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29 August 2011
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9 - 11 September Llangollen Railway Autumn Steam Gala
Friday 9 September Clwyd Railway Circle Edgar Richards: Railways of the North East, 1965 onwards (part 1). After recovering from an injury sustained in 2010, our top link speaker is back. This time Edgar takes us on a journey from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Durham.
Saturday 10 September Steam to Chester The Cathedrals Express London Euston - Chester. Steam Dreams 60163 Tornado: Euston-Chester and return
Saturday 10 September – Welsh Highland Heritage Railway, Porthmadog – Lace on the Train. 'It’s National Lace Making Day, and a team of master lacemakers will be travelling on the train demonstrating the art of making lace with pins and pillows.'
Saturday 17 September – Welsh Highland Heritage Railway, Porthmadog – Cob 200. 'The Great Embankment which allowed Porthmadog to be built was completed 200 years ago this weekend. Two centuries on, The Cob is still there and still doing its job. We’re planning a day of celebrations as part of the festivities going on in town, including a visit from the man who built The Cob – William Madocks himself.'
Monday 19 September RCTS Chester Bob Casselden: Teenage Memories Of The Early 1960s. A digital presentation of some of Bob’s black and white pictures from the 1960s. Bob’s home town of Yeovil will feature as well as faraway places such as Carlisle and Sunderland. His presentation will cover steam, diesel and electric traction with some of his early photographs which were taken with his ‘Box Brownie’ camera and have now been scanned for this presentation.
Saturday 24 September - Welsh Highland Heritage Railway, Porthmadog – Railways on the Air. Railway enthusiasts get together with amateur radio enthusiasts to broadcast around the globe from our station at Pen-y-Mount, and celebrate the 200th birthday of the Cob. Listen out for call sign GOWHR.
Wednesday 5 October Excursion Compass Tours - from Holyhead (dep. 07:30) and stations to Crewe, to Bath or Salisbury, 'Western Cathedrals Express'
Friday 7 October Clwyd Railway Circle Larry Davies: Railway Wanderings in North Wales. A collection of slides around North Wales presented by a great favourite with our members.
Monday 17 October RCTS Chester Brian Stephenson: Great Railway Photographers. Brian visits us from Ashford to give a digital presentation from about 10 individual photographers of the last 90 years. The show will include the work of W.J.V. Anderson, O.J Morris, T.G. Hepburn, F.R. Hebron, P. F. Cooke, Kenneth Field and C.R.L.Coles. Also included will be a selection of Brian’s own photographs from 50 years of railway photography.
Abergynolwyn, Talyllyn Railway, July 2011. Locomotive Edward Thomas. Picture by Charlie Hulme.
Virgin Trains news
The newly-built 11-car Pendolino, 390 054, has had two of its coaches removed and placed in store, and is now in service with Virgin, as seen above departing Stockport with a London - Manchester train on 25 August. The livery has been modified slightly since its test running earlier in the year, seen in John Dent's picture below, taken at Preston on 25 May; the '11-CAR' part of the lettering has been removed. However, it is still recognisable at a distance by the lack of a Virgin shield on the nose (although there is the recess for it) and also the absence of a white line between the red cab-side and the silver body.
This unit is the first of a batch of four new 11-car 390s to be built by Alstom in Italy, having been ordered by the Department for Transport in advance of the decision on a new franchise-holder for the West Coast Main Line. There will also be 62 new intermediate coaches which will be used to strengthen 31 existing trains to 11 cars. At one time it was thought that the new train would have to be stored until the franchise was decided, or even used on the East Coast line, but common sense has prevailed.
The extra capacity is being used to provide a Pendolino on one of the Birmingham - Scotland diagrams, this releasing a Class 221 diesel unit to strengthen North Wales services. We understand that the following trains are now allocated a pair of 221s in addition to the previous arrangements: Mondays-Fridays 09:10 London - Holyhead, 13:58 Holyhead - London, 19:10 London - Chester; Saturdays 11:55 Holyhead - London and 16:10 return.
Above, in an Alstom publicity shot,we see cyclist Jessica Varnish, 19-year-old member of the British Track Cycling Team, on Wolverhampton station apparently disobeying the rule about cycling on platforms: she the latest athlete to get a Virgin Trains Pendolino 'named' after her. Pendolino 390 027 now also carries Jessica’s name under the windscreen on both ends of the train as well as its name Virgin Buccaneer which is retained in the usual position.
The Virgin Trains sponsorship initiative is supported by Alstom, and enables a number of sportsmen and women to attend training camps; key competitions and championships up and down the country. Jessica said: 'Having a train named after me is incredible and something I never thought would happen. My friends think it’s awesome!'
Above: 57 307 Lady Penelope and 390 051 pass Llanfair PG with their Saturday Holyhead - London working on 20 August (Richard Fleckney). Changes are also afoot in the Class 57/3 world: six of the 'Thunderbirds' which have been stored out of use, 57 301 / 305 / 306 / 310 / 312, are to be transferred to Network Rail where they will work with converted ex-Virgin Driving Van Trailers as a new type of track inspection train which will use high-speed cameras and clever graphics software to recognise any track fittings or rails which are not as they should be. It is also intended to use them in winter to rescue stranded passenger trains in the third-rail electrification area, for which their retractable 'Dellner' couplers, fitted for hauling Pendolinos, can apparently be used with some adjustments. How this will work in conditions of deep snow and ice remains to be seen.
We understand that the nameplates from the six locos, which will no doubt be repainted yellow, are to be auctioned to raise money for Virgin's favoured Clic Sargent children's cancer charity. What happened to the nameplates from 57 313 - 316 after their locos were given blue livery, does anyone know?
