Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

11 May 2010

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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.

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.

Conwy, 4 May (Stéphanie Durrant)

Don't miss the 7 May extra update!

The Great Western Express, 8 May

On 8 May, the MCRUA excursion to Bristol passes through Baguley on the Stockport - Altrincham line on its outward leg with Wrexham & Shropshire liveried 67 010 leading (Greg Mape).  67 010 replaced 67 025, which had refused to start at Crewe that morning. It had been 'sick' the day before on The Northern Belle, apparently only managing 50mph on the climb up Shap.

67 021 on the rear (Greg Mape)

A view from the same bridge back in January, memories of winter with 142 004 forming a Chester - Manchester train (Greg Mape)

Above, the train departing Bristol Temple Meads. Picture by David Miller reproduced, with permission, from the Mid-Cheshire Rail Users' Association Chairman's Blog.

Engineering scenes

66 617 at Chester with ballast hoppers on Sunday 9 May. The train arrived from Manchester direction at approx. 19:30, waited for three hours with engine running, before reversing back in Manchester direction. Many of the tracks in Chester station were blocked with temporary flashing red lights / stop signs. (Stephen T)

Plasser & Theurer 08-16/4x4C-RT Switch & Crossing Tamper DR73916 First Engineering appropriately stabled in the 'Tamper Siding' at Llandudno Junction on a bright and sunny 27 April. (Peter Roberts)

Adopters win awards - report by Larry Davies

At the Arriva Trains Wales Station Adopters' Conference held at the Queens Hotel, Chester on Saturday 8th May, 2010, two of the projects on the Conwy Valley line were successful in winning awards.

BEST GROUP CONTRIBUTION :  Tal-y-Cafn volunteer group of retired gentlemen from the local Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society for their excellent transformation of the disused former loop platform to a beautiful and pleasant garden (above).

BEST KEPT STATION : Dolwyddelan "Cylch yr Ifanc" local youth and villagers' group have tirelessly worked to improve the station area and the former goods yard.  Today it's a tribute to their work and an idyllic setting for passengers and visitors to the village.  Councillor Liz Roberts was proud to accept the Award on behalf of the village from Peter Northcot, Head of Stations.

Bank Holiday extravaganza at Llandudno

Extravaganza fever hit Llandudno over the May Day weekend. On 1 May, to cater for the huge number of passengers, the Blaenau branch was being worked by a 4-car DMU set, the first time since 101 680 and 101 685 worked together on 5 May 2001, 9 years ago (!). Above, 150 229 and 150 252 get ready to head out on the 10:20 service.

Saturday 1 May saw an excursion from Cleethorpes - Llandudno, operated by West Coast Railway. This train reached North Wales by way of Sheffield and the Cheshire Lines route to Chester. Andrew Vinten's picture shows the train at Ashley, west of Altrincham.

Above, 47 804 loads the train through Deganwy on the Llandudno branch (Gary Thomas) ...

... with 47 786 Roy Castle OBE on the rear (Gary Thomas)

On the buffers at Llandudno (Greg Mape) ...

The length of the train left rear loco 47 786 off the platform. When this happens, the train may not clear of the track circuits controlling the signals, and no other trains can arrive at the station (Route19)

47 786 was therefore detached and stabled in Platform 3. (Gary Thomas)

Above are the gates into Llandudno Platform 1: scene of some 'shoddy operation' that occurred on 1 May. Picture by Route19, who notes: With the huge number of passengers coming off the train from Llandudno Junction both gates were opened. However, one gate was closed about six minutes before departure and was not reopened, causing some passengers to miss the departure as the remaining open gate was being used for security staff to deal with tickets coming off the train. What should of been done, of course, keep both gates open, allow one for coming off the train and another for coming on, then once the train leaves keep both open and get through the queue of people quicker! A simple solution to a problem that shouldn't really arise with a bit of common sense.'

The train departed for Cleethorpes at 16:00, with 47 786 leading, seen above rounding the curve into Llandudno Junction (Gary Thomas)

Passing Llandulas (Darren Durrant)

Heading east at Connah's Quay (Tim J. Rogers)

Monday's train, from London Euston, was book-ended by 66 108 (the regular loco on 2009's North Wales Rail Head Treatment Train) and 66 168, seen on the rear of the train as it heads west past Connah's Quay gas-fired power station. (Tim J. Rogers)

Approaching Llandudno Junction (Gary Thomas)

Rolling into Llandudno station. (Route19) Not the first time a 66 has been in the station (first known working was in 2001), but could it be the first time an EWS example has visited?

66 168 at Llandudno under the signal gantry (Richard Billingsley)

Again, the train was split:  the train moved over to platform 3, leaving 66 108 parked 'on the blocks' of platform 2. (Richard Billingsley)

This time, The two 66s double-headed the train for its 16:45 departure to Euston. We though this may have been be the first double-headed train out of Llandudno since the North Western 37 farewell in May 2000, but in fact there was a charter on 25 October 2006 hauled by 31 459 and 31 452. (Route19)

The two 66s heading the return train through Colwyn Bay (Richard Billingsley) ...

