NORTH WALES COAST RAILWAY:NOTICE
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21 January 2013
158 819 and 158 839 depart Ruabon with the 14:54 to departure to Holyhead in weak winter sunshine on 21 January (Martin Evans).
Bangor Sidings puzzle - by Dave Plimmer
On my occasional visit to North Wales, I've watched with interest the changes to the yard sidings at Bangor over recent years, as a result of the long-promised and finally delivered additional car parking. However, I have not seen any explanation for the changes that took place in the autumn of 2012. I took the above picture from Covent Lane in April 2005 when I thought development might start soon. There were some signs of rail replacement, but no obvious signs of any use.
Fast forward to 2011 and the new car park is in use. In this shot from Bangor Mountain, two yard sidings have been retained, refettled or, in the case of the left hand one, relaid. I assume that these are the Strategic Freight Sidings referred to in the variation documentation issued for the
changes to the yard layout - although frustratingly the diagrams of the changes appear not be available on-line. (Freight company EWS, forerunner if DB Schenker) objected to the change as there is no provision in the sidings for a loco to run round a freight train, but were persuaded to accept a 'Method of Working' involving using the lines in the passenger station to run round.)
But there have been further changes. By Christmas 2012, these two sidings have been relaid again, in more usable form on a completely new straight alignment, together with foot and vehicle(?) crossings, plus more new fencing and gates. Is this a speculative venture by Network Rail or the local council, or is some traffic expected? The view above is from 28 December 2012, with 31 106 present on the Network Rail train.
Finally, a couple of pictures taken from these viewpoints from a time when those two little sidings would not have been sufficient. Above, 24 081 deputises for the usual Class 08 shunting loco on 7 September 1976. Most tracks appear to be in use, and indeed freight was due to increase as the Tunnel Cement terminal was due to start construction shortly.
More new freight traffic started in the 1980s, with traffic from Butterley Brick at Caernarfon. A number of Speedlink open wagons are seen here as 47 440 shunts out of the station before reversing into the sidings to run round. This is the 09:00 London Euston to Bangor, which will form the 14:36 back to Euston.
[Dave Plimmer's 2D53.co.uk website is essential viewing for all interested in the North Wales Railways between 1975 and 1983, a classic period for diesel traction.]
Past Times - with John Hobbs
'Jubilee" 4-6-0 45552 Silver Jubilee arrives at Chester, with the 9.20 am Crewe to Holyhead on Friday 3 July 1964, this picture taken from the footbridge which used to stand at the east end of the station; the engine worked back on the 2.45 pm Holyhead to Crewe. The raised stainless steel numerals, unique to this loco, can be seen on the cabside; the fine array of LNWR signals which survived for so long at Chester now seem as if they are from another age.
Llandudno in all its former glory as LMS Class 5 4-6-0 45276 stands under the overall roof, at the buffer stops, supervised by a member of the station staff while the driver looks on. The train is 1Z18, on 19 April 1965.
Wrexham in the snow - report by George Jones
I made a sortie to the railway on 21 January to see the trains operating in the snow. The bay at Wrexham General held Plasser & Theurer tamper DR73906 Panther, most likely awaiting overnight use on the track relaying along the Bidston line from Gwersyllt to Shotton: DR73914 was seen there the previous week.
175 115 departed for Cardiff at 12:48. To the right of the view, redevelopment of the former scrapyard to the west of the line has begun, a welcome change to what was previously a blot on the landscape.
158 818, the last of the 24 Arriva Trains Wales 158s to have undergone the refurbishment programme, arrived and left with a Holyhead-bound train at 13:08, 8 minutes late.
A recent change at Wrexham General is the revision of bus services; the forecourt is now only served by the half-hourly local 'Shoppa Hoppa' bus route 101 around Wrexham shopping centre; the picture shows Optare Solo YJ09 EZK of GHA Coaches calling. The two Arriva services 13 and 21 which previously called no longer do so, supposedly because the turning circle isn't big enough for the new vehicles on the routes - not that these are seen to be rostered very often. The arrangement was, however, an obvious operating inconvenience.
At platform 4, the former Wrexham Exchange station, 150 255, the Bidston line service arrived on time at 13:27 ...