Club 55 is back
Good news for those of us 'of a certain age' is that Arriva Trains Wales are offering their 'Club 55' deal again this autumn, for travel between 4 September and 14 December 2011. If you are over 55 years of age, and provide proof of age, a return ticket between any two stations on the Arriva Trains Wales network (see map) costs just £18 (£16 for a Senior or Disabled railcard holder). There are also add-on extras for reasonable prices including a supplement which gives first class travel including refreshments on the Holyhead - Cardiff loco-hauled express, and - new this year - one for £20.50 which allows travel to London using Chiltern Railways, just the thing to sample Chiltern's new loco-hauled service. Full details are leaflets at stations and on the ATW website. If you make an interesting journey, send us a report.
The Welsh Mountaineer, 23 August
The Railway Touring Company ran their last 'Welsh Mountaineer' train of the summer from Preston to Blaenau Ffestiniog on 23 August, again featuring 2-8-0 48151, with its small wheels and high tractive effort considered the best steam power for the steep gradients of the Conwy Valley. It is seen above slowing for the stop at Frodsham for the loco to take up water and the train to take up more passengers (Dave Jackson).
48151 entering Blaenau Ffestiniog from the usual popular spot, but Ken Robinson was the only photographer on this occasion.
The return train passes the site of the station at Bagillt (Glyn Jones).
Despite the buildings and signalbox being flattened and removed, following closure of the station on 14 February 1966, the signalman's loo somehow escaped the attention of the demolition contractors. It still stands, minus its door and fittings, in splendid isolation between the two remaining tracks! Picture by Glyn Jones.
Class 37/4 in the news
This unusual picture, taken by Andrew Vinten on 10 April, at Acton Bridge, shows 37 422 (minus Cardiff Canton nameplates) being moved from storage Crewe to Carlisle, via Warrington, hauled by Network Rail loco 97 304 and tailed by a Class 67. The loco was left at Warrington Yard, and some days later DRS loco 37 610 came and took 422 to Carlisle with 66 099 trailing.
DRS have taken over all the remaining EWS 37/4 fleet, including 422, once familiar in North Wales as Robert F. Fairlie, Locomotive Engineer. Others, including 419 and 425, are reportedly to undergo overhaul at Barrow Hill, Chesterfield.
A week in Nantmor - report by Richard Putley
This summer my brother and I stayed in "The Retreat", a secluded cottage at Nantmor. On Sunday 7 August I went to see Oliver Cromwell at Llandudno Junction, heading down the town with 47 245 bringing the train back to Llandudno Junction before carrying on to Holyhead (above).
On 8 August (above) the 09:30 Porthmadog - Caernarfon Welsh Highland Railway Train passed Nantmor hauled by blue Beyer-Garratt 87.
On 9 August I Caught 10:50 FR train from Tan-y-Bwlch to Blaenau Ffestiniog, hauled by Earl of Merioneth, then the 11:46 ATW train to Betws-y-coed where I saw 48151 come through on the 'Welsh Mountaineer'. The 14:01 train back to Blaenau was cancelled, so I caught 14:10 bus, then the 16:10 FR train to Porthmadog hauled by Linda, which departed at the same time as the special. This was accompanied by much cheering from passengers on both trains and whistling from the locos!
On Thursday 11 August I was Porthmadog (Ffestiniog Railway) to catch the 09:30 to Waunfawr. This was hauled out of the platform by one of the ex-Penhryn Railway 'ladies', then Beyer-Garratt 87 (blue) hauled the train.
In a car park in Porthmadog being unloaded was a wooden coach body. This belongs to the London Transport Museum's and is (or was) Metropolitan Railway (standard-gauge) first class carriage number 353. Built by Cravens in 1892, the four-wheeled carriage is the sole survivor of the Metropolitan's 'Jubilee' stock, and the FR's Boston Lodge works is taking on the task of restoration. The underframe had been delivered separately. More details on the LT Museum website.
North Wales Coast Express (part 2)
The two steam excursions which visited North Wales on 20 and 21 August features in the last issue; some pictures reached us too late for inclusion, so we've included them in this one. Sunday 21 August's 'North Wales Coast Express' starred 70013 Oliver Cromwell, seen above on the Liverpool - Warrington outward leg at Rainhill (Ian Pilkington).
Crossing the River Dee, with the Chester city skyline behind (John Beresford).
On the coast at Bagillt (Ian Pilkington). The area in the foreground was, we believe, part of a system of 'flushing ponds' to help keep the waterway to Bagillt quay clear for navigation. Does anyone know the details of this?
Arriving at Llandudno (Ian Pilkington). This signal gantry still stands, despite press statements that the one at Scarborough, recently removed, was the last on Network Rail.
Llangaffo summit (Ian Pilkington).
The scene at Holyhead just after arrival (Aaron Osborne-Taylor). Plenty of spare siding space.
Passing Rhosneigr station on the return journey (Ian Pilkington).
Llanfair PG (Richard Fleckney)
A glance through the cab window of diesel loco 47 760, which was attached to the train to assist with shunting and the moves to Llandudno (Aaron Osborne-Taylor). A well-used collection of equipment: this locomotive was built, as D1617, 47 years ago in 1964, only 13 years after Oliver Cromwell took to the rails.
By contrast, although not as much as there would be with a modern diesel, the cab of 70013 (Aaron Osborne-Taylor). The lights and buttons, bottom left, are the console of the TPWS (Train Protection and Warning System), now fitted to all traction on Network Rail, which will stop a train automatically if the driver passes a red signal or approaches the end of line too fast.
A look through the firehole door. This view and the one above were taken, during the stop at Llandudno, by Aaron Osborne-Taylor with kind permission of the train crew. Pass the shovel!
The North Wales Explorer, 20 August (part 2)