IntroductionThe aim of these pages is to inform railfans and passengers about the types of train to be found running in North Wales. Two operators work passenger trains along the North Wales Coast route: trains to and from London Euston (occasionally Birmingham) are currently the responsibility of Avanti West Coast, whilst all other scheduled passenger trains are worked by Transport for Wales (TfW), a Welsh Government company.
The Chester - Shrewsbury (via Wrexham) line sees Transport for Wales units on the basic service, with one loco-hauled train each way between Holyead and Cardiff.
TfW also operate the branch lines to Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog, worked by a Class 197 unit, and the 'Borderlands' line from Wrexham to Bidston which crosses over the Coast line at Shotton, which is the home of the Class 230 units, rebuilt from London Transport stock. The 230s have not been a great success, and in 2013 are regularly replaced by Class 150s or buses.
The Alstom-built Class 175 units worked on the North Wales Coast line until October when they were returned to the leasing company.
On Mondays - Fridays (except Bank Holidays), an Arriva Trains Wales express, known as 'Y Gerallt Gymru', 'Gerald' or the' Premier Express' runs from Holyhead to Cardiff and return, hauled by a Class 67 locomotive and including a restaurant car. Other TfW loco-hauled trains run on the Manchester - South Wales services which do not serve North Wales
Charter trains and excursions run to North Wales, particularly in the summer; sometimes there is more than one on the same day. Steam locomotives appear several times a year, whilst diesels of Classes 47, 57 and 67 are the most common on other trains, often one each end of the train - 'top-n-tail' working - to save shunting and have a reserve in case one locomotive fails. The Class 47s are usually provided by West Coast Railway Company or Locomotive Services Ltd.
Rail freight traffic was rather sparse on the lines covered by our site for a while , and indeed by 2021 there were no freight trains on the Coast line. As 2023 dawns, the situation has changed for the better, with several freights serving North Wales, all operated by the GB Railfreight company with its class 66 locos; Class 60s also appear.
Penmaenmawr Quarry, which once supplied ballast stone to the railway, was 'mothballed' for serveral years, but has been revived in 2021 with a flow of stone for construction purposes to terminals at Tuebrook Sidings near Liverpool, or another in Hunslet, Leeds.
The freight terminal at Llandudno Junction, dormant for many years, has also been revived; trains of slate waste for use in cement production is brought by lorry from Penrhyn Quarry, and at the end of 2001 trains also began from theer carrying limestone.
On the Wrexham route, trains run through Wrexham to and from the steel coating plant at Shotton, usually with Class 66 traction, and from Carlisle (and sometimes other locations) with logs for the Kronospan plant at Chirk which produces chipboard. The cement works at Penyffordd has had new sidings installed, with s ateady flow of cement to a terminal at Avonmouth.
Compiled by Charlie Hulme.