Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

24 October 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

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.

Tuesday 8 November 8E Railway Association  Bill Andrews presents Life As An Engine Driver

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

Tuesday 13 December 8E Railway Association  AGM followed by Steam Around Chester by Jon Penn
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.

January 2012
Friday 6 January  Clwyd Railway Circle  Brian Roberts: Reflections of the 1990s,  Brian’s presentation will visit many different locations across the national network, with some emphasis on the Merseyside area, in an attempt to portray a decade of considerable change.  Passenger operating companies will be reviewed, largely via their ever changing liveries, and there will be glimpses of some of our preserved lines. The freight scene will be recalled, too, not least by showing images taken on freight only lines, at industrial plants and at several collieries prior to closure.

Monday 9 January. Wrexham Railway Society The Many Varied Railways of Australia . Geoff Morris will show the great variety of rail action Down Under.
Tuesday 10 January 8E Railway Association  Karl Jauncey & Dave Richards from PSOV present Mainline Steam 2011

Thursday 12 January Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Society Tribute - the late Bill Rear       

Friday 13 January  Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society "Steam Across Java in 1980" by John Sloane
Monday 16  January  RCTS Chester  Barry Shore: Terminus Part 3
Barry continues his Terminus series, this time off the Network, The Preservation Scene and offshore including the Isle of Man and Ireland.

Saturday 21 January    Stephenson Locomotive Society    Area A G M followed by:  Professor Colin Divall   - Down the American Road? Industrial Research on the LMS, 1923-1947 The Big Four are often criticised for an over-reliance on traditional forms of engineering. However by the late 1930s the LMS had developed a sizeable Research Department dealing with a wide range of technical problems. This talk examines the Department's origins and activities, and asks how successful it was.

57 308 Tin Tin (nothing at all to do with the new feature film currently in the news) passes Bagillt with the Saturday Pendolino working from London, 22 October. (see also a YouTube video version of the scene) Picture by Darren Durrant.
Live music at Oswestry station
You are invited by Cambrian Heritage Railways to hear railway songs from Mark Dowding and Chris Harvey at Oswestry station on Saturday 29 October. Admission is £5, on the door or in advance from the Gates Gift Shop, Church Street, Oswestry. Doors open at 19:00, performance starts at 19:30. Hot food is available, and a bar is open until 22:00.

Borderlands Rail Head Treatment Train - report by Mark Riley

Due to continuing intensive engineering work on the Wirral, the North Wales RHTT was retimed on certain days recently, with 3S71 visiting Wrexham and the Borderlands in dayight hours! On the first day of its temporary new diagram, the train is seen just north of Wrexham General, topped and tailed by 97 303 leading and 97 304 at the rear heading for Bidston. It was following the 10:32 Wrexham Central-Bidston passenger service.

97 304 leads the train through Croesnewydd with the return Bidston-Crewe via Shrewsbury. To the right in the loop is one of the engineers trains (6L03 Bidston - Basford Hall) which had arrived earlier from the possession site. Freighliner 66 546 is at the head of a rake of 'Salmon' wagons with empty track panels and JNA wagons with spent ballast. Fortunately the photo was taken between squally showers.

Seen backlit by the sun, the train heads south for Shrewsbury. To the left is the tail end of the engineers train from the previous photo, with DB Schenker 66 080 at the rear. Seconds after this picture was taken, it lashed it down with rain!

On 19 October, train 3S71 reverted back to its original timings, but on 20 October it confusingly changed back to its temporary revised diagram as per 18 October - and ran early! I was lucky enough to have time to photograph it passing Gwersyllt at 11:44 on the bright morning of 20 October 20 working again from Bidston-Crewe via Shrewsbury. This time it was a much cleaner 97 302 taking the lead and 97 303 again at the rear.

Some back-lighting as the train sprays away up the bank towards Wrexham. Despite the RHTT working up and down the Borderlands line, there have still been reports of poor railhead adhesion. Maybe this is because of the sheer number of engineers trains that have worked along the line in the past two weeks!! Many thanks to all the gen posters on the North Wales Trains Yahoo Newsgroup and the Wrexham Gen Yahoo Newsgroup which made taking photos of these trains possible.

Picture Miscellany

Larry Goddard writes: 'High winds made the usual morning walk a bit challenging last Tuesday, anyway I couldn't resist this wrong-side-of-the-sun shot of an Arriva Trains Class 175 crossing the River Dulas with a midday Llandudno-Manchester train on 18th October 2011.'

