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European Railroad Discussion > Along the North Wales coast

Date: 10/15/21 09:48
Along the North Wales coast
Author: 86235

The mainline from Chester to Holyhead, along the North Wales coast used to be a magnet for railfans, but the decline of locomotive hauled services, the replacement of much of the traditional semaphore signalling and the almost complete disappearance of freight traffic has lessened its attractiveness. But the scenery remains and since the middle of September loco hauled passenger services have made a reappearance and a resumption in freight traffic from the quarry at Penmaenmawr is in the offing as is a new flow of slate waste from Llandudno Junction. These were taken on a couple of recent visits, the first on September 21st with my bike using the new loco hauled trains from South Wales.

1: At Conwy the railway passes through the ancient walled town. This pair of class 158s is on a Birmingham to Holyhead service. Holyhead remains an important ferry port for Dublin, although foot passengers arriving by train are very much in the minority these days.

2: From Conwy I cycled east along the coast path through the resorts which line the North Wales coast. This is Rhyl one of the principal resort towns, the old east signal box, of LNWR design is very fine. Network Rail has restored it for preservation although it has no role anymore. The unit is one of the new Transport for Wales class 197, built by CAF and assembled at their plant on the outskirts of Newport. They are being tested along the North Wales coast between Chester and Llandudno Junction.

3: I continued on from Rhyl along the coast to Prestatyn from where I caught a service back to Abergavenny, but first one of the three loco hauled services from Cardiff to Holyhead, the 1W93 11:22 ex-Cardiff Central. The locomotive is on the rear from Chester to Holyhead, with the DVT leading. The North Wales Coast mainline was, at one time, four tracks from Chester to Llandudno Junction, but this was reduced to double track many years ago. The four track formation is still very evident.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 10/15/21 14:17 by 86235.

Date: 10/15/21 10:00
Re: Along the North Wales coast
Author: 86235

I returned to the North Wales coast last weekend, sans bike this time. I was actually en-route to the Ffestiniog Railway's Bygones Weekend but on Friday the weather was much better on the coast, so that's where I stayed.

4: Approaching Llandudno Junction, with Conwy Castle as the backdrop, 67014 with the 1V96 11:33 Holyhead to Cardiff Central, the second of the day's three loco hauled trains.

5: A surprise at Llandudno Junction, a Crewe to Llandudno extra turned out to be 197 101, one of the three car sets on a training / mileage accumulation run.

6: From Llandudno Junction I drove a few miles east to another of the resort towns, Colwyn Bay and this view from Old Colwyn looking towards Rhos on Sea, 56094 and 56096 are on the 3S71 Railhead Treatment Train (RHTT) which is heading back to its base at Shrewsbury (Coleham)

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/15/21 14:22 by 86235.

Date: 10/15/21 10:42
Re: Along the North Wales coast
Author: 86235

7: In days gone by London Euston to Holyhead was the route of the Irish Mail, reputed to be the world's oldest named train. It included sleeping cars although the train to boat transfer took place in the wee small hours of the morning. In 1975 I caught the Irish Mail to and from Holyhead on my first ever visit to Ireland. Of course as an impecunious student I was in steerage on both boat and train but remember the train was lengthy, with mail cars, sleepers and a buffet car. Today the through Holyhead to London trains are Bombardier Voyagers, like this 221 passing Penmaenmawr, any connections with ferries at Holyhead are purely coincidental. One difference is speed, today the 264 miles takes 3 hours 39 minutes, back in 1975 the Irish Mail took 5 hours 3 minutes.

8: The third of the three loco hauled trains is the 16:36 Holyhead to Cardiff, here passing Valley / Y Vali on the outskirts of Holyhead.

9: And here entering Holyhead Harbour is the Stena Estrid, a descendent of the railway operated Sealink ferries. Sealink was sold to Sea Containers in 1984, Sea Containers in turn sold to Stena Line in 1991. Today both Stena Line and Irish Ferries connect Holyhead with Dublin.

Date: 10/15/21 11:50
Re: Along the North Wales coast
Author: briancdn

Super series, thanks for posting. I remember riding to Holyhead behind a pair of class 37's and enjoying the sound all the way!
Brian N.

Date: 10/15/21 14:29
Re: Along the North Wales coast
Author: dwatry

Great set Nick!  I've always been fascinated by the juxtaposition of the railway line and Conwy Castle. 

Date: 10/15/21 20:55
Re: Along the North Wales coast
Author: krm152

An ewxcellent photo series.  Your choice of locations is outstanding.
Thanks for yourt posting.

Date: 10/16/21 20:04
Re: Along the North Wales coast
Author: train1275

Excellent photos !!!

Date: 10/19/21 00:19
Re: Along the North Wales coast
Author: gobbl3gook

Date: 10/20/21 13:53
Re: Along the North Wales coast
Author: 86235

gobbl3gook Wrote:
> Conwy Castle on a few maps.  Follow the line east
> and west for other locations?  
> https://en.mapy.cz/zakladni?x=-3.8255366&y=53.2800
> 338&z=19
> https://opentopomap.org/#map=16/53.28100/-3.82471
> https://www.openrailwaymap.org/?style=standard&lat
> =53.2804346576191&lon=-723.8258278369904&zoom=17
> Ted in OR

Colwyn Bay, Rhyl and Prestatyn are all east of Conwy, Penmaenmawr is just to the west, Holyhead is about 30+ miles to the west on Holy Island which is off the island of Anglesey.

I use Ordnance Survey maps as they include footpaths and cycle tracks.


Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 10/20/21 14:02 by 86235.

Date: 10/21/21 15:55
Re: Along the North Wales coast
Author: gobbl3gook

Hi Nick, 

Nice link on the Ordinance Maps.  

There is probably a master page with links to national topo map databases for various countries.  Maybe I'll try to find one.  

Have you looked at OpenCycleMap.org?  It's based on OpenStreetMap, but has the walking and cycling layers featured prominantly.  It could be useful as a backup for cycling and walking maps.  I've used it in 22 countries in Europe, and Thailand, and have had 100% success in bicycling on every cow path, two track, etc. that I've tried... 


Ted in OR

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/21/21 15:58 by gobbl3gook.

Date: 10/23/21 11:10
Re: Along the North Wales coast
Author: 86235

Thanks for that, v useful although I'd debate the route from Conwy to Llandudno, much of it last month was covered in sand making it impassable.

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