Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

19 September 2011

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This site is dedicated to all our regular contributors and supporters, and especially the rail staff of North Wales.

Forthcoming events

October 2011

Saturday 1 October  Stephenson Locomotive Society Stephen Cornish -   The Railway Career of a Career Railwayman. Stephen will describe the belt-and-braces railway work of his early career (Guide Bridge, Woodhead line, Buxton) and BR Board work, and also the last 10 years (with Railtrack/Network Rail) as manager for all special traffic on the network - charter trains, steam trains, Orient Express, the Royal Train etc.
Sunday 2 October  Wirral Bus & Tram Show at Pacific Rd, Woodside, Birkenhead.

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 10 October. Wrexham Railway Society Mainline Steam with PSOV - The Preserved Steam on Video team will be visiting with their latest presentation of action on the mainline.
Thursday 13 October Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society  E. Norman Kneale    NORTH WALES STEAM RAILWAYMEN/6G STEAM DAYS

Friday 14 October  Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society "Railway Cine Films from the 1970s" by Richard Greenwood MBE
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.

29/30 October Merseyside Model Railway Exhibition at Pacific Rd Arts Centre, Woodside, Birkenhead with full size tramway operating outside.

November 2011

Friday 4 November  Clwyd Railway Circle  Geoff Coward: The Worlds Last Real Working Steam – China 2002. The Ji-Tong line featured frequent 2300 tonne trains, 1 in 80 gradients, snow, mountains and huge steam locos. Other locations include coal trains, passenger services and a steelworks, all steam operated in November 2002, now all gone.

Friday 11 November Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society "Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Locomotives Part 1" by Paul Shackcloth, Photographic Officer, Manchester Locomotive Society

Saturday 5 November      Stephenson Locomotive Society     Mike Crabtree, I.Eng., M.I.E.T.    The Great Orme Tramway, Llandudno – a History of the Line . An illustrated talk describing the history of the line and a description of how the line has been rejuvenated to meet the challenges of operating in the 21st century.                
Thursday 10 November  Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society    Larry Davies    "Summer Holidays by Train"

Monday 14 November.  Wrexham Railway Society A Colour Rail Journey - The new proprietor of Colour-Rail Paul Chancellor will talk about the difficulties of dealing with old colour slides and will present a UK wide journey with illustrations taken over the past 60 years.

Monday 21 November  RCTS Chester  Edgar Richards: North Eastern Part 1. Our very own Edgar Richards returns with views of the northern part of the former North Eastern Region.

December 2011

Friday 2 December  Clwyd Railway Circle  Xmas Celebration –
A film show to whet your appetite before our interlude of festive goodies.

Saturday 3 December     Stephenson Locomotive Society -  Malcolm Dickin            THE CHAIRMAN’S CHRISTMAS QUIZ   

Thursday 8 December Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Members Night/Xmas Social

Friday 9 December  Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society "Current Developments on Metrolink" by Tony Williams, Manchester Area Officer, Light Rail Transit Association

Monday 12 December. Wrexham Railway Society AGM and Rail Review with members' material on show
Monday 19  December RCTS Chester    Members Evening:30 slides or digital images of your choice. Please advise Alan Donaldson if you intend to make a presentation and to what format you will be using.

On Tuesday 13 September, Welsh Highland Railway Beyer-Garratt no. 87 approaches Rhyd Ddu on the 15:00 Porthmadog-Caernarfon with Snowdon Summit appearing briefly out of the clouds.  Many more WHR pictures below. Picture by Ian Pilkington.

Blue Class 67

Despite the doubts expressed in Welsh political circles, and reported here recently, about the future of the government-funded Holyhead - Cardiff 'WAG express' services, locomotive 67 003 has been painted at DB Schenker's Toton depot into Arriva Trains Wales blue livery (there's a picture on Flickr) and we understand that 67 001 and 67 002 will also be done. Currently the loco is in plain blue: it will be interesting to see is the branding used on 57 314 and 57 315 is attempted on the corrugated sides of the 67.

Confirmed facts are hard to find at the time of writing (help welcome), but it seems that the intention is to use these locos in push-pull mode with Mk 3 coaches and Mk3 Driving Van Trailers (already owned by DB) which will simplify the reversal required at Chester by the version of the train which serves Wrexham.

