Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

05 November 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

 29 October 2012
The Bigger Picture
 Premier Service events
 Visit the World Cafe
 Samaritan commemorated
 Locomotive views
 Trouble on the Autumn Snowdonian
 The 'Spectacular Snowdonian'
 In the Vale of Rheidol - with Alistair Grieve
 Class 158 tidings
 Classic handbills - from Oliver Hambly
 On the blocks - with Charlie Hulme
 Movie corner

22 October 2012

Diesel memories - pictures by John Young
 Saturday Drag, A Traveller's Tale - by Glen Cusack
 Discrete electrification?
 In the Vale of Rheidol - with Vince Chadwick
 Ferry-go-round - report by Mark Riley
 The end for Chester Enterprise Centre
 Heritage Railway Miscellany

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
 Ffestiniog Classic
 A visit to the East Lancashire Railway - with Alan Crawshaw
 Cambrian Award
 Llangollen wedding- report by Martin Evans

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

Forthcoming events

This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page.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

November 2012

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.

'Clean me' - 97 303 on the back of the Rail Head Treatment Train, Llandudno Junction, 3 November. Picture by Peter Lloyd.

DB Schenker under fire

Reading our report on the troubles with the UK Railtours 'Autumn Snowdonian' excursion from London in the last issue (pictured above by Geraint Jones on arrival 110 minutes late at Bangor) after one of the two Class 67 locos had failed and been detached at Nuneaton, you may have wondered why it was necessary form DB Schenker to send a replacement loco all the way to Holyhead to assist with the shunting and double-head the train back to London. If one loco had made it safely to Holyhead, why could not the one loco have run round at Holyhead and at least take the train to Crewe? To John Farrow of UK Railtours, this seems to have been the Last Straw, following a series of charter train cancellations caused by industrial action by DB Schenker drivers and he's sent emails to all his customers, from which we quote:

We would normally not hang out dirty washing in public, but the performance of DBS last Friday was nothing short of shameful. Loco 67 025 was turned out in a state that was not only defective but probably dangerous, and DBS’s obsessive refusal to let a perfectly serviceable 67 021 bring the train back from Holyhead single handed in case it picked up a few minutes delay costs resulted in an arrival back after 01:00. To be fair, DBS provided free taxis home from Euston for those that needed them, but the whole thing should never have happened and our claim for compensation has not been properly addressed. Tragically for one very long-standing customer it was all too much. He never made it home and never will.

That last sentence is disturbing, but unexplained. About the industrial problems, Mr Farrow writes:

DBS had failed to listen to the voice of the most important people in its production line, namely its drivers. Long-standing rostering issues had been left unresolved, not just for months but for years. The rosters had not reflected changes in traffic patterns and had become totally out of date and unworkable. Drivers tell me they were being phoned up at all hours of the day and night to come and rescue DBS from the consequences of its own poor management. The guys could not plan their private lives, and all in all they had just about had enough. They were not being awkward. Something had to go bang. And it did, big time!

Railtours have not been the only thing that has suffered, apparently. Essential trains of materials for engineering work by Network Rail have also failed to run, although mysteriously the luxury Orient Express trains which DB Schenker still hauls in southern England have run without disruption.  It's all a crying shame.

On a loosely related subject, Network Rail has been looking at regaining ownership of the many freight sites around the network which were leased to EWS at privatisation in the 1990s, meaning that other operators are not free to use them without permission of a competitor:  EWS's successor DB Schenker. The consultation document includes a fascinating list of the 265 places in question, which includes the shunting yard and goods depot at Llandudno Junction, which has been allowed to fall into a derelict state.

Changeable weather on Saturday 3 November

97 304 leads the westbound Rail Head Treatment Train towards Holyhead at Bangor. High-pressure water jets in action (Rowan Crawshaw)

97 303 on the rear (Rowan Crawshaw)

Rhyl. 175 105 calls  at 11:40 with a service from Manchester Piccadilly to Llandudno. Picture by Roly High.

