Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

26 March 2012

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Forthcoming events

March 2012

Wednesday 28 March Excursion Compass Tours 'Welsh Mountaineer': Huddersfield, Brighouse, Sowerby Bridge, Hebden Bridge, Todmorden, Rochdale, Denton, Stockport, Wilmslow & Crewe to Cardiff Via the Heart of Wales route.

Thursday 29 March   Merseyside Railway History Group   AGM     Members Slides

Saturday 31 March Llangollen Railway Diesel Day

April 2012

Friday 6 April  Clwyd Railway Circle  change of date and speaker for this month only: see 13 April, below.

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 Clwyd Railway Circle  new date. Geoff Coward will
be showing Black and White slides mainly of steam from 1905 to 1950.

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

Saturday 14 April Excursion Cheshire Cat Tours  Aberystwyth, Borth, Machynlleth,  Newtown, Welshpool,  Shrewsbury, Whitchurch and Crewe to Carlisle. Outwards via Shap, Return via Settle to Carlisle Line.

Saturday 14 April Steam to Chester Steam Dreams 'The Cathedrals Express' London - Chester

Monday 16 April RCTS Chester    Branch AGM (Members only)

Wednesday 18 April Excursion Compass Tours 'The Roses Express'
Hooton, Chester, Delamere, Northwich, Knutsford, Altrincham, Stockport & Denton to York. Scheduled for haulage by a Steam Locomotive from Preston.

Saturday 21 April Excursion Chester Model Railway Club Shrewsbury , Gobowen, Wrexham, Bache, Hooton and Frodsham to Edinburgh Waverley. 2 x Class 67s (top & tail) Tickets available in first and standard class. Includes Chester avoiding line and Hooton - Helsby through running as rare track.

21 - 29 April Llangollen Railway / Betton Grange Society Steel, Steam & Stars III Gala 'featuring up to 12 main line steam locos including 6 guests.'

Thursday 26 April   Merseyside Railway History Group  Geoff Coward:    Quiz and informal evening

May 2012

Sat - Mon 5-7 May Llandudno Transport Festival. (No specific rail content this year but worth a visit, especially if interested in buses)

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:

Saturday 5 May Steam to North Wales Vintage Trains 'Llandudno Victorian Fayre' Tyseley - Llandudno

Saturday 5 May Excursion to North Wales Statesman Rail 'Llandudno Victorian Extravaganza' Departing from: Swindon (06.50/21.55) Kemble (07.05/21.30) Stroud (07.25/21.15) Stonehouse (07.35/21.05) Cheltenham Spa (08.00/20.40) Worcester Shrub Hill (08.25/20.15) Droitwich Spa (08.35/20.05) Kidderminster (08.55/19.50) Stourbridge Jct (09.10/19.30) Tame Bridge Parkway (10.00/18.30) to Llandudno Junction and Llandudno.

Saturday 5 May Excursion to North Wales NENTA train tours 'North Wales Extravaganza' from Norwich, Ipswich & East Anglian stations to Chester and Llandudno Junction (coach transfer to Llandudno).

Sat - Mon 5 -7 May Ffestiniog Railway 'Blaenau 30' - celebrating the 30th anniversary of the re-opening to Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Sat / Sun 5 - 6 May Welsh Highland Heritage Railway 'Elements Gala'

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"

Saturday 19 May Steam in North Wales PMR Tours 'The Welsh Dragon' Bristol to Holyhead

Friday 25 May Excursion to North Wales Compass Tours 'Snowdon Mountaineer' Carnforth, Morecambe, Lancaster, Preston, Wigan North Western, Garswood, St Helens Central, Liverpool Lime Street, Liverpool South Parkway & Runcorn to Betws-Y-Coed & Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Friday 25 May Excursion to North Wales UK Railtours 'The Snowdonian' London, Milton Keynes and Rugby to to both Llandudno Junction and Bangor. From Llandudno Junction coaches for the scenic trip up the Conwy Valley to Blaenau where the greatest narrow gauge journey of all begins, right the way through via Porthmadog to Caernarfon, where coaches will be waiting for the short hop to Bangor where our main line train is rejoined. Half the passengers will do the 'circuit' in the opposite direction.

