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14 February 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.
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.
A classic North Wales view on Saturday 12 February as 57 316 passes Penmaenmawr on the way to Holyhead (Stavros Lainas)
Trouble with floods
The past week has seen disruption to all rail traffic between Wrexham and Shrewsbury, with the highest water levels in the River Dee for 64 years causing flooding, and fears of structural damage to the Cefn Viaduct resulting in its closure for safety reasons. The picture above by Mark Riley is from 9 February, two days after the river level had fallen slightly.
This picture gives a better idea of the river level, with the Closure Point marked. A contact on Facebook reliably informs me that the river level was almost touching the mark two days earlier. The river level had dropped an estimated 4 feet at the time of this picture (Mark Riley)
The only freight trains currently seen in the Wrexham area at present are the South Wales-Dee Marsh steel coil trains, rerouted via Crewe and Chester. On 9 February at 11:20 (above), 66 134 runs round at Croesnewydd with 6V75 Dee Marsh-Margam empty steel coil carriers. The diversions mean approximately an extra 105 minutes plus added to journey times north and south. Meanwhile, service trains are the 158s from the north terminating at Wrexham bus services ferrying passengers onwards to Ruabon, Chirk, Gobowen and Shrewsbury. Trains from Holyhead to Cardiff are running via Crewe (Mark Riley).
This 9 February view of the viaduct from the Ty Mawr Country Park shows the state of the river (George Jones).
The usual Carlisle-Chirk loaded timber trains did not run because of this. If the present situation persists, the trains will need to be diverted via Wolverhampton, maybe top-and-tailed, and have to work single line down the up main from Gobowen - Chirk (or maybe Shrewsbury - Chirk) in order to access the sidings to the Kronospan Plant yard. No doubt this will entail major re-timings to avoid conflict with other services ... Arriva Trains Wales has announced that the Viaduct will remain closed at least until 18 February. We are told that the river current has to be less than 2 knots before a full inspection can be made, whilst it has been as much as 10 knots.
Further upstream in the Dee valley the effects of the heavy rain were also apparent. West of Glyndyfrdwy the meadows on the south side of the line were flooded, a most unusual occurrence regulars agreed. Above the view from the 14:00 train from Carrog heading east (behind 0-6-0PT 6430) with the water on the 'wrong side of the tracks' as the river broke its banks in places. the loco of the first train of the day was detached at Glyndyfrdwy to run light-engine to investigate the state of the track, but fortunately the line to Carrog was found passable and train service proceeded albeit running late initially.
Passengers enjoyed an unusual view of the River Dee in full flood passing through the gorge at Berwyn at remarkable speed and energy. All part of the challenge of running a railway in the winter (George Jones)
The Conwy Valley line also suffered flood damage (again) and is be out of action until Saturday 19th February, 2011 with a replacement bus service in operation.
Gardening at Gaerwen
A 'strange multi wheeled vehicle' that has been adapted to run on the rails has seen parked up next to the signal box at Gaerwen. It consists of a grab arm and a large 'wood chipper' on the back. This is, we understand, part of the feasibility study into re-opening the branch to Llangefni. It is apparently necessary to remove the more invasive trees and bushes to discover whether there are any organisms below which might render the trackbed liable for protection as a nature reserve...
Award for Mr Davies
The Guest speaker at the 10 February meeting of the Llandudno & Conwy Valley Railway Society at Llandudno Junction was Mr Ben Davies, External Affairs Manager for Arriva Trains Wales, who gave a very interesting and informative overview of both the current railway scene and future developments proposed in the current year.
Larry Davies, Vice-Chair of the Society, praised the work and personal commitment over many years of Mr Davies in respect of developments and support for North Wales lines and towards the Conwy Valley line in particular. Ben was awarded an honorary life membership of the Society in recognition of his 'unstinting work and support for railways' and was presented with a framed certificate by the Chairman, Bob Barnsdale.
Wrexham and Shropshire aftermath
Following the sudden end of the Wrexham & Shropshire rail company, as chronicled in the last issue, on 11 February train 5Z05 ran from Wembley to Doncaster, comprising 67 014 and DVT 82304. It ran early and caught out most photographers at the south end of the East Coast Main Line - however Alisdair Anderson was on the spot to record the train passing Biggleswade.
Perhaps the pair will return from Doncaster works with the W&S branding removed, ready for work on Chiltern Railways on the London Marylebone - Birmingham service. We understand that some of the W&S train crews will be working for Chiltern in the future, let us hope that the rest of the team can find places in the industry.
Our statement last issue that Arriva drivers have been training on Class 67s was erroneous; we are told that this was a plan which was suspended before it was implemented. Also, the café at Wrexham station remains open for the present. Meanwhile, Virgin Trains are 'not saying no' to a revival of their proposal to run some trains from London to Shrewsbury, previously abandoned in the face of objections from W&S and their supporters, and maybe beyond to Wrexham. The suggestion is that this will included in Virgin's submission for renewal of the West Coast Main Line franchise which is due next year. We'll see.
