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05 May 2013
175 114 and 175 105 depart Wrexham General on 5 May, forming the 09:00 extra service for Wrexham football fans to Birmingham New Street whence they could cross to Moor Street and catch trains to reach Wembley, where Wrexham played Newport County in the Conference play-off final with a place in the Football League to be won. Wrexham lost 2-0. Picture by George Jones.
The Llandudno Victorian Statesman
On the May Day weekend, the annual Victorian Extravaganza and Transport Festival took place at Llandudno, and should have seen two charter trains visit the town. However one of them, a steam-hauled train from Tyseley, which has run in previous years, was announced in mid-April as cancelled due to unspecified 'operating problems.' at Llandudno. However, the diesel-hauled 'Llandudno Victorian Statesman' from Cambridge organised by Statesman Rail did operate as planned, hauled to Llandudno by a former denizen of the North Wales line, 57 316, and tailed by 47 854 Diamond Jubilee. Both locos are now owned by West Coast Railway Company, although for the moment the 57 retains its Arriva-inspired blue livery. The train was pictured at Chester (above) by Roger Carvell.
The train, slightly late, had to coast through Rhyl under yellow signals as it was following a Birmingham - Holyhead normal service. Picture by Roly High.
Departing from Rhyl (Roger Carvell).
Larry Davies was in position to photograph the train at Llandudno Junction station (above)...
... and departing round the curve on to the Llandudno branch ...
... with 47 854 Diamond Jubilee on the rear.
There was live steam on rail at Llandudno, thanks to the North Wales Society of Model Engineers (Roger Carvell)
The return train pasaes Deganwy, now with 47 854 now leading the 10-coach train (Chris Morrison)
Appraching Llandudno (Roger Carvell)...
The placard 'Albert's Last Drive' in the locomotive windscreen marks the final driving job of West Coast Railway Company driver Albert Seymour, after a remarkable 60 years in the railway industry. We understand that Mr Seymour started work as a locomotive cleaner at Gorton shed, Manchester, in those days the only career move if you wanted to be an engine driver. After a long career as driver, and later traction inspector, in the Manchester area, following normal retirement he joined West Coast and became a familiar figure on the footplate of steam specials. We wish him well.
The 16:44 Llandudno to Manchester train was a little crowded (Roger Carvell). It seems a shame that the Holyhead - Cardiff express stock, idle at weekends, was not give a run. Police were on hand at Llandudno station, although we have not heard of any problems.
Departure from Llandudno Junction (Peter Lloyd).The arrival of the train at Crewe was marked by the traditional, now seldom heard, banging of detonators (properly used as a warning behind a failed train) clipped to the track by well-wishers - and preserved on YouTube - and cheers and applause from people on the platform.
Out and About with Stavros Lainas
An assortment of recent pictures from the Welsh borders countryside. The first (above)was on taken on 29 April at Leaton for the Chirk to Baglan Bay timber empties.I wasn’t sure if it was running or not, but the the weather was fine and sunny as Colas loco 56 105 passed at 07:35.
With a day off on work on Wednesday 1 May I was again 'out for the 56' but this time further north at Rednal. 56 105 passed me at 07:25, looking and sounding great.
I waited there for the 'WAG Express' Holyhead - Cardiff train which passed at 07:50 with Driving Van Trailer 82307 leading and - 67 001 providing the power from behind.
A long wait at Rednal ensued, for train 6V75 Dee Marsh to Margam empty steel wagons.This was hauled by 66 172 and passed me at 10:25.
A short drive to Hadnal just north of Shrewsbury where I photographed a Network Rail test train, 1Q14, top-and-tailed by DRS locos 37 603 and 37 611.
Industrial Vale of Llangollen
The 238th and next volume in the remarkable 'Locomotion Papers' series of books (begun by Oakwood Press in 1947) is The Industrial Tramways of the Vale of Llangollen by J.R. Thomas and D. Southern, a 72-page illustrated A5-size book prioced at £9.95. The authors have undearthed the story of some truly obscure industrial lines: The Penarth or Corwen Quarry; Deeside and Moelferna Quarries; Llangollen District Forestry Railway, Vivod; Maesyrychen Quarries; Trevor Rocks, Eglwyseg Rocks and Trevor Woods; The Ruabon Brook Tramways; The Pen-Y-Graig Quarries; J.C. Edwards Brick and Tile Works, Penybont; and the Bridge Tramway at Glynfrdwy.
Available soon from the usual suppliers.
Following the Flasks on the First of May
Although there are several shown in the Working Timetable (including a proposed train of waste paper for recycling from Llandudno Junction to Shotton paper mill), the only freight train actually to be seen on the North Wales Coast at the moment is the Crewe to Valley and return flask which takes spent fuel from Wylfa power station, destined for Sellafield. It does not run every day, and often runs at times differing from its official 14:58 departure from Valley, with a pause at Chester from 16:43 to 16:59. These pictures are all from 1 May. The one above by Nick Gurney gives an overall view of the Valley terminal, including two of the road vehicles which transport the flasks from Wylfa power station to the loading point.
Nick Gurney writes: 'I parked on the public road and walked along a bit to get as clear shot as I could when I got back in my van two of the personnel who had been watching me emerged e from the blue cabin and came out of the gates to ask me I was train spotting! One was DRS train crew, so I asked what the numbers of the class 20's were: 20 312 and 20 308. Enthusiasts are well known at DRS: at least two contributors to our site have gone on to join their operating staff.
Bagillt (Andrew Vinten). The power station itself is nearing the end of its working life. Of the two reactors, only one is now working, and other, which generates 482 mW, is the last 'Magnox' reactor still working generating the UK, and is currently planned to continue until 30 September 2014, unless the supply of usable fuel elements runs out. See the Magnox website.
