NORTH WALES COAST RAILWAY:NOTICE
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14 January 2013
A Voyager emerges from the fog at Flint on the morning of 11 January. Picture by David Parry.
It's cold and gloomy at Shotton (High Level) on 12 January as 150 280, leaking exhaust fumes and purporting to be headed for Crewe, has arrived with the 07:31 Bidston to Wrexham Central (Tim Rogers).
The day livens up at Shotton as 60 017 passes with train 6V75, empty steel wagons from Dee Marsh to Margam (Tim Rogers).
Colas Rail loco 56 094 passes Baschurch, Shropshire at 14:35 on 11 January working the 6Z50 timber empties to Baglan Bay, South Wales (Stavros Lainas).
A look back to 20 December: the 'Northern Belle' festive charter, train 1Z23, from Coventry to Coventry, the locos in charge being 47 832 and 47 501, passes through Wrexham General at 14:53 on what was a thoroughly wet and dismal afternoon. Picture by Martin Evans.
The 'wraps are now off' the original station building at Prestatyn, which has been refurbished, along with the adjacent goods shed, as part of the new retail park project. Hopefully a suitable commercial use for the structure. Its original function ceased in 1897 when a new station on the present site was opened, but was retained as offices, and is now a Listed Building, although in recent times it has been in very poor condition (See the disused stations website for some pictures from 2008.) The Chester and Holyhead Railway used two different designs of building for smaller stations; this cottage-style one and the 'Italianate' version as found at Mostyn (see last issue). Perhaps the ornate version proved too expensive? Or was it a requirement of the landowners in the Mostyn/Holywell area? Thoughts welcome. Picture by Roly High.
Some more pictures from the re-laying work carried out on the Coast line over the weekend of 5-6 and 12-13 January. First, three pictures by David Rapson from Saturday 5 January's work at Mostyn which show some of the trains waiting at Ffynnongroyw to enter the work site. Above, 70 010 stands at the footbridge at Ffynnongroyw having initially arrived on 6Y03 00:10 Crewe Basford Hall - Rockcliffe Hall. The train conveys fresh ballast and is about to follow 70 004 into the possession east of Mostyn signalbox.
66 952 now approaches at 13:55 with empty spoil wagons into which the spent ballast will be loaded by digger. 70 015 is at the tail of this train. 70 010 and 70 004 mentioned above had both cleared the work site by this time and stood between Mostyn and Holywell Junction to allow 66 952 to follow in for loading.
70 015 tails the above empty wagons into the possession having arrived overnight on 6Y01 22:45 Crewe Basford Hall - Rockcliffe Hall.
Work is also taking place on the bridge over the Clwyd river at Foryd, not an easy site to photograph; Roly High's picture from 12 January shows road vehicles in attendance. Incidentally, this bridge and the recently-refurbished road bridge are soon to be joined by a newcomer, currently under construction, a lifting bridge across the harbour which will be part of the North Wales Coast cycleway.
Work in progress as Mostyn, 12 January (Roly High).
A replacement coach, provided by Voel Coaches of Dyserth, waiting at Prestatyn station (Roly High).
Llangollen Railway update - by George Jones
During the Christmas period a riverside landslip occurred alongside the Llangollen Railway near milepost 11 west of Glyndyfrdwy station, caused by the recent heavy rainfall and water level flows in the River Dee. The railway line runs close to the river at this point and the slip has taken the bank away below a length of the railway's fencing, although the erosion has not yet intruded onto the track base. (Picture above, provided by the Llangollen Railway.) It has produced an intrusion which measures some 20 m by 3 m, but the high level of the River Dee means that the precise impact on the lower riverbank cannot be seen at this time until the water level drops. The implications for the stability of the rail track means that the passage of trains west of Glyndyfrdwy cannot be authorised until repairs are completed to restore the riverside infrastructure and, possibly, include improvements to the landslide drainage system in this area.
As a safety precaution train services were terminated at Glyndyfrdwy station during the period of festive trains from Boxing Day to New Years Day. Passengers were understanding about the situation and concerned for its timely resolution, but the reduced train service adversely impacted on business originating from Carrog and at the station tearooms there. Station staff at Glyndyfrdwy responded to the operational needs by opening up the station building to provide facilities at a time of the year when the building is normally closed.
In addition, at Llangollen station, a hole was found to be opening up on platform 2 on the riverside stretch. A preliminary investigation revealed a voided area existed below the surface, likely caused by water seepage through the riverside stonework but the area is subject to further investigation.
Both incidents are subject to a claim on the Llangollen Railway's insurance and the extent and cost of the repair is subject to contractors' estimates which are currently being sought. Given the current predictions that further heavy down pours are likely in the future the Railway will have to fund improvements that have been recommended to strengthen flood defences along the river bank.
Further details will be advised when the appointed contractors begin work and a completion date is known.
Operations Director Peter Evans said, "Llangollen Railway regrets the disruption to services which the landslip has caused and hopes to be able to resume train services to Carrog when the 2013 season begins on 2 February. Priority will be given to the repair of Platform 2 used extensively for Thomas events and contingency arrangements have already been made to ensure that the February series of 'Days Out With Thomas' TM event will take place."
