Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

02 August 2012

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This site is dedicated to all our regular contributors and supporters, and especially the rail staff of North Wales.

Forthcoming events

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 DRS Open Day, Gresty Lane Depot, Crewe.

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)

Friday 7 September  Clwyd Railway Circle  Glyn Jones  “John Summers & Sons Ltd” A look at the Steelworks at Shotton from its opening in 1896 to the closure of the heavy end in 1980. The talk includes footage of the iron ore trains from Bidston.

Thursday 13 September Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Keith Jones with a double barrelled show of “The History of Penmaenmawr Quarry & its rail system” followed by “Building and running miniature steam locomotives”

Saturday 22 September Llangollen Railway Diesel Day

Thursday 27 September LCGB North West John Owen "Vintage US Steam in Cuba"

October 2012

Friday 5 October    Clwyd Railway Circle    Les Nixon “55 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.

Thursday 11 October  Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society John Barden Davies tells us “How railways made North Wales a Tourism destination”

Thursday 25 October LCGB North West Tom Heavyside "B R in the North West"

November 2012

Friday 2 November    Clwyd Railway Circle  Dave Southern “Chester to Pwllheli” The slide show will follow a journey from Chester to Pwllheli via Oswestry. There will be slides of each of the lines we pass on the journey, based on the early 1960's.

Thursday 8 November  Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society AGM followed a look at “The Llandudno Transport Festival over the Years” (Guest Speaker)

Thursday 22 November LCGB North West Norman Matthews "Steam in New Zealand"

December 2012

Friday 7 December    Clwyd Railway Circle   “Members Night & Christmas Celebration”  Members are invited to give a 15/20 minute presentation of their choice (any format). This will be interrupted by festive treats (all high calories).  Members must book their slot with David Jones no later than 20 November.

Thursday 13 December  Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Christmas Social helped along by members Alex Cowan confirming to us that “Trainspotting was an education” and Larry Davies taking us back to “1962 – a year of change”

Thursday 13 December  LCGB North West Les Nixon "55 Years of Railway Photography – Part Two"

175 110 and 175 105 made up the 15:40 departure from Holyhead to Manchester Piccadilly, seen departing Holyhead on 29 July. Picture by M. Lloyd Davies.

Quite a lot of pictures have been received of recent steam specials. Thanks everyone: as many as possible will appear in the next issue. Meanwhile, here is catch-up on some other things. - Charlie

Prestatyn Progress - report by Dave Sallery

Some photos of progress on the new station building at Prestatyn, which looks uncannily like the old one.

The original building, built from London and North Western Railway prefabricated wooden parts, was considered a historic structure, although not actually 'listed' as of national interest, but on inspection was considered to be in poor condition, so it was agreed to build a replica as part of the improvement project, begun in 2010, which includes a new footbridge, seen in the background.

All credit to those concerned for creating an authentic LNWR look.

Many stations on the old LNWR system had buildings like this, and some have survived the years. Prestatyn's dated from the 1880s when the line here was increased from two tracks to four.

The main building and goods shed of the original station, designed by Francis Thompson for the Chester and Holyhead Railway, still exist a short distance to the east and definitely are Listed, although dwarfed by the new retail park buildings they are to be returned to commercial use.

Compass Tours to Holyhead

Friday 27 July saw a Compass Tours excursion from Carlisle to the North Wales Coast, hauled to Holyhead by West Coast Railway Company's celebrity locomotive 47 854 Diamond Jubilee. Above, the westbound train calls at Bangor, picture by Rowan Crawshaw.

On the other end of the train was 47 786 Roy Castle OBE. Picture by Richard Fleckney.

The rural scene west of Bangor (Alan Crawshaw).

After stabling during the afternoon the train is seen here being pulled back down into Holyhead Station by 47 854, the loco at the far end of the train in this view.

47 786 stands awaiting departure from Holyhead.

The return train at Valley with 47 786 leading (Mark Youdan).

