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17 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.
10 September 2012
News in Pictures
Llangollen Steam gala views - by Chris Jones-Bridger
A Class 67 day out - report by Charlie Hulme
Three rails to Snaefell Summit - by David Parry
Liverpool Central (Wirral) reopens - report by George Jones
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
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
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
Working Timetables online
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
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
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
This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page. For the current list visit our Calendar.
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 railwayramblers.org.uk.
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.
Saturday-Sunday 6-7 October Manchester Model Railway Society Exhibition, the Armitage Centre, Moseley Road, Fallowfield, Manchester (several bus services run from a stop near Oxford Road station.)
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"
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Virgin Voyager 221 113 passes Hargrave on the evening of 7 September as the 16:10 London Euston - Bangor; picture by Mark Youdan. The decision about the future of West Coast Main Line services is still 'in legal limbo' although new Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has said he sees no reason why it should not pass to FirstGroup as announced.
The changes to the 'WAG Express' over the past few days demand a whole issue to themselves - look for it on Thursday. Our thanks to everyone who has sent pictures and facts about its rather ragged story. In the meantime, here is a varied collection of items, and a couple of corrections. - Charlie
Rainbow at Helsby - report by Bob Greenhalgh(Apologies to Bob for messing up this item the first time round.)
I heard that the 'rainbow' 66 was due to work the Fiddlers Ferry gypsum train to Helsby and back on 4 September so off I went. Sure enough at 13:52, 66 720 in its rainbow colours appeared.
66 720 was unveiled at Wansford on the Nene Valley Railway on 3 July 2011 in a livery 'inspired by' Emily Goodman, aged six, with different versions on each side.
News from Arriva
We present (pasted in exactly as written) a press release issued by Arriva Trains Wales on 13 September:
125,000 extra seats for Commuters on the Arriva Trains Wales Network
Make of that what you will, readers. It's reassuring to know that even a multinational company owned by the German nation can make the odd typing blunder ... as for the figures, the website of leasing company Angel Trains quotes the seating capacity of Class 175 units as '134 seats per 2-car unit, 206 seats per 3-car unit'. Perhaps this does not include the flap seats in the vestibules?An extra 142 daily seats into Manchester in the morning commuter period from Chester via Warrington.
Mind the (158) gap
Our comments in the last issue (since edited) on the wording (or lack of) carried by refurbished Class 158 units some clarification. The version with 'Welsh Government' - now the preferred name of that august body - seen above in Adam Barnard's view taken at Newport on 11 September, has been fitted to recent refurbishments, including 158 829.
Units had been emerging from works with just an unsightly gap between the two sets of blue lines, as shown by 158 820 in Mark Riley's 2011 picture above.
The earliest ones to be refurbished, early in 2011, 158 840 and 158 821 carried 'Welsh Assembly Government' and its Welsh language equivalent. At least one of these, 821, has had its early vinyl replaced with the new one. Thanks to Adam and to Nigel Taylor-Williams for help with this item.
158 819, the last one to retain the silver 'Wales and Borders' livery, seen above at the rear of a Pwllheli-bound train leaving Llanaber in 2011, may well have disappeared into the LNWR works at Crewe for refurbishment by the time you read this.
Crewe to Tywyn by Club 55 - with Robert Darlaston
Arriva Trains Wales's Club 55 ticket (£18 ‘over-the-counter’ with Senior Railcard; slightly cheaper if bought ‘on-line’) gave me a highly enjoyable trip from Crewe to Tywyn where I had a couple of hours to view the Talyllyn Railway. I left Crewe for Shrewsbury at 10:08 on the 09:30 Manchester to Carmarthen, photographed (above) arriving at platform 6 formed of 175 102.
Having time to spare at Shrewsbury before the Cambrian connection, I left the station and climbed through the Castle grounds to Laura's Tower which gives a fine view over the junctions south of the station. I photographed a freight, possibly the 07:00 Portbury coal terminal to Rugeley power station, which can be seen on the south curve avoiding the station. In the 1950s, several summer Saturday passenger trains used the curve, including the 'Cambrian Coast Express' which thus changed engines at Wolverhampton instead of attaching a new one while reversing in Shrewsbury station.
Returning to the station, I photographed 175 110 leaving on the 08:05 Holyhead - Cardiff. Laura’s Tower can be seen looking down on the left of the picture.
The 11:27 departure to the Cambrian lines comprised two Class 158s forming the 10:09 Birmingham International to Aberystwyth and Pwllheli. It was my first trip in a refurbished 158 and I thought that a good job had been made to ensure that seats generally aligned well with the windows. Other companies please note! After passing an up train at Talerddig we arrived at Machynlleth a few minutes early. The 61 miles from Shrewsbury to Machynlleth had taken under 75 minutes: my first journey on that stretch of the Cambrian, in 1958, behind a GW 63xx 2-6-0, was booked to take 2hr 40min!
The black and white photo from 1958 is a reminder that in those days one could lean out of the window to admire the scenery on the nine mile long climb from Moat Lane Junction to Talerddig!
