THE NORTH WALES COAST RAILWAY NOTICE
Hysbysfwrdd Rheilffordd Arfordir Gogledd Cymru
150 260 approaches Hope with a
Bidston - Wrexham train, 22 January (Stavros
This site is dedicated to all our regular contributors and
supporters, and especially the rail staff of North Wales.
28 January 2010
WSMR on WCML - report by George Jones
With Leamington - Banbury closed for engineering work on 24 January the
option was for Wrexham to run up the West Coast Main Line and go around
the houses from Willesden to reach London Marylebone. The opportunity
arose for some fast running and some rare track was not to be missed,
even if it meant a likely extended journey time.
I joined the 11:23 ex Wrexham General with 67 013 Dyfrbont Pontcysyllte on a
four-coach silver set, due into Marylebone at 15:36. We were through to
Tame Bridge Parkway on time for 13:01, passing Coventry at 13:39 and at
Rugby (above) at 13:50 where we waited for a path.
Photographers were out in force at Rugby (above). Note sticking heads
out of windows on fast lines is not advisable, but our trains was
stationary at this stage! The timings for the run were produced by some
knowledgeable track-bashers which allowed for progress to be recorded,
but first the northbound W&S with 67
012 A Shropshire Lad
came past at 13:59. Speed was clocked at 110mph between mile posts 46 -
45. Milton Keynes was passed at 14:15 (due 14:13) and Watford Junction
at 14:37 (due 14:34) followed by a five-minute stop at South Kenton
before Wembley Central at 14:52 (due 14:41).
At Wembley yard the diversion took the line under the WCML to Acton
Branch Junction and then the single line to come out at Acton Canal
Wharf and on to Acton Wells Junction with speeds down to 15mph in
Acton Main Line at 15:06 (due 14:58) then up through Drayton Green to
Greenford to reach South Ruislip where we were held for six minute for
late a running Chiltern train to pass, and out to the crossover for
reversal at 15:41, now 20 minutes down. Via Northolt Junction on the
usual route we crossed over the WCML and passed Wembley Stadium at
15:49. It had taken one hour to complete the circle between both
Wembley stations having gone from heading east to Euston to turn south,
head west and then north to go north-west and turn back heading east -
approximate orientations - take a look at the track atlas!
Marylebone was reached at 16:01 with the delay blamed on signals and
late running other services; nevertheless an interesting routing and
via parts I had never before visited.
Just one hour to while away before the return train which had to go out
to Wembley depot for servicing and fuel. I made a brief visit to
Paddington and back to find in platform 4 67 015 David J. Lloyd and a buffet/first
coach which it had worked down from the Axiom Rail works near
Stole-on-Trent where the refurbishment work is taking place (above.)
Then, amazingly, 67 013 was back at 17:00 and we were away right
time at 17:05 to repeat the diversion performance, albeit a bit quicker
and by now in darkness which hid some of the interest. We came out onto
the WCML at 18:05 and proceeded along the slow lines' the conductor
advised we lost five minutes at signals. Speed didn't build up until
north of Bletchley, but we ran fast through Rugby (19:16) to Coventry
Due at Tame Bridge Parkway at 19:43, we made it for 19:53 and kept the
lost 10 minutes all the way round to Wolverhampton. A prolonged
platform stop then lost 5 minutes at Wellington awaiting a failed
freight to clear at Shrewsbury. In platform 3 at Shrewsbury, we waited
time and again at Gobowen for the preceding Arriva Holyhead train to
clear the sections, so reached Wrexham (below) at 21:50 - due 21:26.
The train then went empty to Crewe. A good trip out in the comfort of
the refurbished standard stock with attentive buffet staff and an
informative conductor who appreciated the interest of all the rail fans
on board. Well done! Goodness only knows what the normal passengers
made of it.
