Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

07 May 2010

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Contributions and comments are encouraged: see the Contributions Page

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

Forthcoming events

May 2010

Tuesday 11 May. The 8E Railway Association (Northwich);  Dave Bathurst presents 'The Chasewater Railway - 50 years On'

15/16 May.  Llangollen Railway Charity event in aid of Hope House Children's Hospice.

29 May. Llangollen Railway Celebrating Thomas the Tank's 65th birthday.

Saturday 29 May Excursion Compass Tours  'The Cumbrian Fellsman'    Hooton, Chester, Delamere, Northwich, Knutsford, Altrincham, Stockport, Denton, Manchester Victoria & Bolton to Carlisle via Settle Carlisle Railway outward and returning via the Cumbrian Coast Railway line.  Class 67 Diesel to feature throughout. [This train is fully booked.]

June 2010
Saturday 5 June Excursion  Compass Tours 'The Heart Of Wales Scenic Rambler' Holyhead, LlanfairPG, Bangor, Llandudno Junction, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl, Flint, Chester, Crewe, Nantwich, Whitchurch, Wem & Shrewsbury to Cardiff via the Heart of Wales scenic railway.  Class 66 Diesel to feature throughout. 

Saturday 12 June. Steam to Chester. Railway Touring Company. Cleethorpes to Chester with 44871.

26-27 June.  Llangollen Railway Heritage Railcar Gala. An intensive service with the resident railcars and a special visitor plus the steam autotrain.

See the Calendar page for more details.

HM The Queen rides the sunny Llandudno branch, 27 April. See report below. Picture by Peter Lloyd.

Editorial rantings

As some may have guessed, I have been away from base (special mention again to the marvellous Moor of Rannoch Hotel - the picture above was taken - a second too late - from our room) and the last two updates were prepared in advance and loaded by remote control ... sorry the RSS feed did not work properly. So many news events have happened while I was away that we'll have to temporarily abandon the weekly cycle and insert some extra pages including this one. I hope you like it.

My Internet connection here is via NTL/virginmedia, and once I used their email system too, until I found that the file space for incoming mails was so limited that emails with large pictures would fill it before I could get to download the messages. So I began using email from my website supplier, and set up the Ntlworld account to forward all messages and then delete them from the NTL server. Unknown to me, at the beginning of April the settings were changes without my knowledge, so the forwarded messages were not deleted, until the space filled up, and some of you may have received error messages, for which I can only apologise. I did receive all your emails. You are encouraged to use the address given on the contributions page rather than the NTL one.

And if that is not bad enough, NTL/Virgin email is being transferred to a service supplied by Googlemail, and, as part of the transfer process. Users (not me fortunately) who have been relying on Virgin Media's Webmail service to store mail have found that all their messages - including the 'sent' mailbox - older than 90 days have been deleted, without any warning, and cannot be recovered. Unbelievable. Anyway, above is a view at Rannoch station, a couple of minutes from the hotel. The rail-wheeled Land Rover used by track workers has reversed out of the section ahead to allow the 11:05 to Mallaig to arrive.

Thanks as always for all the contributions. - Charlie.

Wrexham and Shropshire news

The day after the problems which led to the use of a Class 168 railcar set on a Wrexham train, 67 015 appeared hauling the spare set of blue ans grey coaches, seen here pausing at Gobowen with the 1144 for Marylebone on 22 April.

Thanks to everyone who wrote to tell us that the W&S crew training on the North Wales line was not part of some sneaky Deutsche Bahn master plan as we light-heartedly hinted, but the result of W&S having volunteered to crew the train for this year's Three Peaks Special to raise funds for the 'Railway Children' charity.

The event takes place from Thursday 24 June to Saturday 26 June,
transporting up to 200 walkers around the country to climb the highest peaks in Wales, England and Scotland. This year will see a new partnership between Railway Children, Rail Blue Charters and Wrexham & Shropshire. A rake of Blue and Grey Mk3 first class coaches and a W&S Class 67 will be used throughout the trip: this formation is likely to be supplemented by one of the red 'constellation' Class 86 electrics of ETL hauling the train from Euston to Crewe and on part of the return trip up the West Coast Main Line on the Saturday. The Charity is very grateful for all the help they have received from the parties involved over the past few months which has ensured that the train was viable to run during these difficult times. Train crew will be provided by W&S, First GBRf and DRS. (EWS have provided the train in previous years.)

Approximate timings: Departing Euston 18:00 Thursday, Crewe 21:00, Bangor 23:00. The train will spend the night at Holyhead, while the walkers go by coach to Pen-y-Pass and walk up and down Snowdon in the dark, returning to Bangor for an 06:00 departure Friday to Ravenglass. The walkers then travel by Ravenglass and Eskdale train to Dalegarth to walk up and down Scafell Pike, then by train from Ravenglass departing 20:00 on Friday to Fort William arriving 04:30 Saturday.

