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22 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.
15 October 2012
Gerald's Big Day ... happens!
Cambrian Freight 1982 - looking back with Aled Rees
Leaf-busting season starts
Historic Prestatyn question
Cambrian Coast scenes - pictures by Ian Wright
A visit to the East Lancashire Railway - with Alan Crawshaw
Llangollen wedding- report by Martin Evans
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
This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page.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.
A look back at the sort of scene which inspired this website: 37 420 The Scottish Hosteller passes Dwygyfylchi with a westbound Regional Railways service on 24 August 1996, complete with added GWR-liveried coach, hired from Riviera Trains for the summer peak traffic, at the rear. Picture by John Young: More nostalgia below.
Diesel memories - pictures by John Young
Llandudno Junction motive power depot in the days when it was used as a stabling point for diesel locomotives: a pair of Class 25s - 25 323 nearest the camera' stands in the sidings on 27 August 1984.
A short Freightliner train passes Prestatyn on 5 May 1989 hauled by 47 589, which was equipped to long-range fuel tanks and renumbered 47 827 soon after the date of this picture. In 2002 it was rebuilt to become 57 302 Virgil Tracy. These trains, part of a freight link to Ireland, ceased in 1991 and the depot at Holyhead, which was alongside Platform 3, is now lost under roads and car parking. See Dave Sallery's archives for more pictures.
17 June 2000, and 47 747 Res Publica - one of the mail train fleet, on hire to Virgin - takes a Virgin Trains service to London through Abergele, complete with Driving Van Trailer (DVT) of the type now being used on the Arriva premier service. At Crewe the diesel would be detached, and and electric loco coupled to the rear, from which point the train would be driven from the DVT. These Mk3 DVTs were never used to control Class 47 diesel locos until EWS, and then Wrexham & Shropshire had some equipped to work with class 67s.
A shortage of fully operational Class 97/3s recently has seen the use of two DRS 37s in use on the North Wales RHTT, working either solo just along the coast, or top and tail with an available 97/3. On the afternoon of October 17, DRS 37 419 Carl Haviland, arrives at Crewe, ready to operate on the RHTT the following day. Named in September, the inset shows the nameplate, Carl Haviland, an HNRC technical fitter who passed away this year (Mark Riley).
The same day, 37 425 worked solo along the coast, running round at Holyhead, and is seen above westbound at Beeches Farm on the approach to Chester (Bob Greenhalgh). There is still no sign of the Concrete Bob nameplates which this loco carried during its passenger career, and were rumoured to be due for re-application by DRS.
Approaching Llanfair PG (Richard Fleckney).
37 425 is seen at the end of its diagram having run round the wagons and 'clagging' off to the train's base, Crewe Electric Maintenance Depot (Mark Riley).
On 18 October, the train was worked top and tail by 97 303 and 37 419, seen here at Beeches Farm (Bob Greenhalgh)...
... and departing from Chester towards Crewe with 97 303 leading. Enthusiasts can't complain about the variety of traction and formation of the RHTT so far this year (Mark Riley).
37 419, which also once worked passenger trains along this line, passes Llanfair PG station (Richard Fleckney).
19 October, and the normal pair of 97/3s were back on duty. Jack Bowley's pictures from the old 'Hotel Seventy Degrees' site shows 97 303 leading 97 302 eastbound past Old Colwyn.
The same pair on Saturday 20 October passing Llanfair PG (Richard Fleckney).
Monday 22 October, and the locos are gaining the usual RHTT coating of dirt. This is 97 303 at Bangor (Richard Fleckney).
97 302 on the rear (Richard Fleckney).
Saturday Drag, A Traveller's Tale - by Glen Cusack
On 13 October, 57308 Tin Tin almost didn't make it to Holyhead. and indeed two hapless enthusiasts didn't either. Back in September I had booked a cheap return flight from Dublin to Manchester for Saturday 13 October, and had intended to visit the East Lancashire Railway diesel gala, particularly as 37 324 was meant to be visiting from the Gloucester and Warwickshire Railway. However, a few days before, it was announced that due to transportation issues, the visit of the loco was off. On arrival at Manchester Airport shortly before 09:00 on the Saturday, I checked on the internet to see what was working the drag to Holyhead and noted that 57308 "Tin Tin" was allocated to it. I decided that since Manchester Airport was convenient for Crewe, and because of the no show of 37 324 at the East Lancs, to go for a spin along the North Wales coast instead.
Above, 57 308 is pictured at Crewe's platform 12 awaiting the arrival of the 08:50 Pendolino from London Euston.
Above, 390 050 Virgin Invader has arrived from London, and is in the process of been coupled up to the loco, attracting the usual attention in the process; we set off west more or less on time. We came to an abrupt stop outside Chester for about four minutes, unusual as this train is rarely held for a path, and indeed Chester was deserted when we arrived except for a MerseyRail unit.