Preparations for this journey has seen WSMR staff undertaking route
learning using the Chiltern Class 121 'bubblecar' railcar on the WCML
which would have made an interesting and unusual sight. Apparently
forthcoming weekends will see diversions of one sort or another through
until December - expect routing via Chester & Crewe then the WCML
via Stafford at some stage; also via Trent Valley. The idea of going
into Euston has been mooted but now cancelled due to congestion - they
may have to terminate at Wembley. There will also be several days of
mid-week blockades at various times so additional options may abound
including routing into Paddington, a less 'around-the-houses' option..
So if you missed this interesting journey the option may come round
again - keep an eye on W&S weekend timings and be ready to make a
late decision to travel. This train and the earlier one, as well as
northbound trains, attracted numbers of enthusiasts of all ages and the
journey was voted as good as any organised rail tour.
Borders safari - with Stavros Lainas
On 27 January I headed out to just past Penyffordd to shoot 6V45, the
Dee Marsh - Margam steel train as I had heard it was running regularly
during the week. It passed me at 09:54 with 66 061 hauling a 'looooong' train,
with its assorted wagons, looking like a freight train of days gone by.
Shortly beforehand, a local service to Bidston passed heading in the
opposite direction at 09:49.
I then headed back towards Buckley as I knew there was another
move of a Merseyrail electric set from overhaul at Doncaster works to
Birkenhead depot. Within minutes of my arrival, I heard it approaching.
67 026 leading, with the
adaptor vehicles and 507 021,
passed me at 10:10.
A drive to Helsby was to follow, to see the Ellesmere Port - Fiddlers
Ferry coal train. By this time the weather had deteriorated to driving
rain. I got the shot as 66 617
approached Helsby at 12:29, passing the remains of West Cheshire
Junction where the direct line to Mouldsworth, removed about ten years
ago, branched off.
On the Castle Walls - pictures by Route19
Two views from Conwy Castle on 26 January. Above, 158 823 working the 09:09 Birmingham
- Holyhead past the castle walls.
One of Virgin's small fleet of 4-car Class 221 Voyagers passes the site
of the former Conwy goods yard on the 12:23 Bangor - London Euston.
Warrington impressions - pictures by 'Concrete Bob'
A series of recent views in the Warrington Bank Quay area. Above:
'Snow scene.' The lines in the foreground are the low level route which
passes underneath Bank Quay station.
87 002 The AC Locomotive Group is another
privately-owned loco in regular main line use, hired to First GB
Railfreight for mail trains, as seen here passing through Warrington.
It shares with the recently-revived Deltic D9016 the distinction of
once having carried Porterbrook Purple livery, in which is was one of
the two locos which brought the official final Class 87-hauled Virgin
Train into Manchester Piccadilly on 10 June 2005: see out 16 June 2005 Notebook
for a picture.
A Class 70 crosses the bridge carrying the low-level line over the
River Mersey on the truncated section to Latchford which is now used to
reverse trains on the way to or from Fiddlers Ferry power station. The
tower on the skyline, designed by C.W. & P.P. Pugin was added in
St Mary's Roman Catholic Church (designed by Edward Welby Pugin) in the
'Moonset' over the detergent works.
High Speed for Wales, and other ideas
The Welsh Assembly Government's Enterprise and Learning Committee has
just issued a 52-page report snappily titled 'Future Railway
Infrastructure in Wales' which is available for download
from their website. It comprises 108 paragraphs describing evidence
and submissions received from All and Sundry, followed by a summary of
21 recommendations. Here's a summary of their summary:
All good, and mostly obvious, stuff, but it does bring to mind a quote
from Al Stewart's fine song 'League of Notions' about the Versailles
- 1. WAG should make
the preparation of Transport Assessments a statutory requirement as
part of the planning process for new development.
- 2. WAG should
continue to lobby for the electrification of the railway network
serving Wales. As well as the Great Western Mainline as far as Swansea,
the first priorities should be the diversionary lines between South
Wales and London, the Cardiff area network - including the Valleys
Lines - and the North Wales Mainline. We also recommend that Network
Rail ensure that sufficient gauge clearance is provided on any
electrified track to take freight as well as passenger traffic, and
that the best technology be used to minimise disruption to rail
services while electrification work is being carried out.
