05 December 2011
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This site is dedicated to all our regular contributors and supporters,
and especially the rail staff of North Wales.
Tuesday 6 December North
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
Valley Railway Society Members Night/Xmas Social
Thursday 8 December Merseyside Railway
History Group Ted Lloyd The Last Big Adventure –
Friday 9 December Altrincham
Electric Railway Preservation Society Change
of programme due to illness: John
Hilton will be showing his black and white pictures (in digital format)
of steam at work in the Manchester and Stockport areas in the 1950s.
Saturday 10 December Rhyl and
District Model Railway Exhibition,
annual charity exhibition, to raise funds for Ty Gobaith Children's
Hospice. Held at Parish Hall, top of Central Car Park, Prestatyn,
short walk from the station.
Monday 12 December. Wrexham
Society AGM and Rail Review with members' material on show
Tuesday 13 December North
Circle Christmas Buffet, Members Film and Photo
Tuesday 13 December 8E Railway
Association AGM followed by Steam Around Chester by Jon Penn
Monday 19 December RCTS
Members Evening:30 slides or digital images of your choice.
advise Alan Donaldson if you intend to make a presentation and to what
format you will be using.
Friday 6 January Clwyd Railway
Brian Roberts: Reflections of the 1990s, Brian’s presentation
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
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
Society The Many Varied Railways of Australia . Geoff
Morris will show the great variety of rail action Down
Tuesday 10 January 8E Railway
Association Karl Jauncey & Dave Richards from PSOV
present Mainline Steam 2011
Thursday 12 January Llandudno
Valley Railway Society Society Tribute - the late Bill
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
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
: Lost Stations of St. Helens
Friday 3 February Clwyd Railway
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
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
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
Bob Barnard The Lynton & Barnstaple Railway – Then
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,
have run on a section again. Bob Barnard, a local L&B
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
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
390 054, the first of the new batch of four Pendolino
trains, visited North Wales on 3 December with the Saturday working
from London, hauled by 57 311 Parker (Picture by Darren
Durrant). The second, 390 055, was delivered to Edge Hill depot on
16 November, and will, like 054, run initially as a 9-car formation to
match the rest of the fleet although all 11 coaches have been
delivered. Note the simplified livery and lack of Virgin branding.
Final week of the RHTT
As the Rail Head Treatment Train enters its final week for this year,
we present a selection of recent pictures, here and in the left margin.
here's 97 304 leading the train through Chester on 28 November (Rowan
Abergele, 26 November (Larry Goddard).
97 302 and 304 through Colwyn Bay on the 3S71
back to Crewe, 26 November (Jack Bowley)
Holyhead, 28 November (M. Lloyd Davies)
Flashback to 9 December 2004: 37 689 heads the water cannon
train through Abergele at 13:31 with an unidentified EWS 37 on the
rear (Larry Goddard).
Whither the WAG Express?
On 30 November, the Northbound Cardiff - Holyhead loco-hauled express
was most unusually worked by a Virgin-liveried loco, 57 311 Parker,
Mark Youdan at Crewe (above) and Chester
Various rumours are still going around about what will happen to this
train from 12 December's timetable change, fuelled by the appearance of
a Class 175 on the diagram on 29 November's northbound and the
following day's southbound train, which in fact was simply due to a
problem - reportedly wheel-flats - with the normal rolling stock.
However, our information is that the loco-hauled train will continue as
usual, still hauled by Class 57/3 locos.
The intention remains to use the blue-liveried Class 67s, and we
can expect to see a driver-training train to put in appearances from
mid-December in various spurts between Holyhead and Shrewsbury, with
the 67s taking over the public service in March, or possibly
February. It does not appear that Driving Van Trailers are to be
used, at least initially, or that the other express which runs via
Wrexham will be converted to loco haulage.
Incidentally since May 2011 the Welsh Assembly Government now wants to
be called the Welsh Government, so the maybe the train should be called
the 'WG Express' ... but are we bothered? Seemingly not. 'WAG Express'
isn't its official name anyway.
Santa at Llangollen
The Santa Special season is under way at the Llangollen Railway - the
pictures by George Jones from 27 November show 7822
Manor at Llangollen (left) and Berwyn (right). Note
the restrained headboard which will be appreciated by photographers,
who we hope will respond by purchasing some presents or refreshments
from the railway.