Follow this link to watch a programme by the South-west German TV station entitled 'Eine Reise ins Schmalspurparadies Wales' - a journey in Wales, narrow-gauge paradise - which also covers the Llangollen line. Practice your German! Thanks to Bob Lissaman for this link.
Near home, BBC Radio 4 recently had an interesting little 15-minute gem in a series presented by Ian Marchant (author of whimiscal railway book Parallel Lines) called 'The Completists' which features an interview with Vic Mitchell, of railway book publishers Middleton Press who have recently been issuing volumes about the lines in our area. It's available to listen on the iPlayer until 20 February.
Back in the 1980s - with Richard Walliker
In the 1980s the North Wales line was always busy with Class 40s, 45s, 47s and 25s. I well remember the lunch time weekly commissioning runs of out shopped traction from Crewe works. Mostly I remember the through Newcastle and Scarborough to Bangor services, being Class 45 hauled. Above is 40 184 at Prestatyn on the 10:45 Manchester Victoria - Holyhead, 28 August 1982. The self-processed monochrome images in my old photo albums have lasted in quality very well, interestingly, whereas the colour images have not.
45 148 approaches Rhyl with the 13.24 Llandudno - Scarborough, 18 August 1982.
40 008 at Prestatyn on the Saturdays-only Manchester Victoria – Llandudno, 28 August 1982. Notice the spotters! The bay platform for the Dyserth branch (extreme right) was disused by this time.
Class 60 news
60 011 has become the first Class 60 diesel to wear the Deutsche Bundesbahn livery. On 11 February it worked the Tunstead stone train, which ran an hour late. Andrew Vinten has the patience to wait at Plumley to take these pictures for us.
The typeface used for the loco numbers (inset) seems to be trying to approximate that is used on the German railways, but doesn't quite make it (Andrew Vinten)
The weather was less kind - 'raining cats and dogs' - for Les Burton waiting for the loaded train at Sharston on the outskirts of Manchester. The 'vehrkersrot' livery shines through the murk.
RCTS Meeting in Chester 21 February
The Railway Correspondence and Travel Society meets at the 'Town Crier' opposite Chester railway station on Monday 21st February at 7.30 p.m. Members will be showing 30 of their slides or digital images of their choice in an evening, which will cover the more recent railway happenings, both at home and abroad, as well as looking back at memories from the past
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.
57 304 Gordon Tracy leaves Rhyl with the London-bound service, 5 February (Stéphanie Durrant)
12 February, 57 316 and 390 020 westbound through Rhyl (Darren Durrant)
57 316 and 390 020 approaching Llanfair PG eastbound, 12 February (Richard Fleckney)
Valley, 12 February (Stavros Lainas)
The Blaenau Ffestiniog branch gets a visit each year at this time with ballast trains: on Monday31 January we had 66 097 and 66 013 with 10 wagons and on Tuesday 2 February 66 181 and 66013 with 10 wagons as 6L92. The Tuesday train is pictured at Llandudno Junction just after arriving at 21:47.(Peter Lloyd)
66 107 passes Llanddulas with a track-laying train, Sunday 6 February (Darren Durrant)
Chester lock empty - report by Bob Greenalgh
A picture taken on 9 February at Northgate Locks, Chester, near the railway. The locks have been drained in order to replace a set of gates and attend to other maintenance. It was featured in the 'Countryfile' TV show on 6 February by Ellie Harrison.
Full steam ahead for Llangollen railway expansion
The Welsh Assembly Government has announced funding to assist in the
extension of Llangollen Railway from Carrog through to the town of
Deputy minister for housing and regeneration Jocelyn Davies has
announced that £500,000 had been approved for the next financial year
but because of the considerable progress made by the Llangollen
Railway Trust, £370,000 of that funding will be made available this
year to allow work to begin. They will now be able to begin buying the
The Trust, which runs the preserved railway, has already been working
closely with local authority Denbighshire County Council and the local
community to prepare the town for the railway’s arrival.
Ms Davis says: 'I’m delighted that the project is running ahead of
schedule and that work can begin much sooner than originally planned. The extension of the railway is a boost for the tourism industry and
is part of the regeneration work being carried out which will benefit
the people of the Dee Valley and in particular, Corwen. We have long supported the extension of the Llangollen Railway and
this development will offer new and exciting opportunities for
businesses and tourists alike.'
Shipping news - report by Nick Gurney
Business at the Cemex-owned Raynes Jetty at Llanddulas seems as good as ever with no less than 10 ships visiting in January 2011. Above is Arklow Freedom which visited on 26 January.
This is Vela which visited on 9 January.
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