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13 February 2012
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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.
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.
Holyhead, Sunday morning 12 February: 57 315 stands at Holyhead preparing to depart with the 'rugby special' to Cardiff (M. Lloyd Davies)
Technical update: The new 'hub' from VirginMedia to restore our connection arrived on Thursday evening, but they forgot to also send us a small device apparently known as a 'silver splitter' so at the time of writing we can only use the Internet if we disconnect our television...
Arriva loco-haulage notes
Training runs continue for Arriva drivers on Class 67 locos, of which there are now three in blue livery as 67 002 has been repainted to join 001 and 003. However, as yet we have no information about when they will take over the Holyhead - Cardiff trains from the 57/3s. Two Driving Van Trailers have also been painted blue to match, but the question arises of how push-pull working is to be implemented. If the existing Arriva Trains Wales coaching stock is to be used, then like the Wrexham and Shropshire coaches, each vehicle will need to be fitted with through '27-wire' cabling to carry the control signals between the driving trailer and the loco. We've not heard of any work done on this - can it really be that this has only just been realised, as word on the grapevine suggests? A small modification to the loco is also necessary - fire alarm connections, if we remember rightly.
Meanwhile, on 7 February the evening northbound express had to be replaced by a Class 175 due to a 'train fault'.
Holyhead, Saturday 11 February: 57 307 Lady Penelope waits with the 14:38 Virgin Trains working to London Euston. In the background is the assembled Arriva Trains Wales train for the Rugby match extra to Cardiff the following day. Picture by M.Lloyd Davies.
A closer look at the far end of Holyhead carriage sidings on 11 February, showing 57 313 on the rear of the rugby special. The first class/restaurant car never goes on these specials, replaced by two standard-class coaches: it spends the weekend at the far end of the siding (M. Lloyd Davies).
The London train passes Conwy Castle on the approach to Llandudno Junction (Darren Durrant)
On 7 February DRS 66 304 made a route learning run from Crewe to Llandudno Junction and back. Bob Greenalgh writes: 'I saw it at Morrison's Saltney at 10:33 on its outward run but it was too foggy to photograph. On its return much of the fog had gone so I managed a photo at Mold Junction, the footplate crew giving me a toot as they passed!'
The Penmaenmawr – Guide Bridge stone train passes Ffynnongroyw with Freightliner 66 557 in charge, 1 February (Stavros Lainas)
Prestatyn area notes - by Dave Sallery
The enlarged station car park at Prestatyn is nearly complete, featuring
a modern sculpture, by Denis O’Connor of Derbyshire based Sculpture Works, which plays on the theme of sandcastle, bucket and spade, seagulls...'
Work on the new Prestatyn Tesco is progressing with the first steelwork now erected, as seen from the station footbridge; the original Chester and Holyhead Railway station building, being renovated as part of the project, is prominent in the view.
The temporary booking office at Prestatyn has now been moved onto the platform, although there is no sign of any activity on the existing station building. seen behind.
The Clive Engine House of the Talrgoch lead mine in Meliden is being restored.
According to the comprehensive Dyserth website: 'The Clive Shaft was sunk between 1842 & 1845 and ceased operating in1883. It was originally equipped with a 50-inch (cylinder diameter) hydraulic pumping engine, constructed at John Taylor’s foundry in Rhydymwyn and installed in an engine house underground. In 1862 the hydraulic engine was replaced by a steam engine with a 100 inch diameter cylinder. The beam, which projected from the building, weighed 85 tons and had a stroke of 10 ft. The engine was built by the Haigh Foundry in Wigan and housed in a new engine house built on the surface near to the shaft - the Clive Engine House.'
Arriva have revived the old name 'Cymru Coastliner' for the Route 11 from Rhyl to Chester. Ten new double deckers (4488 - 4497) are being introduced; this is 4488 (CX61 CDY) a VDL DB300 with Wright Gemini 2DL body at Rhyl on 8 February. A launch event took place at the Marine Lake on 9 February; the buses have feature leather seats and free on-board Wi-Fi.
