20 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.
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.
New A1 Pacific 60163 Tornado
worked a 'Cathedrals Express' excursion to Chester on 11 December.
Above, the outbound train passes Wardle, going well and on time with a
13-coach load (John Beresford).
This will be the last update
before another Christmas is upon us: very best wishes to all our
readers and contributors, and of course all the railway staff of North
Wales. - Charlie
Ieuan Air Grounded
The passenger flights between Anglesey Airport and Cardiff were
suspended on 17 December. The airport shares its runway with RAF
Valley which is used to train fast jet pilots for the Air Force and two
training schools, advanced jets and weapons training. This operation
has shut down for the Christmas period. Fire cover and air traffic
services have been downgraded as a result, so for safety reasons
passenger flights cannot use the facilities.
The twice-weekday flights will resume on
The Penmaenmawr - Guide Bridge stone train has not run very often in
recent weeks - maybe the Metrolink people had a backlog of
ballast - but it did run on 15 December, as pictured above soon after
leaving Penmaenmawr with 66 561
Winter sunshine on 17 December as 67
006 (67 008 on the rear) with the 'Northern Belle' circular
service from Liverpool passes a chilly Frodsham at 12:18 (Stavros Lainas).
142 048 heading for
Stockport and Manchester from Chester via Altrincham on a snowy
Saturday afternoon 18 December. Taken by Greg Mape from Southmoor Road
bridge, Baguley, Manchester.
Snow on the Cambrian: two delayed trains passing in Barmouth
station around 08:30 on 18 December in unfamiliar snow at such a
On the same morning, Dave Sallery
captured this image from Welsh
webcam showing to be the 07:25 Pwllheli
to Birmingham International, which was started at Porthmadog at 08:48,
passing alongside the WHHR's station.
Things were not going too well on the North Wales Coast line on the
morning of 18 December: the 06:55 Holyhead - London, formed of 221 142,
came to a stand within sight of the passengers waiting at Flint
station, as pictured above by Shaun
It was stranded for over 90 minutes, blocking all eastbound train
services. Passengers at Flint were told that a fitter was travelling
from Crewe to repair the train, as Shaun
Stanley made his way along the woodland footpath for a closer
The engine was running, staff were on the line, and the cab door was
open (Shaun Stanley)
On the Chester Wheel - with Geoff Morris
As part of its Christmas festivities, a large wheel (like the London
Eye) has been erected in the Castle Grounds at Chester . A couple of
shots of it are attached. The daytime one (above) was taken from the
racecourse. The large round building alongside houses an hotel,
apartments and Cheshire West Council Offices. It was built on the site
of the old Cheshire Police Headquarters.
The wheel is visible from the railway line as it crosses the Roodee
viaduct and so, I reasoned, must be a potential photographic vantage
point. Unfortunately when you ride it you cannot guarantee getting a
train passing when your cabin is high enough to see the railway above
the trees & the hotel complex. So if you take a ride to try to get
train photos you can only go at an appropriate time and take a chance.
The Voyager is on the 09:10 Euston - Holyhead.
The 158s are on services between Holyhead & Birmingham
International. My first ride on the wheel a couple of weeks ago was
totally unsuccessful - trains did pass but my cabin was too low to get
any photos. I tried again last Friday with much better luck, as seen
The picture above of a 158 was taken just before the cabin dropped
below the tree line and illustrate the luck needed to get a clear shot.
The wheel looks even better at night.
The last 11:27 to Wrexham and 15:25 return
A victim of Wrexham & Shropshire's cutbacks, the final 11:27 London
Marylebone to Wrexham prepares to leave Marylebone on 10 December
behind 67 014 Thomas Telford (Picture by Gary Nightingale). There are now
just three W&S trains each day in each direction in the timetable;
in fact the company has decided that due to adverse weather conditions
only two pairs of trains will be running from 20 to 24 December, the
05:10 and 07:23 from Wrexham and the 16:30 and 18:30 from London. See their website for
Also abolished is the 15:25 from Wrexham: George Jones captured the
last run, on 10 December, crossing Cefn Viaduct.
