Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

19 April 2010

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This site is dedicated to all our regular contributors and supporters, and especially the all rail staff of North Wales.

Coming events:

Tuesday  20 April   North Wales Railway Circle  China Steam 

23-25 April. Llangollen Railway Spring steam gala in aid of the Patriot Appeal and Corwen extension fund raiser. A visiting engine will be LMS 2-6-0 42968.

Saturday 24 April.  Steam on the Coast. PMR Tours. The Welsh Dragon (Lincoln) - Crewe - Holyhead.

Saturday 24 April. Chester Model Railway Club & Ffestiniog Railway Dee & Mersey Group. The Thames Valley Express. Excursion train from Hooton to Windsor picking up at Bache, Chester and Crewe with option to leave train at Harrow & Wealdstone for London. MkII coaches top and tailed by Class 67 Diesel locomotives.

May 2010
Tuesday  4 May   North Wales Railway Circle      David Lindsay:  Around Lake Maggiore & Milano.

Saturday 8 May Mid-Cheshire Rail Users Association Excursion. Most Mid Cheshire Line Stations, Manchester
Piccadilly, Stockport and Crewe to Oxford, Bath (for the East Somerset Railway) and Bristol. Booking info       

See the Calendar page for more details.

17 April: A warm balmy afternoon alongside the River Conwy and Tal-y-Cafn and Eglwysbach Station slumbers in the stillness with only the droning of bees to disturb this rustic peace and the odd breeze to just tickle the daffodils. 
This station is a credit to a small group of volunteer station adopters from the Llandudno and Conwy Valley railway society whose weekly toil of gardening is very much appreciated by our Rail Partnership, Arriva Trains Wales and perhaps most important of all, our passengers on the line who so often pass complimentary remarks.  Such scenes make you want to come back and stay awhile! - Larry Davies.

Volcano affects North Wales Coast!

Mid-April saw the railway companies doing their best to carry a huge increase in Anglo-Irish ferry passenger numbers after high-altitude clouds of ash from a volcano in Iceland caused the authorities to ban passenger airline flights to and from the UK for several days. The morning London to Holyhead train on 16 April, for example, pictured above by Alan Crawshaw, was formed by two Voyagers to cater for the increased traffic resulting from the Icelandic volcano ash closing the sky to aircraft. It left Bangor full and standing: we wonder how many will appreciate the railway coming to the rescue and how many will grumble about the fare and the overcrowding. In the background the 12:24 Bangor to Euston is departing from platform 1.

Arriva Trains Wales also rose to the occasion, adding extra coaches when they could (causing some people to complain about the use of Class 150s) and also provided a connecting train from the ferry which arrives at Holyhead in the small hours and has not had a regular train for some time. 16 and 17 April saw an 03:00 Holyhead - Crewe train formed of three units: on 17 April 175 004 /  104 / 105 were used. Network Rail also played there part by cancelling engineering work which had been planned for the weekend.

Freight views

Train 6L56, comprising 66 621 and 22 loaded wagons of small granite chippings, destination Chesterton Junction, passes Llandudno Junction at 16:40 on 12 April (Peter Lloyd)

Yet more variety to the traction seen on the Carlisle-Chirk timber trains occurred recently with Fastline 66 434 being observed working the daytime empty KFA wagons from Kronospan. (6C19 Chirk - Carlisle). On only its second working within a week, it departs Chirk at 12:10 on 13 April. The train with its loaded wagons was seen approaching Wrexham General at 04:45 that morning, so it was at Kronospan for over six hours. (Mark Riley)

The next day, 66 434 ran again and was pictured, off our normal patch at Balshaw Lane Junction, on the northbound empty logs ...

... and at the same location on the same day, Colas 66 843 is on the usual southbound logs, running via the Settle and Carlisle line this week as part of a driver familiarisation programme.

