NORTH WALES COAST
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28 June 2010
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Below: a selection of views from Charlie's recent Swiss and Italian jaunt...
Anyone interested in Swiss Railways is welcome at the Swiss Railways Society Manchester meetings. See www.swiss.nwrail.org.uk for details.
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, Llandudno 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.
44871 with the 'Cheshireman' Cleethorpes - Chester special climbing the 1 in 120 of Gorstage bank just east of Cuddington. (John Beresford). More reports on this train can be found at points down the page.
Shunters at Dee Marsh - report by Geoff Morris
I was on the recent Class 40 railtour (see last issue) which afforded views of the shunters that are based in Dee Marsh yard: I suspect that it would be difficult to get similar shots from a public road or footpath. Three class 08s (08 756 / 445 / 936) were stabled in the westernmost siding in the yard. 08 936 (the one with RMS branding) was under power.
Additionally there were two more 08s plus a couple of industrial shunters parked outside the shed that is in the south-west corner of the yard, near the line connecting the yard to Shotton steelworks. From what I can see by enlarging the photos, the one sandwiched between the 2 industrials is 08 699 and the other appears to be 08 809 (which ties in with the latest Platform 5 Combined Volume which shows 08 809 based at Shotton). The two industrials are Sentinels. also on hire from RMS Locotec. The one at the front (with the white cab) bears the number H057 and the rear one bears the number H003 and the nameplate Rosedale.
I was surprised to see so many locos (7) there - I thought that when RMS Locotec took over from EWS (as it was at the time) only two were needed at any one time to shunt between Dee Marsh and Shotton.
Editor's afterword: the two Sentinels were the last locos to work as shunters at Mostyn Docks, and were removed from that site by road on 17 December 2008. Dave Sallery's picture above was taken at that time, and shows that H003 was also used by British Energy at some stage. The Sentinels used at Mostyn had been hired from RMS Locotec since January 2003 when the last original Darwen & Mostyn Iron co. shunter was withdrawn.
Delights of Delamere - report by Neil Kennedy
12:26 at Delamere Station on 12 June, with 'The Cheshireman' from Cleethorpes to Chester passing, hauled by 'Black 5' 4-6-0 44871.
After photographing the train, my wife and myself had a splendid fish and chip lunch in the Station Cafe which I can highly recommend. The photograph (taken from inside with the sun shining from outside) is a lovely stained glass window immediately over the door and was made by the lady owner.
It was all to much for the dog outside who rested his weary head on the table seat waiting for its owners to finish their coffee!
The 15:21 Chester - Manchester Piccadilly stopping train calls at 15:25, with 150 269 leading.
There were, of course, the usual 'it's only me' brigade of trespassers who took up their positions at 16:30.
44871 approaching Delamere at 17:00 on the return journey, as seen from the safety and legality of the station platform. A lovely day, good photography weather and splendid food in the cafe.
57 313 passes Hargrave with 1W91 16:15 Cardiff-Holyhead on 11 June (John Eyres)
The vegetation control train, formed of Multi-Purpose Vehicles (MPV) - DR 98912 leading - running as 6Z07 on 14 June from Wigan to Llandudno and then to Blaenau Ffestiniog, is pictured at Llandudno Junction after
its trip on the Blaenau branch waiting for the road to return to Wigan. (Peter Lloyd)
175 112 was stabled in the tamper siding over 19-20 June due to a possession for track inspection in platform 2: here is the train leaving the siding to
form 2D52 10.50 to Llandudno. (Peter Lloyd)
Penrhyndeudraeth accident report
The Rail Accident Investigation Branch has published its report (PDF download) on the tragic accident on 2 September 2009 at the user-worked level crossing near Penrhyndudraeth station, in which Mrs Sally Hudson, crossing the line in her car, was struck by one of Network Rail's class 97/3 locos.
Because of the location of the crossing, which serves one house and a farm, users are required to telephone the control at Machynlleth, using the phones provided, for permission before crossing, but, perhaps as might be expected given human nature, it appears that the users had become accustomed to the train timetable as a guide to when the line might be clear. Although the crossing was used daily by residents and delivery vehicles, there was no record of the telephones being used at all for two weeks before the accident.
On a line such as the Cambrian, if someone does phone the signaller, all that can be said with certainly is that a train is somewhere between the passing loops, in this case at Harlech and Porthmadog. As the report states, 'The need to ensure the safety of crossing users and people on trains inevitably results in the signaller taking a precautionary approach ... crossing users might have to wait up to 20 minutes before they cross the line at Penrhyndeudraeth with the signaller’s permission.' No wonder, perhaps, that users decided to learn the timetable take the risk, given that non-timetabled trains had become very rare on this line.
It's very hard to know what can be done to improve the safety of this crossing, beyond removing some shrubbery to improve the view, and correcting an incorrectly-placed speed restriction sign which is believed to have led the train driver to approach the crossing at over the authorised speed of 20 mph. One wonders when the implementation of the new ERTMS signalling, under which the train and the signalling will know exactly where the train is, might lead to the development of some improved form of warning to road users.
