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05 March 2012
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This site is dedicated to all our regular contributors and supporters, and especially the rail staff of North Wales.
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.
Friday 6 April Clwyd Railway Circle Les Nixon: 45 Years of Railway Photography (part 1). The acclaimed railway photographer and entertaining speaker will treat us to an evening of nostalgia, including pre 1968 steam, foreign, modern traction and some preservation, the accent is on the unusual.
Tuesday 10 April 8E Railway Association Stephen Gay presents Walking The Line - Discovering Lost Railways
Thursday 12 April Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Clive Myers "The Llandudno & Colwyn Bay Electric Railway"
Friday 13 April Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society North West Film Archive Evening featuring historic footage of buses, aircraft, trains and trams across the North West
Monday 16 April RCTS Chester Branch AGM (Members only)
Thursday 26 April Merseyside Railway History Group Geoff Coward: Quiz and informal evening
Saturday 5 May Excursion Mid-Cheshire Rail Users' Association. The Lincolnshire Poacher Railtour to Lincoln, Wainfleet and Skegness from most Mid-Cheshire Line stations. Further Details at: www.mcrua.org.uk
Tuesday 8 May 8E Railway Association Les Nixon presents The A to Z of Railways Around the World
Thursday 10 May Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society "End of Indoor Season Special"
57 304 Gordon Tracy brings the Saturday afternoon Holyhead - London train out of the Conwy Tubular Bridge towards Llandudno Junction station on 3 March. Picture by Darren Durrant.
The flask train ran on 1 March, as 6K41 Valley to Crewe, with 20 308 and 20 309. Above, at Bangor the driver 'opens up' while passing photographer Geraint Jones.
the train whistles its way slowly through platform 1 at Llandudno Junction at 15:53 (Peter Lloyd).
Ffynnongroew (Tim Rogers)
Marches line specials - report by Stavros Lainas
Two views taken near Whitchurch, between Crewe and Shrewsbury.
First (above) is an 'Northern Belle' empty carriage move from Crewe to Cardiff at 14:15 on 1 March, train 5Z71, with the two smart Pullman-liveried DRS locomotives 47 832 Solway Princess and (on the rear) 47 790 Galloway Princess.
In stark contrast, a view of 'The Statesman' excursion from Hereford to Fort William on Saturday 3 March. Working hard shortly after leaving Whitchurch heading north is West Coast Railway Company's 47 826 - 47 786 on the rear.
Three Peaks by Rail 2012 - report by Tim Brawn
The 'Railway Children' charity are looking to finalise details of this
years Three Peaks by Rail charity event which will see the the 10th running of the train since its inception in 2004, running from 21 - 23 June. It will depart from London Euston on the Thursday afternoon travelling via Bangor (for Snowdon), Ravenglass (for Scafell via the Ravenglass and Eskdale railway) & Fort William (for Ben Nevis) arriving back into Euston just before Midnight on the Saturday night, On Board will be 200 walkers hoping to conquer Britain's three highest mountains in a little over 36 hours. It's a unique event which relies on support from within the industry to make it happen.
This year sees DRS as the train operator, taking over from GBRf who in
partnership with Chiltern, Wrexham and Shropshire and Rail Blue successfully provided the train in 2010 and 2011. The rolling stock for 2012 will be coming from the Rivera Trains: the current hope is for the 'Great Briton' Cruise Train rake. Traction will be DRS 47s Euston - Carlisle and return and 37s for the Cumbrian coast and West Highland legs, this will signal a welcome return to the Three Peaks train for the type 3s, bringing back memories of when it all started nine years ago.
The event also receives support form other parts of the railway industry
including Network Rail, First group, Rail Gourmet & The Ravenglass and
Eskdale Railway to name but a few; without the help of these organisations the event would probably not be possible. The nine previous trains combined have raised well in excess of £1 million for vulnerable street children around the world including in the UK, India and Africa .