Back in 1958 it had been necessary to change to the coast line at Dovey
Junction where my connection is seen (above) having been brought in by 4-4-0 9004 ...
... but nowadays trains divide at Machynlleth so I remained in the rear set (158 821) which left at 12:55. After enjoying the scenic ride along the estuary past Aberdyfi the train turns north to Tywyn where I alighted and where 158 826 is seen waiting with the 13:25 for Birmingham.
A short walk takes one to Wharf station where No 2 Dolgoch, built in 1866 and now in an attractive deep red livery, is seen waiting with the 13:50 to Nant Gwernol.
Soon after the departure of Dolgoch, a train arrived from Nant Gwernol and is seen with No 7 Tom Rolt, the name commemorating the man who was instrumental in saving the line when services were suspended in 1950.
On my first visit to the line, in 1955, ex-Corris No 3 Sir Haydn had been working, and the black and white photo, taken from a similar viewpoint to the one of No. 7 above, shows the loco facing down the valley as the left side of the loco then had no cab access.
In the 1950s the station lacked proper facilities for coaling and watering locos. In the recent photo above, no 7 (built in 1991) is seen being coaled by the driver and lady fireman before the train set off for Nant Gwernol with the 'Fathew Flyer' at 15.00. (The stream which the line closely follows is the Afon Fathew).
There was time between the Talyllyn departures for a brisk walk to Pendre station where diesel loco No 8 Merseysider is seen passing with a short train of p-way wagons heading for the sidings just beyond the station.
Unfortunately, time did not permit anything more than a lingering look over the crossing gates up the line towards Abergynolwyn and Nant Gwernol.
Back at the Cambrian Coast station, school children are seen waiting as 158 838 arrives forming the 15:29 to Pwllheli, due to pass the 13:38 Pwllheli - Birmingham International which I would take as far as Shrewsbury.
The statistics supporting the closure proposals in 1970 claimed that at Tywyn only three passengers joined and alighted from the three o’clock departure for Dovey Junction: as the photo shows, in 2012 the 15:26 departure (set 158 825) is certainly many times busier.
At Machynlleth the coast train runs into the station first and is followed some minutes later by the unit from Aberystwyth, before the sets combine to form the 16:07 departure. (Picture from 2011.)
After changing at Shrewsbury I arrived back at Crewe just three or four
minutes late and waited to see the arrival of the 'WAG Express', alias
This was one of the train’s last runs via Crewe and I photographed its departure for Holyhead behind 67 003. I hope the folk of Wrexham make good use of the train after its diversion. It has always done good business at Crewe.
Mixed Gauge at Laxey
Let's have another look at David Parry's picture from last time showing the interchange at Laxey, Isle of Man, between the Manx Electric and Snaefell Mountain lines, with the mixed-gauge siding in the foreground.
George Jones writes: 'The mixed gauge was used in the days when SMR cars had to go down the MER to Derby Castle in Douglas for overhaul and of necessity had to change their bogies to the narrower gauge at this interchange point. The car was jacked up, and the original 3ft 6ins bogies run out and replaced by the 3ft MER type to allow for the car to transfer and be towed away. The book Rails in the IoM - A Colour Celebration by Robert Hendry shows this procedure in action, page 73.
'Since the SMR Laxey car shed was rebuilt such overhaul work is undertaken on site and the transfers no longer take place. I have never seen an MER car on this line either for real or in the many pictures of the location. It has to be a busy day for all SMR cars to demand space on this short section these days.
'Laxey remains fascinating for the many different workings which can take place on a minimum of track and point work. When it was really busy with extra short workings from and to Douglas, the organisation was something to behold without any signals to control movements and a station master using hand signals and a loud voice. The highlight must have been the parallel running with steam on site back in the 90s. It's a wonder no one ever gets run down.'
Carnforth to Holyhead
On 6 September, West Coast Railway Company locos 47 854 Diamond Jubilee and 47 804 cross the Roodee Viaduct out of Chester with train 5Z54 Carnforth - Holyhead empty coach move for the following day's Compass Tours excursion from Holyhead to Glasgow.
Mold Junction at 15:38 (Stavros Lainas).
47 854 catching the sunlight at Llandudno Junction, 16:24 (Peter Lloyd).
Approaching Holyhead (M.Lloyd Davies).
At Holyhead, the train was placed in the same siding as the Driving Van Trailer training train, seen in the distance (M.Lloyd Davies).
The Holyhead - Glasgow train the next day started very early in the morning, and returned late in the evening, apparently eluding our contributors.
67 001 (above) passes Llandudno Junction at 15:52 on 6 September being driven from Driving Van Trailer 82307 on the westbound driver training run (Peter Lloyd).
After arrival at Holyhead, the training train runs back to Valley to turn on the triangle so the DVT is facing forward ready to be used for driving on the next day's foray to Wolverhampton. Above, it returns to Holyhead after turning (M.Lloyd Davies).
