THE NORTH WALES COAST RAILWAY:  TRAFFIC

Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru Traffic

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Last update: December 2019

This page is mainly intended for railfans and others interested in trains:
For general timetable information please see our Travel Information section.

Passenger | Freight


For information:  National Rail Guidelines for Railway Enthusiasts

PASSENGER TRAINS




1. Chester - Holyhead and branches
Transport for Wales operate most passenger services along the North Wales coast line. Their trunk route services are worked by railcars, usually of Class 158 or 175, with mostly two-car 150s on the Llandudno - Blaenau Ffestiniog and Wrexham - Bidston branches. Trains running to and from Birmingham are generally Class 158-operated; 175s are rarely seen east of Shrewsbury.

There are some exceptions. One is the 'One Wales Express' or 'Y Gerallt Gymro' ('Gerald of Wales') which runs from Holyhead to Cardiff Central and back once each day Mondays - Fridays. This is formed of four coaches, including a buffet / restaurant car, and since 2012 has operated on the 'push-pull' principle with a Class 67 loco at one end and a Driving Van Trailer at the other. Here are the timings at all station stops:

Holyhead  05:33, Bangor  06:01, Llandudno Junction  06:19,  Rhyl  06:38, Flint 06:55, Chester 07:10-07:15 (reverse), Wrexham General 07:32, Shrewsbury  08:09, Newport  09:41, Cardiff Central 09:58.

Cardiff Central 17:21, Newport 17:35, Abergavenny 17:56, Hereford 18:23, Shrewsbury 19:11, Wrexham General 19:45, Chester 20:02-20:05 (reverse), Flint 20:18, Rhyl  20:33, Colwyn Bay 20:44, Llandudno Junction 20:50, Bangor 21:09, Holyhead  21:38.

From time to time the loco-hauled train is used at weekends, especially when sports events are stages at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

A second locomotive-worked operation began operation on Mondays - Fridays from 15 December 2014, also for a Class 67 with four Mk3 Coaches and a DVT.  The diagram is:

1D51 07:11 Crewe - Chester 07:30
1H82 07:38 Chester - Manchester Pic 08:51
1D34 09:50 Manchester Pic - Holyhead  12:36
1H89 13:07 Holyhead - Manchester Pic 15:51
1D31 16:50 Manchester Pic- Llandudno 19:03
1K96 19:34 Llandudno - Crewe 21:06

The stock -  Class 67 loco, four Mk3 coaches, and a Driving Van Trailer - spend the night at Arriva's LNWR works in Crewe. At Manchester, the train lays over in the 'excursion platform' line at Longsight.
Avanti West Coast
All Avanti  services in North Wales are worked by Class 221 'Voyager' diesel railcars. Haulage of 'Pendolino' units to Holyhead ceased at the beginning of December 2012.


2. The Cambrian lines and Shrewsbury - Wrexham - Chester
The lines west of Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth and Pwllheli currently have no freight service, and the routine passenger trains are always TfW Class 158s, maintained at Machynlleth depot and equipped with the Radio Electronic Token Block signalling in use on the Cambrian system. There are, however, special trains from time to time: watch our Calendar page for details. However, steam trains are not now allowed on the Cambrian lines as they cannot work with the 'ERTMS' signalling now installed. Engineering trains and railtours require the Cass 97/3 locos, converted from old Class 37s, which are fitted with the ERTMS equipment.  On-track plant such as tampers have to be piloted by a 97/3 to reach poins on the Cambrian.

The Shrewsbury - Chester via Wrexham line sees greater variety, Arriva Trains Wales services being a mixture of Classes 175 and 158 with the occasional 150 or even 153, as well as the 'All-Wales Express' (see above).

Avanti West Coast serve Wrexham General with one through train to London on Monday-Friday mornings and one return in the evenings. The Class 221 Voyager attaches to another from Holyhead at Chester, and detaches at Chester in the evening.

See the links on our Travel Information page for more about passenger timetables.


FREIGHT TRAINS


There are no freight services atall on the North Wales Coast line at the moment (December 2019), although there are rumours of new flows in the future.

December 2008 saw the end of the long-standing railway ballast stone traffic from Hanson’s Penmaenmawr quarry, due to the loss of the Network Rail contract. A few trains ran after that, but by 201t rhere were none. The nuclear flask traffic serving Wylfa power station ceased in 2019 with the completion of the de-fuelling process finished.

To see freight trains you need to go to Chester, or the high-level line at Shotton.

Trains bring timber from the Carlisle area to the timber products factory at Chirk on the Chester - Wrexham - Shrewsbury line are  run by Colas Rail  and run via Warrington Bank Quay, Helsby and Chester.

6J37 13:27 Carlisle - Chirk : passes Chester c.18:35 Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
6C37 23:07 Chirk - Carlisle

There is no crossover at Chirk: after unloading, trains continue to Gobowen for the locomotive to run round.

On Thursdays ( when rquired) , DB Cargo deliver coal in MEA box wagons from Warrington to Penyffordd Cement Works (on the Wrexham–Bidston line – the loco runs round the train at Croes Newydd, Wrexham) in the early morning. The return is 6E41 14:57 Penyffordd–Healey Mills, passing Chester at around 18:10.  The year 2020 will see cement leaving the works again by train, using newly-created loading facilities.

Over the Top

In addition to the above, steel traffic from South Wales to Dee Marsh Junction (one mile north of Shotton) can be seen using the 'top line' (Wrexham–Bidston) which crosses the Coast line at Shotton station.  The normal daytime trains are listed below, but it should be noted that in 2009 they have all been running on an 'as required' basis, no doubt due to market conditions in the industry,

Mondays - Fridays:

6V75 09:30 Dee Marsh - Margam (passes Wrexham 10:00)
6M86 13:13 Llanwern - Dee Marsh (passes Wrexham 17:35)

Saturdays:

6V75 09:30 Dee Marsh - Margam (passes Wrexham 10:00)
6M88 07:04 Llanwern - Dee Marsh (passes Wrexham 13:35 - runs when required)
6V90 15:34 Dee Marsh - Margam (passes Wrexham 16:05 - runs when required)

Sundays:

10:08 6M24 Llanwern - Dee Marsh (Passes Wrexham 14:05)
15:35 6V47 Dee Maesh - Llanwern (passes Wrexham 16:15)
11:02 6M30 Margam - Dee Marsh (passes Wrexham 17:05)


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