Train 3S71, the Rail Head Treatment Train top'n'tailed by 97303 / 97304 blasts its way back towards Crewe past the disused Rhyl No. 2 signalbox, a listed building nobody can think of a use for. (Roly High).

The Saturday westbound Pendolino 390 045 101 Squadron rolls into Rhyl behind 57 314 (Roly High). Regarding this train, Glen Cusack in his recent report wrote that he 'looked on the Internet' in the morning to find which loco was working. A reader wrote to ask what website was used for this information; Glen tells us of a Facebook page "Virgin Trains & Chiltern Railways* Loco Hauled Gen" which is useful - assuming you have a Facebook account - for this kind of thing, to complement the North Wales Trains News Yahoo Group.

The 'Heath Robinson' coupler mechanism of the Class 57 (Roly High). The Class 57s transferred to Network Rail have since had their couplers modified, in some cases to an even more complicated version, to haul the types of electric trains found in southern England in case of power problems.

Abergele. Stavros Lainas writes: 'I wasn’t expecting the RHTT until at least 12.15 - 13.15 but it passed very early at 11:47. I only just managed to catch it as I was at the bottom of the bridge and heard what sounded like a very flat ... I thought 'oh, another noisy Voyager' then in the corner of my eye I saw a very muddy brown looking 97. A quick dash up a few steps and I snapped away.

The weekly 'Drag' passed Abergele at 11:59 (Stavros Lainas).

Llandudno Junction: The Rail Head Treatment Train heads west at 09:55 (Peter Lloyd).

The Virgin ensemble departs from Llandudno Junction (Roly High). The Pendolino usually runs with its coupler cover at the rear raised to simplify the run round at Holyhead.

Behind the Pendolino 158 829 follows to Holyhead (Roly High).

Bangor: 57 314 hauling 390 045 with the 1D83 08:50 Euston to Holyhead in the autumn sunshine  (Rowan Crawshaw). Whoever removed the Arriva logo and branding from the loco has made a pig's ear of it.

By the time Adam Barnard arrived at Bangor station to catch the return 14:36 Holyhead - London Pendolino, the weather had taken a turn for the worse, with hail falling, as seen above with 158 832 heading for Holyhead.

Adam made a video record (above) of  his journey through the gathering gloom to Crewe.

Double Grids on timber train - report by Mark Riley

On 29 October, 56 094 failed at Hereford whilst working from South Wales to Chirk. It languished there until the following evening when finally 66 849 worked from Carlisle to Hereford and dragged the dead 'Grid' onwards to Chirk, with its loaded KFA/KSA wagons. 56 094 remained at Chirk until November 1, when class mate 56 087 worked 0Z52 Rugby-Chirk to haul 56 094 back to Baglan Bay. It is seen above at Wrexham General platform 3 having been routed via Crewe and Shrewsbury, awaiting its path to Chirk behind the Cardiff Central service train.

Finally, at 18:13, 56 087 and 56 094, with the now-empty wagons, depart from the Kronospan factory siding, working as 6Z52 Chirk - Baglan Bay. Not a very good picture due to the combination of poor light, a moving train and a camera not good at such situations. Still, the chance to see two Grids together was too good to miss! Plenty of 'clag', leaving the station in a cloud of smog!

New carriages for Snowdon

The Snowdon Mountain Railway is taking delivery of new carriages for the first time since the current ones were introduced in the 1920s. The first arrived on Monday 5 November and three others will take their place before the railway - which takes passengers to the Snowdon summit - reopens in the spring. (Picture by the SMR).

General manager Alan Kendall says they offer extra comfort and will enable more passengers to be carried when required. The Welsh government has provided funding towards the total £1.2m cost. The new carriages, which carry 74 passengers instead of 56 and have wheelchair access, will  be used with the railway's four Hunslet diesel locomotives, which power the majority of passengers to the summit. The diesels will be given a 'beautiful new livery.'