Llangollen Diesel Day, 24 September

Tez Pickthall of the Llangollen Diesel Group writes to tell us about their 'Diesel Day on the Llangollen Railway which takes place on Saturday 24 September.

Five diesel locos (4 mainline, 1 shunter) and the Class 108 DMU will be in traffic, working an intensive timetable. the first time we've had 4 ex-BR mainline diesel locos running since Spring 2008.The combined power output of all locos running is over 7,000hp! Some trains will be double-headed, giving visitors the opportunity to experience the serious power available from diesel locomotives.

Visiting 1964-built Class 31 5580 will be running, and is staying  at Llangollen for another year after the event.  Class 47 D1566 (pictured above) will hopefully be working her first full day in traffic for over two years after extensive repairs. A three-trip evening shuttle to Glyndyfrdwy and back will be hauled by Class 37 6940.

There's also a chance to ride behind Davy at Llangollen, a shunting locomotive not normally used on public trains, which was built to work ICI's extensive internal railway system near Northwich.

Full details on the Llangollen Diesels website.

Last call for the Train of Hope

The 'Train of Hope', an excursion organised by a team of Virgin Trains drivers to raise funds for the Clic Sargent children's cancer charity, runs on Saturday 1 October.  The train will be all First Class, with Premier Dining, and runs from Crewe, Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western and Preston, out via Shap and return via the Settle and Carlisle. For those who don't live on the route, the offer includes free first-class travel on the day on any Virgin Train to and from Crewe.

Haulage will be by steam, 46115 Scots Guardsman and added features include a Brass Band on the platform playing as you arrive for your journey, a glass of Bucks Fizz to start the day, Mr Pete Waterman to wave you on your way; enjoy a full English breakfast; look out for the banner aircraft that will be flying alongside us in the Lake District. Arrive at Carlisle to the sounds of a Scottish bagpiper; a welcome to Carlisle by the Mayor and Mayoress;  chance to win great prizes on our on train raffle; get your picture take by a Professional Railway photographer; souvenir on board program.
Work off your breakfast with a walk around Carlisle but make room for the 5- course meal on the return journey with a complimentary bottle of wine only available on the Train of Hope train. The inclusive fare is £179 adult ticket or £119 if for a child/young adult, but the organisers tell us 'Our aim is to raise as much money as we can for CLIC Sargent so with a few tables for still available, we are offering 4 seats for the price of 3. This is a very limited offer.'

Visit the Train of Hope website for more details and booking form.

Other fund-raising efforts for this cause was a Railway Performance Society sponsored 'mileage-athon' on 18 June on Virgin Trains services. Approximately 15 participants took part, raising over £4000. The total mileage by the participants was over 14,000. The highest mileage was almost 1400, achieved by a member who drove from Skipton to Manchester, getting up at 04:00, returning back home at 00:50. He was then working at 10am the same day, as he is a Vicar! Virgin Trains sponsored the event, which was essential to making it a success.

Manchester Model Railway show: 1 October

The 75th Manchester Model Railway Exhibition takes place at the Armitage Centre, Moseley Road, Fallowfield, Manchester on Saturday 1 October (10:00 to 18:00) and Sunday 2 October (10:00 to 17:00). As always, there will be lots of trade stands, and 25 layouts including the Manchester Model Railway Society's 'Dewsbury Midland' (picture above), 'Widnes Vine Yard' from the Wirral whose creators include some long-time supporters of our website, and of particular interest to continental narrow-gauge modellers such as your editor, the excellent 'WEK Bahn' which is travelling from Germany especially for the show. Full details on the Manchester MRS website.

Ffestiniog in Birkenhead

Two locomotives from the Ffestiniog Railway, Britomart and Lilla,  featured at the Birkenhead Transport Festival on 17-18 September, on specially-laid track. Picture above by Tom Bowen.

Lilla, built by Hunslet in 1891, works number 554, for the Cilgwyn Slate Quarry, was giving rides in historic Ffestiniog four-wheeled coach No. 10.

