Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

08 November 2010

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Forthcoming events

November 2010

Tuesday 9 November. 8E Association Chris Simon: ‘The Examination Quiz’.

Friday 12 November Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society
16MM CINÉ FILMS FROM THE 1970s a miscellany by Richard Greenwood

Monday 15 November RCTS Chester Keith Crabtree: 60163 Tornado.Keith is from the A1 Steam Trust and will be giving a Power-point presentation on the history, building and operation of Tornado.

Tuesday 16 November North Wales Railway Circle Paul Hardy: Wait and See (a secret location?)

Monday 22 November. Shrewsbury-Chester Rail Users Association Public meeting at St Mary's Catholic Club, Regent St, Wrexham starting at 7.30pm. The speaker will be Ben Davies, ATW's Stakeholder Manager North, with the subject as "Railways in Wales - Going Forward", giving a positive message.Followed by a question & answer session. Visitors are welcome.

Thursday 25 November Merseyside Railway History Group Geoff Morris: Steaming through the gauges in the 21st Century

December 2010

Friday 3 December Clwyd Railway Circle 'Xmas Celebration' - Video review of steam on the main line in 2010 with an interlude of festive goodies.

Monday 6 December RCTS Port Sunlight MEMBERS SHOW. 30 slides or digital images of your choice.

Tuesday 7 December North Wales Railway Circle : Pete Hanahoe & Brain Bollington: Railways of Latvia and other countries.

Thursday 9 December Merseyside Railway History Group Adrian Bodlander: Garratt Steam Safari (to Victoria Falls and beyond!) – Social evening

Friday 10 December Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society
STEAM ACROSS THE ROCKIES a DVD presentation of a steam-hauled special train from Calgary to Vancouver and back by Tony Harrison

Saturday 11 December Rhyl Model Railway Club Charity Model Railway Exhibition in Prestatyn, Parish Hall & guide HQ, 10:30 - 16:00.

Tuesday 14 December. 8E Association AGM followed by Jon Penn: Chester Black & White Part 2.

Tuesday 14 December North Wales Railway Circle Christmas 'Do': Members Photos etc.

See the Calendar page for more details.

Varied line-up at Holyhead carriage sidings, Sunday morning 7 November. 57 315, 175 108 and 158 834 with an un-identified Virgin Class 221. Picture by Corrie.

Welsh Highland through to Porthmadog

30 October was a red-letter day for the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways as the first through passenger train, reserved for the WHR 'silver and gold supporters' ran from Caernarfon to the Ffestiniog Railway station and Porthmadog Harbour. The southbound train was delayed by a lorry parked on the level crossing at Pont Croesor by a man protesting that his company had not been paid for some demolition work carried out for the railway, causing the company to go into administration. The railway company says that the work was not finished before the administrators took over.

Greg Mape's picture above shows the 11:00 train from Caernarfon, hauled by Garratt 138, on the flat crossing of the Cambrian Coast line near Porthmadog station. The train ran past Porthmadog Harbour station on to the FR's line on Cob embankment and reversed into the terminal platform; this will be the standard method until the Cob is widened to make room for a through platform.

The return train enters the street-running section across the Britannia Bridge in Porthmadog (Greg Mape). The following day, the last WHR passenger train of 2010 ran: a Platelayers' Special ran from Harbour to Rhyd Ddu and back as a thank-you to the volunteers responsible for laying the track. Over 175 tracklayers, contractors, their families and a couple of dogs enjoyed a spirited ride up the 1 in 40 in a nine-car train double headed by Lyd and Taliesin.

Train services re-start on 8 January, on the Caernarfon - Pont Croesor section only. However, due to work on the Porthmadog by-pass road, the Ffestiniog Railway will not be operating for much of February. A joint F&WHR service will run from Porthmadog Harbour Station to Caernarfon for one week only between 20 and 27 February, being the first chance for the general public to ride the Porthmadog town section. See the WHR timetable.

Changes at Criccieth

As reported previously, from 24 October the new ERTMS signalling system came into full use on the Harlech - Pwllheli section of line, the first part of an implementation which will cover the whole of the Cambrian lines. This includes the crossing loop at Porthmadog, and also the Welsh Highland Railway crossing mentioned above. Can anyone tell us how conflicting moves over this crossing are prevented?

The most visible result of this changeover is that Merllyn level crossing, on a one-way road leading to the end of the promenade in Criccieth, which had gates and protecting semaphore signals worked by a level-crossing keeper on-site, now has full-width lifting barriers remotely-operated, with the aid of cameras, from the control centre at Machynlleth. These pictures showing the new arrangements were taken for us by Paul Lacey.

