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25 July 2011
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Tuesday 26 July Conwy Valley Steam: Railway Touring Company, 'The Welsh Mountaineer' Preston - Blaenau Ffestiniog.
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.
Sunday 14 August Excursion Compass Tours - Holyhead (dep. 07:30) to Bath or Salisbury, 'Western Cathedrals Express'
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.
57 313 with the Cardiff - Holyhead express has just passed Abergele on Friday 22 July. Picture by Greg Mape.
Refurbished 158 doings - report by Mark Riley
Seen only on its third day in service since refurbishment, 158 820 departs from Gobowen looking clean as a whistle on 14 July with the 13:21 Cardiff Central - Holyhead.
In the evening of 14 July, also recently refurbished within the past few weeks, 158 821 was seen on the rear of 158 826 as it departed Wrexham with the 17:09 Birmingham International-Holyhead. Four 158s have been out-shopped in new livery and refurbished, and we understand 158 827 is currently having the same treatment (as on 15 July).
Whilst at Shrewsbury on 16 July, I saw 158 820 again, this time working the 07:15 Holyhead - Birmingham International. It joined forces with 158 835 at this stage for the remainder of the journey to Birmingham.
A contrast in liveries between 158 835 and 158 820. It's a shame that there isn't any variation in the new livery style; couldn't there have been some pictorial advertisements/graphics promoting Wales, as is seen with other regional operators?
Llangollen 1960s - report by Tez Pickthall
Here's the latest information about The Llangollen Railway 1960s weekend to be held on the 30 and 31 July. The timetable is available in PDF form.
Steam (both days): Manor 7822 Foxcote Manor (name and number plates removed, and loco in dirty 60's Cambrian-style condition)
5MT 44806 (above) - BR Black, Late (nameplates removed, running with IT57 headboard) Hunslet Austerity saddle-tank- disguised as J94 68030 - BR Black (the loco is making its Llangollen début)
Some interesting stock should also be in use alongside the usual Mk1s:
Set M = LNER 4-wheel Pigeon Van (BYP) 6854 (Clarabelle with names and face removed). 2 x Mk 1s and 4 box vans. Set V = 1 x BR 20T brake van (For ‘scrap’ train). This should be good!
Diesel: Saturday: Class 26 D5310, Class 37 6940 & Class 47 D1566. Sunday: Class 31 5580, Class 37 6940 (pictured above at Berwyn on 23 July by Greg Mape) and Class 47 D1566. Work continues to progress very well on D1566, the loco has now moved under its own power for the first time in nearly two years. A couple of (hopefully) minor faults still require rectification before it can work a train, but these should be repaired in time for the event.
DMU (both days): the wonderful Class 109 Wickham.
Other attractions: Body work to enable repaint of Mk1 CK E16071 into blue and grey progressing well'. Over 70 vintage road vehicles expected over the weekend including some rather rare beasts such as a Rochdale Leyland 'Olympic' bus. Bus rides between Llangollen and Carrog are included in the ticket price - three vehicles are expected including an open-topper. Also, a 'Mod scooter posse' courtesy of Chester and Wrexham scooter club is expected to descend on the Valley.
Musical attractions: 'The Cavernites' are playing on Llangollen station between 8 and 10pm on Saturday evening. Matt Nicholls, an excellent local singer-songwriter will now be performing on Sunday evening, 5 to 7pm.
With such an intensive timetable and mix of traction, this is shaping up to be the biggest event of the year at the railway before the return of 'Steam, Steel and Stars' next April.
Cambrian Coast Express
Spitfire Railtours tours operated the 'Cambrian Coast Express' excursion from London Euston to Aberystwyth and back on 16 July. DRS locomotives 37 510 and 37 087 Keighley & Worth Valley Railway worked the train to Shrewsbury, seen above in Mark Riley's picture.
No sooner had the tour reached the platform than Signal SBJ11 came off for a Hereford-bound train. This turned out to be the Shotton - Margam steel train, hauled by 66 109 (Richard Putley). Two yellow locos can be seen awaiting their turn in the distance.
