Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

20 September 2012

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Recent issues

17 September 2012

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
Training Turn
Picture Miscellany
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
Suburban detail
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
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

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This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page.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

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.

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"

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.

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 2011.

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 train...

... 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 57 308 Tin 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 platform.

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.

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