Cambrian Coast Express
The Cambrian Coast Express was a named passenger train of the Great Western Railway (GWR), and later British Rail, running from London via Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth and Pwllheli over the Cambrian Line.
Prior to amalgamation with the GWR in 1923, the line beyond Buttington Junction near Welshpool was owned and operated by the Cambrian Railways and passengers from England normally changed to a Cambrian Railways train at Shrewsbury. But in July and August 1921, the GWR ran a daily through express from Paddington to Aberystwyth and Pwllheli.
The first official use of the name Cambrian Coast Express was in 1927 when the train ran only on summer Fridays and Saturdays. By 1939 the through train was running only on summer Saturdays. It left London Paddington at 10:20 with calls at Leamington Spa, Birmingham Snow Hill, and Wolverhampton Low Level which was reached at 12:44. Here, owing to weight restrictions over the Cambrian line, the GWR Castle Class 4-6-0 locomotive was changed for two GWR Duke Class 4-4-0 engines or for a GWR Manor Class 4-6-0 for the non-stop run to Welshpool using the Shrewsbury Abbey Foregate curve (to avoid a stop and reversal of direction at Shrewsbury). Beyond Welshpool, calls were made at Machynlleth, Dovey Junction and Borth to reach Aberystwyth at 15:55, a total of 5 hours 35 minutes for the 235-mile (378 km) journey from London. In the reverse direction the journey was 25 minutes longer, at six hours; departing Aberystwyth at 10:00 with an additional stop at Newtown, but with otherwise unchanged station calls, and locomotive change at Wolverhampton. The train became the 14:00 departure from Birmingham to arrive at Paddington at 16:00.
British Rail era
After World War II, the Cambrian Coast Express was re-introduced on Saturdays only and its seasonal operation continued under British Rail, usually with through coaches to both Aberystwyth and Pwllheli. By 1959 it was running every weekday, all year round.
The train last ran in 1991, by which time it had long since transferred its London terminus to Euston, operating as an extension to the regular-interval service over the West Coast Main Line between London and Wolverhampton. In the winter 1989-1990 timetable, it left London at 15:40, arriving Aberystwyth 21:00; the return working left Aberystwyth at 07:13, arriving London Euston at 12:24. There were no longer any through coaches to the northern part of the Cambrian Line: passengers for stations to Pwllheli had to change at Machynlleth.
The Cambrian Coast Express name was revived in summer 2006 by Arriva Trains Wales, as a tourist steam service which ran from Machynlleth to Porthmadog or Pwllheli. In 2007, it was taken over by the West Coast Railway Company and rebranded The Cambrian. In 2009 it was cancelled by Network Rail due to the installation of a trial signalling system ERTMS.
- Allen, Cecil J. (1947). Titled Trains of Great Britain. London: Ian Allan. pp. 187–191.
- "The winter timetables of British Railways: Western Region". Trains Illustrated (Hampton Court: Ian Allan). December 1959. p. 584.
- British Rail Passenger Timetable 2 October 1989 - 13 May 1990. British Railways Board. 1989. pp. 402, 434.
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