... and took me for the short ride to Central. 150 255 is seen above departing at 13:31 from a wintry Central station for the return to Bidston.
To London for Steam - report by Alan Crawshaw
Rowan and I ventured south to London on Friday 11 January. There were a few art and photography exhibitions I wanted to catch, and Sunday 13 January also featured the London Underground 150th anniversary runs. We rose early on the Friday to catch the morning loco-hauled, 67 002 depositing us at foggy Shrewsbury (above) where a short wait ensued while the Holyhead to Birmingham unit caught us up. We alighted at Birmingham New Street and wandered over to Moor Street where we had plenty of time to admire the beautifully restored station and drink coffee from GWR-branded cups in the station buffet.
While awaiting the incoming Chiltern service we were hailed by Darran Moss, whom we'd not seen for many years, and enjoyed a fine run to Marylebone (above) in his company powered by 67 015 David J. Lloyd. Even the scenery is better than the Virgin route.
Next morning we took the Docklands Light Railway to Victoria Dock for a river crossing on the Emirates Air Line cable car and then on to the National Maritime Museum for the Ansel Adams exhibition. This isn't the most direct route but it must be the most enjoyable. On Sunday we headed off to Earls Court for the daytime run of the 150 special, seeing Metropolitan Railway 0-4-4T no.1 lead and electric loco 12 Sarah Siddons (built in 1923) bring the marvellously-restored Victorian stock (including carriage 353 recently restored by the Ffestiniog Railway's workshop) back. The next runs weren't until the evening, so time for more culture before trying our luck at Farringdon (above), chosen because it's relatively well lit. I fared better with the photography here despite the crowds, and we watched a couple of return trips before retiring for the night.
We returned home on Monday, EWS-liveried 67 023 (above, at Marylebone) taking us out of the capital through the snowy Chilterns on the 13:15 departure. This connected nicely with the 15:23 from New Street which returned us to Bangor.
Network Rail's plans - report by Eryl Crump
I spoke with Mark Langman of Network Rail on 8 January about their recent announcements. Faster train services between North and South Wales should be running by 2018 thanks to a major £34m upgrade. Network Rail (NR) says the schemes in North Wales will be the biggest investment in the Welsh railway network since the 1870s. The news has been welcomed by senior politicians but calls have been made for greater investment in North Wales.
The first stage of the 10-year route modernisation plan will involve re-signalling the line between Flint and Llandudno. Aligned with a similar scheme to re-signal the Marches route between Newport and Shrewsbury, both projects will allow more frequent and faster trains between North and South Wales. Engineers believe the re-signalling could take 15 minutes off journey times to Cardiff. The line west of Llandudno Junction will be re-signalled by 2020.
Other projects include major refurbishment of the four metal spans of the historic Barmouth Bridge (budgeted at £3m) plus c.£0.5m per annum (2014-2019) on a rolling programme of timber repairs and maintenance the viaduct, a total spending on the viaduct of c.£5.5m by end of 2019. Also planned is a complete makeover for Holyhead station (£1.5m) to be complete during 2016 although the final programme is yet to be confirmed.
In a separate development, Minister with responsibility for Transport, Carl Sargeant, has announced that the Welsh Government, working in collaboration with the regional transport consortium, Taith, is to develop a business case for the electrification of the North Wales line. The Minister has confirmed that a robust business case will be developed that will capture the full social, economic and environmental benefits for north Wales.
The business plan for modernisation will build on previous work done to date, including the important North East Wales Area Based Transport Study. Mr Sargeant told the press: 'I want to see North Wales properly connected to the UK electric infrastructure, with effective cross-border links ...
Modernising the North Wales rail line is a key element of this ambition and has the potential of greatly improving the rail services and unlocking economic growth for the region, which will in turn help tackle poverty.'
In addition to the North Wales Coast Main Line (from Holyhead to Crewe), consideration will be given to the rail network in north-east Wales (including the Wrexham to Bidston line, the line from Wrexham to Chester, and the line from Chester to Warrington Bank Quay) in order to maximise the social, economic and environmental benefits to the region resulting from modernisation. Work now begins on establishing the strategic case for investment, which will define the scope, objectives, benefits and long-list of options for the project. This in turn will lead on to a robust case for change, which we are told will be complete this summer.
