13 September 2021
Contributions welcome. Charter trains may be subject
to cancellation or postponement.
Tuesday 14 September Excursion: The Dalesman (West
Coast Railway Company) Diesel: Chester -
Frodsham - Warrington Bank Quay - Leyland -
Preston - Hellifield. Steam:
Hellifield - Settle - Carlisle; Carlisle - Shap -
Carnforth Diesel: Carnforth - Preston - Leyland -
Warrington Bank Quay - Frodsham - Chester.
Monday 20 September RCTS
Zoom online Maggie Simpson “The Rail Freight Group”
(Note Time – 19.45 Hours)
Sunday 26 September: Northern Belle: North Wales
Great Sunday Lunch. Diesel Birmingham - North
Wales - Birmingham
Wednesday 29 September: North Wales Pullman
(West Coast Railways) Diesel: Skegness - Llandudno (break)
Sunday 30 September The Wirral Squirrel (Branch
Line Society). Crewe and Liverpool to unusual track in the
Wirral and Merseyside area. Locos D213 and D345.
Monday 18 October
RCTS Chester Mike Lister “The Railways Of Port
Wednesday 3 November RCTS
Liverpool Paul Wright “Goods Depots Around Liverpool,
Part 1 – The Docks”
Saturday 13 November The Cheshireman (Railway
Touring Company) Steam: 60163
Bristol - Hereford - Shrewsbury - Wrexham General -
Chester (break) and return
Monday 15 November Online
Zoom RCTS David Postle “Kidderminster Railway Museum”
Saturday 20 November The Cheshireman (Railway Touring
Company) Steam: 60163 London
Euston - Crewe - Chester and return
Monday 6 December Chester Christmas Market (Spirit
Of The Lakes (West Coast Railways) Diesel: Skegness -
Chester and return
Saturday 11 December The Northern Belle: Christmas Lunch
Crewe - Chester - Liverpool Lime Street
Saturday 11 December The Christmas Chester Cracker
(Pathfinder Tours) Eastleigh - Gloucester -
Newport - Maindee Junction - Abergavenny - Shrewsbury -
Crewe - Chester and return
Monday 20 December RCTS
Chester Dave Southern “Chester To Pwllheli”
Wednesday 5 January RCTS
Liverpool AGM followed
by: Paul Chancellor “ColourRail - 9th
Journey” (Non M,C&NW Members and Non-RCTS
Members will not be able to take an active part in the
Monday 17 January RCTS
online Zoom Professor Stuart
Cole “Rail Policy in Wales”
Monday 21 February RCTS
Chester Martyn Hilbert “Network North West”
Wednesday 2 March RCTS
Liverpool Paul Shackcloth “L & Y Engines At Work,
Monday 21 March RCTS
online Zoom Geoff Plumb “The Wrexham & Shropshire
Monday 25 April RCTS
Chester David Powell “Merseyrail Fleet Replacement”
Calendar page for venues)
On the final day of Steam Dreams' five-day excursion returns
past Abergele from Bangor on 8 September, diesel hauled by
47 746 to Crewe (having run empty from Crewe to Bangor
earlier in the day) - it would be steam-hauled to London
Paddington. Picture by Jim Ikin.
Welsh Dragon - continued
Following the earlier problems, when a large part of
its intinerary had to be cancelled due to the blockade of
the Cambrian lines by an serious 'bridge-bash' at
Machynlleth; the train was diverted to Crewe and the
passengers were transferred to a convoy of Alpine Coaches
vehicles to travel to Bangor.
The 8 September final leg was hauled by 47 746 to Crewe and
by steam in the shape of 45596 Bahamas and
and 61306 Mayflower from Crewe to London.
Here's a view of the train at Llandudno Junction by Garry
Mike Stone writes: 'The leg to Crewe should have been
47 237, but on arrival at Crewe it was immediately
despatched to Bromsgrove to rescue loco 31 128 which itself
was collecting 57 313 from Pengam which had disgraced itself
by failing and scuppering the 'Northern Belle' - it was
supposed to have run via the Marches.
'(On 7 August, 45596, to prepare for the next day, ran
to Crewe Heritage Centre from Orton Mere on the Nene
Valley Railway and for some reason the plan was to detach
the support coach at Basford Hall while the loco turned on
its own, but instead it ran into the station and attached
61306 and its coach to turn top and tailed. That didn't go
too well as there were problems with the ground frame that
works the entrance to the Centre wasn't 'inside' until
19.30, delaying the 19.24 Crewe to Chester train.)'
