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28 January 2013
A snowy scene at Buckley station, 24 January. The barrow, no doubt provided by the station adopter, reminds us that the Wrexham, Mold and Connah's Quay line was once a Welsh outpost of the London and North Eastern Railway. Picture by George Jones.
Derailment and Fire at Ordsall Lane - report by Charlie Hulme
On Wednesday 23 January at 14:25 I happened to be at Manchester Piccadilly station with my video camera, expecting to capture a Freightliner Class 66 passing on the way from Crewe to collect the 15:18 Trafford Park - Southampton. Instead, I was surprised to see a a West Coast Railways train of five empty carriages led by 47 854 Diamond Jubilee and 47 500. Later, I discovered that the carriages were returning to Carnforth after having their wheels re-profiled on the wheel-lathe at the Siemens depot in Ardwick where TransPennine Express trains are maintained.
I video-ed that train, and the 66 which followed a few minutes later, then travelled to Mauldeth Road to do a little shopping at B & Q and film the loaded Freightliner train. When I returned to Manchester, however, I found the train service in the Salford and North Wales directions in a state of collapse. It transpired that 47 500 had derailed while the West Coast Railway Co. train was traversing the line from Deansgate towards Ordsall, and a fire broke out in the underframe area, with the result that the line was blocked in both directions. The fire brigade had attended the fire and sprayed considerable amounts of foam on to and into the loco.
Rumours of the cause began to spread, some of which alleged that the parking brake of 47 500 had been left on when the train left Ardwick. This inspired me to upload a clip from my video to Twitter, where it rapidly achieved 2600 viewers, including, I understand, the investigator from the Rail Accident Investigation Branch. There is no obvious sign of any wheels sliding.
The line remained blocked, with trains from North Wales turning back at Newton-le-Willows - a few ran to Chester via Northwich - all the next day, and on the night of Thursday / Friday, 47 500 was listed by two rail-mounted cranes and moved to the siding connecting the Museum of Science and Industry, which as it happens was directly opposite. The line opened again on Friday afternoon, and over the weekend the loco was dragged into the Museum yard by the Museum's battery loco, which we hear has recently been fitted with new batteries. The next step was said to be to remove it by road.
The always-excellent wnxx.com website has some fine pictures of the recovery process and of the loco in the Museum.
Wrexham snow round-up - report by Mark Riley
18 January saw the first appreciable snowfall in the Wrexham area. 150 229 is seen above on the branch line between Wrexham General and Wrexham Central, approaching journey's end with the 13:32 Bidston - Wrexham Central. All 36 of the Arriva Trains Wales's fleet of Class 150/2s are set to be repainted as part of a £1m transformation of the units. 150 213 is the first to undergo this work at LNWR Crewe, having entered the works in October. Work on all units is supposed to be completed by May 2014. [does anyone know how this is progressing?- Ed.]
On the evening of 25 January, Wrexham and much of the North West experienced the heaviest snow yet. This is the view of Wrexham General and car park at around 22:05. I don't think many people thought it would amount to this much, though...
... Tamper DR73906 Panther and 150 256 could be seen in the bay at Wrexham General earlier at 19:00hrs...
...and just three hours later it was under nearly 3 inches of snow!
Class 37/4 addendum
Unfortunately our Class 37/4 table in the last issue was out of date before it was published. In December 2012 DRS decided to scrap all their 37/4s on which overhaul had not yet begun, so
37 406 / 410 / 416 / 417 / 426 / 427 / 428 ended up at Booth's scrapyard in Rotherham.
Our picture shows 37 426 at Crewe in 1995 being detached after arrival with a train from North Wales, rather unusually in in Platform 10. Formerly named Vale of Rheidol / Y Lein Fach and based in Cardiff, 426 had been transferred to the freight sector, given the 'mainline' livery and used on limestone workings in the Buxton area, where several 37/4s received unofficial 'volcano' names after their tendency to shoot flames from the exhaust when working hard up the Derbyshire gradients.
Built in 1965 and originally numbered D6999, it was rebuilt as a Class 37/4 in 1985. In its last years in traffic it gained EWS livery; for a detailed history of this and other 37s, we recommend the Class 37 Locomotive Group website. Out thanks to Darren Hamer for assistance with this item.
Merseyrail news - report by George Jones
A sortie into Liverpool via Bidston on 25 January allowed sight of the refurbished platform 1 at James Street the inbound leg of the one way 'loop' route.
As at Liverpool Central Central deep level, the latest work has provided for a clinical all-white standardised underground environment as the picture above shows. Metal seats replace the former moulded plastic and modern advertising frames are also provided with new floor tiling and improved lighting. 507 012 departs on a West Kirby service.
Work is now concentrated on James Street platform 3, the original Mersey Railway station platform for outward-bound trains, where the dismantling of the 1970s style brown and cream modular linings provides sight of the original Mersey Railway red and white tiling, but not for long. Sadly a photo is not possible of this historic revelation.
