North Wales Coast Railway Notice Board 09 October 2023


Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

09 October 2023

Contributions to the Notice Board are welcome, although they may not always be used, due to time constraints, especially if they don't follow the advice and file name convention given on the  Contributions Page.

Forthcoming events

Charter trains, and meetings, may be subject to cancellation or postponement. See our Calendar Page for Club and Society details.

October 2023

11 October   Statesman Rail The Snowdonia Statesman    Stevenage - Nuneaton - Betws-y-coed /Blaenau Ffestiniog  -     LSL Pullman

November 2023

Friday 3 November Clwyd Railway Circle The Railway in Conway.  Larry Davies

December 2023

Friday 1 December Clwyd Railway Circle Members Night Presentations.  Members are invited to give a 15-minute presentation of their choice.

(see  our Calendar page for meeting venues)

North Wales Coast Railway website created and compiled by Charlie Hulme

Former North Wales passenger loco 37 421 heads a Network Rail train through Llandudno Junction on 5 October, with its modern day replacement, a 197 unit, heads east. Picture by Garry Stroud.

Back from holiday - and lots of contributions  await! I'll do an extra issue by Saturday. Thanks everyone - Charlie


The announcement by the Prime Minister of the cancellation of the HS2 to Manchester comes with a list of how will spend the money on instead. This list includes the electrification of the North Wales main line. Will it happen?

News pictures

66 712 Peterborough Power Signalbox passes Abergele on 25 September with 4D59 09:11 Wellingborough to Llandudno Junction. Empty JNA wagons for slate waste (Tim Rogers).

37 884 Cepheus passes Penyffordd with 508 130 and 508 117 forming 5Q78 11:55 Birkenhead North to Newport Docks (Simsgroup) for scrapping (Ivor Bufton)

The Rail Head Treatment Train season is upon us - 56 078 leads past Abergele on 5 October (Greg Mape).

1Q18, Derby to Holyhead Network Rail train on 15 October was unusually 37 powered instead of an HST. Seen at Beeches Farm with 37610 leading and 37421 on the tail as it heads for Chester from Holyhead (Bob Greenhalgh).

The Three Faces of 37 421 - by Garry Stroud

37 421 in its Inverness allocated days, in large logo and with the Highland Stag emblem on the cab, 37 421 awaits the right away from Thurso station with the 12:14 service to Inverness. Wednesday 27 July 1988.

In Regional Railways livery and gaining the name The Kingsman
37 421 approaches Prestatyn with the 13:18 Crewe to Bangor service on Saturday 15 June 1996.

Now in EWS livery, 37 421 passes Llysfaen with the 10:48 Holyhead to Birmingham New St service, on Tuesday 2 May 2000.

[An oddity is that when withdrawn by EWS it was bought for the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway who repainted it in the Regional Railways livery, only for the loco to be taken over by Colas who applied their own colours.]

Scenes at Chester - by Geoff Morris

The view from the Brook Lane bridge of Chester depot on 2 October: 197 048 on the left, and on the right Freightliner 66 545 with the redundant coal hoppers that are sandwiched either side when delivering 197s to add brake force.

A look at Chester's new gateline. on 3 October saw that the screens that had been  shielding the improvement work on the gateline had been removed and that the new  (larger) gateline was now in operation. It will be interesting to see how it  deals with large passenger numbers particularly as one end is very close to the  bottom of the overbridge.

My walk home on 3 October took me over the Hoole Road bridge
where I saw  one of the few remaining class 175s - 175 114 -  in service had just arrived in platform 2 on the 14:33 Holyhead – Cardiff.  I took the chance of getting a couple of photos of it with the 'new' 777 002 ...

... and the “old” 221 102  passing.  It’s salutary to think that both the 175 and 221 will soon be a thing  of the past in Chester.

The Snowdonian

67 007 at the head of 1Z67, UK Railtours 'The Snowdonian' from London Euston to Bangor as it passes Beeches Farm on 30 September...

