NORTH WALES COAST
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17 January 2011
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This site is dedicated to all our regular contributors and supporters, and especially the all rail staff of North Wales.
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
Friday 4 February Clwyd Railway Circle David Rapson: Reflections on a Railway Career.A reflection in pictures and anecdotes of a 35 year career on the railway based largely in the North West.
Monday 7 February RCTS Port Sunlight: Peter Jackson: STEAM IN THE SNOW Slides of Peter’s visit to China in 2002, showing mainline and industrial steam.
Thursday 10 February Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society "Arriva Trains Wales 2011 - The Way Forward" - Ben Davies, ATW Stakeholder Manager.
Friday 11 February Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society
RED SEA RAILWAY - THE RAILWAYS OF ERITREA a PowerPoint presentation by Jennie Street (author "Red Sea Railway")
Monday 21 February RCTS Chester MEMBERS SHOW 30 slides or digital images of your choice.
Thursday 24 February Merseyside Railway History Group Allan Lewis: Norfolk & Western
Friday 4 March Clwyd Railway Circle AGM followed by Photo Competition and Members Night. Members are invited to give a 15 minute presentation of their choice, any format welcomed. Please book your slot no later than 18th February by contacting David Jones (see below for details).
Monday 7 March RCTS Port Sunlight John Day will give a digital presentation on 21st Century Steam featuring steam in the UK, USA, China and the Ukraine.
10 March Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society The last months of the Routemasters with Dr John Willis and 'Society tribute to the late Bill Rear' by Bob Barnsdale and Larry Davies
Friday 11 March Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society STEAM AROUND CHESTER FROM THE 1960s ONWARDS a colour slide presentation by John Feild
Monday 21 March RCTS Chester Paul Chancellor FROM BLUE AND GREY TO BLACK AND GREEN. Paul from Colour-Rail presents slides illustrating the wide variety of liveries that have adorned British steam, diesel and electric locomotives over the past 60 years.
Thursday 31 March Merseyside Railway History Group AGM: Members Slides
Friday 1 April Clwyd Railway Circle Geoff Morris: The Railways of South-West Wales over the last 30 years. A photographic journey looking at the railway scene in Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and West Glamorgan, an area often neglected by the railway enthusiast. We visit far-flung outposts of the passenger system (Fishguard Harbour, Milford Haven, Pembroke Dock, Central Wales line) and also meet some unusual diesels (cut-down classes 03 & 08) on the way.
Monday 4 April RCTS Port Sunlight BRANCH AGM (Members Only) Followed by Members' Photographs.
Friday 8 April Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society
TORNADO - A STEAM LOCOMOTIVE FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
illustrated presentation by Graham Nicholas (A1 Steam Locomotive Trust)
Thursday 14 April Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society "Cardiff Canton Diesel Depot” Steve Morris
Monday 18 April RCTS Chester Geoff Morris: ANOTHER AUSTRALIAN ADVENTURE. A digital presentation of Geoff’s 2010 visit to Australia featuring main line & preserved steam in Victoria, New South Wales & Queensland plus views of the modern scene and the odd kangaroo!
Thursday 28 April Merseyside Railway History Group Richard Kells: Quiz and informal evening
See the Calendar page for more details and later dates.
Dark skies loom as 97 302 and 97 304 approach Cuddington with a track recording train on 13 January. More yellow perils below. Picture by Stavros Lainas.
WAG Express Mk 2
A press release from the Welsh Assembly Government reads:
The express rail link between north and south Wales is to increase to two return services a day, the Deputy First Minister, Ieuan Wyn Jones announced today (Monday 17 January). Thanks to £3.5 million support from the Welsh Assembly Government, Arriva Trains Wales is developing plans to lease additional rolling stock to operate the extra services from Holyhead to Cardiff. By paying to lease the trains up-front for seven years, as opposed to an annual basis, the Assembly Government will save the taxpayer £350,000. Arriva Trains Wales have secured the timetable slots for the second service and they will now develop a procurement process to obtain the rolling stock. Once this process is complete, further announcements will be made on when the service is due to begin.
