North Wales Coast Line
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|North Wales Coast Line|
|Operator(s)||Avanti West Coast|
Transport for Wales Rail
|Rolling stock||Class 67|
Class 150 "Sprinter"
Class 153 "Super Sprinter"
Class 158 "Express Sprinter"
Class 175 "Coradia"
Class 221 "SuperVoyagers"
|Line length||84.38 miles (135.80 km)|
|Number of tracks||Double track mostly (except on the Britannia Bridge where there is single track)|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Operating speed||90 mph (140 km/h) maximum|
North Wales Coast Line
The North Wales Coast Line (Welsh: Rheilffordd Arfordir Gogledd Cymru), also known as the North Wales Main Line, is a major railway line in the north of Wales, running from Crewe on the West Coast Main Line to Holyhead on the Isle of Anglesey.
The line is not currently electrified, so Avanti West Coast, the current operator of the West Coast Partnership franchise, currently uses Class 221 Super Voyagers, which they have done since December 2007, on routes to Holyhead.
The first section from Crewe to Chester was built by the Chester and Crewe Railway and absorbed by the Grand Junction Railway shortly before opening in 1840. The remainder was built between 1844 and 1850 by the Chester and Holyhead Railway Company as the route of the Irish Mail services to Dublin. The line was later incorporated in the London and North Western Railway. Between Chester and Saltney Junction, the line was, from the start, used by trains of the Shrewsbury and Chester Railway later to be incorporated in the Great Western Railway.
So important was the line in the 19th and early 20th centuries to passenger, mail and freight traffic between Britain and Ireland that the world's first experimental and operational water troughs were installed at Mochdre between Colwyn Bay and Llandudno Junction. Their purpose was to enable steam engines (especially on the Irish Mail) to collect water without stopping. Later, considerable stretches of line between Chester and Colwyn Bay were quadrupled to increase line capacity but these sections have now been reduced to two tracks.
In 2018, a £50 million signalling upgrade programme was completed between Shotton and Colwyn Bay. This upgrade saw modular colour lights supervised from the South Wales Rail Operating Centre in Cardiff replacing the manual signal boxes and mixture of semaphore and older colour lights.
Main calling points
The places served by the route are as follows:
- Colwyn Bay
- Llandudno Junction
- Ty Croes
- Freight from Wylfa nuclear power station is loaded at a depot in Valley
Principal through passenger services are London Euston to Holyhead, Bangor, Chester and Wrexham General operated by Avanti West Coast and Crewe to Holyhead, Cardiff to Holyhead and Manchester to Llandudno currently operated by Transport for Wales Rail. A revised timetable has operated since December 2005 incorporating a new service to and from Cardiff Central every two hours. The line still provides the UK railway part of the through passenger service to Dublin using fast car ferries from Holyhead to Dublin Port.
The Welsh Government would like the line to be electrified, especially if Crewe becomes a rail hub due to HS2 in 2026. Chancellor George Osborne said in July 2015 that there was a "really strong case" for electrification of the line. The Electrification Task Force said that the Chester to Crewe line was a Tier 2 priority for being electrified in the CP6 period (2019-2024).
Class 221 units currently operate long-distance services to Holyhead from London Euston for Avanti West Coast. These are due to be replaced by Class 805 units in 2022. These new units will be able to run using the overhead wires from Euston to Crewe, before switching to diesel power from Crewe to Holyhead.
- "Route Utilisation Strategy - Wales" (PDF). Network Rail. 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 June 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
- £50m North Wales Railway Upgrade Project underway Network Rail Media Centre; Retrieved 4 August 2017
- Williamson, David (21 March 2014). "HS2 report has pushed electrification of North Wales rail line forward, Welsh Secretary claims". Wales Online. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
- "'Strong case' for north Wales rail electrification". BBC News. 17 July 2015. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
- "Electrification Task Force Final Report Revealed". Rail North. 5 March 2015. Archived from the original on 14 June 2017. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
- Hewitt, Sam (7 January 2020). "Hitachi wins £350 million order for new West Coast trains". The Railway Hub. Retrieved 5 June 2020.
- Clark, Rhodri (23 April 2020). "Concern about '197' interior spec". Modern Railways. Key Publishing Ltd. Archived from the original on 27 January 2021. Retrieved 3 October 2020.