor seating area.

Newly overhauled Double Fairlie  David Lloyd George  was running light engine between Boston Lodge and Porthmadog Harbour.

The other serviceable Double Fairlie Merddyn Emrys was also running and I managed to shoot a video clip of the two Double Fairlies in motion at the same time. “Welsh Pony” also put in an appearance.

I gather Michael Portillo has recently filmed one of his railway programmes at the Ffestiniog Railway. To-day a film crew from ITV Wales were there, filming a news story for the day’s 6 o’clock news on ITV Wales. (I saw the report on the 10:30pm Regional News that evening in my hotel). Finally I also photographed 158 825 on the 17:57 service to Machynlleth.

Friday 18 September

After checking out of my hotel, I drove to the Llangollen Railway in good time for the 13:00 service on which I had booked a compartment.

The loco was 7822 Foxcote Manor and she handled the train with ease. We had ample time at Carrog for a leg stretch.

Afterwards, returning to my car for the journey home to Chippenham, I noticed Class 26 Diesel loco D5310 parked against a wall by some new houses.

Looking Back: Fairbourne Part 2 - with David Pool

The Fairbourbne's 12 ¼ inch gauge locomotives are approximately half the size of the locomotives they represent, but sometimes it is difficult to appreciate the scale difference.  The original Lynton and Barnstaple Railway Yeo is, of course, no more, and a replica Yeo is under construction, but meanwhile Fairbourne’s Yeo, photographed on 3 May 1986, shows how lifelike a 12¼ inch gauge locomotive can be.

A Steam Gala was being held on that day, and various combinations of locomotives were rostered.  Beddgelert and Russell were double heading a train approaching the passing loop in rather damp weather for early May.  The plain livery of Russell in particular does little to brighten the scene.

Remembering the images of Sylvia in 15 inch days, the newly rebuilt and regauged locomotive photographed on 2 November 1991 could not look more different!  The distinctly American appearance and sharp lines are quite a contrast to the original smoother contours.  It carried the name Lilian Walter and later received a plain green livery, then in 2010 it was further rebuilt to a twin cab design, becoming Tony

A Steam Gala was held on 28 July 2018.  Sherpa (based on the Darjeeling Class B locomotives) is leaving Barmouth Ferry.  A Class 158 is on the Barmouth Bridge behind.

 A visiting locomotive for the Gala was Naomi from the Exbury Steam Railway and built by the Exmoor Steam Railway in 2002.  The train is heading towards Loop Halt, with Barmouth in the background on the other side of the Afon Mawddach.

Once there were two tunnels on the line near the Ferry, my understanding being that they were intended to prevent a line blockage by blown sand.  One was removed, leaving only the Jack Steele Tunnel, from which Yeo is emerging.  I have not yet discovered who Jack Steele is (or was).

At first sight this looks to be just another diesel hauled train, but it is highly unusual for a number of reasons.  Rachel was built by Guest Engineering in 1961, like the other Fairbourne locomotives at that time, and was of course 15 inch gauge.  After the gauge change in 1986 it went to the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway, which is a 15-inch gauge line.  So a return to Fairbourne for the Gala required some dual gauge track to be available, and a short length along Beach Road was sufficient.  Rachel couldn’t go as far as the Ferry, but at least it ran again at Fairbourne!  The locomotive on the rear is St. Egwin, a 15 inch gauge steam locomotive from the Evesham Vale Railway, also built by the Exmoor Steam Railway in 2003.

Sherpa is running on the dual gauge track along Beach Road; my narrow-gauge dog Jack is clearly wanting another ride.

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