Hysbysfwrdd Rheilffordd Arfordir Gogledd Cymru

Gobowen in the snow, 7 January. The late-running Marylebone service due at 11:44 arriving at 12:41, behind 67 013 Dyfrbont Pontcysyllte. Picture by Martin Evans.

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8 January 2010

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Note: due to weather conditions, the Llangollen Railway will not be running any trains on 9 and 10 January.

Wrexham Railway Society 11 January - by George Jones
The next meeting of the Society on Monday 11 January welcomes a return visit (weather permitting!) from Mr Colin White of Weston Rhyn, who will use the heritage 8mm cine film technology for his presentation of archive footage of steam in action. A diverse collection of films shot by rail photographers in the 1960s is promised, accompanied as always by Colin's informative and witty commentary on the performance of trains in the British Railways era.

Always the most popular of the Society's programme of meetings, the enduring appeal of movement on the silver screen is sure to attract a big audience. We are very pleased to welcome Colin back for another delve into the past. His show will come supported by our regular digital news review of modern day action on the rails, as we seek to keep members informed about today's railways around Wrexham and further afield.

Venue is St Mary's Catholic Club, Regent St, Wrexham starting at 7.45pm. Visitors are welcome.

Snowy Miscellany

An unidentified pair of Class 158s forming the 10:09 from Birmingham International seemingly enter the new Tesco store in Newtown, 5 January. Picture by Gareth Marston. According to a report in RAIL magazine, "Wabtec Rail, Doncaster has refurbished Class 158's, 158 822 and 158 823. They are operated by Arriva Trains Wales". Does anyone have any details?

A 3-car 175 unit calls at Abergele, forming the late-running 12:50 Manchester to Llandudno in almost blizzard conditions, on 5 January. Picture by Marc Jones.

Seen from the apartments built on the old goods yard, Network Rail's Harsco Track Technologies RGH-20C Switch and Crossing Rail Grinder set,  DR79272 and DR79262 'parked up' at Chester during heavy snow on Tuesday evening 5 January. Network Rail has five of these paired units.

6 January, Green Lane, Heywood, and 55 022 Royal Scots Grey heads off East Lancashire Railway metals on to Network Rail on the way to Barrow Hill. The Deltic returned later in the day hauling sister loco D9016 Gordon Highlander, which is to be based on the ELR. Picture by Paul Braddock. For a gallery of pictures from the day, see the 55022 Royal Scots Grey website. Martin Walker, owner of 55 022, has bought D9016 from DRS, who have owned it briefly. We hear that both will be in action at the ELR's diesel day on Saturday 9 January, along with one-time Coast Line loco 37 418, 40 145 and D1501. Furthermore, latest news is that the steam loco diagram on 10 January is to be replaced, due to problems with frozen water supply, with 37 418.  (Keep an eye on the ELR twitter feed for developments)

142 004 on a Chester to  Manchester service via Altrincham, seen from Butcher Lane Bridge, Baguley,
South Manchester, 6 January. Picture by Greg Mape.

An unidentified DVT and 67 head across Cefn Viaduct with 1J82 11:20 London Marylebone - Wrexham on 6 January, with several inches of snow blanketing Tŷ Mawr country park and the surrounding hills. As the sun failed to show, Mark Riley has converted his original image to black and white, which seemed appropriate with so much snow around.

153 362 at Betws-y-Coed on 7 January, running 15 minutes late at 12:27 (Darren Durrant)

G-Mex station, Manchester Metrolink, just before sunset on 7 January: brand new Bombardier tram 3003 passes car 1011 of the original Italian-built type. Manchester Central station's loco stabling and turntable once occupied this area. The interesting signal in the foreground shows a railway-style red aspect, and when 'off' shows the street tramway 'proceed' signal of a vertical line of white lights.

Overhaul one, get one free?

67 005 Queens Messenger passes Burton on 4 January,  hauling not one, but two, overhauled Merseyrail trains from Doncaster, 507 005 and 507 010. (Stavros Lainas)

RCTS Meeting in Chester , Monday 18 January
The Railway Correspondence and Travel Society holds its indoor meeting at the 'Town Crier' opposite Chester railway station on Monday 18 January at 7.45 p.m.

The topic is 'Australian Railways in 2009' and popular local member Geoff Morris of Chester will be showing digital views of his recent visit down under.  Geoff's ability to conjure up superb photographic images makes it an evening for anyone interested both in railways and as to photographic work in general.

Visitors are more than welcome to attend this meeting but with a £2 voluntary donation.  Such donations enable the Society to continue its regularity of such meetings.

Further inquiries about this meeting can be made by telephoning 0151 - 608 4296.

Another mince pie anyone?

As predicted, smaller locos took over the Llangollen Railway's 'mince pie specials' at the turn of the year. Above, 0-6-0PT 6430 is seen leaving Carrog in New Years' Day. Picture by John Beresford.

