NORTH WALES COAST RAILWAY:NOTICE
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11 March 2013
The Italianate scene at Gobowen station as 158 832 arrives with 11:27 Holyhead to Birmingham International on 8 March (Tim Rogers).
On our way to Wembley...
Arriva Trains Wales have announced that on Sunday 24 March, when Wrexham's football team play Grimsby Town, a special train will run from Wrexham (09:15) to Wembley Stadium station, return departures at 17:41 (or 18:41 if extra time is played). The return fares are: Standard adult £39.50, Child £29.50, First class adult £54.50. Tickets must be bought at Wrexham General station, being valid only with a reservation coupon issued there along with the ticket.
Arriva's web page states that 'the Premier Train Service (Y Gerallt Gymro), which has been newly refurbished thanks to Welsh Government funding' will be used, and that 300 seats will be available, including some First Class. An interesting opportunity for enthusiasts as well as football fans, perhaps.
Let's look again at the lost station of Bagillt, as pictured by Tim Rogers in the last issue, and its mysterious wide spacing between tracks. We've had an interesting email from Dave Plimmer of the excellent www.2d53.co.uk website. Dave writes:
'Although the effect of the widening in 1907 was to provide additional slow lines outside the currently used fast lines, it appears that at Bagillt this was achieved by building two new tracks behind the seaward (Up) side of the existing station, together with a new Up platform.
'In the excellent book by V.R.Anderson & G.K.Fox An Historical Survey of the Chester to Holyhead Railway: Track Layouts and Illustrations (Oxford Publishing, 1984), there is a photograph showing the original two track station in use, but with the new four-track spanning footbridge already in place. The implication is that the space between up and down lines was left, not for future expansion, but simply so that the original up platform could be left unaffected until the new lines were ready to be brought into use. The original Down platform was retained, but the original Up platform (which could have then been used as a 'Down Fast' platform) was demolished.
'The OPC book has a number of before- and after-widening track diagrams for various stations. One thing not easily explained is why Mostyn acquired four platforms, when (according to the 1910 Bradshaw) all its services were all-stations stoppers, whilst Abergele had to make do with two, even though some 'express' services stopped.'
Here are two map extracts of the area, one from 1871 with the two-track line (above) and one from 1912 with four tracks (below).
Note the 'Copper works' which disappears from the later map. An interesting sidelight on this can be found on the website of the Bagillt History Club: 'On the 23rd and 24th July in 1889, in the village of Bagillt, Flintshire, North Wales, held their first Flintshire Chair and Crown Eisteddfod. An old derelict building owned by Newton Keates & Co, that was once "The Copper Works", was by much village ingenuity, transformed into a magnificent pavilion for the event. It also was the first pavilion in Wales to be lit by electric light!'
66 424 and 66 426 head east through Bangor with a pair of flask wagons on 7 March (Alan Crawshaw).
47 832 Solway Princess brings the 'Northern Belle' Mother's Day special through Warrington Bank Quay, 10 March. Picture by Bob Greenhalgh.
Chester at 18:31 on 9 March: 66 850, with the Chirk Logs, waiting in the 'middle road' for a passenger service to clear (John Murray).
56 094 at Gobowen with 6Z52 Chirk to Gloucester New Yard empty timber wagons, 9 March (Tim Rogers).
Tamper/Liner DR73914 Robert McAlpine, operated by SB Rail (Swietelsky Babcock) in the bay (erstwhile Wrexham & Shropshire depot) at Wrexham General on 8 March, most likely waiting to start work on the Bidston line where overnight permanent way work continues.
On the subject of track machines, we strongly recommend you to watch the makers' video of the Matisa Track Relaying Train on their website for what must be approaching the ultimate in such equipment.