....  and silhouetted against the water at Tan-y-Lan. (Richard Billingsley)

Freight views

On Thursday 22 April 66 434 is seen reversing to work wrong line at Gobowen having arrived with the timber empties from Chirk. This loco is in the livery of Jarvis Fastline, which ceased trading in March following the failure of its parent company; 434 transferred to the DRS fleet. An article in the May 2010 issue of Rail Express magazine tells the complete history of Fastline, its locos and workings.

A small fleet which is still operating is that of Colas: here is 47 749 passing a soggy damp Whitchurch at 18.25 on a working from Westbury to Donnington. Can anyone tell us about these strange wagons? (Stavros Lainas)

Class 60s still rule on the Tunstead - Oakleigh limestone trains: on 1 May 60 009 passes Ashley with 6H03 Oakleigh-Tunstead. (Andrew Vinten)

Mark Riley writes: 'On 30 April, I was surprised to see 6C19 from Chirk arriving at Gobowen, over an hour later than usual, with the KFA wagons still fully loaded! The train pauses at platform 1 to await the passing of an afternoon Arriva service to Holyhead, thus delaying things further.
After the Arriva train had passed, Fastline 66434, which has worked these trains almost exclusively for 2 weeks, reversed onto the down line and then ran south through the station to access the sidings to run round and return north. Despite the delays, the run round operation was less than 40 minutes from arrival at Gobowen to departure.

'Pausing on the crossing a few minutes before actual departure. Reports say there was some sort of equipment failure at Kronospan which meant the wagons were left unloaded (exact problem unknown). However, the train had still been at Kronospan for over seven hours. I think this may be the first time a train with loaded timber carriers has worked north from Chirk, or at least it is a rare occurrence.'

Chester Changes

These pictures from 28 April by George Jones show improvement work under way on Platform 7 at Chester. Platform 7b, usually the Merseyrail section, was being resurfaced. No attempt is being made to increase the platform height to level with the trains' doors.

Merseyrail were running onto the 7a sector. With the contractor's compound set up alongside it's a bit of a squeeze. Behind the wall the 'glass house' dating from the some time around 1960, that we think was once used by the announcer, is being demolished. 507 003 was about to form the 11:00 to Liverpool. When the doors opened it was quite a crush ... but a bit of 'rare track' for EMU riders!

A plan of the new arrangements was displayed so I took a photo. An  additional staircase and lift are to be encased in a pavilion. More of the Arriva copper-clad style it seems.

A hump for Valley

Something is finally being done about the disgracefully low height of the 'up' platform at Valley station, by fitting a fibreglass ramp, as previously installed at Aberdyfi, and before that at Harrington in Cumbria, hence the name 'Harrington Hump' which has been attached to these devices. Funded by the Welsh Assembly Government, this device is referred to as a 'cost-effective solution' at only £70,000 per platform.

Lord Adonis at Wrexham - report by George Jones

A VIP session took place at Wrexham General station on Saturday evening 1 May. Lord Adonis the pro rail Secretary for Transport stopped off for a meeting with local election candidates and courtesy of W&S enjoyed refreshments at the station cafe. Thanks to an invite from Ian Lucas MP the Shrewsbury-Chester Rail Users Association was represented by myself and Martin Evans; Sheila Dee was also present for the community rail partnership. After a photo call a discussion session about local rail matters took place.

I took advantage of the opportunity to exhibit the Llangollen Railway's Corwen trackbed extension photo display which generated interest in the project. The picture shows Ian Lucas and Lord Adonis alongside the display. Lord Adonis was making another of his nationwide rail journeys with the benefit of a 7-day rover ticket. He had this day travelled from Euston via Milton Keynes and Stafford  to Liverpool and visit to Edge Hill (The oldest working station), then on via Bidston to Wrexham. He left Wrexham headed for Cardiff on the 18:46 and with the last two editions of Severn Dee News and Steam at Llangollen as his bedtime reading!

The Volcano effect at Holyhead - report by 'Corrie'

As we have already reported the effects of the 'Ash' on from the Icelandic Volcano  prohibited air travel to and from the UK . This resulted in a sudden demand for Rail and Ferry travel to and from Holyhead.
Here at lunchtime on 16 April a strengthened Voyager service stands on Platform 1.

Meanwhile on platform 2 a large number of passengers await the arrival of their train which was the 09.09 from Birmingham International.

Passengers board the 4-car 158 which formed the 13.23 to Birmingham International (158 828 nearest the camera).

The Stena Lynx 3 prepares for its next trip to Ireland on the same afternoon. The HSS Stena Explorer, however, was not brought into service to cope with the sudden increase in the number of travellers.

175 002 worked the 13:23 departure on 20 April, with crowds still evident.

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