Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

21 February 2011

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Forthcoming events

February 2011

Thursday 24 February Merseyside Railway History Group Allan Lewis: Norfolk & Western

March 2011

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

April 2011

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
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.

The Saturday London - Holyhead train passes Llanddulas, 19 February. Loco is 57 308 Tin Tin (Darren Durrant)

Strike news

After Arriva Trains Wales recently batted away with legal technicality a threatened strike by drivers who are members of the RMT union, along comes a strike by drivers in the ASLEF union, called for Monday 27 February, along with a recommendation not to work on non-contracted rest-days and Sundays. Update 25 February:  there will be no Arriva Trains Wales trains running anywhere on Sunday 27 or Monday 28 February. (Full info here.) Virgin trains will run as normal (and will probably be very crowded.)

Diversionary tactics for 6J37

On 15 February, the 6J37 Carlisle-Chirk timber train was diverted for the first time via Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury due to the closure of Cefn Viaduct (which has now re-opened but only to passenger services). The train was topped and tailed by Colas locomotives, due to enforced 'wrong line' working from Gobowen to Chirk as there is no crossover at Chirk by which trains  can reach the unloading siding (Mark Riley).

Above, 66 841 arrives at Gobowen with 66 842 at the rear, and is about to pick up a Network Rail  Pilotman before running forward and then back into the station onto the up main using the crossover. The loading for this working was just 13 wagons as opposed to the recent 21-wagon loadings.

The train then drew forward across the level crossing but stopped short of the signal (Andrew Vinten) The driver then changed ends and walked back to 66 842 and started the engine.

The Gobowen signaller, having set the ground signal to permit the move then displays his green flag, to indicate that the crossing is clear (Andrew Vinten).

The train then crossed over on to the 'Up' line (Andrew Vinten) Once the train was clear of the crossover, the points were secured with a hand clamp as a safety measure.

Having now switched to the 'Up' line, 66 841 is seen a few minutes before proceeding north on the 'wrong line' to the Kronospan Plant (Mark Riley).

At Chirk, 66 841 arrives wrong line at Kronospan, trundling though Chirk station in the background (Mark Riley).

Finally, 66 842 is seen in the yard at Kronospan, having reversed all the way in and unloading of the 'KFA' wagons is under way (Mark Riley).

At the limit of the new sidings stands 66 841; not much of a view, but one for the record. It appears that the siding here still only accommodates 13 wagons, whilst the one behind this is used for the longer trains, as it curves round into the yard a little further back (Mark Riley).

The steel trains which normally run this way have been diverted to run via Crewe, but not without problems. David Harrison reports:

On Tuesday 8 February the northbound train passed through Chester at about 08:15 and was allowed to run ahead of the late running 08:22 Chester-Wrexham class 153 shuttle service on which was a passenger (the 08:22 Cardiff Central being diverted via Crewe). The steel train has sometimes been held on the slow lines at Roodee junction but on this day was allowed to run straight through to Wrexham.

The 08:22 eventually got away at about 08:30 and gained the single line at Saltney Junction. only to be brought to a stand at Boundary Lane level crossing. We were told we were awaiting a preceding train coming off the single line at Wrexham. After about fifteen minutes wait we reversed back to Chester because the preceding train had not reached Wrexham. I guessed the steel train had come a stand on Gresford bank.

Back at Chester we were told there would be another train to Wrexham at 09:30 and told to await that. I figured that they were not going to move the steel train in a hurry so caught the bus to Wrexham. A fellow commuter rashly stayed in Chester to await the 09:30 which was boarded but went nowhere and eventually a rail replacement service was provided. The errant steel train eventually arrived at Wrexham about lunchtime, as glimpsed from my office, and then reversed as normal for Dee Marsh. The delays caused by this compounded the flood-related problems and Arriva staff at Chester and Wrexham probably wished they stayed home that day!

Perhaps some other correspondents will know the ID of the class 66 that disgraced itself ... even relatively new locomotive designs cannot rise to the challenge of Gresford bank.

As we write (21 February) the viaduct is open again, but for diesel multiple unit passenger trains only, and with an emergency speed restriction of 20 mph. The notice to train drivers tells them to sound their horns before crossing.


Here's an extract from the Virgin Trains staff newsletter:

Virgin Trains came to the rescue of passengers left stranded when Wrexham, Shropshire and Marylebone Railway (WSMR) ceased operations on Friday 28 January, less than three years after launching in April 2008. WSMR ticket-holders have been able to use Virgin Trains services ... Virgin Trains' CEO Tony Collins said: 'WSMR began its service by demanding monopoly access to the Wrexham to London market and twice tried to stop other operators competing. Competition should not allow overseas giants such as Deutsche Bahn to dip their corporate toes in the UK market and withdraw at short notice.'

Well, that's one way of looking at it.

