THE NORTH WALES COAST RAILWAY NOTICE
Hysbysfwrdd Rheilffordd Arfordir Gogledd Cymru
175 101 at Llandudno Junction,
9 February (Stéphanie Durrant)
This site is dedicated to all our regular contributors and
supporters, and especially the rail staff of North Wales.
22 February 2010
Catch-up issue! The items on this
page are from early February. For some later news, see the last update...
News from Compass Tours - by Kevin Melia
Compass Tours are running two excursions from Chester or North Wales in
Saturday 29 May: to Carlisle,
Outwards via the Settle & Carlisle, returning via the Cumbrian
Coast. Pick up stations - Hooton, Chester, Delamere, Northwich,
Knutsford, Altrincham, Stockport, Denton, Manchester Victoria &
Bolton. Standard Class fare £49, First Class £79
Motive power: DB Schenker class 67.
Saturday 5 June: To Llandrindod
and Cardiff: Outwards via the Heart of Wales, returning via the Marches.
Pickup stations - Holyhead, Llanfairpwll, Bangor, Llandudno Junction,
Colwyn Bay, Rhyl, Flint, Chester, Crewe, Nantwich, Whitchurch, Wem
& Shrewsbury. Standard Class fare £55, First Class
£85 (£6 reduction on all fares if boarding between Crewe
Details of these tours and others are available at www.compasstoursbyrail.co.uk
and can be booked by calling 0151 722 1147 (10am-6pm weekdays).
Other railtour highlights from the North West for rail enthusiasts
feature top-and-tail DRS 47s working Crewe-Carlisle (via Liverpool
pickups) on Wednesday 7 April (featuring runs over the S&C +
Cumbrian Coast) and 40 145 working a Father's Day Special on Sunday 20
June from York to Edinburgh picking up via Huddersfield, Manchester and
across Lancashire to Preston. On this circular tour the 40 hauls the
train up the West Coast Mainline via Shap and Beattock, then returns
via the East Coast to York before dropping everyone off home and
finally terminating at Preston afterwards. All the other tours (mainly
utilising modern diesels) are of course also posted on the website with
a variety of other destinations being visited such as Dundee and
Aberdeen, Fort William plus Troon and Ayr.
Measurement Train movements
9 February saw the Network Rail 'sprinter'-based measurement unit 950 001 running around our area.
Above, A slideshow by the Durrant family of views around Llandudno
Junction and Colwyn Bay.
950 001 is a one-off creation known as the Track Recording Unit: it was
built in 1987 on the same production line as the Class 150 'sprinters'
- but is not a conversion, it has always been like this. This is quite
unusual as most of the 'yellow' stock you will see has been converted
from something else. Its basic purpose is to monitor and record track
geometry, that is to say check that the track is not uneven, buckled or
kinked, with it does by means of various instruments. The cameras on
the ends, which were not fitted until around 2003/4, make a visual
record of the track to augment the instrumentation. Its role is more or
less that of the HST-based New Measurement Trains (which include a
'Track Recording Car' in their formation) and it can usually found
doing its job on the lighter branch lines and rural routes. Sometimes
you will see a Track Recording car, usually Mk2 conversion ADB999550,
sandwiched between two locos, doing basically the same work as the
The working on 9 February was 2Q08, 06:36 Longsight Depot to Longsight
Depot via Greenbank, Llandudno Junction, Hooton, Chester, Runcorn East,
Ellesmere Port, Runcorn, and Greenbank. Above, it is seen near Helsby (Stavros Lainas)
Mark Barber's picture shows 950
001 crossing over while reversing at Norton signalbox next to Runcorn
Light Rails for North Wales?
A company called 'TramPower'
rail; restoring the
Llandudno - Colwyn Bay tram, possibly continuing to Rhyl; a street
network in Wrexham and continuing onto Deeside and possibly towards
In a press release responding to the recent Welsh Assembly Committee
report, they tell us:
The support for Light Rail in Cardiff,
Newport and Swansea in the Committee’s report has been welcomed by
TramPower Ltd, producers of affordable Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs), LR55
rail and Overhead (OHL). Commercial and Public Affairs Director Neil
Anderson said, 'The report is tremendous news for the Light Rail
industry in the UK and we congratulate the Committee for recognising
the contribution that Light Rail would make towards sustainability,
improving urban accessibility, decongesting traffic and improving air
quality in our cities'.