The Railway reports a successful Season of Santa Special trains. In the course of eleven days of operations between 1 December and Christmas Eve, 44 trains ran and a total of 9486 passengers were carried to 'Lapland' at Carrog, an 90% seat occupancy. This is an increase of 4% on 2011 and is seen as a very satisfactory result in the current economic circumstances when family groups from within our base catchment area, and further afield, supported the seasonal entertainment.
The success of the annual Santa trains operation is down to the many volunteers who undertook a wide range of tasks involved in this festive season occasion. On all eleven days of the season operational duties on the trains and at stations, plus the various helpers for Santa and his elves, were covered by a wide range of volunteers of all ages. They came together to make up several teams which were rostered to cover the train services.
Chasing the DRS trainer - with Charlie Hulme
On the third attempt, I managed to arrive at Stockport station on 10 January in time to see the passenger training run for DRS drivers which is scheduled for Mondays - Fridays until 25 January. The booked time is just a few minutes after the passage in the other direction at 14:08 of a train of empty refuse containers from Scunthorpe to the Greater Manchester waste disposal depot at Northenden, so I have also included that in my video (above.)
I'll repeat here the times of the DRS specials:
5Z45: Crewe Gresty Green up loop dep 09:31, Liverpool Lime Street 10:32 - 10:40 St Helens Junction 11:00 - 11:03 Eccles 11:22 Manchester Victoria 11:31 Stockport 11:58 Macclesfield 12:23 - 12:37 Stoke-on-Trent 13:19 Stoke Sideway Loop arr 13:24.
5Z46: Stoke Sideway Loop dep 13:39 Macclesfield 14:00, Stockport 14:13, Manchester Victoria 14:59, Eccles 15:18, Warrington Bank Quay 15:39 - 15:44 Crewe 16:08 - 16:13 Crewe Gresty Green 16:19.
Chasing freight trains has become a lot easier of late, since Network Rail has made its working timetables available to the public - although in practice freights do not always follow the times allocated. In particular, those with 'Q' or 'Y' at the head of their columns only run as required by the traffic, so sime perseverance will be needed. Freight and passenger trains have separate tables: section CZ covers the freight in the North West England / North Wales area.
More views of the 29 December specials
Some contributions of the 29 December loco-worked specials got left out of the report in the last issue due to lack of time at the editing stage, so here's another helping. DVT 82307 brings the 08:37 Crewe - Holyhead train into Bangor station on the morning on 29 December. (Carwyn Jones).
82307 stands at Holyhead after driver Dave Trains brought in the 1D04 08:37 from Crewe (Jack Bowley).
Loco 67 001 prepares to leave Holyhead for Crewe on its second run (Carwyn Jones).
67 001 seen from London Road all set up and ready with the 1K51, 12:24 to Crewe (Jack Bowley).
The train stopping off at Bangor en-route to Crewe (Carwyn Jones).
67 001 leaving Chester platform 4 with the 1K51 for Crewe with 1K51 (Jack Bowley).
82307 bringing the 1D01 14:27 Crewe - Holyhead, the second westbound service of the day, into Chester (Jack Bowley).
82307 at Chester as 508 115 arrives from Liverpool (Jack Bowley).
And for a last word on the day, there's a video by Matthew 5774.
Manchester Metrolink update
A further section of Manchester Metrolink is now open, as converted from the 'National Rail Oldham Loop' line - trams now run as far as Shaw & Crompton station, very conveniently for customers of the Arcadia model railway shop which is a few minutes' walk away up the hill. Briar Mill, built in 1906, and now used by a logistics company, dominates the scene.
The new station is in a different location from the old one, being on the Manchester side of the level crossing, and has a bay platform (see above) for terminating trams as well as two through platforms for future services towards Rochdale. If you visit now your tram will call at Oldham Mumps station, on a section of line which is to be closed and replaced by a new stretch, now under construction through Oldham town centre. On the east side of Manchester, another new section, street-running from Piccadilly to Droylsden, is now promised to open on 11 February.
Meanwhile, struggles continue to get the new 'Tram Management System' (TMS) signalling functioning on the core part of the system. The latest news is that the suppliers are trying to claim an extra £42.3 million payment. Thales Transport and Security was contracted in 2008 to fit the new Tram Management System as part of the £1.4bn Big Bang expansion of the network, at a cost of £22 million.
Transport for Greater Manchester is contesting the claim – and a judge at the High Court in London has ordered Thales to hand confidential documents to TfGM to verify whether they have complied with their contract. Mr Justice Akenhead said in a 64-paragraph judgement at the High Court: 'If, as asserted by Thales, the project has and will cost £42m more than it was priced for, something has gone seriously wrong, leaving aside whose fault it is.'
Meanwhile, a number of newly-built trams cannot be used because they only have the equipment for the new system, and many delays occur in the Cornbrook area where the old block system cannot cope with the 25 trams per hour in each direction which now run between the City Centre, Deansgate-Castlefield and Cornbrook.
Early in December a second new motorway bridge was successfully rolled into position for the Airport Line, this one bridging the M56 near Wythenshawe. Greg Mape's picture above shows the bridge the morning after installation. Like the other bridge (see 3 December issue), a long single span has been used, to minimise disruption to motorway traffic during the construction. Opening of this line, which will leave the existing South Manchester line at St Werburgh's Road, is not expected until 2016.
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