Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

19 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.

Forthcoming events

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.

Wednesday 25 January Ffestiniog Railway Society  Dee & Mersey Group. Narrow Gauge Rlys in Central & Eastern Europe.  Geoff Morris

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

Wednesday 29 February Ffestiniog Railway Society Dee & Mersey Group. Operating a 40 mile railway. Phil Brown.

March 2012

Friday 2 March  Clwyd Railway Circle  AGM followed by Photo Competition and Members Night. Members are invited to give a 15 minute presentation of their choice, any format welcomed. Please book your slot no later than 17th February by contacting David Jones.

Thursday 8 March Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Geoff Morris "30 years west of Swansea" 

Friday 9 March  Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society "The Railways of the Peak District" by Dr Les Nixon

Monday 12 March. Wrexham Railway Society Vintage Steam Film Show - Colin White presents a selection of 8mm cine films with his unique commentary about the abilities of the loco crews in the 1860s. 

Tuesday 13 March 8E Railway Association  Geoff Coward presents Back To The 60's

Saturday 17 March Stephenson Locomotive Society   Ken Grainger      Rhapsody in Blue – The Great Northern Railway of Ireland. A whistle-stop tour, in colour, of the Great Northern network, mainly by steam but also including not unattractive diesel railcars and delightful half-cab railbuses, as well as the Hill of Howth open-top electric trams and not forgetting the immortal horse-drawn Fintona tram.                              
Monday 19  March RCTS Chester    Gordon Davies: American Wanderings in 2010/11/ A digital presentation of Gordon’s two visits    to the USA. Featuring commuter trains, extremely long freight and coal trains, preserved steam, a monorail, trams plus his visit to the dentist!

Thursday 29 March   Merseyside Railway History Group   AGM     Members Slides

57 315 hauls 390 018 Virgin Princess through Connah's Quay as 1D83 08:50 London - Holyhead, 17 December (Tim Rogers)

Season's Greetings and thanks to the rail staff of North Wales, and of course all our readers and contributors - Charlie

Class 67 training starts

After a spell of use by DB Schenker on London-area Rail Head Treatment trains working with a driving trailer, during which it got quite dirty, as a picture in Railway Herald shows, 67 003 was dispatched to North Wales to begin training Arriva Trains Wales drivers on the type. It was photographed by M. Lloyd Davies at Holyhead on 15 December.

Peter Lloyd's picture above shows 67 003 pausing at Llandudno Junction on 16 December while on the training duty.

These machines are expected to take over the Holyhead - Crewe - Cardiff express from Class 57/3 as soon as sufficient drivers have been familiarised. There appears to be no intention to work with driving trailer at this stage, and the express which runs via Wrexham is planned to remain Class 175-operated. Picture by Peter Lloyd.

Colwyn Bay Miniature Railway

Thanks to everyone who responded to our appeal for information about the miniature railway which ran along Colwyn Bay promenade, as remembered by Ken Robinson in the last issue.  The owner was, apparently, a Mr Wilkinson, who also drove the train. The old postcard above shows the railway in its heyday, with its steam locomotive Prince Charles, a model of an LMS-style 4-6-0. built by Carland Engineering of Essex, builders a number of similar locomotives. The livery was blue with white lining. The coaches were a five-vehicle articulated set.

The line, of 10¼-inch gauge, ran along the back of the promenade from a station a short walk from the pier, shown as 'platform' in the c.1960 map above, eastwards for about 500 metres to terminate near the pedestrian underpass under the North Wales Coast main line leading to the park. Visible is part of the track layout of Colwyn Bay main line station, with its two island platforms and their connecting lines.

This postcard appears to show the eastern terminus; there were no turnouts, and 'push-pull' working was the order of the day. (Did the train just sit there when not in use?) The railway was built, we believe, around 1948 (named after then then new-born Prince), and operated by the local council for a while until sold to a private operator, believed to be a Mr Wilkinson, in 1952. The mixture of cars in this postcard is redolent of that period, with some pre-war black ones and a couple of 'modern' types.

The locomotive was sold (does it still exist) was replaced in 1971 by a 'Hymek'-style diesel model, and later by a very ugly internal-combustion locomotive named Dylan, which can be seen along with other views of the line, on a flickr website run by 'trainsandstuff.' The great changes of the 1980s, as the new A55 road was driven through the town and the shopping centre was built on the railway goods yards site, also saw the end of the railway, which (we believe) closed in 1987. Special thanks to David Lloyd and George Jones for help with this item.