For details of running days and times see the Llangollen
Railway website. Santa tells us: 'Each boy and girl will receive a
special gift from me and my elves and of course I must not forget about
the adults who have brought you on this special trip, they will be
given a mince pie and some mulled wine by my special helpers.' Advance
booking is essential: some days are already fully booked.
And: Don't forget BBC Two Wales Tuesday Night 6 December, 7:30 to
8pm - 'Welsh Railways: 'Beating Beeching', a good deal of which was
filmed on Llangollen Railway. For those outside Wales, BBC Wales is on
Sky channel 991 and Freesat channel 971 or the iPlayer.
Saturday 3 December saw Arriva run a 'Ruggex' (Holyhead - Cardiff
special for a Rugby match) top-n-tailed by 57 314 and 57 316,
Meole Brace, with Network Rail's
security fencing much in evidence. (This picture by Stavros Lainas).
Riding the Ruggex - report by Stephen Hughes
By a curious coincidence both my daughters have recently moved to areas
covered by the 'add-on' fares available to people who are able to use
ATW's 'Club 55' offer - having been to London (last
issue) I thought that I should visit my other daughter in
Bridgwater (on the Bristol - Taunton line), but a combination of
factors led me to cancel the arrangements I had made.
However, the decision by Arriva Trains Wales to utilise the 57's on a
special to Cardiff in connection with the Rugby at the Millennium
Stadium was too good to miss and I therefore decided to travel to
Newport On a 'Club 55' ticket and meet my daughter in Bristol for a
It was clear that ATW did very little to advertise the train, there was
nothing on ATW's website, nothing at Bangor station and it was only
from Traveline Cymru that I found the departure time from Holyhead -
which led me to turn up at Bangor for the 08:39 departure, with about
ten others. 57 314 was leading, with 57316 at the rear of five coaches.
It was a very leisurely journey along the coast, with a six minute wait
at Llandudno Junction, the same at Rhyl and severe checks at Abergele
and Holywell Junction.
Not surprisingly, loadings were very light for an unadvertised train. A
number of enthusiasts boarded at Chester, but there were no Rugby fans
to be seen. I looked forward to a pleasant run along the Marches in the
December sunshine. All went well until we came to a sudden stop just
south of Craven Arms, the guard informing us that we were behind a
'slow moving freight train' ... and having missed the opportunity to
loop the freight at Craven Arms, we were informed that this would not
be possible until Hereford! Still. it meant that we trundled past
Stokesay Castle which is always pleasing to view. Passenger numbers
were, I think, increased at Shrewsbury and subsequent stops at Ludlow,
Leominster and Hereford by the cancellation of an earlier service train
(but still no Rugby fans).
We passed the recalcitrant freight train at Hereford after a journey of
many checks, by now about 25 minutes down and I realised that not only
would I miss a Bristol train from Newport that I might have caught if
everything was going for me, but also the next Bristol-bound train half
an hour later. At Abergavenny the first Rugby fans appeared, and
by the time I left the train at Newport we had not lost any more time
and the train was well loaded. I managed a couple of quick photographs
as I ran over to platform 4 for the Bristol bound train, but I needn't
have bothered as that was 20 minutes late.
For my return journey, I decided to forego the loco-hauled train as
that was leaving Cardiff at 18:19 and not arriving in Bangor until
after 23:00. Arriving back in Newport just before 17:00, I thought that
I would catch the 17:09 to Manchester and change at Shrewsbury for the
following Holyhead-bound train, my reasoning being that the latter
would, by being 20 minutes later, be more full. I was wrong - as the
three car 175 was standing room only but I managed to get a seat after
All northbound trains seemed to be running 10 - 15 minutes late, so on
arrival at Shrewsbury I just had time to dash into Pumpkin - which was
getting ready to close - for a coffee ('We don't get paid after
seven-thirty!') When the Holyhead arrived - again 20 minutes down - I
saw that it consisted of a three- and two-car pair of 175s, and a
premonition that the 3-car set might not go any further than Chester
had me heading for the two-car 175 at the southern end of platform 4
where there were a few seats left.
At Chester it appeared that I had been correct, as the passengers on
the 3-car set were walking past on the platform and attempting to
clamber aboard, impossible as it was already full - confusion reigned,
I saw a number of anxious looking passengers wondering up and down -
then I suspect common sense prevailed and they were allowed back on the
three-car 175 - and on we went! There were of course not just Rugby
fans on the train by now but football fans and Saturday shoppers,
certainly far more than a two-car 175 could carry.