Timing test on the Cambrian
ERTMS-fitted Locomotive 97 302 spent the weekend of 4-5 February taking seven empty ex-Virgin Trains coaches along the Cambrian lines to establish suitable timings for any excursions in the future, essential data for the ERTMS computer. Stavros Lainas captured the train on 4 February at 14:42 passing a bleak and wintry Tilstock, between Whitchurch and Prees on the Crewe - Shrewsbury line on the way to Machynlleth.
Sunday 5 February saw the train, coded 5Z97, travel to Pwllheli - Ken Robinson photographed it at Porthmadog (above).
Much discussion took place at Porthmadog, primarily to decide whether the train was fouling the level crossing (behind). All the coaches had labels on them - 'This coach is winterised' (Ken Robinson).
The train was was a little late getting to Pwllheli, but then due to 'technical difficulties' was heavily delayed on the return journey, seen above at Porthmadog (Ken Robinson).
New: Liverpool Docks website
Dave Sallery writes: 'I've done a new website on 'Trains in the Mersey docks' with 70 scanned images taken up to 2004. Classes featured are 03, 31, 37, 47, 56, 57, 60 and 66. There is only a little bit of the 31 however! Above: 47 197 on a liner to Crewe in Liverpool docks, 17 June 2002.
RCTS Railway Meeting in Chester
The Railway Correspondence and Travel Society meets at the Town Crier opposite Chester railway station on Monday 20th February at 7.30 p.m. when Stephen Gay of Sheffield speaks on ‘Walking the Line, Discovering Lost Railways.’
Visitors are more than welcome to attend this meeting but hopefully they would each contribute a £2 voluntary donation. Further inquiries can be made by telephoning 0151–608 4296.
Movements at Llandudno Junction - Pictures by Peter Lloyd
On the morning of 8 February, DB Schenker loco 67 009 arrived (running light as train 0Z64) at Llandudno Junction.
Its mission: to move the stored wagons from the yard (the lines behind Platform 4) down to the former goods depot east of the station.
The open wagons - built on second-hand underframes, and intended for the carriage of 'spoil' from relaying sites - had been in the same spot since June 2008, having been left there for no other reason than to show Network Rail that EWS (ancestor of DB Schenker) required the use of the track. We hear that Freightliner now have the lease on the yard, so hopefully some tidying-up might take place.
The area is well on the way to becoming woodland.
It had been thought locally that the former oil siding would be used, but in fact the wagons have been left on the curve leading to the depot. In the picture above, the loco is standing on what was until 1979 part of the route of the Conwy Valley branch. For an interesting picture of the area in 1979, see the marvellous 2D53 website.
When the A55 Expressway road was being planned, the Goods Depot at Colwyn Bay, on the site of the present shopping centre there, was still in business, and in the way of the new road and associated developments, so the highway authorities paid for a replacement depot at Llandudno Junction - known officially as Glan Conwy Freight Depot - which opened in 1980, with three sidings giving facilities for coal, oil and any general goods on offer. To make was for the depot, a new junction was created for the Conwy Valley branch, seen in the background of the picture above. The Freight Depot carried out its planned role for a few years, but the faster road access to the area thanks to the A55, and the demise of the Speedlink wagonload train service in 1991, left it with an occasional train of coal which just faded away, although the depot is not officially closed. Will it one day see trains of domestic refuse headed for the proposed Deeside incinerator?
Carrog Extension Walk No. 2 - report by George Jones
Despite the dismal weather forecast for Wales promising snow at some stage during the day, the weather on 4 February for the guided walk along the trackbed of the Llangollen Railway's Corwen extension turned out damp and mild in the Dee Valley. Participants turned up at Carrog to meet the 1130 arrival with the Wickham unit from Llangollen and it was agreed to venture forth as the promised snow seemed unlikely.
Using the public footpath from the end of Carrog bridge (above) the party of twelve headed for the railway crossing to see the work completed near the distant signal and then, from up on the A5, the progress with the track now in situ past culvert 25. The A5 pavement gave a good high level view of the work party with a panel of track being prepared.
Further on by the former Penarth Slate siding the ballasted trackbed was in view and on past Plas Bonwm Farm. Access to the trackbed was available from the Powys Country House gate where the works site is situated and the party meet the fencing and vegetation gang hard at it with a briefing (above) from the volunteer organiser.
Heading west the old Bonwm Halt remains were examined and then the remains of the burnt out hut and onwards (above) through to overbridge 28.