 Rhyl (Ivor Bufton)...

... and 47 854 on the rear, as 175 103 passes.

175 002 repaired

175 002 is back in traffic repaired after its dramatic collision (newspaper report) with a trailer loaded with hay on a level crossing near Whitland in South Wales on 19 December 2011. It is seen here (picture by 'Concrete Bob') on 27 July returning from a re-commissioning test run from Chester to Shrewsbury via Crewe. Wolverton works have done the work, and Alstom at Chester were subcontracted to commission the unit prior to a return to service.

60s Gala at Llangollen - report by Chris Jones-Bridger

28-29 July was a '60s Gala' at the Llangollen Railway. Here are some views from the Saturday. Above:  Class 109 railcar at Glyndyfrdwy working the 11:40 Carrog - Llangollen.

2) Class 109 at Llangollen waiting departure as the 1225 Llangollen - Carrog.

D5310 at Llangollen undertaking the run-round move after arrival of the 12:40 Carrog-Llangollen. See the Llangollen Diesels website for more about the line's diesel fleet.

The Llangollen Goods Junction signalman exchanging single-line tokens with the footplate crew of 44806 on the 15:00 Llangollen - Carrog

44806 at Berwyn: driver waiting the 'right away'. The railways runs every day during August: see the Llangollen Railway Timetables.

On the Parliamentary - report by George Jones

Saturday 21 July saw the first run of the year by the weekly summer-only one-way train from Chester (picture above by John Murray) to Runcorn using the Halton curve - the now rarely-used connection from Frodsham Junction to Halton Junction. As in previous years, the North Cheshire Rail Users' Group (NCRUG) arranged for Northern Rail to extend the run for this one Saturday only to Liverpool South Parkway, and a vintage bus link was provided to bring passengers back to Chester.

The allocated rolling stock was Yorkshire-embellished 150 228 which had worked round to Chester from Ellesmere Port, running empty from Helsby.
The interior with its original 3+2 seating (above, picture by John Murray) is very different from the more comfortable 2+2 version now found in Arriva 150s.

Away on time for 07:53, the service called at Helsby and Frodsham to pick up NCRUG supporters. The progress on the Halton Curve was slow and allowed some time to view the wide spectrum of the Mersey estuary on the climb to Halton Junction and onward to Runcorn main line station. Here at least one member of the public took advantage of the extra service to make the journey to Liverpool South Parkway.

Beyond Ditton the unit crossed to the down slow line as a London Midland Class 350 service was due to catch up and was close behind on the fast line when we arrived at Liverpool South Parkway (above) at 08:30. Here station staff were on hand to greet the complement of passengers numbering upwards of 95 people as an example of interest in using the route as a short cut to south Liverpool and access to Liverpool John Lennon airport.

Using Merseyrail connections I completed a circuit of the Mersey estuary arriving back at Chester at 10:08 after an all too short rail jaunt. How many people will be on next Saturday's more normal service from Chester to Runcorn, I wonder? Still a journey worth experiencing for the unusual route by today's standards although some will recall it as a regular train service option from Liverpool Lime Street to North Wales. The possible future of the line was recently raised in Parliament: see a local press report.

Well done by Northern and NCRUG for arranging another extended journey,  details of which were broadcast on BBC Radio 4's You & Yours midday programme: an illustration of the media's fascination with 'Ghost Trains'.

[Note: The term 'Parliamentary Train' comes by analogy with the early days of railways when Acts of Parliament would require companies to run one train a day at a cheap fare; in modern usage if refers to a minimal service which is run to avoid the complications of a statutory line closure procedure. The minimum service required seems to be undefined, and would not appear to require the train to run in both directions - which would be impossible in this case as the necessary crossovers have been removed.]