Shipping at Port Penrhyn - report by Eifion Hughes
Above, seen at Port Penrhyn is the dredger City of Cardiff, built in
1997 by Appledore Shipbuilders which visits the quay two or three times
a week unloading sand which is then taken away by lorries. Can anyone
tell us more about this operation?
York Yuletide fiasco - report by David Hennessey
This year's 'York Yuletide Express' excursion from Liverpool Lime
Street to York on 12 December, with LMS Black Five 44871, turned out to be a major
'farce.' At the advertised departure time from LIverpool of
10:00, the empty train (44871, support coach and stock) was still sat
at Crewe because the West Coast Railways 47 500 - required to bring the train
into Liverpool and travel on the rear in case of problems - had
failed with brake problems. As a consequence, West Coast decided to
call on the services of Virgin Trains: Arriva Trains Wales liveried,
but un-branded 57 313 was at
Edge Hill at the time (possibly resting there after the weekend
Holyhead Pendolino drag), and was summoned to rescue the train. Above,
it is seen rolling into platform 9 at Lime Street with the train of the
West Coast Railway's Mk1/Mk2 stock (including one Pullman liveried Mk2
Above, 44871 standing underneath the signalbox finally ready to leave.
Sadly, by the time the train arrived in Liverpool Lime Street and
departed at around 13:00 in the afternoon (just about three hours
late), the day had pretty much gone out of the window and a lengthy
stop outside Dewsbury, due to a trespass incident, didn't help matters
either. Arrival in York was around 17:30, and the train left again
behind 57 313, as 44871 had to be left behind for operational
reasons, at around 19:30.
More pictures (including night time shots in York) can be found on
Llangollen Santa Steam
Two views of the Llangollen Railway 'Santa Specials' of 12 December
between Glyndyfwrdwy and Carrog. The day was one of frost, lifting
mist, sunshine and long plumes of steam hanging in the still air.
2-8-0 3802 (above, picture by John Beresford) powered the 11am
2-6-4T 80072 hauled the 11:45;
this train was running late and the crew were making an
effort to catch a little time up as can be seen (Joy Beresford)
More strikes loom
Those Arriva Trains Wales drivers who are members of the RMT union have
voted overwhelmingly for strike action in a dispute over pay and
conditions. The Rail Maritime and Transport union said its members
backed industrial action by 85%.
General secretary Bob Crow told the press: 'RMT has rejected a paltry
offer from the company that would have left our members out of pocket
and which was loaded with strings. Our members would have ended up with
inferior working conditions for a de
facto pay cut. Arriva Trains Wales have shown us in the clearest
possible terms that they have no wish to properly reward the hard work
and loyalty to the staff and are motivated solely by the drive for
bigger profits to line the pockets of the shareholders, and that is why
we have balloted for industrial action and why our members have
delivered this overwhelming mandate.'
A spokeswoman for Arriva said: 'We are surprised and disappointed that
the RMT has chosen to ballot for industrial action, based on a previous
pay offer which has since been superseded by a significantly improved
offer. 'ATW train drivers are represented by two trade unions which are
Aslef and RMT. ASLEF has recommended the latest pay offer to its
members for acceptance.'
The division of train drivers between two unions is somewhat anomalous,
and it's odd to hear of Mr Crow talking about 'shareholders' in this
context, as Arriva's shareholders since the takeover by Deutsche Bahn
are in fact the entire population of Germany.
Elsewhere, a 'row' between RMT members on Northern Rail's conductors
and their management over which days over Christmas should qualify for
extra pay has resulted in a strike being announced for 27 and 28
December. The RMT said the rail company should pay double time
for the days as they are replacement holidays for Christmas Day and
Boxing Day, which fall this weekend. However, Northern Rail say that
previous negotiations had led to an agreement in which staff waived
such holiday pay in return for other benefits.