Here the arch was examined now that contractors have cleared the ivy and the extent of the necessary repair work could be seen - rather less than might have been expected. The first "train" on this section was met when the tractor and trailer came through!
Evidence of the recent cold snap was to be seen with icicles hanging in places and broken ice on the busy water courses feeding the river. The recent hard frosts made the going easier with the mud in places still hard packed. Thanks to descriptions of work in progress the effort put into fencing, gates and vegetation clearance could be more readily appreciated.
At the Corwen 'phase 1' station site lineside clearance is under way in readiness for the temporary platform installation.
Beyond the waterworks track access, the phase 2 terminal stage site was traversed through to the end at Green Lane and the abutments to the former bridge ...
.... before taking in the recently-installed Corwen running-in board near the car park. Here the party dispersed for refreshments and chose their own assorted ways back to Carrog with some catching the 4pm last train of the day back to Llangollen.
The walk proved a useful occasion for those seeing the route of the extension for the first time. and for others the extent of work undertaken since an earlier visit. It was generally agreed that the walking opportunity provided for a better understanding of what is involved in getting the railway through to Corwen, albeit only 2.5 miles further west of Carrog. Further Track Progress Walks are planned in the future to keep supporters advised as to the developments on this exciting project.
We were certainly lucky in missing the show fall which went south down central England during the course of the day.
Devon Logs in action - report by David Hughes
On 31 January I caught up at various locations with the train collecting timber from Devon for the Kronospan - this time with 18 wagons including 10 of the recent conversions. Above, 66 850 approaches Taunton Station en route to Devon with the empties.
After running round at Heathfield, 66 850 approaches Teigngrace level crossing and loading point.
The wagons at the loading point, as seen from the crossing. The new conversions, from 'hi-cube' vans originally built to carry automotive parts, retain the van ends with sections of panelling cut away.
After leaving the wagons at loading area 66 850 returned to Newton Abbot and stabled on the old platform 9 - the first working to do this.
The previous week, no train had run, due, it was rumoured, to a shortage of wagons. It is also rumoured that Colas may try Class 47 locos on it in the future.
On your bike (or velo) - report by Eryl Crump
Work on two pedal power projects to attract thousands of tourists to Blaenau Ffestiniog is close to completion. Four downhill bike trails at the Llechwedd site, a cycle route around a lake and a cycling centre are being built in a £1m investment.
Meanwhile trials for a new 'velorail' tourist attraction, the first of its kind in Britain, are being held. Once complete the velorail will allow users to ride the bicycle-pedal vehicle on the disused railway line from Blaenau Ffestiniog towards Trawsfynydd through some of Gwynedd’s most striking scenery.
Both projects are part of Communities First group Antur Stiniog's plans to use old quarries and countryside as a hub for outdoor sports. Spokesman Ceri Cunnington told the Daily Post that the bike trails will be open by July with more in the pipeline next year. 'It’s vital the town takes advantage of the development. The cycling trails at Llechwedd will draw in more than 20,000 visitors annually,' he said.
On 3 February Antur Stiniog tested its velorail on the track (see picture above) after local groups, including school children, spent time clearing a section of the line. The five-seater vehicle was pedalled across the Cwmbowydd viaduct in tests supervised by Network Rail officials. Mr Cunnington said the tests were part of the process to obtain a lease from Network Rail on the line.
He said: 'The railway has been disused since trains stopped running to Trawsfynydd nuclear power station and is a wasted resource. The views from the line are fantastic and allows people to get out and about into the countryside. Velorails are popular in Europe and working arrangements vary. What our operation will be depends on what funding we get; I expect initially we'll run a one-way system with velorails (which will be constructed locally by engineering firms and colleges) able to leave Blaenau four times a day but in time, as funding allows, we’ll put in passing loops and turntables and increase the number.'
Editor's note: As for 'Essex businessman' Colin Dale who wants to run trains on the line, as reported here several times in the past, the last we heard of him was a report in the Caernarfon Herald on 19 January telling of his arguments with regeneration company Trawsnewid from whom he has leased the former social club by Trawsfynydd lake which he briefly ran as a café before closing it last autumn, and the boat intended for pleasure cruises on the lake which he claims is not lake-worthy. One gets the distinct impression that he has made few friends in North Wales.
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