More 37/4 news
This interesting view taken by Andrew Vinten on 8 June at Acton Bridge station shows 37 425 Pride of the Valleys in the consist of train 4M63 Mossend - Daventry, along with 66 192; the hauling loco is 92 009 Elgar. The 37 was to be detached at Bescot then tripped over to Toton for repair.
Crewe, late on 10 June, with 37 423 which, with 37 607, had worked a Northern Belle charter from Chester to Wemyss Bay. (Richard Billingsley)
Music and Song at Wrexham - report by George Jones
As a prelude to the Gregynog 2010 musical festival at Newtown (8-21 June) Sheila Dee, Community Rail Officer, arranged for the Harpist Robin Huw Bowen to attend at Wrexham General station midday on Thursday 10 June.
He was joined by the children from Ysgol Plas Coch, Wrexham who accompanied him with two songs in Welsh as part of a media occasion for S4C TV. (our picture above taken with permission.) They all did very well to make it a splendid occasion and were rewarded with hospitality by Wrexham & Shropshire. After the media attention Robin Bowen stayed on until nearly 1500 hrs playing a selection of requested music from visitors attracted to the occasion in a somewhat unique venue for music making. All this to the tune of passing 158s and 175s.
Later that evening there was a musical occasion in St Mary's church, Ruabon when the tercentenary of Welsh Composer and collector of traditional Welsh music, John Parry, was celebrated with music by Handel from three performers on the triple harp. As the name suggests the triple harp has three rows of strings, is difficult to play and provides a quite distinctive sound. Mr Bowen is one of the few harpists today with the skill to play it; he began his pursuit of the Welsh triple harp in 1980 while employed at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth.
Mid-Cheshire steam - report by Tim Fenton
I do wonder how much research is put in to the suitability of locations for water stops on steam charters. 12 June's "Cheshireman" from Cleethorpes to Chester included one at Ashley. Trouble is, the bridge immediately south of the station isn't wide enough to park a tanker and leave room for traffic to pass. So the only option was to use the station approach road.
The tanker had to make several attempts before successfully backing into the approach, and even then there was some damage to the hedge opposite the turning. This photo shows the tanker finally parked up and waiting for the charter to arrive. Fortunately for the tanker driver, the charter was running late. Plumley might have been a better bet for a water stop, although a longer hose would have been needed - or even Lostock Gralam. Good spectator sport, mind.
44871 and its train after arrival at Ashley, with the water hose being set up. Not very much coal in the tender.
Here's 44871 working hard as it approaches Greenbank, on the long climb from Northwich which extends all the way to Cuddington.
44871 pictured approaching Mouldsworth on its return journey. Hardly any sign of the 'original' main line branching off to the right (behind the loco), and no signalbox at Mouldsworth any more, with control passed to Mickle Trafford box.
Glyn Valley cash boost
The Wrexham Leader reports:
A fresh injection of money will help to take a voluntary group a few miles closer to achieving its dream of restoring an historic transport system. Glyn Valley Tramway Trust aims to recreate part of the historic line for just over a mile, from Chirk into the Ceiriog Valley, just as it would have been in its Victorian heyday. But the £1.5 million plan first requires planning permission from Wrexham Council.
As preparing the application has been a painstaking and costly operation the trust applied for grant aid, and its 200 volunteers are celebrating news it has now been allowed almost £8,000 by the Wrexham Key Fund. Trust chairman David Cooper said: 'The grant comes as a fantastic boost. It sounds a lot of money but Wrexham Council requires a great deal of information in order to assess the application. In addition we have to produce a scale model of the site and also prepare and host a public display of the final proposals, whose results must accompany the actual application.'
Mr Cooper said the Trust has set itself a deadline of September 30 for the completion of all reports and the public display so it can then formally deliver its application to the council. The aim is to start work on the restoration next January and have the revived tramway operational by the spring of 2012. It would run between Chirk station and Chirk Fishery on the B4500. There would also be a fully restored platform, carriage sheds and associated buildings for the tramway at Chirk station.
All well and good, but it does seem sad that, if websites are anything to go by, there also exists another organisation, the Glyn Valley Tramway Group, who tell us that the Trust is 'a breakaway organisation from the Group that no longer supports the Group’s aims and ideals.' What a shame that railway preservationists in North Wales (cf. the Welsh Highland feuds) cannot learn work together, although there do seem to be hopeful signs of co-operation on the lines around Oswestry.
The Cheshireman at Chester
15 minutes down and 44871 took the train out of platform 4 to reverse around the triangle.
44871 returned with the train for coaling (Picture by Stephen T)
... but found 158 822 also stabled on the same line. (George Jones)
There was then a pause in proceedings (Picture by Stephen T) until ...
... the 158 was then removed from the siding and positioned on the next line, allowing 44871 to fully pull into the siding. (Stephen T)
The loco then had to uncouple from the carriages as the trucks that had arrived with the coal and water could not reach it from the road. It then proceeded to be re-stocked over the fence. (Stephen T)
2807 steams at Llangollen - report by George Jones