- 3. WAG should work
with First Great Western to achieve speed improvements on targeted
services between South Wales and London by omitting station stops such
as Swindon, Didcot and Reading.
- 4. WAG should
ensure that Wales will not be left on the slow train but will benefit
from high speed rail links to the rest of England, Scotland and on to
Europe, WAG should develop a strong case and lobby jointly with other
interested partners for a new High Speed Line from London to South
Wales, and for the North Wales Mainline to be directly connected to the
proposed High Speed 2 Line from London to North West and Scotland. We
further recommend that any high speed rail provision should not detract
from existing services along classic lines.
- 5. The Severn
Tunnel should be adapted for electrification. We also recommend that
Network Rail should be commissioned to consider options for renewing
the Tunnel in the longer term, linked to the business case for a new
High Speed Line from London to South Wales.
- 6. WAG, Network
Rail and the regional transport consortia work together on options to
improve the existing North-South Wales rail line and services,
including a programme of line speed improvements, additional faster
services and a limited stop service on alternate hours during peak
- 7. WAG, in
consultation with Network Rail, should respond individually to the list
of recommended rail speed and capacity improvements listed in Appendix
2 of the report, and update its 2008 Rail Forward Programme accordingly.
- 8. The planning of
railway infrastructure needs to be better integrated with the provision
of more appropriate rolling stock. WAG should agree with the Department
for Transport and Arriva Trains Wales how exactly it will deliver its
commitment to provide more rolling stock, including longer trains on
the Valleys Lines, and that it should publish this in a rolling stock
plan for Wales, as we previously recommended. We also recommend that
rolling stock provision and replacement should be integrated with plans
for electrification of lines in order to achieve synergies and savings.
- 9. WAG and Network
Rail take account of the socio-economic as well as the business case
for new or re-opened stations. We also recommend that WAG, in
consultation with Network Rail, should respond individually to the list
of recommended schemes for new or re-opened stations and lines listed
in Appendix 3 of this report, and update its 2008 Rail Forward
- 10. WAG carry out
a cost-benefit analysis of providing new or enhanced Traws Cambria
[bus] services both to complement existing rail services and to fill in
gaps in the rail network, such as between Carmarthen-Aberystwyth, Moat
Lane junction-Merthyr, Caernarfon-North Wales Main Line and North Wales
Main Line-Ruthin-Corwen, linked to the Heart of Wales Line.
- 11. WAG should
agree to fund the proposal, supported by the regional transport
consortium SWWITCH and petitioners to the National Assembly, for
providing additional trains to Fishguard.
- 12. WAG should
continue to work with partners to invest in improvements to rail
stations in Wales, both for passenger comfort and safety - especially
passengers with disabilities - and also for better connecting rail
stations with other modes of transport such as buses, taxis and safe
cycling and walking routes. We further recommend that these
improvements be integrated in strategic transport plans at national and
- 13. WAG should
encourage the regional transport consortia, through their Regional
Transport Plans, to develop more Park and Ride facilities to encourage
more people to travel by train, and that the assessment of need include
consideration of a growth in use to ensure sufficient numbers of
parking spaces can be provided.
- 14. WAG respond to
the Department for Transport’s consultation on 'Better Rail Stations'
and support the that Cardiff become a Category A station.
- 15. The Deputy
First Minister told us that he would welcome innovative transport
solutions, including light rail. We therefore recommend that WAG work
with relevant partners to commission feasibility studies for developing
light rail networks in the main urban areas of Cardiff, Swansea and
Newport, which should include consideration of how to integrate such
systems with existing heavy rail infrastructure.
