Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

10 December 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

03 December 2012

 Christmas is coming
 Past Times  - with John Hobbs
 A visit to Cardiff - report by Roly High
 The 'Rheidol Road' Special - report by Denis Bates
 Manchester Metrolink developments - pictures by Greg Mape
 A Winter outing - report by Martin Evans
 The Pannier Rambler - report by Richard Putley
 Llandudno station before improvement - pictures by Roly High.
 Video Corner
26 November 2012

 End of the Pendolino Drag?
 Looking back at the Dyserth branch - with John Hobbs
 To Birmingham for the Model Railway show - with Roly High.
 For Sale: Penmaenmawr station house
 Coal to Penyffordd
 Marches line resignalling
 Bangor Repair Shed - last days
 North Wales electrification?
 MOSI and the Ordsall Chord - report by Charlie Hulme

19 November 2012

 Bangor Shed mystery
 Network Rail assortment
 Christmas at Bala
 Hop on our 'Merry-Maker' - with Stephen Hughes
 About Mark 3 coach bogies
 Ayrshire Yeomanry at Llangollen - report by George Jones
 Club 55 to Barry - report by Richard Fleckney
 Christmas Reading
 Sandy Lane crossing - pictures by Roly High
 Bridges at Berwyn - report by George Jones

12 November 2012
 Saturday 10 November: Rugby Special etc.
 Timetable change looms
 Grinding in North Wales - pictures by Roly High
 Ffestiniog scenes - by Ian Pilkington
 Princess leaves Ffestiniog pub - report by Eryl Crump
 Mouldsworth to Helsby memories - by Dave Sallery
 Cambrian needs nine million pounds
 Come to sunny Rhyl
 Derbyshire in a day - with Alan Crawshaw
 Brush Corner
 The new coaches in close-up - pictures by M.Lloyd Davies
 Hawarden from the Air - report by George Jones

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

Forthcoming events

This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page.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

December 2012

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

Thursday 13 December  LCGB North West Les Nixon "55 Years of Railway Photography – Part Two"

Friday 14 December  Altrincham Electric Railway Society "Steam Saved from the Scrapyard" a colour slide presentation by Tom Heavyside.

Saturday 15 December Rhyl & District Model Railway Club Charity Model Railway Exhibition, Parish Hall & Scout HQ, Top of Central Car Park, Prestatyn, 10:30 to 16:00.

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 “Early Railways of Gwynedd 1790- 1830’s”     Dr Dafydd Gwynn

Friday 11 January  Altrincham Electric Railway Society "Transport around Manchester from 1750" a colour slide presentation by Chris Makepeace.

Saturday 12 January   Railway and Canal Historical Society    Group Annual General Meeting commencing at 13:45 followed at 14:30 by "Members Choice".

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.

Saturday 9 February   Railway and Canal Historical Society   "The Manchester Bolton and Bury Canal, its history and restoration" by Dr. Paul Hindle.

Thursday 14 February Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society “My Life in Crewe Works”         Arthur Jones

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.

Saturday 9 March    Railway and Canal Historical Society   "Lost Canals of the East Midlands" by the Society's President, Dr. Wendy Freer

Thursday 14 March Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society “Polish Steam”  Brian Bollington & Pete Hanahoe

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 “Chester to Holyhead English Electric traction 1984 – Present day”  Steve Morris

Friday 12 April  Altrincham Electric Railway Society "Current Developments on Metrolink" a digital presentation by Tony Williams, Manchester Area Officer, Light Rail Transit Association.

Saturday 13 April  Railway and Canal Historical Society   "The General Strike & the Railways" by Dr. Robin Smith

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 “The Buckley Railway”  Paul Davies

Thursday 16 May LCGB North West AGM and Members/Visitors Slides & Digital Photos.

The rare sight of trains on both 'up main' and 'down main' lines at Bangor: on 9 December 57 601 is on the rear of the Holyhead - Carnforth empty stock from the previous day's Edinburgh excursion, as 221 102 John Cabot heads west as a Virgin Trains timetabled empty-stock train. Picture by Geraint Jones.

Twittering: Updates to this site will now be announced on the Twitter account @NWrail1 along with any other relevant interjections. Followers welcome. -Charlie

Gobowen station Christmas Cafe

Everyone is welcome at Gobowen station on Thursday 13 December where the Chester - Shrewsbury Rail Partnership are running a 'Christmas Café' from 9am to 3pm with home-made soups, snacks and festive fare on sale. All proceeds go to the Oswestry Branch of Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.

Pendolino no more

Enthusasts who hoped to ride the final Pendolino working to Holyhead on 8 December were disappointed, as Virgin Trains decided that, following  problems the previous Saturday, a pair of Voyagers would run on 8 December, as was planned to start on 15 December.

