Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

04 March 2013

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Forthcoming events

This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page.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

March 2013

Wednesday 6 March
Shrewsbury-Chester Rail Users Association Public Meeting starting at 19:30 St Mary’s Church Social Club, Regent St, Wrexham when the subject will be: Track re-doubling, opportunities after 2015. The speaker will be Mr Michael Bagshaw, Commercial Director,  Arriva Trains Wales. Followed by a Question and Answer session. Visitors are most welcome to attend.

Friday 8 March  Altrincham Electric Railway Society "German Narrow Gauge Steam" a colour slide presentation by John Owen.

Saturday 9 March    Railway and Canal Historical Society   "Lost Canals of the East Midlands" by the Society's President, Dr. Wendy Freer
Monday 11 March  Wrexham Railway Society  'A Circular Tour Of North Wales'  John Hobbs
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"

23 March  Llangollen Railway Diesel day

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.

Monday 8 April  Wrexham Railway Society 'The Railways Of Scotland' Les Nixon

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

13 April  Llangollen Railway Real Ale train evening

Monday 15 April RCTS Chester Meeting has been moved to 29 April ( see below)

Thursday 18 April LCGB North West John Sloane 'Steam Sheds and Diesel Depots'

19-21 April Llangollen Railway  Spring Steam gala with return of the steam Railmotor 93 and newly restored Auto Trailer 92

Thursday 25 April Merseyside Railway History Group Richard Kells : Quiz and informal evening

Monday 29 April RCTS Chester Even Further Down Under: New Zealand In 2011 & 2012 By Geoff Morris.

May 2013

Thursday 9 May Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society “The Buckley Railway”  Paul Davies

Saturday 11 May Llangollen Railway Murder Mystery

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

Sunday 19 May  Llangollen Railway Teddy Bears Picnic

June 2013

1-2 June Llangollen Railway Day Out with Thomas weekend

8 June  Llangollen Railway Real Ale train evening

22-23 June Llangollen Railway Heritage Railcar Gala

Trams are running again in Birkenhead after some recent uncertainty. Hong Kong-built Car 69 passes Egerton Bridge on 2 March en route from Woodside ferry terminal to the Old Colonial pub adjacent to the Wirral Transport Museum in Taylor Street. See the Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society website for full information. Picture by Chris Morrison.

Freight update

A one-wagon Valley - Crewe train on Monday 4 March produced the interesting combination of 57 004 and 66 426, see above heading through Llanfairfechan. Picture by Peter Basterfield.

Heading east at Llanfairfechan (Peter Basterfield).

Llandudno Junction. Picture by Garry Stroud.

Near Bagillt (David Rapson).

Passing Beeches Farm bridge west of Chester at 14:53, having left Valley two hours earlier than normal (Mark Riley).

The signalman's view: 60 020 passes Croes Newydd signalbox working train 6V75 from Dee Marsh to Margam on 4 March (Michael Cox).

Colas Rail loco 66 850 passes Hargrave with the Thursdays-only 6M37 09:50 Baglan Bay (South Wales) to Chirk Kronospan works log train on 28 February (Stavros Lainas).

On 26 February 26 (above), 66 025 passes Gwersyllt working train 6F41 Warrington Arpley - Penyffordd coal train, a long rake of 36 loaded 'MEA' wagons. This train runs on an 'as required' basis and hasn't been seen for quite some time (Mark Riley).

Seen on the climb away from the sidings at the Padeswood factory at 17:15, 66 025 approaches Buckley with the return empty wagons, running as 6E41 Penyffordd - Doncaster. The train is heading for Dee Marsh where the 66 will run round. By the time it reached Wrexham just after 19:00 and runs round again, it would have been too dark for a picture, so Mark Riley travelled to Buckley for this dramatic shot.

Out and About - pictures by Tim Rogers

25 February, and 175 008 was working 1V51, 14:34 Holyhead - Cardiff, see passing Bagillt on 25 February. Bagillt station opened in 1849 and closed in 1966. When this section west of Flint was widened to four tracks in Edwardian days, it would seem that space was left for an island platform at the station to serve the inside pair which were the fast lines. But only Bagillt signalbox, built in 1907, stood in the central space. (See the 11 March 2013 issue for more on this.)