Colwyn Bay has seen at least three other miniature railways. One apparently ran in Eirias Park around 1970, and another, portable, system, known as the 'Narrower Gauge Railway' - built by a Richard Morris - was installed in the same Park in 1991, and ran for a few years.

The 'Platform 3' attraction which was developed in the 1980s using what had once been Platform 1 of Colwyn Bay main line station, reached by the station entrance or the old subway from the promenade. This featured a short miniature railway as well as some standard-gauge stock, a pub, and a model  railway shop (which later moved to the other side of the line). 'The 'Platform 3' idea started with great hopes, but by the time the Class 37s appeared in North Wales in 1993 it was struggling, although your editor recalls having a beer there a couple of times. Eventually it was removed, replaced by a blank brick wall - today you would never know it existed. It would be interesting to include an article about it, if anyone has any pictures or memories.

Another major level crossing incident

Arriva Trains Wales train 1W21, 09:09 Milford Haven - Manchester, formed of 175 002, ran into a lorry and trailer loaded with hay, which appears to have been stopped, with the barriers lowered on top of it,  on the automatic half-barrier crossing at Llanboidy near Whitland. The BBC video shows the train cab has been pushed backwards; witnesses report that the driver made an emergency brake application - and we image them exited to the vestibule as there is little more that a train driver can do. Some people, including the train manager, are said to have been injured, but not too seriously.

News from Corwen - report by George Jones

As part of the Corwen Christmas Festival event, the Corwen 'running-in board' now erected adjacent to the town's car park was unveiled on 17 December.

With the sign suitably wrapped in the Corwen Welsh Flag, invited guests and the townsfolk gathered to hear Llangollen Railway Chairman, Jim Ritchie, summarise the history of the railway's coming and going in the 100 years between 1864 and 1964. He referred to the prospects for it coming back by the end of 2012, pointing out the site of the 'phase 1' station, before inviting Cllr. Bill Cowie, Chairman of Denbighshire County Council, to unveil the sign. Cllr. Cowie paid tribute to the volunteer effort which made all these things possible before slipping the knot to reveal the name CORWEN to general applause.

The running-in board stands proud on the path leading into the town square and is already the subject of favourable comment as a statement of the Llangollen Railway's intention to complete the project, as defined back in 1975, to rebuild the railway between Llangollen and Corwen. An associated information notice explains the significance of the sign. The efforts of the team at Carrog in recreating the board and the assistance of the Corwen Association in arranging for its installation are gratefully acknowledged.

To allow Phase 1 of the project to be completed the Chairman highlighted the need for a further £40k in donations to the Llangollen Railway Trust; any sum from £1 upwards will be gratefully received to further this aim.

Logs from Devon to Chirk

As mentioned, previously, the first train of timber has run from the revived Heathfield branch in Devon to the Kronospan factory in Chirk. Train 6Z51 with 66 847 in charge left at 14:42 and reached Chirk sometime after midnight. The plan is to run a weekly train of 14 bogie wagons, carrying around 600 tonnes of timber; the train did not run the following week, however, but we understand that it will run regularly.

On the Mawddach Trail

We are pleased to report that the preserved Great Western-style lower quadrant signal opposite the George III Hotel at Penmaenpool, on the Mawddach Train, formerly the Cambrian Railways Dolgellau branch, has been repaired after damage incurred in a storm last winter. Our picture, by Ian Macer-Wright, shows the view from the site of Penmaenpool station.

Pendolino pictures

Someone appears to have applied black gloss paint to the buffers of 57 315, seen on 17 December heading west through Abergele with the Saturday Pendolino from London (Darren Durrant). Blue locos on this train are becoming a more common sight since six of the  'Thunderbirds' class were transferred to Network Rail.

The buffers at the other end are still unmarked, as seen in this view by M. Lloyd Davies of the train at Holyhead waiting to return at London. The Dellner couplers are used on this train, but before long 315 will surely find itself on Arriva's Cardiff express, which does use the loco's buffers.

The short days and low sun at this time of year make for difficult
photography in the afternoons, especially when the line is in a cutting as
seen here approaching Tŷ Mawr overbridge (M.Lloyd Davies)

Eating on the WAG express

Thanks to everyone who responded to our query about the food available on the loco-hauled Cardiff 'Premier Service'.

