NORTH WALES COAST
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24 May 2010
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Forthcoming events29 May. Llangollen Railway Celebrating Thomas the Tank Engine's 65th anniversary.
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. [tickets sold out.]
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. [sold out]
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.
Friday 16 July Excursion Compass Tours to EDINBURGH (via WCML) Picks up: Hereford, Leominster, Ludlow, Craven Arms, Shrewsbury, Gobowen, Wrexham General, Chester, Frodsham & Warrington Bank Quay Expected to be hauled by class 67s.
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.
Wednesday 28 July Conwy Valley Steam: Railway Touring Company. The Welsh Mountaineer Preston - Blaenau Ffestiniog.
31 July-1 August. Llangollen Railway 1960s weekend. Intensive service with a mix of steam, diesel and railcars with opportunity to appear in period dress.
2-30 August, Mondays - Fridays only: Cambrian Steam: 44871 Machynlleth - Porthmadog or Pwllheli and return.
7-15 August. Llangollen Railway Day out with Thomas (again) the summer time visit by No.1 and friends.
Sunday 8 August Excursion Compass Tours to SKIPTON & KEIGHLEY (out via Bentham, return S&C + Shap) Picks up: Holyhead, Llanfairpwll, Bangor, Llandundo Junction, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl, Flint, Chester, Frodsham & Warrington Bank Quay. Expected to to be hauled by a class 67.
Sunday 8 August Steam on the Coast. Railway Touring Company. The North Wales Coast Express. Liverpool - Holyhead
Wednesday 11 August Conwy Valley Steam: Railway Touring Company. The Welsh Mountaineer Preston - Blaenau Ffestiniog.
Wednesday 18 August Conwy Valley Steam: Railway Touring Company. The Welsh Mountaineer Preston - Blaenau Ffestiniog.
Sunday 22 August Steam on the Coast. Railway Touring Company. The North Wales Coast Express. Liverpool - Holyhead
Wednesday 25 August Conwy Valley Steam: Railway Touring Company. The Welsh Mountaineer Preston - Blaenau Ffestiniog.
Monday 30 August Excursion Compass Tours to DURHAM + optional add-on tour via Hartlepool to Newcastle (routes covered include Cumbrian Coast, Tyne Valley, ECML, Aire Valley & Hellifield to Carnforth) Picks up: Crewe, Hooton (after runnning round), Ellesmere Port, Frodsham, Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster & Carnforth This train is booked to feature D1015 Western Champion throughout.
See the Calendar page for more details.
Can you spot 150 235 working 2D17 14:52 Blaenau Ffestiniog to Llandudno approaching Roman Bridge station in this view taken from the summit of Moel Siabod (872 m / 2,861 ft above sea level ) on 17 May? Answer at the bottom of the page (Peter Lloyd)
Ten Years After - the Farewell Specials
Ten years ago, on 20 and 21 May 2000, First North Western, thanks to encouragement by this website and our friends from the railway press, ran two special trains to mark the end of Class 37 locomotive haulage, with the advent of the new Class 175 units. (Although as things turned out, it was to be the start of the next year before the very last 37-hauled service train ran in North Wales.)
To commemorate the tenth anniversary, Ian Bowland (who took the above picture on a wet 20 May at Blaenau Ffestiniog, has refurbished his web pages chronicling these trains, with larger photographs to view. Follow this link to view the reports.
The specials, and indeed various other railfan-friendly occasions happened thanks (along with the approval of enlightened Managing Director David Franks) to the efforts of Tim Brawn of First North Western, seen in our picture with his FNW colleague Iain Aldred (right) today a marketing manager with Northern Rail, and railway journalist Tony Miles (centre.) When FNW vanished in a Franchise reorganisation, Tim transferred to Trans Pennine Express where he is now a Duty Control Manager based in Manchester. He is currently involved with the organisation of the Three Peaks Challenge fund-raising event for the Railway Children charity, and there are plans to run a fund-raising charter train later this year, possibly using a locomotive from ETL. Later this year Tim will be undertaking a sponsored walk to the summit of Kilimanjaro, also for the Railway Children charity - should you with to sponsor him you can do so online at the JustGiving site.
