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16 April 2012
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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
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: www.mcrua.org.uk
(now fully booked but a waiting list is in operation.)
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
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
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.]
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
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
Saturday 20 October Excursion Cheshire Cat Tours Aberystwyth , Borth, Machynlleth, Newtown, Welshpool, and Shrewsbury to Bath and Salisbury.
37 608 and 37 603 pass Colwyn Bay on 11 April running about 1½ hours early with 6K41, flask train for Crewe (Jack Bowley)
The 21 - 29 April Llangollen Railway / Betton Grange Society Steel, Steam & Stars III Gala will feature several visiting steam locomotives, and public trains will run for the first time on the newly-rebuilt section line beyond Carrog as far as Bonwm.
The new line has been packed and aligned by the hired in tamper DR73309 (above).
The line was inspected for use and some tidying-up noted which required topping-up of ballast. On evening of 11 April the 'Black 5' 44806 was used to work the ballast train east from Bonwm. The pictures show it running light- engine (top) and with the ballast hopper wagons (above).
On Sunday 15 April route learning on the extension was conducted with train crews riding the class 104 railcar west of Carrog to have features pointed out to them.
In the yard at Carrog work has progressed in setting down a unusual (unique?) dual gauge track layout to accommodate the two visiting narrow-gauge engines with Dolgoch due from the Talyllyn Railway (2'3" gauge) and Palmerston from the 1'11½" gauge Ffestiniog Railway.
The first of the visitors the Caledonian Railway 0-6-0 No.828 arrived at Llangollen (above) on the evening of 11 April. The LNWR 'Coal Tank' is due on 16 April, BR Pacific Britannia and the LNER 'N2' 0-6-2T the following day and 60163 Tornado and the LNWR 'Super D' on Wednesday 18 April. The BR 4MT Tank 80072 is back from its west country travels. The line up then should be complete.
The 11am service train from Llangollen on Friday 20 April is due to be headed by Tornado with Foxcote Manor on the back to allow a sortie west of Carrog on to the extension for volunteers engaged in the work and invited guests. Passengers may join them on purchase of a special Edmondson ticket which will be on sale (More later).
Note to photographers: Pictures of trains on the extension are available from a limited number of public places from the A5. The available car parking is in the lay-by west of Llidiart y Parc which may mean an element of walking to reach locations including a footpath. Care is needed as this is a notably speedy stretch of the A5 when traffic comes through in "flights" from the traffic lights at Corwen and Llangollen; it is noisy and the train can be hard to hear approaching. There is no lineside access on this section other than at the public footpath to the Riverside Walk.
We trust all photographers will contribute to the event by purchasing a ticket to support the gala which is being arranged at considerable expense in the hope of making a profit towards the building of the Grange locomotive. In addition the Llangollen railway looks towards the further promtion of the Corwen extension project and the need for finacial aid to allow for its completion.
Editor's note: The organisers have made a special promotional video aimed at those who might want to persuade friends or family members to visit the gala.
Dee Marsh activity - report by Marc Jones
On Friday 13 April I took a fairly uneventful trip from my home in Buckley to Neston, on my return journey I noticed some activity at Dee Marsh sidings as the two 08s, owned by RMS Locotec, which shunt wagons for Shotton steel coating works were performing shunting activities so I grabbed some photos from the moving train. Above is 08 756 which is painted in British Steel light blue.
I've gone by the yard countless times and never seen any signs of life in the sidings so this was a surprise. This is 08 936 which is dark blue and carries the RMS lettering in a similar style to the old LMS railway.
Also in the yard, contractors were cutting up a bogie steel carrier which appeared to be one of the curtain-sided ones, I don't know why the wagon was being cut up or whether this is a regular occurrence, maybe a reader could enlighten us.
66 034 at Wrexham on 13 April with the 6M86 evening steel coil train to Shotton, formed of the usual assortment of wagons. Picture by Martin Evans.
37 606 at the head of the flask train, seen from the public footpath at Old Colwyn, 12 April (Stéphanie Durrant).
Arriva Blue 57 313 worked the Saturday Pendolino on 14 April: Darren Durrant photographed it working hard in the morning westbound out of Colwyn Bay (above)...
... and heading for London through Old Colwyn in the afternoon. We hear that there may be an other extra afternoon 'Pendolino drag' from Crewe to Holyhead on 5 May (see last issue), as a result of more engineering works 'down south.' If so, there will be a lot of loco-hauled trains about that day as there are two excursion trains scheduled - see forthcoming events, left column.
Readers will recall that some ex-Virgin Trains Driving Van Trailer (DVT) vehicles have been acquired by Arriva Trains Wales, with a view to operating the Holyhead - Cardiff expresses with Class 67s in 'push-pull' mode. However, this has not happened.
Blue-painted and refurbished 82306 and 82308 have been at Cardiff Canton for a while, but it does appear that, as we have hinted previously, someone 'forgot' that their controls would need modification to work with Class 67 locos. Some weeks ago, staff from Brush were noticed working in the cab of one of then, suggesting that something is being done to rectify this.
We understand that Arriva are not having the electric train heat generators fitted, like Chiltern Railways, but do have the rail-sanders to improve braking. It is still unclear what rolling stock is to be used; some wiring changes will be needed to match Class 67s with their American standard multiple working sockets. Theoretically, 67s can run in multiple with Class 59, 66s, and possibly also Class 70s, which may be useful if a train fails as a rescued train could still be driven from the DVT (?).
