07 December 2010
comments are encouraged: see the Contributions
This site is dedicated to all our regular contributors and supporters,
and especially the all rail staff of North Wales.
Tuesday 7 December North
Wales Railway Circle
: Pete Hanahoe & Brian Bollington: Railways of Latvia and other
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. (Including Charlie Hulme's Austrian
Tuesday 14 December. 8E
Association AGM followed by Jon Penn: Chester Black & White
Tuesday 14 December North
Circle Christmas 'Do': Members Photos etc.
Friday 7 January Clwyd Railway
Tony Harrison: Trains Around the World. - Since retiring in 2000,
has travelled extensively around the world in pursuit of steam. This is
his first visit and his presentations have received impressive reviews
from other railway societies.
Friday 14 January Altrincham Electric
Railway Preservation Society
50 YEARS OF THE CRICH TRAMWAY MUSEUM a colour slide presentation by
Monday 17 January RCTS
Chester Tony Icke: WESTERN & WESSEX WANDERINGS. A slide show
mainly from the 1960’s from
Crewe to the Isle of Wight via western routes, Swindon and the
Thursday 27 January Merseyside Railway
History Group Geoff Pickard: Railways around Saltney
See the Calendar page for more details.
Santa Special at a very cold Pentrefelin, Llangollen Railway, 28
November. Locomotive is 2-8-0 3802 (John
Model Railway Show at Prestatyn
There is a Model Railway Exhibition this Saturday 11 December from
10:30 to 16:00 at the Prestatyn Parish Hall and Guide HQ, top of the
Central Car Park, Prestatyn, organised by the Rhyl Model Railway Club,
with proceeds in aid of the Ty Gobaith Children's Hospice. The venue
has easy access from Prestatyn bus and rail stations.
Full details and list of exhibits are at the Rhyl MRC
website. Amongst those on show (weather and Arriva Trains Wales
permitting) will be your own Website compiler with his Austrian HOe
Conwy Valley problems - report by Gary Jones
The Conwy Valley line was temporarily closed on the afternoon of 6
December, after Network Rail staff spotted a hole under the track
between Glan Conway and Tal y Cafn. Further examination of this
incident found a void under the track which needed specialist
examination and work before the line can be restored to traffic.
Fortunately the branch train, a Class 153 unit was at the
Llandudno Junction end when the emergency closure happened. Coaches
were replacing services from Llandudno Junction, but by the following
morning trains were running normally.
Fire at Chester - report by John Murray
The Chester Enterprise Centre, converted from the former LNWR goods
shed adjacent to Chester station, was badly damaged in a fire on the
morning of 2 December. At approximately 3.50am, a member of the public
called the fire brigade after seeing smoke rising from the building.
Despite a very rapid response from Chester Fire Station's three
appliances, the fire took hold very quickly and had engulfed the entire
building within 20 minutes. Additional appliances and fire fighters
were drafted in from neighbouring towns and the height of the fire
there were 16 appliances and 70 fire fighters in attendance.
Due to the intensity of the fire, 200 residents were evacuated from
nearby homes in a fleet of buses and Chester station was evacuated and
closed. Just before 7am Chester trains were then allowed to pass
through the station without stopping using the lines nearest the main
entrance. The first train to pass through was the 04:50 Holyhead to
London Euston which passed through about 30 minutes late. Merseyrail
service operated to and from Bache with a replacement bus service. At
about 8.30am, platforms 1, 2 and 3 reopened and a limited service was
resumed. The station did not fully reopen until 9.30am.
The fire service were still damping down the remains of the building
mid afternoon. Late on Thursday evening, demolition teams arrived to
remove parts of the walls which had become unsafe, to allow
investigators to begin their work. At present, the cause of the fire is
a joint investigation between Cheshire Police and Chester Fire service.
From videos taken by nearby residents and posted on YouTube,
appears to have started in the eastern end of the central wing of the
building and spread rapidly. At one point a sizeable explosion can be
The centre, now owned by Cheshire West and Chester Council, specialised
in providing low cost accommodation for new start up enterprises and
was home to 50 small businesses who have now lost everything.
Thankfully, there were no reported casualties in the incident. As a
former tenant of the centre with my own business: the picture above
shows the devastation where I once had my office.). I feel very much
for those business owners, and their staff, who watched their hard work
go up in smoke. I am also very sad to see a historic railway building,
which had been preserved for so long by imaginative re-use, so badly
damaged like this. Due to the extent of the damage to the building,
which unfortunately was not listed, it is unlikely to be rebuilt.