The eastbound flask passes the well-preserved old station building at Waverton at 14:02 on 13 April behind a pair of 37s, 37 611 and 601... It looks like the crew were enjoying the trip! (Stavros Lainas)

16 April's flask was hauled by 20 304 and 37 059, seen filling Bangor station with the lovely English Electric music as they roared through. (Alan Crawshaw)

The same train at Bagillt: on this day, as so often recently, the train returned to Crewe much earlier than its official 'booked time' of 14:58 from Valley, leaving Valley at 12:09. (Andrew Vinten)

The engineers' sidings at Rhyl, with a tamping machine awaiting its next duty (Darren Durrant)

Yellow flowers and a yellow train - report by Eifion Hughes

In a lovely bit of spring sunshine on 14 April, I luckily had the camera in the boot when passing Bangor Station and I noticed the yellow coaches of the Network Rail structure gauging train. As there's a good chance of picking up a Parking Ticket I went round to the goods yard for the first view of 31 285. (The usual permission was sought from the permanent way staff.

I returned to the main car park and left the Wife in charge of the car; this time I had permission from a member of the British Transport Police to access the platform via the steps next to their office.This is 'Skinhead' (no marker lights above the cab window) 31 105 and a Virgin Voyager departing with the afternoon London service.

Proposed new bridge in Chester

Elsewhere in Chester, Cheshire West and Chester Council propose to remove the existing pedestrian footbridge across the River Dee at Curzon Park which is attached to the south side of the railway bridge and replace it with a new wider pedestrian and cycle bridge attached the opposite side of the bridge with step-free access at both ends. The Cpimcil have supplied us with the 'conceptual drawing' above, which they ask us to point out is not meant as a detaiuled plan. We understand that the present footbridge will not be removed until the new bridge has been completed.

This is one of several proposed projects in the Cycle Chester Programme. Speaking about the project, Programme Manager Bethan Vaughan says "The Cycle Chester team, have been working over the past two years to make cycling in Chester a realistic option for people who don't ride for one reason or another. We have looked at problem areas across the city and are looking to make cycling a regular part of day to day life, even for those with little or no confidence on roads at present."

A public drop-in event, with an exhibition of the proposals and the
opportunity to share your comments and suggestions, will held on Wednesday 21st April from 1.30pm to 7pm in Room 3 of the Quaker Meeting House in Frodsham Street, Chester,  CH1 3LF, very close to the City Rail Link bus stop. If you are unable to attend the event, the full plans will be available on the Council's website from 22 to 28 April where you will also be able to pass on your comments. (From a rail photographers point of view, this could provide a new opportunity to photograph trains on the Roodee viaduct, but  then that's probably not a valid comment!)

Tornado on the West Coast

The new-build loco Tornado  is the star of the rails at the moment. This mixed collection of coaches seen on departing Crewe on 14 April is 1Z73 07:08 Crewe to Carlisle via the Cumbrian Coast, hence the train title 'Cumbrian Coast Tornado.' The train included several "Great Briton" coaches, plus a very tatty looking catering vehicle, and three ex-Virgin Trains Mark 2s at the rear for Standard Class passengers. All sealed-window accommodation, which is unusual for a steam trip. (Tim Fenton)

Due to the late arrival of the empty stock, it was running some 12 minutes late departing Crewe, when seen just north of Crewe at Coppenhall Moss with a army of photographers on the footbridge, such was the interest of this loco at that time of the morning. It was accelerating well, even though on the down slow line. (Cliff Gallimore)

Passing Winsford at 07:30 -  a  small group of enthusiasts had gathered on the station to see it despite the  early hour  - and surprisingly the sun shone briefly at the right moment. (John Beresford)

Warrington Bank Quay  just before 08:00 as it calls to pick up. There was a Pendolino hard on it's heels, which explains the use of platform 4 at Warrington - not ideal for photos, but fine if you wanted to get close and drink in the atmosphere. (Concrete Bob)

Great Orme tramway finds new driver

BBC News reports 'A new 'driver' has been found for the Victorian tramway at Llandudno after an extensive search. A close-knit workforce of eight full-time and seven seasonal workers run trips up the Great Orme.Ne w hire David Jones used to work at power stations across the country, but decided he wanted a job closer to home. The top speed on the job will be seven miles per hour, but as the steep track shares the route with cars and people he has to be on alert at all times.

