Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

07 March 2011

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Forthcoming events

March 2011

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

May 2011

Thursday 12 May    Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society     "Exciting Times on the Welsh Highland & the Ffestiniog" to be confirmed

Thursday 12 May   Steam at Chester  'The Cathedrals Explorer' Steam Dreams Oxenholme - Carmarthen via Chester - Shrewsbury - Llandrindod.

Friday 13 May Excursion 'The North Wales Scotsman' Compass Tours Holyhead, Llanfairpwll, Bangor, Llandudno Junction, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl, Flint & Chester to Dundee via the Forth & Tay Bridges.

June 2011
Sunday 19 June  Steam on the Coast:   Northern Belle Father's Day Special. Crewe-Holyhead and return with 46201 Princess Elizabeth.

See the Calendar page for more details and later dates.

Single unit 153 312 departing Shrewsbury to access the Heart of Wales Line, 19 January (Eifion Hughes)
Late news: planned industrial action has been cancelled: trains will run normally on 12 & 13 March.

Thanks to those who have written about our Sealand feature in the last issue; the narrow-gauge tracks in fact carried level crossing gates and not trains. Full story in the next issue.

Follow that Pendo!

The Saturday working of a Class 57-hauled Pendolino to Holyhead and back is a favourite of our photographic contributors. Above, 57 302 Virgil Tracy makes a splash of colour arriving at Bangor on 5 March (Darren Durrant).

The view from the level crossing at Llanfair PG (Richard Fleckney).

The return train takes the curve at Valley: the line to to the flask loading siding can be seen in the background (Corrie).

In the cutting near Conwy (Darren Durrant)

Industrial relations news

[Late news: industrial action has been cancelled, and  trains will run normally on 12 & 13 March.]

Arriva Trains Wales failed to run any services on 6 March for the second consecutive Sunday, as drivers from the Aslef union all chose the option resting on the Day of Rest which is optional in their contracts, something which the management would like to change; it's clearly not simply a pay dispute. Passengers are now faced with an all-out strike on Saturday 12 March (the day of a Wales v Ireland rugby match in Cardiff), and no trains on Sunday 13 March either. No attempt will be made to provide bus services on the Saturday, but a token bus service will operate on Sunday on some main routes. Here is the PDF for Chester - Holyhead.

Aslef General Secretary Keith Norman says 'They came up with an improved offer but refused to allow the union to ballot on it. They insisted that they wanted an immediate - undemocratic - response or they would withdraw the revised offer. We asked to be allowed to put it to our members, but they refused. As a democratic organisation, we could not accept that we break our own rules or deny our members a voice.'

An Arriva Trains Wales statement reads: 'We are extremely disappointed ... Arriva Trains Wales has made a substantial offer that has been improved several times. The pay offer which is in excess of 12% over 2 years brings a driver's salary to £39,117 for a 35-hour 4-day average week.'

Mr Leppard, Operations and Safety Director (and by his own definition, head of 'milk-float' operation), says 'It is extremely concerning that Aslef have decided to announce a strike specifically designed to cause major disruption and damage not only to train services but also to the wider public and the reputation of Wales. Channels of communication remain open and we are continuing to do everything we can to bring this situation to a resolution.'

It would be interesting to know how the salary of Arriva Trains Wales senior management compares with that of other companies. But from the passenger's point of view, the arrangements for Sunday trains in this country are surely anachronistic when one considers the number of people obviously travelling on that day.

On Sunday 27 February, Virgin Trains were faced with carrying many more passengers than usual for them on the North Wales line, and responded by strengthening trains to 10 coaches with a second Class 221 unit. A problem then arose, in that some Virgin trains call at Prestatyn, and the works for the new footbridge mean that the available platform is too short for a 10-coach train, so it was decreed that one 5-car set would have to be locked out of use on these trains.

The above instruction applied to the 10:42 Crewe - Holyhead and 13:55 return, pictured above by Corrie arriving at Holyhead formed of un-named 221 117 and 221 118.  But as might be expected, the 13:55 Holyhead - London was very crowded, and, from what we hear, at Llandudno Junction the Conductor rang 'control'  and asked if the other unit could be unlocked. Yes, they said, but then you can't stop at Prestatyn. Thus Prestatyn lost its last 'up' train of the day. For the second Sunday, 6 March, it was decided to miss Prestatyn again, and a note to that effect appeared somewhere on the ATW website, although how many people saw it is doubtful, nor is it clear at the time of writing what will happen on 13 March. A Prestatyn stop at 15:03 is still showing on the on-line journey planner.

ERTMS developments

It appears that the new ERTMS signalling system is to be implemented across the whole of the Cambrian lines system before the end of March; can anyone confirm this and tell us what effect this will have on train services during the changeover?

Runour has it that there have been some 'Signal Passed at Danger' incidents during the pilot running between Barmouth and Pwllheli, in which drivers have gone past marker boards without receiving movement authorization from the ERTMS system. Investigations are under way as to why this should happen.