At 07:37 on 8 September, 47 832 Solway Princess leads the Northern Belle empties across Chirk Viaduct, working as 1Z68 Crewe Carriage Sidings - Gobowen for the day tour from Gobowen to Bath Spa. 47 790 Galloway Princess is 'dead-in-train' at the rear. The train was two coaches too long to 'fit' the span of the viaduct in order for the two 47s to be included in the picture, but it was the best location for good light for miles around at that time of the morning. It should also be a good spot for photographing the Cardiff express from 17 September, which will look good here - if it's a sunny morning - at least for the next month or two. Picture and notes: Mark Riley.
Colas Rail loco 66 846 approaches Wrexham General with a train of timber wagons and passes one of the GSM-R communication masts which are being erected throughout the rail network. This one is reasonably well concealed from nearby housing. The next mast north of here is actually on Gresford bank. A legal 'loophole' means that Network Rail can actually site the masts without planning permission, though they do inform local residents what the masts are for when they decide to locate one near you! (Mark Riley).
Saturday 8 September's 'Pendolino drag' (Saturdays Only) west of Crewe of a London - Holyhead train, saw the return of 57 313, one of the 57s previously used on the Arriva Trains Wales Holyhead - Cardiff Premier Service. 57 313 is seen here on the 1A55 working from Holyhead back to Crewe at Foundry Crossing just leaving the Stanley Embankment which connects Holy Island to Anglesey (M.Lloyd Davies).
Ready to depart from Llandudno Junction. The Pendolino is 390 016 Virgin Crusader (Peter Lloyd). 57 313 can be recognised from some way off by its over-sized numbers.
One week later, 15 September, and it is 57 308 Tin Tin that is heading the train through Valley towards Crewe (M.Lloyd Davies).
DB Schenker loco 60 017 shows off the very striking British interpretation of German 'traffic red' as it passes Plumley with Northwich - Tunstead stone wagons on 3 September (Andrew Vinten).
Equally eye-catching, 97 303 and 97 302 powering towards Crewe through the mist at Whitchurch with the Aberystwyth to Carlisle Statesman Rail charter at 08:51 on 8 September (Stavros Lainas). These Network Rail locos, along with 97 304, are the only ones fitted with the ERTMS signalling in use on the Cambrian lines west of Shrewsbury, and often work this kind of train as far as Crewe where other traction takes over.
The Aberystwyth - Carlisle trip on 8 September proved so popular that Statesman Rail ran it for a second time, again fully-booked, on 15 September. This time, the 97/3s were taken off at Shrewsbury. Above, West Coast Railways 47 826 puts in a fine show passing Ditherington at 09:00 after departing Shrewsbury at 08:58, 40 minutes down late on the booked departure (Stavros Lainas).
With Beeston Castle on the horizon, 150 208 makes is way through Hargrave on the evening of 7 September with a Chester - Crewe shuttle working (Mark Youdan).
Variety at Crewe - report by Martin Evans
On Tuesday 11 September I decided to use a West Midlands Day Rover via Crewe. Just before leaving Crewe I noticed 20 305 and 20 308 shunting into one of the bay platforms adjacent to Platform 6 which I consequently photographed.
However, to my surprise while doing this 33 029 Glen Loy approached Platform 5 southbound with Carnforth to Southall empty coaches (above).
After travelling down to Nuneaton, Birmingham New Street and Stafford I arrived back at Crewe in bright evening sunshine just to find 86 605, 90 016 ...
... and 86 632 coupled together in the bay platform
I then found 92 003 Beethoven idling in Platform 8 as I waited for the loco-hauled service back to Chester.
Finally, in beautiful evening sunshine 175 115 was pictured leaving platform 6 and crossing to the Manchester line with a service from South Wales.
Welshpool and Llanfair gala - report by David Parry
This year’s Gala at the Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway enjoyed particularly fine weather, especially on Saturday 1st September, when the following were taken. The focus is on the volunteers who put on a first rate show, as usual. Thank you all very much! Above, original locomotive Countess being oiled and watered at Llanfair Caereinion station.
Joan being coaled by human chain in Llanfair yard.
The Earl exchanging single-line tokens at Cyfronydd. Interestingly, the modern signs perpetuate the Great Western 'SW' instruction for 'sound whistle.'
At Welshpool, Joan’s fireman picks up a coupling from the front of the loco. Joan is an 0-6-2 Kerr Stuart tank which was built in Stoke-on-Trent in 1927, for service on the sugar lines of the Caribbean island of Antigua. After being under restoration at Llanfair Caereinion for five years, the work including fitting a new boiler, it has re-entered service in Summer 2012 after 20 years out of traffic. The restoration was paid for by an appeal amongst members and supporters of the railway that raised £135,000.
Also at Welshpool, the newly restored Resita 0-8-0T no 19 receives attention to her smokebox.
[Inspired by our earlier W.L.L.R. item, Vince Chadwick had a day trip to the line; his report on the day can be found on the Vince's World blog.]
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