The line from Pwllheli to Machynlleth - or strictly speaking Dyfi Junction - encompasses some of the finest coastal and mountain scenery to be seen from a train anywhere in Britain. Past Criccieth Castle, across the Glaslyn and Dwyryd estuaries, beneath Harlech Castle and along the foreshore, Barmouth bridge and its views of Cader Idris, around the cliffs at Friog and the superb estuary stretch from Aberdyfi to Dyfi Junction. Those are just a few of the highlights of this wonderful line. The last few years have seen many changes to the line with the introduction of radio signalling being the most important. Ongoing problems with Barmouth Bridge meant that loco hauled trains were absent for several years. The latest development on the Cambrian (2010) is progressive introduction of the E.R.T.M.S signalling system.
An ex Western Region class 120 d.m.u. is at Pwllheli waiting to form a morning service to Shrewsbury on the 7th August 1985. These units were based at Chester and were a great improvement on the Gloucester and Park Royal built sets that went before. By this time all the units had lost their original centre cars, some of which contained buffets, to be replaced by surplus Class 101 vehicles. Pwllheli station used to be much larger but only one platform now remains. The rest of the station area being a supermarket.
Centro liveried 150126 stands at Pwllheli on the 24th August 1993. On the left is the siding used for light maintenance and to stable sets overnight.
Class 37 No. 37251 of Cardiff Canton depot is seen with a short ballast train at Pwllheli on the evening of Saturday the 12th of September 1987. The train was stabled on one of the few sidings that were still left on the Cambrian Coast line and it would be used the following day for permanent way work. The Cambrian Railways design signalbox was only in use as a ground frame by this time. On the left can be seen the entrance to the run round loop used by loco hauled services.
Harlech is one of the few crossing points left on the Cambrian coast, the others being Tywyn, Barmouth and Porthmadog. As such it frequently witnesses the crossing of trains. In this view, taken in July 1990, 37428 "David Lloyd George" on a Pwllheli - Birmingham New Street working enters the station. Harlech is an important station for school traffic and this accounts for the substantial shelters on each platform. The Class 37's had a monopoly on the line following withdrawal of the class 25's in 1986.
Shortly after leaving Harlech station, 37430 "Cwmbran" is seen heading south on the 17.25 Pwllheli - Birmingham New Strret on August 3rd 1991. This loco was one of a batch of 5 Class 37.4's allocated to Cardiff Canton depot which worked most of the Cambrian line loco hauled services. It was named "Cwmbran" following the reopening of the station there in 1989. At this time there were two loco hauled trains each way on Summer Saturdays only. The castle in the background was one of a ring of castles built by Edward the First in the 12th century to pacify the Welsh.
A Pwllheli bound Class 101 is seen waiting at Barmouth for a late running southbound service in July of 1984. Cader Idris can be seen in the background with its all too frequent cloud covering. Barmouth was formally the terminus for trains from the Ruabon line, closed in 1966.
37428 enters Barmouth on the 2nd of June 1990 on a Pwllheli bound service.
75069 crosses Barmouth bridge on the "Cambrian Coast Express", 28th May 1987.
Single car parcels unit No. M55995 is seen on the depot at Machynlleth on May 6th 1984. The reason for its appearance is to cater for engineering needs following the closure of Barmouth Bridge to loco hauled trains. Following extensive work the bridge was reopened in 1987. Unfortunately the problem of marine worms weakening the structure reappeared and the bridge was again closed again for a number of years to anything heavier than a Sprinter.
37431 "Bullidae" is seen on a luxury rail cruise at Machynlleth on the 12th May 1991. The name "Bullidae", a type of seashell, was applied to the loco as it was primarily used to work oil trains from Stanlow in Cheshire for Shell.
The first production Sprinter unit no. 150001 lays over at Machynlleth before working a Pwllheli service on 23rd August 1992.
37430 "Cwmbran" is seen ready to depart from Machynlleth yard in this photo of 12 May 1991. The loco had been active earlier in the day on engineering works and the signal in the background has cleared to allow 37430 to proceed to Shrewsbury. This signal is one of only a handful still in use on the Cambrian lines.
Class 37 No. 37421 "Strombidae" is seen stabled at Machynlleth on Sunday May 12th 1991. It will shortly work a train to Aberystwyth and from there form the last ever "Cambrian Coast Express". The following day the train will go over to Sprinter units and run only as far as Wolverhampton. The "Cambrian Coast Express" was introduced by the Great Western Railway and, in steam days, carried a portion for coast line stations as well. The train was reintroduced for a number of years following receipt of a grant from the Development Board for Rural Wales.
An ex works class 101 DMU is seen stabled at Machynlleth, 6th May 1984. Machynlleth is the main depot for the whole Cambrian section and is now the location of the only signalbox - all train movements being controlled from here by radio.
Return to the index page