Bombardier Voyager

Here's 221 115 Polmadie Depot, in its modified livery celebrating the current name of its Canada-based manufacturer, pictured by Karl Durrant near Llanddulas on 2 March.

This unit should not be confused with the one actually named Bombardier Voyager, which is now 221 142. When it was recently decided to disband unit 221 144, which carried that name, and use its two inner coaches to make Virgin's other two 4-car Voyagers, 142 and 143,  to match the rest of their 5-car fleet, 221 142 ended up with two names, so Captain Matthew Flinders (1774-1814) vanishes into obscurity, or maybe Virgin's next charity auction. Or will he re-appear on one of the ones which have recently been nameless?

New information for Gobowen

One of the new train information displays at Gobowen station. (Picture by Chris Harvey). This is the brand of device fitted at your compiler's local station: when it went wrong it took six months to obtain the necessary spare part...

Footbridge tales

Above, train 1D82 08:10 London Euston - Bangor passing Abergele on 4 March with 221 110 in charge. Picture by Alan Roberts, who writes: 'The vantage point for the photograph  is footbridge no.82, Tennis Court Road just east of Abergele & Pensarn station.

'The footbridge is due for renewal to a modular design. It dates back to the turn of the century and was constructed to a LNWR lattice design which at one time spanned five lines: up slow, up fast, down fast, down slow and a down siding. It was reconstructed on 17 March 1968 using a second-hand deck from the footbridge at the former Mostyn station. On Sunday 17 April 1983 the new down home signals were commissioned replacing an older structure and to improve sighting for drivers approaching the signals a portion of the footbridge was painted white.'

A footbridge that's no longer there is the old structure at Hooton, which was dismantled over the weekend of 18-20 February, replaced by a new 'accessible' version with lifts, further back along the platforms. These pictures are by Ian Henderson. Above is the scene on Friday 18 February.

Sunday 20 February, no trains running, and dismantling under way.

A last look at the iconic structure. Cyclists won't miss it, though!

The new bridge has a rather different look, and yet has some of the atmosphere of the original (George Jones).

Finally on the subject of footbridges, we hear that the lift tower which has been built at Prestatyn station is known by train drivers as 'Prestatyn Power Box' - some hopes ... the next station in Wales to be given the treatment under the 'Access for All' programme is Wrexham General. It is hoped the work will be completed by autumn 2011, although progress sat some other stations suggest this may be optimistic.

Pendolino trials

We are informed that there will some trial workings of a Pendolino (11-car?) hauled by a Class 57/3 between Edge Hill depot (Liverpool) and Crewe daily, from 7 to 11 March.  Timings are: Edge Hill dep 08:10,Crewe arr 09:02; Crewe dep 10:23 Edge Hill arr 11:25; Edge Hill dep 12:00, Crewe arr 13:14; Crewe dep 13:31 Edge Hill arr. 14:10.

Chiltern Developments - report by Chris Morrison

Two additional Class 67-powered trains ran on the Chiltern on 27 February to provide additional capacity for the Arsenal v Birmingham City Carling Cup Final at Wembley. Above, 67 001 is seen in one of the terminal platforms at Birmingham Moor Street on the Chiltern Railways set of five blue/grey and one Virgin-liveried coach with Chiltern-liveried Driving Van Trailer 82302. This consist worked 1H46 11:13 Moor Street to London Marylebone (13:22) and then 1R57, 19:15 Wembley Stadium to Moor Street (21:34).

67 013 Dyfrbont Pontcysyllte on a five-coach set of Wrexham & Shropshire coaches set formed 1H42, 13:13 Moor Street to Marylebone (arr. 15:25) and 1R48, 16:57 Marylebone to Moor Street (18:59). Above, the 13:13 waits to depart Moor Street. [Note that the terminal platforms, which were laid with track but not connected for some time, awaiting re-signalling operations, are now in use.]

Further to the item in the last Notice Board, some diagrams have been circulating for more Birmingham - Marylebone  trains and one evening Marylebone - Stratford trip.

05:46 Birmingham Moor St - London Marylebone
06:20 Birmingham Moor St - London Marylebone
08:50 London Marylebone - Birmingham Snow Hill
11:12 Birmingham Snow Hill - London Marylebone
16:30 London Marylebone - Birmingham Moor St
17:04 London Marylebone - Stratford-on-Avon
19:32 Stratford-on-Avon - London Marylebone
22:20 London Marylebone - Birmingham Moor St.

These have yet to begin apart from the 05:46 from Moor Street  and 16:30 from Marylebone.

Celebrity loco on the main line (1)

'Deltic' diesel 55 022 Royal Scots Grey celebrated its 50th birthday with three days of main line running on 4-6 March, beginning on 4 March with 1Z25 09:05 Preston to London Euston. Above, the Deltic awaits departure at Preston. Picture by 'VT Driver.'