As the Cambrian lines west of Shrewsbury are now worked by the ERTMS cab-signalling system, trains proceeding on to that system, except those formed of Arriva Trains Wales Class 158 railcars, must be hauled by the Class 97/3 locomotives specially overhauled from old Class 37s and fitted with the necessary equipment. There are four of these 'Class 97/3' machines, although only three have actually been equipped for ERTMS. 97 303 and 97 304 John Tiley were used on this occasion, seen above backing on to the train (Mark Riley).
Who is, or was, John Tiley? A Network Rail Engineering manager, according to other websites: the nameplates were originally carried by a track machine, 73211, which left the Network Rail fleet following an accident in 2007, the year before the 97/3s came into being.
The signal's 'off' and the train ready to leave Shrewsbury, once the passengers have all rejoined the train (Richard Putley). Trains to the Cambrian from the London direction reverse at Shrewsbury and take the right-hand route at Severn Bridge Junction adjacent to the station. The ERTMS actually comes into affect a mile or so further on, at Sutton Bridge Junction where the Cambrian line leaves the route towards Hereford and Cardiff.
An attractive scene near Newtown, at 11:15 (Stavros Lainas).
The weather was less appealing at Dovey Junction (above) where your Editor was getting somewhat wet. The platform here has been extended to allow trains to use it in either direction, passing as required in the loop which begins just behind the camera position. The big yellow arrow marks the point where the ERTMS equivalent of a block section starts: drivers must not pass these unless the computer has issued them with a 'movement authority.' The signs have number plates similar to those used on traditional signals, so that a train's location can be reported verbally if necessary.
The train approaches Borth, a station well cared for by its station adopters (Chris Morrison). Note that, unlike the first excursion to come this way under the ERTMS regime a few weeks earlier, the two locos which had brought the train from London were left at Shrewsbury and not hauled with the rest of the train.
At Aberystwyth, the whole train was shunted into the run-round loop to allow a service train to use the one surviving platform. Above, 97 304 and 303 wait to run round the stock (Chris Morrison). The two locos were in fact separated during the run-round, so that 97 303 could also also lead the return working. Does it have more reliable equipment?
The return 15:50 Aberystwyth - Euston, which left 15 minutes late, approaches Borth (Chris Morrison).
In the landscape, near Borth (Stavros Lainas).
The train cleared the single line and passed Machynlleth just in time to avoid significant delay to the 16:48 service train departure to Aberystwyth (Charlie Hulme).
Heading for the climb to Talerddig, past Machynlleth's former signalbox. 158 819, in the siding, was later attached to a Pwllheli-bound train. Behind the locos is generator van 6312, one of four originally converted from Mk 1 'BG' brake/luggage vans in 1992 to allow pairs of Class 37/0s without train heat (ETS) facilities to haul the Sleeper trains north of Edinburgh to Aberdeen and Inverness. It is now, like the rest of the coaches used for this train, owned by West Coast Railways, and allowed the excursion to be hauled on both parts of its journey by non-ETS locos.
Arrival back at Shrewsbury, 18:57 (Stavros Lainas). On the right is the recently-installed semaphore signal, SBJ 99 - reportedly provided in preference to a colour-light signal at the request of the local Conservation Officer
The two DRS locos re-attached for the return to London: hopefully the passengers enjoyed their three and a half hours at the seaside (or possibly in Wetherspoon's on Aberystwyth station!) Picture by Richard Putley.
The 97/3s waited at signal SBJ 20 while a class 158 departed for Aberystwyth; as soon as it had cleared the section they followed it back to their base near Sutton Bridge Junction (Richard Putley).
The 'positioning' workings of the stock between Preston and London on 15 and 17 July had also been advertised for passengers: on 37 510 and 37 087 were joined by West Coast loco 37 706 for the northbound run, via Reading and Birmingham on 17 July - pictured by Chris Morrison passing through Tyseley station on 17 July 2011.
