06 April 2011
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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
Aberglaslyn Pass and into Porthmadog.
Monday 18 April RCTS
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
Group Richard Kells: Quiz and informal evening
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 -
Friday 13 May Excursion 'The
North Wales Scotsman' Compass Tours
Llanfairpwll, Bangor, Llandudno Junction, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl, Flint &
Chester to Dundee via the Forth & Tay Bridges.
Sunday 19 June Steam on the
Belle Father's Day Special. Crewe-Holyhead and return with 46201 Princess Elizabeth.
See the Calendar page for more details and
On a beautiful spring morning, the 11.02 train awaits departure from
Betws-y-coed for Blaenau Ffestiniog. The
station is being given a facelift with new glass roof.
(Picture by John Roobottom.)
For a guide to a circular trip including this line, read Dave Sallery's newly-updated Cambrian Rail
Note: this is an extra
issue: don't miss the 4 April episode for a
full report on the loco-hauled events of 26 March.
The Train of Hope
The 'Train of Hope' fund-raising appeal is being organised by five
Virgin Train drivers based at Manchester. The beneficiary charity, Clic
Sargent, the adopted charity by Virgin Trains, is a children’s cancer
charity, who offers many types of care and support to children with
cancer and and their families.
The main focus of the appeal will be a rail tour, to run on 1 October
2011, hired from West Coast Railway Company, a company who specialise
in supplying trains for rail tours. It will be formed of Mk 1 first
class coaches, and hauled by 6115 Scots
Guardsman. The train crew have offered their earnings to the
appeal. The train will run from Crewe (c. 08:00), Warrington, Wigan and
Preston to Carlisle over the Cumbrian fells and return on the scenic
Settle and Carlisle line. Catering on the rail tour will be
provided by Gravy Train Catering, whose employees have many years
working in the rail catering sector. Passengers will be able to enjoy a
full breakfast on the outward journey and a five course dinner on the
A very special item, exclusive to the appeal, is a commissioned
painting by John Cowley, member of the Guild of Railway Artists. The
scene will be set in the 2nd World War, depicting children being
evacuated waiting to board their train at Crewe station. Both the
original oil painting and a series of signed, limited edition prints
will be sold to raise funds for the appeal.
While the rail tour is the headline event, the organising team are
running a raffle and auctioning items on eBay. The raffle prizes and
auction items have been donated by many generous sponsors. Auction
items will be available on eBay from mid-April. Exclusive items offered
by the railway industry give the winners opportunity to experience a
day on highly realistic driver simulators belonging to Virgin Trains,
First Capital Connect and Trans Pennine Express. Raffle prizes include
two standard flight tickets to New York, two 1st class dining tickets
for UK Orient Express Tours and an overnight stay for 2 at Lucknam Park
Spa and Hotel in Bath. The raffle will be drawn by one of the children
supported by Clic Sargent in September in Manchester.
Full details of the rail tour, the painting, the auction items and the
raffle are available at the appeal website trainofhope.co.uk.
The flask train scene
6K41 Valley to Crewe flasks were worked by a pair of veteran class 20s
on 23 March. Above, 20 309
and 20 308 are seen at the
Valley loading point (Nick Gurney)
The Class 20s and their one wagon pass Bangor (Rowan Crawshaw)
Llandudno Junction at 14.58, heading for Crewe (Garry Stroud). 20 309 was built as
D8075, one of the first phase of Class 20s, and first entered service
from the Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns works of the English Electric
company 50 years ago.
In sunshine at Beeches Farm. Picture by Bob Greenalgh with thanks to the North
News Yahoo group.
29 March saw a mixed combo of 20 303
and 37 688 Kingmoor TMD on the duty, pictured
by Stéphanie Durrant
heading through Conwy town wall.
Wrexham Railway Society news
The speaker at the Wrexham Railway Society on 11 April is well-known
photographer Dr Les Nixon with slides to illustrate his talk: 'How to
take better Railway Photos.' Get a new angle on the subject, perhaps.