Railfuture meeting announced

Many lines in Britain have active voluntary 'user groups' which achieved a great deal to raise the public profile of their local routes and work with the railway management. Well-known examples include the Mid-Cheshire Rail Users' Association, the Shrewsbury - Chester Rail Users' Association and the Shrewsbury - Aberystwyth Rail Passengers' Association. However, attempts to create such a body for the North Wales Coast line never seem to have achieved any lasting success.

The following notice has reached us by an indirect route:

Notice is hereby given that the next meeting of the North Wales Branch of Railfuture (The Railway Development Society Limited) will be held at 7.15pm on Tuesday, 27th September 2011 at the Town Hall, Flint (adjacent to Flint Railway Station).  It is anticipated that the meeting will finish by 8.30pm.

The meeting will be an open discussion of any matters relating to rail services in North Wales, but if there are any specific issues you wish to raise, please let me know in advance if at all possible, so that an agenda for the meeting can be prepared.

This notice is being sent both to members of Railfuture and to members of the erstwhile North Wales Coast Rail Users’ Group which was wound up earlier in the year.  Members of the Rail Users’ Group have been afforded temporary membership of Railfuture until the end of the year at no cost, and are welcome to attend this meeting.

David H. Mawdsley, Acting Secretary, North Wales Branch Railfuture. e-mail: d.h.mawdsley[at]

The notice is aimed at members, but it is to be hoped that prospective members will be welcomed at the meeting. Reports on the occasion will be welcome.

Class 57 pictorial

Saturday 17 September's 'Pendolino drag' (above) hauled by 57 304 Gordon Tracy passes the restored windmills at Bryn Ddu. Melin Maelgwyn is ,in the distance and Melin y Bont nearest. Picture by M. Lloyd Davies.

The same train calls at Rhyl (Darren Durrant)

Anglesey Biomass power station progress

Readers may remember that when the Anglesey Aluminium Metal smelter at Holyhead was shut down, with any jobs lost, leaving just the present re-melting operation, hopes were expressed that a 'biomass' power station could be developed on the site. The following press release is dated 16 September:

The Department of Energy and Climate Change has granted consent to Anglesey Aluminium Metal Renewables to construct a biomass fuelled power station at Penrhos Works in Holyhead, Anglesey, North Wales. The plant will generate 299 MW of electricity, enough to power approximately 300,000 homes, which is the equivalent to around a quarter of the homes in Wales. The plant is expected to employ up to 600 people during construction with around 100 full-time personnel when operational. The operator is expected to source fuel from both imported and local sources, with imports coming in through the Port of Holyhead.

Charles Hendry, Minister of State for Energy, said: "We want a balanced energy portfolio and we want biomass to play a key role in this. Biomass power stations such as this one in Anglesey will provide us a reliable, secure, flexible and renewable source of power. I am especially pleased that the plant offers the prospect of so many high-quality jobs in Anglesey."

What's biomass, you might ask. According to the company's non-technical summary (2 MB PDF)  it is 'Dry plant matter ... primarily be wood based from sustainable forestry but may also include other clean sources of wood and agricultural residues.' This will be burned to heat water to drive a steam turbine and generate electricity: in the words of the document:

The combustion process will consist of circulating fluidized bed (CFB) boiler technology. Biomass will be used as fuel within the boiler arrangement to generate high pressure steam which will drive steam turbines that will, in turn, rotate the installed generators and produce electricity.

After all the useful work has been extracted from the steam, it will leave the turbines, via a condenser, and be returned to the boilers for re-use. The cooling duty required by the condensing steam will be provided by a hybrid cooling tower system using water abstracted from the Port of Holyhead. These types of cooling towers greatly reduce the amount of water required for cooling and minimise the effluent leaving the site.

Emissions to air from the combustion process will be via a 100 m stack. Air emissions will be minimised through the appropriate selection of clean biomass together with the use of state of the art emission reduction technologies to minimise the emission of nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and dust.

Theoretically this is renewable energy, because the equivalent of the carbon dioxide produced by the burning will be absorbed by the growing of new trees which will later provide more fuel. This does not, however, take account of the carbon cost of shifting the material across the world (possibly from Canada, Brazil or the Far East) although there is some talk of also establishing a local supply of wood. But we demand electricity, and this appears to be relatively clean way to make it.