Narrow gauge news

The Welsh Highland Railway is running public trains into Porthmadog Harbour station during this half-term week: pictures are very welcome. Someone has put a very interesting video on YouTube taken from a diesel-hauled train,

Meanwhile, the Daily Post of 16 February reports: 'An historic railway line is a step closer to re-opening after engineers slid a rail bridge over the new £35m Porthmadog bypass into position. The steel structure carries the Ffestiniog Railway line at Minffordd, at the point where it crosses the route of the long-awaited 5.3km road. Workers from Balfour Beatty and Jones Bros Civil Engineering assembled the bridge after the existing railway embankment was removed and the new bridge abutments built. Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways’ Clare Britton said : "Scheduled Ffestiniog Railway services between Porthmadog and Blaenau Ffestiniog are timetabled to restart at 10.15am on Wednesday, March 2."

Transpennine adventure - with Alan Crawshaw

As Rowan and I headed east on 12 February I looked back wistfully on the easy comfortable rides that we could make to Yorkshire when we first moved to North Wales in 1985, and on our return was able to enjoy Richard Walliker's recollections on the Notice Board (last issue). With through trains a thing of the past, we alighted from the Voyager at Chester (above) and waited the 24 minutes for our connection to Manchester.

Despite the faster acceleration of the Voyager units, time lost waiting connections makes for a longer journey time, though a quick sprint to platform 3 kept waiting time at Piccadilly to the bare minimum. This was our first ride on a refurbished 175, very tastefully done with its more restrained colour scheme (above).

We broke our journey at Leeds, changing onto a Skipton service which deposited us at Keighley, where we walked over the bridge to the steam age ambiance of the Keighley and Worth Valley railway terminus. 44871, one of two Black Fives out for the day, soon pulled us up the hill for the start of a very enjoyable day out. 90773 is currently the only serviceable War Department 2-8-0 (above) ...

 ... and we were also pleased to see 'Jinty' 0-6-0T 47279 on its last gala before overhaul.

The magnificently-restored Lancashire & Yorkshire No 957, built in Manchester by Beyer Peacock in 1887, completed the picture.

An interesting sight was this bus, an AEC RT-type, new to London Transport as RT 172 in September 1947 and sold to Bradford City Transport in 1958, pictured outside Haworth Station. A scenic ride to the Oxenhope terminus to reconnect with the railway makes an interesting diversion from bashing up and down the line, and there's no charge for ticket holders. Drinka Pinta - Quencha Thirst!

Our EMU from Keighley to Leeds nicely connected with the 12:23 Plymouth to Glasgow Central Cross-Country HST led by 43 285 which delivered us to York (above).

Next day we called in on the National Railway Museum, which is very familiar to us but never loses its appeal, Ffestiniog Railway loco Livingston Thompson reminding us of home.

We timed our Monday return home to catch the "Gerald" (Cardiff - Holyhead express) from Crewe, but had to amend our plans when the 17:30 Manchester to Milford Haven was announced as cancelled at Manchester Piccadilly. We had just enough time to stride over to platform 14 for the 17:19 Llandudno service, alighting at Chester to wait for 57 315 to arrive (above). It was much busier than on the previous occasions, a promising sign.

Engineering trains round-up

Saturday 12 February saw a train of ballast and spoil wagons heading north on the Cambrian Coast line behind two of the Network Rail Class 97/3 (rebuilt Class 37) locos which are now the only locos allowed north of Barmouth. Picture near Morfa Mawddach by Kate Jones.

The sheep concentrate on their lunch as the train heads for Barmouth Bridge (Kate Jones). Network Rail does not allow double-headed locomotives across the bridge because of weight restrictions, but makes an exception for its own trains...

18 February, and DR73109 - an Plasser & Theurer 09-3X Tamper / Liner i stabled in the Tamper Siding at Llandudno Junction between weekend jobs on the Conwy Valley branch (Peter Lloyd). This machine was once operated by now-defunct Jarvis Fastline before being bought in the bankrupt stock auction by SB Rail, part of the Babcock group.

Posing with 175 112 (Stéphanie Durrant)

37s on Measurement train, 17 February

A Network Rail measurement train, 1Q30, ran from Derby to Holyhead and return to Crewe on 17 February with 37 601 and 37 059 as traction. It was due to pass Saltney Junction at 13:35 but ran late: above, it passes Mold Junction at 14:00 (Stavros Lainas).

Beeches Farm Bridge at 14:05 about 30 minutes late (Bob Greenhalgh).

Llanddulas (Stéphanie Durrant)

It passed Llandudno Junction westbound at 14:59, seen in Peter Lloyd's picture above.

Arrived at Holyhead (Aaron Osborne-Taylor).

37 059 stands at Holyhead (Aaron Osborne-Taylor)

A chance for a look at Track Inspection Coach DB999508 (Aaron Osborne-Taylor)

The recessed section was made when the vehicle was converted from an officers' inspection saloon in the 1980s.

Heading for home at Llanfairfechan (Stéphanie Durrant)

The return train passes Colwyn Bay station (Jack Bowley)

A final look at the train, passing Holywell Junction (Tim J. Rogers)

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