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17 May 2010
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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.
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.
24-25 July. Llangollen Railway Ivor the Engine weekend with a return visit from the Welsh engine for a fun weekend. Includes Ivor the Engine in Concert on Saturday evening.
26-30 July: Cambrian Steam: 44871 Machynlleth - Porthmadog or Pwllheli and return.
See the Calendar page for more details.
11:01 on Saturday 15 May, and 57 311 Parker was photographed by Stavros Lainas near Beeston with 1D83 08:50 London Euston - Holyhead.
Conwy Valley Belle
A 'Northern Belle' luxury excursion, 1Z63 'The Portmeirion' ran from York to Blaenau Ffestiniog on 14 May. Above, the train enters our area at Helsby, headed by 67 017 Arrow. Picture by Tim J. Rogers.
Passing Shotton (Stéphanie Durrant) ...
66 206 on the rear; this is the usual formation these days for such trains when heading for the Conwy Valley, perhaps because the superior adhesion capabilities of the 66 will avoid any slipping when climbing the steep gradients of the Blaenau branch. (Stéphanie Durrant)
Arrived at Llandudno Junction; the tail-light has been placed on the 67 as it will be hauled 'dead' up to Blaenau Ffestiniog. (Route19)
66 206 is ready to depart for Blaenau (Route19)
At Blaenau, after unloading its passengers for a trip on the Ffestiniog Railway, the train was stabled in the loop line to allow the normal service train to arrive and depart (Martin Evans)
A good opportunity to study some of the rolling stock. The 'Pullman' coaches, such as 3273 Alnwick and 3174 Glamis seen here (Picture by Martin Evans), are in fact ex-British Rail Mk2 First Class vehicles of the air-conditioned variety - the doors have been modified with oval windows to give more of a Pullman impression, although those Mk 2 coach which were actually built as Pullmans (some of which still exist) do not have this feature.
'Baggage Car' 92904 (originally built in 1956 as M80867) is of some historic interest, as it is the last example (having received various modifications over the years) still in main-line traffic of the BR Mk1 Gangwayed Brake Van coded BG, of which 1,129 examples were constructed in the 1960s (Thanks to John's Railway Gallery for these details.) A few others still exist, but this is the only one with an exemption to current safety rules allowing it to be used immediately behind the loco of a passenger service.
The passengers from the Belle travelled to Minffordd (above), for the visit to nearby Portmeirion italianate village, in a FR train hauled by double Fairlie loco Merddin Emrys. Picture by Marin Evans
The return train from Blaenau skirts Glan Conwy village in the evening (Larry Davies)
Evening shadows lengthen on a glorious evening as 66 206 is tail-end Charlie on the Northern Belle from Blaenau Ffestiniog. She will shortly head the train east along the North Wales Coast back to England and the Conwy Valley line returns to its faithful 150s. (Larry Davies)
The return train passed the northbound Arriva Trains Wales express on the embankment near Colwyn Bay (Stéphanie Durrant)
How the word 'Llangollen' got into the caption of the picture of a 66 434 in the last issue is hard to explain ... of course it was at Gobowen. Well done to Bob Hargreaves who amazingly was the only one to point this out.
Also, the last double-headed train out of Llandudno was not in fact the 37s in May 2000 as tentatively suggested in the last issue, as there was a charter worked by 31 459 and 31 452 on 25 October 2006.
The Lunchtime Film show at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth on Tuesday 8 June at 1.15 pm features two films about travel.
'Dear Cambria', a silent film which journeys from Swansea to Tenby, includes a clip of the National Eisteddfod at Swansea. Live accompaniment will be provided by Stephen Briggs.
'Cambrian Coast' is a film by the Great Western Railway, featuring the journey from London (Paddington Station) to Machynlleth, along the Cambrian coast to Porthmadog and then back to Aberystwyth.
Free admission is by ticket available from the Library's website or by contacting the Library's Shop on (01970) 632 548.
The Saturdays-only working of a Class 390 Pendolino from Crewe to Holyhead and back behind a Class 57/3 diesel continues; above, 57 312 The Hood rolls into Llandudno Junction on 8 May.
A week later, 15 May, and 57 311 Parker was in charge, seen passing Llanfair PG westbound. (Richard Fleckney)
The rear end: Pendolino 390 045 101 Squadron. (Richard Fleckney)
The return train heads for Crewe on 15 May. (Stavros Lainas) Sometimes the return train is hauled by the loco which has hauled the Monday - Friday Holyhead - Cardiff express during the preceding week, but on this occasion the same engine worked both ways.