There appear to be no plans to make use of rail freight in the Anglesey project. Ironically, the development of biomass stations is in danger of affecting the economics of a rail freight customer, chipboard-makers Kronospan of Chirk, as the competition for wood pushes up the cost of their raw material.

Class 60 news

The first class 60 loco to have been given a full overhaul, 60 007, is now in traffic, having been named The Spirit of Tom Kendell at a private ceremony in Knottingley depot on 7 September. Tom Kendell, a young and enthusiastic engineer' at DB Schenker, died in an accident, and the naming was performed by his father. The company has taken the opportunity to used the locos to remind staff of the need for safety by adding the slogan 'Switch on for Safety' to the locomotive sides.

60 007 was set to work on the Tunstead - Oakleigh limestone trains. Above,, it is seen at Northwich on Sunday 18 September in its shiny new livery.

Plumley, Saturday 17 September (above). Moments before 60 007 and train 6F05 appeared for Richard Billingsley's camera, a torrential rainstorm poured it's contents on Cheshire, making the conditions for photography somewhat difficult.

Picture 2, Plumley, 17 September. It was battering down as 60 007 races through the station. Richard writes: 'To say I got wet would be an understatement.' More views on Richard's flickr site.

Some days earlier than the above scenes, 60 040 'Territorial Army Centenary' is seen at Plumley on 7 September (Andrew Vinten).

ERTMS in close-up - report by Charlie Hulme

A visit to the Cambrian coast a few weeks ago gave me a chance to have a look at some of the bits and pieces necessary for the operation of the ERTMS signalling now in use on the Cambrian rail system as a pilot for the possible conversion of the UK network to this new European standard. The device above, seen at Dyfi Junction, is a 'Eurobalise.' Basically it is a large armoured version of the 'RFID' chip in your library book, its purpose is to transmit a number to the equipment on the train as it passes over. The central computer 'knows' where this numbered device is located, and uses the information to corroborate its record of the position of the train with the signals sent by the train itself from its speed-measuring equipment, and so maintain an accurate record of the train's location.

This gadget attached to the rail is an axle-counter. These are placed at each end of a section of line and detect by an electro-magnetic method when a train wheel passes it. By counting the number of wheels at each end of a section of line, it can be proved that no train is in that section and that no part of a train has been left behind, this replacing the traditional track-circuit. Its function in ERTMS is purely to ensure that a train has not become divided; unlikely to be a serious problem with Class 158s, but this installation is to test the full capability of the system. Unfortunately there have been teething troubles with these devices, leading to disruption of service in ways which could not have occurred with the old Electronic Token Block system, which relied on the driver reporting that a train had become divided.

Here we see the passing loop points halfway along the platform at Dyfi Junction. All points are now powered using the 'clamplock' actuators commonly used in many places on Network Rail. Under the previous arrangements, passing loop point-blades were effectively 'sprung' with no external connections: trains pushed them over when passing in the trailing direction and they returned to the original position when the train had passed. This did require trains to travel over them quite slowly, and meant that each side of the loop could only be used in one direction unless the points were moved by hand - but it's another possible source of trouble. While I was there a power failure occurred at Harlech one morning, and everything stopped for an hour until someone could be sent by road to work the points by hand.

Another issue that I noticed a number of times at passing stations was that approaching trains would wait at a point some way before the station, even after the train in the other direction was safely in the platform. The picture above is an 'extreme zoom' view of a southbound train taken at Harlech. Presumably the driver is waiting for the computer to give the go-ahead ('Movement Authority') to continue into the station: several minutes in this case, as puzzled passengers waited.

One wonders whether a similar situation may be behind the dangerous incident on 19 June in which a train driver pressed the button provided at the station to operate the barriers at Llanbadarn level crossing, some distance up the line, but by the time the train actually arrived there the barriers had 'timed out' and opened again to road traffic. The level crossings are not interlocked with the ERTMS system at present.

Eventually, the train was allowed into Harlech station. Note the revolting collection of beer-cans etc. that is always such a 'feature' of this station (which serves a school), not a great image to show to the many foreign tourists who alight here to visit the castle.