Adam Barnard witnessed 1 December's troubles:  '390 049 refused to move after 57 315 coupled to it so 221 116 was dispatched to Holyhead in its place. This then worked back as the 14:38 Holyhead - London as far as Crewe, where it ran into platform 12 and met face-to-face with 390 049 which then continued on to Euston, while 221 116 waited for the arrival of the 15:10 London - Chester worked by 221 104, which arrived at 17:05 instead of the advertised 1647. 221 116 and 221 104 were then coupled to work together to Chester, but this took 3 attempts, as 221 116 didn't really want to play ball. The 16:49 to Chester then left three minutes in front of the Arriva 17:23 to Chester.'

And so, on 8 December the duty was entrusted to 221 118 (formerly Mungo Park) and  221 106 Willem Barents, pictured above by Roly High arriving at Rhyl with the Westbound train.

The three Class 57/3 locos which remained allocated to Virgin and retained their livery (307, 308, 311) have transferred to the DRS fleet, and have ceased to be the maintenance responsibilty of Alstom's Manchester Longsight depot.  All are expected to receive DRS livery. 57 307 has already been sent to Eastleigh Works (minus its pink Lady Penelope nameplates which should do well at a charity auction). The future of the four Arriva-liveried locos 57 313 - 316 seems to be uncertain at present.

In future the Class 57/3 locomotives for 'rescue' duty will be hired by Virgin from DRS, and will normally be located at Euston, Rugby, Crewe, Preston and Carlisle stations (the latter being based at Polmadie until April 2013). The rescue locos are to be staffed by DRS drivers; a programme of training for DRS drivers on Dellner couplers and relevant route learning has been put together and will take place over the coming months.

It has been announced that Virgin Trains are continuing to operate the West Coast Main Line routes, including London - Holyhead, for a couple of years or so, while the Department for Transport gets its act together. However, It is reported that the set of Mk3 Coaches liveried in Pendolino style, the so-called 'Pretendolino' is not to be used in service in the current timetable. We'll see.

Incidentally, the Rail Head Treatment Train has now stopped running another chance to photograph a locomotive-worked train is lost. Network Rail's tree controllers have the uncanny ability to make the last leaf fall just before the date of the international timetable change...


A couple of interesting points to mention, thanks to correspondents following earlier updates. Firstly, regarding Sandy Lane crossing (19 November issue), we are told that since about a year ago a Temporary Speed Restriction from 90 to 75 mph has been in force for trains at at this crossing, due to the known sighting problems.

The main line connection in Salford to the Museum of Science and Industry Liverpool Road station, subject to controversy as it will be blocked by the construction of the Ordsall Chord, has in fact already been disconnected by Network Rail earlier this year. This was not mentioned at the recent consultation event, but it would appear to prevent any possible 'farewell specials' into the site, so Prince Charles and his friends and family on the 2010 Royal Train will have been the last passengers to travel there by rail.

Princess Elizabeth visits Chester

Pacific 6201 Princess Elizabeth passes Brassey Green, west of Beeston, with the Slough - Chester 'Cathedrals Express' on Tuesday 4 December. This was the locomotive's final working before major overhaul, due to commence at Tyseley next month. Picture above by Ian Pilkington.

Arrival at Chester.  Picture by Bob Greenhalgh.

After turning on the triangle at Chester, Princess Elizabeth eases past 67 016 stabled with the empty stock (Ian Pilkington).

After taking water, and a protracted wait for a path, the locomotive and its support coach 99040 leave Chester for a final run to Tyseley, only 10 minutes before 67 016 was due to depart with the train back to Slough (Ian Pilkington).

RCTS meeting 17 December

The Railway Correspondence and Travel Society meets again at the 'Town Crier' opposite Chester railway station on Monday 17t December at 7.30 p.m.  The evening is one where some of the members show either some of their slides or digital pictures covering a wide range of railway subjects at home and abroad either in the past or much more recently.  Those who bring along railway artefacts can speak about them.

Visitors are more than welcome to attend this meeting but hopefully they would each contribute 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.

Edinburgh Statesman

Statesman Rail ran an excursion from Holyhead and coast line stations to Edinburgh on Saturday 8 December. Such an operation involves bringing an empty train from West Coast Railway Company's depot at Carnforth to Holyhead the day before and returning it the day after. Roly High set out to photograph the outbound empties at Rhyl on the wintry afternoon on 7 December, choosing the slope leading to the road bridge on the reasonable assumption that the train would be routed along the 'down main' line through the station rather than the platform loop. However, the train did run through the platform bringing it too close for the planned picture. See the left column, and the above Lowry-esque view showing 47 245 on the rear of the train receding into the gloom. These imposing ramped bridges at Prestatyn and Rhyl date from the widening of the railway route from two to four tracks late in the Victorian period.