As I left the train at Bangor - still about 20 minutes late - the
uncoupling process was being repeated, presumably successful this time.
Some reflections on the day:
The idea of a 'RuggEx' is surely a good idea ( and of
course uses the stock that sits in Holyhead for the weekend) but it
needs to be advertised and attractive to North Wales fans. People I
know who travel to Cardiff for Rugby matches arrange their travel plans
long in advance. Due to the late running from Craven Arms onwards I
think that it picked up passengers who were waiting for the regular
Club 55 bargains
for the over-55 are available until 14 December.
- There is clearly some difficulty in pathing extra trains on the
Marches route because of the extensive service.
- I do wonder what the loading was like on the returning special -
clearly many fans would have planned to catch the service trains as
they wouldn't have known about the special!
- Whilst I understand the need to have stock in the right place for the
following day, if my supposition regarding the events at Chester on the
return journey was correct it surely was not good practice to create
the confusion that occurred.
'Brit' to Chester
70000 Britannia on the Euston - Chester 'Cathedrals
Express' of Saturday 3 December at Hargrave, near Waverton. Thankfully
this fine locomotive is soon to be repainted from its current dismal
unlined black to BR Green livery with nameplates restored (Ian
Arrival at Chester (George Jones).
The wreck of the Swanland
It was 02:03 on 27 November, when a 'mayday' call was sent out
cargo ship Swanland 20 miles north-west of the Llyn
peninsula after the hull cracked. At around 02:20, the ship sank.
The lifeboats from Pwllheli and Porthdinllaen were launched, while The
tanker Bro Gazelle, which was very close to the Swanland
helped provide shelter and light before the helicopters and lifeboats
arrived. Another vessel, the Monsoon, spent the night searching
Two lifeboats from Pwllheli and Porthdinllaen were launched, and two of
the eight crew members were rescued by an air-sea rescue helicopter
team from Valley, which included Flt-Lt William Wales, but tragically
the other six men were lost. Our thoughts must go out to the crew and
their families, after another yet reminder of how powerful the Irish
Sea can be.
This ship was a regular visitor to Raynes Pier at Llanddulas to collect
stone from the quarry there, and was on such a voyage, loaded with
Cowes, Isle of Wight when she was lost. Ian Bowland
photographed the ship off Llanddulas on 21 July 2010.
Registered in the Cook Islands, crewed by Russians, and operated by a
company based in Grimsby, the Swanland had been in the national
news before. In August 2010 she came close to running aground off the
Lizard peninsula, Cornwall, when her engines failed, and she had to be
towed into Falmouth.
Royal track-bashing - report by Frank Thomas
On Thursday 1 December HM the Queen visited Liverpool using the Royal
Train. Having spent most of the night stabled at Hooton the train then
used the Ellesmere Port - Helsby line arriving at Platform 4 at Helsby
soon after 09.00 hours. It then stopped at Helsby for around 20 minutes
before using the Halton Curve to reach Liverpool.
Did any readers record this historic stop?
Northern Belle visits Wrexham
The 'Northern Belle' luxury train ran southbound from Liverpool on a
circular tour via Chester on Friday 2 December. George Jones found it
at Wrexham General (above) awaiting time at 12 noon with DRS loco 47
802 Pride of Cumbria on the front. The train had no free
seating availability, which must mean plenty of 'punters' able to enjoy
Christmas lunch at £210 a head
Northern Belle liveried 47 790 Galloway Princess was on
the rear, as the train pulled away (George Jones). Behind is a
Holyhead-bound train formed of with 175 005.
Above, the train passing a freshly-overhauled footpath crossing at
Rednal, Shropshire (Stavros Lainas).
Passing Cadnant cutting, Conwy on 23 November, 66 622 creates a
haze of exhaust as it powers the 6D44 ballast empties from Guide Bridge
Colwyn Bay station looks neat and tidy on 2 December as 66 559
passes with another load of stone from Penmaenmawr quarry (Darren
Andrew Vinten was at Acton Bridge on 1 December to catch 60
091, recently released from Toton Depot after an overhaul and
repaint in DB Schenker colours, hauling a train from Liverpool to
Ratcliffe Power Station. The picture shows it slowing to take the 'up'
loop at Acton Bridge.
On the same day, 66 615, standing in for the usual class
the Ellesmere Port coal service; the picture was taken at Fiddlers
Ferry (Andrew Vinten).