The subject choice was decided by popular vote at the AGM in December.
The talk starts at 1945 in the Catholic Social club of St Mary's,
Regent St, Wrexham. Prior to that a final round up of digital news and
views on the railways, and a super raffle as always. This is the final
meeting of the 2010/11 season.
London Service and franchises
The Shropshire Star of 23
A delegation of MPs from
Shropshire and Mid Wales will hold crunch talks with rail giant Virgin
tomorrow in a bid to secure a new direct rail link to London, it was
revealed today. All five Shropshire MPs, plus Glyn Davies, MP for
Montgomeryshire, and Wrexham MP Ian Lucas, met with Transport Minister
Theresa Villiers yesterday to discuss the possibility of a restored
link following the loss of the Wrexham & Shropshire service.
And following a 'positive' meeting with the minister, Mark Pritchard,
MP for the Wrekin, has organised a meeting with bosses at Virgin Trains
tomorrow morning in Parliament. It comes as the MPs today said they
were considering launching a public campaign to build support.
We will see ... meanwhile the Department of Transport has announced
four preferred bidders for the re-letting of the West Coast Main Line
Franchise (currently operated by Virgin). They are: Abellio
InterCity West Coast Limited (NV Nederlandse Spoorwegen); First West
Coast Limited (FirstGroup plc); Keolis / SNCF West Coast Limited
(Keolis SA and SNCF French National Railways); Virgin Trains Limited
(Virgin Group Holdings Limited). Deutsche Bundesbahn, in the guise of
Arriva, expressed interest, as did Trenitalia, the Italian state
railway, but they have 'lost out' on preferred bidder status. The
actual Invitation to Tender which will be issued in May, following a
consultation which ends on 21 April. What the other three bidders think
about serving Shropshire and Wrexham remains to be seen. The winner
takes over on 1 April 2012 to operate the Pendolinos and North
Wales Coast - London services for 14 years (expiring in March 2026)
with an option to extend for a further year.
How bizarre that we 'privatise' our railways but are always happy for
them to be handed over to foreign government-owned railways ... but in
this case it's surely hard to find fault with Virgin's operation, given
the existing rolling stock, which (whatever we might think of it)
will have to be used by any successor.
Frodsham Class 70 forays - with David Parry
Over the last month, I have made a number of trips over to Frodsham to
photograph the class 70-hauled 6F02 1207 Ellesmere Port-Fiddlers Ferry
Freightliner coal working. Above, on 1 April, 70 004 The Coal Industry Society,
negotiating the reverse curves ...
... on the approach to Frodsham station.
70 004 passing through the station on 7 March.
70 007 crossing the
Weaver Viaduct on 24 March, disturbing pigeons, while grain barge Panary is moored at the wharf.
Costa Copper - report by Tim Chugg
It seems it's not just cable theft that's a problem in our area at the
moment. This picture. taken on Monday 14 March, shows a large portion
copper cladding at the rear of Costa Coffee at Chester station, had
been stripped and pinched overnight. No one heard or saw a thing, and
British Transport Police are currently investigating.
A Helsby viewpoint - report by Gareth Dyson
Here are some pictures taken on 31 March from a recently-replaced farm
access and public footpath bridge (Grid ref. SJ 490760) over the line
between Helsby and Frodsham. This offers a great view of the straight
track towards Frodsham; I don't think I've seen any photos taken from
here on the website.
70 004 on the 12:09 coal
train from Ellesmere Port to Fiddlers Ferry was running slightly late.
175 115 was on the 11:50
from Manchester to Llandudno.
Beluga - report by Nick Gurney
On 21 March Airbus Industrie A300-608ST Super Transporter Beluga 3
registration F-GSTC prepares to take off from Hawarden airfield,
adjacent to the North Wales Coast line, to Toulouse with Airbus wings
from the Broughton factory. Pictures by Nick Gurney.