Rhyl Scenes - pictures by Roly High
Rhyl's former No.2 signal box now looks very un-cared-for, but cannot be demolished as it is a listed building. Long gone are the days when its 100+ levers were busy. Network Rail;s plans will mean that its twin, No.1 box, will also be redundant. What new use can be found for such a structure?
We understand that changes in the future will see four tracks under this bridge, allowing fast trains to overtake stopping ones in either direction, whilst the fast line at Abergele will be removed.
Winter Canal - pictures by Martin Evans
Martin Evans strolled down to the canal basin in Trevor, near Llangollen to photograph some narrow boats in the picturesque snowy landscape.
Trevor once has a railway station on the Ruabon to Llangollen line. The canal basin lines 150 metres north of the famous Pontcysyllte aqueduct, where the Llangollen Canal meets the Ellesmere Canal.
Llangollen book reprinted
Further to our recent coverage of the Castlefield area of Manchester, a local firm of architects has proposed a use for the derelict viaduct parallel to the one used by Metrolink (seen above in a BBC picture taken from a non-public spot)...
... as a liberal park, analogous to ones in New York and Paris. Plans for the design include seating areas, herb gardens, allotments and a café over a 400m (1312ft) stretch of the viaduct, as the artist's impression shows.
Here's a picture from July 2012 of The Manchester Museum of Science and Industry's replica steam loco Planet doing its stuff on the Museum's line at Liverpool Road station. The loco is propelling its train back to the station inside the overhead crane in the background. The train will be operating during opening hours as follows. February: Sat 16 - Sun 24 inclusive. March: Sat 2, Sun 3, Sat 9, Sun 10, Sat 16, Sun 17, Sat 23, Sun 24, Fri 29 - Sun 31 inclusive. Visit the MOSI website to confirm nearer the time. Note that the free 'Metroshuttle' bus no.2 runs direct from Manchester Oxford Road station to the museum every 12 minutes during the day.
Further to our 17 December report of the removal of the museum's connection to the main line, we can now tell you that it has now been restored. Network Rail's ultrasonic tests for cracks in the rails found the turnout's crossing casting to be flawed. They removed it in Summer 2012 and left a new casting on the ground next to the point. Recently (early December) they got around to reinstating the link after pressure from the Museum to do so. Whether it will see any use before the Ordsall Chord cuts across the area remains to be seen. We hope so.
Class 37/4 update
As this site came into being in the 1990s to celebrate the use of Class 37/4 locos on the North Wales line, we like to keep an eye on their status from time to time. Of the 31 rebuilt from standard Class 37s in 1985/6, some have been scrapped over the years, including North Wales favourites 408 and 429, and another four, 37 410 / 411 / 427 / 428, have recently been dispatched to Booth's scrapyard, but 19 still survive, although some are currently not in working order. Richard Putley's picture above shows 37 423 at Bristol Temple Meads on 5 December 2012.
Here's a status report as of the turn of the year:
37 401 owned by DRS - stored at Carlisle depot
37 402 Owned by DRS - under overhaul at Barrow Hill
37 403 Bo'ness and Kinneil railway, preserved
37 405 Owned by DRS - under overhaul at Barrow Hill
37 406 owned by DRS - stored at Carlisle depot
37 407 Churnet valley Railway - preserved
37 409 Lord Hinton DRS - operational
37 410 owned by DRS - stored at Carlisle depot
37 411 owned by DRS - stored at Carlisle depot
37 413 Nemesis Rail, preserved (?)
37 415 HNRC - stored at Long Marston
37 418 East Lancashire Railway - preserved
37 419 Carl Haviland DRS - operational
37 421 Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway - preserved
37 422 owned by DRS - stored at Carlisle depot
37 423 Spirit of the Lakes DRS - operational
37 424 Churnet Valley Railway - preserved
37 425 DRS - operational
37 426 owned by DRS - stored at Carlisle depot
Acknowledgements to Rail Express magazine for this information. It had been said that DRS were to restore the name Concrete Bob / Sir Robert McAlpine 37 425 as carried in its West Highland and North Wales days, but this has yet to happen as far as we know. Do any of the preserved machines carry names, and are any of them in regular use? Contributions welcome.
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