Cambrian Recording Unit
The 'yellow perils' are also required now - one each end as no driving trailers are fitted with ERTMS - on any Cambrian line Network Rail track recording workings, such as this one pictured above by Ken Robinson heading north on 19 July: train 1Q09 with 97 302 and 97 304 John Tiley approaching Porthmadog. The train has stopped while the driver pulls the cord which will initiate the operation of the High Street level crossing and allow the train to continue into the station. The steam trail in the background is from the 09:30 Porthmadog - Caernarfon Welsh Highland Railway train as it crosses the Cambrian line on the level.
Here's the train returning over Briwet Bridge/Bont Briwet at
Penrhyndeudraeth - a structure that is soon to disappear if plans for a new bridge are implemented in 2012/13 (Ken Robinson).
South of Morfa Mawddach (Kate Jones)
57 311 Parker pulls 390 031 City of Liverpool through Llandulas on 16 July with the Saturday London - Holyhead train (Darren Durrant)
At Llanfair PG (Richard Fleckney).
A week later, 23 July, and a blue engine - 57 314 - on the duty, seen at Llanddulas (Stéphanie Durrant).
Borth Station Museum - report by Chris Morrison
While in Borth photographing the 37s, I had a look at the recently-opened Borth Station Museum, staffed by volunteers and situated in the former booking office and adjacent offices.
It's good to see some life being injected into the station.
The museum is open 11-5 Tue-Sat. 12-4 Sun. Closed Mondays. More information on this link.
Extra wood for Kronospan - report by Mark Riley
During the week of 10-17 July, an additional train to the usual 6J37 Carlisle - Chirk operated from Ribblehead to Chirk on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights, returning with the empty KFAs the following day (Tuesday / Thursday / Saturday) from the Kronospan Plant at 16:06 approximately. Above, on 12 July, 66 850 accelerates the empty KFA wagons out of the sidings at the Kronospan Plant. The return north was via Shrewsbury, with no run round at Gobowen followed by a return through Wrexham and Chester which it has done on some occasions in the past.
In better weather on 14 July, 66 850 was working the train again, and is seen on approach to Gobowen. However, on this occasion it was with a light load of just seven empty KFA wagons.
The same train seen from the rear passing Gobowen station with temporary speed restrictions in place ahead. Note the circular apertures which have been cut into the ends of the wagons, which were formerly ferry vans.
67 014 Thomas Telford and DB (or is it Canadian National?) liveried 67 018 Keith Heller parked on the viaduct amid the industrial scenery of Milk Street, Digbeth, Birmingham with the Chiltern Railways DVT sets used on their weekday London service: on Sunday 17 July (Chris Morrison).
Northwich station in the mid-Cheshire line was fitted out early this year with those surprisingly expensive fibreglass 'humps' to help people boarding trains at places with low platforms. The picture from 21 July by Dave Bramley also shows 66 058 with the Warrington Yard - Runcorn Folly Lane freight trip which visits Northwich to reverse.
Against a characteristic North Wales Coast background, 57 313 heads west with the Cardiff - Holyhead express at 19:45 on 14 July. Note the first class / restaurant carriage now has the standard yellow 'first class' stripe and orange 'food service' stripe over the windows. Picture by Stavros Lainas.
Acton Cliff, near Acton Bridge on the West Coast Main Line, on 9 July: a lunchtime flask move from Sellafield to Crewe, 6K73, hauled by 37 510 and 37 087 - the same pair which a week later found themselves on the 'Cambrian Coast Express.' Picture by Andrew Vinten.
'Survivors will be prosecuted' reads the sign on the ladder of the preserved signal on the site of Penmaenpool station on the Barmouth Junction - Dolgellau line, which is slowly undergoing repairs after the bad winter storms, now repainted and awaiting only a replacement fixed-distant arm. The station building is now in the care of the George III Hotel, an ideal destination for a walk or cycle along the old trackbed in the footsteps of Julia Bradbury. Picture: Ian Macer-Wright.
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