Open meeting in Wrexham, 6 March - report by Bob Hargreaves
The public meeting in Wrexham on 6 March organised by the Shrewsbury-Chester Rail Users featured Michael Bagshaw, Commercial Director of Arriva Trains Wales on the the subject 'Track re-doubling, opportunities after 2015.' The meeting was very well attended with over 50 people present, including members of other rail user groups. Mr Bagshaw was joined by three other ATW staff; the first half hour was titled 'The First Ten Years: stakeholder update', followed by news on the re-doubling work on the Wrexham - Chester section which commences this year and could see three trains an hour up & down through Wrexham General instead of the current hourly service. An hour's 'Q & A' ended a most interesting evening.
Some points: Mr Bagshaw mentioned that with the speeding up from Shrewsbury to Chester, extra capacity would be available. The Welsh Government is pushing is to improve speeds on the North-South route, but we argued that local travel patterns need to be taken into account, and this was accepted.
The subject of the connections missed by a minute at Shrewsbury between Wrexham trains and the Cambrian Line was raised; one of the ATW staff present said this was being looked at, however Mike Bagshaw seemed to argue 'Better connections at Chester are more important.'
The Wrexham - London service was raised, but nothing known yet. It was also said that all aspirations of ATW running to London have been dropped.
For anybody wanting more information on the Wrexham-Chester redoubling and related matters, there is a fantastically detailed report (8 MB PDF) on the Welsh Government web site. This is a joint report by consultants and Network Rail for the Welsh Government.
Rugby (weekend) special
Train 1Z88, the Pathfinder Tours charter carrying Welsh rugby fans from Carmarthen and Cardiff to Edinburgh for the 9 March 'Six Nations' international, passed (above) through a gloomy and misty Gobowen at 14:13 on Friday 8 March. Picture by Martin Evans.
Wrexham General (George Jones).
Approaching Chester (Bob Greenhalgh). Locomotive 47 818 leading 47 501 Craftsman.
The train rolls into a damp platform 4 at Chester (Roly High).
The nameplate of 47 501 (Roly High). The loco was named Craftsman in 1987 in recognition of the British Army's Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and their use of the railway to carry supplies. 'Craftsman' is their Army rank equivalent to 'Private'. The original nameplates were removed in 1997, and the name did not re-appear until a naming ceremony at DRS Gresty Bridge open day in 2008. The unusual green background, presumably intended to be Army green, is a DRS innovation.
Waiting for the 'right away' (Roly High). Note the inconsistent placing of the numbers.
The Pathfinder headboard (Roly High).
The train heads for Warrington Bank Quay en route to its first advertised stop at Edinburgh Waverley at 20:20; it was to continue to Motherwell for the benefit of fans staying in the Glasgow area. Interestingly this train, which returned on Monday 11 March, was run in co-operation with Arriva Trains Wales; reservations could be made at any ATW booking office, and the tickets were valid on connections from any ATW station.
Activity at Crewe, 7 March - report by Martin Evans
67 023 and 67 022 await departure from Crewe on 7 March with a Network Rail test train on 7 March.
57 308 was on 'Thunderbird' duty in case anything needed rescuing. Now operated by DRS, it is still in Virgin Trains livery, but minus its Tin Tin nameplates.
70 015 in the 'middle road' between Platforms 11 and 12 with empty ballast wagons.
Preserved Southern Railway 'light Pacific' no 34067 Tangmere appeared ...
... with 47 245 on the rear, working a Carnforth to Southall empty coach move.
No. 34067 had been at Carnforth out of use for two months, hence it's unkempt state.
By the time it worked the 'Cotswold Venturer' railtour from Euston to Worcester on 9 March it had been transformed, as this picture taken by Richard Putley among the semaphores at Worcester Shrub Hill proves.
DRS 66 303 passes through Crewe station with a Daventry/Grangemouth working. [The 'compass' logo is not a good match with the three-door body of the late-build 66s. The five Class 66/3 locos were originally bought by Jarvis for their 'Fastline' operation, and were bought by DRS from the Administrators after Jarvis plc ceased trading in 2010.]
