NORTH WALES COAST RAILWAY:NOTICE
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04 March 2013
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.
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 gvcg.co.uk/donations. 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.