A third Arriva DVT, 82307 left the Brush works in early April and is currently being used by Chiltern. This has been done properly from the start - it has been seen on a Marylebone - Birmingham service with Virgin red and BR blue/grey stock, from the collection which DB Regio have been accumulating. Maybe we will see those coached in North Wales? Nobody seems to know, however, exactly when the DVTs will appear in our area, or whether loco working is to commence on the train which runs via Wrexham. There are some suggestions that changes will occur from the end of May, but nothing definite.
John Hobbs writes to say that the Class 56-hauled steel train photographed at Rossett in the mid-1980s by Dave Marks (26 March issue) would have been from Ravenscraig steelworks in Scotland (closed down in 1992) not South Wales as we implied in our caption.
From the same issue, the relic (above) photographed by John Murray on the site of the one-time Sealand station has been positively identified as the remains of a detonator placer. The mechanism allowed allowed the signalman to place on the rail by remote control a small explosive charge which would cause a loud bang when a train ran over it - drivers know that such a sound means danger, proceed with extreme caution. Detonators could also be manually fixed to the line - one or two would be carried on trains to be placed a distance behind the train by the crew if a train failed or otherwise stopped in an unusual place. Another loco or train sent to push a failed train would run over the detonator, hopefully ensuring that it would not run at full speed into the failure.
Nick Jones writes: 'It would have been operated by Sealand box - usually a white lever with black chevrons - the chevrons were either 'up' or 'down' according to which line they applied. The picture, I'm almost certain, depicts a single-shot placer. Double-shot placers were also used at some locations.'
'Generally they were used in areas that were prone to fog (this may have applied to the flat land of Sealand) and were usually in advance of a distant signal that may have been difficult to sight. The distant would have been in the section rather than in station limits although at this location some signals were combined i.e. a distant and stop signal on the same post. This was common practice in areas were there was a requirement for short blocks. The two signals on the same post were operated wholly independently - the distant applying to the stop signal in advance.'
Following our item on the Llanddulas shipwreck, Eryl Crump writes to point out that view of the demolition of the ship will not be possible from the North Wales Cycleway, as we suggested - it has been closed at that location while the work is completed. Above, another view by Greg Mape, showing a 175 having just passed the site of the accident.
An interesting fact about 67 002, now allocated to Arriva Trains Wales workings (above at Holyhead by M.Lloyd Davies) reader Eddie Knorn writes to remind us that this machine, then named Special Delivery, was involved in a rather spectacular accident near Bristol in 2000, running away with its postal train past a signal at danger and into the rear of a coal train; the loco finished up on top of the coal wagons and wedged under a bridge. The driver was injured, but survived the experience, and the loco was repaired. Good old Youtube has some footage of the aftermath. We don't want any of that sort of thing in North Wales!
Chester contrasts, 14 April - pictures by Roly High
Saturday 14 April saw steam at Chester in the shape of 70000 Britannia, hauling Steam Dreams' 'The Cathedrals Express' excursion from London.
After running in black livery for a while, as it briefly did when first built in 1951, 70000 now wears the British Railways green with orange and black lining and early 1950s 'unicycling lion' symbol. It is said that Mr Riddles, BR's chief engineer from nationalisation in 1948, who in his youth had worked for the London and North Western Railway, favoured LNWR black livery on BR, but 'top brass' insisted that the more important passenger engines should be more colourful. After attempts to use blue paint which apparently proved to fade too quickly, by 1951 a version of the Great Western Railway livery had won the day. Black was kept for non-express locos, and also appeared on the first passenger diesels.
70000 has a Westinghouse-style steam-driven air pump, which allows it to haul air-braked rolling stock, now standard on National Rail. Right, one of the loco crew agrees the next move with the Chester signaller....
... before the loco and support coach proceed into the sidings of the Alstom depot where the tender is replenished with coal. The next step would be to run the loco and support coach round the triangle of lines west of Chester station in order to face south for the return journey.
67 028 at the other end of the train.
The coaches were something of a mixed lot: on the left (above), a Mk 1 First Class open coach in the chocolate and cream livery applied by Riviera Trains, on the right a maroon vehicle painted for the Scottish Railway Preservation Society which owns a set of main-line coaches. Note the different bogies: on the right, the 'commonwealth' style and on the left the simpler B4 type which was developed by BR engineers.
Ready for departure. This loco will be working on the Llangollen Railway from 21 April - see the 'SSS3' item above.
Also seen in Chester station, the modern equivalents of the Britannias, Class 221 'Voyager' units of Virgin trains, which also carry names of famous travellers. Above, waiting in Platform 1 to return to London is 221 106 Willem Barents.
Willem Barents (originally Barentsz) was a sixteen-century Dutchman who explored the Arctic in the hope if finding a north-east passage from Europe to the far east.
221 101 Louis Bleriot and 221 102 John Cabot forming a ten car train to Euston. 44 of these Class 221/1 tilting versions of the Voyager were built by Bombardier; when the Cross-Country franchise was lost by Virgin in favour of Arriva, some went to Arriva which removed the names.
Virgin's final share after some temporary arrangements was 5-car sets 221 101 - 118 and 4-car sets 221 142 - 144. 221 144 has been disbanded, and its non-driving coaches added to other sets; it was named Prince Madoc - what happened to the nameplates? Only units 101 to 113 and 143 now carry the 'traveller' names - see our Class 221 page for the full list. Others were de-named when temporarily used by Arriva, and the nameplates were not restored when they returned, as Virgin had sold them for charity in the meantime, even though it was known that they were returning. 221 142 has been re-named named Bombardier Voyager after its manufacturer and has a special livery, and 221 115 has been re-named Polmadie Depot.
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