Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

27 June 2011

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Forthcoming events

July 2011      

Saturday 2 July North Wales N Gauge Model Railway Club Exhibition in Conwy. The show is dedicated to N Gauge and has appearances of layouts from Chester, Abergele and Caernarfon as well as the clubs' exhibition layouts. Opening hours are 10.00am to 4.00pm. The venue is St. Michael's church hall in Rosemary Lane, Conwy (off Lancaster Square in the heart of the town.)

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.  Some are so tiny they can almost fit into your hand!  Many of them will be working to show the power and magic of steam, whatever the size.  There’s also chance to have a ride behind a small steam engine on our miniature railway during the weekend.'

Tuesday 26 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.

Interesting line-up at Crewe, 23 June, pictured by Tom Donnelly. 57 315 is on the Cardiff - Holyhead express, and 86 101 has just been released from the 'Three Peaks Challenge by Rail' special which is to be taken forward to Bangor by 67 013. More pictures of these trains below.

Those mountains...

Thanks to everyone for the remarkable number of responses on the subject of mountains visible from Roman Bridge - a digest of the replies will appear in the next issue.

More from Train of Hope

The 'Train of Hope' team of Virgin Trains drivers have placed another batch of interesting things on eBay as part of the fund-raising for the Clic Sargent children's cancer charity. They include:

A day on the TransPennine Express Class 185 simulator at York or Manchester, suitable for up to ten people;
A Visit for 6 people to Rugby Signalling Centre;
A Virgin Trains prototype Voyager Nose Shield;
A Tour of Alstom Longsight depot for 4 people;
A Terence Cuneo framed print of the 'Caerphilly and Vole-Tail Railway' running sheds.

As well as some aviation-related items. Visit the Train of Hope eBay page  or where you can make a donation or find out more about the 'Train of Hope' itself which runs in October 2011.

Contrary to what we said in the first edition of the last issue, 92 042 is not the first Class 92 to carry DB livery, but the second. The first is 92 009 repainted in May 2011. Thanks are due to those who write to point that out.

Class 70 at Crewe

70 006 rolls through Crewe on 23 June hauling what is (we think) a Plasser and Theurer high-output ballast cleaner unit (Tom Donnelly)

The Three Peaks Challenge by Rail

The annual charter train for the 'Three Peaks Challenge by Rail' charity event ran from London to Bangor on 23 June. Teams of four people from the railway industry and required to climb Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis over three days, with sponsorship money going to the Railway Children charity. From Bangor the teams are taken by road to Pen-y-Pass for the ascent of Snowdon and return to Pen-y-Pass in darkness with the aid of torches, before re-joining the train. The special was hauled to Crewe by 86 101 Sir William A Stanier FRS, with ex-Wrexham & Shropshire 67 013 in the train ready to continue to Bangor. Above, the train arrived at Crewe (Tom Donnelly).

86 101 is detached (Tom Donnelly) ...

... and 67 013 Dyfrbont Pontcysyllte prepares to depart.  Inset: the train's headboard.

Passing Abergele at 20:22. In 2010, the train was hauled by sister loco 67 012 and crewed by Wrexham & Shropshire, as DB Schenker declined to help for some reason.  This year, W&S are helping again in spirit! The blue and grey coaches are from the Cargo-D fleet, but what's the dark grey one behind the engine? A de-branded W&S vehicle or something else?

Llanddulas (Stéphanie Durrant)

Llandudno Junction (Peter Lloyd). Note the sleeping car used for staff accommodation: electric tail lights are a a feature of these Mk3 sleepers (Peter Lloyd).

After Snowdon, the train ran to Ravenglass where after the ride on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway the teams 'did' Scafell Pike during the daytime before travelling on the train overnight to Fort William for the Ben Nevis leg. 86 101 appeared again on 25 June to haul the train up the West Coast Main Line back to London. Did anyone from the North Wales area undertake this gruelling challenge? We'll make an online donation to the first one who contacts us.

The Daily Round

One-off trains tend to grab the limelight, but let's not forget the more normal services, including the Monday-Friday Cardiff express which at this time of year can be observed in daylight for the best part of its journeys from Holyhead to the capital and back. Above, against a characteristic North Wales coast backdrop, 57 315 passes Gronant, Prestatyn with the Cardiff to Holyhead service at 19:32 on 23 June (Stavros Lainas)

The same service at Bangor on 21 June, with 57 313 in charge, as an eastbound Voyager calls at Platform 1 (Rowan Crawshaw)

Class 175s are the usual stock for the hourly Manchester - Llandudno trains: above, two-car 175 005 (above) has taken the Up Platform Line to call at Abergele & Pensarn station, which is principally served by the Manchester trains (Greg Mape).