Above, the train passes Acton Bridge, the gloom and mist brightened by a very smart 55 022 (John Beresford.) The next day, 5 March, 'RSG' hauled an excursion from London Kings Cross to Edinburgh and back, re-living its glory days on the East Coast Main Line. This was the first-born of the 22 production 'Deltics' - originally numbered D9000, it took the last number when the class-based numbering scheme was introduced, as the people in charge of numbers (or possibly their computer)  didn't like the idea of numbers like 55 000.

Sunshine at last for the London - Preston return on 6 March. The  arrived early at Crewe  (above) but had to wait for its booked path to continue (John Beresford). For details of future runs by this fine loco on the main line and its base line the East Lancashire Railway, see the Royal Scots Grey website.

A visit to Plumley - with Mark Youdan

I have noticed quite a few pictures on the Notice Board taken around Plumley, so I went there myself on 20 February and got 60045 on 6F05, the Tunstead to Oakleigh hoppers (above)...

Along with a couple of Arriva Trains Wales 175's on the Manchester - Llandudno axis diverted this way due to engineering works in the Warrington area on diversions due to work on the WCML. Above is 175 101.

This is 175 103, apparently with a broken window. It's good to see diverted trains these days, rather than many extra passengers being loaded into Northern Rail's stopping trains, as has sometimes been the case at times in the past.

Celebrity loco on the main line (2)

Above, the unique BR '8P' Pacific 71000 Duke of Gloucester with UK Railtours 'The Salopian' from London to Shrewsbury speeding through Whitchurch station in dark weather on 5 March. The train was running around 10 minutes late, after being held at Crewe. Picture by Jeff Albiston.

'The Duke' was going very well through the appalling weather at Wrenbury (John Beresford). This loco has a curious history: it only came to be be built when an existing LMS-design Class 8 pacific was destroyed in the disastrous Harrow and Wealdstone accident in 1952, and Mr Riddles the British Railways Chief Mechanical Engineer and his team managed to get permission to build a replacement to their own design, based in some ways on the existing, but less powerful, 'Britannia' class, but with three cylinders instead of two and Caprotti valve gear. They may have had a plan to build more, as Riddles' policy was to continue with steam until all main lines could be electrified, and avoid the use of diesels for heavy-duty work, but of course things did not happen that way.

See the 71000 Trust website for details of when and where to see or travel behind it in the coming months, and also the Duke of Gloucester site for the full history and technical details.

Cardiff landmark moved

Readers visiting Cardiff over will have seen locomotive 57 005 reposing in the siding below the amusingly-named 'Sleeperz' hotel, where it has stood since the unfortunate demise of the Adnenza Freight company in October 2009. David Parry took these pictures in Autumn 2009. It was finally moved, along with 47 237 which had been standing at Gloucester, to Carnforth on 30 January 2011.

Out and about - with Eifion Hughes

One of my New Year Resolutions was to get out more this years than the past two which have seen me stuck in the house because of my health problems. So 19 January was my first outing. I got my Arriva Trains Wales Club 55 Ticket over the Internet and set out with the aim of photographing the larger of the two Shrewsbury Signal Boxes. Above, my ride to Crewe from Bangor was a Voyager, seen departing Crewe for London.

86 101 Sir William A Stanier FRS was stabled at Crewe, one of the three 86/1s.

Seen with A 70-330 Zoom Lens are Riviera Trains locos 47 839 Pegasus and 47 853 Rail Express stabled at Crewe.

Another view of the 47s, from my next train, a Class 158 heading for to Milford Haven.

Also seen from the train, rows of stored Class 56 at the rear of Crewe Diesel Shed.

A New Measurement Train HST departs South from Crewe onto the West Coast Main Line having just arrived from Derby.

Two London Midland Class 170s, 170 513 and 170 631 stand in the bays at Shrewsbury.

67 001 departs Shrewsbury with a Wrexham & Shropshire service to London Marylebone.

DVT 82305 at the rear of The London Service.

Severn Bridge Junction Signal Box. This is the shot I came for as I wanted to compose it for a HDR (High Dynamic Range) photograph. This involves using a tripod to take three pictures from the same spot using different exposures, and combining them in the computer.

The same view as one single normal exposure. Note the two lamp posts which have been removed in the HDR Version using Photoshop CS5 'Content Aware' Tool. [Editor's note: if you use these tools to make significant changes to pictures, please mention it when sending, as Eifion has done here.]

Finally back at Chester on the way home and a view of Merseyrail 507 032 departing on the electrified service to Birkenhead.
The only problem I encountered on my day out was the return service to Bangor, in as much as all the seats were full and some passengers had placed their suitcases in the disabled vestibule making access to the disabled seats impossible. I did ask out loud if anyone owned them, and as I had no response I just moved them out of the way  -  one lady took exception until I explained that the space was for disabled people and I was very tired and not in the mood to argue. She calmed down....

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