Places on the train are strictly reserved for those taking part in the event, and a few spaces still remain for 2012. Details of the event and
the work of the charity can be found on the Railway Children website
Last coal to Glan Conwy
Responding to our earlier items about the coal trains which ran in the 1990s to the Glan Conwy freight depot at Llandudno Junction, Peter Lloyd has sent us these pictures from the week in June 1999 when three trains operated, after which Peter believes no more operated. Above, the scene at Holywell Junction as a train hauled by 37 713 is in the process of being 'looped' to allow another train to overtake. 'Load Haul' was one of three companies formed 1n 1994 by breaking up the British Rail freight operation, the idea being that they would be 'privatised' separately and compete with each other. After all the effort of creating management structures and devising and applying branding, what actually happened is that all three were sold in 1996 to the Wisconsin Central railroad of the USA and merged back again to form EWS.
The second train was double-headed, by 56 079 and 47 276. Above, having detached from their wagons, they have run round and are heading into the freight depot to collect the empty wagons left previously.
The empty wagons are being left in the yard before ...
... the loaded ones are propelled into position for unloading.
The pair return towards Chester with the empties.
The final train was hauled by a class 56 (does anyone know the number?) which waited with the wagons while they were unloaded in the depot.
The 56 departs with the empties.
Forward to March 2012, and the coal wagon, HEA 360998, that was left behind in 1999, still there as the stored EWS ballast wagons were being carried away for scrap. (Our thanks to David Denton who has written to tell us that they went to Booth's scrapyard in Rotherham.)
360998 is one of a total of 1,998 air-braked wagons, originally classified HBA, built in the 1970s at Shildon wagon works to replace the old vacuum-braked wagons previously used for delivery of coal for domestic and industrial use, as distinct from power station traffic for which another type, the HAA 'merry-go-round' hopper, was developed. Most were later fitted with an improved suspension, so their maximum allowed speed could be increased from 45 to 60 mph, those treated being re-classified as HEA. The traffic for which they were built started to dwindle away in the 1980s; some were converted for other uses, often rebuilt with box-wagon bodies, or in some cases with the bodies mostly removed to act as barrier wagons in nuclear flask trains, and many others were scrapped - few still exist today.
Two pictures from the black-and-white era. Above, another picture by Peter Hanson of the Talyllyn Railway special of 28 September 1963 which travelled over the Barmouth line. with two 'Manor' class 4-6-0s 7827 and 7822. Peter writes: 'I consider this photo to be one of my top ten, the station at Llandrillo has all the atmosphere of a branch station.'
And even further back to the 1930s. Stephen Hughes writes: 'the above picture was taken by my late father, Geoffrey Hughes in either 1934 or early 1935 with a "Box Brownie."
'The loco depicted, standing on the 'up' through line at an instantly
recognisable Bangor station, is an ex-LNWR 'George the Fifth' 4-4-0 5342 Boarhound, built at Crewe in 1911. At this time it was a North Wales engine, shedded at Llandudno Junction (7A). It was coming to the end of its working life when this photo was taken, actually being withdrawn in 1935, when withdrawals of the class of 90 commenced. Three managed to hang on into BR ownership - just.'
The Llandudno diagram of 1993
Take another look at our train-spotting herring gull of 1993 from the last issue. Thanks to Rob Callaghan who sends us details of what the train was doing in the sidings. The diagram for this Monday - Friday working was
1G80 03:20 Holyhead - Birmingham International
1D61 07:15 Birmingham International - Llandudno via Stoke
1D40 13:36 Llandudno Junction - Holyhead
1K67 16:00 Holyhead - Birmingham International via Stoke
1D76 21:52 Birmingham International - Holyhead
The Class 37/4s had only just appeared in North Wales at that time; it was not long before their diagrams were simplified to a basic Crewe - Bangor or Holyhead service, with odd runs to Birmingham and Manchester.
37 418 was the commonest locomotive on this turn with 23 appearances, so combined with the 'Railfreight petroleum' livery, there's a good chance that it was the loco in the picture. 37418 was later given Regional Railways livery and named East Lancashire Railway, and then became the first 37/4 to be receive the EW&S maroon colours. It still exists today, appropriately preserved on the East Lancashire Railway.