This picture by George Jones
show what remained of the building on 3 December.
More on ERTMS
Thanks to all who have written to us about the Cambrian Lines ERTMS
(European Rail Traffic Management System) installation, including Eryl Crump who has allowed us to
include some pictures taken while on assignment for the the Daily Post. Above, we see
signaller David Ord operating the Harlech - Pwllheli section of the
controls in the signalling centre at Machynlleth. (The rest of the line
is planned to 'go live' in spring 2011.) The equipment includes large
touch-screens showing track diagrams of the line with stations and
other salient features as well as the actual location of trains. Above
them is mounted the screen for the CCTV monitoring of Merllyn Crossing
at Criccieth; this enables him to check that nothing is actually on the
crossing before operating the control which starts the sequence of
flashing lights and audible warnings (which are provided, contrary to
an earlier report here) followed by the full-width barriers lowering
and the system permitting a train to approach.
Above, 158 831 passes Merllyn
crossing on 16 November. The arms of the old semaphore signals have
been covered in black plastic to signify that they no longer
apply. The difference between this crossing and the other one in
Criccieth is that the crossing at Y Maes, which has been automated for
some time and has not been changed for ERTMS, is a fully-automatic one
with which is operated purely by the approach of a train;
half-width barriers mean that road users will always be able to escape
should the barriers come down while they are crossing. The signaller
has no involvement unless someone contacts him from the telephone
provided, in case of a long or slow vehicle, or in emergency. The road
at Merllyn crossing is a narrow one-way one, so it is considered
desirable that it should have supervised full-width barriers.
A look inside a cab of unit 158 818,
The black screen is the driver's display
and touch-screen control for the ERTMS. Note the louvres on the cab
window to reduce sun glare on the screen. The traditional speedometer,
and Automatic Warning System 'dartboard' display are retained for use
on the rest of the rail network.
This 'screen grab' from a BBC video report
shows the ERTMS screen in use on the driver-training simulator. The
display includes a 'virtual' speedometer, which reads in km/h, with an
real-time indication of the maximum allowed speed including
speed-restriction information garnered from 'balises' in the track. The
dial, a standard European design, goes up to 250 km/h - a speed
unlikely to be reached on the Cambrian...
This picture (taken from a distance near Aberdyfi by Charlie Hulme) shows what a balise
looks like; basically it is a large version of a 'smart card' which
transmits information when engerised by a the antenna on a passing
train. Network Rail staff report that the new system is more
weatherproof than the old RETB; The equipment installed at Dyfi
Junction, for instance, has already been under water a couple of times
and has still functioned once the waters have subsided.
For many more details of how ERTMS in general operates, take a look at www.ertms.com - note that the
Cambrian installation is the 'Level 2' version. Ansaldo, the
makers of the Cambrian version, have a description
WAG Express stranded
The northbound express, 16:15 Cardiff - Holyhead, came to a stand for
2½ hours south of Craven Arms on 1 December, as a northbound
steel-carrying train for Dee Marsh had failed ahead and a
Manchester-bound passenger train was stuck behind that. Eventually,
single-line working was established and traffic began moving again,
with considerable knock-on effects, including the cancellation of the
21:35 Manchester - Shrewsbury, the last train of the day on that route,
with promised of a replacement bus from Stockport to Shrewsbury - how
long would that take on a snowy night? The express eventually reached
Chester three hours late at 22:00
Never before seen on these pages is Barrow for Tarvin station, opened
in 1875 by the Cheshire Lines Committee and closed in 1953, on what was
then their double track Manchester - Chester Northgate line and is now
the single line section between Mickle Trafford and Mouldsworth
Junction. See the Disused
website for what used to be. On 10 November (above) 66 602
was pictured by John Skipsey
passing with train 6Z40 Penmaenmawr - Guide Bridge ballast train.
23 November saw 37 259 leading
a Stobart-liveried 66 (Richard Fleckney)
The Wylfa flask train is always good for some variety: above, 47 712 Pride of Carlisle leads 47 802 through Llandudno Junction on
the afternoon of 24 November (Peter
DRS Class 20s are getting very elusive these days, but on 15 November Nick Gurney spotted 37 038 & 20 303 sitting at the Nuclear Flask
loading point at Valley having drawn forward from their train.