However, the Steam Dreams passengers did reach London
Paddington via Hereford just a few minutes late at 17:33 -
odd, since the advance publicity for the tour place the
arrival at 'Late evening.'
There are some Transport for Wales timetable changes from 12
September, rather hidden away in the 'Service
Status' section of their website.
Relevant to our area:
Cambrian Line: rail replacement buses will run
between Pwllheli and Machynlleth due to essential
restoration work to Barmouth Viaduct. Rail replacement bus
stop locations will change at selected stations to improve
journey times and bus timetables will vary throughout this
period due to roadworks in the area. Please check at station
or online for more details.
Holyhead – Cardiff: Direct services between Holyhead
and Cardiff will be re-introduced, increasing services
along the Marches between Cardiff and Shrewsbury. The 16:50
Holyhead – Cardiff Central will call additionally at Colwyn
Bay, Rhyl, Abergele and Pensarn, Prestatyn and Flint.
Wrexham – Bidston: 1234 Wrexham General – Bidston,
1334 Bidston – Wrexham General will run as a rail
replacement bus services Tuesday – Thursday due to driver
training. [This has been in force for some time?]
Extra service stops: Services previously timetabled
to call at Conwy upon request will be re-instated, increased
services will stop at Prees and Yorton and Sunday services
will call again at local stations between Shrewsbury and
Study of Real
Time Trains reveals that the "16:50" service will
depart Holyhead at 16:36 and be loco-worked.
The Monday-Friday loco diagrams, if we understand
rightly, will require two sets:
1W91 06:45 Cardiff - Holyhead 11:20
1V96 11:33 Holyhead - Cardiff 15:10
1W93 11:22 Cardiff - Holyhead 16:20
1V97 16:36 Holyhead - Cardiff 21:28
in addition to the existing 'WAG' service:
1V91 05:33 Holyhead - Cardiff 09:58
1W96 17:16 Cardiff - Holyhead 21:38
Some photographic options there, even in Winter. Saturdays
and Sundays still have no through Cardiff - North Wales
service for now due to engineering work.
Now and Then: Holywell Junction - by Dave Sallery
47 746 passes through the thicket formally known as Holywell
Junction with the "Steam Dreams" charter (see above).
In former times 31 229 overtakes 37 504 and
its ballast train, 9 August 1993.
Signals at Helsby Station: an appeal for
Helsby Junction is one of the ever-decreasing number of
locations on main lines in Britain controlled by semaphore
signals. One feature which deserves recognition is the
signal at the end of Platform 4 which controls trains from
Ellesmere Port onto the main Chester to Warrington
line. Visibility of the signal is restricted by the
curvature of the platform and by the undergrowth, so the
signal has two co-acting arms, the upper one originally
intended to be seen above the platform buildings and
footbridge. Freight trains leaving the branch would
not then have to crawl round the curve if the signal was
It would appear that very few of these two-armed signals now
exist in Britain. A few may be in Scotland, but
accurate information is proving difficult to obtain.
If you have recently seen or better still photographed a
similar signal elsewhere, please let us know. The
Friends of Helsby Station think that this signal may be
worthy of preservation as one of the last of its kind – not
necessarily in its present location.
The photograph by David Pool of Fastline 66 434
on the empty log train from Chirk was taken on 13 April
2010, and shows the signal in question.
Holyhead doings - by Stuart Broome
I called in at Holyhead Station on 8 September after seeing
scaffolding in the last issue. At the time I arrived
platform 2 was closed (it opened later), so to get to
platform 3 entailed a very long walk down platform one,
across the bridge over the water to get there. If you are
going to catch a train it would be no good arriving ten
minutes before! Above, 158.829 on 1J96 11:33 to
150 285 and 158 838 on 11:48 Holyhead to
The car park was totally full, I had to park on Lidl's and
walk back. The interior of the station is a forest of
scaffolding, but signposted well to the
platforms. The staff and security were friendly so I
was able to get some photographs. It was also 30°c (86 F) ,
so a trip to air conditioned Lidl was a must for ice-pops
afterwards. It seemed fair as use of their car park
221 106 arrived on 1D83 10:49 Crewe to Holyhead
amidst the scaffolding
on platform 2.
View from the platform end.
