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09 July 2012
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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 are 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 Aberystwyth - and stations to Crewe - to Carlisle.
Saturday 22 September Llangollen Railway Diesel Day
47 805 takes the 'Northern Belle' out of Llandudno Junction, 29 June; see report below. Picture by Peter Lloyd.
Specials Galore! More next time. - Charlie
Concrete Bob returns
Good news for long-time readers of this site is that the two Class 37/4 locos which have been overhauled at Barrow Hill for use by DRS, 37 419 and 37 425 (seen above in 1993) are now available for traffic. Work on two more locos, 402 and 405, has begun at Barrow Hill.
37 425, which was one of the regular fleet used on North Wales trains from 1993, carried the name Concrete Bob on one side and Sir Robert McAlpine on the other, having been named in 1986 for the contractor who built the Mallaig line with its concrete viaducts. The West Highland lines were 425's first home after being rebuilt into a 37/4. Displaced by Class 156 Sprinters, it (appropriately perhaps) spent some time on stone traffic from the Peak District before joining the North Wales Passenger fleet in 1993.
It its later days, owned by EWS, it worked trains on the Cardiff - Rhymney line for Arriva and was given a 'heritage' large-logo blue livery and the names Pride of the Valleys / Balchder y Cymoedd in which guise it worked Arriva's 'Class 37 farewell' train to North Wales in September 2005, seen above at Llandudno Junction. Some time later, it made an appearance on the Anglesey - Austria aluminium train of fond memory.
DRS have had 37 425 repainted in their standard livery, quite understandably, but according to an item in Rail magazine they intend to reinstate the Concrete Bob names. Perhaps replica plates will be made, as the originals were claimed by the Railway Heritage Committee and were last heard of in the care of the Glenfinnan Railway Museum.
Note that DRS are holding a charity Open Day at their Crewe Gresty Bridge depot on 18 August. Tickets are available on a first come, first served basis at the entry gate on the day - no pre-booking required. Suggested minimum donation is £5 and we are told that a 'no hi-vis clothing' policy for visitors will be in force, which is good news. Hopefully 37 425 will be in attendance.
Picture News Miscellany
Flooding under Llanddulas Viaduct on 6 July. The Fire Brigade were pumping the water away from two low-lying houses (Greg Mape).
Colas Rail tamper DR 73942 makes a colurful sight in the Tamper Siding at Llandudno Junction on 6 July, stabled in between night shifts on the Conwy Valley line (Peter Lloyd).
Lady Penelope rides again: 57 307 brings the Pendolino from London through Llanfair PG on 23 June (Richard Fleckney)
'Royal' loco 67 006 Royal Sovereign at Llanfair PG with a Pathfinder Tours charter from Didcot to Holyhead, 25 June (Richard Fleckney).
"Can't do" Culture?
Two recent items from our inbox appear to show how hard it is these days for railway operators to do anything not done before. We cannot vouch for the reasons give - any comments very welcome.
Item 1: 'Statesman Rail have been told at the eleventh hour that their Yorkshire Coast Express' excursion featuring a run behind steam from York to Scarborough on Saturday 14 July will have to begin and end at Llandudno Junction rather than Llandudno. This is because of a decree by the "Area Signalling Supervisor" who has decided the platforms at Llandudno cannot accommodate 11 coach trains. If this decision is upheld, it will mean the end of Statesman's services to the resort and probably others as well.'We would guess that this is the same problem experienced in the past, in that a long train including a locomotive standing in the station will be detected by the track circuits protecting the station 'throat', and prevent the signaller from clearing the signals for any other trains although the actual routes into the other platforms is clear. The operators probably feel that the loss of revenue for a shorter train will destroy the business case for running the train. (This one is 'sold out'.) And serving Llandudno Junction instead, although only a couple of miles away, is just not as attractive; providing a coach transfer is more expense. How about uncoupling the loco and sending it back to Llandudno Junction until soon before departure, or even put it in another platform at Llandudno?
We hear that Arriva will honour Statesman's tickets on their first service from Llandudno to connect with the Scarborough train at Llandudno Junction. Full marks to them. The matter has been raised in Llandudno Town Council, and 'strong letters' are going to MP and AM.