Another abrupt stop at Prestatyn, and then outside Bangor Tunnel. In the latter case, the train manager announced there was a technical fault and we would be on our way shortly, and indeed we were, on the move again the short distance into Bangor station itself. It was here that the train manager came on and announced "unfortunately it is now unsafe to continue with this service and as such this train is terminated". The train was still reasonably loaded with ferry passengers going to Holyhead, so everybody gathered their belongings - and in some instances large cases - and de-trained onto the platform.
The advice was to wait for the following Arriva service (09:09 ex Birmingham International), which itself was by now almost 30 minutes late. Myself and another enthusiast crossed over to platform 1 to get a photo. Note that in the picture above the signalman has given the train a shunt signal, presumably to let it proceed forward and then reverse into one of the sidings or the middle road out of the way.
This is where the comedy started. 57 308 was now screaming her brains out building up air. A train crew member proceeded to the telephone by the signal post and presumably spoke to the signalman. Next, the train gets the green light for the main line towards Holyhead ... and the train leaves ... complete with passengers back on board I was getting a video of what I thought was the train shunting, and when I seen it was carrying passengers, Victor Meldrew would have been proud of the "I don't believe it" I let out. Cheers then! Lucky I wasn't going for the boat today.
I got talking to the other enthusiast who also was surprised at what had just happened, and we crossed back over to platform 2 to await the following Arriva unit, which was 158 841 and travelled onwards to Holyhead. This itself had an extended 6-minute stop at Ty Croes for some reason, the muddled announcement by the guard mentioned "reboot" and that was all we could make out. We eventually arrived Holyhead at 13:50 where the return 13:23 to Birmingham International was already almost 30 minutes late before it even left; that's what happens when you give long distance trains a four minute turn around at the end of the journey...
A few passengers on our train into Holyhead ran for the boat, I'm not sure if they made it or not. Meanwhile we walked around to platform 1 and were pleased to see 57 308 already run around and connected up to the Pendolino. The 14:38 departure was up on the passenger information screens meaning that whatever was wrong on the outbound run was obviously resolved and they were entrusting 57 308 with hauling the train back to Crewe. We figured it was probably just one of those all-too frequent connection problems between the loco and unit.
Indeed, the return journey back to Crewe was faultless and ran to time throughout. 57 308 is pictured after arrival at Crewe where it was removed leaving the Pendolino to whisk passengers the remaining 158 miles to London in just 1¾ hours. For me t was then on to Manchester Airport for the flight back to Dublin after another "interesting" day out with 57s.
Postscript: Of course, this isn't my first attempt at getting to Holyhead behind 57308 which proved troublesome. The last time I contributed was back in January 2011, when I travelled over from Dublin for a spin and 57 308 caused much bigger problems when it failed at Rhyl. See the 24 January 2011 issue.
Rail magazine reports that 1 October saw publication by Network Rail of the Draft for Consultation of the 'Alternative Solutions Network Route Utilisation Strategy.' This examines the possibilities of converting 'heavy rail' lines to tram or tram-train or guided bus, and also alternative methods of delivery of electric traction on lower traffic density routes, energy storage, and community rail.
A case study (page 71 in the PDF) examines the possibility of electrifying the Crewe to Chester line 'on the cheap' using what is called 'discrete electrification.' There would be no overhead line equipment in Chester station, so some form of energy storage would be needed to start the trains from platforms. There would be two pantographs per train to avoid 'gapping', and pantographs would be lowered in places where clearances so demanded. Thus 'bespoke train sets' would be needed for the London - Chester / North Wales service.
However, the report concludes that that the option is thought to be 'neither technically nor operationally feasible.'
Note: the term 'Discontinuous Electrification' is used where there are physical gaps in electrification infrastructure from around 50 m to 2 km. 'Discrete Electrification' involves physical gaps that are greater than 2 km, and also includes vehicles with on-board energy storage devices.
In the Vale of Rheidol - with Vince Chadwick
Arriva Trains Wales have re-introduced their 'Club 55' tickets this autumn; travel anywhere on their network for £19 return (£18 with a senior railcard and even cheaper booked on line). A friend and I went to Aberystwyth on 10 October, catching the 07:46 from Wilmslow to Shrewsbury. From there the mid-Wales line took us via Welshpool and Machynlleth (where the train divided for Pwllheli or Aberystwyth) to our destination arriving 11:25. The picture above shows our train on arrival at Aberystwyth.
Here's our itinerary for the day:
Arriva Trains Wales Club 55: Wilmslow dep 07:46, Shrewsbury arr 08:37 dep 09:27, Aberystwyth arr 11:25.
Vale of Rheidol Railway: Aberyswyth dep 14:00, Devil’s Bridge arr 15:00 dep 16:00, Aberystwyth arr 17:00.
Arriva Trains Wales Club 55: Aberystwyth dep 17:30, Shrewsbury arr 19:26 dep 19:51, Wilmslow arr 20:40.
We went to Aberystwyth to travel on the Vale of Rheidol Railway, and it was just fantastic.
But before that, we discovered the Aberystwyth Cliff Railway: above is the lower station.
A view at the passing place.