DB Schenker 66 175 brings a southbound trainload of cars from Garston through the Independent lines (or 'muck hole' as they have been known) which by-pass the station area.
'Galatea' in steam - pictures by John Hobbs
4-6-0 locomotive 5699 was built at Crewe in April 1936 for the London Midland and Scottish Railway and named Galatea after HMS Galatea, which in turn was named after the Galatea of mythology, a statue carved of ivory by Pygmalion of Cyprus, which then came to life. After nationalisation in 1948, it was renumbered 45699 by British Railways.
After being withdrawn in 1964, Galatea was rescued from Woodham Brothers scrapyard in Barry, South Wales, originally to provide a spare boiler for sister loco Leander. However, the decision was taken to restore it to working order, and recently it has been worked on in the West Coast Railway Company's Carnforth workshops. It is reported to be nearly ready for traffic, although this has been said before...
Enthusiasts have been waiting for years for Galatea to put in appearance, it nearly never made it following the deliberate cutting of of one of its Driving Wheels while at Barry; well, here it is in steam and working at Prestatyn on 25 April 1964. The train is the 11.50am Saturdays Only Llandudno to Manchester (Exchange). Perhaps the locomotive has a light repair in Crewe works it is reasonably clean and the lamp bracket has been lowered on the smokebox door for safety on electrified lines.
As the train leaves the station the magnificent Royal Victoria Hotel forms the backdrop. Today it is no longer a hotel, converted to flats but at least still in existence. In the 'going away' view the turnout into the former Prestatyn Coal Yard can be seen, while behind the locomotive the trees are still bare in the Coronation Gardens.
Llangollen views - by Peter Dickinson
Some views taken on 9 March whilst on duty at the Llangollen Railway. A dry but murky day, with Class 108 LO262 (above) operating the 11:15, 13:15 and 15:15 departures from Llangollen.
44806 was on 'driver experience' trains.
Note the brown rail head at Berwyn after five days without trains; only weekend services are running currently.
The Llangollen Railway expects to recommence running trains to Carrog on Saturday 16 March. The station will reopen for weekend services prior to daily running period which commences on Saturday 23 March is a diesel operating day with class 26 & 37 expected to operate a 'B' timetable - hourly service.
Wrexham line notes
George Jones writes: 'A view (above) of building work on the new Premier Inn hotel on the former scrapyard site - originally a sports field c.1910, as per the recent item on Wrexham Trams. This development is described as 'filling in a space left by a rotten tooth' in this prime location in Wrexham. Hopefully it might bring more passengers to the railway.
At Chirk, Stuart Evans writes to tell us that tree felling and scrub clearance has begun by Glyn Valley Tramway restoration volunteers, about 200 yards south of Chirk main line station.Can anyone tell us more?
Inside the Wirral museum - with John Murray
I visited the Birkenhead Tramway and Wirral Transport Museum on 9 March. Here is former Liverpool Corporation ‘Baby Grand’ tram number 245 undergoing restoration by the Mereseyside Tramway Preservation Society. After closure of the Liverpool tramways in 1958, this car was stored by the Corporation at their Edge Lane works. It is hoped that this vehicle, built in 1938, and owned by National Museums Liverpool, will be available for service on the Birkenhead Tramway in the coming summer.
My late grandfather, John Stephenson, was a driver for Liverpool Corporation from 1929 to 1968 and regularly drove trams like this on the 19 and 44 routes to Kirkby.
Northern Belle at Malvern - report by Richard Putley
The 'Northern Belle' at Malvern Wells on 3 March top and tailed by 47 501 ...
... and 47 832 Solway Princess, the latter in matching Pullman livery. It was running a circular itinerary from Gloucester to Gloucester by way of Worcester, Malvern, Hereford, Abergavenny and Lydney.
In this picture of 47 832 bringing up the rear, the train is passing the site of Malvern Wells (Great Western) station at which my grandfather Donald Wilden (1894 - 1988) was stationmaster at between 1936 and 1950.
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