Saturday 26 May Excursion Cheshire Cat Tours Holyhead, Bangor, Llandudno Junction,Colwyn Bay, Rhyl, Prestatyn, Flint, Chester and Warrington to Carlisle. Outwards via the Settle to Carlisle line, Return via the Cumbrian Coast Line

June 2012

Sat / Sun 2 - 3 June Welsh Highland Heritage Railway 'Family Fun Weekend'

Friday 8 June Excursion Compass Tours  'Dorset Coast Express' Holyhead, Llanfairpwll, Bangor, Llandudno Junction, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl, Flint, Chester & Crewe to Brockenhurst, Bournemouth or Weymouth.

Sat / Sun 9 - 10 June Welsh Highland Heritage Railway 'Teddy Bear weekend. 'Children go FREE if they bring a teddy bear.  Find the bears hiding in the Engine Sheds and win a prize.'

Saturday 16 June Excursion to North Wales Scottish Railway Preservation Society From Glenrothes with Thornton, Kirkcaldy, Dalgety Bay, Edinburgh Waverley, Kirknewton over Beattock and Shap summits to Chester and Llandudno. (diesel-hauled)

Saturday 16 June Excursion Cheshire Cat Tours Whitchurch, Wem, Shrewbury, Wellington, Telford Central, Codsall, Wolverhampton, Tame Bridge Parkway, Birmingham International to Canterbury.

Sat / Sun 23 - 24 June  Llangollen Railway Heritage Railcar Gala

Sat / Sun 23 - 24 June Welsh Highland Heritage Railway Slate industrial exhibition

Saturday 30 June Excursion to North Wales Compass Tours  'Snowdon Mountain Ranger' Skipton, Keighley, Shipley, Wakefield Kirkgate, Huddersfield, Denton, Stockport, Altrincham & Knutsford to Betws-Y-Coed & Blaenau Ffestiniog

July 2012      

Saturday 7 July  Excursion to North Wales UK Railtours 'Chester and the Pennines' Stevenage, Potters Bar, Finsbury Park to Chester (break) and then through Wigan, Blackburn and Accrington to  Copy Pit Summit, Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd before descending to Wakefield and finally joining the East Coast Main Line to head homeward.

Sunday 22 July Steam in North Wales Railway Touring Company 'North Wales Coast Express' Crewe, Wilmslow, Stockport, Manchester Piccadilly, Frodsham and Chester to  Llandudno, Llandudno Junction, Bangor and Holyhead (arr 15:10 dep 17:45).

Sat / Sun 28 - 29 July  Llangollen Railway 1960s weekend

Sunday 29 July Steam in North Wales Railway Touring Company 'North Wales Coast Express' Liverpool Lime Street, Broad Green, Warrington Bank Quay, Frodsham and Chester to  Llandudno, Llandudno Junction, Bangor and Holyhead (arr 14:30 dep 16:30).

Tuesday 31 July Steam in North Wales Railway Touring Company 'The Welsh Mountaineer' Preston, Warrington Frodsham, Chester to Llandudno Junction and Blaenau Ffestiniog (arr. 13:15 dep 16:10)

[Note: again this summer there will be no steam trains on the Cambrian Coast line due to the rail industry's continuing inability to adapt the new ERTMS signalling for use with a steam locomotive.]

August 2012

Sat / Sun 4 - 5 August Talyllyn Railway Tom Rolt Steam & Vehicle Rally

Sunday 5 August Steam in North Wales Railway Touring Company 'North Wales Coast Express' Crewe, Wilmslow, Stockport, Manchester Piccadilly, Frodsham and Chester to  Llandudno, Llandudno Junction, Bangor and Holyhead (arr 15:10 dep 17:45).

Sunday 12 August Steam in North Wales Railway Touring Company 'North Wales Coast Express' Crewe, Wilmslow, Stockport, Manchester Piccadilly, Frodsham and Chester to  Llandudno, Llandudno Junction, Bangor and Holyhead (arr 15:10 dep 17:45).

Tuesday 14 August  Steam in North Wales Railway Touring Company 'The Welsh Mountaineer' Preston, Warrington Frodsham, Chester to Llandudno Junction and Blaenau Ffestiniog (arr. 13:15 dep 16:10)

Saturday 18 August Steam in North Wales Vintage Trains 'The Welsh Dragon' Tyseley - Blaenau Ffestiniog (Steam loco 5043 as far as Llandudno Junction; Class 47 diesel to Blaenau)

Sunday 19 August Steam in North Wales Railway Touring Company 'North Wales Coast Express' Liverpool Lime Street, Broad Green, Warrington Bank Quay, Frodsham and Chester to  Llandudno, Llandudno Junction, Bangor and Holyhead (arr 14:30 dep 16:30).