6K41 14:58 (runs when required) Valley - Crewe flask train passes Bagillt on 25 February, with locos 37 667 and 37 612 in charge.

A look at former Eurostar loco 37 612.

... and a chance inspect at the wagons, classified FNA and rated to carry 56 tonnes, of which only about 2.5 tonnes is the weight of the actual fuel elements. The grey box is not the actual flask, but a cover known as the 'transport cabin'. The flask itself - the ones for use with the old style 'Magnox' reactors such as Wylfa are made of steel 14 inches thick - is inside.  The wagons were built over a period from the 1970s with assorted variations. 550052, see above, is one of the later ones. The two diamond-shaped frames for 'Hazchem' symbols are not an original feature.

The transport cabins stay with their own wagons, and carry the last two digits of the wagon number, sometimes in large figures on the top as seen on 550037, above. Nothing to with the matching loco class!  Believe it or not, the wagon bodies are unpainted stainless steel, the brown appearance is created by metallic dust thrown up from the track and brakes.

Ready-to-run models are now available of these wagons in N and 00 scales: here's a magazine review of the 00 version from Bachmann.

On the passenger front, 150 213, the first 150 in the latest Arriva livery, was allocated to 1D39 14:50 Manchester - Llandudno on 25 February, seen at Bagillt. It seems there was a policy decision to show off this unit at all Arriva Trains Wales stations, as this is not normally a Class 150 turn.

28 February, and 150 254, working the 08:31 Bidston - Wrexham Central, crosses the bridge carrying the Bidston - Wrexham line over the River Dee. The bridge, complete with attached footbridge bridge which once required payment of a toll, was built in 1889. The larger span on the north side could originally be swung to allow shipping to pass. However, by the 1960s few ships passed this way the swing mechanism was disconnected and the span fixed in place. In the modern era, the barge carrying A380 airliner wings to Mostyn has has to be built to a very low profile in order to pass.  (The Disused Stations website has a fascinating article about the bridge.)

The view towards Shotton High Level station at 150 283 heads for the bridge as the 08:32 Wrexham - Bidston.

Freight trains pass this way carrying steel from South Wales for coating at the Shotton works of Tata steel. Above, 60 007 The Spirit of Tom Kendell makes its way across Hawarden bridge on 28 February with train 6V75 09:30 Dee Marsh - Margam empties.

Class 150 events

George Jones writes: 'When I joined the 10:30 to Bidston at Wrexham Central on 2 March it was with the conductor's announcement that passengers would have to change trains at Wrexham General as unit 150 231 would be going out of service - a defective driver's door. At Wrexham General passengers were asked to transfer to platform 3 where 150 242 (pictured above, with 150 231 behind) awaited. Thanks to an absence of push chairs, wheelchairs etc., a speedy transfer of bodies was achieved and the unit left at 10:37 just a few minutes late. Arrival at Bidston was a creditable 11:29 and the unit departed back on time 11:32.

'This replacement of the unit was a prompt move by Arriva Trains Wales rather than cancellation of a service which turned out to be very busy when all the passengers alighted at Bidston, showing how popular the route can be. Platform 3 is normally used for southbound departures; it is the first time I have departed northbound from here since participating in a railtour back in the 80s, I think. Later 150 231 was seen out of service at Chester.'

Chester on 3 March, and 150 242 has arrived, attached to a 158 on the 10:48 Birmingham International - Chester. A busy couple of days for this unit, which must have been allocated to Chester as 'spare.' Picture by Peter Dickinson.

Past Times with John Hobbs - where trains went to

LMSR 'Crab' 2-6-0 42924 (above) leaves Liverpool (Lime Street) with empty coaching stock for Edge Hill; the scene is still much the same today but Pendolinos now scuttle back and forth from this platform to London. Sister loco 42765, (carrying its earlier LMS number 13065) will soon be back in action on the East Lancashire Railway in Crimson Lake livery; it will look smarter than this work horse. A 'Black Five' lurks in the background and the trolley completes the scene, on 25 May 1964.

