Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

12 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

05 November 2012

 DB Schenker under fire
 Changeable weather on Saturday 3 November
 Double Grids on timber train - report by Mark Riley
 New carriages for Snowdon
 Remembrance at Llangollen
 Birkenhead Tramway troubles
 Picture miscellany

 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

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.

97 302, with 97 304 on the rear, crosses Conwy Cob at 09:58 with the 3S71 Crewe to Holyhead leg of the Rail Head Treatment Train, 10 November. Picture by Garry Stroud.

Saturday 10 November: Rugby Special etc.

A rugby match in Cardiff on Saturday 10 November inspired the use of the new Mk3 'Premier Express' train, not normally seen at weekends, from Holyhead to Cardiff and back, running southwards in Daylight: 08:07 1V41 Holyhead to Cardiff (arr 13.28) and 18:19 1W91 Cardiff to Holyhead (arr 23.28). Above: Ready for departure from Holyhead (M.Lloyd Davies).

Departure from Holyhead (M.Lloyd Davies).

 A photographic opportunity for our contributors: Eryl Crump captured the morning train arriving at Bangor with 67 002 in charge.

Passing Conwy Castle on the approach to Llandudno Junction (Garry Stroud). The formation: Buffet/restaurant car 10249, standard opens 12180, 12178, 12177, 12176, Driving van Trailer 82307. These standard-class vehicles started life with British Rail as first-class, but Mk3 first and standard class coaches have the same body shell, so converting them to standard is simply a matter of replacing the seats.

Colwyn Bay (Jack Bowley).

Abergele at 09:15 (Stavros Lainas). Was the buffet actually serving? The train was advertised on the ATW website at very short notice, with a fare to Cardiff of £84.20. As usual on such occasions, it ran along the Coast line virtually empty, although it may have been 'wedged' further south. It's a shame that a special cheap fare, say to Chester and back, from North Wales stations, cannot be made available to fill some seats.

Above, Abergele's home signal is 'off' for the main line, bypassing the platform, as the Holyhead-bound service, 08:50 from London Euston, approaches (Stavros Lainas).

Above, the train crosses Conwy cob, as seen from the town walls (Garry Stroud).

The 14:46 return working to London climbs out of Holyhead (M.Lloyd Davies).

Timetable change looms

The Arriva Trains Wales timetable booklets valid from 9 December is now on line at the Arriva website.

On the subject of Arriva Trains Wales, the December 2012 issue of the magazine Today's Railways UK, now on sale at good newsagents, includes a detailed feature on the operations of ATW and its train diagramming.

Railway Society Meeting in Chester on Monday 19 November

The Railway Correspondence and Travel Society (RCTS) meets at the 'Town Crier' opposite Chester railway station on Monday 19 November at 7.30 p.m. The evening’s topic is about Conway and  Llandudno Junction in B R Days with Larry Davies, Community Rail Officer for the Conwy Valley Line and who briefly appeared on television when Michael Portillo travelled up the line. He's also a valued contributor to this website.

Visitors are more than welcome to attend this meeting but with a £2 voluntary donation.  Such donations enable the Society to continue its regularity of such meetings. Further inquiries about this meeting can be made by telephoning 0151–608 4296.

Grinding in North Wales - pictures by Roly High

Loram C2101 rail grinding train stabled in Rhyl engineers' sidings, 12 November. An impressive 'piece of kit.'

The job of this equipment is to run rotating grindstones against the heads of the rails, with results in quieter running, and also helps to prevent any cracks spreading. An impressive sight when in operation; these trains have a special dispensation to reverse at any point, with permission from the signaller, when necessary to use their built-in water jets to extinguish any lineside fires caused by the sparks they create.

Ffestiniog scenes - by Ian Pilkington

Double Fairlie Earl of Merioneth and Single Fairlie Taliesin (above) ready to leave Blaenau Ffestiniog with the 11:50 for Porthmadog, Thursday 8 November. Taliesin was provided for much needed sanding in the up direction around Tan-y-Bwlch, Earl of Merioneth not having sanders.