Passengers joining the trains at James Street must travel round the loop to start a return journey or join at the other stations, Moorfields, Lime St or Central, all deep-levels. Merseyrail advise the 'round the loop' option adds 7 minutes to a journey.
Curzon Park footbridge, Chester - still not open
In our 2 August 2012 update we reported that the footbridge attached to the side of the railway bridge over the River Dee in Chester, linking to the Curzon Park area, was to be replaced by a new one, which, it was said, would be in use by Christmas 2012.
However, it has not opened. The new cantilevered pedestrian footbridge, made of galvanised steel with plastic deck planks to give a durable low-maintenance structure, as been installed, but it was felt necessary to strengthen the supports, and now the opening of the footbridge has been further delayed due to a landslip of the embankment. As the picture shows, the landslip has affected the footpath on the Curzon Park side of the footbridge; the wooden deck is meant to be horizontal. The embankment slip has also caused concern for Network Rail as the embankment supports a section of the railway and their geotechnical engineers are currently assessing the cause and possible stabilisation measures.
Bangor sidings puzzle ... solved
As we hoped, our item about the Bangor sidings (picture above by Dave Plimmer) produced a authoritative reply from an insider. Despite the various Network Rail documents about 'strategic freight facilities', the two sidings in question serve as a stabling point for the engineers' on-track machines (OTMs). The Depot improvement is part of a national scheme drawn up by NDS (National Delivery Service) to upgrade these Stabling Points.
NDS look after the planning/maintenance and general running of Network Rail's OTM Fleet; the state of the sidings (trackwork and poor underfoot conditions) were so bad that action was required. It took nearly a month on and off to get the improvements done. The road crossings as mentioned in the article are RRAPs (Road-Rail Access Points) for use by On Track Machinery.
The eagle-eyed will also have noticed the improvements made to the Engineers' Sidings at Rhyl too.
Up the Junction at Chester
An exhibition at Chester History and Heritage, St Michael's Church, Bridge Street Row, Chester until 29 March 2013 entitled 'Up the Junction'. Their press release runs:
March 2013 brings the 50th anniversary of the publication of 'The Reshaping of British Railways' Report, otherwise known as the 'Beeching Report', which changed the face of the national railway network forever. The impact was felt locally in Chester with the closure of the Northgate (above) and Blacon stations.
This mini photographic exhibition takes us on a journey back to the 'Golden Age' of the steam train. It gives us a glimpse of life in the 20thc. before and after the Beeching axe fell. It records a more relaxed pace of life that has changed almost beyond recognition with the rise of the motor car.
Opening times are Monday-Friday 10 - 12 & 1 - 4.00pm, Admisson is free.
To complement the exhibition Chester History and Heritage is showing 1950s British Transport films, including the evocative steam train footage of 'Snowdrift at Bleath Gill', 'This is York Station' and 'John Betjeman goes by Train'. 'Not just for steam train enthusiasts, there are also social history segments looking at a factory work's outing from 1951 and housewives filmed in 1956 on days out shopping and sightseeing.' Admission to the film shows is free, but book at Chester History & Heritage on 01244 972210. Shows are at 1.30pm on Wednesday 13 Feb, 27 February & 13 March.
Snow on Anglesey - pictures by M.Lloyd Davies
Friday 18 January saw continued snow fall across Western Anglesey from mid-morning through to the early hours of Saturday morning. Here are a few pictures taken on Saturday and Sunday of 'Trains in the Snow'. Above, Holyhead.
The view from the road bridge.
67 002 in the carriage sidings.
The 09.24 from Crewe approaches Valley.
1A55 to London passes Valley.
'Molly' stops, looks and listens.
The Mid-Hants Railway - report by Richard Putley
On 27 January I visited the Mid-Hants Railway. I got to Alresford in time for the first train of the day, the 11:00 to Alton. Indeed the booking clerk said I was the first customer to-day. I rode on this to Alton (above), where on the adjoining Network Rail platform South West Trains 450 076 was waiting to take anyone who wanted to go on to London Waterloo. These units are a DC only version of the Dual Voltage Class 350s that London Midland use on their services to Liverpool from Birmingham.
I then caught the 12:00 from Alton as far as Ropley where I alighted to look round the loco yard. An SR 4-6-0 'Lord Nelson' no.850 (above) was on display ...
... along with LMS 0-6-0 diesel shunter 12049 (BR Class 11), SR U Mogul 31806 ...
... and LMS-designed 2-6-2T 41312.
At the far end of the head shunt was 50 027 Lion; also visible is West Country class 34007 Wadebridge.
I then travelled "up the Alps" to Medstead and got off there. The MHR's resident 'Hampshire' Diesel-electric unit then put in appearance. All in all, a good day out.
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