A piece of Pendolino news which comes our way is that 390 004 is currently operating with eight coaches instead on nine, following on from some damage incurred in a shunting mishap.
Wrexham and Shropshire news
From 23 May 2010 W &S will be 'making First Class travel even more affordable' with a new First Class flexible return fare of £120 Available between London Marylebone any W&S-served stations north of Cosford. This is a flat fare with no peak supplements, and you can return anytime within 30 days of purchase. It includes, as always with W&S first class, a two-course meal freshly cooked on-board, and WiFi access and power sockets at every seat. The advance-purchase first class fares have also been reduced: see the W&S website for details.
On From 23 July until 4 September W&S will be running additional services between London and Shrewsbury. 20:03 from Marylebone to Shrewsbury (arr 23:13) on Fridays only, and 09:07 from Shrewsbury to Marylebone (arr. 12:15) on Saturdays only. See their timetable page for full details. The company tell us they would have liked to run to Wrexham (and indeed this appears to have been published in some sources) but the two secure overnight stabling sidings there are already occupied by trains. When the extra train ran at Easter and was left in once of the platforms at Wrexham, it had to be manned all night.
NMT down the Coast
Network Rail's New Measurement Train, operating as 1Q30 10:38 Derby Railway Technical Centre - Holyhead, operating with 43 062 and 43 013 John Armitt, passes a large field of oil seed rape below the walls of Beeston Castle, running approximately 24 minutes early on 13 May. This fine picture is by Mark Riley who writes: 'With thanks to the North Wales Trains News Yahoo Newsgroup, as always, for advanced information on timings for this train, and making the photograph possible.'
If you admire this picture viewpoint, have a look at the visitor information and opening hours on the English Heritage website, and note their warning: 'Beeston Castle is built on a very steep hill...'
The return train at Llanfair PG with buffer-fitted 43 013 leading (Richard Fleckney)
43 062 on the rear, recognisable as the only named yellow Class 43. (Richard Fleckney)
Alongside the A55 at Mochdre (Peter Lloyd)
A Thunderbird at Wrexham General - report by Mark Riley
An unusual sight at Wrexham General on 11 May was Virgin Class 57 No. 57 311 Parker shut down in the bay. It was there for over two hours, and was still there as the afternoon service from Marylebone arrived, with DVT 82301 leading 1J81 into platform 3 (above). 57 311 was a regular 57 on the 6J37 Carlisle - Chirk timber trains when Virgin 57s were assigned to such workings. It also saw a lengthy time without it's Dellner Couplers. This is first time a Virgin 57 has been actually stabled at Wrexham General.
The crew fire up Parker's engines! It appeared that the 57 was being used for route learning, and a number of W&S staff were seen boarding the loco. The exact purpose of this exercise is still unclear. I also noted a video camera set up in the leading cab, so they may have been involved in the production of some kind of training video. 57 311 departed immediately for Chester after the afternoon 1P33 service to Marylebone had departed.
Sunrise at Llandudno Junction
Peter Lloyd sends this picture record of the everyday events at Llandudno Junction at the crack of a weekday dawn, seen on 13 May. At 05:22, train 5D50, the 04:35 empty stock from Chester working arrives in Platform 3.
This will then split twice: the front set, 175 104 forms 2D50 06:13 to Llandudno, then 06:34 1H82 Llandudno to Manchester Piccadilly. The middle set, 175 107 will then form 2D52 06:51 to Llandudno, 2D53 07:10 Llandudno to Llandudno Junction, 2D54 07:31 to Llandudno and then 1H83 07:45
Llandudno to Manchester Piccadilly. The rear set (which is now the front set) 175 002 (above) will be 1H80 05:46 Llandudno Junction to Manchester.
Another early weekday morning empty stock train is 5D13, the 04:42 Crewe Carriage Sidings to Holyhead, seen passing Llandudno Junction at 05.44 on 13 May formed of five-car 'Voyager' 221 110 James Cook. This will become 1A13 06:55 Holyhead to London Euston, followed (except on Fridays) by the 1D88 14:10 London - Chester and 1A53 16:35 return, then 1D93 the 19:10 from London to Holyhead, where it will spend the night to form 1R24, the 05:53 to London.
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