The Sunday afternoon stone train from Tunstead to Oakleigh in an autumnal scene at Northenden Junction on 23 October, starring 60 019 (Les Burton). The train is coming off the single freight-only line from Hazel Grove High-level Junction, joining the passenger line from Stockport to Altrincham. The sidings on the right serve the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority, whence trains of processed rubbish depart for Roxby landfill site in Humberside.

On 15th October, with red berries in abundance (sign of a hard winter?)  57 309 Brains and 390 028 City of Preston pass Conwy Castle with the 08:50 London Euston to Holyhead service (Garry Stroud). Talking of 57s: 57 312, one of the locos transferred to Network Rail, has already been repainted in yellow at Eastleigh works. Here's a link to a picture.

20 901 and 20 905 leaving Warrington Bank Quay, with two TTA fuel tanks, working as  train 6Z33 to Doncaster on 2 October (Andrew Vinten). The headboard is a replica of Healey Mills depot's 'Woollen Mill' cab-side plaque from BR Railfreight days, giving us a clue to the home depot of the train crew. Take a look at the Depot Plaques website.

Unique liveried 66 522 worked the 6H45 ballast train to Guide Bridge from Penmaenmawr quarry on 17 October. Seen during loading before the rains came down, the 66 makes for an interesting subject in its unique livery during loading at Pen Quarry (Garry Stroud).

Wrexham, 19 October. Plasser & Theurer USP5000RT Ballast Regulator DR77908 is stabled in one of the bay platforms (which used to be known as the Wrexham & Shropshire 'depot') ...

... while 66 155 is in charge of steel train 6M86 to Shotton (Martin Evans).

October 1914 timetable

An interesting recent email reads:
I'm currently in the process of doing research on a novel which is set during the First World War. The main character hails from Llandanwg in Gwynedd. In October 1914 he travels with his family to Wrexham, what I need to establish is what route would they have taken if travelling by rail, if that was possible during the period outlined. Hope you can assist or point me in the right direction.
We have told him that Llandanwg halt wasn't open then, and that the probably route would be Harlech - Dolgellau - Wrexham, but would there have been a through train or through coach? If not, wheer would he have changed trains?

An update from Llangollen - by George Jones

Saturday 1 October at Carrog and things were a bit different. Black 5 44806 was dressed up for a 'Wedding Belle', and was stabled in the sidings whilst...

ex-ICI 0-6-0 shunter Davy was acting as station pilot to allow loco release.

The road bridge was under scaffolding for repairs, hence the loop was out of action.

The 'Corwen extensionists' were busy making a kissing gate for the foot crossing beyond Carrog. Throughout the summer work has concentrated on fencing the trackbed between Corwen and Bonwm. Now that autumn is here resumption of vegetation clearance becomes permissible and work can be concentrated on the infrastructure of the route with ten culverts, four underpasses, one occupational over bridge and four farm crossings to receive attention. Track already laid west of Carrog has been lifted to recover bull head rail and replace with flat bottom.
The appeal for donations to help with the matched funding for the project remains open and further assistance will be welcome from those who wish to see the train arrive in the phase 1 temporary platform at Corwen in late 2012.

On Sunday 16 October the service train was hauled by the visiting Black 5 45337 with directors of the owning company on hand to sample their loco. To mark the loco's long association with Lancashire, and the former L&YR system, when it was variously shedded at Liverpool Bank Hall, Newton Heath and Agecroft, I arranged for the headboard 'The Red Rose' to be carried on the 13:00 and 15:00 departures.

Above, 45337 running round at Llangollen. It was nice to see the Red Rose county suitably honoured in Wales, a gesture which was appreciated by the owners and intrigued the passengers. In reality a Black 5 was rarely seen on the actual Red Rose (a Euston - Liverpool Lime Street express) and the 5.25pm return from Lime St, the more usual motive power, as I remember it, was a 'Duchess' (what we then called a semi) or a 'Princess Royal'. For me in the 1950s it was the most important train of the day, although others might regard the Merseyside Express as such.

Birkenhead Tramway news

A section of pictures taken of the Birkenhead Tramway by Tom Bowen during the Wirral Bus and Tram Weekend on 2 August. Above, Wallasey Corporation no. 20, built in 1920.

No. 730 once ran in Lisbon, Portugal. All the trams shown here are from the fleet of the Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society.

20 was built in Birkenhead by Milnes in 1900 and worked for Birkenhead Corporation for 37 years. Since 1937 it had rested on the banks of the Dee, south of Chester, as a potting shed. Identified and restored by MTPS members, it re-entered service in 1999.