Crewe 1995 - pictures by Peter Hanson

Thanks to Peter for sending these pictures taken at Crewe on 27 August 1995, the day of the Crewe Railfair, which will bring back memories for some readers. At the event 47 705 (above), previously named Lothian for Scottish duties, was named Guy Fawkes by owner Peter Waterman. Mr Waterman had a good reason for choosing the name: as part of the privatisation of the railways he had purchases British Rail's charter operation including a fleet of locomotives and coaches, apparently on the understanding with the Government that Waterman Railways would be a sole provider of charter trains, only to realise belatedly that the market would be open to all anyone who could obtain the appropriate licence. The livery is London and North Western Railway lined black - the record producer's favourite.  He also  obtained the rights to that pre-1923 company's name, which lives on in the maintenance works at Crewe that he established and later sold to Arriva.

As for 47 705, it passed through the hands of other owners, and in 2003 entered the Brush Works at Loughborough to be rebuilt for use by Virgin Trains as 57 303 Alan Tracy. in which guise its duties included hauling Pendolinos to Holyhead. Today, painted yellow and nameless, it works for Network Rail.

37 412 Driver John Elliott, by that time in the ownership of Transrail, one of three freight companies formed from British Rail's freight sector in the hope of selling them separately to create a competitive market. At that time ten Class 37/4 locos hired from Transrail were allocated to North Wales passenger traffic, but this was not one of them, although it did make some appearances in 1999 and 2000, including a memorable trip to Llandudno by a group of website contributors.  Today it is owned by DRS and lies at Barrow Hill depot in poor condition, likely to be cannibalised to restore sister locos to traffic.

Four-car Voyager

The evening of 22 July, and a Virgin train from London arrived at Chester composed of 221 107 Sir Martin Frobisher and 221 101 Louis Bleriot; the latter, as Roly High's picture shows, running with four coaches rather than five. The story behind this lies in the flooding and chaos of the last days of of June, when 221 101, coupled to another set, was working an afternoon Birmingham - Glasgow train which was very full after picking up the passengers from a London - Glasgow Pendolino which had been turned back due to flooding. Unfortunately during the journey towards Scotland an engine fire occurred under one of the coaches, leading to a call to the fire service, more delay and arrival several hours late into Glasgow, followed a little later by the return to traffic of 221 101 with one coach removed awaiting repair.

Back to 22 July: the train divided at Chester, the five-car front portion forming the 20:14 to Holyhead, and  the four-car rear portion leaving in the other direction at 20:37 for Crewe only (Roly High).

Shrewsbury spruced up - report by George Jones

A visit to Shrewsbury on 19 July found things looking spick and span on the island platforms 4-7 with a new coat of Arriva colours applied to appropriate surfaces. It turned out there had been a visit the day before  by the Transport Secretary so the usual improvements had been put in place to make the right impression. The pictures show the refreshed exterior of the Passenger Lounge and the staircase entrance with Customer Assistance Point in the background.

However, all this is due to change with the Customer Assistance point moving into the Passenger Lounge and so facing outward-bound passengers coming up the stairs. A new glass waiting room is to take the place of the Customer Assistance Point behind the staircase creating a revision to the age-old Shrewsbury scene.

No doubt the Transport Secretary's visit had been urged upon her by the local MP who promotes the need for a direct London service.

Curzon Park Footbridge, Chester

The footway attached to the bridge carrying the North Wales Coast railway across the River Dee in Chester has been closed since the work began on refurbishing the rail bridge. The footway is not (according to the Ordnance Survey map) a public right-of-way, so presumably Network Rail has no obligation to retain it.

However it is now reported that the footbridge is to be totally renewed, as on inspection it was found to be beyond economical repair. Cheshire West and Chester Council have been able to find the additional cost of £100,000 by cancelling other works planned within their repair programme.

The replacement footbridge will be installed over the remainder of this year and should be open by no later than Christmas 2012. There will be minor improvements for cycle access on the steps each side of the river, and the bridge will be slightly wider than the existing structure, but it will remain a pedestrian crossing.

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