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03 September 2012
Heritage Weekend: Chester Station
Change looms for the WAG Express
Class 47s in the Conwy Valley
Virgin strikes back
Saturday on the Coast - with Roly High
Doing the Round Robin - report by Greg Mape
Welsh Holiday - with Ben Bucki
The Bill Rear legacy
A day on the Isle of Man Railway - with David Parry 30 August
Two more years for Wylfa
Llangollen Railway Classic Transport 25/26 August
Moorgate to Carrog - report by George Jones
Bank Quay Scenes - report by Martin Evans
Prestatyn renewed - pictures by Dave Sallery
The Mersey Moorlander - report by Stephen Hughes
Timetable Twaddle 27 August
The Great Marquess and the Welsh Mountaineer 22 August 2012
Llangollen weekend programme - report by George Jones
Farewell Virgin, Hello First
Number 9's last run (for this year)
DRS Open Day 18 August - pictures by Richard Fleckney
Working Timetables online
North Wales Jubilees
Chasing the A4, 12 August - with John Myers
Thomas gets Gold 20 August
The Welsh Dragon - 18 August 13 August 2012
60009 rides again, 12 August
Four days of locomotive pictures - by Stavros Lainas
Basingtoke to Buxton via Middlewich
Driving Van Trailer Training
Mystery structure identified
Out on the 'Long Drag' - report by David Parry
Day Out with Thomas
Consultation or imposition?
Looking back: A weekend in Anglesey - with Mark Youdan
On the Welshpool and Llanfair - pictures by Martin Evans
The Holyhead View - with M. Lloyd Davies
Penrhyn Railway news - report by Stephen Hughes
Cambrian Coast in yellow
06 August 2012
Push-Pull training starts
Brush replaces Gresley - 5 August
Virgin on Anglesey - pictures by Steve Morris
The end of Virgin Trains?
The Welsh Mountaineer 31 July
This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page. For
the current list visit our Calendar.
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
Monday 17 September RCTS
Chester North Staffordshire from the mid 1960s to the Early 1990s
By Max Birchenough.
Saturday 29 September, Railway Ramblers club. Guided Walk from Tryfan
Junction to Talysarn via Rhostryfan, Bryngwyn, Y Fron and Nantlle on or
adjacent to the Welsh Highland and Nantlle railway trackbeds. For
further details by post a reply to Chris Parker's message of
23/06/12 on the messages board of railwayramblers.org.uk. October
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
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
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"
Monday 17 December RCTS
Chester Members Slide/Digital Images – 30 Slides or artefacts of
Friday 4 January Clwyd Railway
Circle Pete Gray “Welsh Highland Railway” Our speaker
for the night is the Safety & Development Manager of the WHR;
previous to this, he was the Construction Manager from 2006-2010. Pete
will be talking about his experiences during this time and the
organization that is needed to keep the show on the road.
Friday 1 February Clwyd Railway
Circle Gordon Davies “American Wanderings 2, the Great
Plains Drifter” - Recollections of Gordon’s trip in 2008, covering the
largest open cast mine in Wyoming plus the world’s largest marshalling
Friday 1 March Clwyd Railway
Circle The Committee & Larry Davies. AGM followed
by the talk “60 years ago – Diamond days” After the formality is over,
we look forward to the talk by one of our favourite speakers.
Friday 5 April Clwyd Railway
Circle Michael Murphy 'Liverpool Overhead Railway' To
finish off the season, a highly recommended speaker known for his
light-hearted style of presentation. The talk will be followed by film
footage of the railway in its heyday.
Thursday 16 May LCGB North West AGM
and Members/Visitors Slides & Digital Photos.
6430 and auto trailer at Berwyn with the 17:25 Llangollen
to Bonwm, 1 September. Picture by Chris Jones-Bridger: more
steam gala pictures below.
News in Pictures
George Jones writes: 'With the sun going down in the west
and the shadows lengthening, I took one of the few remaining
opportunities to catch the Chirk-bound log train in reasonable daylight
as the nights begin to draw in again. On time and powering south
through Wrexham General on 3 September with 66 849 in charge
and signals on "Green All the Way" through Croes Newydd the consist
made a brave sight.'
29 August's example of the Monday-Friday training run (5Z51) with 82307
awaits the signal at Llandudno Junction at 10:30 (Peter Lloyd).
There have been one or two technical problems, such as flat batteries,
which will do doubt be overcome with due experience gained by the
appropriate staff. The DVTs are being fitted with driver controls for
power-operated train doors as fitted to refurbished Chiltern Railways
Mark 3 vehicles, although this useful (but expensive) refinement is not
being included in the Arriva Trains Wales coaches. No doubt Deutsche
Bahn, owner of both companies is looking for interchangeability, or
possibly re-use when the Welsh Government money runs out...
Llangollen Steam gala views - by Chris Jones-Bridger
Views from the Llangollen Railway steam gala weekend, taken on Saturday
1 September. Above, 2-6-4T 80072 at Glyndyfrdwy
working the 13:40 Carrog to Llangollen.
