Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

10 October 2011

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Forthcoming events

October 2011

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.

The classic panorama from the site of the 'Hotel 70 degrees' as 97 302 and 97 304 accelerate through Old Colwyn in warm and beautiful Autumn weather with a trial run of the Rail Head Treatment Train on 30 September (Mark Riley).

Prestatyn footbridge open - report by Dave Sallery

The long months of waiting have ended and the footbridge was opened on 1 October.  Overall I'm quite impressed with the structure. 

The access for the able-bodied is shorter than the old bridge while there was a steady stream of pushchairs, wheeled suitcases and mobility scooters using the ramped access. 

Above: the view from top of the stairs.

One nice touch is that some of the glass on the upper level is engraved with the Offa's Dyke and town motifs; the bridge forms part of the long distance footpath to Chepstow. 

The view from the town side. I understand a temporary booking office is to be opened on the platform while the booking office, in the station building, is refurbished. 

The upper deck: Not a good spot for photos  as trains can only be photographed through the glass panels. [Unless you are quite tall. -Ed.]

Freightliner at Wrexham and on the Wirral

An 18-day intensive engineering blockade on the Wirral in the Hoylake and Meols area commenced on 6 October. This has resulted in a series of engineers trains working to and from the site from Bescot (returning either to Bescot or Crewe Basford Hall) via Wrexham and the Borderlands line. DB Schenker hired four Freightliner Class 66s to work on site alongside several DB 66s, thus providing some very interesting trains to view. The picture above, by Mark Riley, shows 66 506 Crewe Regeneration marking the first appearance of a Freightliner Class 66 on these trains in the locality (well, at least visible in daylight!). This was 6L11 11:59 Bidston East Junction-Bescot, running about 15 minutes early, with a rake of JNA wagons filled with spent ballast passing Croesnewydd. Is this a first for the Wrexham area? The picture in the left margin shows 66 952 passing Bryn Offa with 6L12 13:59 Bidston East Junction.-Bescot, again with JNAs and spoil/spent ballast.

The work site at Manor Road station, with 66 602 in attendance, on Sunday 8 October (Stavros Lainas).

West Kirby on 6 October, with 66 087 sandwiched between rakes of ballast wagons (Stavros Lainas).

The end of the line at West Kirby, with 66 198 and tamper DR 73922 (Stavros Lainas).

Water Cannon trials

The 'official' leaf-fall season started on 3 October (although nobody seems to have told the tree outside the editor's window.) The plan this year is for a top-and-tailed consist to leave Crewe in the evening, and spend the night visiting Machynlleth, and then Hereford, before returning to Crewe and running to Holyhead (lunch break) and back during the daylight hours. The intention is to use the Network Rail ERTMS-fitted  Class 97/3 locos so that the train can cover the Cambrian line.

However, the week before the start of the season it was decided to make a couple of trial runs, using two 'Class 20 locos, 20 901 and 20 905, hired from the Harry Needle company which purchased 20 901 to 906 from DRS back in 2005. Stavros Lainas photographed the ensemble (above) at Tattenhall between Chester and Crewe at 13:08 on 27 September. These workings missed out the Cambrian line as the Class 20s do not have the necessary signalling equipment.

Next day, and it's the same again, this time passing the privately-preserved closed station at Waverton at 13:04 (Stavros Lainas). The building, with its ornate chimneys, has an interesting history. It was built in 1898 when, at the instigation of the the Duke of Westminster the station was relocated from half a mile along the line to make it more convenient for himself and guests travelling to and from his country seat at Eaton Hall (although further from Waverton village). It closed to passengers in 1957.

20 901 is on the rear as the train leaves Llandudno Junction for Holyhead (Garry Stroud).

The morning of 29 September, and a closer look at 20 905 as the train heads west through Llanfair PG (Richard Fleckney). Note the extra fuel tank behind the cab, fitted after these six locos were sold by British Rail to Hunslet-Barclay back in 1989, some time before the general privatisation of the railway system. Their new owners at that time used them on a contract to run weed-killing trains.

The return run seen near Abergele (Stéphanie Durrant)....

... and Hawarden (Stavros Lainas).

Seen from Beeches Farm bridge (Bob Greenalgh)

On their final day of working this train (reporting number 3S71), 20 901 and 20 905 crawl past Beeston Castle in the heat haze on a very hot 29 September (Mark Riley).

Another panoramic view from the castle, as the pair make their way slowly towards Crewe. The hottest Autumn weather for 25 years makes this look more like a summer scene; fields and trees still look green and quite lush, and there doesn't look much 'leaf busting' to do yet! (Mark Riley)

30 September saw the first appearance of a pair of 97/3s on the RHTT, still on a test-running basis. Stavros Lainas caught the train at Hargrave heading for North Wales in the early morning sunshine. 97 302 is on the rear, with 97 304 leading.

Abergele at 09:15 (Stavros Lainas).

