Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

14 November 2011

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Forthcoming events

November 2011

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.

Tuesday 15 November  North Wales Railway Circle David Jones and Brian Bollington have put together an interesting show on the Penrhyn Quarry Railway. This will be of great interest to local people, many of whom will remember these workings.

Monday 21 November  RCTS Chester  David Rapson - slides by Edgar Richards: North Eastern Part 1. Change of venue for this occasion only, to the Queen Hotel (adjacent to the usual venue, opposite Chester station.)

Thursday 24 November  Merseyside Railway History Group  Iain Henshaw     West Highland Rail Part 2

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   

Tuesday 6 December   North Wales Railway Circle  Mr Ted Jones of the Conwy Valley Railway Society and the Prestatyn Railway Society is to give a show in 2 parts: 1.  Cambrian Coast Express 2.  Swiss Railways

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

Thursday 8 December   Merseyside Railway History Group    Ted Lloyd  The Last Big Adventure – Social evening

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

Saturday 10 December Rhyl and District Model Railway Exhibition, annual charity exhibition, to raise funds for Ty Gobaith Childrens Hospice.  Held at Parish Hall, top of Central Car Park, Prestatyn, a short walk from the station.

Monday 12 December. Wrexham Railway Society AGM and Rail Review with members' material on show

Tuesday 13 December   North Wales Railway Circle  Christmas Buffet, Members Film and Photo Night

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.

Thursday 26 January     Merseyside Railway History Group            Allan Moore :  Lost Stations of St. Helens

February 2012

Friday 3 February  Clwyd Railway Circle  Geoff Morris: Australian Railways Today. A digital presentation of Geoff's visits to Australia in 2009 and 2010 featuring main line and preserved steam in South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland and also a look at the some of the modern scene.

Thursday 9 February  Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Ron Watson Jones"Irish Mail Crash Penmaenmawr - Aug 50"/"A Ron Miscellany"   

Friday 10 February  Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society "Great Western Railway Lines in South and Mid-Wales" by Tony Icke

Monday 13 February. Wrexham Railway Society Sixties Steam on Steam - Barry Shore will give a digital presentation based on his b&w negatives from the 60s with shed visits around the UK and the final days of steam at Lostock Hall.

Tuesday 14 February 8E Railway Association  Colin White from B&R Video presents Archive Cine Film from 50's & 60's

Saturday 18 February    Stephenson Locomotive Society   Bob Barnard  The Lynton & Barnstaple Railway – Then & Now. From 1898 this well-equipped 2 foot gauge line climbed into the foothills of Exmoor, initially independent but later under the Southern Railway, until its sudden closure in 1935.  Since 2004, trains have run on a section again.  Bob Barnard, a local L&B enthusiast and North West group organiser, will tell the line's story in pictures old and new.
Monday 20  February RCTS Chester  Stephen Gay: Walking the line, discovering lost railways. Stephen travels from Sheffield with a slide 
show on walking old railways with his faithful  German Shepherd dog Wrawby. The show includes the S&D, Scarborough to Whitby, rambling in Scotland to glorious Devon plus a very varied local selection

Thursday 23 February   Merseyside Railway History Group     Graham Briggs:   Steaming Through Britain

Yes, those Rail Head Treatment Train locos do get dirty if you have one each end! 97 304 at Valley, 13 November (Stavros Lainas)

Railway Devolution

14 November sees the implementation of (yet) another reorganisation at Network Rail, the 'not-for-profit' company which owns the railway network, makes strategic plans,organises its maintenance and employs signalling staff. (See press release).

The operation has been devolved to ten 'strategic routes', each with a Route Managing Director in charge. The whole of Wales now becomes a 'route' with Mark Langman, (pictured) in charge, and a headquarters in Cardiff. Mr Langman was previously route director for the Western Route (which included Wales) so he knows his patch. Interestingly, he visited the Welsh Highland and Ffestiniog lines on 31 October.

The new structure neatly matches the Arriva Trains Wales dominion (except the remote branch lines to the outlying villages of Manchester and Birmingham) and should make it easier to make decisions relating to Welsh Government policy and subsidies. Already we hear of promises to improve the Cardiff Valley services, and consider electrification, but how North Wales railways will fit in with 'rule' from Cardiff may be a cause of some scepticism.

Arriva Drag

The sunny autumn day of Saturday 12 November, and 57 314 hurries through Abergele and Pensarn station hauling the 08:50 (SO) Pendolino working from London (Larry Goddard).