2-8-0 3802 at Glyndyfrydwy with the 14:00 Garrog to Llangollen
as Pannier Tank 6430 arrives with 13:25 Llangollen to Bonwm
Carrog, with 6430 propelling the 14:05 Bonwm to
Llangollen auto train as 44806 arrives with the 14:00 service
3802 at Llangollen being prepared for the 16:00 Carrog departure with
driver placing a headlamp on the top lamp bracket prior to removing the
tail lamp from the lower middle bracket.
On the subject of the Llangollen Railway and our recent item about the
restored suburban coach, Mark Hambly writes: 'It was not, as
suggested in the article, part of the original passenger stock fleet at
Llangollen but a later addition. Upon opening in 1981 and for a few
years thereafter the entire hauled passenger coaching stock consisted
of two BR non-corridor suburban, a nine compartment third and a six
compartment brake third. Initial operations were in push-pull mode with
the loco at the Llangollen end and a GWR 'Toad' brake van at the Corwen
end, with communication between guard and loco crew via a system of
Our information corresponds to a Llangollen
Railway press release, but on searching the Vintage Carriages Trust
database, we find that coach E43012 has indeed had a varied career:
'Preserved 1978, on Mid-Hants Railway till 1989. Resold 3/89 to
Northampton and Lamport Railway: but to Llangollen 7/99 and then to
Weardale Railway by 11/06 on (extended) one-year loan. Back to
Llangollen by 9/07.'
It seems these suburban-type vehicles have not always been popular with
heritage lines, particularly those (unlike E43012) with no corridor at
all and just individual compartments with their own doors. They are
nostalgic to those of a certain age, and all those old British Railways
doors (16 per coach on some vehicles) need maintenance, and ticket
checking on the move is impossible.
A Class 67 day out - report by Charlie Hulme
Realising that I had never actually travelled on the loco-hauled
express since the Class 67 locos took over, I decided to include it in
an afternoon outing on 29 August, taking in the Shrewsbury - Crewe
section which will not be covered by the train after 14 September as it
will travel via Wrexham. Starting from Manchester Piccadilly on the
14:30 to Cardiff, I didn't have time to reach Hereford, the only stop
south of Shrewsbury, so I alighted at Ludlow (above) for a brief, and
rather wet, visit to the town before heading back to Shrewsbury. A rare
opportunity to photograph some historic town buildings with no road
vehicles in view.
The first-built 'Adelante' 175 001, rolls into Ludlow on a
Holyhead-bound train which will return me to Shrewsbury. I recall
making a special trip to Crewe in 2000 to see this unit on its first
test run, a considerable time before any 175s actually entered service.
The weather had improved by the time I reached Shrewsbury, where the
station is a good place to watch trains, and as 'Adrian the Rock' says
in his excellent website
about the station and its signalling: 'There is simply no better
place than Shrewsbury on the Network Rail network if you're a fan of
mechanical signalling, especially for GWR or LNWR devotees.' 158 822
is seen above on a service from the Cambrian lines, about to arrive at
The rear unit of the train, whose number I failed to note, is one of
the Class 158 refurbishments carries the 'Welsh Government - Connecting
Wales' vinyl now being fitted, with the shioterr name now proferred for
the Government. Early examples had 'Welsh Assembly Government' and
later several 158s, and also the newly-acquired Driving Van Trailers,
were turned out with just a gap between the two sets of blue lines,
presumably waiting for new vinyls to be designed.
Severn Bridge Junction signalbox, seen in the distance in the
right-hand view above, which stands inside the triangle of lines
outside the station, is the largest mechanical signalbox still in use
in the UK. It controls some interesting semaphore signals governing
moves from Platforms 4 and 7 towards the Wolverhampton or Hereford /
Cambrian lines. The signalbox was built by the London and North Western
Railway, but the signals reflect the changes of management of the area
over the years, notably in the early 1960s. The London Midland Region
of British Railways used 'upper quadrant' signals on which the arm is
raised to indicate 'clear', whilst The Western Region stuck with
the Great Western's use of the traditional 'lower quadrant' where
the arm drops to indicate 'clear'. In both cases, the left-hand arm of
the pair allows a train to pass to the route to the left, and the
right-hand to the right-hand route.
Signal SBJ 11, on the left above, is a lower quadrant signal of a very
unusual kind, designed for places where limited width is available. The
pointed finials betray its Great Western origins.
SBJ 20, on Platform 4, is a more modern, and standard, London Midland
region type based on a London Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS)
design. (LNWR signals before 1923 were lower quadrant on wooden posts,
and few, if any still exist on Network Rail.) A close-up shows the
features of a typical semaphore junction signal. The wire, which is
connected via various linkages to the lever in the signalbox, passes
round pulleys to reach the pivoted arm with a weight which allow
adjustments, which in turn is connected to the signal arm itself.
