Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

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.

Recent issues

08 October 2012
 Gerald's big day?
 Conwy Valley notes - by Larry Davies
 Franchise fiasco
 Walk the Corwen Extension - with George Jones
 Locomotive scenes
 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

 Weekend events
 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
 Looking back
 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
 Stormy Weather
 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
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

Forthcoming events

This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page.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

October 2012

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

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.

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.

Virgin News

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

John Hobbs sends this picture taken in Prestatyn station booking office, circa 1964, showing the Edmondson ticket racks and other paraphenalia of the time. In the centre is Mr Cumberlidge; can anyone identify the others, and suggest what was happening? It looks like a presentation of some kind.

Cambrian Coast scenes - pictures by Ian Wright

A class 158 approaches the remote Cambrian Coast halt at Tonfanau. The building in the foreground is a relic of the Tonfanau Army Camp which once attracted thousands of passengers to and from this station, including many of the Asians expelled from Uganda in 1972.

Approaching the bridge over the Dysynni river, where a new cycle/footbridge is being built to connect the two sides of the valley.

Ffestiniog Classic

Over the weekend of 5 - 7 October the 'Classic Ffestiniog' weekend celebrated the life of its late President, Alan Pegler OBE, FRSA, the man who made the restoration of the Ffestiniog Railway possible, who died earlier this year. On Saturday morning a memorial service was held at Tan-y-Bwlch.

A feature of the weekend was the Ffestiniog's trademark re-creations of the 'gravity trains' - in its original role the railway used to roll trains loaded with slate down the gradient all the way from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog - although the new alignment of the upper section means they have to start from Dduallt. In the picture above, taken by David Parry on Saturday 6 October, double-Fairlie locomotive Merddin Emrys hauls the 12:30 Porthmadog Harbour to Dduallt loaded slate wagons out of Tan-y-Bwlch in preparation for the next demonstration gravity train. Interestingly, those wagons at the uphill end of the train are in fact empty, giving the illusion of classic practice, though in those days, the vegetation cover would have been much reduced compared to today.

At about 15:00, the 14:45 loaded slate train from Dduallt rolls down into Tan-y-Bwlch station with costumed brake operators stationed on the loaded wagons at the front of the train (David Parry).

Bringing up the rear, the aforementioned empty wagons with the distinctive end of train marker (David Parry).

On Sunday 7 October (above) the gravity train on arrival at Porthmadog Harbour - in fortunate weather (Larry Davies).

7 October was a glorious autumnal morning with blue skies - above, a fitting memorial to a grand old gent. Above: a moody morning on the Cob alongside a glistening bay (Larry Davies).

Blanche leaves Porthmadog on the Vintage train (Larry Davies).

Taliesin does some carriage shunting (Larry Davies).

 A trio of locomotives arrive across the cob from Boston Lodge (Larry Davies).

The Welsh Highland Railway Beyer-Garratt locomotive to work to Caernarfon brings up the rear of the three-engine movement complete with original 1928 'Flying Scotsman' train headboard, on loan for the event from the National Railway Museum (Larry Davies).

The traditional lone piper plays his lament for a fallen colleague (Larry Davies).

The 11:00 to Caernarfon leans the curve at Britannia Bridge, Porthmadog and heads for the mountains (Larry Davies).

A visit to the East Lancashire Railway - with Alan Crawshaw

Rowan and I were up early on Saturday 13 October to catch the 07:20 Virgin departure from Bangor. The Voyager shop still hadn't opened when we left, and there was no announcement that it had opened so the café on Chester station were the beneficiaries of my custom. We arrived as the yellow 37s were leaving, running around 40 minutes early on rail head treatment duty. We boarded a 175 to Manchester, then onto a tram to take us to the East Lancashire Railway's Bury station for their Diesel Gala. We jumped aboard a service to Heywood, topped and tailed by 37 109 / 901 and enjoyed a few hours of classic traction before returning home. Here are a selection of photographs of the day. Above, 37 109 at Bury...

... a loco which I remember making a visit to the North Wales Coast line in EWS livery back in 2000, as eeen above at Bangor.

Passing services at Ramsbottom, 37 901 Mirrlees Pioneer and 50 015 Valiant.

D335 on the rear at Ramsbottom, bound for Bury.

5081 runs round the stock at the northern terminus, Rawtenstall.

Cambrian Award

The Cambrian Railways Partnership won two national awards at the ACORP (Association for Community Rail Partnerships) Award ceremony held at Swindon's STEAM museum. The local rail partnership won awards for 'Best Marketing Publication' for their 'Wales on Rails' families' brochure, and also the award in the 'Involving Young People' category for their 'First Class Safety' schools safety film. The picture shows Phil Caldwell, Schools Liaison Officer of Arriva Trains Wales, and Rhydian Mason (Cambrian Railways Partnership) with Mark Hopwood, Managing Director of First Great Western (centre) who presented the safety award.

'Wales on Rails' is an ideas and inspiration brochure that shows how family groups can spend a low-cost holiday in mid-Wales by train. It features Machynlleth, Aberystwyth and Aberdyfi and focuses in on 'quality family time' whilst on holiday.'

'First Class Safety' is a guide to using the railway made initially for and with pupils from Ardudwy (Harlech) and Tywyn secondary schools. Both schools played an important part in the making of the film, which has already led to a number of unique and forward thinking initiatives in both of them.

Rhydian Mason, Community Rail Officer,. writes: 'We need to acknowledge a number of organisations who we've worked with to make these awards possible - TraCC (the mid Wales transport consortium), Mid Wales Tourism Partnership, Mid Wales Tourism, Network Rail, British Transport Police, Tywyn and Ardudwy Schools, AMP Productions from Aberystwyth, Good Journey Publications from Machynlleth, and all member organisations of the partnership that include Ceredigion, Powys, Gwynedd and Shropshire Councils as well as Arriva Trains Wales.'

The film and the brochure can be viewed at the Cambrian Railways Partnership website:

Llangollen wedding- report by Martin Evans

I took a trip up to Carrog on the Llangollen Railway on Saturday 13th October when No 7822 Foxcote Manor was in traffic, seen above running round at Carrog just before a heavy storm descended.

Upon returning to Llangollen a wedding party joined the train in the rear coach which was suitably laid out for the wedding breakfast.

Above, the suitably-decorated train departing Llangollen at 3pm for Carrog.

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