Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

28 September 2020


Forthcoming events

(see also our Calendar page for venues)

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


The Rail Head Treatment Train crosses Conwy Cob, under a threatening sky. Picture by Brian Jones.

Conwy Valley re-opens

The Conwy Valley line is finally open again, following another long pause for extensive flood repairs, although with just two return trips on weekdays due to the current Covid situation; other services are still run by buses.  Don't expect to the 'North Wales circular', as the Ffestiniog Railway is only running between Porthmadog and Tan-y-Bwlch.  And the morning train from Llandudno is timed to arrive at Blaenau two minutes after the Arriva service bus 3B for Porthmadog had departed.

Network Rail miscellany

It's that RHTT season again -  Bob Greenhalgh was at Beeches Farm to capture the Holyhead to Crewe run with 56 096 leading and on the rear,  56 113 rather dirty after just the one run.

Llanddulas viaduct, 26 September (Greg Mape)

Track recording unit 950 001 crosses Conwy Cob on 22 September (Brian Jones).

67 023 and 67 027 pass Llandudno Junction, 26 September (Brian Jones).

The return RHTT passes Llandudno Junction, 26 September (Brian Jones).

Looking back: The Snowdon Mountain Railway -with David Pool

The Snowdon Mountain Railway Works Train was traditionally known as 'The Truck, and on 13 April 1968 it comprised a flat wagon, a Caboose Car with a water tank, and locomotive No.7 Aylwin (later named Ralph Sadler and then Ralph).  The location is near the Ceunant Mawr waterfall on the Afon Hwch, but this view is now largely obscured by the growth of trees in this area.

No.2 Enid is preparing to tackle the 1 in 6 gradient before the viaduct as it leaves Llanberis.  This view taken on 12 April 1974 is much changed today, with buildings and vegetation on the land to the right of the train.  No.2 is the oldest surviving locomotive, built in 1895, the first locomotive No.1 L.A.D.A.S.  having been destroyed in the accident on the Opening Day in 1896.

Until 1986 steam reigned supreme on the Snowdon Mountain Railway, but inevitably the diesels started to appear.  On 20 April 1996 Hunslet diesel No.10 Yeti, powered by a Rolls Royce turbocharged six cylinder engine of 12 litres capacity, is paired with coach No.10, supplied by East Lancashire Coach Builders in 1988.  The changes at this location since the previous photo taken in 1974 are apparent.

Three diesel electric railcars were obtained in 1995 from HPE Tredegar Ltd., capable of operating singly or in multiple.  The novelty of their design, which was untested on a rack railway, revealed safety issues in the braking arrangements, and single unit operation was banned.  Problems with the bogies, gearboxes and electronics eventually led to the railcars being stored out of service by 2003, and eventually scrapped in 2010. The photo was taken on 20 April 1996 soon after the previous shot of diesel No.10.

 By 2014 the steam locomotives were kept primarily for the prestige service 'The Mountain Goat', which had a seating capacity of 34 in comparison with 74 in the diesel service coaches.  On 24 July 2014 No. 6 Padarn was descending with the Mountain Goat coach, and is above Clogwyn at the approximate location of the incident involving No.1 in 1896.  The steam from the cab pipework is coming from the cylinders, which are cooled by water injection during compression braking.

In July 2014 I had been disappointed by the weather and the crowds at the Summit.  I resolved to try again, and with a promising weather forecast for 11 September I got to Llanberis well before 8am, and set off with my dog at a good pace with the intention of beating the queues at the summit from the early trains.  Approaching the summit, I saw a diesel coming down, but no coach visible, and thought it was probably the returning train which had delivered water and supplies to the summit building.  I never expected to see the rare working of liquid waste being brought down in a rail mounted tank – I have yet to see another photograph of this train.  The liquid waste crew appeared to be enjoying well-earned cuppas on their way down!  The locomotive was No.11 Peris.  We had the summit to ourselves, so it was a very successful day.

 In 2018 a locomotive and coach from the Swiss Brienz Rothorn Bahn was invited to Llanberis.  With nominally the same gauge and rack dimensions on each railway, the plan was for the Swiss loco to shuttle between Llanberis and Waterfall Halt between the regular SMR trains.  On arrival at Llanberis on 5 September I learned that the plans had changed, and the Swiss loco was only making short trips from the station.  I managed to get photos of BRB No.2 being prepared outside the shed, then leaving the station with the BRB coach and going out of sight until just before the viaduct, where it apparently reversed and returned.  It appears that there were difficulties between the Swiss locomotive and the Welsh track, and the restriction was intended to prevent any possible damage to either locomotive or track.

The Snowdon Mountain Railway has now taken delivery of two Hybrid  (diesel/battery) locomotives from Clayton Equipment, which should be more efficient and less polluting than the diesels in the fleet.  Regenerative braking will charge the batteries, and the engines will be quieter and more fuel efficient.  Both locomotives were moving outside the sheds on 10 September 2020, but were not operating the service trains.  No.15 was not yet named, but No.14 is now Glaslyn, and is carrying the 'Passenger Pod' on the front of the locomotive. Sitting with your back to a hard working diesel engine will be interesting!

