Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

07 December 2010

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This site is dedicated to all our regular contributors and supporters, and especially the all rail staff of North Wales.

Forthcoming events

December 2010

Tuesday 7 December North Wales Railway Circle : Pete Hanahoe & Brian 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. (Including Charlie Hulme's Austrian narrow-gauge layout)

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.

January 2011

Friday 7 January   Clwyd Railway Circle  Tony Harrison: Trains Around the World. - Since retiring in 2000, Tony 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 Mike Crabtree
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 S&D.

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 Beresford)

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 layout 'Grabental.'

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 until
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, the fire
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 seen.

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, taken inside Machynlleth depot. 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 - note that the Cambrian installation is the 'Level 2' version.  Ansaldo, the makers of the Cambrian version, have a description on their site.

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

Non-passenger pictorial

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 Stations 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 Lloyd)

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).

Steam events

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 Fenton)

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 at 08:43.

The Hereford train arrived punctually, formed of 153 371 and 170 511 and I
captured it on film at Hereford.

I caught the 09:55 from Hereford to Shrewsbury. As I travelled Northwards
there was just a light dusting of snow everywhere, giving the countryside a
suitable wintry feel. On arrival there I noticed a tamping machine, 75407
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 line
with my camcorder; I got one still of the tail end of the special (above).

Having arrived on Platform 4, KE1 then drew its train into Coton Hill Yard.
Having run round its coaches it then propelled its support coach via the Up Main Line to Abbey Foregate Junction. (see diagram at sooner had it 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 its carriages.

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 Billet.

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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