Rainbow at Helsby - report by Bob Greenhalgh
News from Arriva
Mind the (158) gap
Crewe to Tywyn by Club 55 - with Robert Darlaston
Mixed Gauge at Laxey
Carnforth to Holyhead
Variety at Crewe - report by Martin Evans
Welshpool and Llanfair gala - report by David Parry 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
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
This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page. For
the current list visit our Calendar.
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.
Wrexham, 16 September. Picture by Mark Riley.
All Change for the Premier Service - special issue
Monday 17 September was the date fixed for a major revision of the
Welsh Government-sponsored 'Premier Service' operated by Arriva Trains
Wales between Holyhead and Cardiff. Two out-and-back workings
have recently been operating: the original 'Y Gerallt Gymro'
locomotive-hauled train introduced in 2008 with restaurant facilities,
05:32 Holyhead - Cardiff via Crewe and 16:15 return, and a Class
175-worked service running via Wrexham and running later from Holyhead
at 07:51 and returning from Cardiff at 18:18. This began running in May
At the time it
was said that 'from December 2011, the Class 175 train will be
replaced by a Class 67 locomotive with carriages similar to those used
on Y Gerallt Gymro, including a first class carriage and dining
facilities.' However political expediency and lack of funds overtook
this plan and the Class 175 with its 'trolley service of hot food'
continued to run, although observers wondered how a train could be
taken from the fleet intended from Arriva's normal fleet for this
purpose. To serve Wrexham the train needs to reverse at Chester, which
is a problem with a locomotive-hauled service unless it can work
'push-pull' with a 'Driving Van Trailer' (DVT) at the other end, and in
Spring 2012 Arriva acquired three of these, formerly used by Virgin
Trains, and work started on repainting them in Arriva livery.
67 002 calls at Flint on 27 March. YouTube video by Matthew5774
(included by permission)
From 26 March 2012, Class 67 locomotives took over from Class 57/3 on
the original loco-hauled service. During the Summer, discussions took
place about what to do next, and it was eventually announced that from
17 September there would be just one return working, using the
locomotive-hauled train with 'new' standard-class coaches of Mk3 type
replacing the older Mk2 type. These new coaches would be
ex-Virgin trains vehicles now owned by DB Regio, to be fully
refurbished by the Pullman Rail workshops at Cardiff. The train
would work push-pull with DVT, and run via Wrexham in both
directions. The return from Cardiff would be at 18:21.
At some stage, it was realised that the control equipment of the DVTs
was not compatible with the requirements of the Class 67, and extra
work was needed to make them work together. Drivers then had to be
trained on the DVTs, and a training train began running in early August
using a Class 67 and a DVT. Diagrammed for a Monday-Friday daily return
run, some days have missed due to various problems.
The northbound service on Thursday 13 September turned to give the
last performance at Holyhead station (on a regular basis)
traditional locomotive run-round beloved of railway modellers with
branch-line layouts. 67 001 was the star for the evening, and M.Lloyd
Davies was there to take this sequence of views. Above, 67 001 has
uncoupled from its train in Platform 3 and moved forward into the
'neck' before running back over the turnout seen behind the loco to run
past its train.
Having run past, the loco then sets back on to the other end of the
... and is coupled ready for the next move, which on this occasion will
be a shunt to the carriage sidings.
A look at Mk2 Brake Standard Open (BSO) carriage 9539, with its
compartment for the guard and luggage. Built at Derby in 1974, this was
the last of a batch of 30 such vehicles built in the Mk 2F (final)
sub-type, and was the very last coach of this particluar configuration
to be built for British Rail.
6137 is a Tourist Standard Open (TSO) - the term 'Tourist' in this
context meaning that there are pairs of seats each side of the central
gangway. It is also a Mk2F - over 200 of these were built at Derby.
These coaches will be taken out of service as soon as the refurbished
Mk3s are ready; many others will continue in service with private
owners, though. They will be missed: unlike most modern coaches, all
the seats are around tables and have a view through the window.
The night scene at Holyhead.
Above, the last southbound working via Crewe on Friday 14 September
calls at Crewe with 67001 in charge. Thunderbird 57 308Tin
Tin lurks in the background. Picture by Larry Davies.
Unfortunately, it became apparent by early September that the 'new'
coaches were not going to be ready in time for the changeover. Readers
will recall that Wrexham & Shropshire had the same trouble, but
were able to hire coaches from the the Cargo-D company until their own
were ready. Unfortunately the Cargo-D company ceased trading. Their
coaches were sold to DB Regio and (we understand) are the same ones now
being refurbished for Arriva.
So, at the last minute it has been decided to use the existing rolling
stock, which does not have cabling for the push-pull control signals,
and run with a Class 67 loco each end, with only the front one under
power. A second driver will travel in the rear loco, in order to get
its engine started and other necessary other preparations made in time
for the reversal at Chester.
The last northbound train via Crewe, on Friday 14 September, had a loco
on the rear in preparation. The picture above by M.Lloyd Davies
shows it after arrival at Holyhead hauld by 67 002 with 67 001 on the
rear (nearest the camera.) Unfortunately this train met with delay due
to a power failure at Craven Arms signal box and a stop at Willaston
due to a late running Euston - Liverpool service.