A coach to Glen Nevis visitor centre, then a stroll to the summit of Ben Nevis and back in time for the return train which departs Fort William 12:30, for Motherwell 17:30, Crewe 21:00 and Euston 23:30 Saturday.

The train is, of course a private charter, the only way to get to travel  is to take part in the challenge! There may be some places left ...  More details at The Railway Children website.

On the subject of charity fund-raising, the plan is for one of the winners of our recent charity cab-ride auction will be travelling from Holyhead to Crewe aboard the Virgin Class 57 on 8 May.

Class 70 down the Coast

A 'first' occurred on 27 April when one of the new General Electric Class 70 locos visited Penmaenmawr quarry to collect a load of stone. Elwyn Greenhalgh photographed the westbound empties, 6D22 from Crewe Basford Hall, at Llandudno Junction.

Under the loader at the quarry (Eryl Crump)

A closer view (Eryl Crump)

Portrait of the locomotive (Peter Lloyd) The 'bulge around the fans is very typical of North American locomotives; unlike the homeland versions, though, the 70 does not have handrails for the crew to walk along the outside, as the UK structure gauge does not have enough width.

70 002 hauls its train away from the quarry sidings in an exhaust and stone dust haze. Picture by Corrie.

The loaded train at Llandudno Junction (Garnedd Jones)

Royal Visit, 27 April

HM The Queen visited North Wales on 27 April, travelling in the Royal Train to Bangor, where Stéphanie Durrant was able to photograph the train arriving.

'Mind the gap between the train and the platform edge.' Note the lack of the traditional red carpet (Stéphanie Durrant)

Her Majesty was accompanied by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, and was met by the Lord-Lieutenant of Gwynedd, His Honour Huw Morgan Daniel.

The party returned later in the day from Llandudno (picture by Stéphanie Durrant)...

... where the train was photographed (above) by Darren Durrant ...

... and Peter Lloyd.

Marc Jones writes: 'I headed to Sea Road bridge in Abergele on the off-chance of seeing the Royal Train, the fact that there were photographers hanging about told me that I hadn't missed it. While we waited, the flask train appeared with two 66s on the front. Minutes later the Royal Train appeared in the distance; as it approached, the signals at Abergele were still against it right until the train was about 100 metres or so from them. By this time the train had had to reduce its speed to a dead crawl, meaning I had time to take a picture of the front and the rear of the train. Photo above shows 67 005 Queen's Messenger at the head of the train complete with Welsh flags on the cab front, while below is 67 006 Royal Sovereign tailing the formation. No sign of the Queen though as the curtains were firmly drawn shut but a member of the security personnel can be seen keeping an eye on us from on open window in the first carriage.'

Checking the Royal Train for a freight in the old days would traditionally have had serious consequences for the operating staff: were there any repercussions this time, we wonder?

Back to the 50s at Llangollen - by John Beresford

Friday 23 April, the first day of the Llangollen railway Corwen/Patriot 
gala could be described as a superb feast of lined black and carmine and
cream as many of the trains were composed of locos and stock in these
liveries. The weather was mainly sunny and the sight of so many trains in authentic  1950s/60s liveries was not to be missed.

We observed the trains mainly from a vantage point near Glyndyfwrdwy. 80072 and guest loco Stanier 2-6-0 42968 are seen passing with the 11am non-stop 'Corwen Express.' This picture by Joy Beresford.

'Black 5' 44806 with 10am train near Glyndyfrdwy.

42968 restarts the 2pm train from Berwyn. Just after this photo was taken the train came to a sudden halt just beyond the bridge at Berwyn. I was later told by another photographer that shortage of steam was
the problem.

80072 with the 1pm train near Glyndyfrdwy. Thanks to everyone involved in running this event: let us hope that the gala was a financial success in raising fund for the re-creation of a 'Patriot' loco and the building of the line to Corwen.

Rail Passengers to Corwen - report by George Jones

As mentioned above, the 11am departure from Llangollen on 23 April carried a 'Corwen Express' headboard and was headed by two locomotives, British Railways Standard Class 4 tank engine 80072 and visiting engine 42968. The train made an express non-stop run from Llangollen to Carrog. Many on board were eagerly anticipating the planned restoration of the railway between Carrog and Corwen. Above 80072 runs round at Carrog with the headboard on the bunker.