NMT at large
The New Measurement Train visit North Wales on 9 September
powered by 43 062 John Armitt
... and ex-LNER 43 296 on the rear (Garry
Passing RAF Valley on the approach to Holyhead (Stuart
Bala Lake Railway AGM - report by Jim Ikin
The Bala Lake Railway held its AGM on the evening of
Saturday 11 September at the railway's Llanuwchllyn Heritage
and on Zoom. During the day, as well as normal service
trains operated by Winifred and Maid Marian,
extras were put on put on presided over by Dai the dragon.
Slate wagons being positioned by hand at Llanuwchllyn.
Coupling-up with Winifred.
The slate train pulls away.
Chilmark with hopper wagons.
Maid Marian arrives with a rake of slate wagons.
A members' trip had been arranged to Llangower and on to
Bala and return using two replica Penrhyn quarrymen's
coaches hauled by Winifred in the afternoon - hard
going on passengers' rear ends! Above, Chilmark
and the quarrymen's train are held in the loop at
Llangower as a service train hauled Maid Marian
The quarrymen's train prepares for departure from Bala.
Incidentally, the railway had its best month ever in terms
of passenger numbers in August – up 32%.
Looking back: Diesels 1995, Part 1 - by David Pool
I returned to Blaenau Ffestiniog on 13 April 1995, and the
7D39 flasks from Trawsfynydd on that day were hauled by 31
255 and 31 201. The train comprised two
barrier wagons (an RNA flat and an HEA hopper), two flask
wagons (FNA) and two brake vans (CAR). The sheep on
the right is not impressed.
After photographing the flasks again at Roman Bridge, I
headed for the coast, knowing that more flasks would be
coming from Wylfa to join the Trawsfynydd flasks at
Llandudno Junction. The sun at Dwygyfylchi was not in
the ideal position for a shot, but a two tone grey 37
108 duly appeared on 7C40 with two more flasks, two
RNAs and a single CAR brake van.
The A55 enabled me to overtake the trains at Llandudno
Junction, and the Queensferry district was the obvious place
for a final photograph. Beeches Farm near Broughton
was easily reached in time, and I was very happy to see 7C40
now triple headed. Two of the brake vans had been
taken off, and the remaining wagons combined for the journey
On the following day the 14:24 Crewe to Holyhead was
headed by 37 402 Bont y Bermo (Barmouth
Bridge) , here approaching Shotton Low Level with a Mk1 and
Mk2A mix of four Regional Railways coaches plus one
ex-Network South East coach.
Saturday 24 June 1995 was a successful day for my railway
photography. My first shot was taken at
Llanfairfechan, where a Transrail liveried 37 509 (previously
a Trainload Freight locomotive) was working the 10:23 Bangor
I had been waiting for the returning oil tanks from Holyhead
to Ellesmere Port, but as they came into view the
sound of another Class 37 behind me was not welcome.
Fortunately 37 429 hurried past with the 08:10
Birmingham to Bangor, while 37 107 with the tanks
was travelling at a more leisurely pace.
Moving on to Holyhead, there were several ships to
photograph, together with an HST, two 37s and a Class 101
unit, but Dutch liveried 31 134 waiting to depart
with the 13:56 to Crewe made a pleasing shot.
An hour later the 14:53 to Crewe had left with another
Transrail Class 37, the recently overhauled 37 407 Blackpool
Tower, previously Loch Long. The once
busy locomotive depot was now just a basic refuelling
Merseyrail 777 - report by Stephen Dennett
I went to the first public view of the Class 777 at
Birkenhead North Station on Thursday 9 September, in
the shap[e of 777 010. It generated a lot of
interest; it's good to see the amount of public consultation
that has gone into the interior design and layout.
First impressions were the pleasing amount of space despite
the number of seats being the same as in a 507/8, clear
displays, and the very welcome sliding step access to the
It has an almost “tram-like” feel, with the articulated
“Ironing board” seats are not great though. The very helpful
staff could not give a start date for their introduction.
COVID has obviously not helped the testing of the units.
I travelled to a Birkenhead North from Buckley via Bidston,
which was a quick and easy way to get there. I know
Merseyrail make noises about extending the scope of the new
trains, including the Borderlands line to Wrexham, as the
capability is there.
Whether the right circumstances will present themselves is
another matter. 230s and 777s on this line would certainly
be an upgrade on the 150s!
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