The two FNA wagons are 550032 (nearest camera) and 550024 (Andrew Vinten).
Passing Christleton between Chester and Crewe, running very early at 15:05 (Stavros Lainas).
These old locos are kept in excellent condition by DRS; this particular pair had a few days earlier played a starring role by hauling Retro Railtours' 'Welsh Dragon' from Huddersfield to Swansea on 27 April, photographed at Swansea by Tom Donnelly.
At the other end of the train, equally smart 47 802 Pride of Cumbria (Tom Donnelly).
DRS, in many ways our most interesting rail company, has been busy acquiring Mk2 and Mk3 coaches lately, as well as a Driving Van Trailer, which we understand may be used for a regular service on the Cumbrian Coast line. Even more exciting is an order for 15 brand new diesel locomotives, Class 68, to be built by Vossloh in Spain at the same works that made the Class 67. Intended for both freight and passenger operation, the new Bo-Bo, with a 21.5 tonne axle-load, will have a 2800 kW (3750 HP) Caterpillar C175 engine and AC traction equipment supplied by ABB. See an recent article in Railway Gazette International for the latest news on this project.
Cheshire diversions - pictures by Mark Barber
66 716 (above) at Northwich South junction on 4 May working train 6G60, 13:35 Ellesmere Port Docks to Ironbridge Biomass service, diverted via the Middlewich branch due to engineering work on the West Coast Main Line between Hartford Junction and Crewe.
66 089 passing Greenbank on the same day, working 6V45 1521 Halewood (Jaguar) to Didcot Yard, also diverted via Middlewich.
66 174 at Frodsham working the Middleton Towers to Warrington Arpley sand train on 4 May. This train was diverted via Chester due to Engineering work between Crewe and Weaver Junction. The train eventually runs to Ellesmere Port Docks at a later date.
Forty-six electric locos, intended for use through the Channel Tunnel, were built in the UK by the Brush company in the early 1990s, but unfortunately the sleeping-car trains they would have hauled never materialised, and freight tonnages through the tunnel have so far not lived up to expectations, and these days several are out of use. The remainder are divided by between DB Schenker - which has transferred some to its Bulgarian operation - and GB Railfreight, which is now a subsidiary of Eurotunnel. They are maintained at the depot just outside Crewe on the Chester line, but away from the tunnel it is rare to see them actually pulling a train. On 16 April Tom Donnelly spotted 92 015 (now minus its name D H Lawrence) heading through Crewe station on its way to Bescot marshalling yard, where it might possibly do something useful.
Platform 3 at Liverpool James Street has now reopened this week after its refurbishment in line with the work done on other platforms around the Liverpool Loop. The difference here (picture above by George Jones) is that the contrast can be made with the past from the view opposite of the emergency platform still in its BR/Mersey Railway condition as prettified with the more recent murals. If someone dusted them off it might look a bit more appealing. The rest of the underground section of the station is now similarly upgraded with the low level lifts' foyer, passageways and internals of the footbridge now being encased in the white panelling.
Archive photos of the original James St underground station show, in BR days at least, the brick roof was white washed and vestiges of that colouring can still be glimpsed. The big cavernous tunnel had to accommodate the smoke and steam of the original steam worked Mersey Railway which opened in 1886.
Now it is the turn of Liverpool Lime Street Low Level to be closed from 21 April through to 21 August, making access to Lime St Mainline that bit more tricky. Whilst a bus service has been put on from Moorfields to connect with Lime Street, streetwise users will no doubt find that the short walk from Central across to Lime Street is easier, providing one doesn't have baggage.
The new footbridge at Whitchurch station (Crewe - Shrewsbury line) seen on 5 May in a picture by David Peacock. at the end of the canopy canopy you can see part of the old bridge sticking out where it has been cut off. The bridge is a like-for-like replacement, and does not included any lifts or ramps, although it has been said that these could be fitted at at a later date if funds become available.
Whitchurch station was more important in the past: it was here that trains from the north to the Cambrian Coast were handed over to the Cambrian Railways company to run direct to Oswestry and on to Welshpool; that line was closed in 1965 and passengers now have to travel via Shrewsbury. There was also a branch, opened the 1870s and closed in 1957, from Whitchurch to Waverton on the Crewe - Chester line.
Where trains used to go - pictures by John Hobbs
Former GWR 0-6-0PT 4683 stands at New Brighton, with the 17:56 New Brighton to Wrexham (Central) on Bank Holiday Monday 30 August 1965. It is of course no longer possible to run direct to New Brighton from Bidston where services from the present Wrexham (Central) now terminate. These trains were made steam-hauled and retimed, in the jargon of the Special Traffic Notice of the time. Other services were strengthened DMUs so one 2-car DMU became a 4-car; there was consequently a shortage of stock and these loco hauled non-corridor trains made up for this.
4683 again, this time at the former and original Wrexham (Central) station with the 09:04 New Brighton to Wrexham (Central) on the same date. The original ecclesiastical-style station building - a modified "tin church" - can be seen to the right. The line no longer reacehs this point, as it was shortened in the 1990s to make way for the shopping centre, which incorporates the present Central station.
The former Birmingham (Snow Hill); now reincarnated but no longer accessible for trains from the Chester to Shrewbury line due to wilful destruction at the time of the West Coast Electrification. Here 2-6-2 tank 4178 brings in empty stock while 7827 (formerly Lydham Manor) rests after bringing in the 09:10 Barmouth to Snow Hill. This scene is from 21 August 1965.
"Hall" Class 4-6-0 6956 Mottram Hall stands at Wolverhampton (Low Level), another casualty of the West Coast Electrification scheme, with an unidentified holiday train from the South on 7 August 1965.
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