As the train heads west from Abergele, the eastbound Rail Head Treatment Train appeared on the 'up' line making its way back from Holyhead (Darren Durrant).

The coastal scene at Llanfairfechan (Stavros Lainas)

At Holyhead, 57 314 stayed behind to take over the following week's Arriva expresses to Cardiff, and 57 316 took the Pendolino (390 019) back to Crewe as the 14:36 Holyhead - London, captured by Stavros Lainas passing Valley soon after departure.

The sun was setting over the hills as the train passed Rhyl Marine Lake (Stéphanie Durrant).

Fire drama at Manchester Piccadilly

On 10 November, just after 175 110 had run from Mayfield loop into Platform 14 at Manchester Piccadilly to become the 17:50 to Llandudno, and as passengers were beginning to board, a fire was discovered under one of the coaches. The fire brigade were called, the overhead power lines isolated, and platforms 13/14 evacuated. The train driver, according to the Fire Brigade report, had inhaled smoke and was given oxygen, but 'declined to go to hospital' - no other injuries are reported.

The fire was extinguished, and train eventually moved out of the way - it was still there at 21:00 - but not before the rush-hour blockage of this extremely busy line had delayed many other trains, and some passengers from those trains had made things worse by forcing their way out on to the track. Arriva are likely to face large compensation payments to Network Rail on behalf of other companies using the station.

Although early reports suggested that the cause was a leak of hydraulic fluid, similar to the fire in 175 008 at Preston in 2004 that put it out of traffic for months, this is not so; following that incident the 
hydraulic pipework around the gearbox was modified on all units so that if it became pierced there would be no oil spray.

Investigation of the fire in 175 110 found that a component failure had caused a small fire confined to the area between the belly pan and the engine block. Early suggestions are that the train will be back in use in a few weeks.

Coincidentally, 008 and 110 were the only two trains to carry the so-called 'ghost' livery tried in the early days of Arriva Trains Wales.

Cambrian Coast Scenes

Yes, there's a train in this picture (above): an unidentified Class 158 on the Sundays-only 13:48 from Pwllheli of 13 November crossing the Traeth Mawr - lovely, sunny (but windy) conditions, and warm too for the time of year. The mountains behind are Moelwyn Mawr and Moelwyn Bach (Ken Robinson).

Earl of Merioneth leaving Porthmadog Harbour Station to form the 14:15 to Beddgelert on 13 November. 'Single Fairlie' Taliesin was on the back (well, front really) although the visiting Mallet was rostered for the job. On the left one can see evidence of the preparatory work for the Cob widening scheme, which started on 20 October (Ken Robinson).

Kate Jones sends this picture of some of the timbers removed from Barmouth Bridge during the recent repair work. Not a moment too soon,
by the looks of some of them.

RHTT oddity

A freak variation on the Rail Head Treatment Train occurred on 8 November when the train appeared on the North Wales Coast with just one loco, 97 304 John Tiley instead of the usual two. Darren Durrant took these pictures at Colwyn Bay.

News from the auction block

The nameplates from the six Class 57/3 locomotives recently transferred from Virgin Trains to Network Rail and to be auctioned (for charity) at a Sheffield Railwayana Auctions event in Derby on 10 December. All six nameplates and 'Thunderbird' badges from Kyrano (57 310), The Hood (57 312), John Tracy (57 305), Scott Tracy (57 301), Jeff Tracy (57306) and Alan Tracy (57303) will be offered.

Also in this auction will be what must surely be one of the most-wanted steam loco plates, from LNER 'footballer' class B17 4-6-0 2862 (later 61662) Manchester United complete with its accompanying brass ball. Interestingly, there are some people working on a project to build a full-scale working replica of the locomotive itself. (The 61662 project website.) We imagine that whoever is selling the nameplate might be in a position to make a financial donation!

Back with North Wales, thanks to Ian Bowland who reports that a (slightly damaged) nameplate from one-time North Wales regular 37 414 Cathays C & W Works was sold by DB Schenker at a Railwayananet Auction in June 2011, fetching a respectable £2400, given that this is not the most romantic of the Class 37/4 names.

Extra Tender Greetings

Tom Bowen writes 'I couldn't resist this Christmas card, so it looks as if I will be sending "extra tender" greetings this Christmas featuring an LNER D49 with "extra" GWR tender.'

"Santa Express" is obtainable by on-line ordering (£3.50 for 10) from St. Luke's (Cheshire) Hospice. A worthwhile charity, we feel.

