TRPS Vice President Winston McCanna and General Manager Stuart Williams were invited to a ceremony launching a specially-named Virgin Trains service.
‘Royal Air Force Centenary 1918 – 2018’ was officially launched on 22 August 2018 at Holyhead railway station on Anglesey. The Virgin Trains service has been named as part of the #RAF100 centenary events to commemorate historic links between the RAF and the railway in North Wales. The nameplate was unveiled on the Virgin Trains’ Super Voyager train shortly before its inaugural journey to London. During the ceremony the Talyllyn Railway’s own connections to the RAF received a special mention.
The train’s nameplate features the RAF Valley station crest. It was officially unveiled at the ceremony by RAF veterans Mary Roberts and John Wynne, both of whom served in WW2.
Wing Commander John Wynne, 97, who lives in Gwynedd, was a pilot and flying instructor who flew Wellington bombers, Fortress and Mosquito aircraft during WW2.
Mary, 100, served as an RAF nurse. Her role saw her based at RAF Hemswell, where she was in close contact with the flying crews of the bombers that flew nearly every night over Europe. She was also posted to Flying Training Command at Penrhos, Pwllheli in North Wales.
RAF Valley station is located near to Virgin Trains’ North Wales base at Holyhead. It is home to No 4 Flying Training School, responsible for training the UK’s next generation of world-class fighter pilots, and the Mountain Rescue Service.
This is the first Voyager in Virgin Trains’ fleet to carry a different name to the ‘famous Voyagers’ names that were used when the fleet was first introduced in 2001. The Class 221 train will serve the North Wales route and other destinations including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Shropshire.
Air Commodore Dai Williams OBE, Air Officer Wales for the RAF, said:
“The RAF is very grateful to Virgin Trains for naming one of their engines after the RAF Centenary. We know that having an engine named after you is a rare and special thing, so the RAF is delighted to be recognised in this way, and I hope Virgin Trains customers across the network will also enjoy this special connection to the RAF.”
The Air Commodore also spoke passionately about our own loco No.6 ‘Douglas’ being a significant, and remaining link, between the RAF and trains.
“You associate the RAF with planes, but maybe not trains – but in fact the association goes right back to our beginnings in 1918. We are delighted to have been involved with the Talyllyn and the centenary celebrations for No.6 Douglas”.
No.6 was built for the Airservice Construction Corps being completed by its manufacturers, Andrew Barclay of Kilmarnock, in February 1918. The Corps became part of the RAF when the latter was formed in April 1918. No.6 spent much of its working life at RAF Calshot in the Solent before coming to the Talyllyn Railway in 1954 where it has been in service ever since.
Following the ceremony, Group Captain Nick Tucker-Lowe DSO ADC, Station Commander of RAF Valley hosted the guests at the base where a photo was taken in front of the departing train.