The return train crosses the embankment toward Llandudno Junction (Gary Jones).
The wind was creating problems for photographers at Hargrave as 45305
passed with the return Deva Explorer on 27 November (John Beresford)
35028 Clan Line returned to its southern
home on 28 November. It is seen at Crewe in company of an interesting
collection of diesels, Stobart-liveried 66 414, 37 601 ...
... and 70 006 (John Beresford)
Not to be confused with a Class 70 is 70000
Britannia, seen on 11
November making a test run from Crewe where it has been undergoing
overhaul for a return to steam after several years of inactivity. The
owner has specified that it should appear in black, as it was for a
short time when built in 1951 (Tim
50 Years of Class 37 - report by Mark Riley
On 27 November, Crewe Heritage Centre hosted an event marking 50 years
of the Class 37s, with several full size members of the class as well
as models in 00 gauge in the display hall. Above, 37 108, undergoing restoration, and 37 683 stand at the centre in the
cold morning air.
Two of the DRS 37s at the centre, 37
510 and 37 667. Both
37s were very grimy ... someone was busy cleaning so the numbers at
least could be seen!
In the afternoon, staff switched on the engines of 37 667 and 37 510.
37 667 ticks over, clagging well.
Having undergone a test run earlier in the week (as reported on the
last noticeboard), 35028 Clan Line was on display, looking
fine in the early afternoon sun. Inset is the nameplate, mounted on the
body side a short while earlier.
Shrewsbury in the Snow - with Richard Putley
On Saturday 27 November I decided to travel to Shrewsbury in order to
photograph GWR 4-6-0 6024
King Edward I which was
working a Pathfinder Railtour from Bristol. I travelled from my family
home in Malvern, Worcs. There was a light dusting of snow. While
waiting at Great Malvern station for the 08:43 to Hereford I
photographed HST Power Car 43 122
on the rear of a London Paddington bound service, also booked to depart
The Hereford train arrived punctually, formed of 153 371 and 170 511
captured it on film at Hereford.
I caught the 09:55 from Hereford to Shrewsbury. As I travelled
there was just a light dusting of snow everywhere, giving the
suitable wintry feel. On arrival there I noticed a tamping machine,
stabled there in the Up Siding. Making my way over to Platform 3 I then
filmed the arrival of the 12:04 Wrexham & Shropshire service to
London Marylebone led by DVT 82301. Due to engineering works between
Telford Central and Wolverhampton this train reversed down the Crewe
line with 67 012 now leading.
Heading over to the Castle I filmed 'KE1' coming in from the Hereford
with my camcorder; I got one still of the tail end of the special
Having arrived on Platform 4, KE1 then drew its train into Coton Hill
Having run round its coaches it then propelled its support coach via
the Up Main Line to Abbey Foregate Junction. (see diagram at www.roscalen.com).No
crossed over on to the Down Main and then headed the Down
Loop Line from Abbey Foregate Junction to English Bridge Junction, than
a Rugby Special formed of the WAG Express stock and top-and-tailed by
57 313/5 appeared. This headed down the Hereford line. Once it had
cleared the section to Sutton Bridge Junction, KE1 then drew forward on
to the Down Hereford, then reversed back through the station to re-join
I stayed to see the King bring its stock in to Platform 7 (above) and
then depart whence it had come at 15:55. I then headed home on the
16:50 to Hereford. All in all an enjoyable day out.
Anglesey views - by 'Corrie'
To continue the news story of proposals to construct a replacement for
the existing Magnox station at Wylfa, test drilling of the sea bed
around Wylfa Head commenced with the arrival of the drilling platform Excalibur which arrived off Wylfa
on 16 November. The view above shows its position on Sunday 21 November
in relation to Wylfa.
Seen here off Wylfa Head, with the now closed Coastguard Look-out Post.
A close-up of the platform.
The vessel Britannica
Hav arrives at Holyhead on 18 November to collect more Aluminium
The Fred Olsen Cruise Liner Boudica called at Holyhead for
disembarkation and embarkation of passengers. It is understood from
local enquiries that Holyhead was being used instead of West Langton
Dock at Liverpool.
The Saturday Pendo drag seen departing Holyhead on 20 November with 57 302 Virgil Tracy and Pendolino 390 038.
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