Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

30 May 2011

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Forthcoming events

June 2011
Sunday 19 June  Steam on the Coast:   Northern Belle Father's Day Special to Holyhead. Note: this will not now be steam-hauled.

July 2011      

2 & 3 July – Welsh Highland Heritage Railway, Porthmadog – Steam in the Sheds. 'Over a hundred very small steam engines will be on display and working in the Engine Sheds.

Tuesday 9 July Conwy Valley Steam: Railway Touring Company, 'The Welsh Mountaineer' Preston - Blaenau Ffestiniog.

August 2011

Note: The Railway Touring Company tours in August can also be booked together as a week's package which also includes steam trips on the 'Cumbrian Mountain Express' and 'The Cambrian'.

Sunday 7 August Steam on the Coast: 'The North Wales Coast Express' Railway Touring Company  Liverpool and Chester to  Colwyn Bay, Llandudno, Bangor and Holyhead. Hauled throughout, by one of  6100 Royal Scot,  6201 Princess Elizabeth, or 60019 Bittern.

Tuesday 9  August Conwy Valley Steam: Railway Touring Company, 'The Welsh Mountaineer' Preston - Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Sunday 14 August Steam on the Coast: 'The North Wales Coast Express' Railway Touring Company  Liverpool and Chester to  Colwyn Bay, Llandudno, Bangor and Holyhead. Hauled throughout, by one of  6100 Royal Scot,  6201 Princess Elizabeth, or 60019 Bittern.

Saturday 20 August Steam on the Coast: Vintage Trains Tyseley - Llandudno and return with 5043.

Sunday 21 August Steam on the Coast: 'The North Wales Coast Express' Railway Touring Company  Liverpool and Chester to  Colwyn Bay, Llandudno, Bangor and Holyhead. Hauled throughout, by one of  6100 Royal Scot,  6201 Princess Elizabeth, or 60019 Bittern.

Tuesday 23 August Conwy Valley Steam: Railway Touring Company, 'The Welsh Mountaineer' Preston - Blaenau Ffestiniog.

27, 28 & 29 August –August Bank Holiday Weekend Welsh Highland Heritage Railway, Porthmadog – Fun Whatever The Weather!
'Who cares if it rains over the Bank Holiday?  We’ve organised a special fun weekend, including chance to win a prize if you find the Welsh Dragons hiding in the Engine Sheds.' 

See the Calendar page for more details and later dates.

The return excursion from Aberystwyth to Hull seen at Cilcewydd on 28 May. More 'yellow perils' below. Picture by Stavros Lainas.

Father's Day Northern Belle update

Following our report about the forthcoming 'Father's Day Northern Belle' excursion, we are assured by a reliable source that the lack of a steam loco is not down to DRS 'safety case' problems as has been suggested, but due to 'operational reasons' the details of which are confidential.
However, we are assured that DRS will make an effort to work the train with something that will delight any 'enthusiast dads' on board (including the traincrew of course), as well as 47 790 showing off its new Pullman livery.

Passenger variety

DRS loco 37 229 Jonty Jarvis, unusually with West Coast Railway Co. 33 207 Jim Martin on the rear, passes Battlefield north of Shrewsbury at 08:15 on 28 May with the 'Salopian Viking' excursion to Newcastle (Stavros Lainas).

57 304 Gordon Tracy, hauling 390 046, rolls into Llandudno Junction with the train from London on 28 May (Darren Durrant)

158 825 crosses the viaduct at Chirk, with the canal aqueduct behind, on 18 May (Tim Rogers)

An interesting row of houses forms the backdrop to 175 105 at Wrexham, 18 May (Tim Rogers).

Four locos for one train on the Cambrian

28 May saw the first (?) loco-hauled passenger train to run over the Cambrian lines under the new system in which all trains not formed of Arriva Trains Wales Class 158 units have to be hauled or piloted by the ERTMS-fitted class 97/3 locos. The train was an excursion from Hull to Aberystwyth, top-and-tailed by 57 601 and 47 826. Stavros Lainas was there to see the result.

97 303 and 97 304 were attached to Crewe, to double-head  with the two other locos switched off but still in the train. Above, the cavalcade is seen at Drawell Street (10:47) Shrewsbury just after entering ERTMS territory.

At Aberystwyth the 97/3s ran round the train and it was stabled in the run-round loop.

97 303, 97 304 and 47 826 at the eastern end of the parked train. The Vale of Rheidol narrow-gauge track is in the foreground.

The return trip at Borth at 16:32. Double-heading was essential given the weight of the train and its two locomotives ...

... to be hauled up the steep gradient to Talerddig where this picture was taken at 17:25.

Yellow loco troubles

Richard W. Jones has kindly written to explain the Class 97/3 loco and tamping machine seen in the siding at Welshpool on 7 May, as reported (with the picture repeated above) by Glyn Jones in the last issue. What is causing problems with these locos is the unreliability of their GSM-R radio equipment which is essential for the operation of the ERTMS signalling system now in use on the Cambrian lines.

