The Holyhead Freight liners.
By John Powell.


1970 - 1991

The port of Holyhead was chosen by British Rail as it was the shortest route to Belfast and Dublin than either Liverpool or Heysham. Freightliner trains which commenced in

1970, were a common sight on the North Wales coast line, with at least four trains a day,usually with a maximum of twenty five containers.

Services varied to Holyhead,

 Lawley Street in Birmingham ( 4G58 )

Willesden in London. (4D62 )

Trafford Park in Manchester. ( 4D59 )

Crewe. ( Basford Hall ) ( 4D58 )

Ripple Lane in London. ( 4M50)

Felixstowe. ( Occasionally )

Motive power used on these services ranged from mainly class 47s, with class 45s, 40s, 2 x 20s, and short liners by class 25s, and the odd class 50.

The first class 37 to appear on one of these liners was No 37165 on a special from Felixstowe on April 8th, 1983, followed by No 37173 on May 6th, 1983.

After the disastrous fire to the Britannia bridge on May 23rd, 1970, the port became

isolated from the rail network until January 30th, 1972.

As Holyhead was an important freight liner terminal, Caernarfon station yard, which was originally

closed on January 4th, 1970, was pressed into use for liner services.

 Two mobile cranes were installed in the former goods yard, and two liner trains worked into and out of the station each day.

 The containers were transferred onto lorries which then took them to Holyhead for onward transportation.

The first train arrived on June 15th, 1970, and continued until February 5th, 1972.

 The line then closed and was lifted shortly after.

Holyhead was given a blow in March 1991, when the liner service was withdrawn as being unprofitable, and transferred to
 Cawoods terminal at Ellesmere Port, until that closed, and the service transferred to Seaforth, Liverpool.

The final freight liner left Holyhead on March 18th, 1991, hauled by 47301.


This picture by John sums up exactly what Holyhead was losing as
47 367 crosses the A55 at Colwyn Bay on 25th April 1985.
 A sad sight of what had started to take over the movement of freight as a number of HGV's,
on their way to the ferry port, pass underneath.

This photo by Wyn Hobson portrays the scene at Caernarfon station on January 1st 1971 which is described in the text below.

Freightliner containers being loaded onto lorries at Caernarfon station, circa 1970.

The photo below is by Ken Robinson and is shown by kind permission of the DISUSED STATIONS WEBSITE

which is a great place to visit to see nostalgic photos of railway stations that have either disappeared or been left to decay after the Beeching axe.


Holyhead Freight Liner Terminal. May 6th 1983. 25 226 waits to hook up to its short freightliner to Crewe.

Trafford Park to Holyhead liner near Llandudno Junction 45014 on July 27th 1984.

Trafford Park to Holyhead liner nears Prestatyn. 40168. 19.3.83.

Trafford Park to Holyhead liner at Colwyn Bay. 45013. 21.6.84

Sandycroft. August 14th 1986. 47353. (4D59 )  [Photographer Unknown]

Holyhead bound liner nears Mostyn. February 3rd 1983. 40001.

Holyhead to Willesden liner passes Prestatyn. 47012. 2.4.82.

Class 47 on Freightliner at Prestatyn. July 10th, 1985.

47594 passes through Bangor Station. August 14th, 1990

47540 heads for Trafford Park through Prestatyn. 18.4.83.

47463 leaves Prestatyn for Trafford Park. June 12th, 1986.

47439 heads for Trafford Park through Talacre. 15.4.1983.

47436 passes Penrhos, Holyhead bound.26.1.1984.

47430 ( Scotrail) near Rhyl with freight liner from Holyhead.14.2.1986.

47411 (ETH) passes Rhyl on its way to Holyhead. 22.2.86.

47351 passes Frith Bridge, Prestatyn for Holyhead. 13.5.83.

47349 passes Prestatyn from Holyhead. August 15th, 1988

47330 with Holyhead bound liner passes Prestatyn.July 15th,1988.

47330 heads through Prestatyn station. 1.8.1988.

47286 passes through Llandudno Junction. 25.8.90.

47229 passes Colwyn Bay, Holyhead bound. 17.8.84.

47195 crosses Old Colwyn viaduct next to new A55 road. 7.10.83.

47192 passes Prestatyn's old station. June 12th, 1986

45103 crosses the A55 near Colwyn Bay. 16. 9. 1985.

45069 leaves Abergele for Holyhead. August 1st, 1984.

45066 passes Rhyl. 13. 9. 1985.

40167 passes 47366 ( Failed ) at Prestatyn. July 11th, 1983.

40141 leaves Holyhead with liner (4H59) for Trafford Park on 9.2.83.

Lawley Street to Holyhead liner leaves Rhyl. 47645 on April 2nd 1986

Lawley Street - Holyhead liner passes Rhyl hauled by 45016 on 12.8.83