On arrival at Carrog a group of passengers set off on a guided walk along the disused trackbed to reach the proposed station site at Corwen. The trackbed was gained at the current rail head west of Carrog station by using the footpath from Carrog river bridge. In ideal weather conditions some 45 people from near and far were keen to see the route before any development takes place. With the author bringing up the rear, the party had passed Bonwm (above).

With stops along the way for Llangollen Railway Trust vice president Neil Evans to explain the situation and the complications of the Transport & Works Order application, the occasion generated a great deal of interest and enthusiasm for the project. Above, the walkers inspect the condition of an occupation overbridge.

All was accomplished safely and Corwen was reached by 1.30. In this view the party has reached the outskirts of Corwen and are considering what will become the new Corwen station site. Ease of access into Corwen via the car park should be noted. The track in the foreground is the current access to the waterworks off to the right. In the scheme of things this will be replaced by a new access from Green Lane at top right.

The party dispersed for refreshment whilst others pressed on to see the site of the original Corwen station. Some walked back and others took the bus to regain the return train journey back to Llangollen. Corwen had a taste of what it might be like when the first steam train arrives and passengers find their way into town with the pubs and café gaining a demand for refreshments. The editorial team from Steam Railway magazine, as sponsors of the event, was on hand to lend support and record the event.

Due to the interest in the project the walk was repeated on both Saturday and Sunday for  smaller numbers of participants and the amount of support was such that a regular option for the trackbed walk to Corwen is now likely for the rest of the summer period, details to be announced. A photo display of the Corwen trackbed route was exhibited at Carrog and a DVD of participants on the trackbed walk was projected at Llangollen when information brochures and donation forms were distributed as part of the fund raising initiative.

The Llangollen Railway Trust looks to obtain financial support for the project to complete the route to Corwen by donations from the public or for the sale of shares in Llangollen Railway plc and a good start was made as a result of the weekend activities.

Steam on the Coast, 24 April: more pictures

Some views that didn't make our earlier report of 6233 Duchess of Sutherland 1Z31 06:13 Lincoln - Holyhead on 24 April. Above, the train is seen passing Beeston between Crewe and Chester (John Beresford)

From Saltney Ferry road bridge, looking good and going well (George Jones)

Llandudno Junction station just before the arrival of the charter.   175 115 stands in platform 2 on the 11:26 to Llandudno as 175 104 leads a five car formation on the 11:15 to Holyhead (07:20 from Cardiff Central). Picture by Larry Davies.

With the former 'New York' sidings dock in the foreground 6233 leaves Llandudno Junction  (Larry Davies)

A crowded promenade has 6233 centre stage as she storms up the bank to Penmaenrhos tunnel with the returning 1Z33 15:50 Holyhead - Lincoln charter.   Stanier music at its best! (Larry Davies)

The return train passing Waverton. Picture by John Beresford, who writes: This was the first time I had seen 6233  in its new LMS 1946 black livery; most observers were favourably  impressed.  The coaching stock was a disappointment however, being an odd mixture of maroon coaches and other liveries including the long-gone Inter-city colours sometimes described as "raspberry ripple".The unanimous view of
those to whom I spoke was that this spoiled the spectacle. I suppose we shouldn't complain too much, though - we are very lucky to see 
so much mainline steam at all.'

Half an hour at Pontrilas - with Andrew Vinten

I managed to spend about 30 minutes at Pontrilas, Herefordshire on 23 April. The aim of the stop was to catch the 'WAG express' on its way to Holyhead. The first train that greeted me was freight 6B05 from Hayes
to Moreton on Lugg , this was hauled by 66 037 . A colleague who was with me at the time said the train usually spends some time in the goods loop here (to the right of the loco).

The next event was the sight of 66 606 hauling 66 528 and 66 599 in a
engine move from Crewe - Stoke Gifford . 66 599 was left at Stoke Gifford and the other two locos proceeded to Fairwater yard, Taunton.

Then finally 57 316 appeared hauling 1W91 Cardiff -Holyhead express,  leaving a nice cloud of clag in its wake.

Mid-Wales mixture, 22 April - by Stavros Lainas

On Thursday 22 April a private charter ran from Wakefield to Aberystwyth (1Z56) hauled by 8F 2-8-0 48151. The loco ran tender first over the Cambrian main line to Aberystwyth, as seen above near Caersws.

The return train at Hadnall, Shropshire.

From the same vantage point, the northbound Cardiff - Holyhead express, with 57 316.

While in the area I visited the Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway. It wasn't running a public service that day but a test train was running with Romanian 0-8-0T 764.425.

The view from the picnic area at Llanfair Caereinion, a fine place to watch operations.

The Romanian loco with its Hungarian coaches looks very austere in comparison to a British loco such as Countess, one of the line's original locos, built in Manchester by Beyer Peacock in 1902 and later 'Great-Westernised.'

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