...  67 005 Queen's Messenger on the rear. Pictures by Stephen Dennett who notes:  'I like Beeches Farm between Saltney Junction and Sandycroft as a viewpoint with excellent sight lines in both directions. You have to be careful of the traffic on the bridge, though, if you have to dive from one side of the bridge to the other, as in this case, with a 67 on both ends of the special.'

Shotton Low Level (Bob Greehalgh).

67 007 approaches Rhyl on 30 September running as 1Z67 06:51 London Euston to Bangor (Snowdonian by UK Railtours)...

... 67 005 Queen's Messenger is the tail engine (Ivor Bufton).

Bangor (Garin Jones).

A visit to Flint - by Stephen Dennett

I spent 40 mins at Flint Station last Wednesday ducking and diving in and out of the rain, and trying to avoid getting in the way of the people working on the station upgrade. The Grade 2 listed building is closed at the moment, with access to Platform 2 from the car park through the “after-hours” gate, with ticket machines on either side instead of a friendly chat at the booking office.

1H86 ran from Rhyl to Manchester Airport, having been cancelled from Llandudno “due  to the late arrival of the inbound service”. 197 046 was new to me.

158 822 arrives at Flint with 1D12, Birmingham International to Holyhead.  158 831 was the rear half of the service.

197 009 arrives at Flint with 1D35, Manchester Airport to Llandudno Junction as 197 051 leaves with 1V95, Holyhead to Shrewsbury.  More 197s are out and about now. This was the first time I had seen 197 051, the last-numbered of the 197/0s.

1D34 Manchester Airport to Holyhead does not stop at Flint.

The main attraction was the “Pacer” on the special from Wilmslow to Llandudno and return  (see below).  It looked good in GMPTE livery. I never thought I’d use the words 'Pacer' and 'Main Attraction' in the same sentence!

The St Tudno Wanderer

Running empty from Crewe, 142 003 passing Alderley Edge at 09:00 on the Locomotive Services  (Inter-City branch)  railtour 'The St Tudno Wanderer' from Wilmslow to Llandudno, 27 September (Greg Mape). The tour went from Wilmslow via Manchester, Eccles and Liverpool (Reverse), then via the Halton chord to Chester and Llandudno.

On the Halton Curve at 11:09 (Greg Mape).

Crossing the Shropshire Union Canal at Chester at 11:37 (Geoff Morris). These units could, from the 1980s, be found on the North Wales line; not just on the local services as you might imagine, but on long-distance runs between North Wales and Yorkshire which had previously been loco-hauled. They were tried on the Conwy Valley, but removed due to complaints about the squealing noise on curves.

Flint at 10:55 (Stephen Dennett). Perhaps surprisingly, all the tickets for the tour were sold.

Prestatyn at 12:07 (Ivor Bufton).

Passing Rhyl Marine Lake at 12:19 (Gary Thomas). The train (along with some service trains) was 15 minutes late on the run from Chester due to a track defect near Rhyl.

Llanddulas viaduct at 12:31 (Greg Mape). A considerable number of these 1980s units, with bodies based on the Leyland National bus, have been acquired by preservation groups for use on lightly-loaded; there seems to be an idea that the general public line a train ride, and a Pacer is something different.

Llandudno (Lee Stanford).

Llandudno (Lee Stanford). A wheel lock up on one axle exiting Penmaenrhos tunnel (Colwyn Bay) on the outward bound journey caused a serious wheel flat which needed to be examined by fitters at Llandudno before the unit was cleared to return to Wilmslow.

Departing Llandudno at 13:36 (picture by Greg Mape) the  train then re-traced the outward route, arriving back at Wilmslow on time at 17:16.

Passing Deganwy (Gary Thomas).  The company has also purchased 142 007, which is currently under restoration.  It will be interesting to see what use is made of them in the future.

Passing rainy Beeches Farm at 14:29 (Bob Greenhalgh). The livery is that of Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive, also used on buses.

Stockport, platform zero at 16:29. Picture by Lee Stanford, who notes: ' It was good to experience Pacer travel once again with the return journey  running non-stop from Llandudno before a signal check at Roodee Junction near Chester slowed proceedings.'

From Dave Sallery's archive

20 019  and 20 094 at Rhyl on the Derby - Llandudno train, 24 June 1991.

