Hysbysfwrdd Rheilffordd Arfordir Gogledd Cymru

The Saturday morning  London - Holyhead train arrives (15 minutes late) at Bangor 0n 16 January: 57 314 hauling 390 011 City of Lichfield. Picture by Richard Fleckney.

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19 January 2010

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Loco swapping at Holyhead, 16 January - pictures by Corrie

57 314 hauled the London - Holyhead Pendolino on the inward working from Crewe to Holyhead, Saturday 16 January, seen above when passing through Llangaffo.

After arrival at Holyhead, 57 314 has retracted its coupler runs round the Pendolino. Meanwhile 57 313 - which had arrived on Friday evening with the express from Cardiff - is made ready in the sidings by the second Virgin driver that has traveled with the Pendolino as usual to take care of its on-board systems.

57 313 heads out to set back onto the Pendolino for the return to Crewe.

57 313 sets back with its retractable Dellner coupling lowered into position. The starter signal is 'off' for another train to depart from Platform 2 or 3.

Ready for departure. The Pendolino is 390 011 City of Lichfield.

57 314 moves off....

... and couples to the Arriva Trains Wales stock ready for Monday. Quite an efficient way to change over the loco for the Arriva service for routine maintenance, as the only 'light-engine' running is from Longsight (Manchester) to Crewe. An even better way would be to revive a Saturdays only 'Irish Mancunian' diagram making a couple of trips from Holyhead to Manchester and back, as of yore, rather than leaving the train sitting in Holyhead all weekend. But the powers-that-be don't believe anyone from Dublin, Holyhead or Bangor wants go go to Manchester, presumably since it's not in Wales.

57 313 heads the return train, 14:36 from Holyhead, through Rhosneigr.

The same train passing Flint in very dull weather at 16:03. (This picture by Stavros Lainas)

Slide show in Valley, 5 February
On Friday, 5 February starting at 19:30 in St Michael's Community Church Hall, Pendyffryn Estate, Valley, LL65 3DN,  Mr. David Lindsay will be presenting a Slide Show entitled 'Steam Nostalgia Night – A Look at Steam Railways of the era 1923 - 1948 and Early British Railways, 1948 to the mid-1950s. Most of the photographs have been rescued from oblivion and never seen in public before. 

Admission to the show will be £2.00 to include refreshments. There will be a raffle. Proceeds of the evening will be donated towards the up keep of St. Michael's Community Church Hall.

Corwen Extension news: Llangollen Railway press release

Following the submission of the Transport and Works Order application in September 2009, to extend the popular Welsh Heritage Railway Line from Carrog to Corwen, Llangollen Railway Trust received five objections and one representation from various public and private bodies. We are pleased to announce that all but two of these have now been withdrawn, The most recent withdrawal is by Sustrans (a organisation dedicated to promoting cycling facilities). Railway Vice-Chairman, Neil Evans said, 'We hope to settle the remaining two objections, Welsh Water and the Countryside Council for Wales in the near future. The level of opposition really is quite low for a fair-sized project of this sort and none of the objectors are opposed in principle to the Extension'.

The Project's team, Vice Presidents Gordon Heddon and Bill Shakespeare, with Vice-chairman Neil Evans, who have done much work on the project said, 'Residents, businesses and others all stand to benefit from the scheme and it is clear that the local community can't wait to see trains running to Corwen again after almost 50 years. The level of public support is demonstrated by the commitment shown by the railway's landlord Denbighshire County Council, whose intervention led to the withdrawal of the Sustrans objection. Sustrans wanted a shared-use path beside the line, which the Trust maintained could not be accommodated within railway land. The Trust has agreed to talks with Sustrans on the provision of improved facilities for cyclists.'

Llangollen Railway Chairman, Jim Ritchie, added, '2010 promises to be an exciting year for the Railway if (when) the Transport and Works Order is granted and we can begin the task of progressing the extension beyond Carrog towards Corwen where a new Station will be built. The project will involve the Llangollen Railway in a major cost exercise outside of any grant aid which may be secured. The Llangollen Railway Trust will be seeking donations from well-wishers and further sales of shares in the PLC to help finance this final stage in the dream which began 35 years ago, to rebuild the line ten miles westward from Llangollen.’

The picture, by George Jones, shows the current state of trackbed near the former Bonwm Halt.

Level Crossing fatality on the Marches line - report by Charlie Hulme
Another tragic level crossing accident occurred at Moreton-on-Lugg crossing between Hereford and Leominster on 16 January, when the Arriva Trains Wales Class 175 operating the 08:30 Manchester to Milford Haven struck two cars.