Wandering 67s

TfW-liveried 67 025 found itself in Yorkshire on 24 September as part of a DB / Network Rail route learning exercise. Jack Bowley caught it passing through Copmanthorpe (above) ...

...  and Dringhouses   on 0Z07 Belmont Yard to Huddersfield.

'Royal' loco 67 005 Queen's Messenger has also been used on similar turns west of the Pennines, as seen passing Baguley on the Stockport-Altrincham line on 28 September running from Peak Forest to Warrington Arpley (Greg Mape).

Walking the Wales Coastal Path, Part 1 - with Eryl Crump

It's a pleasant six-and-a-bit mile walk from Criccieth to Porthmadog on the Wales Coastal Path.  Starting from the railway station (after catching the 8.38 from Penrhyndeudraeth) the first mile and a half follows the Cambrian Coast railway.

Occupation crossings are used twice en route ...

... and there's a nice place for a break on the first of just two ascents which gives a clear view of the track with the castle as a backdrop.

Completing the ascent of Graig Ddu (Black Rock) drop down onto the beach.

The sand is firm enough for vehicles so its an easy trek to Ynys Cyngar and onto a well maintained and waymarked path to Borth-y-Gest. The path turns inland and climbs a stone staircase (second steep bit!) before flattening out and then along a succession of beautiful coves.

The path leads from Borth-y-Gest to the Porthmadog harbour area past Cei Ballast to the Ffestiniog Railway's Harbour Station which is as bustling as ever despite the restrictions imposed by Covid-19. In action were Linda ...

... and Blanche.

The view from the Cob.

Salop scenes - by Graham Breakwell

Above,  66 752 The Hoosier State waiting on Shrewsbury’s Abbey Foregate loop on 24 September with 6Z84 the 12:20 from Donnington GBRf to Eastleigh East Yard, a short train of containers. Trains to and from Donnington, Telford are relatively infrequent but on this date 6580, the 10.37 from Arpley ran to Donnington, passing 6Z84 at Abbey Foregate.  66 752 was one of a batch of five Class 66s delivered to Newport Docks on 11 July 2014 from Muncie, Indiana (The Hoosier State) recorded on YouTube here.

On Friday 25 September,  158 839 leads 1J23, the 16.10  Birmingham International to Aberyswyth and Pwllheli at Sutton Bridge Junction, Shrewsbury ...

... with 158 834 on the rear. 56 096 and 56 113 can be seen in the background awaiting 1J23 to clear before backing down to the Coleham depot.

56 113 and 56 096 approach Sutton Bridge Junction with the 14:17 from Nottingham Eastcroft to Coleham depot. Colas class 56s based at Coleham operate the Rail Head Treatment Train service from Coleham to Craven Arms, Bidston, Crewe and Holyhead after taking over from the ERMS-fitted 97/3s that operate the train from Coleham to Machynlleth and back.

The pair  pass Sutton Bridge Junction signal box to enter Coleham depot.

97 302 in Coleham depot sidings,  posing in the setting sun on 25 September. The covers were up on both ends for staff to clean the cab windows from inside the bonnet!  The RHTT trip ran that night, but I wasn’t up at 02:00 to see if the 56s took over at Sutton Bridge Junction but no doubt someone else caught the daytime action [see above!], specially at the trains seems to have dwelt for 103 minutes in Chester.

Llangollen update

Some more progress was made over the weekend 19-20 September when the double-sided running-in board (kindly provided by the Foxcote Manor Society) was fitted to the posts on Corwen station platform using the Road Rail Vehicle. The view above, taken by George Jones, shows two of the team manoeuvring the board into position, before securing it to the posts with bolts.

The board in position in a view looking eastwards towards Carrog. The glass for the platform lamps (and etched with 'Corwen on two sides) will be installed in the near future (Peter Neve).

A view looking north, with two of our members taking advantage of the station platform seat positioned under the new running-in board (Peter Neve).

Saturday 26 September, under normal circumstances, would have been the Railway's Diesel Gala Weekend. However the Llangollen Railway Diesel Group made the effort to get a diesel diagram on that day featuring their newly overhauled class 26 diesel, 62-year-old  5310.  Above,  about to depart Llangollen with the 11:50 to Carrog, utilising the railway's suburban set of compartment coaches, handy for 'social distancing' ...

... . and gaving run round its train at Carrog, 5310 is ready to haul the 12:40 back to Llangollen. Pictures by Ken Robinson.  Covid-19 restrictions were in place of course, and no stops were made during the journey. As with all other trains on the railway at present, there was a 20 min. break at Carrog.  

Approaching Llangollen (Greg Mape).

Forestry news

A recent view of Abergele station shows the area between the tracks developing into a small woodland. Beyond, the abandoned, but Grade II listed, signalbox,  awaits its unknown future. Surely no use can be found for it, as access is across the  track?

A deliberate policy, or just neglect? Pictures by Stuart Broome.

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