LMSR Class 5 4-6-0 45156 Ayrshire Yeomanry leaves Liverpool (Lime Street) with the 16:30 for Llandudno on the same date, 25 May 1964, Trans Pennine Express trains now leave from these platforms and it is of course impossible to travel directly to Llandudno from Lime Street; perhaps the Halton curve will one day reopen to permit such luxury. A Diesel Multiple Unit just catches the sun in the cutting.

BR 'Britannia' 4-6-2 70046 Anzac stands in Manchester (Exchange) with 1D69. the 7:35  to Llandudno while D179 awaits with the 3.16 pm Newcastle to Liverpool (Lime Street), on Saturday 27 June 1964. Exchange was the usual station for Manchester - North Wales trains until it closed in 1969.

Ex-LMSR Class 5 4-6-0 45311 enters Crewe with the  8.10 am (SX) Holyhead to Crewe on Friday 3 July 1964; Crewe North Junction is much simplified since steam days but we have more trains running from Chester to Crewe if not from the coast.

Meet John Hobbs in person at the Wrexham Railway Society meeting on Monday 11 March. John will be making a 'personal circumnavigation' by rail of North Wales featuring slides from 1966 until 1986; featuring many scenes taken before work on the A55 started and a last look at steam on workings to Llandudno. John formerly worked inspecting cranes in North Wales and was able to witness the weekly freight workings to Pwllheli and Trawsfynydd as well as the daily trains to Amlwch. The meeting is at the usual venue, the Catholic Social Club at St Marys Church Regent St, Wrexham, opposite Grosvenor Road traffic lights starting at 19.45. Visitors welcome on payment of £1.50 at the door.

Valley Veteran needs your help - report by George Jones

Taff Vale Railway 'O1' class 0-6-2T No. 28 (above) was built in 1897 at West Yard Works, Cardiff to a design by Tom Hurry Riches.  It was designed to pull passengers and freight on lines in the South Wales valleys and Cardiff docks, and represents one of a series of similar locomotive types that would influence the development of the GWR’s 56xx class 0-6-2T.  No. 28 was withdrawn from mainline service by the GWR in 1926.  The locomotive saw further use with the Army and the National Coal Board, which enabled it to survive into preservation, becoming a part of the National Collection in 1960. Briefly returned to working order in Caerphilly in the 1980s, No. 28 was moved to the Dean Forest Railway in Gloucestershire after the group looking after it disbanded.

The cosmetic restoration of  No. 28, the last surviving Welsh-built standard gauge steam locomotive, is set to go ahead thanks to a unique three-way partnership between the National Railway Museum, and two of Wales’s leading standard gauge preserved railways.  The Gwili Railway-based Gwili Vintage Carriage Group (GVCG), and the Llangollen Railway have agreed to work together to restore the locomotive and display it with the only Welsh-built standard gauge railway carriage to survive into preservation, Taff Vale Railway Brake Third No. 220.

An appeal for £10,000 to complete the cosmetic restoration and transport the locomotive to the Gwili Railway was launched on 27 February by the GVCG on behalf of the other two partners.  The locomotive is currently stored in a dismantled state at Llangollen Railway, as seen in the picture above which features the deputy chairman of Llangollen Railway Neil Evans. Mr Evans says 'The Llangollen Railway’s workshop is the largest standard gauge steam loco workshop in Wales, so we’re very happy to be involved with the project.  Since No. 28 arrived at Llangollen we have already worked on some parts of the locomotive, and a successful fund-raising exercise will help us to complete the job.'

Cheques in support of the restoration fund should be sent with a covering letter to:  Gwili Vintage Carriage Group c/o Gwili Steam Railway, Bronwydd Arms Station, Carmarthen SA33 6HT
Or online via Gift Aid forms will be sent to everyone who donates.