Llangollen Railway - Corwen Extension Public meeting

Residents of Corwen and the Dee Valley are being invited to a public meeting to hear about the progress with the extension of the Llangollen Railway towards Corwen. An evening meeting on Thursday, 17 November will be addressed by Mr Jim Ritchie, chairman, Llangollen Railway Trust, who will give details of the work undertaken so far and the plans to conclude Phase 1 of the project. The implications for Phase 2 will also be discussed.

The public meeting  will be held in the Corwen Sports Pavilion starting at 7.30 pm. As a follow-up an open day at the Sports Pavilion on Saturday, 19 November will allow for the display of information about the project to be viewed between 10.00 am and 4.00 pm. Plans, photographs and illustrations relating to the extension project will be on display during the course of the two public events scheduled for 17 & 19 November.

The picture, taken - with permission - by George Jones, shows the current 'head of rail' west of Carrog.  Track panels have been laid but a lot of work still to be done on the alignment and ballasting to complete the job.  Permission is now agreed to continue laying track towards Bonwm in time for 'Steel, Steam & Stars 3' gala next April.

More on the Chester station bus fiasco

As reported here last time, the free bus service between Chester station and the city centre will be replaced from 21 November by a commercial service operated by Aintree Coach Line of Bootle, at a fare of £1 (65p for accompanied children.) This form already operated 'Park and Ride' services into Chester.

This situation become more ridiculous when we read of the financial effect on this change on Chester West and Chester Council. According to their press release:

The City Rail Link free bus service has been operated for 15 years by a partnership involving Cheshire West and Chester Council, Arriva Trains Wales, Merseyrail, Northern Rail and Virgin Trains. From 21 November the City Rail Link bus contract comes to an end and will be replaced by a commercial service operated by Aintree Coachline charging £1 each way for adults.

Cheshire West and Chester Council will now pay considerably more than the original partnership contribution – up from £38,000 to an estimated £100,000 a year – because it will fund [free travel by] older people and people with disabilities who live in the Borough and are entitled to concessionary fares.
It's understandable that the railway companies will want to pay a share of this funding. The existing service carries an estimated 450,000 passenger journeys a year; from which it would appear that 100,000 of them must be disabled people and/or English over-60s.

The free service apparently cannot continue in competition with the commercial one, as this is forbidden by the terms of section 63 of the Transport Act 1985 which gives a council 'power to enter into an  agreement providing for service subsidies; but their power to so do [...] shall be exercisable only where the service in question would not be provided without subsidy'.

Over 60s living in England will be able to travel free under the national scheme, but pensioners who live in Wales will have to pay, as they would on any English bus (and vice versa) although we understand that there may be some exceptions to this in the border areas. We also hear a rumour that the new operator does not intend to accept 'PlusBus' add-ons to rail tickets to Chester, which, if true, is very annoying and will surely cause some confrontations with passengers.

Engineering honour for Talyllyn - report by Ian Drummond

The Talyllyn Railway, the world’s first volunteer-run heritage railway was presented on 30 October with a prestigious Engineering Heritage Award by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.The historic railway joined the world’s first railway locomotive, the Vulcan Bomber and Bletchley Park’s 'Bombe' code-breaking machine on the list of Heritage Award winners, which celebrates Britain’s greatest engineering feats.

Professor Isobel Pollock, President Elect of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, unveiled a plaque to mark the award, which recognises artefacts, locations, collections and landmarks of significant mechanical engineering importance.

The line will host 'Santa Specials' on 17, 18, 23 and 24 December.

More on the Llangollen Poppy Specials

At Carrog on Sunday 6 November, Army Cadets with The Royal British Legion Standard and members of the Llangollen Royal British Legion pose with locomotive 44806 working the 'Poppy Special' in connection with Remembrance Day five days later. (George Jones).

The cadets did a grand job and were all a credit to their unit. As a reward some were allowed to get acquainted with the footplate - an experience new to them (George Jones).

Here's a sequence of pictures from 6 November by Glyn Jones. Above: 44806 leaves Llangollen. The picture was taken from the shed yard with the 11:00 for Carrog.

Approaching Glyndyfrdwy. We hear that one passenger complained that the headboard stopped him seeing the number...

44806 Runs around at Carrog.

Ready to depart Carrog for Llangollen.

Arrival at Berwyn.

Back at Llangollen.

Glyn writes: 'Permission was granted to tour the shed and yard, and I was also allowed to take a picture (above) of the scrupulously clean Llangollen Box interior.'