Stone trains in view
Train 6D44 09:10 Guide Bridge to Penmaenmawr quarry, and the loaded
return 6H45 14:55 Penmaenmawr to Guide Bridge, carrying ballast for
Manchester Metrolink, continues to run as required. Above, on 21 March,
66 605 passes under the new cycleway bridge and crosses the Cob towards
Conwy with the empties. Picture by Garry
24 March, and loading is in progress the quarry siding, with 66 618 in
attendance (Nick Gurney). The
current loading installation dates from the building of the A55
Most unusually, 27 March saw the train operate on a Sunday.The picture
above was taken by signalman Alan
Roberts from Penmaenmawr signalbox as 6D44, hauled by 66 621, wound its way over the
crossover and into the sidings.
Alan's second view shows 66 621 running round its train in the
siding, watched by the Freightliner shunter who supervises all
movement in the yard while the train is there.
North Wales and the User Committee
North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood is concerned that there is
no North Wales representation on the Welsh Government’s Public
Transport Users’ Committee for Wales, and has called for a
statement on the situation. Mr Isherwood was alerted to the fact there
is no North Wales representation when he sat on the question and answer
panel at the recent North Wales Coast Railway Users’ Group public
meeting in Flint.
Addressing the Minister for Business and Budget, Jane Hutt, Mr
Isherwood, who regularly raises rail issues affecting North Wales in
the Assembly, said: 'Concern was raised that the Welsh Government’s
public transport users' committee, which advises Welsh Ministers on
strategic matters applying to public transport in Wales, has no North
Wales representation whatsoever.
'We know that many rail issues have dominated the agenda in North Wales
in recent times, particularly in north-east Wales with regard to the
coastal stations and trains coming to and passing through Wrexham and
neighbouring stations. We need a statement to answer the concerns
raised as to why there is no representation from North Wales, whether
there were any North Wales applicants and, if so, why the decision was
taken to exclude them from representation on a committee that clearly
does not represent the whole of Wales.'
The Minister told Mr Isherwood: 'I am sure that the Minister for the
Economy and Transport will respond to the concerns.'
[That's all right then.- Ed.]
Stavros Lainas writes:
This picture was taken at Craven Arms at 15:52 on 26 March, during my
visit to see the 'football special' (see last issue.) I had noticed
during the week that the afternoon Llanwern steel train had been
running so decided to hang around. The loco is 66 012.
60 099, in its special
Tata Steel livery, shakes the dust out of some new ballast at Plumley
with the empty limestone hoppers to Tunstead on 23 March (Andrew Vinten).
Acton Bridge, on the west coast main line, on 28 March. 37 059 and 37
069 top-and-tail Test Coach Mentor
running as train 1Q18 from Derby to Carlisle. The purpose of this
vehicle - Mobile Electrical Network Testing, Observation and Recording
- is to carry out measurements and test on the overhead lines. Notice
that it is fitted with a pantograph, and lights to illuminate its
operation. It was converted in 1973 from Mk 1 Brake Corridor Second
34616, built in 1955. Picture by Andrew
Vinten; thanks as always for vehicle details to www.traintesting.com.
A couple of hours later 67 028
headed south on 6D01 from Warrington to Derby. The assorted freight
wagons are in fact 'barrier' or 'adaptor' wagons; the trip was to
collect one of the new Class 379 electric trains being built at Derby
for the Stansted Express service from Derby and haul it to Crewe, prior
The Fotopic saga
A reporter from Amateur
Photographer magazine recently managed to track down Stephen Dyer,
of 'Snappy Designs', owner of the Fotopic website (see earlier issues)
which ceased to exist in early March without any warning. As many
expected, the company has ceased trading, and 'has appointed Jeremy
Bleazard of XL Business Solutions, based in Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire
We are told that the customers, many of them rail enthusiasts who have
used Fotopic to create extensive websites, may be able to access their
work again 'if the liquidator succeeds in selling the business.' We
understand that the site itself sits on a commercial web host rather
than a dedicated server machine as it once did, but who will buy the
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