Northumberland to North Wales

Train 1Z60 on 25 June was the 05:26 excursion from Alnmouth (Northumberland) to Llandudno, top-and-tailed by West Coast Railway Co. locomotives 47 804 and 47 760. The picture above by Stavros Lainas shows the rather drab-looking train approaching Chester, passing Guilden Sutton at 12:10.

Near Rhos-on-Sea (Darren Durrant)

The return train at Deganwy, with snowplough-fitted 47 760 leading (Chris Morrison).

Chris Morrison had time to step down on to the platform at Deganwy to capture the rear end of the train with 47 804. The battery tail lamp is needed because the engine of the rear loco is, as usual in this type of operation, switched off. The bridge is a well-preserved example of the standard lattice-girder footbridge installed by the hundred by the London and North Western Railway.

Running into Platform 1 at Llandudno Junction at 16:44 (Peter Lloyd). A long day for the passengers, but people do seem to enjoy these long trips.

Changes at Bangor - picture by Jim Johnson

A view taken on 20 June of the new car park under construction on the former goods yard at Bangor. The old '6H' locomotive shed is to the left, still used by Stockwell Steel, and the old goods shed still stands to the right.

Historical notes: The loco shed closed on 12 June 1965. Its final allocation was one BR Standard 2-6-4T; five 'Black 5' 4-6-0s which were transferred to Holyhead 6J) for further work; Four BR class 2 2-6-0s which went to Willesden, London (1A) and five LMS-designed Class 2 2-6-2 tanks, one of which, 41233, delivered new to Bangor in 1948 was transferred to Stockport (9B) where for a few months before diesel shunters took over it was one of four of the class used as station pilots there in Charlie's early train-watching days. Another, 41241, was sold in 1967 to the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, where it hauled the 'reopening' train and still works today. 2-6-0 78059 also still exists, preserved on the Bluebell Railway

RTZ returns - the other way round

Although it stopped Aluminium smelting in 2009, the Anglesey Aluminium Metal plant near Holyhead continues in use with a reduced workforce, engaged in 'remelting and casting' of the metal brought from elsewhere. Until now this has not provided any rail traffic, but 20-21 June saw the running by DB Schenker of a trainload of large aluminium ingots from the smelter in Lynemouth, Northumberland (which itself has achieved railfan fame in recent weeks due to the hiring of 55 022 Royal Scots Grey to bring in trains of aluminium ore from the nearby port) to the Holyhead plant. The train set out on 20 June, was held overnight in Yorkshire, and proceeded to North Wales early on 21 June. At the plant, the ingots were unloaded and the train returned empty in the afternoon, somewhat later than planned, past the waiting cameras of our contributors, including Richard Fleckney at Llanfair PG (Above)

 Jim Johnson's pictures (above and below) show the empty train passing Bangor station.

The train ran as 6E35 to Rotherham Masborough, passing Bangor at 14:15 on 21 June. The consist was 20 'bogie bolster' wagons of type BDA, as normally used in steel traffic, which explains why they were returned to Masborough which is a steel terminal. There normal use is for steel bars and girders which do not require protection from the weather, although they  were seen at Holyhead on occasions when the plant was served by the 'Speedlink' train from Llandudno Junction before this wagonload freight network was abolished just 20 years ago.

Passing Penmaenmawr station (Stéphanie Durrant)

Penmaenmawr station (Stéphanie Durrant). The term 'bolster' refers to the beams across the wagon floor at intervals which support the load and allow space underneath for lifting gear when loading and unloading. The vertical bars are optional and can be fitted in various positions.

At Llandudno Junction, the train crawls towards signal LJ58 where it was held to allow two passenger trains to overtake (Peter Lloyd)

Above, the seen from Hoole Lane bridge, taking the Warrington line at Chester,  running two hours late (Geoff Morris). We understand this was a 'trial run' for a possible regular service.

Railbus on the Llangollen

Here are some Llangollen Railway Railcars Gala which attracted a good crowd on Saturday 25 June, with its very unusual visitor. Above, the passing loop at Deeside Halt with RB004 and the resident Wickham unit. One line of the passing loop has been re-laid and reopened just in time for the gala with manual point operation at the Berwyn end.

Photos from the platform at Deeside are now a rarity as few trains stop there.

The first train away at 09:30 was the RB004 full to standing for the run to Carrog - seen leaving Llangollen in a cloud of smoke. The vehicle attracted attention all day long on the Saturday and the owners were well pleased with the amount of interest shown by fans keen to sample a ride in this unique vehicle.