Above, looking towards Black Rock and Porthmadog showing the signal which is now out of use - the signal being covered by what looks like a black bin bag. It's interesting to see that reminder signs for speed restrictions have been retained to complement the cab display: the speeds are in kilometres per hour, 80 for the regular railcars, 40 for loco-hauled trains.

Looking towards Criccieth station, with the former gateman's hut, and the ground frame in the garden of what was once the crossing-keeper's cottage, and again the signal no longer in use.

The 09:36 Pwllheli to Birmingham International, formed of 158 822,  passing over the crossing on Saturday 6 November.

Paul adds a few observations from experience of seeing one train pass by, and comparing the level crossing with the automatic half-barrier version at The Maes nearer to Criccieth station: 'The Maes crossing has an audible warning as well as the lights, so it seems strange to not hear an audible warning at Merllyn;t he floodlights at Merllyn stay on all evening, which adds a new feature to the town, whereas Maes has no such lights; and the barriers came down a long time before the train passed through. At The Maes, the train comes through fairly quickly after the barriers come down - it was a lot longer at Merllyn.'

The way a level crossing works under ERTMS (as we understand it - please correct if wrong) relies on the fact that trains continually send, based on on-board sensor readings, their location to the computer in the control centre by a special version of the mobile phone network, and there are also axle-counters at strategic places on the track to report that a train is complete when passing them. When a train reaches a predetermined point the computer informs the controller that he must look at the crossing camera view and then operate the barrier controls when safe to do so. If the barriers are not lowered, the train will not receive a 'movement authority' for the section including the crossing and will be brought to a stop.  The length of the section will determine how long the barrier has to stay down.

Freight moves

The Flask train on 26 October featured the most unusual pairing of 37 423 Spirit of the Lakes and 57 010. Above, the train waits in Valley station before departing for the return journey to Crewe. Picture by Corrie.

66 953 has made several runs with the new flow of stone from Penmaenmawr Quarry to Guide Bridge: above, on 3 November, it brings the empty wagons across the crossover at Penmaenmawr and into the quarry sidings (Darren Durrant).

Loading in progress as the Rail Head Treatment Train passes (Darren Durrant).

Retrenchment at Wrexham

Wrexham & Shropshire released the following on 2 November:

With effect from Sunday 12 December, Wrexham & Shropshire will be making changes to its timetable. Two off-peak services each way will be combined and the company will move from four to three services direct to London Marylebone. After analysing customer travel patterns, Wrexham & Shropshire have determined that several off-peak services are too lightly-used to run profitably. The decision has been taken to combine the two least-used weekday off-peak services and run one less service in each direction per day. Saturday will similarly be reduced from four to three trains in each direction.

Wrexham & Shropshire is an innovative local train operator receiving no subsidy from the Government. The provision of services and profitability of the company is based directly on fares received by passengers. Andy Hamilton, Managing Director at Wrexham & Shropshire, says: "Our unique position as a local train operator working without subsidy means that our viability is directly affected by passenger numbers. We have several trains that are not being used sufficiently to justify continuing to run them. We are passionately committed to the Wrexham & Shropshire business running a direct service from Wrexham to London Marylebone. The change will not affect travel for over 70% of our passengers and will allow us to focus our resources on growing our business where demand is greatest. We know that some customers will be inconvenienced, and for that we apologise.

"Our people take immense pride in the customer service that they deliver and they will continue to provide the award-winning travel experience that has seen us achieve 99% customer satisfaction; the highest ever for any train company in this country."

The changes are as follows: The 11.27 and 15.25 Wrexham to London Marylebone trains will be replaced by a service at 13.28 arriving in London at 17.30. The 07.20 and 11.20 London Marylebone to Wrexham trains will be replaced by a service at 09.20 arriving in Wrexham at 13.20.

So the W&S service becomes even more focused on carrying Wrexham and Shropshire people to London and back: The 13:28 will be the last 'up' train of the day Mondays - Fridays, so not much chance of a reasonable day trip from London, even to Shrewsbury (Class 67 fans can enjoy eight minutes at Wrexham!) They do not tell us when the last train south on Saturdays (currently 17:23) will run, and the times they give us above must the originally-planned times for the next timetable, as the first train from Marylebone is currently 07:33, not 07:20 as stated.

In Yellow ... and black


The class 97/3 locos, converted from Class 37s for use on the Cambrian ERTMS lines, can be seen elsewhere at times. Above, at Crewe on 30 October, 97 303 is coupled inside 31 285  with a structure gauging train running from Mossend to Derby.