Taliesin pilots Earl of Merioneth away from Porthmadog with the 13:35 for Blaenau. Work on the final stage of Porthmadog redevelopment station can be seen on the left. Picture taken with permission.

Overhaul of 1863-built Prince continues apace at Boston Lodge Works in readiness for the 150th anniversary next year of steam on this most historic of narrow gauge railways.

Princess leaves Ffestiniog pub - report by Eryl Crump

Historic locomotive Princess was returned to the tracks on 10 November, 66 years after it hauled the last train before the railway closed down.  Princess worked the first steam hauled train on the Ffestiniog Railway between Blaenau Ffestiniog and Porthmadog after being built in London in
1863.  It also hauled the last train operated by the railway in 1946. Revived in the mid-1950s Princess was put on display, initially in Blaenau Ffestiniog, and latterly inside the Spooner's Bar at Porthmadog Harbour Station.

On Saturday 10 November carefully laid plans were put into action and the loco removed for a revamp. Next year Princess will return to its London birthplace for the first time in 150 years to go on show at Paddington station during St David's Day celebrations.

Engineers jacked up the loco off its short length of track inside the pub and slid it on greased metal plates to line up with a large door. Princess was then hauled out of the building by a tractor.

The vehicle then lifted it gently onto the track.

Kerr Stuart loco Stanhope then towed the loco across the Cob to Boston Lodge where it will be cosmetically refurbished and reunited with its tender prior to the journey down south.

The loco is said to be virtually complete and missing only a few levers and gauges but would need a lot of work to restore it to working order.

In view of the FR already having Prince and Palmerston available - and Welsh Pony as well - the restoration to steam is not a top priority.

Stablemate Prince, currently under maintenance (see report above), will also travel to London and be based at the London Transport Museum where it will run on a short section of track. Ffestiniog Railway spokesman Andrew Thomas said Princess will also be used at a number of other events throughout the year to mark its 150th anniversary.

During the day, Linda and Blanche double-headed the Beddgelert shuttle ...

... with diesel Criccieth Castle on shunter duties. Harlech Castle was used to haul the Permanent Way train while Taliesin undertook a photo charter.

This fire engine replaces the loco as an attraction. Note that there are two trains per day each way between Porthmadog and Beddgelert on Saturdays and Sundays until 9 December, and two trains each way between Porthmadog and Blaenau Ffestiniog on Wednesdays and Thursdays until 13 December, after which the 'Santa' season starts. See the FR timetable.

John Hobbs writes to inform us that Philip Edwards, alias 'Grandad', a resident of Frodsham and formerly from the West Country, died on 8 November. He had been unwell for around a year and has latterly been in a care home in Frodsham after a period in hospital. The Funeral will be held at St Larwences Parish Church,  (opposite the Ring o'Bells), Frodsham  at 1.30 on Tuesday 20th   November with Crematorium afterwards.
Phil was a stalwart Class 37 'Basher' and spent many happy hours chasing Class 37s around the country after his retirement, and especially on the North Wales Coast back in the 1990s. He was well respected by his fellow enthusiasts, was a fount of knowledge on railway matters and accumulated an amazing mileage behind various Class 37 locomotives - often into the thousands of miles behind individual  locomotives but especially 37/4s.
Our picture is a still from the remarkable Channel 4 TV film 'Bashers' which is now available in three parts on YouTube, complete with an accidental guest appearance by Dj Andy Kershaw.  Those were very strange times: where are all the bashers now?

Mouldsworth to Helsby memories - by Dave Sallery

Three views of trains on the single track line from Mouldsworth to West Cheshire Junction, Helsby.  This line was once very busy with oil trains to and from Stanlow refinery.  It closed in 1991 when the signalbox at West Cheshire Junction burnt down. Little could be done to stop the fire as the box had no mains water supply; drinking water for the signalmen was dropped off by one of the Hooton - Helsby passenger DMUs each morning. Above, 47 016 on a container train from Ellesmere port to Crewe near Helsby, 17 May 1991. The area on the left is now occupied by a Tesco store.

