Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

04 April 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.

Forthcoming events

April 2011

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 
"We built the Railway" An interesting talk by Dafydd Thomas and a colleague on the engineering
tasks that were required to complete the Welsh Highland Railway through the
Aberglaslyn Pass and into Porthmadog.

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   
A presentation by Paul Lewin, General Manager, FR/WHR on the current
operations of these two fascinating railways.

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.

25 March at 13:30, and the Carnforth - Bristol empty stock working for the following day's Weston-super-Mare - Manchester - Holyhead excursion passes Craven Arms with 57 601 hauling and a pair of 37s on the rear. Picture by Stavros Lainas.

Saturday 26 March was an extraordinary day for locomotive-hauled trains in North Wales, and our contributors responded accordingly. This page covers the various events of the day in pictures. I've had to be selective about which pictures to use, due to the sheer numbers: apologies to anyone whose pictures don't appear.- Charlie

Note: an additional update will appear on 6 April, covering general news and events.

Spitfire Railtours 'The Holy Oakes' 26 March

The 'Holy Oakes' excursion organised by Spitfire Railtours for 26 March had an ambitious itinerary. Basically an excursion from Weston-super-Mare and Bristol to Manchester Victoria and Chester, the train was planned to continue to Holyhead and Back as a 'mini-tour' which could be booked separately, before returning to to collect the passengers who had spent time in Manchester or Chester. Above, the train runs through Platform 3 at Sandbach on the way north from Crewe, no doubt pleasing some aficionados of unusual track. Picture by Steve Morris.

An added attraction was haulage by a pair of Class 37s: 37 685, and 37 676 which proudly bears the legendary name Loch Rannoch. Above, 'bang on time' at 11:15, the train approaches Alderley Edge station (Vince Chadwick).

57 601 was on the rear of the train as it passed Alderley Edge (Vince Chadwick).

Unfortunately, the week before the train ran, the organisers were informed that because of damage to a diamond crossing at Heaton Norris Junction, trains were banned from running from Stockport towards Denton and Manchester Victoria. It was therefore necessary to run into Manchester Piccadilly instead, where the train reversed and ran via Stockport and Altrincham to Chester, now with 57 601, which should have been on the rear, had the train taken the planned route via Helsby, leading.

While Vince Chadwick waited for the train near Mobberley on the way to Chester, the Emirates Airbus A380 inbound from Dubai to Manchester Airport passed by on short final for runway 05 Right.

The train having reversed at Manchester Piccadilly, the 57, now leading, approached Mobberley, as seen from a foot crossing (Vince Chadwick).

Chester (Stavros Lainas). Holy Oakes is a place in Leicestershire, but we imagine the train name is a play on the name of a Chester-based TV sit-com Hollyoaks.

Llanfair PG (Richard Fleckney)

Arrived at Holyhead (David Hennessey)

Holyhead (Stavros Lainas)

Locomotives galore at Holyhead (Stavros Lainas)

37 685 poses in Platform 1 at Holyhead (Stavros Lainas)

Departing from Holyhead, the 37s cross the Stanley Embankment (Darren Durrant).

Heading for the Anglesey mainland (Stéphanie Durrant).

Rhosneigr (Chris Morrison)

Llanfair PG (Richard Fleckney)

Penmaenmawr, 57 601 on the rear (Stéphanie Durrant)

Two days later, 28 March, and the unusual sight of two West Coast Railway Company Class 37s at Wrexham, hauling the empty stock and locos from Saturday's excursion, working as 1Z45 Bristol Temple Meads - Carnforth. 37 676 and 37 685 are seen from Stansty at the rear of the train as it departs from Wrexham and takes the single line between Wrexham and Saltney Junction towards Chester (Mark Riley).

Class 31 at Llangollen - report by Mark Riley

On 26 March, Class 31 No.5580 (31 162) made its début on the Llangollen Railway, the first time a Class 31 has operated on the line, when it worked public services for the first time on Spring Diesel Day. During the day it made four round trips between Llangollen and Carrog. Owned by  A1A Locomotives Limited, 5580 is staying at Llangollen until the end of 2012. At the start of the day (above), 5580 has just been hauled off shed by 0-4-0 Industrial shunter Pilkington, with engine ticking over before being released onto the main line.

The Class 31 appeared to attract a fair number of enthusiasts, both photographers and bashers, and appeared to operate with no problems during the day. Above, 5580 departs from Llangollen with the 12:25 service to Carrog.

It was a day of wall-to-wall cloud and mist in the Dee Valley, so I tried to include daffodils in some pictures to add a splash of colour! In the afternoon, 5580 approaches Llangollen station with the 13:35 service from Carrog.

The 31 will operated the Llangollen diesel passenger diagram on 16 April and 14 May.

The Welsh Highlander 2, 26 March

The tour from London to the Welsh Highland and Ffestiniog Railways run by UK Railtours on 19 March was so over-subscribed that it was decided to run it again a week later on 26 March.

