Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Another ATW 'Club 55' day out; Holyhead this time.

Arriva Trains Wales (ATW) 'Cub 55' offer continues until December, allowing return travel between any two stations on their network for £18 for those at least 55 years of age (£16 if you have a Senior Railcard, as I do). Today I went to Holyhead and back from my local station, Wilmslow.

The 08:46 Manchester to Milford Haven class 175 train took me as far as Crewe, to connect with the 09:23 class 158 service to Chester. I had a bit of a wait there (until 10:24) for the Cardiff to Holyhead train, another of the comfortable and smooth-riding class 175 units which sped along the North wales coast and onto Anglesey, arriving at Holyhead at 12:14. All these trains were moderately loaded (the Crewe - Chester one being very much so).
Chester Racecourse, seen as we leave Chester for Holyhead

Crossing the Conway estuary

Running under the walls of Conway castle

First view of Anglesey on the left, Puffin Island in the centre

RAF Hawk trainer turning final in the Valley circuit

The sea near Maltraeth, with 'The Rivals' mountains beyond

Holyhead signal box

Holyhead station

On reaching Holyhead, and knowing there was nothing in the town I wished to see, I returned on the same train I'd arrived on. It left at 12:39 forming the Holyhead to Maesteg service. This was quite full on leaving Holyhead, and on picking up along the coast was almost completely full by the time it reached Chester, many passengers boarding at Bangor.

Crossing the Menai Straight from Anglesea to the mainland. Telford's superbly graceful suspension bridge, which was at one time the only road connection to the island, seen from the much-modified Stephenson Bridge which carries a roadway above the singled railway line. 

I remember this bridge from family holidays decades ago, when it was in its original form as a double-track railway tubular bridge (a longer and higher version of the tubular bridge at Conway). Vandals set fire to it in the 1970s, following which it was re-built in its present form. At least the stone lions, two each side at each end of the bridge, still exist and give an impression of the structure's original double-track width.

Heading east along the coast of North Wales; Beaumaris is seen across the straights on the Anglesea shore

Conway Castle again

Looking back to Colwyn Bay

The ex-car ferry on the Dee estuary

Approaching Chester, we pass the threshold of runway 22 at Hawarden where the Airbus wings are built and then shipped to Toulouse

The train that took me from Chester to Holyhead and back. It will continue from here via Shrewsbury and Cardiff to Maesteg in South Wales.

It was a nice sunny day today, ideal for appreciating the gardens on Chester station

Two styles of Class 150 at Chester, each bound for Manchester. The far unit will route via the Mid Cheshire line through Delamere and Knutsford, the near unit will go via Frodsham and Warrington.

My next train, a 158 Pacer, which will take me from Chester to Crewe, arrives at Chester from Crewe. It will leave for Crewe at 14:55 and arrive at its destination at 15:18.

Speeding past Beeston Castle atop its distinctive mound

Approaching Crewe we pass the Crewe Heritage Centre. LMS 6100 'Royal Scot is seen, minus its boiler and under tarpaulins.

It was noticeable how much quieter and smoother-riding are the 175s compared to the 158. And the 158, with its high-backed seats had a claustrophobic feel.

 Open airy feel to the smooth running and quiet class 175

 The high-backed seats in the older and noisier class 158 give a claustrophobic feel

The 15:29 Carmarthen to Manchester class 175 whisked me back non stop from Crewe to Wilmslow, getting me back to my home station by 15:47

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