Most correspondents agree that hot meals, served at a seat, are only available to passengers who either a) hold first class tickets or passes, or b) have opted to upgrade from standard by 'forking out' something between £20 and £50 on booking or on the train. The exact price of an upgrade varies with the journey being made: £20 is all they ask if you're travelling between Bangor and Crewe, for example, or indeed between Holyhead and Crewe. But upgrade for travel between Bangor and Shrewsbury costs £30. The hot meals (unlike on Virgin trains, this does not not include alcoholic drinks which have to be bought) are included in this fare, and complimentary to holders of First Class tickets.

Standard-class passengers can, of course, purchase food from the buffet,  including some hot items including bacon rolls. We have also heard that standard passengers can purchase a breakfast for £7.50 on the morning train.

The question arises whether railcard-holders get a reduction on the upgrade charge. The answer, we are assured, is that Senior and Disabled railcard holders are entitled to a discount, although we hear that some ticket office staff have disputed this.  Many reports indicate that the dining car is under-used, with comments about 'just three passengers on average.'  We'd venture to suggest that people should take a ride and enjoy a meal on what one correspondent describes as 'one of the last civilised trains in Britain.'

Incidentally, the long-awaited 'Prioritised National Transport Plan' has now been published: you can read it along with the full plan from 2010 on the Welsh Government website. Included  is continued support for the Premier service.

Llangollen Festive events - report by George Jones

On Wednesday 14 December the Llangollen Railway ran a special with a DMU set for the children at Ysgol Carrog and Ysgol Glyndyfrdwy to meet Santa at Lapland (a.k.a. Carrog.) This gave the local children the chance to sample the train ride between their two villages and was as big a thrill as meeting the man in the red coat. The class 104 is seen (above) waiting time at Carrog for Santa to appear and is wearing one of the original Santa Special headboards now normally displaced by the cast metal ones. Considering it is made of plywood it has lasted well over the past 15 years or so.

The weekend of 17-18  December was the peak for the Santa Specials at Llangollen with the visiting Black 5 45337 in steam along with 7822 Foxcote Manor bringing the festive family groups out to Lapland. Saturday saw leaden skies (above) as the Black 5 approached Carrog and the passengers disembarked in a wintry landscape.

Santa's sleigh for the photo opportunity had a backdrop of imported snow, whilst some of the real stuff was present on the higher ground.

Sunday saw the weather rapidly changing throughout the day, but it was clear and bright for a while as the Black 5 departed back to Llangollen.

Later, the 'Manor' left in much-reduced conditions which were a challenge even for the digital camera, but in the interim it was clear to see that Santa gets the best opportunities to make friends with the elves.

All part of Christmas on the Llangollen Railway with trains still to run through to Christmas Eve - and from 26 December onwards it's Mince Pie Specials for those who missed out on Santa or want to take a break in the countryside.

On Monday 19 December, climatic conditions - damp and murky! - proved ideal for the smoke and steam from 44806 as it departed Llangollen with the 2.15pm Santa Special. (It has to be said the loco was a bit leaky in places which added to the spectacle.)

Nocturnal ballast - report by Peter Lloyd

A five-wagon ballast train, 6L92, with 66 130 ran to Llandudno Junction on 13 December. The train is pictured in  platform 1 at 21:10, the loco having run-round.  Tt would then wait in the up loop to let passenger trains 1K20 and 1K21 pass it, then  run to the Rockliffe Hall area to drop the ballast.

Club 55 - will return

According to the new Arriva Trains Wales timetable booklets, the Club 55 special offer, for people of 55 years of age and over, is back in 2012, valid for travel between 8 January and 28 March 2012 at a revised price of £19 for a return ticket between any two stations on the ATW network.

'Tugs' at Work - report by Andrew Vinten

I was at Plumley on 12 December to photograph for 6H03 Oakleigh - Tunstead earlier today hauled by 60 007 Spirit of Tom Kendell (above).

Later I ventured over to Warrington to catch some of the other
members of the class at work on the Liverpool Coals. Looking over the bridge into Latchford I saw 60 039 which was waiting to head into Arpley yard (left). 60 065 had run into the the lower run round loop on 6F74 from Liverpool, it was heading to Fiddlers Ferry.

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