Inside the shed at Llangollen.

Llangollen Yard with the repainted Cowans Sheldon breakdown crane. The event seemed to be well supported and was a great credit to the organisers.

Club 55 to Maesteg, 6 October - with George Jones

Our trio headed for another end of the line destination with a £16 senior railcard ticket from ATW’s Club 55 offer.

Meeting up at Shrewsbury we gained the advantage of superior travel on the WAG 1 Express powered by 57 315. Two 66s were on a Rail Head Treatment Train at Hereford ,but the real item of interest was west of Newport where we saw Freightliner’s 70 007 at the container facility. We were in Cardiff (above) for 09:55 and gained the Milford Haven train with 175 002.  We could have joined this earlier at Shrewsbury, but the 'Club 55 ticket' is not valid to arrive in Cardiff before 0930 which this train would have done.

Onward to Bridgend/Pen y Bont and we had time to see the Cheltenham train come off the Maesteg branch with 158 820 (above) whereas our train was 150 217 at 10:46.

The junction for the branch is immediately west of Bridgend and the line is single track up the Llynfi Valley which is noticeably broader than the Valley lines north of Cardiff. However, as usual, the encroaching lineside vegetation restricted  the wider view. At Tondu, once a major junction, there is a signalbox for a token exchange and a loop guarded by GWR bracket signals.

The former junction for the out-of-use tracks to Blaengarw was observed – once suggested as the Bridgend preserved railway

Maesteg is at milepost 8 and the expected single platform with minimal facilities was found. Maesteg once had two stations but the original site of Maesteg Castle is now occupied by Asda and the line is cut back.
'Nothing to see here; said the conductor, but the rail link bus provided some interest (above).

Ahead of the stop block the vegetation closed in but disused sidings may remain in place on the former route to Cymmer.

A 3 minute stopover and it was time to return, noting that some youths took advantage of the earlier stop at Maesteg Ewenny Road to do an out and back trip rather than hang around for the return leg. Two cleared factory sites pointed to closures of major employment opportunities for the area in recent times. Back at Tondu it was noted that on the disused trackbed towards Margam a GWR bracket signal stands tall amongst the forest of trees now blocking the route.

Into Bridgend for 10:38 we had time to hasten over the footbridge and join the train in platform 1A formed by two Class 143 Pacer units, 143 609  and 143 601 named Sir Tom Jones (Above). Departing  at 10:46 this took us via the seaside route through Llantwit Major, noting the runway end and hangars at RAF St Athan, and later the station at Rhoose for Cardiff International airport, although the air terminal is some way distant and was not seen. Passing the power station at Aberthaw 66 171 was seen on a coal train having been observed earlier near Newport.

At Barry we changed onto 150 213 for the short run to Barry Island noting the Vale of Glamorgan Railway’s facility in the re-roofed loco works. Two of the former scrapyard inhabitants were outside – 2861 and 5227 – destined to come to Llangollen for component recovery.

Woodhams infamous scrapyard site is now a desolate empty space seen from the causeway on the final approach to the end of the line where once over 200 steam locomotives awaited their fate.

Barry Island was visited in 2009 when the preservationists were active around the former goods shed beyond the station site, but no rolling stock was evident now (above).

The conductor confirmed the venue remains popular in the summer with trippers, but there were few takers on a blustery day. The Barry Island seafront was admired and lunch taken at TV’s Gavin & Stacey’s favourite chip shop. Pressing onward at 13:40, 150 245 took us past Cadoxton where 66076 was on a train of containers coming out of the docks.

At Grangetown a quick connection on to a train of 142/143 units was made heading to Penarth (above), another extremity of the system on the former Taff Vale Railway now rationalised into a single line terminus.

Penarth is more up-market and afternoon tea was taken before a descent was made to Penarth Pier for a view of the Bristol Channel.
Catching the 15:17 with 150 281 we were delivered to Cardiff Central with ample time to prepare for the return leg and to watch the homeward bound commuters on their assorted train sets. At 16:15, aboard the 'WAG Express' with 57 315 in charge again we headed for Newport finding 66 076 had made it this far with its container train.

A fast run up the border was spoilt by signals at Marshbrook and we were into Shrewsbury 10 minutes late but still ample time to cross to platform 3 for the 158 north to Gobowen. Another good day out when everything went according to plan and we enjoyed better weather in the south than back home.

'Club 55' Bargain tickets are available to all over-55s until 4 December.

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