The new coaches have been designed and built in the UK by a partnership between Garmendale Engineering Limited of Ilkeston, Derbyshire and the Hunslet Engine Company, to a performance specification defined and project managed by the Railway. The bogies have been designed and built by Hunslet  at the home of their parent company LH Group in Barton under Needwood. Rather than a revolutionary design, the bogies represent an incremental improvement to an existing design that has been in passenger service since 1986 and latterly improved in 2006 on the old carriage number 10 and the summit project flatbed truck.

Remembrance at Llangollen

The last day of passenger services at Llangollen (until the Santa Specials in December) on Sunday 4 November had 2-8-0 3802 doing the honours with the Poppy train bedecked this year with a smokebox Poppy. The cadets from the Llangollen Army Cadet Force detachment attended with their Sergeant on Poppy selling duties and obtained good support from train passengers during the day. Picture above by George Jones.

Berywn (Mark Riley). The 'chain bridge' over the Dee, seen in the background, has been out of use for safety reasons for many years, but there are plans to restore it. The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded the local town and community councils, who bought the bridge for a nominal sum from the hotel owner, £28,900 to commission a detailed report on the proposed repair.

Steam shut off on the approach to Glyndyfrdwy Station (Glyn Jones).

Arrival at Carrog (Glyn Jones).

Replenishing the station’s coal supply (Glyn Jones).

Running around at Carrog prior to departure for Llangollen (Glyn Jones).

Between Carrog and Glyndyfrdwy (Glyn Jones).

Departure from Berwyn (Glyn Jones).

Running around at Llangollen (Glyn Jones).

Topping up the tender before coupling up for the 13.00 hours departure (Glyn Jones).

The last train of the day arrival at 16:30 (George Jones) ...

 ... and 3802 comes off light engine and heads for the shed in the gloom (George Jones).

Birkenhead Tramway troubles

The Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society (MTPS) reports that heritage tram operations on the line at Birkenhead Woodside were suspended in mid-October following a health and safety audit which revealed "serious failings" in the way the tramway is managed. The report said Wirral Council was failing to comply with its "legal obligations to define responsibilities to ensure the tramway runs safely." Under the Railways and Other Guided Transport Systems (Safety) Regulations 2006 (ROGS) all tram operators are required to have a suitable safety management system (SMS) in place.

The council is setting up a working group to review the current management system and structure. Until the tram service resumes, a heritage bus service will be in operation at weekends from Woodside ferry to the Wirral Transport Museum at Taylor Street. The MTPS continues to restore trams at the museum and carry out routine maintenance to the restored tramcars. News of any resumption of tram services will be announced by the society on its website.

The Transport Museum at Taylor Street is open as usual for visitors to come and enjoy the fine collection of Trams, Buses, Vintage Motorcars and a Model Railway.  Admission to the museum is free.

The above corrects misinformation in some press reports which suggested the tramway operation was at fault.

Picture miscellany

Glyn Jones writes: 'Whilst passing through Welshpool on Tuesday 30 October, I called in at the Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway station as the 11.30 am train was about to depart for Llanfair Caereinion. Romanian ‘Resita’ class 0-8-0T  No. 764.425 was well turned out, and following its recent major overhaul, now sports a ‘Communist Era’ brass star embellishment on its smokebox door. Being half term, the three coaches were well filled with grandparents and grandchildren  enjoying a day out without rain!'

At Queensferry on 1 November Dave Sallery spotted the Airbus barge Afon Dyfrdwy on its way to collect an A380 airliner wing from the Broughton factory.

The barge carries the wings to Mostyn Dock where they are transferred to a bigger vessel for the journey to France. It had to be built low enough to get under the bridges - at just the right state of the tide (Dave Sallery).

Hallowe'en on the Llanberis Lake Railway. Picture by Greg Mape, who writes: 'My little
girls enjoyed the Hallowe'en Hunt complete with a witch driving (with a very deep voice!)'

The Saturday Holyhead - London train passes Abergele on 27 October, the day before the change of the clocks (Greg Mape).

A colourful night scene at Liverpool Lime Street, with a London Midland Class 350, an East Midlands Trains 158 and a Northern Rail 150 (Dave Sallery).

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