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15 October 2012
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This site is dedicated to all our regular contributors and supporters, and especially the rail staff of North Wales.
08 October 2012
Gerald's big day?
Conwy Valley notes - by Larry Davies
Walk the Corwen Extension - with George Jones
A visit to the Penrhyn Quarry Railway - report by Rowan Crawshaw
Llanfairfechan footbridge lift-out
No Steam to Chester 6 October
The Isle of Man - another view - by David Hennessey
Tuesday 24 July
01 October 2012
Another look at the at the Arriva Premier Express
The new 'Irish Mancunian'?
'Last of the Summer WAG', or 'The Long Way Round' - by
Class 97/3 doings - report by Mark Watson
Corwen Project Update - by George Jones
Corwen exhibition - report by George Jones
To Dundee, come Hell or High Water - report by Roly High
New book on Ruabon to Barmouth - reviewed by George Jones
24 September 2012
Archive addition: 37s on Ballast
Class 56 on the logs
Exhibition: Corwen, A Railway Town
Llangollen's Autumn Diesel Day 22 September
Quarry Power on the Welsh Highland - report by Ian
Club 55 to Cheltenham (and website woes) - by Stephen Hughes
20 September 2012
All Change for the Premier Service - special issue
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
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
This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page. For the current list visit our Calendar.
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"
27 - 28 October Merseyside Model Railway Society. Wirral Model Railway Exhibition. Mosslands School. Mossland Drive, Wallasey CH45 8PJ. Close to Wallasey Village station (7 min walk) For further details www.merseysidemrs.co.uk
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.
Autumnal scene at Bagillt, 15 October. High tides have left water in the lagoons, as the Rail Head Treatment train passes. Picture by Andrew Vinten. (More RHTT views below.)
Gerald's Big Day ... happens!
Despite our scepticism in the last issue, the first run of the new coaching stock for the 'Premium Service' did indeed run for the first time as the 18:21 Cardiff - Holyhead on Wednesday 10 October, after a test run from Cardiff Canton to Gloucester and back earlier in the day. The formation was 67 003, Mk3 standard opens 12177 and 12178 Restaurant / Buffet 10249 and Driving Van Trailer (DVT) 82306. Above: DVT 82306 on the rear at Platform 2, Wrexham General, 20:42. Picture by George Jones, who notes: 'This picture was only possible because the terminating Virgin Train from Euston had not arrived despite being on the board as due on time 20:38. The Holyhead-bound train went forward into the single-line section towards Chester without waiting, and the stopping train to Shrewsbury (150 257) which is worked by a train used during the day on the Bidston line, and starts from Wrexham rather than Chester to make a path for the Virgin train, departed without waiting, from platform 3. Two lads for Gobowen were left behind as they sat out the train sequence on platform 1 ignoring the information on the screens until too late.'
[10 October was a bad day for Virgin's North Wales trains. A blockage of the line between Crewe and Chester had thrown the service into chaos, with some trains diverted via Warrington, and Platform 12 at Crewe full of four Voyager units at one stage. It looks as though the 18:10 Euston - Wrexham / Holyhead was either cancelled or terminated short.]
Adam Barnard travelled on the first train, and sends these photographs of the interior and some notes: 'Pullman really have done a very good job with the coaches. The whole interior is basically the same as in the refurbished 158s, right down to the lighting diffusers and décor. The lights are much dimmer than in an FGW HST or ATW 158 so the travelling environment is much more relaxing. They are better than the Mark 2s in the same way a refurbished 158 is better than a 150. They are my new favourite stock.
'Buffet coach 10249 has been repainted, despite already being in WAG livery, and some adjustments have been made. The yellow and red stripe signifying first class and buffet car has gone, the "first class" lettering is slightly smaller, and one of the new "Welsh Government" stickers that are being added to the 158s has been added.
'All the coaches were spotless inside and out, although one of the inter-carriage doors on one of the new Mark 3s was stuck open.'
Colwyn Bay, the DVT now leading after the train reversed at Chester (Jack Bowley).
Wrexham on the second evening, Note the coaches and DVT have the 'Welsh Government' vinyls (Mark Riley).