It seems to be the case recently on our local railways that strikes are
announced, and then cancelled again once the publicity has scared off a
few prospective customers. We'll have to see what happens this time.
158 refurbishment dispute rolls on
From the Daily Post, 6
Rail watchdogs have described the refurbishment of trains on a
mid-Wales line as “not fit for purpose”. Arriva Trains Wales (ATW)
operates two carriage Class 158 diesel trains on the Cambrian Coast
line from Pwllheli to Machynlleth and onwards towards Shrewsbury – one
of the most scenic routes in Britain. But concerned travellers believe
the Welsh Assembly-funded refurbishment will lead to half the table
seats obstructed by the window pillars.
The plans also involve rearranging airline-style seats to reduce
legroom and make space for new signalling equipment, plus an extra
wheelchair space, for the same seating capacity. Gareth Marston,
chairman of the Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth Rail Passenger Association
(SARPA), said: 'Tellingly it appears there was no passenger
consultation over the plans. Passenger Focus, the official passenger
body, was not formally consulted and had no direct input into the
plans. Similarly it is understood ATW train crew themselves were not
consulted. Despite representations, the plan to make changes that will
damage the travelling experience on these trains is set to plough
ahead. Small traders, who benefit from visitors to the mid Wales coast
attracted by the scenic train ride, are shocked a plan that will be
off- putting for visitors to the region has even been contemplated.'
SARPA and other rail users are now calling for the plans to be halted
and for Arriva Trains Wales to constructively look at other examples of
Class 158 refurbishment, especially that carried out by ScotRail for
the scenic lines in the Scottish Highlands. It's common sense – if you
add extra space taking features into an existing design, and then try
and keep the same number of seats, something has to give.We would
rather see a small number of seats sacrificed rather than overall
passenger comfort. The journey time between Aberystwyth and Birmingham
is nearly three hours. It's a long distance to be crushed up with no
view out the window.'
An ATW spokesman said: 'One of the priorities for the 158 refurbishment
project has been to optimise seating capacity and comfort, while also
delivering improvements in terms of disabled access. To comply with
Disability Accessibility Legislation the refurbished units will have
two wheelchair spaces available, as well as 16 new priority seats
providing additional legroom for those with reduced mobility.'
Berwyn Memories - review by George Jones
Here is the cover of Berwyn Memories the latest compilation by Paul Lawton covering stations on the
Llangollen Railway. Soft-backed, with 48 pages it covers not just the
immediate area of Berwyn station but also the nearby locations of
Llantysilio, Chain Bridge Hotel and the Oernant Tramway at Pentrefelin.
A well-researched and written social history of the area involving the
railway, river Dee, Llangollen canal and A5 road with a useful
collection of archive photos and supplementary illustrations of maps,
timetables and tickets etc relative to this attractive area in the Dee
Available at £4.50, and a good stocking filler for the guy who
has most things. This is the fourth and final volume of a planned
series, the others being: Carrog - A Welsh Country Station; Glyndyfrdwy
& Its Railways; Llangollen Stations - A History. Available from
Llangollen Railway shops.
Tornado at Chester
A selection of pictures from our Chester correspondents on the occasion
of Tornado's visit on 11 December. Above, arrival at Chester (Glyn Jones)
Follwing the fire in the Enterprise Centre which affected the area
normally used for steam loco servicing, Alstom voluntereered the use of
their Class 175 depot for the purpose (Glyn
Coaling, with spectators in attendance! (Glyn Jones)
The locomotive carries the LNER appled Green with British Railways
lettering, as it would have had it entered service shortly after
nationalisation in 1948. Picture by Neil
The crew confer (Neil Kennedy)
The plaque below the nameplate commemorates the naming ceremony carried
out by the Prince of Wales.
A good word must be put in for the ATW station staff who tolerated the
enthusiast invasion, and especially the station announcer Andy whose
commentary entered into the spirit of the occasion! Much appreciated by
those present. (Picture by Neil
And finally: the 'Booking Office Belle' (Neil Kennedy)
Wales Coast home page 2010
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