An internal view of the Railbus RB004, which has seating for 35 ...

... and  the central console for the driver.

The owners hope to operate it on the Aln Valley branch in Northumberland [a lot of mentions of Northumberland today - Ed.] and a text about this was displayed in the coach.

The railbus made an attractive travel option amongst the four classes of DMU and the steam auto-train on an 'iffy' day when the weather cleared later than forecast. RB004 performed well until the evening when the intended shuttle to Berwyn didn't operate due to a problem releasing the air brakes. It was replaced by the Wickham set for runs to Berwyn for an evening barbecue. Sunday was a better day weather-wise although attendance was less but an intensive service still ran offering a variety of train and travel options. A traffic accident on the A5 at Glyndyfrdwy may have caused difficulties for those travelling by road to start their visit at Carrog.

It should be noted that at the time of the Beeching closure the local railmen suggested the line be operated by the railbus types available in the mid-1960s but the idea was turned down because the passenger loads would produce inadequate revenue to cover the costs of the route from Ruabon to Barmouth Junction.

Change on the Penyffordd Coal - report by Mark Riley

On 14 June For the first time, four-axle type 'JNA' wagons were used for supplying coal to the Padeswood Cement factory at Penyffordd on June 14, with 66 014 working 6Z65 Maltby Colliery - Penyffordd. The JNAs replaced the usual two-axle MEAs due to loading restraints at the colliery. The return empty wagons ran as 6Z41 Penyffordd - Carlisle, and, in this picture, 66 014 arrives at its run round point at Croes Newydd, Wrexham, with 18 empty JNA wagons at 19:02.

The train ran again on June 16. Seen again working the empty wagons back to Carlisle, but this time from Mold Road, 66 014 heads north through Wrexham General station, having run round at Croes Newydd as usual.

The Gobowen 'Belle'

Not mentioned here before is the private charter from Gobowen to Bristol on 18 June, using the 'Northern Belle' coaching stock. Mark Riley's picture shows 47 818 and 47 832 climb away from Gobowen in the morning. The following day, 47 818 was used again for the 1Z31 'Northern Belle' Father's Day special from Crewe - Holyhead (see last issue); we believe that specially-painted loco 47 790 had been taken out of service with an oil leak, which is said to have stained the roofs of some of the coaches.

Flying from Abergele?

An unusual sight alongside the North Wales Coast line near Abergele at present (picture by Greg Mape) is this Jaburu UL-type Microlight aircraft, G-COVE, owned by Mr Robson of the adjacent Castle Cove Caravan Park, who according to the Civil Aviation Authority database is also the manufacturer, having built it from a kit in 1999. It does not have a permit to fly at the moment, and the concrete blocks should hopefully prevent it from flying on its own initiative...

Duke on TV

... and for some reason the above item makes us think of the old British Railways ferry Duke of Lancaster which still sits rusting hopefully in its dry berth alongside the line where it has stood since 1979. We understand the ship and its story will feature in the current series of BBC TV programme 'Coast' - after the owner was persuaded by the Duke of Lancaster Appreciation Society to allow a feature to be made. Our picture (above) was taken recently from the public footpath at Llanerch-y-Mor by Glyn Jones.

Go for a quick win - comment by Gareth Marston
Rail Users in Mid Wales and Shropshire are urging the new Welsh Government Minister with responsibility for transport - Carl Sergeant AM - to prioritise additional services on the Cambrian line when he announces his review of the National Transport Plan. Network Rail have recently completed the installation of a new signalling system and infrastructure enhancements worth £13 Million, including increased line capacity.
Let us hope that the Welsh Government completes the job it started in 2008 when it announced a contribution of £8 million to the scheme. The capital element is now complete, and revenue funding to implement additional services on the line will be relatively straightforward to achieve in a short time scale compared to the plethora of competing transport schemes that haven't even been started vying for attention on the Minister's desk.

The enhanced line capacity means that extra services can now be run . Commuting opportunities into the regional centres of Shrewsbury and Aberystwyth for employment and education opportunities are currently-hamstrung by inconvenient arrival times from the Cambrian or non-existent connections in the evening. Whilst the line's traffic has consistently grown at rates greater than officially predicted this traffic is predominantly leisure in nature and many who would use the railway at a time of ever-increasing petrol costs are denied the opportunity.
The reinstated crossing loop at Dyfi Junction and the reinstated dynamic loop at Welshpool are only of any use in running more trains than the eight a day currently seen. Why build them and then procrastinate about using them? The Welsh Government's recent announcements regarding funding extra trains to Fishguard and a second premier North to South Express dispel that notion. Let's get on with the job.

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