Another problem arises regarding the staffing of the buffet and
restaurant. The staff of the original train were based in Holyhead and
worked a 'split shift' - a room was provided for them to rest at
Newport station between southbound and northbound runs. With the
northbound train now not arriving in Holyhead until 22:38, this becomes
too much to ask, so (as we understand it) the Chef will board the train
at Rhyl in the morning and alight there in the evening. The two other
catering staff will travel home to Holyhead as passengers in the first
available train from Cardiff, replaced for the evening run by two
others who have travelled 'passenger' from Holyhead. Very strange.
The original timings of the northbound Premier Service are now filled
by a railcar-worked train which actually starts back at Swansea, but
terminates at Chester.
It was decided to run a trial train from Holyhead to Shrewsbury and
back on Sunday 16 September, the day before the planned start of
service, stopping at all stations south of Chester in order to measure
the distances between the train doors and the platforms. Above,
the Sunday morning scene at Holyhead as the train is prepared for
departure' in the background, three of the four train types most
commonly seen on the North Wales main line, Classes 158, 175 and 221.
Departure from Holyhead in poor weather at 09:26 (M.Lloyd Davies).
With no requirement to stop at coast line stations, the train made good
progress, being noted passing Prestatyn at 10:17.
Jack Bowley's picture above shows it approaching Colwyn
Bay with 67 001 leading.
All these stations had been served by the late-lamented Wrexham &
Shropshire trains using Mk3 Coaches, but presumably it was considered
necessary to check out the Mk2 ones. A nice Sunday out for a train
crew, anyway, and a treat for our photographers. The tests were made at
all internediate stations on the Wrexham - Shrewsbury line, even at
Ruabon and Chirk where the train is not currently scheduled to stop,
and at Gobowen where only the northbound train calls. Eddie Knorn
was at Ruabon station to record events; above, 67 002 rolls
into the station with train 5Z50.
The platform was been shortened from the days when this was on the main
line from London Paddington to Birkenhead and the junction for
Llangollen and Barmouth; the train needed to stop with both driving
cabs off the platform ends.
The Guard's door received the attentions of the big yellow set square.
What would have happened if any station had failed the test at this
eleventh hour, we wonder? At least these coaches have footboards. It
would be interesting to see how a Class 150 measures up against this
Eddie Knorn returned to Ruabon station for the return of
the trial train, seen approaching with 67 001 in the lead, amid traces
of the station's former glory. The new houses are on the site of the
station's goods yard. Beyond it were a set of sidings which would have
been used for marshalling wagons from Wynnstay Colliery and other local
industries, as well as the Llangollen line which branched off the main
line some distance to the south.
Step heights were measured on the other platform too. Meet the official
Arriva Trains Wales Train Step Measuring Guide. Every good TOC should
have one! Our thanks to the operator for her kind co-operation.
67 002 on the rear departing Ruabon. The original main station building
remains, in private ownership.
Working back to Chester and Holyhead after its flying visit to
Shrewsbury, 67 002 trails at the rear as 67 001 hauls the train on to
the single line section at Stansty (Mark Riley).
The routing via Wrexham enables the train to serve this important Welsh
town, the largest in North Wales. It deprives passengers to and from
from Northern England and Scotland of a useful connection at Crewe, but
they are not the people for whom the Welsh Government are paying for
the train. It will be interesting to see how the change affects the
passenger numbers. How long the temporary top-and-tailing
continues remains to be seen; late(?) October has been suggested to us,
but from what we hear the interiors of the Mk3 coaches are far from
complete ('Very nice, now how about some seats'). As we always say,
time will tell.
Monday morning 17 September, and the first public run of the Premier
Service calls at Wrexham. Picture by George Jones, who writes:
'I bought a return to Shrewsbury ... the first problem no information
screens screens working at Wrexham General but the train was
reported on time. The line-up of passengers intending to board was
something less than 12. The train arrived at 07:32 and a number of
people disembarked, including local rail fan John Lloyd who was
recording the scene as always on video.
'The second coach, standard class, was comfortably filled but I got a
table by myself and basked in the brilliant sunrise. We departed 07:34
and ran non-stop, passing Ruabon 07:40, Chirk 07:45, Gobowen
07:48, Baschurch 07:58, Coton Hill 08:06, and arrived at Shrewsbury
08:09, platform 4. A rather pedestrian performance whilst
maintaining the Crewe route timing into Shrewsbury.'
Crossing the viaduct at Chirk, as seen from the Llangollen canal
aqueduct (Mark Riley).
Arrived at Shrewsbury, whence the train departed into the morning sun
at 08:11 (George Jones).
The northbound train calls at Wrexham on the evening of the second day,
18 September. Passengers were embarking and disembarking, it seems that
the train is already popular on its new route (Mark Riley).
To trace all the stops of these trains one needs to flip between
various of Arriva's timetable booklets, as the North Wales - South
Wales booklet (which does at least show first class on the northbound
train) does not include all the stations at which they stop.
So there we are. A big change goes off at half-cock, but interesting
all the same. Errors in timetable leaflets ... station posters,
information displays and on-train announcement files for the 175s and
158s not ready on time, a Class 150 presssed into long-distance working
due to shortage of serviceable stock ... but life goes on.
A short tribute - by Charlie Hulme
Special thanks to everyone who has helped with this feature.