Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

23 January 2012

Last issue


RSS feed RSS

Link to this issue

Contributions and comments are encouraged: see the Contributions Page

This site is dedicated to all our regular contributors and supporters, and especially the rail staff of North Wales.

Forthcoming events

January 2012

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.

Driver training runs continue in preparation for the replacement of Class 57/3 locos with Class 67s on the Holyhead - Cardiff 'WAG Express'. 67 003 passes Llandudno Junction on 18 January (Peter Lloyd).


On 19 January the conductor of the 05:10 Cardiff - Holyhead was  attacked and pushed on to the platform by a passenger while the train was stopped at Prestatyn, suffering facial injuries. He was taken to hospital for treatment, and the train stood at the station for an hour before continuing.  The offender left the scene; police are examining CCTV records, and would like to hear from anyone who witnessed the incident especially if they can identify the man. Contact British Transport Police on 0800 40 50 40, or the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555111. In all calls, please quote reference 102 of 19/01/2012.

Club 55 is back (again)

Arriva Trains Wales have brought back their 'Club 55' cheap ticket offer for people over 55 years of age, now available until 28 March. A return ticket between any two stations on the Arriva Trains Wales network can be had for just £19 - £17 for Senior Railcard and Disabled Persons Railcard holders. There are some weekday time restrictions, and also various 'add-ons' for other company's trains including to London by Chiltern's trains (including their loco-hauled ones) and this year to Worcester by London Midland. All is explained on the Arriva Trains Wales Club 55 web pages. You can also travel first class on the Cardiff express on payment of a supplement, and get the complimentary food. If you go anywhere interesting, especially anywhere not yet covered by Club 55 reports here, do let us know!

Blue Virgin

Appearances of the four blue Class 57/3s on the 1D83 Saturday 'Pendolino drag' to Holyhead are more likely since six of the twelve Virgin-liveried ones were transferred to Network Rail. Saturday 21 January saw 57 313 in charge, seen above battling against a headwind approaching Abergele.

Near Llanddulas (Darren Durrant).

Llanfair PG (Richard Fleckney).

The return train emerges from Conwy Tunnel in the rain (Darren Durrant).

West Coast Invitation to Tender

The Department for Transport has issued the Invitation to Tender document to companies wishing to take on the West Coast Main Line services, currently run by Virgin Trains and including the London - North Wales services, from 9 December 2012 until 2027 at the latest. The whole 93-page document is available in PDF format on the DfT website.

Basically the service requirement is similar to the present timetable, although the Wrexham train is not a requirement, nor apparently is an exact number of trains which should continue beyond Chester towards Holyhead - these are left as options which the operator, along with possible use of the lines to be electrified between Manchester, Liverpool and Blackpool. The existing Pendolinos have to be used until at least 2022, and the Voyagers at least until 2016.

An interesting statement is 'Should bidders propose further electrification schemes such as Crewe to Chester, it is expected that they would provide evidence within their bids of how they propose to finance, plan and deliver such schemes within the franchise term.'

The local press is reporting that Shropshire County Council have been talking with bidders about including a once-a-day each way service from Chester via Wrexham and Shrewsbury in their bids; as always, time will tell.

The four short-listed bidders are Abellio InterCity West Coast Limited (NV Nederlandse Spoorwegen); First West Coast Limited (FirstGroup plc); Keolis / SNCF West Coast Limited (Keolis SA and SNCF French National Railways), and  Virgin Trains. Bids are required by 1 May.

Another Sunday, more engineers' trains

Relaying work on Anglesey resumed on Sunday 22 January; Richard Fleckney was at Llanfair PG station to view movements. Above, 66 533 Hanjin/Senator Express with a trainload of replaced track ...

... and the crane, which had done the lifting, attached to rear (Richard Fleckney).

The view from the level crossing (Carwyn Jones). Note the 'Stop' marker on the down line protecting the 'possession' for the relaying.

The track, long-welded rail on concrete sleepers with an old style of fixing, has been cut on-site into 60-foot lengths to fit on the wagons (Carwyn Jones).

66 620 was in charge of a rake of JNA and  IEA ballast wagons to take away the old ballast (Richard Fleckney).

The builder's plate on one of the Network Rail JNA wagons. 555 of these (NLU 29001 - 29555) were built in Arad, Romania in 2003-4 by Astra Vagone, part of the Trinity Rail group. (Information from the excellent LTSV website)  Apparently they are known as 'Falcons' which is odd since engineers' wagons are normally given code names from marine animals. Their low sides reflect the high density of spent ballast ('spoil') which is usually contaminated with clay and mud.

66 620 heads east near Abergele - also available on video  (Darren Durrant)

66 533 approaches Colwyn Bay past the 'hanging gardens' with its train of track panels (Jack Bowley).

Dull weather at Beeches Farm as 66 533 passes (Bob Greenalgh).

Better weather at Hargrave (Andrew Vinten)

The train was coded 7Y06 - a 'class 7' train indicating a restriction to 45 mph, the maximum speed allowed for to the crane on the rear (Andrew Vinten).

