Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

10 September 2012

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

Recent issues

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 2012
Picture Assortment
 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 2012
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
Freight views
Working Timetables online
Timetable troubles
North Wales Jubilees
Chasing the A4, 12 August - with John Myers
Thomas gets Gold

20 August 2012
The Welsh Dragon - 18 August

13 August 2012
60009 rides again, 12 August
Four days of locomotive pictures - by Stavros Lainas
Marine visitor
Basingtoke to Buxton via Middlewich
Driving Van Trailer Training
Mystery structure identified
Out on the 'Long Drag' - report by David Parry
 Manchester Jubilees
 Day Out with Thomas
 Consultation or imposition?
 Looking back: A weekend in Anglesey - with Mark Youdan

09 August 2012
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

Forthcoming events

This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page. For the current list visit our Calendar.

September 2012

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'

Monday 17 September RCTS Chester North Staffordshire from the mid 1960s to the Early 1990s By Max Birchenough.

Saturday 22 September Llangollen Railway Diesel Day

Wednesday Sept 26 September. Ffestiniog Railway Society Cambrian Heritage Railways. H.Gallagher & R.Williams.

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

Thursday 27 September Merseyside Railway History Group Tom Heavyside: Narrow Gauge Tracks

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

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”

Friday 12 October Altrincham Electric Railway Society "From Roade to York" colour slides of steam and modern traction at home and overseas from 1963 to the present day by Robin Patrick.

Monday 15 October RCTS Chester Steam Classes that failed to make Preservation; Powerpoint presentation By John Cowlishaw Using Edgar Richards Photographs.

Thursday 18 October Merseyside Railway History Group Gordon Davies:   American Wanderings (note, not the last Thursday due, to redecoration of the hall)

Wednesday 24 October Ffestiniog Railway Society    Railways and Tramways around Blaenau Ffestiniog.   D.Southern. (Note: not the last Wednesday this month.)

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)

Friday 9 November  Altrincham Electric Railway Society "30 Years of Steam Photography" a colour slide presentation by Phil Taylor.

Monday 19 November RCTS Chester – Conway and Llandudno Junction in B.R Days by Larry Davies.

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

Wednesday 28 November  Ffestiniog Railway Society My life with trains. B.Bushell.

Thursday 29 November Merseyside Railway History Group Andrew Scott:  Around the world with 80 trains.

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 Merseyside Railway History Group Angus Tilston:  Film & Social evening

Friday 14 December  Altrincham Electric Railway Society "Steam Saved from the Scrapyard" a colour slide presentation by Tom Heavyside.

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 your Choice

January 2013
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.

Thursday 10 January Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Speaker to be confirmed

Friday 11 January  Altrincham Electric Railway Society "Transport around Manchester from 1750" a colour slide presentation by Chris Makepeace.

Thursday 17 January LCGB North West Keith Naylor "Isle of Wight Railways"

Monday 21 January RCTS Chester Branch A.G.M. followed By British slides between 1983 & 2010 By Alan Donaldson.

Thursday 31 January Merseyside Railway History Group Geoff Coward:  Northeast China Steam 2002
February 2013

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 yard.

Friday 8 February  Altrincham Electric Railway Society "The Lynton & Barnstaple Railway" a digital presentation by Bob Barnard.

Thursday 14 February Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Speaker to be confirmed

Monday 18 February RCTS Chester The Northern Hub. A Talk By Duncan Law, Senior Programme Development Manager, Network Rail.

Thursday 21 February LCGB North West Mike Taylor "Preston and North"

Thursday 28 February Merseyside Railway History Group Dave Southern:  Rails to Blaenau Ffestiniog

March 2013

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 8 March  Altrincham Electric Railway Society "The ICI Hopper Trains" a colour slide presentation by Brian Arnold.

Thursday 14 March Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Speaker to be confirmed

Monday 18 March RCTS Chester B.R in the early 1980’s By Tom Heavyside.

Thursday 21 March LCGB North West Tony Harrison "The Dragon's Last Roar"

Thursday 28 March Merseyside Railway History Group AGM:  Members Slides

April 2013

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 11 April Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Speaker to be confirmed

Friday 12 April  Altrincham Electric Railway Society "Current Developments on Metrolink" a digital presentation by Tony Williams, Manchester Area Officer, Light Rail Transit Association.

Monday 15 April RCTS Chester Even Further Down Under: New Zealand In 2011 & 2012 By Geoff Morris.

Thursday 18 April LCGB North West John Sloane 'Steam Sheds and Diesel Depots'

Thursday 25 April Merseyside Railway History Group Richard Kells : Quiz and informal evening

May 2013

Thursday 9 May Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Speaker to be confirmed

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 auto train.

Carrog, with 6430 propelling  the 14:05 Bonwm to Llangollen auto train as 44806 arrives with the 14:00 service from Llangollen.    

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.

Suburban detail

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 bell codes.'

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 Platform 4.

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' 175 501.

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 diverge.

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 terrain! 

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 benches.

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.

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