- 16. Given the
forecasted [sic] growth in both rail freight and passenger traffic, we
repeat our 2007 recommendation that WAG should give higher priority and
more resources to encouraging a modal shift of freight from road to
rail, including signalling, loading gauge and axle-weight capacity
enhancements. This needs to be managed carefully in partnership with
Network Rail and the Train Operating Companies to avoid conflict with
rail passenger traffic. We further recommend that as part of a study to
understand better the pattern of movement of freight WAG and its
partners consider how to plan for the strategic location of terminals
to increase the amount of freight that can be transferred to rail
- 17. WAG and
Network Rail prepare an action plan to identify and connect appropriate
ports in Wales to adequate rail infrastructure in order for rail to
compete with road and to fit operationally and financially with
industries’ logistics and distribution networks. We further recommend
that WAG should ensure the Department for Transport’s current
consultation on a national policy statement for ports in England and
Wales reflects Welsh priorities.
- 18. once the
National and Regional Transport Plans are finalised, a formal concordat
with Network Rail should be drawn up and agreed by WAG and the regional
transport consortia. This would help achieve greater transparency in
rail planning from the national to the regional level and closer
communication and cooperation to ensure aspirations for the future rail
infrastructure in Wales are coordinated and delivered.
- 19. WAG should
seek equivalent powers to the Scottish Government, together with the
associated funding, whether by amendments to the Railways Act 2005 or
other appropriate legislative means. We also recommend that WAG should
continue to make a strong case for continued investment in Wales
through the planning group for the next High Level Output Specification
- 20. WAG should use
the opportunity of the next five-year performance review assessment of
the Wales and Borders (Arriva Trains Wales) franchise to seek
improvements for rail passengers and better value for public money. We
further recommend that the Government establish a round-table
partnership with the regional transport consortia to explore how the
franchise could be improved.
- 21. WAG work with
the regional transport consortia on developing integrated policies for
pricing structures such as smartcard systems that allow people to
travel on different modes of transport – rail, light rail, buses – as
well as encouraging alternatives to using the car.
Woodrow Wilson has his fourteen points
But Clemenceau turns to Lloyd George
And says "You know that
God himself had only ten"
The report itself includes links to all the evidence sessions,
including the following interesting comment from Arriva Trains Wales:
'The Franchise Agreement does not commit Arriva Trains Wales to any
obligations on major investment. The bid was accepted by the Strategic
Rail Authority as a 'do nothing' Franchise and any service enhancements
are therefore inevitably funded from external sources. Despite this,
Arriva Trains Wales has invested over £20m in facilities to
improve the service to its customers. Examples include the
establishment of a new train maintenance depot at Machynlleth to
improve fleet reliability and train presentation standards, providing
improved customer information facilities, additional security at
stations and on trains and the installation of ticket gates and ticket
vending machines in stations.'
Appendix 3, re-openings, includes Bangor to Caernarfon, plus stations
on the Cambrian line (Bow Street, Carno), the Shrewsbury to Chester
line (Baschurch, Whittington, Weston Rhyn, Cefn, Johnstown, Rossett,
Chester Business Park); and the North Wales Coast line (Queensferry,
Connah’s Quay, Bagillt, Greenfield).
Welsh Highland Heritage at the Olympic Stadium
The Welsh Highland Heritage Railway's locomotive fleet includes two
Hunslet Barclay 12-tonne, 84hp, four-wheeled diesel locos of the
type designed to use in mining operations. Kathy (works no. LD9350/94) and Emma (works no. LD9346/94) were
among a batch built in 1994 for use on the Jubilee Line Extension
project, London, operated by a consortium of
Balfour Beatty and Amec, although owned by Hunslet Barclay. The picture
above shows Emma at work on
They were some of the last locos to be built at the Jack Lane works
before closure, and were obtained by the WHHR when sold off at the end
of the work. Kathy has been
fitted with a cab and is seen above hauling a WHHR passenger train.
