NORTH WALES COAST RAILWAY:NOTICE
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16 September 2013
57 308 (formerly Tin Tin), freshly painted in DRS livery and carrying its new name County of Staffordshire, on standby duty at Crewe station on 15 September. Picture by Mark Riley. Two thoughts arise. Why the green background, also found on newly re-dedicated 37 425 Concrete Bob, when 'blue and green should never be seen' ... and should the correct name be County of Stafford (Great Western style) or Staffordshire (LNER class D49 style)? If so, then several others, including 87 025 County of Cheshire, have also been wrong.
We came back from holiday to find a plethora of interesting contributions: here are some of them, with a further selection later in the week hopefully. Thanks everyone! - Charlie
Conwy Valley Express test
The Association of Community Rail Partnerships – ACoRP – is a federation of over 50 community rail partnerships and rail promotion groups; each year it stages a Gala Dinner and Awards Presentation Evening. This year the event is being held at the Venue Cymru, Llandudno on Friday 27 September, and the awards will be presented by the Managing Director of Arriva Trains Wales.
The Community Rail Festival follows on Saturday 28 September, hosted by Arriva Trains Wales in association with the Conwy Valley Rail Initiative. An 'exciting day' is being planned with station galas both at Llandudno and at the opposite end of the line at Blaenau Ffestiniog. The Festival is intended to be an excellent day for residents and visitors; there will be exhibitions and stalls on the stations. Also, there is a plan to run a special excursion on that day for the delegates to the Awards event, using the loco-hauled Premier Express train, from Llandudno to Blaenau with a connecting service to Porthmadog.
This train, with its Mk3 coaches and Driving Van Trailer, has not traversed the Conwy Valley Line before, so a 'gauging run' was held on Sunday 8 September to ensure that the coaches will not come into contact with platforms or other fixed structures. Our contributors braved the weather to bring you these pictures of the run. The pictures above show the train leaving Llandudno Junction and weaving across to the branch junction (by Peter Lloyd) and crossing the Afon Conwy just south of Llanrwst working towards Blaenau Ffestiniog (by Jack Bowley).
The official Arriva Trains Measuring Device in action at Betws-y-Coed (Ivor Bufton).
Dolwyddelan (Larry Goddard)
Approaching Blaenau Ffestiniog in pouring rain (Larry Goddard).
A quiet Sunday morning at Ffestiniog Central with the Arriva loco-hauled train and the Ffestiniog Railway's Lynton & Barnstable loco Lyd. (Larry Goddard).
A wet day out for everyone, but the tests were successful (Larry Goddard).
On the downhill run at North Llanrwst where single-line tokens were exchanged (Larry Goddard).
67 002 heading towards Glan Conwy station. slowing down for the 5mph restriction over the small bridge there (Jack Bowley).
82307 hanging on at the end of the 5Z40 consist leaving Glan Conwy heading towards Llandudno Junction (Jack Bowley). This is not actually the first run of a train of Mk3 coaches with Driving Van Trailer (DVT) on this line, as on 4 September 2011 the Virgin Trains 'Pretendolino' set hauled by 50 044 Exeter travelled as far as North Llanrwst (See our report on the event) and the Mk3 sleeping cars in the 'Northern Belle' and 'Royal Scotsman' trains have been to Blaenau. The line has even seen a High Speed Train (see a picture from 1993 by Dave Sallery) but as far as we know this is the first appearance of a DVT beyond North Llanrwst.
Train 5Z40 arrives back at Llandudno Junction after a successful gauge testing run to Blaenau and back (Peter Lloyd). At the time of the writing, the operation of this train on 28 September is not finalised; watch our Twitter feed for further information.
Diesel Day at Llangollen 21 September
Saturday 21 September is a Diesel Day on the Llangollen Railway. There is information about the event on the LR website. It is a two-train service with Class 26 D5310 and Class 37 6940. The Class 08 shunter will be on 'driver for a tenner' duties at Llangollen.
Depatures from Llangollen are: D5310: 10:00, 12:00, 14:00. 16:00. 6940: 11:00, 13:00, 15:00
Departures from Carrog: D5310: 11:00, 13:00, 15:00, 17:00. 6940: 12:00. 14:00, 16:00
An Adult day rover costs £14.
In the evebing there is a Llangollen - Glyndyfrdwy 'real ale train', hauled by 6940. Llangollen departures: 18:30, 19:50, 21:15. Glyndyfrdwy departures: 19:10, 20:30, 21:55. Tickets are available priced at £5 for LR Members and day-rover holders, £10 for non-LR members or those without a day rover.
Rhinoceros and Dinosaur at Roman Bridge
In last issue's item about Roman Bridge station we asked if anyone remembers the station featuring in a TV film in the early days of this site. Carl Wainwright does, and points us to the film's entry on the Internet Movie Database which summarises the plot: 'Ex-footballer Flynn (Robson Green) is thrown together with his estranged wife Alison when their son goes AWOL from his training centre home. As roguish Flynn and long-suffering Alison chase the missing boy around the wild Welsh countryside, years of repressed hostility are exorcised in the heat of their self-imposed rescue mission.' From this information we were able to recover our original item from the April 1999 issue:
Your editor has boarded a train at Roman Bridge on just one occasion, albeit a very memorable one. 17 October 1998 was the day of the 'Trawsfynydd Lament' railtour, the very last train (to date) to venture beyond Blaenau Ffestiniog on to the Trawsfynydd line. Our report on the day, complete with pictures (above: the outbound train passes Roman Bridge behind ) from a very early digital camera, has survived in a report corner of our backup disk. Out of interest we have edited it a little and uploaded it back to our current web space: Follow this Link to travel back in time...