Electric contacts detect the state of the signal to prove it has
operated correctly, operating an indicator in the signalbox. Behind the
coloured 'spectacles' is an electric lamp. Note that the glass for the
'green' signal at night is actually blue, combining with the yellowish
light from the bulb to produce the correct green. The white diamond
tells the driver that the line here has 'track circuit' detection; if
stopped at a signal without such a sign the rules require the train
crew to contact the signalman is stopped for more than a short time.
The right-hand arm of SBJ 11 has been lowered to allow 175 105
to depart with its Manchester - Cardiff train.
London Midland also serve Shrewsbury, most trains starting from the bay
platforms 5 and 6. Departing towards Birmingham from Platform 5 is a
lash-up of a Class 153 single-unit and Derby-built 'Turbostar' 175
175 111 departs to Cardiff against a background of Shrewsbury
Abbey Church, once part of an Abbey established in 1083, and used
as a Parish Church since the dissolution of the monasteries in Henry
VIII's time. The site of the remainder of the Abbey complex was mostly
lost when Thomas Telford's Holyhead Road (later the A5) was built
across it. Dominating the view is the West Tower, built in the 1300s.
Its great stained glass window has been dated to 1388.
67 003 runs round the curve into the station with the
16:15 Cardiff Central - Holyhead in good time for its 18:05 departure
for Holyhead, as I and other enthusiasts on a similar mission take
their pictures and hurry off to join the train.
The train was quite well filled on leaving Shrewsbury, but I found more
space in the last coach which is partly occupied by the guard's area.
These former Virgin Trains Mark 2 air-conditioned coaches have been
kept in decent condition by Arriva: their general ambiance has always
been comfortable and the window view good, although taller passengers
won't miss the fixed armrests between the seats which make getting in
and out of the window seat something of a gymnastic feat. It will be
interesting to see what sort of job is made of the replacement Mark 3
vehicles, which I understand have been stripped out internally. Not
those ghastly tombstone seats designed to save someone from whiplash
injury once in a million years, I hope.
Arrived at Crewe, I waited patiently to take the above view while a
very young enthusiast had his picture taken in front of the locomotive.
Will he be proud of the historic picture in years to come, or will he
buy a car and forget dirty old diesel locos? Note the filthy wall of
Platform 11 with its Byzantine arches, favoured by the LNWR architects
in Victorian times. Can it be cleaned, or is the terra-cotta finish too
badly stained? Virgin Trains, who have been managing the station,
certainly don't seem to have achieved much in this area.
The departure in YouTube video.
Three rails to Snaefell Summit - by David Parry
While in the Isle of Man recently, we decided to travel on the Snaefell
Mountain Railway, a 3’6” gauge electrically powered system using
wooden-bodied cars with bow collectors. The photos –
not in chronological sequence – give a flavour of this interesting
line. We joined the railway at Laxey Station, the interchange point
with the 3’ gauge Manx Electric Railway (MER) as shown
above. This picture gives a general impression of the
station with the SMR using the left track as its terminus, and the MER
using the two right tracks for its Douglas to Ramsey service. An
interesting feature is the mixed-gauge siding to the right of the cars.
At Laxey, a group of passengers queue to board car no 5, which
has the railway’s name in Manx Gaelic.
Car no 4 leaves Laxey, having crossed the Manx A2 road, a three
track level crossing shared with the MER, after which the two systems
Climbing towards the summit – and still below the cloud base – car 4
disturbs some sheep, who have been wandering over the
track. This photo shows one of the distinguishing
features of this railway, the raised horizontal centre rail which is
part of the Fell braking system, now for use in emergency, but
originally the main braking system. Here 'Fell' refers to
John Barraclough Fell, the inventor of the system, not the
Reaching the summit, any hopes of seeing the Five Kingdoms were
dashed! Enveloped in mist, car 6 waits outside the
café in front of car 3 on a charter, and time to join the
passengers from both cars inside for a cup of tea.
An fascinating trip on a unique system – and an interesting comparison
with our local Great Orme Tramway and Snowdon Mountain Railway.
Sources: 100 years of the Snaefell Mountain Railway,
Basnett and Pearson (1995); Snaefell
Mountain Railway, Wikipedia (4.9.2012).
Liverpool Central (Wirral) reopens - report by George Jones
The Wirral Line platform at Liverpool Central has now reopened after
refurbishment. The entrance is certainly more spacious but the full
impact of the concourse must await completion of the access to the
Northern line. Down on the Wirral platform (above) it is 'all change'
with white tiling and panels rather than the time-expired buff
panelling. The brown moulded seats have now gone in favour of metal
Bright and seemingly airy, but possibly bland, and to a national
standard as set on some of the London Underground stations. At least
the mucky marks on the panels opposite the platform have disappeared
some of which to my memory must have been there since opening in 1977!
James Street's inbound platform closed from 3 September for a similar
treatment. The results on the Northern line island platform must wait
until October to be revealed.