Arriva Sapphire buses

Arriva UK Bus is launching a new premium service, Sapphire, aimed at reinvigorating bus usage on key routes in four locations across the UK. The new concept was 'developed following extensive customer research including surveys, site visits and focus groups.'

Mark Yexley, Operations and Commercial Director for Arriva UK Bus, comments: 'We felt the time was right to introduce the Sapphire brand.  It will certainly offer our customers something different and we hope will tempt more people to try the bus as a result. We’ve deliberately selected key routes on our network that offer a potentially longer journey time, so that customers have more time to take advantage of the free WiFi, or to simply enjoy sitting on comfy leather seats!'

The first Sapphire service to launch, in April, will be route 1, Chester to Wrexham, using refurbished vehicles in a revised livery, which bears a distinct family resemblance to that used for recent repainting of Arriva Trains Wales rolling stock.

According to the North West bus blog, The Sapphire vehicles for Wrexham are nine Alexander-Dennis Trident II double-decks with Alexander-Dennis' own Enviro400 bodywork, previously allocated to Birkenhead depot for Cross River Express services. The new seats, trimmed in e-leather, are made by the Esteban company, based on Wrexham Industrial Estate.

Shipping scenes

Above, MV Islay Trader loading limestone destined for Cowes, Isle of Wight at Llanddulas, 28 February (Dave Sallery).

On the Mersey at Birkenhead, stanchions for the Gwynt y Môr windfarm eight miles north of the North Wales Coast are seen assembled at Cammell Lairds waiting to go on board the offshore construction jack-up vessel Friedrich Ernestine - seen in the background with crane and the four legs. The size of the stanchions probably indicates how deep the windpower installations sit in the sea on the sandbanks. The depth of water at the location is as much as 28 metres, according to the project's website. The first turbine is planned to be operational in April 2013. Picture by George Jones.

Gwynt y Môr (Welsh for 'wind of the sea' apparently) will consist of 160 turbines and is being built by RWE npower renewables in Liverpool Bay, off the North Wales coast. The project is being funded by RWE Innogy, in partnership with Stadtwerke München GmbH, and Siemens AG. It will have an installed capacity of 576MW, using Siemens 3.6MW turbines and generators. The company's animation showing the way the scheme will work is well worth watching, in our opinion.

Berthed at Liverpool on 16 February, HMS Illustrious, the Royal Navy's  last remaining aircraft carrier carrier, with a Chinook helicopter on board. Later the Chinook took off and flew away whilst a SeaKing landed (George Jones).

In the headwaters of the Manchester Ship Canal, the new bridge connecting Trafford and Salford at MedaCityUK is swung open to allow passenger of the canal company's dredger WD Mersey on 21 February (Charlie Hulme).

The Ship Canal still carries commercial traffic. A recent press release tell us that 'increased demand for containers has resulted in a bigger ship brought into service. Extra business from big brand names like Kellogg's, Princes Foods and Kingsland Wines has exceeded the extra capacity put on a year ago with the coaster MV Monica.The new ship, MV Coastal Deniz, can carry 260 containers - 60% more than Monica. It runs between Liverpool's Seaforth Container Terminal, Ellesmere Port and Irlam Container Terminal in Salford. Peel Ports started MSC container barge services in 2007. In 2009 it handled 3,000 containers, in 2011 this rose to 10,000 containers and in 2012 it carried 15,000 containers. Seven million tonnes of dry bulk cargo and petrochemicals are also shipped annually.'

It is also possible to travel to Salford by Mersey ferry: a very interesting day trip. See the Mersey ferries website. Our picture shows Snowdrop taking on passengers at Salford in 2007.

Less welcome news is that the Royal Daffodil (formerly Overchurch), built in 1962 by Cammell Laird and the smallest of the three Mersey ferries, has been withdrawn from service, leaving just two vessels,  Royal Iris of Liverpool and Snowdrop, to maintain the ferry service and provide the Ship Canal cruises.

And finally ...

Abergele & Pensarn, Thursday 28 February; the signalbox is just visible in the afternoon fog. Picture by Andrew Bridle.

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