Widening the Cob at Porthmadog

Work has begun on widening part of the 'Cob' embankment to provide space for a platform at which Welsh Highland Railway trains can terminate or call without setting back into the one platform at Harbour station as at present.

The Ffestiniog Railway website offers daily updates in video form on the work, which is being carried out by Ruthin-based contractor Jones Brothers.

The Latest Class 70

The latest US-built locomotive to arrive in Britain, General Electric 70 018 for Freightliner, was unloaded from the 58,000 tonne cargo vessel Atlantic Cartier at Seaforth Docks, Liverpool on 20 January, and Andrew Vinten was there to watch from behind the fence.  Above, the loco on its carrying trailer is rolled off the ship.

A better view as the loco is taken off to find a railway (Andrew Vinten). This roll-off method does ensure that the loco does not dropped, as happened to 70 012 last year when being unloaded by crane at Newport.

Replacement buses at Bangor - pictures by Jamie Owen

Bangor on a cold Sunday 22 January. 175 103, above, runs light through the station, which due to the track relaying work on Anglesey (see above)  was acting as a terminus with a bus connection on to Holyhead.

Arriva were supplying the replacement buses, including 2505 (CX54 EPK), a VDL Commander (above), which was working a non-stop Bangor - Holyhead service, other vehicles providing services to intermediate villages.

Also on duty, two Wright Eclipse Urban-bodied a treat for the bus fans. On the right (above) is 2793 (CX04 HRN) which carries a 'heritage' Crosville green livery; the other bus is 2798 (CX55 FAJ). There are seven of these in the Arriva Wales fleet, having been taken over in 2008, along with two routes, from KMP of Llanberis.

Eclipse 2793 pulls away from the station.

Cheshire Cat Railtours

Cheshire Cat Tours have have kindly sent us their their 2012 Tour Programme, which includes some trains of particular interest to readers of our site. All run on Saturdays:
14 April Aberystwyth to Carlisle via Settle.

26 May Holyhead to Carlisle via Settle and Cumbrian Coast.

01 September Crewe to Bournemouth [Air Display] and Poole

15 September Holyhead to Edinburgh

20 October Aberystwyth to Bath and Salisbury

01 December Nantwich to Portsmouth Victorian Fayre

Full details can be found on Operator and and traction details will be announced soon;  DRS, DBS & NR will provide traction and DRS & DBS will be the train companies used.

Newtown Nocturne - report by Stavros Lainas

Two pictures taken on the night of 16 January in bitterly cold weather at Newtown. Above, 97 304 John Tiley arrived at 20:35 with a track machine which apparently came all the way from Reading. Wasn’t there one nearer? This was then shunted in a siding along with 304. A train of ballast hoppers, 6W70,  arrived from Bescot at 21:25 beind 97 302 and stopped in the 'up' platform.

97 302 ran light-engine up the line, 304 was started up and ran out of the siding to join 302. They then trundled as a pair through the station to run onto the ballast train (above) and headed out.

Beaumaris Pier and Balmoral

In the last issue we expressed that hope that the preserved motor vessel Balmoral might be able to call at the new pontoon recently towed into place at Beaumaris. This prompts the following communication from Frank Gradwell of the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society, owners of the Balmoral which runs cruises in support of the historic paddle steamer Waverley:
After more than five seasons without the use of Llandudno pier after its closure following the 2006 season, and many fruitless attempts to draw strands together to create a network of funding agencies to meld Conwy CBC, Six Piers Ltd, the HLF, The Talacre Gas Field Levy Board, there may finally be a glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel – a £345,000 scheme has been drawn up to renovate the pier and more importantly the berthing head – but as yet there is no money and no legal arrangement – but its better then nothing.

At Beaumaris though – the suggestion of Balmoral calling is exactly what should be happening, but we have been rebuffed – twice – So much for strategic tourism planning!  In 2010 a planning consultation was held – for one day – to give people the chance to comment on the reconstruction of the pier. We emailed the Ynys Mon Council that any renovation should take into account ships of the nature of Balmoral – but were firmly told by the planners that the budget was fixed and could not be augmented, and the pier would be for the present launches only – that the sea bed off the pier is an Site of Scientific Interest and could not be disturbed – etc – basically – 'Go Away and stop bothering us – we have designed our scheme – take it or leave it.'

Last summer on the occasion of Balmoral’s one and only call at Menai we went to Beaumaris and, lo and behold, there was a fully illustrated scheme plan showing the new pontoon with around five metres of water beneath it at low tide. I accordingly wrote and asked – had there been a reconsideration – Balmoral has a draught of only two metres – Can we talk.

I got a brusque email by return basically saying – we recall your consultation. The new pontoon can only take vessels of up to thirty tons displacement – you displace six hundred – nothing for you here!
Not an encouraging situation at Beaumaris, it seems, but at least there seems to be some possibility at Llandudno.

North Wales Coast home page Archive Previous Noticeboard