A interesting flower-planter at Machynlleth station, made by local schoolchildren. Not part of the ERTMS system, as far as we know.

Welsh Highland Spectacular

Thanks to the contributors of some marvellous views, despite the poor weather, from the Welsh Highland Railway's 'Superpower Weekend' of 10-11 September which features some visiting locomotives from other railways. Visiting privately-owned Darjeeling Himalaya Railway 19 (Sharp Stewart, 1889) and FR-built replica coaches on the reverse curve approaching Rhyd Ddu with the 13:25 Caernarfon - Rhyd Ddu, 10 September. This train normally runs on the garden railway of Adrian Shooter CBE, recently-retired head of Chiltern Railways, who has been connected with the Ffestiniog Railway for many years. He joined British Rail in 1970, and for a while was Area Manager at Shrewsbury, responsible for the Cambrian Lines. (Ian Pilkington).

Visiting Statfold Barn Railway Mallet no 9 (built in Germany by Jung,1930) leaving Rhyd Ddu on the 13:40 Pont Croesor - Caernarfon, 10 September (Ian Pilkington).

The unprecedented sight of Ffestiniog Railway Double Fairlies David Lloyd George and Merddin Emrys with Darjeeling Himalaya Railway No.19, triple-heading the mixed 15:00 Rhyd Ddu - Porthmadog near Pitt's Head Summit, 10 September (Ian Pilkington).

WHR Garratt no 87 on Pont Croesor Bridge with the 15:40 Porthmadog - Caernarfon, 10 September (Ian Pilkington).

Boston Lodge-built replica Lynton and Barnstaple Railway Lyd newly resplendent in Southern livery at Porthmadog (Ian Pilkington)....

... and near Rhyd Ddu (Tom Bowen).

Sadly, Lyd failed near Dinas while working the 13:25 Caernarfon - Porthmadog, and was left in Dinas Yard (above, picture by David Parry).

Dinas, with Garratts 87 and 138 departing  with the 12:30 Caernarfon-Porthmadog service train, 11 September (David Parry).

Real super power as  87 and 138 approach Rhyd Ddu on the 12:30 Caernarfon - Porthmadog, 11 September (Ian Pilkington).

Storming up The Hill through Beddgelert Forest, Statfold Barn Railway Mallet no 9 leads Darjeeling Himalaya Railway no 19, bunker to bunker, 11 September (David Parry).

Moel Hebog looms over SBR no 9 and DHR 19 with the mixed 13:40 Pont Croesor - Rhyd Ddu on the 1 in 40 climb near Pont Cae'r Gors, 11 September (Ian Pilkington).

Next up The Hill, the Penrhyn / Ffestiniog ladies, Linda and Blanche, near the summit. Note Linda’s tender cab, an aluminium fabrication made about 20 years ago that can be easily put on on and off.  The
tender came from George England-built engine Welsh Pony, so is a bit
smaller than the one made specially for Blanche with the permanent half-cab. (David Parry).

Ffestiniog Railway Hunslet-built locos Blanche and Linda return down the Aberglaslyn Pass with the 15:05 Caernarfon - Porthmadog, 11 September (Ian Pilkington).  Railway Performance Society members  were recoprding the various trains over the weekend as a 'King of the Hill' contest, and these 'ladies' won - see the report.

Blanche and Linda continue towards Porthmadog over Pont Croesor Bridge with the Moelwyns emerging from the clouds (Ian Pilkington).

The mixed train returns, with the Darjeeling loco leading the Mallet in to Waunfawr (Tom Bowen) ...

... and under the bridge at Bryn Gloch (Tom Bowen)

Coasting back down The Hill from Rhyd Ddu, No. 19 leads its Mallet partner down towards Beddgelert, 11 September (David Parry).

Hunslets Britomart and Lilla offering trips along the lengthy sidings at Dinas, 11 September (David Parry).

On Monday 12 September, WHR Garratt 143 heads off over the Cob to Boston Lodge after working the 14:30 Caernarfon-Porthmadog; the 200th anniversary of the opening of William Madocks' remarkable embankment was being celebrated that week (Ian Pilkington).

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