The excursion itself on 8 December ran along the North Wales line in darkness both morning and evening, but the Sunday empty stock train 5Z58 Holyhead - Carnforth ran in daylight; indeed it ran somewhat earlier than some railfans had expected, but Geraint Jones was in position at Bangor to record its passing. 47 245 is leading with 57 601 Sheila trailing.The first-class section comprised West Coast's 'Pullman' coaches. All are ex-British Rail Mk 2 vehicles, but the paint schemes around the windows disclose that four of them, with larger windows, were built as Pullman coaches for use on the Pullman from Manchester and Liverpool to London after electrification of that route in the 1960s. The others were built later as normal First Class open stock, with the shallower windows characteristic of the later Mk2 builds.

57 601 on the rear at Llandudno Junction (Peter Lloyd). This loco, which was the prototype for the passenger version of the Class 57, has been repainted in West Coast's standard livery minus the additional black band which acted as an identification feature. However the plain front and different marker lights distinguish it from the company's 47s.

Bala Santa

Ex-Dinorwic Quarry Hunslet-built loco Holy War at the head of the Bala Lake Railway Santa Train on Sunday 9 December. Apart from some rain on the Sunday morning the weather was good over the weekend which saw over 500 people travel on the trains (Bob Greenhalgh).

Llandudno lifting - report by Peter Lloyd

The track was lifted from the old platforms 4 and 5 at Llandudno station on 6 December. The pictures show the 'before' and 'after' scene at Platform 4. These tracks had been left in place as sidings when the station track layout was simplified in the 1970s; after that trains could not arrive or depart from them without reversals. The connections to the them were removed more recently.

Loco-hauled for Christmas

We understand that the Class 67-hauled 'Premier Express' train will operate the following services on Saturdays 22 and 29 December 2012:
1K50 03:38 Holyhead-Crewe
1D04 08:37 Crewe-Holyhead
1K51 12:24 Holyhead-Crewe
1D01 14:27 Crewe-Holyhead
1K52 17:15 Holyhead-Crewe
1D03 20:44 Crewe-Holyhead
The reason for this is stated as high bookings on ferries on these dates, but for railfans it looks like a good opportunity to ride on and/or photograph this train in daylight. Let's hope it happens.

Rugby special

The Premier Service set was used on 1 December for a Holyhead - Cardiff rugby special (Train 1V41). Above, 82306 leading 67 003 into Crewe yesterday with the 1V41 ruggex to Cardiff, seen from the Crewe Heritage Centre.

This train had an interesting adventure on 27 November when flooding was affecting services. During its layover in Cardiff it was used to work a Cardiff - Carmarthen and return service.

High-speed train?

The live departure board can come up with some oddities at times, sometimes explained by two trains having the same code number within the system, or some other subtle 'feature' (to use IT industry speak). However the workings that created the example above, spotted by David Harrison on Sunday 9 December, are hard to fathom.. David writes: 'Pity this train was delayed ... as a Sunday service taking 8 mins from Stockport to Chester and only another 7 mins to get to Cardiff would be very popular!

Could it be somehow connected with the planned change-over of signalling systems on the Crewe - Shrewsbury line which would have seen Manchester - Cardiff trains diverted via Chester but never actually happened?

Tunnel cannabis farners charged

Four men have been jailed for what police described as a sophisticated commercial-scale production of cannabis in disused railway tunnels, while officially the site at Bangor was being used to grow mushrooms. Mold Crown Court heard the operation was capable of producing at least £1.5m worth of cannabis a year. The men were caught as part of a police operation focusing on the production of high grade cannabis in the disused Faenol railway tunnels at Menai Business Park. Police were tipped off and found hidden industrial-sized cannabis laboratories; A trap door is reported to have led to five growing rooms, one of which had cannabis with an estimated street value of £225,000.

A video visit to the tunnel, source of the above press picture, has found itself on YouTube.

These tunnels, referred to in older documents by the English transliteration 'Vaynol', were on the Menai Bridge - Caernarfon line, beyond the quiet station of Treborth, and lay on a 1 in 79 climb for Bangor-bound trains. The explanation for the two tunnels is that the line was built as single track by the Bangor & Carnarvon Railway, opened in 1851. The company was later taken over by the Chester & Holyhead company, who improved it to double track, boring a second tunnel at Vaynol. The line to Caernarfon was abandoned in 1972, having had is life extended to take contrainer freight traffic for Holyhead following the 1970 Britannia Bridge fire which severed the Bangor - Holyhead line.

Holiday Snap

Ice cold with alex: your editor and Siemens 'ER20' diesel 223 068 with the 13:58 Lindau - Munich on 3 December. These trains have retained their Arriva livery although no longer operated by Arriva. The 'Allgäu Express' runs every two hours from Lindau for the scenic journey of two hours 43 minutes to the Bavarian capital. Three coaches form the normal consist from Lindau as far as Immenstadt where a portion brought down the branch from the winter resort of Oberstdorf  by another loco, usually an ex-Austrian Railways 2143, is added. A visit is recommended.

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