Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

30 January 2012

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Forthcoming events

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.

Hive of activity at Old Colwyn - see item below. Picture by Stéphanie Durrant.

Work on the line

Rhyl was the terminus for trains from England on 28 - 29 January while work was carried out on the bridge at Old Colwyn, an awkward location in the embankment.

Road-rail vehicles owned by Stobart Rail were in action (Stéphanie Durrant)


On replacement duty, an Arriva bus in heritage Crosville livery, but not the same one as pictured in the last issue. (Stéphanie Durrant). That was 2793, this is 2915 (CX58 EXG) a Wright Pulsar-bodied VDL SB200. Crosville, which operated in this area for many years, was found in 1906 by George Crosland-Taylor and  Georges de Ville. Originally they planned to build cars, but by 1911 they had become a bus operator. To celebrate the centenary in 2011, each depot of Arriva in Wales received a bus painted in Crosville green familiar to many in the 1950s and 60s. The company was sold to the London, Midland and Scottish Railway in 1929, but retained the Crosville name through various changes of ownership including in nationalisation in 1948 and reprivatisation in the 1980s. The Welsh part of the operation became Crosville Cymru for a while, with a livery based on the Welsh flag, until finally subsumed by the Arriva corporate image.

Welsh Railways on BBC iPlayer

Fo those who missed the four half-hour programmes broadcast recently on BBC2 Wales TV, they are available on the BBC iPlayer web site for the next few days. The following links apply

Beating Beeching Part 1

Beating Beeching Part 2

Full Steam Ahead Part 1

Full Steam Ahead Part 2

Also on iPlayer is the 29 January episode of 'Countryfile', which includes some views of the Llangollen Railway in an item about sheep drovers.

A visit to Frodsham - report by Bob Greenalgh

Having heard the Fiddler's Ferry to Newbiggin Gypsum was running, for the first time in a while, on 24 January, I decided to visit Frodsham station to see it, despite the weather ... the chance to visit Lawless bakers was too good to ignore! Frodsham station's grade 2 listed building (above) built in 1850 is to undergo major refurbishment. This is to include cleaning the masonry, stripping the roof, new insulation and replacing the original Welsh slates. New windows and doors will be replicas of the originals and there will be new floors inside. The chimney stacks will be re-pointed using a traditional lime mortar.

According to Network Rail's press release: 'Work on the £400,000 project is expected to be finished by the end of May ... While the work is being carried out, Network Rail will market the building with the aim of finding a tenant. Possible future uses could include office accommodation, a restaurant and/or bar – subject to planning consent and licensing – art studios/workshops or some form of community use. Anyone interested should call the Network Rail property helpline on 0800 830 840.'

The Ellesmere Port - Fiddler's Ferry coal, with 70 004 (above) ran a couple of minutes early and I had time for a Lawless pie and a Costa coffee...

... the rain stopped now, before the gypsum train came through, hauled by GBRf loco 66 714 Cromer Lifeboat. [These trains make the trip to Ellesmere Port purely to run the locomotive round the train so it can head north, avoiding the facilities at Warrington Yard which are operated by competitor DB Schenker.]

Miscellaneous notes

The contracts widening the Cob at Porthmadog, Jones Brothers,  based in Ruthin, and not Rhyl as we erroneously stated in the first version of last week's effort. Our apologies to them.

Regarding the Ballast trains at Newtown (last issue), Gareth Marston writes: 'Network Rail are conducing an extensive overnight possession relaying exercise using steel sleepers. Done recently is the section from the River Camlad nearr Montogmery through Forden to the points to Fron and on to the double track section. Steel sleepers were noted alongside track all the way from Welshpool station to Buttington level crossing on 24 January.  Road/rail vehicles are present in squadron strength at Forden and Cilceywedd, the ballast machine being stored in Newtown during the day.'

Wirral and North Wales Model Railway Club are taking their 'Bambury Shed' to the Stafford Model Railway Exhibition on 4th & 5th February This is the link to their page on the Exhibition website.

A planning application has been lodged by Cheshire West and Chester Council to its own planning department to 'Demolish fire damage [sic] building and adjacent 2 storey office block, single storey workshop and former plant housing' - that is to say, Chester Enterprise Centre, the former Goods Shed at Chester station which was severely damaged by fire in  According to the Chester Chronicle, 'Network Rail told the Chronicle that within days of the accidental fire officers from the council and Chester Renaissance were informally suggesting the site as an alternative location for its proposed multi-storey car park but this is flatly denied.'

The small grill on the four corners of Class 66 locmotives that we puzzled over a couple of weeks back is simply an air vent.