He repeated TramPower’s offers made last week to provide Light Rail
networks at virtually no cost to public finances to Cardiff/Newport and
Swansea. Mr Anderson said the Company had recently received Letters of
Intent for the supply of 17 LRVs and track for their most mature
project, in Galway, Ireland. The project, with an embedded
renewable energy supply, has an Internal Rate of Return (IRR) exceeding
13%, will be wholly privately financed.
'We can offer privately-financed routes wherever they prove to be
commercial. This may well apply in other places, like Wrexham and
Deeside. Even Aberystwyth and Bangor might justify a single LR
route' he said. 'Our products are about half the cost of our global
competitors, and the LRVs use about one-quarter of the energy. We
can offer rail vehicles to tram-train specifications as well as street
trams. Our low-cost and rapidly installed Overhead would make the
electrification of the Valley Lines and other branch lines in Wales,
also supported by the Committee, very affordable'.
Mr Anderson, who made extensive submissions to the Committee on both
Light Rail and High Speed Rail, supports the sale of Light Rail bonds
to the public – 'the sort of thing you might buy for your
grandchildren' – as well as shares. 'Such a community-based
enterprise would have additional and very positive benefits for our
people' he said.
Readers may recall their prototype tram which ran in Blackpool for a
while, and in Birkenhead (above) in 2005.
Clearly, much persistence is needed to make headway in innovative light
rail systems. Meanwhile, Blackpool has ordered 16 new low-floor
trams from Bombardier, to begin delivery later this year.
Cambrian ERTMS update
Thanks to everyone who has written with information about the Cambrian
ERTMS situation. The picture above is by Richard W. Jones and shows Harlech
station on the night of 24 January, with 97 304 John Tiley on the Radio survey
train, as the King Edward I's thirteenth-century castle looks on.
Regarding the summer steam service, it is reported in Railway Magazine that 'Black 5'
is to be fitted with ERTMS equipment. It will be certainly interesting
to see how this is achieved, given the amount of equipment that is
required; perhaps there is room under the tender for the doppler radar
equipment, etc. This engine was bought by Ian Riley in 2006, and has
been overhauled at Bury and fitted with the various items of equipment
needed these days for for main line running, working its first trains
in this form at the end of 2009. It has a place in history, being one
of the locos used on the famous 'fifteen-guinea
special' on 11 August 1968 which marked the end of main line steam
on British Rail.
We hear that the loco is considered overweight for the Barmouth bridge,
due too much weight being on the tender leading axle, so it is proposed
to put a steel former in the coal space to reduce the coal load.
These locos are not ideal for running tender-first, as the there is not
much of a view over the tender, but the type has been used on other
lines with no turning facility, such as Fort William - Mallaig, so it
must considered acceptable.
Another fine picture by Richard W.
Jones: 97 303 sits on
with 15 MHA wagons, loaded with stone to make a 750 ton load, at
Newtown on 3 February. It has run round the train and waits for 97 304
to couple up in front of it prior to the train
returning to Shrewsbury Coton Hill. The pair had run to Newtown on the
Coton Hill as part of the ERTMS trials. For large versions of these
pictures and more, visit Richard's fotopic website.
158 823 at Aberystwyth, 2
February (Larry Davies)
The snows of '82 (continued) - by Ted Thomas
The pictures by Aled Rees of the snow at Cemmaes Road (24 January issue),
and the subsequent story of the trapped loco and train at Tonfanau,
brought back vivid memories. At that time, I worked as an Assistant
Engineer on highway maintenance, based at the Dolgellau office. The
storm, as I recall, started mid morning on the Friday, with the snow
coming in from the sea, fine snow and strong winds to start with, but
by late afternoon, nearly every route in the Meirionnydd area became
Indeed it was a situation that lasted over a week in the
Dolgellau/Tywyn area, with the A.493 completely blocked by snowdrifts.