Flint, 11 October (Tim Rogers). Photographing this train is going to be challenge, although modern digital cameras make it easier. Whatever you do, follow the example of our contributors above and turn off your camera flash!
Mark Youdan's view aboard coach 12178, Which used to be first class coach 11071. Mark writes: 'The job seems very good. Most seats are bays of four around tables with only a couple of airline style seats. Power sockets are also fitted. All in all, a very nice atmosphere to travel in.'
Cambrian Freight 1982 - looking back with Aled Rees
Just over 30 years ago on 13 September 1982 I made the conscious decision to follow the Monday only Shrewsbury Coton Hill to Aberystwyth/Tywyn freight.
The tank traffic to Aberystwyth had already gone over to Trainload operation, leaving only coal and the occasional van on the 'goods' as we called it. The deterioration of traffic since the closure of Barmouth Bridge to locomotive workings in 1980 was severe, and seeing the lightly-loaded trains going back up towards Talerddig in the early evening from my home in Commins Coch I thought that it could not last much longer.
I caught up with Machynlleth driver Murray Evans near Aberdyfi and settled down on the bridge near to Wharf Station in Tywyn to watch and photograph the proceedings.
However, the shunting moves seemed to take forever with Driver Evans undertaking many 'empty' moves. I later learned that he had a newly-recruited Guard who was very inexperienced in the operation of freight trains and hadn't yet grasped the art of shunting. The economics of running just one revenue-earning coal wagon to Tywyn on that day must have been horrendous!
I remember going for a Sunday afternoon walk during this period and whilst going through the bottom yard in Machynlleth on my way to the River Dyfi I noticed four loaded coal wagons stabled nearby. Being an inquisitive bugger I looked at the dockets and all four were destined for Tywyn - two for and two for the Talyllyn Railway! It all seems such an age ago nowadays.
Twelve months later in September 1983 I was to do the same journey and photographed the second to last 'goods' to Tywyn.
Roly High took these views of 57 308 Tin Tin calling at Rhyl with Saturday's London bound-Pendolino 390 050 Virgin Invader on 13 October. Thanks to informed readers of the uk.railway newsgroup we can offer an answer to our question from the last issue about the cancellation of the franchise bidding process: 'Why not simply re-evaluate the existing bids and correct the mistake?' In fact the mistake in question was not made in evaluating the bids, but in the information which was sent at the beginning of the process by the Department of Transport to bidders on which to base their submissions. There are rumours of faulty (or lost) spreadsheets, and a suggestion that Virgin spotted the mistake and allowed for it, whilst FirstGroup didn't.
The three Civil Servants who have been suspended are now blaming staff cutbacks forced on them by the Government, and a ban on the use of external auditors. It emerged on 15 October that Virgin have now been asked to continue running the service for (maybe) a year until things can be sorted out. Mr Branson, in his usual style, has announced that any profits will be donated to 'good causes.' But are operating profits actually being made?
(By the way, it is a 13-year franchise, not 15 as we erroneously stated. Presumably the thinking is that the new high-speed line will be opening in 2026.)
Leaf-busting season starts
Autumn is with us again, and with it falling leaves and the Network Rail 'Rail Head Treatment Train' (RHTT) with its high-pressure water jets. Above, the eastbound train approaching Chester past Beeches Farm bridge on 9 October (Bob Greenhalgh).
97 303 on the rear, eastbound at Llanfair PG, 11 October (Richard Fleckney). The timings for the RHTT are on now available on our Railfan's page.
97 304 leads the RHTT through the centre road at Chester station on 11 October (Mark Riley).
97 303 at the rear as the train completes its diagrammed working on time and departs for Crewe (Mark Riley).
Holywell Junction, 13 October (Tim Rogers). Class 97/3 locos are required for this train as it also covers the Shrewsbury - Machynlleth route in its daily round, and 97 302 - 304 are the only locomotives fitted for the ERTMS signalling equipment in use on that line.
The train in action at Bangor station, 15 October. Video by Alan Crawshaw.
Historic Prestatyn question