There are some hints around of possible new sources of freight traffic
in North Wales. The North Wales
Residual Waste Treatment Project website includes a six page
summary report by AECOM on the movement of residual waste by
rail. It is suggested that refuse from North Wales towns could be taken
by rail to an Energy from Waste Plant (EfW) - Incinerator, in other
words - in Deeside Industrial Park. One idea involves the use of the
Dutch system seen in the picture above in which a lorry can carry a
container which is side-loaded direct to a rail wagon. The author of
the report envisages one possible scenario in which a train calls at
sidings along the Coast line to collect containers.
The lack of a west-to-north curve at Shotton means that the train would
have to reverse at Chester and Wrexham; the train would include a
Driving Van Trailer allowing it to reverse without shunting movements.
An interesting idea, but with a number of hurdles to clear, not least
the local opposition to the building of the Deeside plant.
Much closer to realisation is a flow of timber from a loading point on
the Heathfield branch in Devon to Chirk. Indeed, as we write this
on 5 December, a train of empty wagons is on the way to Heathfield
hauled by Colas loco 66 847.
New bridge on the Bethesda branch - report by Tom Bowen
A new bridge has appeared on the former London and North Western
Railway Bangor - Bethesda branch, closed to passengers in 1951 and to
all traffic in 1963. Contractors have recently erected a bridge over
the A4244 at Felin Hên on the Lôn
Ogwen cycleway. This photograph, taken on 21 November, shows
finishing touches taking place. The southern abutment of the former
LNWR bridge is seen on the left.
Corwen events - report by George Jones
Residents of Corwen and the Dee Valley had an opportunity to attend a
public meeting to hear about the progress with the extension of the
Llangollen Railway towards Corwen at an evening meeting on
Thursday, 17 November 2011. Mr Jim Ritchie, chairman,
Llangollen Railway Trust, presented an illustrated talk with details of
the work undertaken so far and the plans to conclude Phase 1 of the
project. The implications for Phase 2 full terminal facility were also
discussed and the need for contractors to be employed to undertake what
will be heavy construction job. The requirements for the terminal
station were appreciated and the necessary support for this final phase
of the project recognised by those present.
Unveiled for public display was a recreation of the former Corwen
station sign which has been constructed by a team of volunteers led by
Mr Martin Christie of Carrog station. The running-in board has been
made to Great Western Railway traditional standards and measures 10ft x
2ft and is a notable item of joinery. It is due to be sited near
the bus interchange in Corwen as a statement that the trains are to be
expected to return to the town when the railway extension phase 1 is
completed by December 2012.
As a follow-up an open day at the Sports Pavilion on Saturday, 19
November allowed for the display of information about the project to be
viewed by interested members of the public between 10.00 am and 4.00
pm. Amongst the items on display was a Phase 1 route map with
illustrations of structures and fittings between Carrog and Corwen. The
pictures show this board viewed from east and west ends of the
8-foot panel. The panel is now on display in the 'One Stop Shop'
council facility in Corwen to allow for an extended period of
Additional to the two public events, a private session accommodated the
visit of the Welsh Assembly Member for South Wales West, Byron Davies,
the Shadow Minister for Transport and Regeneration who was accompanied
by local Assembly Member Mark Isherwood.
Clearing the Jungle - report by Peter Lloyd
Vegetation clearance too place in mid-November at Llandudno Junction
around the wagons that were dumped there some years ago by EWS, down to
the disused freight depot. The only siding down there that is clear is
the old oil depot siding, so we are guessing that they will move the
wagons from the (jungle) disused yard to that siding ... we shall see.
Here's a picture from 5 November by way of comparison.
As some may have guessed, last weekend we were away for a few days and
prepared the page in advance. Here's some view of where we were, in
another part of the DB empire, staying at Koblenz. The Inter-City train
seen above in Koblenz station is headed for Innsbruck, with 101 020.
A regional express from Koblenz via Cologne to Emmerich, with six
double-deck coaches and lots of bike space, worked push-pull by 146
031, a passenger version of the Bombardier 'Traxx' design. Few
German locos exhibit the garish pink look seen on the class 60 in the
Koblenz is at the meeting of the Rhine and Mosel rivers, as seen in
this picture taken from the Ehrenbreitstein castle above the city. We
returned home on 29 November, blissfully unaware of the situation which
led just a few days later to the city centre being evacuated while an
unexploded 'blockbuster' bomb from World War II, found in the river
somewhere between the passing freight barge and the railway in this
view, was defused.
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