97 302 leads the return train at Llangaffo on Anglesey at 11:15 after leaving Holyhead at 10:48 (Stavros Lainas)

Approaching Penmaenbach tunnel (Garry Stroud)

Andrew Vinten photographed the train at Rowton.

Christleton, east of Chester at 13:15 (Stavros Lainas). The function of this train is to blast the top of the rails with high-pressure water to remove any traces of leaves; the 'water-cannon' equipment was not used in these tests.

Tune in next time to see how a bright-yellow locomotives looks when covered in dirt thrown up from the track...

Blue 67 in North Wales

UK Railtours, with their charter to the Welsh Highland and Ffestiniog railways on 7 October, achieved a 'first' by bringing Arriva blue liveried 67 003 to the Coast line, double-heading with 67 016. Larry Goddard photographed the train passing Abergele on the way to Bangor.

Garry Stroud's picture above shows the train at rainy Llandudno Junction after the sudden change from Indian Summer to wet and windy autumn.

We understand that 67 001 has now received the blue livery, and 67 002 will follow. So what's this re-painting all about? We would assume that the intention is to replace the Class 57s on the Holyhead - Cardiff express, and possibly also work the second, later, train currently operated by a 175. But nobody seems to actually know what is supposed to be happening.

On 8 October, Arriva Trains Wales Stakeholder Managers Michael Vaughan and Ben Davies attended the Annual General Meeting of the Shrewsbury Aberystwyth Rail Passengers' Association. When questioned, they stated that they have had no indication from the Welsh Government as to what the revised National Transport Plan or the future of the 'WAG Expresses' will be. It seems they are as much in the dark as the rest of us ... and yet the new timetable starts in just a few weeks and includes both the expresses. Maybe someone in Germany knows the answers.

The last we heard (23 September) no training of staff regarding the use of Class 67s and/or Driving Van Trailers was going on, and as we understand it 67s have to have modifications to work push-pull trains, as was done with the Wrexham & Shropshire ones now in use by Chiltern.

An rumour circulating among staff is that 'premier service' is ending, and and also that the Welsh Government don't want loco-hauled trains on their sponsored fast Holyhead-Cardiffs, they want 175s instead. It's reported that there's an image problem with a train which the tabloid readers think is run solely for Assembly Members, being 'better than the rest.' Other more cynical people might say it's a way of getting at Ieuan Jones now that Plaid Cymru have lost influence. Apparently someone at ATW has suggested that the loco-hauled rakes could be used on the Llandudno - Manchester service, which is an appealing idea - alternatively, an Manchester - Cardiff train with a restaurant car would surely be welcomed by many. As usual, it's 'wait and see.'

Locomotive round-up - pictures by Darren Durrant

57 311 Parker runs along the sea wall at Ffynnongroyw with the Saturday Pendolino from London, 1 October.

47 826 passes through Colwyn Bay station on 4 October with the empty coaches for use on the following day's Compass Tours excursion. 47 500 was on the the rear.

Newly-repainted 67 003 leads 67 016 through Llanfair PG with a charter train from London, 7 October.

Running-round in progress at Holyhead.

The Rail Head Treatment Train in action at Llanddulas, 7 October.

57 304, hauling 390 038 City of London,  runs into Colwyn Bay 10 minutes late with the morning rain from London on Saturday 8 October as 175 010 calls with a 'up' service.

Caroline comes to Crewe - report by Mark Riley

DRS 37 409 Lord Hinton and Inspection Saloon Caroline pass Beeston Castle in the unseasonal Autumn heat of 30 September. The pair were working from York to Crewe, with a visit to Chester for good measure. They are seen here in a typically rural setting, returning to Crewe after visiting Chester. Harvesting was busily under way in the fields in the foreground.

Station adopters' day at North Llanrwst - report by Larry Davies

On Saturday 17 September the three active station adoption groups on the Conwy Valley met for a day's 'blitz' on the gardens at North Llanrwst which has been adopted by a very keen group of local ladies from the Conwy Valley branch of Soroptimists International.  Above, the 10:22 from Llandudno to Blaenau Ffestiniog, formed of 150 253, passes through the hive of activity.

They were joined by the Dolwyddelan 'Cylch yr Ifanc' Group and the lads from Tal-y-Cafn and also members of the Snowdonia Society along with local people and Councillors.  An excellent day was had and the station really looks a treat with over 400 bulbs being planted in readiness for a Spring display.  Reciprocal visits will take place in the New Year to the other stations.

Above,  The work continues as 150 253 heads back to the Coast on the 11:57 from Blaenau.

One week later the Dolwyddelan group were successful in gaining First Prize in the 'Best Station Garden Class' at the National ACoRP Rail Awards Evening held in Sheffield at a Gala dinner where they fought off competition from other contenders on UK lines. They were presented with a cut glass trophy and a cheque for £200 towards their continuing project at the Station which is a real show-piece on the Valley line.

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