Sat / Sun 25 - 26 August  Llangollen Railway Classic Transport weekend

Sunday 26 August Steam in North Wales Railway Touring Company 'North Wales Coast Express' Liverpool Lime Street, Broad Green, Warrington Bank Quay, Frodsham and Chester to  Llandudno, Llandudno Junction, Bangor and Holyhead (arr 14:30 dep 16:30).

Tuesday 28 August Steam in North Wales Railway Touring Company 'The Welsh Mountaineer' Preston, Warrington Frodsham, Chester to Llandudno Junction and Blaenau Ffestiniog (arr. 13:15 dep 16:10)

Saturday 31 August - 2 September  Llangollen Railway Autumn Steam Gala

September 2012

Sun / Mon 1 - 2 September  Llangollen Railway Autumn Steam Gala (continued)

Saturday 15 September Excursion Cheshire Cat Tours Holyhead, Bangor, Llandudno Junction, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl, Prestatyn, Flint, Shotton, Chester and Frodsham to Edinburgh.

Saturday 22 September Llangollen Railway Diesel Day

October 2012

Saturday 20 October Excursion Cheshire Cat Tours Aberystwyth , Borth, Machynlleth,  Newtown, Welshpool, and  Shrewsbury to Bath and Salisbury.

The first Class 67-hauled 1W91 Cardiff - Holyhead, with 67 002 and coaches 10259, 5976, 6137 and 9521 just arrived at Llandudno Junction at 19:55, 26 March. Driver Pat Duggan at the controls. Picture by Peter Lloyd.

Changeover day

Richard Fleckney was up and about at 06:00 on 26 March to record 57 316 calling with the final run of a Class 57/3 with the Holyhead - Cardiff 'Premier Service' before the takeover by Class 67 locos which was to begin that evening with the northbound train.

Emerging from the morning mist at Steel Heath, Shropshire  on the way to Cardiff (Nigel Emery).

At Newport, nearing journey's end, and the end of another era (Paul Harley). Note the five-coach consist.

A mid-week railtour - report by Mark Riley

West Coast Railway Company (WCRC) locomotive 47 786 Roy Castle OBE accelerates away from Wrexham with 1Z68 Compass Tours' 'The Cumbrian Mountains and Fells Explorer', Codsall-Carlisle (Via Settle),  on the morning of 21 March. 'Dead' at the rear is 47 826.

47 786 was originally named by Roy's wife, Fiona, in a ceremony at Waterloo back in 1994 to commemorate the wonderful entertainer's charity work and campaign against smoking. It's somewhat sad and ironic that non-smoker Roy died from lung cancer as a result of passive smoking from trumpet playing in clubs. The nameplates were removed for some reason, circa 1999,  but the name was restored in 2008 after the loco was purchased by WCRC; it is nice to see the name permanently in place now.  [One of the original nameplates was sold for £672 at an auction in 2011.]

Re-doubling to Wrexham

Wrexham Council has been telling the local press that the Welsh Government has given the go-ahead for work to begin on restoring the double track on the Wrexham - Saltney Junction route, which was singled in the late 1980s, reportedly to reduce the cost of building a bridge over the new Wrexham Expressway road. The cost of the re-doubling is estimated at £36.66m.

The line will be re-doubled for 7.5 miles from Saltney Junction to the foot of Gresford bank, the remaining 1.5 miles to Wrexham will be single up the hill and over the bridge which caused the line to be singled, saving £450,000 at the time.  The road from Wrexham to Chester, known as the Wrexham Expressway A483 runs from Swansea to Chester and is one of the busiest cross-border A-roads in North East Wales. In addition to the high extra cost, we understand that the Authorities have ruled out construction of a new double-track bridge due to the volume of traffic which would have to be diverted on to minor roads as foundation work would shut the road for weeks, not just a simple 'one out,one in' operation. The A483 already suffers from long tailbacks at the Chester junction.

The scheme, which has been one of the council’s strategic rail objectives and has been a priority of Taith, the regional transport consortia for some time, is being delivered under the Welsh Governments National Transport Plan, as part of the North - South Wales journey time enhancement project.

