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27 May 2013
John Eyres sends this picture of 47 854 Diamond Jubilee working the 5Z53 Holyhead - Carnforth empty stock (see also last issue) through Holywell Junction on 19 May, and asks: 'What were the last trains to use the up and down goods loops at this location and are they still officially in use?'
Factory fire causes chaos
George Jones arrived at Chester station at 13:55 to find trains parked-up and a crowd milling around the station. Outside there was a large crowd looking for a bus or buses which may have been promised.
Above, Virgin Super Voyagers 221 110 James Cook (left) and 221 107 Sir Martin Frobisher are about to couple together to form the 15:35 to London, although 221 107 should have gone on to Holyhead.
158 838 Ready to depart at 15:33 with a service to Holyhead after clearance had been given to re-open the line.
Because of the residual delays a great many people tried to get on the first Manchester Piccadilly service to get through. Here, 175 112 seems to be overwhelmed with passengers.
Brief Encounter on 24 May - report by Roly High
The 'Northern Belle' eased into platform 3 behind 47 501 Craftsman, to form a dinner special to Carnforth, with an additional pick up in Liverpool.
On the rear, 47 818. As the publicity for the train put it, passengers could 'Enjoy fine food and wine as you set off on a round-trip through Britain's glorious countryside. The train [will] make a short stop at Carnforth Station, the location for the 1940s classic film 'Brief Encounter'.
All too Brief an Encounter as the Northern Belle, with 47 818 now leading and pushing out plenty of 'clag' as it heads for Carnforth. Arrival back at Chester was scheduled for midnight.
The preserved paddle-steamer Waverley will be sailing from Liverpool Cruise terminal as follows:
Saturday 1 June: Cruise off the Lancashire Coast. Evening Showboat. Sunday 2 June: Liverpool
Cruise the Anglesey Coast. Later in the year, on 3 September, the ship will call at Llandudno Pier for a Great Re-opening Ceremony. See the Waverley website for details and online booking.
25 May picture assortment - by Stavros Lainas
Above, the Hull to Aberystwyth Statesman Rail 'Welsh Mountain Statesman' railtour with former Arriva 57 313 passing Tilstock, between Whitchurch and Prees, at 09:10.
The same tour, but 57 313 had been replaced by Network Rail locos 97 304 and 97 303 as required by the ERTMS signalling on the Cambrian lines west of Shrewsbury. This is Welshpool at 10:30.
The Baglan to Chirk logs train seen at Onibury, between Craven Arms and Ludlow, running an hour early at 16:10.
66 107 passing Hargrave between Crewe and Chester with the Middleton Towers sand quarry (Norfolk) to Warrington Arpley (continuing to Ellesmere Port) sand train at 18:50. When this service, which carries sand for the Quinn Glass factory at Elton, began in 2011, it was trumpeted as a 'long-term contract' between Quinn Group and Freightliner, and it was said that it would run to Ellesmere Port until a siding was opened at the Elton site 'in November 2011.' However in April 2013 the contract was lost to DB Schenker, and it appears that the sand is still being transferred to road vehicles at Ellesmere Port.
Having had two stop-overs, one at Shrewsbury (over an hour) and another at Crewe, 56 094 finally passed along the Cheshire plain past Hargrave in evening sunlight at 19:50.
This one may prove more of a challenge ...
Peter Dickinson writes: 'I have in my possession an original colour slide (reproduced here) of Black 5 44680 on an SLS railtour around Chester on 5th March 1967. I was wondering whether any readers could help identify its location?
'The railtour itself was the Stephenson Locomotive Society (Midland Branch) Farewell to the GWR Birmingham to Birkenhead service, for which two trains were operated. According to the highly informative "The Railtour Files" page on the Six Bells Junction website , No. 44680 worked from Tyseley - Shrewsbury - Ruabon - Saltney Junction - Chester - Hooton - Birkenhead on train 1Z66, before returning along the same route with train 1Z65. Can any reader shed some light onto the location of this photograph and ideally, which direction it was travelling in?'
Prestatyn old station revived
As part of the new retail development in Prestatyn, the buildings of the old station, which had survived (the passenger station was relocated to its present site in 1897) have been restored, as these pictures by Roly High of the street frontage show.
The building, like other original stations on the Chester and Holyhead line, was built in 1848 to a design by Francis Thompson (1808-1895).
The station building and goods shed are now linked together, and operate as the showroom of David J Jones, Furniture Craftsmen. Why the two buildings are of different materials we cannot say. probably they were built at different times.
Flask train viewpoints
Friday 24 May saw a pair of Class 20s, 20 309 and 20 305 working the afternoon flask train from valley to Crewe. Nick Gurney tried a different vantage point ...
... Valley Country Park which is on the other side of the mainline.
Some time later, held on the goods lines at Chester, the crew awaits instructions on further movement. Picture by Roly High.
Bubble Car News
An interesting late addition to the cast list of the Llangollen Railway Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) Gala on 22-23 June is 121 032, a.k.a. vehicle 55032, the refurbished 'first-generation' single-unit railcar which operated the short Cardiff Bay branch for Arriva Trains Wales until withdrawal earlier this year after a failure and general shortage of spare parts. (Pictured above at Cardiff Queen Street in 2009.) Arriva sold it to Chiltern Railways to act as a donor of spares for their own similar vehicles, and Chiltern have agreed to lend it for the Gala. This may well be last time it is actually operated.