'"People think we just stand at the front of the tram, but we have to be constantly on the lookout for people, cars, or walkers," said Mr Jones, who lives in Llandudno. A large part of the job is PR "we're like a mini tourist information, because people ask us a lot of questions", he added. Accidents are extremely rare although there was a slight derailment last year - the cause of which has been investigated to make sure it does not happen again. There were no injuries then, but in the most serious incident in 1932 a tram came off the rail and the driver, and a little girl, were killed. It has been running since 1902, with various owners until it was taken over by Llandudno Urban District Council, but it is run by Conwy County Borough Council. '

The Great Britain III steam charter

The 'Great Britain III' was a nine-day Railway Touring Company steam charter starting in London on 6 April and visiting Plymouth, Bristol, Glasgow, Stranraer, Inverness, Kyle of Lochalsh, Edinburgh and York before returning to London on 14 April. Our pictures are of the Bristol - Preston leg on 8 April. Above, it is seen arriving at Crewe on 8 April, around 50 minutes late after a points failure at Bushbury Junction (just north of Wolverhampton). Locos: Black Five 44871 and Britannia Pacific 70013 Oliver Cromwell (note different BR emblems on the two tenders). The train was even later leaving, around 75 minutes down, and not helped by what appeared to be problems getting the brakes off (Tim Fenton)

Passing Daresbury (Stavros Lainas). 44871 will be hauling the Cambrian Coast steam trains this summer.

Steaming through Warrington Bank Quay, passing 92 003 Beethoven in the stabling siding (Darren Durrant)

Train Rides Return to Oswestry - report by Gareth Evans

Train rides returned to the Welsh border market town of Oswestry over the Easter weekend as part of the latest development of the Cambrian Heritage Railways Project. For the princely sum of £1, visitors could enjoy a ride from the Cambrian Railways Museum platform on Oswald Road, across the Coney Green and on to Middleton Road Bridge. Trains were worked by 0-4-0 diesel locomotive Telemon, passengers being carried in restored 1948-built guard's van DB955055, complete with its end verandas. Seen above with the train are volunteers Ken Owen, Matthew Higgins, Rob Williams, Chris Miller and Dave Morris.

While the Cambrian Railways Society has previously run trains along this
stretch of track, this weekend's operation forms part of the new Cambrian Heritage Railways (CHR) Project to see trains return to Oswestry. The CHR is the umbrella body created last year to deliver a heritage railway for the Oswestry area, which has seen the Cambrian Railways Society and Cambrian Railways Trust join forces.

We've received extremely favourable comments about the return of trains to Oswestry after an absence of four years. This marks the latest step in the development of the Cambrian Heritage Railways Project in Oswestry. It is hoped that by mid summer we will be able to extend operations to run in front of the restored station building, one of the town's landmarks.

Meanwhile, bumper passenger figures were reported on 'Easter Bunny' trains at the Cambrian Heritage Railway's Llynclys site, four miles south of Oswestry. In addition to enjoying a train ride in a 1950s diesel railcar from Llynclys to Pant, 'Peter Rabbit' distributed chocolate eggs, much to the delight of younger visitors. Other attractions on site included face painting, a football competition  and an Easter egg hunt. Back by popular demand from the railway's successful 'Santa Specials', a magic show was also on offer.

Chester station heritage

The picture above, from the Chester Renaissance 'Townscape Heritage Initiative' newsletter, shows a lath-and-plaster ceiling in process of restoration, using the traditional technique with Scottish pine laths and haired piaster, in the main office room on the first floor of the east wing of Chester's main station building. 'Historically designed' windows have also been installed on this floor to reverse alterations made in the 1960s, the purpose being to restore a matching appearance of the frontage along its whole length. All Network Rail will have to do next is to find a tenant for the office space.

On the island platform, new 'historically designed' doors have been installed at the west pavilion as the first phase of the restoration of this building. The restoration of the east pavilion is 'expected to start soon.'

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