The train included the optical gauging wagon, DC 460000, which measures the clearance in tunnels by reflection of light beams. To avoid false readings the vehicle and the ends of the adjacent coaches are painted matt black (Andrew Vinten). See for more about this interesting vehicle, which still carries the number 460000 from the prototype steel-carrying low-sided wagon from which it was converted.

Attached is DB975081, formerly Test Car 'Hermes'. The Old Dalby website is an excellent place to research this and other test train stock.

Passenger locomotive events

Saturday 23 October, and the Rail Head Treatment Train (66 101 and 66 105) meets the Virgin Pendolino (hauled by 57 309 Brains) near Llandulas (Darren Durrant)

30 October saw the Saturday Pendolino used to change over the loco for the Monday - Friday Cardiff Express: above, 57 313 passes Llanddulas westbound at 11:55 (Darren Durrant). Presumably the controller who objects to the 'wrong' power being used what not on duty that day ...

At Holyhead, 57 314 was stabled in the carriage sidings with the Arriva coaches as usual at weekends. Picture by Corrie.

57 313 brought the train from London into Platform 1 (Corrie)

57 314 detached from its train (Corrie) ...

... and backed on to the Pendolino as 57 313 stood by.

Loco swap completed (Corrie).

Departure from Holyhead (Corrie).

57 314 hauls the return train towards London across Llanddulas viaduct at 15:40 (Darren Durrant). The original stone viaduct, which was similar to the one still in place at the end of Colwyn Bay promenade, collapsed completely on 17 August 1879 after being undermined by flood water. On 25 August, passenger trains began running over a temporary structure, and on 14 September 1879 the permanent viaduct of steel spans on brick piers was ready for traffic. The 'fourteen lattice and 28 plate girders needed for the seven spans, as well as the transverse portions, flooring plates, angle irons and all other parts' were created (starting with crude pig iron which first had to be converted to steel) at the London and North Western Railway's Crewe steel works, are were ready for erection just one week after the order was placed (this link shows some pictures of the work.) The construction work at the bridge went on 24 hours a day, one of the earliest uses of electric lighting in a project of this kind. The concrete beams have been added to the spans more recently: does anyone know when?

Arriva ran an additional loco-hauled train, 08:08 Holyhead - Cardiff on Saturday 6 November for a rugby match in Cardiff.Firstly last nights working from Cardiff Central. In preparation, additional coaches and another loco were added to the Cardiff - Holyhead express on 5 November, seen above  after arrival at Holyhead (Corrie).

Following arrival, 57 313 was detached and proceeded into the shunt neck. 57 315 was then started up and took the coaching stock to the carriage sidings where the Mk3 Restaurant car was dropped off, before returning coaching stock to platform 3 for the following morning's working (Corrie).

Early morning, 6 November, and the train stands at Holyhead ready for departure, formed of six coaches (including two guard's compartments) hauled by 57 315 with 57 313 'dead' on the rear (Corrie).

An autumnal scene at Chester's city walls as the special passes (Geoff Morris).

The special passes Tattenhall (Stavros Lainas).

Back to matching Virgin colours for the London train on 6 November, pictured by Stavros Lainas passing Beeston westbound at 11:02.

RCTS news
The Railway Correspondence and Travel Society holds its next indoor meeting of its Chester season at the Town Crier opposite the railway station on Monday 15th November at the new starting time of 7.30 p.m.The topic is '60163 Tornado' with Keith Crabtree of the A1 Steam Trust giving a Power point presentation on the history, building and operation of the first British main line steam locomotive to be built since the end of steam on British Railways.

Visitors are more than welcome to attend this meeting but with a £2 voluntary donation. Such donations enable the Society to continue its regularity of such meetings.

Shades of Shrewsbury - pictures by David Parry

David Parry made a visit to Shrewsbury in September, and took
advantage of a bright day to explore the possibilities of the station. Above, 175 115 waits in Platform 7 as catering supplies are replenished. The station is notable of the many bikes to be found on the platform storage stands.

The shadow of the bridge which carries a public right of way (known as 'The Dana') across the the station falls on a Wrexham & Shropshire train in Platform 4. The Driving Van Trailer is 82034.

Wrexham & Shropshire trains arriving from London mostly use Platform 3: the locomotive here is 67 012 A Shropshire Lad.

66 597 takes the through line with a train of cement wagons.

Deltic news

55 022 Royal Scots Grey at Edinburgh on 6 November having hauled  hauled the 'West Lothian Pioneer' railtour throughout from Crewe to Edinburgh. Andrew Vinten's picture shows it waiting departure
for Craigentinny carriage sidings after arrival at Edinburgh.

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