It will join another guest, the Battlefield Line's Class 122 blue and grey 'bubble' 55005, the first time that this unit has ever operated on any other heritage railway since preservation in 1994. It has now been confirmed that the weekend will also feature the last appearance of steam Pannier Tank 6430 on the auto-train before it is withdrawn for its 10-yearly overhaul, which is likely to keep it out of traffic for at least a year. The loco's boiler certificate runs out on 30 June.
More highlights: 13 departures each way utilising DMU Classes 104,108,Wickham,122 and 127 plus three departures each way each day using Pannier Tank 6430; Services will use the new Carrog-Corwen section of track - with additional distance available compared with last year; multiple working between all classes. A mammoth nine-car non-stop end-to-end working will run at the at the start of each day. The 104/105 unit, which is under restoration, will be on view, there will be sales stalls, and a Saturday evening BBQ and social event open to all. Weekend Rovers and Day Rovers offering unlimited travel are available. as well as standard tickets for return and other journey options.
Crewe Heritage Centre
When Tom Peacock visited Crewe Heritage Centre on 27 May, new-build loco 60163 Tornado (above) was working on brake-van ride along the track within the site.
Also on display: 71000 Duke of Gloucester ...
... 92203 Black Prince, owned by artist David Shepherd, which had arrived by road a few days earlier, and also Great Western tank engines 5224 and 5553.
Snowdon steam scarcity - report by Dave Sallery
I understand that all steam locos except No. 3 Wyddfa have now been withdrawn. No. 2 Enid (above)...
... No 4 Snowdon ...
... and No 6 Padarn are all now out of traffic. This is from their website:
Our Traditional Diesel Service with our stunning new carriages will only ever be driven with a diesel locomotive. Our Heritage Steam Experience (Available from June 2013) will be the rebuilt original Victorian carriage design and an original steam locomotive.
The steam service costs £35 against £27 for a normal return. Although you do get an hour at the summit on the steam service. An interesting choice of words in describing a Hunslet 1990s diesel as Traditional. Also on the 'Steam for Groups' page the Victorian carriage is now 'a brand new period style carriage'.
Mochdre then and now
John Powell was Inspired by Jack Bowley's picture of Mochdre in the last issue (reprised below) to send this picture taken at the same place on 24 December 1984 showing the new A55 'Euroway' road under construction on the former railway alignment as 47 588 passes on new track. As John comments: 'How soon nature takes over.'
As John comments: 'How nature soon takes over.'
Trams to East Didsbury
The extension of the Manchester Metrolink line beyond St Werburgh's Road to East Didsbury opened to the public on Thursday 25 May; here are some pictures from the first day. Above, East Didsbury terminus. Picture by Greg Mape.
Units 3005 and 3053+3040 stand at East Didsbury station at 10:57, both momentarily displaying “Not in Service” as the pair on the right has just arrived to hand over its duty to 3005 for the return to Rochdale (itself a recently opened extension) (Greg Mape).
There was a good number of people inspecting the new service – many with cameras, including both Greg Mape and David Parry who took this view. This was originally the Manchester South District line, opened in 1880 to allow Midland Railway trains, including expresses from London St Pancras, to reach the then-new Manchester Central station. The meagre local passenger service ended in 1967, Dr Beeching having decided that suburban trains had to go unless local authorities paid for them, and the line was abandoned in 1969 along with Manchester Central station.
The tram route follows this line to Old Trafford, where it diverts on to the former Manchester - Altrincham line, eventually regaining the Midland / Cheshire Lines Committee route and passing the former Manchester Central station on the way into the City Centre.
Unit 3027 arrives at East Didsbury under the A34 Kingsway Bridge – the crossovers being visible behind the tram (David Parry). The main line origins of the route are clearly visible here. The bridges carrying the London and North Western Railway's Styal line of 1909 and the new road, Kingsway, opened in 1926, were built to allow possible widening of the line below to four tracks. Trams have passed this point before: Kingsway was built as dual carriageway with a tramway in the central reservation, but the line was abandoned in 1947 as Manchester Corporation Transport rushed to convert all their routes to bus operation.
Shortly afterwards, taken from the Trans-Pennine Trail cycleway / footpath that runs parallel between East Didsbury and Didsbury Village, unit 3042 passes the heavily protected crossing, having just called at Didsbury Village station (David Parry). The buildings behind in Olive Shapley Avenue are built on what was once Didsbury goods yard.
Unit 3045 gliding to a halt at Didsbury Village station (David Parry).
Having turned back at East Didsbury, unit 3042 calls at Didsbury Village on its journey to Rochdale via Manchester City Centre. Here was more evidence of local people trying out the new service (David Parry).
A Class 323 on the Manchester Airport service crosses on the Styal line (Greg Mape).
Captured a few days earlier, 66 532 P&O Nedlloyd Atlas passes with a Freightliner service (Greg Mape). Most freight trains to and from Trafford Park travel this way; fulfilling the original purpose of the Styal line was to relieve congestion on the Stockport route.
In Manchester city centre, Mosley Street station closed at the end of service on 17 May; its platform did not allow use of the new 3000-series trams in pairs as they are not fitted with the retractable steps found on the 1000 and 2000 series vehicles, which are themselves now rapidly disappearing from service even though the 2000 series are little more than 12 years old. Metrolink also claim that its existence caused congestion, so it had to go. We have made a short film as a farewell to the station and the old trams, and a look at operations in the city centre.
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