Councillor David Bithell, Wrexham Council's Lead Member for Transport and the Environment - and a Network Rail signaller who works at Croes Newydd - told the press: 'The news of the investment from the Welsh Government is excellent and indicates the importance of this route. This has been one of our strategic rail objectives and our elected members' rail group has lobbied directly and through Taith for investment and improvements to this section of railway. When these improvements are completed, we will have the potential to investigate new stations and for increasing the number of trains from hourly to every 30 minutes. With the consistent rise in passenger numbers at all our stations we will continue to press for increased services to more destinations.'

The scheme, funded by the Welsh Government, will also deliver further journey time benefits by raising the line speed between Gobowen and Shrewsbury to 90mph at a further cost of £9.8m. The works are expected to be completed by early 2015.

Before the single-line to Wrexham - by Dave Marks

Before the Saltney - Wrexham line was singled, here's Gresford Bank in March 1983, and 777 Sir Lamiel climbing towards Gresford,  half way up the gradient. Unfortunately the train was running late so I was down to 1/30 sec aperture.

An unidentified Class 56 passing the site of Rossett station about 1986-87 with steel coils for Shotton. Interesting to note that both up and down loops were still in place complete with lower quadrant signals at this date. Also that the station yard goods shed is still standing (just visible above the loco cab). The 45-gallon oil drum on the stocks was perhaps still in use by the signal lampman; the stone sharpening wheel. may be have been used by the plate-layers when they used scythes to mow the banks.

Class 31s in North Wales

In the early 1990s, in addition to the well-remembered Class 37/4s, the fleet of Regional Railways North West also included a number of Class 31 locos, of the 31/4 sub-class which had been fitted with provision for electrical train heating. These entered North West and North Wales passenger service a little before the 37/4s were obtained from the freight sector. The picture above is one of many in a new section of Dave Sallery's North Wales archives. 31 410 and 31 439 are seen leaving Prestatyn for Manchester on 17 July 1992.  The train is newly repainted in Regional Railways livery.

Dave's pictures also include shots of 31s on earlier North Wales workings such as the TransPennine trains of the late 1980s.

North Wales Circular

Also new on Dave Sallery's site is an update for this year of the Cambrian Rail Cruise pages, which are a guide for anyone wishing to make the
circular tour of North Wales by rail using the 'Ffestiniog Round Robin' ticket.

Class 57 Miscellany

21 March saw the North Wales Coast line used for a test run from Crewe to Llandudno Junction by DRS, with 37 259 and 57 011, seen above after arrival (Stéphanie Durrant).

The 37 was on test after overhaul, but it was 57 011 attracting attention departure with the return run from Llandudno Junction by creating absurd amounts of 'clag'. Picture by Geraint Jones.

57 309 Brains has now, like 57 304 shown in the last issue, lost its name and branding in preparation for transfer from Virgin to DRS; it was still working for Virgin on 24 March when it hauled the Saturday Pendolino service to Holyhead, as pictured by Darren Durrant at Shotton (above)  ...

... and  Richard Fleckney at Llanfair PG. We understand that 57 302 Virgil Tracy is also to get the same treatment, if it hasn't already. This leaves just three locos in Virgin Trains livery with 'Thunderbird names' - 307 Lady Penelope, 308 Tin Tin, and 308 Parker.

One of the two Arriva-liveried but unbranded 57/3s, 57 313, stands at Cardiff on 22 March. Whether the four blue locos 313 - 316 will be repainted now they are no longer needed by Arriva (see heading story) remains to be seen. Picture by Richard Fleckney.

The First Great Western company has a small fleet of four Class 57 locomotives, 57 602 - 605.  for use on the London - Penzance sleeper service. Richard Putley 'snapped' two of them in Old Oak Common depot, west London, from a passing HST on 24 March. The blue one is 57 603 Tintagel Castle and the GWR-liveried machine is 57 604 Pendennis Castle.  57 601, the prototype passenger 57, now works for West Coast Railway Company.

Summer Time Engineers - report by Mark Riley

The start of British Summer Time on Sunday 25 March saw an early morning engineers train working as 6L53 Bidston East Junction - Crewe Basford Hall. 66 151 is seen (above) just after 09:00 on the approach to Wrexham General, top-and-tail with 66 139 and a rake of assorted wagons with spent ballast.