As before, the promise was that:

Our train will run via Crewe, then along the North Wales Coast to both Llandudno Junction and Bangor. From Llandudno Junction we use coaches for the scenic trip up the Conwy Valley to Blaenau where the greatest narrow gauge journey of all begins, right the way through via Porthmadog to Caernarfon, where coaches will be waiting for the short hop to Bangor where our main line train is rejoined. Half our passengers will do the 'circuit' in the opposite direction.

and indeed the promise was fulfilled. The standard gauge train was double-headed by 67 006 Royal Sovereign and 67 017 Arrow, seen above passing through Chester station (David Hennessey)

Above, westbound through Abergele (Chris Morrison)

Llanfair PG (Richard Fleckney). The attractions of the main line seem to have deterred anyone from sending us any pictures of the narrow-gauge operations.

At Holyhead, the other excursion waits in Platform 1 (Garry Stroud)

The 16:50 empty stock working from Holyhead to Bangor passes Rhosneigr (Chris Morrison). Observant readers will notice from the orientations of the side grilles on the 67s that both locos have been turned round for the return journey, by a trip to the Valley triangle. Why this was done is not clear: the shortness of the 'necks' at Holyhead means that locos have to be separated to run round the train at Holyhead, so if it was simply required to have 67 006 leading on the return, this could have been accomplished at that stage. Can anyone explain?

Football Special, 26 March

Arriva Trains Wales brought their 'sports special' plan into operation again, as there was a Wales v England football match, a Euro 2012 qualifier, being played at Cardiff. This time, in attempt to trap your editor into another error, a six-coach train of Mk2 vehicles was used: three standard-class vehicles from the express plus another three including another brake vehicle. The train left Holyhead at 08:06, and is seen above arriving at Llandudno Junction with 57 316 hauling.

Presumably to avoid shunting moves at Cardiff, 57 313 was hauled 'dead' on the rear of the train. seen at Llandudno Junction.

This time, there was some advance publicity for this train in the local press,  only the Holyhead departure time (which was then unfortunately changed to a later time) was published, and nothing about intermediate stops. It may be that the main purpose of this operation is to provide more capacity in South Wales, but even so, why not advertise the train in North Wales, perhaps for day trippers to Chester, to recoup some of the running costs? Bring back those cute little handbills that British Railways used to do!

Departing Llandudno Junction with its nine passengers no doubt enjoying the ride (Garry Stroud).

Arriving at Chester shortly before 10:00 (David Hennessey).

Approaching Crewe (Steve Morris).

Wales lost 2-0, blaming the pitch, 150 disorderly supporters had to be 'kettled' and only ten people were arrested.

Lady Penelope on Pendolino Drag, 26 March

As usual on Saturdays, a Class 390 'Pendolino' worked the 09:50 London - Holyhead and 14:36 return, hauled by a Class 57 west of Crewe. Above, 57 307 Lady Penelope brings the westbound train into Chester  (David Hennessey).

Llanfair PG (Richard Fleckney). The Pendolino was 390 015 Virgin Crusader.

Steam through Crewe

Also on 26 March, Crewe saw a steam train, hauled by 6201 Princess Elizabeth which headed for Carlisle via Shap, and returned the Settle and Carlisle line. Here's the northbound train passing Winsford (Steve Morris).

An Action-packed Day - as seen by Jack Bowley

An action packed day was had on 26 March. First off, an early wake-up to see the  1V41 Holyhead - Cardiff 'footex.' 57 316 leading 57 313 (on rear)  was captured at Mochdre at 09:15 heading for Cardiff with two sets of three Mk 2s in tow.

57 313 on the rear.

After a quick breakfast, I then went to Colwyn Bay to board my train which zipped me off to Abergele and Pensarn where I met up with Rob Bray, seeing two specials. First was the 1Z51 Euston - Bangor rail
charter, pulled by 67 006 Royal Sovereign and 67 017 Arrow.

Then about an hour later, 57 307 Lady Penelope hauled 390 015 on the Saturday-only 1A55 Euston (Crewe) - Holyhead. The 57 connects to the 'Pendo' at Crewe where it hauls the Crewe - Holyhead - Crewe part of the journey.

Returning  home, and after a spot of lunch, I nipped out to my local footbridge, a  couple of minutes walk from home, where I saw 57 601
Sheila haul the Spitfire Railtour ...

... with 37 685 and 37 676 on the  rear. The 37s were meant to be the main traction, but due to dodgy trackwork, the outward journey was sent via Manchester Piccadilly so a reverse was  required, hence 57 601 leading.

Then  after a spot of homework which was boring as ever, I trotted off to my local station - that being Colwyn Bay. A few minutes wait was had before 57 307 was seen entering with the 1A55 Holyhead - (Crewe) Euston working.

The nameplate of 57 307.

A  cup of tea was had, then into the car and off to Conwy where I wanted to get a great picture of the 37s on the 1Z43 Holyhead - Weston-super-Mare with the historic castle in the background ... well, that was what I wanted. Very misty skies and a very bright sun made the sky really annoying, and being in the right place was what I wanted. However, the  sun was facing me in Conwy, and it was too late to change as after a few minutes of 'where shall I stand and get a
photograph?' occurred, the 37s came out the tunnel. Sadly, the sun made my footage terrible, with bad light, and no 'thrash' as the 37s were slowing down to a red in the station.

A  mad dash to the car - to try to get to the station before they departed - was had. but they beat me to it and slowly pulled out when I turned up. Well, all I can say that it was certainly one of the most interesting days I've had before.

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