Emma was missing some parts
when received, so when asked if a loco could be loaned to a new project
in London, the railway saw its chance to get the her put pack into
spokesman James Hewett says:
'The loco was part of a project called the
Lower Lea Valley Cable Tunnels (Olympics). It was a contract for NGT
National Grid and EDF Local Electricity Board. Two tunnels were built,
each around four miles long to accommodate electricity supply cables to
the Olympic stadium. No one from the WHHR was involved in the
simply put the loco on a low loader and watched it disappear towards
the English border. However, the contractor has told us that Emma
performed very well and was extremely reliable. We're very pleased that
our Welsh railway has had a small part in putting together the Olympic
stadium for 2012. It
shows narrow gauge railways, a technology pioneered in North Wales over
150 years ago, can still be of use in the most unusual places.'
66 731 passing Ince & Elton
station on 26 January 2010, working 4C77 from Fiddlers Ferry power
station to Newbiggin which runs via Ellesmere Port to run round.
This train carries gypsum (Calcium Sulphate) produced from Limestone
(Calcium Carbonate) by the flue gas de-sulphurisation plant at the
station, which is used to manufacture plasterboard at the Kirby Thore
works of British Gypsum.
The same train passes Frodsham on the way back from Ellesmere Port (Mark Barber)
A fairly reliable picture subject (Mon - Fri) is train 4O10, Trafford
Park to Southampton, which passes through Manchester in the allocated
freight path just before 13:00. It is pictured here passing Manchester
Oxford Road on 27 January: the clock under the canopy is three minutes
fast and has been so for several weeks. The loco is 92 031 The Institute of Logistics and Transport,
the train as far as Wembley Yard. At one time EWS
trains here were all for the Channel Tunnel, but DB Schenker are no,
very much in the maritime container business, and has a fleet of 'well
wagons' to carry 9ft 6in-high containers. Picture by Charlie Hulme.
On 29 January Ex-National Power loco 59
201 Vale of York
hauled 6F10, 12:43 (MWFO) Warrington Arpley - Gladstone Steel Terminal
(Liverpool Docks), pictured above by Andrew
Vinten passing Roby station. This loco arrived at
Warrington Arpley earlier in the week on train 6X77 from Wembley as a
replacement for 59 204 which has gone back south for repair.
Quite a contrast to the long steel train shown earlier! See our last update for some wagon info: nearest the
camera is one of the wagons converted from an iron ore tippler, and
next to the loco is a Thrall-built BYA. ()
Bring Back British Rail?
The following comes our way from the 'Bring Back British Rail'
We hope that this will be the year that
our politicians finally begin to admit that the current franchise
system is failing the people of Britain and that something
urgently needs to be done to improve the state of our country's
railways. In the run up to the General Election, the campaign aims to
force this issue onto the political agenda by becoming the unified
voice of the millions of disillusioned and dissatisfied train
passengers around the country.
Our efforts are centring on an online petition
to end on 2 May 2010. If you support the campaign's aims,
please do add your signature today!
We are relying on our supporters to spread the word and help us get as
many signatures as possible on the petition before the General Election
takes place. Please forward the details to all your friends and
colleagues, join our Facebook page
and see below for some more great ways of showing your support...
T-Shirts: Bring Back British Rail campaign t-shirts are now available
to order for just £12 each including delivery in the UK.
The first batch of t-shirts sold out in less than a week before
Christmas and we are now taking orders for the second batch. All
t-shirts are plain white cotton, with a screen-printed logo on the
front and back (shown above). Available in small, medium, large and
We are very pleased to announce the launch of our new annual membership
scheme. For just £10 members will receive an exclusive Bring Back
British Rail enamel lapel badge (shown above), which is unavailable to
purchase anywhere else. All members will be acknowledged on the
'Support Us' page of our website and will be kept up-to-date with
campaign activities via the mailing list. Money raised from the
membership scheme will be used to fund campaign materials and
activities. Join Now
Before getting too enthusiastic, and/or rushing to point out that the
BR logo is a mirror image, readers might wish to bear in mind that the website
appears to have been been created by Ellie Harrison, a conceptual
artist, whose amusing list of past
projects includes a 'spoof website.'
page : 2010
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