Mr Jones said: 'The North-South express rail link plays a vital role in not only linking north and south Wales but also rural and urban communities. With extra funding from the Welsh Assembly Government, plans will now be developed to increase the service and provide an alternative transport option to the car. This is part of our commitment to encourage sustainable transport and improve links between the north and south of the country. I'm delighted that not only are we planning to increase the frequency of this service – a route that has already been enjoyed by thousands of commuters, shoppers and tourists – but also secured a considerable saving to the taxpayer by being smarter in the way we negotiate our contracts.'
This story seems to raise more questions than it answers, but we understand that the plan is to run a second train from Holyhead later in the morning than the current very early start, with a later return from Cardiff than the current train. Odd, perhaps, as one might perhaps have expected a service for the denizens of the south to spend a day in the north. We are hearing talk of Class 67s as proposed haulage, and a controversial non-stop run between Llandudno Junction and Chester, but the actual information is not to hand. 'If this is an express service then I'm a kangaroo' says North Wales AM Eleanor Burnham in a surrealistic mood. 'People are having to travel to Bangor to catch these trains, which then stop at Chester, Crewe and Shrewsbury. It should avoid stopping in England rather than along the North Wales coast.'
We also cries from the Wrexham contingent, as the second train, like the first, is apparently to run via Crewe rather than reversing at Chester and serving Wrexham. Wrexham Council leader Aled Roberts explained to the press that the authority had campaigned for the present express to stop in the town. He added: 'Despite numerous requests for a timetable regarding the doubling of the track to Wrexham and the re-routing, in the meantime there has been no action by WAG. This announcement needs to be reversed – it is diabolical the people of Wrexham, Flintshire and Denbighshire are being treated in this way.'
Does anyone have the detailed timetable for this train? It would also be interesting to know how the fares collected for these WAG services are distributed. Do they go into the pot to reduce the public subsidy, or boost Arriva's profits?
One thing is certain in the railway website world: if you claim that some event is the 'first' or 'last' of a particular combination of locomotive and place, in will roll the emails telling you that it wasn't. Such was the case with last week's item about the first Class 66 at Llandudno; the electrons were hardly dry before several people (thanks as always!) wrote to say this was wrong, including John Young who offers the above picture of 66 084 at Maesdu heading for Blaenau Ffestiniog with 1Z43 09: 20 Llandudno - Blaenau Ffestiniog on 3 September 2000. This charter started from London Kings Cross on 2 September for three days travelling the North Wales rails. Oh well... any others?
15 January's London - Holyhead 'Pendolino Drag' was formed of 57 311 Parker and 390 045 101 Squadron. The train developed problems of some kind while heading along the Coast, and was run into Platform 4 at Llandudno Junction (picture above by Darren Durrant) where the service was cancelled.
The unfortunate passengers on this wet day found themselves forced to wait for the next Holyhead-bound train, formed of 158 831 (Stéphanie Durrant).
Motive power and livery variety as 158 831 departs (Darren Durrant)
Some time later, we understand, the locomotive was run round the Pendolino at Llandudno Junction (did the shunter come by road from Holyhead?) and returned it empty to Crewe.
Eisteddfod Genedlaethol mystery
Thanks for all the kind comments about our feature (03 January issue) on the events of December 2000 featuring well-remembered loco 37 429 Eisteddfod Genedlaethol. Now for the mystery: in January 2001 while allocated to Cardiff Canton the loco suffered a failure, and was hauled off to storage at Motherwell depot, minus its nameplates which, it was said, had been kept at Canton depot for safe keeping. The Chief Executive of the National Eisteddfod, the most likely recipient, says they don't have them.
Where are the nameplates now? Any clues welcome, even if only to say they are safe in some private collection.