The passenger in one car was airlifted to hospital but died the same day; her husband, who was driving, was badly injured. The occupants of the other car, as well as the train driver, some of the passengers, and reportedly the signaller, were treated for shock but not, we believe, physically injured. The train stayed on the track and its passengers were unharmed. The line was closed for a considerable time following the incident, not being handed back to the operators until 03:35 on Monday 18 January, a bus replacement running between Shrewsbury and Hereford.

This event is very different from nearly all other level crossing collisions, as the full-width crossing barriers, with their associated flashing lights on the road, are controlled from the signalbox immediately adjacent to the crossing. I took the picture above while waiting at the crossing with my bicycle in September 2008; the signalbox can be seen behind the train. You can see that the view of anyone approaching on the road from this side is very restricted by the houses, so if the barriers were raised road users would have little chance of seeing a train approaching, not that they should be expected to look.

It has been reported that the crossing systems were found to be working correctly after the accident, and pictures show no damage to the barriers themselves. Interlocking supposedly prevents the railway signals being cleared for a train unless the barriers are down, but what if the signaller believes the train has already passed, when in fact it is still approaching and has passed the distant signal? Or could the train driver have passed the protecting signals at danger?  Or maybe some maintenance work was taking place. From the evidence so far it is hard to blame the motorists for the accident in this highly unusual case.

The barriers and associated equipment were replaced by new ones in September 2009; the signals on the railway here are lower-quadrant semaphores.  Investigations are taking place which hopefully will reveal what happened.

Watching the relaying - report by Andrew Vinten

I visited Seacombe Junction on the morning of 17 January to record the engineering activity: four class 66s were reported to be on site: 66 103 / 016 / 127 / 232. I arrived shortly before 09:30 and found that 66 127 had left the other three where about. Above is one of the trains:  the consist is autoballaster wagons and some flat wagons loaded with the removed bull-head track panels.

Above is 66 232 moving out of the possession having been hauled around Bidston East Junction by 66 016. 66 016 then returned to the autoballaster train near to the former Seacombe Junction.

This picture shows the train coming around the curve from Bidston Dee Junction on to the Bidston - Wrexham line. The  worker had just removed the stop board which allowed the train to continue to Wrexham.

I then returned to the work site and recorded a road/rail vehicle removing new sleepers from one of the flat wagons by use of a jig. The line being replaced is the up New Brighton line.

A visit to Wrexham and Ruabon - pictures by Dave Skipsey

Sunday 17 January, and 67 010 hauls its Cargo-D coaches out of the stabling sidings at Wrexham Central, before setting back to platform 1 to form the 13:11 to London. The signal, CN958, which replaced a ground signal, is one of the new LED types commissioned last autumn with the installation of the new panel in Croes Newydd North Fork signalbox (visible in the background).

175 010 calls at Wrexham with the 10:20 from Holyhead, running only as far as Shrewsbury because of the level crossing accident described above.

On Wednesday 13 January. 175 010 had the rare privilege of using the down loop at Holywell Junction, where it and another 175 were shunted after suffering coupling difficulties.

Waiting for a path was 66 232 with a 'spoil train' carrying used ballast from a relaying operation on the New Brighton line, near the site of Seacombe Junction where the ore dock branched off; these operations are on for a further three weekends, although there may not always be always be ballast trains about.

A relocation to Ruabon station to see 67 010 calling at its first stop on the journey to London. Note that trains are now formed of four coaches plus the driving van trailer.

From the bridge at Ruabon the 09:33 from London is approaching past Milepost 197 (from Paddington) with 67 012 A Shropshire Lad propelling from the rear of one of the newly-refurbished trains.

'Two for the price of one' as 67 010 departs.

66 232 follows with the infrastructure train, headed for Bescot.

Meet the Minister
Wrexham & Shropshire is inviting Shropshire business leaders on board for a business networking event with a difference on 1 February 2010. The event, which is being run by Shropshire Chamber and sponsored by Dyke Yaxley, Chartered Accountants of Shrewsbury, offers business leaders a chance to meet Ian Lucas MP, Minister for Business and Regulatory Reform, in the first networking event of its kind in Shropshire.

Teresa Rowe, Membership and Events Co-ordinator for Shropshire Chamber says: 'The event will provide Shropshire businesses with the opportunity to make valuable contacts in an informal and relaxed setting. It also allows them the chance to discuss the issues that are affecting them and their businesses with the Business Minister himself. They also have the bonus of a day in London, the business capital of the UK, where they can establish and strengthen important connections that will benefit the Shropshire economy.'

Wrexham & Shropshire is providing a special train for the event and for just £40.00 passengers can travel in comfort to the Capital. The train will call at Gobowen, Shrewsbury, Wellington and Telford before travelling direct to London Marylebone.

Tickets for the event must be booked in advance via the Shropshire Chamber of Commerce website Further information is also available on 01952 208218.

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