97 302's GSM-R failed on Friday 6 May at Welshpool, when it was 'dragging' tamper DR73919 to Porthmadog where it was to work on tamping ballast in the new track formation which has to been laid to make room the Porthmadog by-pass road. Both were left in the siding at Welshpool. 97 304 was at the Coleham (Shrewsbury) base of the 97/3s,  but its GSM-R was also out of order. It was apparently then decided to move the tamper to the work site under its own power by arranging an overnight 'possession' of the line, but it only got as far as Newtown when it failed, and was dumped in the siding there.

On the Sunday, 8 May, 97 303, which had been summoned from Derby. hauled the tamper from Newtown to Porthmadog. 303 was planned to return with it, but in fact returned without it. 303 eventually left Porthmadog two hours late at 12:45 or so. Kate Jones, who saw 97 303 on its way south, writes:  'It didn't appear very happy with the ERTMS, as it stopped in front of the tunnel out of Barmouth for some minutes, before moving forward at a very slow pace towards Morfa Mawddach where I took this picture.'

At Welshpool (above - picture by Richard W. Jones), 302 was driven out of the siding at attached on the rear of 303 which piloted it back to the depot, where it was hoped that repairs to the equipment would be carried out. Presumably it was, as 302 and 303 were able to work the Aberystwyth train on 28 May (above).

The work between Porthmadog and Minffordd was was completed in time, and a speed restriction was in force for one day only. The  tamping machine returned from Porthmadog behind 97 303 during the evening of 16 May. There are four of these converted Class 37s, but 97 301 has never been equipped with ERTMS equipment. Thanks also to Ken Robinson for assistance with this item.

Pwllheli Nostalgia - pictures by Peter Hanson

Neither ERTMS nor RETB were dreamt of when these pictures were taken at Pwllheli just 35 years ago. Above, on 29 May 1976, 25 131 and 25 047 stand by the signalbox at Pwllheli with an LNER Society Special from London.

A pair of Metro-Cammell DMUs leave Pwllheli Station with the 13:17 to Machynlleth on 1 June 1976.

On 3 June 1976 25 161 stands at the Pwllheli East Yard starter signal with the twice-weekly pick-up goods. The vacuum-braked train consist includes low-roofed gunpowder vans, for the factory (now vanished) at Penrhyndeudraeth which made explosives for the mining and quarrying industry, a couple of 16-ton mineral wagons which have probably bought coal to Pwllheli, and a string of general merchandise vans.

Chiltern loco-hauled - pictures by Chris Coxon

We asked for pictures of Class 67s on their new Birmingham - London duties: thanks to Chris Coxon for responding. Above, 67 012 A Shropshire Lad, at Birmingham Moor Street on 24 May, awaiting departure, at 10.55, for London Marylebone,the second day of locomotive haulage on this Chiltern Railways service. Wrexham & Shropshire branding has been removed from the locomotive, from accompanying Driving Van Trailer 82305, and from the carriages. Some passengers 'in the know', and some purely by chance, enjoyed the additional comfort of the First Class coach, on this one-class service. Interestingly, on-board announcements were made prior to each station stop, providing guidance to alighting passengers on the operation of slam doors.

The view from the cab, just before departure. Running time to London is around two hours, and a look at the Chiltern Railways website shows advance fares to London on the 10:55 for as little as £5 single. For timings see our Traffic Guide page.

Pedal Power for the Trawsfynydd line

According to recent press reports, the Antur Stiniog organisation hopes to re-open part of the the line from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Trawsfynydd as a 'Velorail' run. If the plans get the go-ahead it will be the first velorail in Britain although they are popular in France, Germany and Holland. Ceri Cunnington of Antur Stiniog says they have ordered a velorail and plan to trial the vehicle on the line later this year. The picture above is courtesy of the French manufacturers.

He told reporters: 'The views from the line are fantastic and allows people to get out and about into the countryside to enjoy these views. The velorail looks a bit like a pedalo on rails. It can carry four or five people and if the trials are successful we hope to have the venture up and running next year. Negotiations to lease the line from Network Rail are currently ongoing.

'We expect to reopen the line in stages and the first stage would be from the level crossing in Cwmbowydd to Llan Ffestiniog. We will work with other businesses along the way. It may be possible to build passing places near the pubs near the line which will create opportunities for them as well.' The plans will be outlined at an open day next month.

As we have mentioned before, an 'Essex-based businessman' has already announced plans to open a heritage steam train on the line. Colin Dale (who has no connection with the Monster Raving Loony Party member of the same name) wants to reopen the line from Trawsfynydd to Blaenau Ffestiniog with tourist facilities including a café and boat cruises on Lake Trawsfynydd. The project has a very fancy website and a Twitter feed which has not seen any messages since April 2010.

Mr Cunnington comments: Colin's plans initially are to run from the lake to Llan Ffestiniog and that would link in with our plans. He tells us the café is due to open this summer but he accepts the railway project is not in a viable form yet.'

The statement that 'negotiations with Network Rail are ongoing', which tends to appear in this sort of report, will no doubt raise a wry smile on the faces of readers who have experience of negotiations with Network Rail.

Meanwhile, the line itself continues to disappear into the undergrowth. Ben Bucki took this picture on 23 April.