47 278 heads to Stanlow to pick up an oil train on 17 May 1991.  It is passing the station building of Helsby and Alvanley station

37 799 comes off the single line at Mouldsworth on a train of empty Cawoods coal containers from Ellesmere Port to South Wales, 7 June 1991. Most of the container traffic at Holyhead was diverted to Ellesmere Port on its closure in 1991.  In 1993 the Cawoods terminal itself closed and the traffic was diverted to Seaforth, Liverpool.  More pictures of the area on my Flickr site and some photos of Cawoods terminal on my Mersey Docks site.

Cambrian needs nine million pounds

From the Shropshire Star:

Bosses of a heritage railway in Shropshire today unveiled £9 million plans to transform the once thriving line into a major tourist attraction. Trustees of the Cambrian Heritage Railways (CHR) have drawn up ambitious proposals to create a heritage rail service which will connect Oswestry to the main train line in Gobowen and to Llanymynech in the opposite direction.

The group is now calling on town businesses, the town council and Shropshire Council to back the project, called Gobowen to Blodwell Railway Project. It hopes the project will boost the economy and create a major tourist attraction for the area. It is planned to start building work in April 2015 over a number of phases starting on a link between Oswestry and Gobowen. Trustees believe the project could help commuters, shoppers and those attending social events, as well as attract tourists to the area.

It is hoped the £9m cost will come via bodies including the Heritage Lottery Fund, Shropshire Council’s Market Town Revitalisation Programme and Local Joint Committees. Roger Date, vice chairman of Oswestry Station Building Trust and trustee of CHR, and Andrew Tullo, also a trustee of CHR, said the project had the backing of local MP Owen Paterson.

Mr Tullo said: “Oswestry is Shropshire’s largest market town and one of the largest towns not connected to a mainline station. We want the town council and Shropshire Council and businesses to get behind us with this plan.”

Two small stretches of the line have already been restored thanks to the dedication of volunteers. A Llynclys train runs along a stretch of track to Pen-y-garreg and Oswestry passengers can be carried a few hundred metres.
Worth a try, perhaps. At least the two Cambrian groups, Llynclys and Oswestry, are now working together. Although it might be stretching a point to suggest that the original pre-1922 Cambrian Railways were ever 'thriving.'

Come to sunny Rhyl

A £2.5m facelift for the rundown Rhyl railway station, has been announced this week. the works will deliver an improved station layout, refurbished retail unit, new toilets, waiting shelters and customer information point. Other changes include better disabled access to the station and platforms and enhanced lighting and CCTV system.

The aim is to create a more appealing and welcoming gateway for locals and visitors and help to boost the economy of the town, once a thriving (!)  seaside holiday resort.

Derbyshire in a day - with Alan Crawshaw

On Wednesday 31 October, Rowan and I embarked on a day trip to cover the Crich Tramway Museum and Peak Rail, taking in the Arriva loco-hauled "premium" service both ways. Above, 67 002 at Chester.

Our timetable to Crich was
06:01     Bangor        Chester        07:10
07:35     Chester       Crewe          07:54
08:07     Crewe         Derby          09:26
09:50     Derby         Whatstandwell 10:12
I can't remember if we've had a shot of the Arriva Mk 3 standard class interior, but it was our first experience and we were very impressed, with a clean, bright yet restful ambience, the comfortable seats arranged around tables with window views.

It's a pity that you have to get up very early or arrive late to enjoy such style that builds on the successful designs of the past rather than tearing them up and substituting inferior patterns. Speaking of which, at Chester we transferred onto a Virgin Voyager for the short hop to Crewe.

A class 153 unit delivered us to Derby where a Network Rail train (above) bookended by 37 682 and 37 409 Lord Hinton  and a DCR liveried 56 303 provided photo fodder while we waited for another East Midlands Trains Matlock branch service to take us on to Whatstandwell, this time comprising a 156 with a cheery contingent of Derbyshire hikers on board. Ticket checking was very efficient, taking place within a few minutes of each of the four legs departing.

As is often the case, rail passengers were not helped by direction signs to the Tramway Museum so we wasted a few minutes working out directions before tackling the mile long uphill walk. It was Rowan's first visit, and my first since the 1970s, and we enjoyed a few hours there despite the cold gloomy weather, having a ride on the three trams in operation: Glasgow 812 (above) ...

