Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

27 February 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

February 2012

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.

A few minutes after starting from Kingmoor Yard, Colas loco 66 850 enters Carlisle Citadel Station with train 6J37, logs to Chirk on Friday 24 February Picture by Ian Pilkington.

Llandudno Junction now and then

The reason why the long-resident wagons from Llandudno Junction sidings (13 February issue) were recently moved towards the freight depot became clear on 27 February when they were picked up by a fork-lift vehicle ...

... and carried away by road, reportedly to a scrapyard in Rotherham.

This particular wagon has a TOPs code of ZCA and a number in the DC 460xxx series, which tells us that it is one of those converted from SPA steel plate carriers in the 1990s by the fitting of new, fixed, sides for carrying waste ballast and spoil away from relaying sites. These days, bogie wagons are used for such work.

By way of contrast, going back nearly 32 years, Alan Roberts sends us two photos of the freight terminal at Llandudno Junction under construction. The first photo was taken in May 1980 and shows the original alignment of the Conwy Valley line from Queens Road bridge. New points can also be seen, this was to become the new connection for the Conwy Valley line as from 16 November 1980.

Alan's second picture shows a close-up of the new trackbed for the Conwy Valley line taken in July 1980. New track was laid in late July 1980, whilst on the right, the new freight terminal was progressing. The new terminal was built on the site of a brickworks which closed in the 1930s. Another brickworks existed nearer to the former loco and carriage sheds, and this lasted until the 1950s. The two chimneys stood for many years later until demolished in the late 1970s.

See the last issue for a view of the site in use. Regular workings ceased with the demise Speedlink operation in 1991, but some trip workings from Warrington Yard ran after that date with coal from the Selby coalfield. We think the last train ran in 1999, but does anyone know the exact date? One of the HEA coal hoppers was abandoned in the depot sidings, and was still there a few months ago, is it still there now? The lower end of the yard - now known as the Tre Marl Industrial Estate, has been taken over by the 'Lock Stock Storage' company.

Here's a picture from the website archives, taken in, we think, 1993, showing the station sidings in use.  Class 37-hauled services had just begun, and not much of the rolling stock has been repainted in Regional Railways livery. The two Mk 2a coaches in view illustrate how, as a temporary measure, the Network South East livery was altered by over-painting the red stripe in blue. The loco carries the wavy lines of the petroleum sector - 37 418 perhaps. At the time there was a train which ran to Llandudno, and returned empty to 'The Junction' for stabling.

Developments at Bersham Tip

Bersham Colliery was a large coal mine located near Rhostyllen, south of  Wrexham, which opened in 1864 and closed in 1986, leaving behind some of its surface structures which it was hoped to preserve as a museum, and a large waste tip, composed of a mixture a small amount of residual coal and the shale which surrounded the coal seams. An interesting view on the Geograph website shows the view from the top of the pile.

In 2003, a company called Bersham (Glenside) Ltd revealed a plan to remove the tip, selling its various constituents - described as 'approximately 6 million tonnes of material with 60 % unburnt black shale and 40% burnt red shale' for industrial use. Wrexham Council objected to the plan, as did Welsh heritage body Cadw which insisted that the tip was a historic landmark. Negotiations and arguments dragged on for years until in 2010, the Welsh Assembly Government overruled the Council and other objectors, and ruled that the plan could proceed subject to strict planning conditions including a contribution towards the costs of refurbishing the former winding gear house (a Grade II Listed Building) and to restoring it to use as a museum or building a new colliery museum (including a contribution towards the first few years running costs). 

As for the transport of the material from the site, the Government were assured that 'the first phases would involve clearing the southern part of the site enabling rail freight sidings to be introduced and it would be proposed to transport much of the material by rail' over a period of 7-9 years ... some material would be transported by road and the proposals include improved access to Plas Grono Road.' Work on this first phase has now begun.

Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

Reports on Internet forums suggest that there are to be two sidings, to cater for 24 wagons, and the material will go to cement works and power stations. But what is not clear, despite attempts by local groups to obtain more detail, is whether the construction and use of these sidings has been agreed and costed with Network Rail and the rail freight companies. The sidings, which would connect to the northbound track of the Chester - Shrewsbury line between Wrexham and Ruabon, will have to be built across the site of a public footpath, which adds a further complication. The original colliery sidings were north of the road bridge, the location of the present Enterprise Centre, one of the steam locos which worked there, Hornet, is not preserved at the Ribble Steam Railway.

Here's a link to an interesting PDF document on the history of the colliery and its railways. It is to be hoped that the museum operation will capture the interest of the public, unlike some other colliery museums around Britain and indeed in earlier attempts at a museum on this site.

Pendolino Views

The Saturdays-only Pendolino workings bring a touch of 'glamour' to the North Wales line. Above, 57 304 Gordon Tracy ignores Abergele station on the way to Holyhead on 25 February (Darren Durrant)

The return train to London crosses the Stanley Embankment between Holy Island soon after starting its journey (M. Lloyd Davies)

The scene at Chester later in the afternoon as 57 304 rolls under the Hoole Road bridge into Platform 3 and a Merseyrail electric train departs from Platform 7 (Darren Durrant).

Portrait of 57 304 at Chester by Darren Durrant. Note the unofficial (?) addition of the number on the corner of the cab. See also Darren's video channel for views of the day.