The trams will be operating during the Merseyide Model Railway Society's exhibition on 29 and 30 October (always well worth a visit) which is held at the Pacific Arts Centre, served by the tramway from near the Mersey Ferries' Woodside landing stage.  We hear that this might be the last weekend of operation until next March, except a day of Santa Specials in December, due to staffing cutbacks by Wirral Council who own the tramway.

Ffestiniog Vintage Weekend 15-16 October

The Ffestiniog Railway held its 'Vintage Weekend' on 15 - 16 October. Above, a vintage train arrived at Porthmadog on 15 October (Darren Durrant).

16 October, and a Welsh Highland Railway train heads out of Porthmadog across the Britannia Bridge (Darren Durrant).

Linda runs round at Porthmadog (picture - with permission - by Darren Durrant)

Stephen Hughes writes: 'It was towards the end of Sunday afternoon and Blanche and Earl of Merioneth were returning on the 15:10 from Blaenau Ffestiniog. The train was held most unusually for five minutes outside Tan y Bwlch station, and as we entered the station two other Fairlies (Merddin Emrys and David Lloyd George which I think had hauled the 'gravity' train to Tan y Grisiau) were on the same road, there was some surprise when they coupled up to the front of the train - and we set off.....Superpower indeed! Above, the from the train window at Cei Mawr.

The two Fairlies were uncoupled at Pen Cob  (above), and the train then continued to the Harbour Station.

Club 55 to Pembroke Dock - report by Stuart Samuel

Our jaunt started with the 08:56 ('WAG2') from Rhyl to Cardiff.  The 2-Car 175 was well-filled, and we sped along the coast, reversing at Chester to gain the Shrewsbury line. By Wrexham it had started to rain; this, plus the overhanging trees meant we occasionally slipped on greasy rails, and the driver approached the station stops at Ruabon and Chirk with noticeable caution.  Probably the Rail Head Treatment Train was due a visit!  However, conditions improved after Gobowen and we sped along, only a few minutes late, into the land of lower-quadrant semaphore signals. The weather conditions - bright sunshine alternating with heavy rain showers, gave a delightful light as we journeyed through the autumnal Marches, running non-stop from Shrewsbury to Newport, to arrive in Cardiff spot on time at 12:08.
After a quick sandwich, we were on the 12:39 to Carmarthen  - a 3 Car 175 - again well filled as far as Swansea - and revelled again in Alstom comfort as we knew that west of Carmarthen it would be something more spartan. Sure enough, after changing platforms via the barrow crossing (a rare thing these days), we found our ongoing steed was a 'rammed' Class153 - 'skateboard' or 'dogbox' as they are less-complimentarily called, and realised why, as many passengers and much luggage competed for little space and the engines were severely challenged over the gradients to Tenby. Here, about 75% of passengers disembarked, and I could remove my legs from my pockets and stretch out again, as we trundled on the final stretch into Pembroke Dock. And what a miserable welcome from the boarded-up and decaying station. The town's people, who were quite friendly - one woman even offering us a lift in the driving rain to our hotel - deserve something better than this!
The following morning we enjoyed the journey through the West Wales countryside on a comparatively more comfortable Class 150 forming the 11:08 to Whitland, and then spent half an hour admiring another boarded-up station and hideously ugly signalbox until we were rescued by the 12:44 to Fishguard.

We were breaking our return journey to visit this town as we are unlikely to be back in the area  soon, and realised again what a bargain our £16 Club 55 tickets were when the conductor asked for £8:20p each for the short trip.  We fair bowled along, stopping to collect the single-line token at Clarbeston Rd, and rolled down into Fishguard Harbour, arriving 10 minutes early at 13:15 (some timetable-padding here?). Here we were the only ones not bound for Ireland, and boarded the Richards bus to the Town Square instead.
Fishguard is an interesting place - really three communities in one -  the docks, the town and the old town, but I suspect most miss its delights, crossing just from train to ferry. But we enjoyed our night there, especially the folk evening and excellent meal at the Royal Oak. But is it the only place to have a "Docks" station but not a "Town" one?  Despite the W.A.G.'s attempt to encourage greater use of the railway by recently introducing more services, the walk to the docks or the infrequent bus service must deter some potential passengers.
It was on one of these new services - the 09:56 - that we reluctantly left the following morning. My heart sank when I saw it was another 153, but need not have despaired as were were two of only 7 passengers, and as we were visitors it can hardly be said the local populace is embracing the new service with open arms. However, we left spot on time, and I was interested to hear our multi-tasking conductor dispatch the train not with 2 buzzes but 6, as we drew forward to the plunger at the end of the platform, where he then got off again to work the level-crossing barrier!  At least there are barriers here - I noticed the previous day near Pembroke two gate-less crossings, obliging the driver to come to a complete standstill, sound the horn and then proceed gingerly across. I wouldn't have been surprised to see a man with a red flag appear!
We were soon back into Carmarthen, then over the barrow-crossing again to the 11:04 to Cardiff and the return of Class 175 comfort. I think these are the best of any units currently in operation - the seats are comfortable, the leg-room is excellent, and you even get a good window view, something which would have been taken for granted with 1st generation DMUs, but which is now a bonus compared with some stock. It did seem strange, though, hearing the p.a. announcing such far-away "foreign" stations as Wilmslow and Stockport in deepest West Wales!
We were then treated to a little farce in Cardiff Central. We arrived in platform 2, and our connecting service was booked to depart from there at 13:21, and when it came up on the screens we waited at the Newport end of that platform. Then they changed and the 13:12 to Cheltenham appeared instead, and a voice shouted "platform 1 for Holyhead". 