Measurement train saga
Last week saw a track recording train, headcode 1Q09, making its rounds of our area. As the itinerary included the Harlech - Pwllheli section on which the new ERTMS signalling has now been implemented, The 'Sprinter' track recording unit, or Class 31 power, could not be used; instead, track recording vehicle DB999508 was top-n-tailed by two of the Network Rail ERTMS project's modified Class 37s, 97 302 and 97 304 John Tiley. Unfortunately, while heading for the Cambrian Coast on 11 January it suffered a failure of its (old-fashioned) speedometer soon after leaving Dyfi Junction. It sat in the siding next to the Talyllyn’s Tywyn Wharf station for most of that day whilst fitters came from Derby to fix it. Andrew Royle, a member of the train's team, kindly took two pictures for us while waiting. Above, we see 97 302 in the siding; there's a great expanse of history between the ERTMS balise in the foreground and the rotating disk signal in the Talyllyn Railway's sidings in the left background. To the right is a more recent but soon to be replaced item, a signboard which is part of the RETB system.
Andrew's close-up of the balise itself. The balise (a French word meaning 'beacon' or 'marker') in an ERTMS level 2 installation is a fairly simple device, a large cousin of the RFID library cards now in use in some areas. When an ERTMS-fitted traction unit passes over it, the balise picks up a radio-frequency signal from the aerial aboard the train, collecting enough power by induction to transmit its digital message to the train, which is simply an fixed identity code. This is transmitted over the railway's dedicated mobile telephony network (GSM-R) to the computer in Machynlleth which uses it to correct and clarify the position of the train, adjusting the position which is calculated from the speed and distance measured and transmitted by the equipment aboard the train itself. In the case of a siding, this information will be the way the computer 'knows' the train is not on the running line.
If a section of line has a speed restriction, or if the line ahead is not clear. then this information will be found on the computer's database and transmitted to the train where it will be shown as a marker on the 'speedometer' part of the display at the appropriate time. The balise does not contain any speed limit information, as we might have previously claimed in error. The Railsigns website has a very useful explanation of ERTMS and a lot of other interesting stuff too.
On 13 January, the train worked as 1Q09 Shrewsbury - Manchester Longsight via Bidston and Wrexham. Above, 97 302 leads northbound through Penyffordd station in the morning. (Tim J. Rogers)
97 304 is on the rear as the train heads down Storeton bank towards Bidston (Andrew Vinten).
The train reversed immediately at Bidston and headed back towards Wrexham: above, it is passing Upton-on-Wirral at 08:54 (Stavros Lainas)
It made a brief visit to the diminutive terminus of Wrexham Central, and is seen above on arrival, running precisely to its booked times (Mark Riley).
After a quick relocation Mark Riley was able to take a photo from Bradley Road just before the train moved off, looking down into the station, integrated into the Island Green shopping complex. Wrexham Parish Church is visible in the background. Only Class 150s or 153s serve this station usually, running up the Borderlands line to Bidston.
Next, the train is seen in Croes Newydd loop where it paused for 30 minutes between Arriva service trains to Holyhead and Birmingham (Mark Riley).
With a clear path north, 97 302 and 97 304 accelerate away from Wrexham General. The photo was taken by Mark Riley from the car park at 'Fitness First'. The last loco-hauled test train in the Wrexham area for another 12 months!
The sylvan scene near Cuddington on the Chester - Manchester line (Andrew Vinten)
The February 2011 issue of Hornby Magazine features the impressive 'Llandudno Junction' layout of Chris Evans, a real operator's model which looks good while enabling the real 1961-era timetable for Llandudno Junction and Llandudno stations to be operated. Great to see someone still using Hornby-Dublo coaches, too.
Meanwhile, over at Model Rail magazine, we understand there are plans to release limited edition 00 scale Bachmann models of Mk 2a coaches in Regional Railways livery, something of a must for anyone wishing to re-create the Class 37-hauled North Wales trains of the 90s. Full details and ordering infofrmation will be announced in a future issue, apparently.