With 66 139 (above) at the rear, the train ran up to Croesnewydd and then onto the down main for Chester and Crewe. Surprisingly this particular train kept almost perfect timing - sometimes they are late or simply never run!

Carrog to Corwen progress - report by George Jones

The nine-day tracklaying exercise by the Llangollen Railway volunteer workforce in February was successful in taking the rail head forward towards Plas Bonwm farm. The track reached the site of the occupational farm crossing in early March, 1500 metres west of the gate at Carrog. Here it was necessary to pause whilst drainage was put into contain farm yard slurry and prepare for the approach ramps for the crossing. A further four track panels have been laid since, but work is now stopped short of bridge 27 and a temporary stop block inserted in the location known as Bonwm.

With deliveries of stone to the yard at Carrog activity shifted to the ballasting of the new track from 12 March. The 08 shunter 13265 worked the train of Trout hoppers with the Shark plough van through to the end of the track and dropped ballast working eastwards towards Carrog. The picture above (taken with permission and appropriate trackside certification) shows the ballasting train with Class 08 08 shunter 13265 making a drop on the track immediately west of Carrog at the Home signal on 22 March.

By 23 March Ballasting had reached Culvert 25 near the lay-by on the A5. On completion of the ballasting exercise arrangements are in hand for a hired-in tamper machine to work on the extension in preparation for the formal inspection of the section by the end of March. An independent inspection will be conducted for the issue of a licence to allow for the carriage of the public on this section during the 'SSS3 gala' on 21-29 April and at other special events during the year.

For the time being, access is required via the gate near the former Bonwm Halt to allow for the delivery of materials. No further track laying will take place until the SSS3 gala is over. Preliminary work is under way on the section beyond Bonwm towards Corwen and the staff facilities at the former works site have been moved to a new location.

Much work has been done by the volunteer workforce on the lineside fencing and vegetation clearance but, with the approach of the bird nesting season, the latter activity will now cease. There remains plenty of work for volunteers to undertake to assist this project, but those wishing to become involved must be paid up members of the Llangollen Railway Trust, possess a Llangollen Railway Personal Track Safety certificate and be registered as a volunteer.

The grant aid provided by the Welsh Assembly Government for the Phase 1 project has now been fully allocated to costs for the financial year ended 31 March 2012. The Llangollen Railway Trust will now review the costs of the remaining work to be done and examine the options for attracting donations to provide for the matched funding to complete the project.

Britannia in North Wales, 14 March

Pacific 70000 Britannia travelled from Crewe to the West Somerset Railway on 14 March with its support coach, as train as 5Z70. It was replacing 71000 Duke of Gloucester which is undergoing repairs at Bury. George Jones photographed it (above) passing Ruabon.

A water stop was arranged at Chirk ...

... to take on water from a hydrant adjacent to the station. Martin Evans took its picture there.

Chirk Viaduct (Martin Evans).

During the stop, George Jones was able to get ahead of the train again, and see it at Gobowen (above).

Freight views

Ruabon at 10:10 on 14 March, and 6V75 Shotton to Margam empty coil train passes, in the hands of DB-liveried 66 152 (Martin Evans).

20 301 and 20 302 passing Bangor on 26 March with on Valley - Crewe flasks (Geraint Jones)

Sealand revisited - report by John Murray

On 20 March I made a return visit to the site of the Sealand RAF camp adjacent to the former Great Central Railway Chester Northgate to Dee Marsh line, now a cycleway. See the 14 March 2011 Notice Board. The former Sealand RAF camp is now a pile of rubble, as seen in the picture above.


Above, the site of Sealand station, with platform lamps visible.

Rail gate into the former camp.

Part of a Detonator placer which would have been operated from the signal box to stop a train in emergency.

Remains of the former railway are very much in evidence.

In the winter, reduced vegetation has exposed the level crossing which used to allow aircraft to cross the tracks, controlled by long gates which moved on their own tracks parallel to the line, and the entire extent of it can be appreciated. The western end buffer stops are more obscured that the eastern end and not in as good condition, but both buffer stops for the gate at the eastern end can be seen in the view above.

Above: Northern side tracks leading to buffers (left) and Entire extent of the northern side tracks showing buffers at both ends (right).

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