Corwen Extension update - by George Jones

Some views from the Llangollen Railway Corwen extension rail head on Saturday 25 February when the BBC Radio Wales reporter was escorted to give a progress report on the project. The rail is now 1300 metres west of Carrog and approaching Plas Bonwm farm. Above, the 0-4-0 shunter Pilkington in section with the sweep of the track curving round from Carrog (off to centre left) and below the A5 road.

Pilkington, which was built for the Pilkington Glass works in St Helens is a Yorkshire Engine Company product, similar to the British Rail Class 02. At one time it was painted in BR livery with a fictitious number, but this has noe been removed. It is seen above with the works train at the rail head...


... the end of the track for the moment; however the whole formation has to be ballasted and tamped to be passed for inspection prior to the intended public shuttle services during the SSS3 gala in late April. Drainage work and the laying of more base ballast will allow the track to move forward to the interim target of Bonwm shortly.

An escorted Track Progress Walk is now arranged for Easter Saturday 7 April starting from Carrog at 11:45 through to Corwen via A5 to Bonwm and beyond.

Club 55 to the Dean Forest - with Richard Fleckney

On Wednesday 15 February a group of North Wales Railway Circle members took the early Cardiff express to Newport (above) on the way to Lydney using the Arriva Trains Wales Club 55 offer to visit the Dean Forest Railway.

Newport station is a good place to see freight trains, including those serving the oil terminal at Robeston near Milford Haven, where oil is unloaded from ships. Above, DB-liveried 60 091 brings a train of empty tanks through the station.

A loaded oil train with 60 071 Ribblehead Viaduct.

From Newport, the party boarded 150 254 on a Cheltenham-bound train for the run along the north bank of the Severn estuary via Chepstow to reach Lydney. Part of Newport's futuristic new footbridge can be seen in the picture above.

Above, the train departs Lydney for Gloucester and Cheltenham.

The connection to the DFR lies just east of Lydney station, which was formerly called Lydney Junction. Stabled nearby was 31 466, one of the only the only two Class 31s to have received EWS livery, now owned by the Dean Forest Diesel Association. The Dean Forest Railway's Lydney Junction station is about ten minutes walk from the main line station.

There should have been a Steam event on this day.  On arrival it was found that the water supply had been frozen, so the boilers could not be tested prior to the event, therefore a Class 108 Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) had to be used; this was OK for a fill-in program. 

The event was quite well supported, and a pleasant trip was had.

At  Parkend (above) the group visited a local Pub ...

... then it was  back to Norchard depot where a collection of equipment is kept.

0-6-0 Pannier Tank 9681 was built by British Railways in 1949 to the Great Western Railway's standard design.

This is D9555, last-built of the 0-6-0 diesel-hydraulics intended by the Western Region to replace the pannier tanks, and all withdrawn from service by BR after a very short life.

Norchard also has a good selection of memorabilia, and of interest the Telecom signalling system which was in working order for us to try out, also displays of trackside relics. After thanks to the shop staff for adding to the visit, the group returned to Lydney. then Newport and Home. Well done to the Dean Forest Railway: it is well worth a visit.

Silver 158s dwindle

The silver 'Alphaline' livery applied only to Class 158 units by the old Wales and West organisation is becoming increasingly rare as refurbishments and repaints in the two-tone blue continue. 158 826, pictured by M.Lloyd Davies at Holyhead on 25 February, is one of just seven still wearing it, out of of the Arriva Trains Wales fleet of 24. Also, only four 158s still wear the bus-style Arriva blue colours, although that scheme is, of course, still common on other classes.

The Welsh Government-sponsored refurbishment at Arriva's LNWR works in Crewe proceeds at a steady rate: 158 828 (the 11th) was released from the works on 12 January, 158 824 (12th) went in on in 16 January and emerged, on 6 February. 158 825 (13th) entered works on 6 February and may well be back in service around the time you read this.  Special thanks to Peter Spence for keeping us up-to-date with this work.

An hour at Latchford Sidings - report by David Parry

On Tuesday 14 February, I spent a productive hour or so at the road bridge across the entrance to Latchford Sidings observing a cluster of reversals of Fiddlers Ferry trains.  Here are some highlights. Above: at 12:02 60 065 crosses the Mersey Bridge with 6F78 11:30 Fiddlers Ferry – Liverpool Bulk Terminal empty merry-go-round coal hoppers.

12:13, and permanent way staff stand by as 60 065 performs its reversal at Latchford Sidings, prior to departure at 12:22.

12:57. Having brought in its loaded containerised gypsum train at 12:45 (6Z40 12:30 Fiddlers Ferry - Newbiggin), 66 168 completes its reversal, while in the background, 70 015, having arrived tight behind at 12:49, moves towards the front of its loaded train of coal hoppers. 

At 12:58, with 66 168 coupling to its train, 70 015 is now clear to complete its reversal.

13:01. 70 015 is now about to proceed to Fiddlers Ferry as 66 168 waits its turn to leave Latchford sidings at 13:09, and a further reversal and crew change at Bank Quay station before heading north.

Three more Latchford scenes, taken by Dave Sallery on 17 February. Above, 70 002.

70 016.

60 079.  That shade of DB red will never look right!

North Wales Coast home page Archive Previous Noticeboard