The next day, 2 January, and Hunslet saddle tank Jessie was on the service trains. Above, she is leaving Berwyn station at 13:13 on the 13:00 Llangollen to Carrog. (Bob Greenalgh.) Note that due to weather conditions, the LR will not be running any trains on 9 and 10 January.

Far far away - with Darren Durrant

Train spotting in winter isn't much fun, so I took the opportunity to catch some high speed services, as we drove to France for Christmas. Our first stop was at Luton Airport Parkway, where we saw a pair of my favourite class 43's thundering through on am East Midland Trains non-stop service, led by 43 049 (above) ...

... quickly followed by 'Meridian' 222 001.

222 019 and an HST.

Stopping trains are Class 319s - these will be transferred to the lines in Northwest England that are to be electrified under the Government's new plan.

A surprise came just as we were leaving with 66 015 pulling a never-ending load of tanks, with the driver waving at us.

Our next spot was at a cutting near the services in Maidstone, we saw some Eurostars ...

... and 'Javelins' doing their regular sprint along HighSpeed 1.

At Boulogne, 40-year-old diesel BB 67589 calls with a stopping train. [More to Charlie's taste!]

Another push-pull local, this time with an electric loco on the rear, at Mazingarbe, south-west of Lille on the Dunquerque - Arras line.

Abvie, a German ICE and French TGV at Paris Gare de L'Est. Over the water in France we saw many TGVs on their regular services to 'La Gare Du Nord' in Paris and to Lillle. I am so happy with the selection of speed we saw from the road and can't wait to do it again soon.

Ferry news
Up until 7 January, the Stena Line website only showed the Holyhead-Dublin Port sailings when one tried to book for 2009. Traditionally when the HSS (High Speed Ship) finished up January for its annual refit, the website would give a recommencement date' however this year there was no such thing, just a small note saying 'operates until 5th January 2010', even leading many ferry enthusiasts to ponder whether they had seen the Stena Explorer set sail for the last time when she departed for Holyhead on 5 January.

Now the Irish Times reports:

Stena Line has reaffirmed its commitment to Dún Laoghaire after recent speculation that it might quit the harbour. However, the large fast ferry, HSS Stena Explorer, will run daily only during summer months and a smaller fast ferry service will be used in the winter months. Stena says all 60 jobs will be retained at Dún Laoghaire and no redundancies are planned.

It introduced the fast ferry service on its Dún Laoghaire-Holyhead route in April 1996 and at peak it was running up to five round trips daily. However, the catamarans can burn almost three times as much fuel, and at a higher grade, than conventional ships and sailing frequency had been reduced to one trip a day.

The withdrawal of the HSS Stena Discovery in January 2007 from the Harwich-Hook of Holland route due to high fuel costs and its subsequent sale to Venezuela had fuelled speculation that the same might happen on its Irish Sea route. Stena was also finding the higher cost of berthing in Dún Laoghaire prohibitive – €6.7 million annually compared to an estimated €2 million for Dublin Port, where its ferry base is run by a stevedoring company.

 Route director Vic Goodwin told a staff meeting the operating costs and port dues in Dún Laoghaire had 'placed severe pressure on the financial performance of this route' but he was confident that a new operating agreement from 2011 would cut harbour dues.

According to the Daily Post:

Stena Line’s 1,500 passenger HSS Explorer will remain berthed in Holyhead between September and late June with the 600-passenger Stena Express filling its wake. The 40-knot Explorer will still operate over the peak summer period, running from June 28 to September 5.

Currently the HSS Stena Explorer operates a one round trip service between March and December. The Stena Express, which has a top speed of 38 knots, currently operates a summer fast craft service between Fishguard and Rosslare and will continue this once the Explorer returns for the summer. The timetable for the Stena Express will vary between a one round trip or a two round trip schedule to meet demand.

The Stena Express is shortly to undergo a £2m refit in preparation for its arrival at Holyhead in March. It will run alongside the superferry Stena Adventurer and the freight and passenger boat the Stena Nordica.

Confusingly, the vessel referred to by Stena as the Stena Express is HSS Stena Lynx III, built in Australia in 1996, which has been laid up in Dublin Port for the winter. Thanks to Glen Cusack and Dave Sallery for help with this item.

Welsh trains on TV - report by Shaun Stanley

South Wales trains were on S4C television over the holidays, used for the comedy drama Ar Y Tracs.  The programme was excellent from an entertainment point of view, it is in Welsh but has English dialogue and subtitles. The comedy drama is still available to watch for a limited period on the S4C website, as is a 'behind the scenes' programme showing how the drama was made and little snippets such as the actor who played the train driver was not allowed to wear his uniform at all times.

[The train which starred in the show was worked by 'Royal' 67 005 and 67 006, and the consist, hired from Cargo-D, was Driving Van Trailer 82101, Mk 3 First 11083, Mk.3 Buffet 10242, Mk2 standards 5919, 6122,and 5995,plus Mk2 brake-standard 9506.]

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