The Lincolnshire Poacher
The Mid-Cheshire Rail Users' Association tell us that there are still seats available for their next diesel-hauled railtour to Lincoln, Wainfleet (Bateman's Brewery Tour) & Skegness on Saturday 5 May 2012 -
In both directions, this train will call at Chester, Mouldsworth, Cuddington, Greenbank, Northwich, Plumley, Knutsford, Mobberley, Hale, Altrincham, Stockport, Reddish South & Marple for passengers in both directions.
Full details and on-line booking on on the MCRUA website.
Newport news - with David Parry
Taking the 'Gerald' (Holyhead - Cardiff loco-hauled express) to Newport enables the North Wales railway photographer to connect with a cluster of loco-hauled trains within the first hour. I made a 'Club 55 trip' there on Friday 2 March, and here are some of the results. Above, at 09:43 – the 'Gerald' headed by 57 315 leaves Platform 2 at Newport for its final stop at Cardiff Central. This sight is soon to be history as Class 67 locos will be taking over the working.
09:58 – the Murco tanks (6B13 05:05 Robeston to Westerleigh), running a little late behind 60 045 with the oval steam-style 40B 'shed plate' on the cab front representing Immingham depot. [Note: '60 045' pictured in David's Warrington report last issue was in fact 60 065. Apologies for the error.]
10:05 – close behind, the 09:58 Wentloog (Cardiff container terminal) to Southampton Freightliner intermodal train (4O51) passes through the station behind 66 592 as a First Great Western HST stands in the platform.
10:17 – a DB Schenker (EWS) merry-go-round coal train, probably the 09:24 Avonmouth to Aberthaw (Q) Power Station (6B68). Loco is 66 098.
10:19 – in the opposite direction, another DB Schenker movement, believed to be the 08:55 Margam to Redcar empty coke hoppers (4E66).
Later in the day, a new traffic flow at 13:59, DRS loco 66 421 heads the 4V38 Daventry to Wentloog train for Tesco, believed to have started this same week (above, and below).
The curtain-sided swap-bodies carry their rhyming message. This train runs via Nuneaton and Gloucester, returning overnight via Shrewsbury. Tesco's Press release tells us about the train, which serves its Magor distribution centre:
The service is starting with 20 containers increasing to 34 over the next few months. When at full capacity it will take 22,000 lorry trips off the roads [annually] saving some 3,000 tonnes of CO2. 'This is part of our ongoing commitment to be a zero carbon business by 2050,' said Nigel Jones, Tesco UK logistics director.Other Tesco trains operate from Daventry to Thurrock, Daventry to Livingston and Livingston to Inverness.
The M.V. Wilson Newport arrived at Holyhead on 24 February for the unloading of 10,000 tons of aluminium ingot for re-melting.
5 March saw HMS Liverpool (Pennant No D92) depart the Mersey for the last time. The picture above by George Jones shows the destroyer, which decommissions at the end of March, passing Liverpool Pier Head on the way to the sea. It was completed in 1982 at Carmmell Laird's shipyard on the other bank of the Mersey.
At the moment the Laird's yard is busy with ship overhauls; as viewed (above) from the Mersey Ferry Cruise there are three Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels to be seen in the yard; RFA Wave Ruler A390, RFA Fort Austin A386, RFA Black Rover A273 plus commercial ships. The picture shows Wave Ruler & Fort Austin both stern-on to the river (George Jones).
Classic diesels at Bristol - report by Richard Putley
I commute by rail from my home in Chippenham to my workplace at
Filton Abbey Wood. On 29 February I caught the late-running 15:23 from
Filton Abbey Wood to Westbury as far as Bristol Temple Meads. It was formed of a bizarre combination of a single class 150 DMU Car, still in London Midland green, sandwiched between two class 153s!
As we approached Temple Meads on Barton Hill Depot I saw a Network Rail test train with 37 688 leading and another DRS 37 and a NR 31 bringing up the rear.
Meanwhile in one of the west-facing bays was 31 105 on another
Network Rail test train. A nice change from the monotony of Class 66s.
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