...  and two Leeds trams.

I've a very vague memory of Leeds trams from when I was very young, my only encounter with such transport outside preservation.

The oddly named 'Your Bus' service 141 took us from Crich to Matlock, I suppose it's no sillier than First Bus as a name. This was our first visit to Peak Rail, and an arriving EMT service worked by 153 357 contrasted with the preserved line's ex-War Department saddle tank, several hundred of which were built between 1943 and 1945. 75 of these were purchased by the LNER after the war and this example masquerades as 68013, which was scrapped in 1964 [A Cromford and High Peak line regular. - Ed.]

It was good to see a faded Regional Railways livery again, on 31 270 which headed our train to the Rowsley South terminus, but it was painfully slow, barely 10 mph and the scenery was uninspiring. The saddle tank led the way back, but the front two coaches were locked out of use so we heard nothing of its effort. We came to a stand at Darley Dale and were getting worried that we'd be stuck there, no announcement was made until we were under way again ten minutes later, with the usual 'technical fault' explanation. We shall not be returning.

This left us rather short of time to eat, but Wetherspoons came to the rescue, delivering our vegeburgers within ten minutes of ordering. Our return schedule was
17:35     Matlock       Derby          18:10
18:42     Derby         Crewe          20:01
20:23     Crewe         Chester        20:46
21:03     Chester       Bangor         22:07

It was lucky that these connections weren't tight as all the trains were late, in contrast to the morning's punctuality. The EMT conductor put the Peak Rail staff to shame by explaining that the delay was due to awaiting a path onto the main line at Ambergate Junction, and our brightly refurbished 158 reached Derby a quarter of an hour late. The next leg gradually lost time while still getting us to Crewe in time for the shuttle, which also arrived and departed a few minutes late. At Chester we were reunited with the slightly delayed loco-hauled service.

Brush Corner

Above, 60 010 heading east at Plumley station on train 6H03, empty limestone hoppers to Tunstead, taken on 2 November (Andrew Vinten).

60 074 Teenage Spirit slowing for the signal at Plumley, again hauling 6H03 Oakleigh - Tunstead empty stone hoppers, this time on 5 November (Andrew Vinten).

The Class 60's noisy electric cousins the Class 92, also built by Brush Traction at their Loughborough works, can be elusive: above is 92 015, at Manchester Oxford Road on 31 October, presumably returning to Crewe after working an intermodal train to Trafford Park.  It has gained DB Schenker livery, but lost its name D.H.Lawrence. Picture by Charlie Hulme.

The new coaches in close-up - pictures by M.Lloyd Davies

A sunny Sunday 21 October at Holyhead, and a chance for a good look at the new Arriva Trains Wales rolling stock. Above, Driving Van Trailer 82306.

First Class / buffet restaurant 10249.

Standard open 12178.

The electrical box and circuitry on the bogie is the automatic anti-sliding brake control: more about this in the next issue; thanks to everyone who has replied so quickly to our query on the original version of this item.

Hawarden from the Air - report by George Jones

An interesting aerial picture on the Imperial War Museum website is a view of Hawarden airfield c.1941 with explanations of the on-site activity which shows what is now the main runway in course of construction - left to right centre. We copy it here under the conditions of the IWM Non Commercial Licence. The original page allows magnification.
Part of the Vickers Armstrongs shadow factory can be seen at right with, to its left, completed Wellington bombers parked in front of the Vickers Flight Shed. The hangars on the eastern and southern edges of the airfield were occupied by No. 48 Maintenance Unit and No. 57 Operational Training Unit. In the foreground Wellingtons and other aircraft can be seen staked out in adjoining fields in order to ease overcrowding on the airfield while the concrete runways and taxiways are being constructed.

Of railway interest is the main line on the left which has a train heading towards Chester just before the overbridge. On the right-hand side there is a trace of smoke just behind the factory building which will be a train on the Mold line passing Broughton & Bretton station. Mold Junction is on the top left.

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