After riding the Cliff Railway we walked back through the town for a fish & chip lunch opposite the railway station. The terminus for the Vale of Rheidol Railway is right next to the Network Rail station and we were there in plenty of time for the afternoon departure at 14:00. Aberystwyth seems a prosperous, well-kept town, unlike many Welsh coastal resorts which are feeling the pinch financially. Above, the Vale of Rheidol train ready for departure at Aberystwyth station.
I'd no idea it would be this good - the scenery starts off quite tame on the lowlands inland from the sea at Aberystwyth, but commences a spirited climb up the side of the deepening valley all the way up to Devil's Bridge.
The line clings to the high valley side, many hundreds of feet above the river as it twists and turns its way up for an hour. The coaches are all enclosed, except for one with open sides which we occupied. It was marshalled immediately behind the locomotive for the uphill journey, so was at the back on the way down the Vale.
The line climbs steeply for many miles up the side of the Vale of Rheidol. It is the most spectacular railway I have travelled on, and Red Kites and Buzzards soar out from the valley sides out over the Rheidol river. Not only is the line steep, it has tight turns and in places passes through
woodland which makes the track damp. Several times during the long climb our loco 'lost her feet' as she slipped on the greasy rail.
On the journey down we got some nice views back along the line, and looking forward on sharp curves the loco at the head of the train could be seen. Cwm Rheidol Reservoir is about 1/3 of the way down the 12 mile line from Devil's Bridge.
Our locomotive was No.8, 'Llywellyn'. She was built by the Great Western Railway at Swindon in 1923, hence her rather nice GWR colour scheme. The big ugly arrangement in front of her right hand tank is a steam-driven air pump for the train's air brakes.
The little train arrived back in Aberystwyth on time at 17:00, allowing plenty of time for our ATW connection to Shrewsbury at 17:30. At Shrewsbury we caught another Arriva train home to Wilmslow, arriving there at 20:40, almost 13 hours after we left. A long day but well worth it!
Note: the Vale of Rheidol Railway will be running Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays until 1 November, before closing until the 'Santa Special' season.
See also Vince's Blog entry: Wow! The Vale of Rheidol - probably the best narrow gauge line in UK
Ferry-go-round - report by Mark Riley
On 20 October 20, UK Railtours operated 'The Ferry-go-round' railtour which took enthusiasts on unusual stamping ground around the Fiddlers Ferry circuit and a visit to the power station itself, a route rarely seeing any passenger services, if any. (When did this last happen?) Motive power was provided by top and tail DB Schenker locos 66 095 and 66 197. A rare treat for punters, thanks in no small part due to Scottish Energy for granting permission for the train to access this route. The train is seen here (above) returning from Fiddlers Ferry, passing under Warrington Bank Quay station and approaching Arpley Junction, heading towards Latchford with 66 197 leading.
Arpley Junction: 66 095 brings up the rear. A colourful and varied rake of coaches.
The train was held at Latchford for 35 minutes, whilst regular coal trains were still operating on the circuit. I missed the chance of a photo of the railtour alongside 70 015 which had followed the railtour to Latchford with the Ellesmere Port - Fiddlers Ferry coal. It looked like a sell-out tour and understandably so.
The end for Chester Enterprise Centre
The Chester Chronicle of 18 October reports that demolition of the burnt-out shell of the Chester Enterprise Centre, formerly a railway goods warehouse alongside Chester station, is to start within the next six weeks, for completion in February. Chester West and Chester Council says it has been
spending an 'unsustainable amount of money employing 24-hour security on the site to stop trespassers hurting themselves' since the fire in December 2010.
The Council is yet to make a decision on the future of the site; however a statement put forward
to the planning department says that the site 'may be suitable for a range of temporary uses including, for example parking or storage'.
Heritage Railway Miscellany
Lots of pictures received from people who have travelled to Heritage Railway events around Britain. There's not enough time to edit and include them all, I'm afraid, but here's a selection for you. Above, Sunday 14 October 2012. Keighley station. The Autumn gala is in full swing. LYR 1300 and LYR 957 prepare to depart as 43924 is on the goods train (Bob Greenhalgh).
20 October, East Lancashire Railway: LNWR 'Super D' 0-8-0 49395 pauses at Irwell Vale, en route to Rawtenstall (David Hennessey).
61306 Mayflower also took part in the East Lancashire Gala, having travelled there by rail in company of 31 601 - a curiously anagrammatic pairing. Paul Braddock captured the pair at Castleton where they turned on the triangle before proceeding to the ELR connection.
On the Avon Valley Railway at Bitton, 21 October, visiting LNER J15 0-6-0 7564 from the North Norfolk Railway (Richard Putley).
Some nostalgic road vehicles were also in attendance at Bitton (Richard Putley).
On the Severn Valley Railway, 18 September: Southern Region Light Pacific 34053 stabled at Bewdley (Martin Evans).
Naturally we had to find space for this view of 08 238 at Norchard on the Dean Forest Railway (Richard Putley).
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