So, round to said platform to find a unit parked right up at the Swansea end. Was that it? All the  screens were showing "Holyhead" and as this platform doesn't seem to be split into "1a" and "1b" we joined the trek with about 20 others to the far end, but noticed the leading pioneers were not being allowed on, so we hedged our bets and stopped in mid-platform.  Then a First Great Western 3-Car Class 158 attempted to enter the same platform, and I jokingly commented "it's going to nudge it down for us!" At which moment, a driver appeared and brought our train down, but this time right to the Newport end of the platform, leaving us all to trek back again! Good exercise, but I doubt the infirm or those with heavy luggage felt so positively about it.  Still, we were away on time but after three hours or so on a rather full un-refurbished silver 158, I was realising how much better the refurbished ones are. But a 175 would have been even better.
Still, it was an interesting three days. Excellent value at £16 each (Senior Railcard fare) to Pembroke, the trains were on time throughout, the on-board staff were very friendly,  and, most importantly of all, Judith was delighted they stock Earl Grey tea on the trolleys, so she was happy too!

Rail Head Treatment Assortment

It's not only the rails that get wet, with a gale force westerly blowing off the Irish Sea, the photographer gets sprayed as well! 97 303 on the rear and 97 304 on front pass Penmaenmawr with the jets full on heading back to Crewe with the RHTT on Monday 17 October (Garry Stroud).

Buckley, 20 October (Stavros Lainas)

22 October, and the RHTT passing Hadnall at 08:57 en route to Bidston (Stavros Lainas)

Leaton,  just north of Shrewsbury on 22 October at 09:47 (Stavros Lainas)

At Ruabon on 22 October running later than booked en route back to Crewe. Picture by Stavros Lainas who notes: 'I'm not sure what happened but it was diverted via Cosford, and then onto Stafford ... It didn’t run back via Whitchurch, much to my disappointment.'

On the Compass Tours excursion - with Ken Robinson

On 5 October myself and Rhian, my wife, went on Compass Railtours 'Western Cathedrals Express' from Llandudno Junction  - a long day, as the timings were much earlier (out) and later (back) than originally advertised, but it gave us more time at Bath, however, a great tour. Photos were difficult because of the light; the one above was taken at Chester in fairly decent light when I 'escaped' from the train during its stop.

We were given an unexpected leg stretch/photo stop of around 10 mins at Shrewsbury - hence the second photo. 47 500 (ex-Cotswold Rail) in West Coast Railway Company livery was at the back outward, and front on the return.

News from the Cambrian Coast - by Ian Macer-Wright

I had a walk round by Dysynni Bridge near Tywyn on 15 October, and it looks like someone is going to be busy ... Sleepers, ballast and new rail all there waiting to be used, probably in half term week when Barmouth Bridge will be closed. There has been a compound near Morfa Mawddach for a while and recently diggers and people have been going out to the bridge at low tide.

I wonder if they will put a fence up between railway and beach at Tywyn? 

Far-flung 87s - pictures by Mark Barber

Mark travelled to Bulgaria recently to see and ride behind some of the ex-British Rail Class 87 electric locos now in use there. Above, 87 026 at Razdelna on 6 October. The 87s normally work such freight trains for an open-access company, BZhK.

The reason for the journey: 87 006 (Former City of Glasgow) at Septemvri (Bulgaria) whilst working PTG railtour from Varna to Sofia on 7 October. Quite a change from pushing London - Holyhead trains into Chester ....

87 014 at Sofia Poduyane Works on 8th October. The locos have all retained their original numbers, with the addition of a computer check digit. More pictures on Mark's picture site.

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