Item 2: 'The six-car formation promised by Arriva on the Cambrian this summer (10:07 Machynlleth to Birmingham International) has not appeared due to the available platform length at Caersws having been shortened by metal fencing put up by NR when the level crossing was automated in March 2011. ATW 158's do not have selective door opening.'Is this the fencing installed in 2009, or is there even more fencing there now? Although the 158s do not have 'selective door opening' as such, there are stations on the Coast part of the Cambrian where the platform is not even long enough for a two-car train, and the conductor opens one door and tells passengers which one to use. Would this not work at Caersws, at least as a temporary measure?
Northern Belle to Blaenau 29 June
Friday 29 June saw the 'Northern Belle' luxury dining train visit the Conwy Valley, top and tailed by DRS locomotives 47 805 (standing in for Northern Belle-liveried 47 832) and 47 790 Solway Princess. Above, train 1Z31 07:54 Coventry to Blaenau Ffestiniog arrives at Llanrwst North (Garry Stroud).
By the time the train reached Betws-y-Coed the weather had taken a turn for the worse, but Garry Stroud braved the rain to photograph the train from the footbridge.
47 790 on the rear as the train heads up the gradient (Garry Stroud).
A detail of the above view shows the tail-lights fitted to this locomotive, which appear to be the reason why it does not require a batter tail-lamp attached when running on the rear of trains.
The 18:55 return working from from Blaenau Ffestiniog passes Glan Conwy (Garry Stroud)
47 790 brings the train off the branch into Llandudno Junction (Peter Lloyd).
The train arrived at Llandudno Junction at 20:12 departing, departing at 20:17 (see heading picture) after a very smart turn-round. Picture by Peter Lloyd).
The Snowdon Mountain Ranger, 30 June
Saturday 30 June was a fine day, bringing out our contributors with their cameras to see Compass Tours' 'Snowdon Mountain Ranger' excursion to the Conwy Valley line. Above, ahead of the special, 175 102 at Rhyl, pictured by Roly High.
The special, 1Z55 06:11 from Skipton, Keighley, Shipley, Wakefield Kirkgate, Huddersfield, Denton, Stockport, Altrincham and Knutsford to Betws-y-Coed & Blaenau Ffestiniog, was top and tailed by West Coast Railway Company's much-travelled 47 804 and 47 270 Swift. Above, the train passes the disused Rhyl No.2 signalbox (Roly High).
The 11-coach train on arrival at Llandudno Junction 11 coaches at 11:23 (Peter Lloyd).
47 270 at Llandudno Junction ready to take the train on to the Conwy Valley branch; trains from the east must reverse here to gain the branch. Departure was at 11:54 (Peter Lloyd).
Alongside the Conwy estuary at Glan Conwy (Garry Stroud).
Arriving at North Llanrwst, with the station garden in bloom (Garry Stroud).
The train waited at North Llanrwst North to pass the Llandudno - Blaenau Ffestiniog service train formed of 150 283 (Greg Mape).
Departing North Llanrwst, 47 804 on the rear (Garry Stroud)
Negotiating one of the line's tight check-railed curves near Dolwyddelan (Garry Stroud).
Stabled in the siding at Blaenau Ffestiniog after unloading the passengers (Greg Mape).
47 270 is on the rear passing Dolgarrog station on the return journey down the valley (Garry Stroud).
Tal-y-Cafn (Greg Mape).
Back on the main line, 47 270 approaches Shotton Low Level with return train 1Z56 16.10 Blaenau Ffestiniog - Skipton (Dave Rapson).
Immaculate 47 804 (recently repainted at Carnforth) tails the train at Shotton (Dave Rapson). Note the battery tail lamp - what is the difference from 47 790 (report above)?
In the evening at Chester, Virgin Super Voyager 221 110 James Cook, comes to a stand at 18:20 with a service to Holyhead. 175 007 pulls out of the bay platform, ahead of the Virgin train, on its way to South Wales via Wrexham.
47 270 arrives with the special...
... and runs into Platform 4 for a brief operational stop (Roly High).
The guard waves the green flag for the train to continue its journey back to Skipton (Roly High).
The Llangollen Samba - report by George Jones
One aspect of culture as seen during Llangollen's International Eisteddfod week provided something a bit different on Saturday 7 July. With the visiting class 31 5580 in service, the loco run-round was accompanied by the sounds of the samba as belted out by the visiting Karamba Samba band from Chester.
Just one of a range of events staged at the station during the week when TV teams brought international competitors down for filming in a heritage railway environment producing some hoped for promotional opportunities when broadcast in the International Eisteddfod review programmes.
Three Peaks by Rail 2012