Llandudno Cycling saga

Stepping briefly into the controversial world of cycling, the saga of Llandudno promenade has hit the headlines again. The North Wales Coast Cycleway currently disgorges cyclists on to the main road at one end of the Llandudno sea front, so that those who wish to continue towards the Marine Drive are expected to ride on the adjacent, and rather risky, Parade Road where cars are usually parked on each side of the road.

Now, Conwy County Council, which leases the Promenade from landowner Mostyn Estates, has decided cyclists acting 'responsibly' will not be prosecuted for biking along Llandudno’s North Shore promenade. Conwy’s acting corporate director Iwan Davies told the press that, pending a policy decision by councillors, there seems to be 'no merit' in bringing prosecutions against people who cycle on the promenade in breach of the by-law which is said by cyclists to be 'so old it almost pre-dates the invention of the bicycle.'

Mr Davies says that Conwy’s legal team need a 'policy steer' [what?] on whether there is still a desire to ban cycling on the promenade, or whether a different approach is to be pursued. Officers can then seek to implement whatever decision the council takes.  Former Mayor of Llandudno, Councillor Ann Yates, complains 'The Promenade is for promenading. It's for adults and children to walk along and enjoy the views. Cyclists will come out of nowhere. We don't want an accident to occur before the authorities realise the danger. Lifting the ban is ridiculous and dangerous.'

Of course, irresponsible people can be seen ignoring the ban every day, and will no doubt continue to do so whatever the 'policy steer.'

Liverpool Cruise News - report by George Jones

With reference to the visits to Holyhead by cruise ships (last issue) the attractions of a free or cheaper berth have attracted a bumper number this year. Whilst they will provide welcome business in North West Wales, it is the cruise liners in Liverpool which bring tourists out to North East Wales and benefit the Llangollen Railway.

Day visitors to Liverpool this summer are are: Crown Princess - 26 May, Rotterdam - 28 May, Vision of the Seas -16 June, Astor - 29 June, Crown Princess - 24 July, Crystal Serenity - 28 July, Aldablu -13 August, Crown Princess - 20 July, Arcadia - 26 August, Aldablu - 27 August, Queen Elizabeth - 8 Sept, Queen Mary 2 - 15 Sept, Mein Schiff 2 - 17 Sept

Mooring at the cruise liner stage on the Mersey no doubt incurs berthing costs which some cruise liners will be keen to avoid. However most of the visiting ships have coach tours lined up bringing 100 plus visitors to Llangollen and a ride on the steam train. The above details are from the  Irish Sea Shipping website and also appear on the Mersey Ferries website.

The annual 'Friends of the Ferries' River & Docks Cruise to Eastham Channel and Royal Seaforth Dock takes place on 4 June this year - details from : 0151 334 2685 or tickets are available at Seacombe Ferry (More details).

Freight events

DRS loco 66 426 takes a load of logs for Chirk through Wrexham General station, 24 May (George Jones). Various unusual occurrences relating to this train in recent times have included haulage by an ex-Fastline 66 on a couple of occasions, a loco on each end (is this when reversal is required?) and the derailment of a wagon at Shrewsbury in the early hours of 10 May.

Trains are loaded with  logs, which are processed at at Chirk to produce chipboard, at either Carlisle or at Ribblehead (on the Settle-Carlisle line). This view taken at Dunham-the-Hill by Andrew Vinten shows
with 6Z37 Ribblehead - Chirk.

Fastline-liveried (but now in the DRS fleet) 66 434 at Runcorn East on 21 May working 6Z37 from Ribblehead to Chirk ...

... with Colas 66 845 on the rear (Mark Barber).

Above, 70 004 between Frodsham Junction and Halton Junction (Runcorn) on 28 May 2011 working 6F02 from Ellesmere Port Manisty Wharf to Fiddlers Ferry Power Station. The coal train was diverted due to planned engineering work in the Warrington area that in the end was cancelled, but 6F02 was still diverted via Runcorn.

The train has just passed under the Expressway, not the M56 motorway as the editor erroneously stated in an earlier Notice Board.

ATW Adopters assemble - report by George Jones

The seventh Arriva Trains Wales Station Adopters' meeting was held at The Crowne Plaza hotel in Chester on 26 May, with ATW hosting station adopters from all over North Wales and the English Border Counties. Although held on a weekday, there was still a good turn out from those who volunteer to give time to their local station as either individuals or members of Friends groups keen to improve presentation.

Managing Director Ian Bulloch gave a review of ATW current performance and prospects, Cathy Cassey gave a review of the National Station Improvement Programme progress for stations development and Shelley Hall, station manager Shrewsbury, provided a review of activities in and around N Wales. A Conwy Valley line review was presented by Larry Davies. A Question and Answers session followed, which brought out various specific concerns from adopters. At the end of an interesting session an award was made to Christine Ashford for her outstanding personal contribution to Chirk station where she organises the station Friends. Our picture above shows Christine and her sister Margaret with the cut-glass clock which was presented.

This year the adopters' conferences were split up to allow for sessions at Swansea and Porthmadog, to be followed by a  session at Cardiff, which allows for less travelling and more specific aspects of local interest.

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