20 063 and  20 032 are east of Prestatyn with a mixture of Mark 2A and B coaches, 7 July 1989.

20 185 and 20 148 are passing Mostyn on the Llandudno - Derby return working, 29 July 1991.

20 902 on the weedkilling train at Shotton on its way to Wrexham on 3 June 1997, 20 903 was on the other end.   This train would also have sprayed the Merseyrail Wirral lines to New Brighton and West Kirby.

Looking back: HSTs - by David Pool

Now that the last Cross Country HST has run, it seems appropriate to remember how it all started.  The basis of the HST were the two Class 41s, built at Crewe by BREL in 1972 with Paxman Ventura engines.  An image of 41 002 with 41 001 on trials at Darlington appeared in the NWCR Notes of 15 August 2022.  In 1974 it was decided to renumber these two power cars as coaches, 41 001 becoming W43000 and 41 002 was W43001.  41 001 was eventually designated for preservation, and appeared on the Great Central Railway (Ruddington) in 2016, where it was photographed at Rushcliffe Halt, East Leake, on 26 March, top and tailing a train with 47 292. It returned to the National Railway Museum in 2019. 

The first of the production run of HSTs was consequently numbered 43 002, and was working the 08:45 from Paddington to Penzance on 23 September 2000, with 43 126 on the rear.  The train is passing Dawlish Warren, viewed from Langstone Rock.  The First Great Western 'fag packet' livery is one of my favourites for HSTs. 43 002 was once named Top of the Pops, and later became Sir Kenneth Grange.

When introduced, the HSTs were in British Railways blue/grey livery and later received Inter City 125 branding.  43 052 and 43 054 were arriving at their destination with the 13:50 Kings Cross to Leeds on 13 October 1984.  I think 43 052 was named City of Peterborough at this time.

HSTs sometimes reached the extremities of branch lines.  One of those “not to be missed” occasions was the visit of 43 114 and 43 013 to the Eastgate branch on 17 February 1990.  It is not often that you see the locomotive crew of an HST opening gates on a single track line, but this was necessary for Hertfordshire Railtours 1Z14 'The Wear and Tees 125 Special' on the B6278 at Stanhope.  The Weardale Railway today runs on this line.

It was unusual to see an HST on the Southern Region, but Virgin Cross Country used an HST between Bournemouth and Manchester Piccadilly.  On 1 May 1999 43 068 and 43 013 were on the 1420 from Bournemouth, here passing Millbrook in Southampton.  Note the XC in the Virgin logo and the name
The Cornishman on 43 068 – I hope intending passengers were not confused!  

In 2013 it was East Coast Railways running HSTs between Kings Cross and Aberdeen.   On 5 October the 07:52 from Aberdeen was headed by 43 302 with 43 305 on the rear, photographed at Colton Junction. These two power cars had MTU engines instead of the Paxman Ventura type, having being previously numbered  43 102 and 43 105.  43 102 is of particular interest as the holder of the speed record for rail diesel traction of 148.5 mph while on test with 43 159 between Northallerton and York on 1 November 1987.

It was an exceedingly dull and miserable afternoon at Chinley on 17 December 2017, but it was the last chance to see a Grand Central HST before they were taken off lease. The Branch Line Society was running “The Grand Farewell” railtour from Newcastle via Barrow Hill to the Manchester district, using 43 423 Valenta 1972 - 2010 and 43 480. These had been previously 43 123 and 43 080, before the MTU engines had been fitted in 2010.  All the GCR HSTs were fitted with buffers which had been intended for use with Class 91 locomotives on the East Coast main line.

As the Covid restrictions eased in 2021, I was able to resume some railway photography, and one of the most successful outings was to the Settle and Carlisle line, on which Rail Charter Services was operating the 'Staycation Express'.  Ex Midland Mainline power cars 43 058 and 43 059 were being used on the 1118 Skipton to Carlisle. 46115 Scots Guardsman was running in front of the HST with “The Dalesman”, which was the target for most of the other photographers, and I was a little worried that the smoke collected in Dent Head tunnel would obscure the view of the HST, but it dispersed and the sun came out to give me a shot to remember. 

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