With the flasks
The reasonably rare (for the North Wales Flasks) pairing of DRS 57 007 and 57 008 Telford International Railfreight Park June-2009 visited Valley on Friday 11 January with a single flask, photographed from the road through Valley by Nick Gurney as they prepare to set back onto the mainline.
Also an uncommon sight recently is a pair of Class 20s, such as 20 309 and 20 303 as seen by Tim J. Rogers from Queens Road Bridge at Llandudno Junction on 12 January.
A mixed pair of 66 422 and 37 259 pass Pringle's store at Llanfair PG on 5 January (Richard Fleckney)
North of Crewe, flask trains for two destinations can run coupled together. Above, on 8 January we see 6K73 Sellafield - Crewe flasks hauled by 57 008 and 57 007 with 37 688 and 37 510 'Dead in Train', along with 4 FNA flask wagons passing Acton Cliff (Andrew Vinten)
Many readers will know that your editor can sometimes be found assisting at Model Railway Exhibitions with the operation of Dave Howsam's 'Untermutten' Swiss narrow gauge model railway. The next such occasion is at Rochdale on Saturday 5 February (10:00 - 17:00) and Sunday 6 February (10:00-16:30). The venue is the Oulder Hill Leisure Centre, Hudsons Walk, Rochdale OL11 5EW; the Rochdale Model Railway Group website has full details and directions to the show.
Organiser, and North Wales Coast website reader, Peter Rigby writes to tell us that there is also North Wales interest on view:
The OO layout 'Benllech' by Bob Howes from Warrington is one of the exhibits. "Upper Benllech was the brainchild of the late Alan Eyles and was built by Alan and the other members of the M57 group and represents a fictional station set on the Isle of Anglesey, constructed by the Anglesey Central Railway, run by the LNWR and later the LMS. In reality the line ran from Holland Arms to Red Wharf Bay & Benllech station, a couple of miles short of the intended destination. We have based the model on the premise that it continued all the way to Benllech as originally intended. The track plan is based on Llangefni with a few minor adjustments and the layout is set in the period between 1960 and 1965 during the latter days of steam on BR. Unlike the real railway, the layout will definitely operate on Sundays!
There is also an EM layout 'Llangerran' by Ken Gibbons set in West Wales.
Incidentally, any readers interested in rail travel beyond these shores are very welcome at the next meeting of the Swiss Railways Society Manchester Branch on Wednesday 3 February, at which good old Charlie Hulme will be giving an illustrated presentation of our trip to France, Switzerland and Italy in 2010. The venue is the Friends' Meeting House, a few minutes' walk from Oxford Road station, from 19:30 to 21:00.
Help a Book Author
Steve Morris, author and publisher of a number of excellent North Wales-related railway books, writes:
I am in the process of compiling a book that will cover English Electric traction between Chester and Holyhead. It will be in two volumes, volume 1 between 1960 and 1983, volume 2 between 1984 and the present day. The target release for volume 1 is April/May this year. I have gathered quite a bit of material already and have some more on its way but there are a couple of areas that I need assistance with and I was wondering if anybody out there could assist.
1. Whilst class 40s were "banned" past Blaenau Ffestiniog I am told that several made it through towards Trawsfynydd. Can anybody confirm this to be the case and does anyone have photographic evidence that might be suitable for publication in either volume?
2. I am looking for views of class 50s working along The Coast, either on test to Rhyl in the late 60’s or on passenger/Freightliner up to 1976. I have a few but could do with some more. Also, class 50’s working tours but taken east of Llandudno Junction.
If anybody has something covering the above, or in fact anything that could be classed as unusual/rare workings featuring class 20/37/40/50 that they think might be of interest please contact me to discuss further on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Crewe station roof completed - report by Tim Fenton