Tornado reaches Chester
Saturday 22 May saw the newly-built steam locomotive 60163 Tornado make its first appearance in Chester, working 1Z62 08:06 London Euston - Chester (arr.13:02) and 1Z63 16:30 Chester - London, the 'Cathedrals Express' charter. No loco changes at Crewe - the steam engine worked the whole itinerary, replenished with water at Nuneaton (northbound) and Atherstone (southbound) as well as during the layover at Chester. Here are some pictures of the train, others are in individual articles down the page. Above, the train at Chorlton near Crewe (Andrew Vinten)
Above, a classic portrait by Stavros Lainas of the train passing Beeston between Crewe and Chester. It does seem a shame that such a mixed bag of coach liveries now features on many of these charters, but no doubt funds are short.
Above, the train arrives at Chester. Picture by Tim Fenton, who writes: 'The charter coincided with Race Day at Chester racecourse (and the warm weather), so Chester was very busy. Arriva put two units on the Crewe - Chester shuttle, Northern added a second unit to some services on the CLC Mid Cheshire Line, and Merseyrail ran double length trains into Chester; all very much needed and no doubt appreciated. Unfortunately, there no extra buses on the station - city centre shuttle service, so these were full and standing, with many punters disappointed.
Picture by Stéphanie Durrant. Note the crowd of observers on Platform 4, even before the crowd was swelled by passengers from the train. Did they all have platform tickets?
After unloading, the loco shunted the train to the carriage sidings, (picture by Darren Durrant) before turning round on the triangle west of the station.
This view by Stephen T is from on of the apartments that have been built in the old goods yard.
After Tornado was turned and watered, it drew the stock forward on to the Crewe line and then set it back into Platform 4. However, loco and train only just fitted. So that nobody wanting a picture was disappointed, the British Transport Police Officers and Community Support Officers supervised those wanting to get a photo, allowing folks down the platform ramps. This meant being able to get a shot of Tornado that included the front of the loco. Above, the train is seen ready for departure, pictured by Tim Fenton. Tim writes: I've put more photos of 60163, along with some of 6233 from earlier in the day, on my Fotopic site.
The return train passes Waverton (Stavros Lainas)
Sun glare delays new train system
So read the headline on a BBC news report on 17 May concerning the latest trials and tribulations of the new ERTMS system being prepared for use on the Cambrian lines. Says the report: 'A hi-tech computer signalling system on a Gwynedd railway line has been postponed - because sun glare means train drivers cannot see the screens ... It was supposed to go live around now on part of the Cambrian Coast line from Harlech to Pwllheli, but Network Rail said the launch had been postponed. A long-term solution is being sought.'
The problem relates to the computer screen being installed in the cabs of Arriva Trains Wales Class 158 railcars, as the interface with the system, including a 'virtual' speedometer dial replacing the old-style hardware version. On units with the system already installed, drivers have been required to start using this screen as speedometer, while still relying on the existing signalling system. The sun problems have arisen because of the cramped design of the cab, which occupies only the left-hand side of the carriage front thanks to the corridor connection. It hasn't been possible to recess the screen to avoid glare and reflections. The picture above, one of several which have come our way, shows the effect: the driver sees his own spectral reflection. At least one driver has been trialling his own cardboard anti-glare screens, and an idea apparently considered is to issue the drivers with dark shirts!
This view shows the new screen in its context on the driver's desk.
The desk before ERTMS installation, showing how many changes are needed to squeeze in the new screen.
The right-hand side of the cab before ERTMS (left) and after (right). Radios, destination display keyboard, headlight switches. The metal plate is where the RETB unit for the current radio-based system is attached when the train is in use on Cambrian line services.
Unit 158 838 has been chosen as a test bed for possible solutions to the problem: these pictures show the slats that have been fitted, and the darkened glass in the side window, in closed and open positions.
In truth these are not the only problems that have come to light, with various other 'glitches' reported in testing, not excluding the various quirks which always arise when touch-screen interfaces are used. Arriva management have assured the drivers that the system will not be fully implemented until everything is sorted out.
Over to Network Rail Spokeswoman Ms Choong: 'The company does not compromise on safety. It is paramount that we achieve an optimum level of reliability before launching the system for safe passenger use. We are now working with our manufacturer to explore a long-term solution ... One of the challenges too is fitting the system into existing trains, which were not originally designed and built with ERTMS in mind ['too bloody old' - says a driver] ... our investment on the Cambrian line plays an instrumental role in paving and informing the way for ERTMS to be implemented in the rest of Britain and we're determined to get this right.'
Meanwhile, the cost of the project looks like being well over the £60 million originally quoted.
The Virgin 57 at Wrexham, and other points