By the following Tuesday, the 'Drotts and JCBs' had reached just beyond
Llwyngwril, working south, and I well remember walking along the
railway line near Llangelynin, and climbing into the cab of the
abandoned 25 which was stuck in snowdrifts, yards from the Cardigan Bay
shoreline. A remarkable sight indeed.
Accompanying me that day, was Hugh Bowen Evans, whose brother-in-law
Ronnie Thomas, who is probably to be seen in Aled's photograph, was one
of last signalmen at Cemmaes Road signal box (the other signalman I
believe was William Breeze).
Again from memory, milk, bread and all essentials came in by rail from
Machynlleth to Aberdyfi and Tywyn, for several days after the storm, so
I'm not sure that this section of line was actually closed. Perhaps
someone else can verify that detail.
Seen on a bike ride - report by Peter Lloyd
Some pictures I took whilst out on my bicycle on 3 February. Above, a
Bidston-bound 150 at Dee Marsh, passing vans and timber wagons stored
in the sidings awaiting an upturn in traffic.
Mickle Trafford, with Northern Rail unit 150 211 on the Manchester - Chester
via Northwich service.
Chester, and a Holyhead-bound 158 emerges from Northgate Tunnel.
My train home to Llandudno, 175 106,
Steam celebrities - pictures by Tim Fenton
A doubly-unusual event on 4 February. The Royal Train, carrying Prince
Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall and their entourage, was hauled for
the first time by newly-built Class A1 steam locomotive 60163 Tornado from Preston to Manchester.
If that wasn't unusual enough, the train ran into the Manchester Museum
of Science and Industry (MOSI)
Chadwick. Our picture above shows the train
at Crewe later in the day.
This was, we believe, only the second passenger-carrying train to run
over the museum connection since it was re-connected in the 1980s,
controlled from the then-new Manchester Piccadilly signalling centre.
Surely the heir to the throne is not a 'track-basher'? If the proposals
in Network Rail's 'Manchester Hub Report' (read
PDF) a new section of line, the 'Ordsall
Chord' - known when first proposed in 1978 as the Castlefield Curve -
will be constructed to allow through runnning between Manchester
Victoria and Piccadilly. This will cut across the museum line on the
same level; the report makes no mention of how a connection could be
retained, so unless new director Tony Hill (promoted from within the
museum's senior management) encourages more usage, this train might
also been the last to carry passengers into the historic 1830 station.
The previous director of MOSI, Steve Davies, has been appointed the new
director of the National
Museum in York, where Tim's second picture is taken,
showing the current appearance of the pacific Duchess of Hamilton as mentioned in
our 2 February issue.
and there is
a photo of that loco emerging from Crewe Works.'
Llangollen Railway picture news - by George Jones
Saturday 16 January and the service was provided by the hybrid set of
class 105 E56456 and 127 M51618 seen arriving from Carrog -
into a still-icy Llangollen platform 2.
The GWR 2-8-0 No.2807 has the
repaired boiler back in the frames at Llangollen but awaits the
wheelsets to complete the job. The wheels are at South Devon Railway
Buckfastleigh having new tyres fitted. When rewheeled the engine can be
expected to do some running-in trips at Llangollen before heading off
to the owners' base on the Gloucestershire/Warwickshire railway at the
end of a notable long term restoration project which has seen the
oldest of the Barry scrapyard inhabitants returned to steam. It was
built at Swindon in 1905.
The BR Standard tank 80072 has
receiving the finalised version of its lining out and numbering with BR
transfers applied. Here is the glossy finish and numbers on the bunker
- it won't stay like this for long!
Here is 'Jinty' 47298 back in
one piece - almost. After running trials over the Christmas period it
is now lined up for completion and readiness to resume its 'Thomas'
role in this, his 65th anniversary year. A big party is being organised
Llangollen in May to celebrate - another 'coal cake' springs to mind.
Trains continue to run every weekend - view the Llangollen
page : 2010
the previous Noticeboard