It's now possible, in this new world of open access, for any programmer to obtain access to Network Rail's passenger timetable data. One result is a new website called Open Train Times  -, made by Peter Hicks. At the moment, it gives up-to-date timetable data but not real-time running, although they creator says this will follow.

Llangollen Railway news - report by George Jones

As seen from the riverside fisherman's path crossing west of Carrog on 29 January: a train movement (above). The works train had taken the crane back to Carrog and then returned with the wagon and vans towards the rail head. This provided the undoubted thrill of seeing a train in motion on the Corwen extension as shunter Davy propelled the train west. Some approaching walkers expressed surprise and delight at seeing a train moving along the tracks which comes as a salutary warning: you never know when a train might appear if you are using a foot crossing.

Participants in the extension viewing walk arranged for Saturday 4 February might get a similar viewing further along of work in progress. This is now confirmed subject to weather on the day. Depart Carrog station 11:45 to view progress with the extension project via the public footpath, A5 road and trackbed forward from Bonwm to Corwen. The distance is 3 miles and duration approx. 1.5 hours. Return by service bus route 5 or analternative walking route. Appropriate outdoor clothing and stout footwear necessary. An opportunity to view work in progress and plans in prospect for 2012.

Track laying is now beyond culvert 25 and is heading towards underbridge 26.
The view above shows the view of the ballasted trackbed looking east - the A5 road is to to the top right, with bridge 26 in the foreground and the rail head currently out of view round the bend towards the left.

How things were: Peter Hanson photographed 7827 Lydham Manor and 7822 Foxcote Manor skirt the River Dee somewhere near Bonwm Halt with the 'Tallyllyn Special' on 28 September 1963.  The train, for the Talyllyn Railway's AGM, had been brought by 'Battle of Britain' pacific 34067 Fighter Command from London Paddington to Ruabon where the 'Manors' took over for the journey to the Cambrian Coast, and later back via Machynlleth to Shrewsbury, according to The Railtour Files; Apparently the train included sleeping cars for the overnight return to London. Both 7822 and 7827 still exist, and 7822 is of course resident on the Llangollen line.

Delivered to Llangollen workson 26 January (above, on the arrival line) was GWR Pannier tank 7715, wearing London Transport colours as L99 ,from the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre for a boiler repair job.

Also arrived is GWR 2-8-0T 5227 one of the 'Barry Ten' - remaining locos that were removed from Woodham Brothers' Barry Scrapyard in 1990 when owner Dai Woodham retired: see Wikipedia. It is present at Llangollen for component recovery and release of the boiler has already started, as seen picture above taken with permission. The previous arrival from Barry, 'large Prairie' 2-6-2T 4115, has now departed in assorted dismantled parts destined for new build projects. The basic frame left for Tyseley.

Due for action on passenger trains over the half-term weekend, 11-19 February is GWR 2-8-0 3802 after a period under maintenance. See the Llangollen Railway website for details.

Bangor buffer bungle

Readers of our recent item about the Virgin trains that terminate at Bangor may have wondered why the Voyagers do not stable in the siding provided on the far side of Platform 2 rather than in the main lines - the 'centre roads' which are surely intended for use by non-stop trains through the station. Any staff wishing to leave or join the train while stabled must cross the track.

The answer is one which seems typical of modern life. When the car park was created in the old goods yard last year, the siding was shortened by Network Rail. It was subsequently found that a 5-car Voyager could fit in there, clear of the running lines, but would have to stop with its nose very close to the buffer stops at the end. A Risk Assessment was done, and it was decided that the risk of a train accidentally hitting the buffers was too high, and so the 'centre road' must be used.

During the post-Christmas holiday, the points leading to the main line failed, and were not repaired for a couple of days, so the powers-that-be ruled that the siding could then be used as a 'temporary measure.' But as soon as the points were repaired, it was decreed that use of the siding must cease, and so it has.

Freight locos in view

Engineering work in the Birkenhead area on 29 January saw engineers' trains return to Crewe Basford Hall via Chester. On a cold, grey day 66 076 passes Chester signalling centre with a train of what looks like new ballast - apparently the work was given up early (Bob Greenalgh).

On 24 January, DRS locos 37 602 and 37 603 double-head a flask train from Valley to Crewe past the historic old station at Holywell Junction (Tim Rogers)

37 602 made a light-engine run from Crewe to Holyhead and back on 26 January, a driver road-learning run to judge by the number of people in the cab. It is seen above at Chester (Bob Greenhalgh).

The Tunstead to Oakleigh limestone workings remain a stronghold of the Class 60s. Andrew Vinten captured 60 065 Spirit of Jaguar with the return empties passing Plumley on 27 January.

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