On 4 September (above) 56 302 approaches Wrexham General with the Chirk to Carlisle log working. Picture by Martin Evans.
A 'going-away' view (Martin Evans) shows how the wagons are loaded; the side-stakes show signs of being forced outwards by the load, although restraining straps hold the wood in place. Note the much thicker tree trunk on top of the pile nearest the camera. The shape of the wagon end reveals its origins as a high-capacity van for use in ferry traffic between Britain and the Continent; openings have been cut in the ends since they were first converted, presumably to reduce weight. The Kronospan works at Chirk processes these softwood logs to make chipboard and related products.
Bayston Hill, just south of Shrewsbury, on 5 September at 10:52 as 66 110 passes with 6V75 empty steel wagons for South Wales (Stavros Lainas).
The same train as above, passing Gobowen (Martin Evans). The signal on the left comprises a London Midland Region upper-quadrant semaphore arm on a Great Western-style post will ball finial. The arm is mounted lower than the original lower-quadrant one, to give drivers a clear view under the platform canopy.
A change of scene on 5 September to a location east of Shrewsbury on the Wolverhampton line, that the locals call Preston Boats. The train seen amid the willow herb is a late-running Portbury Dock to Rugeley Power Station coal train hauled by 66 415, one of the batch of locos now used by Freightliner but still wearing DRS livery. Picture by Stavros Lainas.
Martin Evans writes: 'On 12 September, arriving at Ruabon from Gobowen at 16:55 I was aware that the logs and steel were about and decided to wait and see what materialised. First came 56 302 with the Ribblehead to Chirk logs ...
... then in the other direction, 66 201 approaches Ruabon with the evening Margam to Dee Marsh steel train.'
On 14 September, the Carlisle - Chirk log train, hauled by 56 302, was diverted to run via Crewe due to engineering work.
The same train on the Crewe - Chester line at Hargrave (Stavros Lainas). The position of the grilles on the side of the loco reveals that the loco has run round its train since passing Acton Bridge.
The Dolgarrog Railway Society - by Carwyn Jones
The Dolgarrog Railway Society is a small group who are trying to re-instate the old aluminium factory siding that connected the Dolgarrog Aluminium Works with the LNWR line to Blaenau Ffestiniog at the opposite side of the Conwy Valley. Originally set up in the old goods yard in Tal-y-Cafn, the society moved to Dolgarrog in 2004 to begin work on reinstating the old industrial railway.
The original line was built in 1916 to transport materials to and from the works. It even had a passenger service for the benefit of the factory’s employees, who otherwise would have to walk the distance from LNWR’s Dolgarrog station. The line’s use peaked during World War 2; however it declined during the 1950’s and by the 1960’s, the line saw very little use, and was closed in the same decade.
The view from the north end of the current track looking towards the recently-laid pointwork. All pictures by Jack Bowley.
The society has worked hard in recent years to prepare the site ready for accepting the track, which involved the removal of vegetation that had grown since the original line's demise and scrapping. The society is currently working on completing its 'HQ' site, which includes a short platform, a siding and a head shunt. Since then, members have begun track laying and will begin work on the platform soon.
Work on the project is very rewarding, however hard work at times, and will continue to be so. Due to this, the society needs more volunteers to help to re-create this railway line. Information about the project, along with information on how to become a member is on the website: www.dolgarrograilway.co.uk.
The location of the platform (where the rubble is) along with the volunteers' hut on the right.
The view from the secure compound showing the new pointwork clearly.
Resident loco Taurus (Vulcan Foundry D139/1951) at the North end of the site.
A low-down shot of Taurus on her test runs after a long time out of action.
In search of the Ribblehead logs - with David Parry
You don’t really need much of an excuse to make a trip up to the Settle and Carlisle, but the possibility of photographing the Colas Rail Carlisle / Ribblehead-Chirk log train over the Ribblehead Viaduct is an added incentive. So, we arrived on Thursday 5 September at Ribblehead about 10:10, and parked in the lay-by overlooking the viaduct from the western side. Having originally planned to walk over Blea Moor, when the lighting of the viaduct looked set to improve steadily as the day wore on, we decided to stay there and see what materialised.
I missed the fact that there was to be a Ribblehead - Chirk log train on Thursday, having previously understood it to be a Friday-only working. So shortly after a Freightliner merry-go-round coal train passed southbound, I was surprised to see the orange and yellow of Colas Rail 56 302 emerging from behind the brow of the hill between my viewing point and Ribblehead station, getting the logs started on their journey south - by first heading north to Blea Moor siding to run round (picture above).
About 20 minutes later, I heard a distant diesel horn from across the valley, which I took as an indication that the logs 'had the road' for its journey south to Chirk. Some further time passed - enough for me to question my assumption - but then as expected, the 56 appeared, sedately piloting the loaded log wagons over the Ribblehead viaduct ...
... and back through the station on its way to North Wales.
By this point, I had concluded that the trip had been amply justified, but still had most of the afternoon left with good light and an iconic vantage point. The downside was, as I was out of 2G, let alone 3G, range - at least for my phone network - I was unable to verify the real-time situation for my location. The previous day’s rather pessimistic weather forecasts had proved just that, but it was going to be a different story the following day.
In fact the opposite meteorological conditions on Friday 6 September convinced us that again the best strategy was to stay put at Ribblehead and see what freight movements would occur. Once more, my assumptions about the logs proved wrong, so I was surprised to see the distinctive Colas Rail loco in Ribblehead station from our lay-by, about three-quarters of a mile away. As there had been a consignment on Thursday, I had assumed there would not be one on Friday. Not so, the train had gone south to Chirk, and then returned directly to Ribblehead, arriving around 03:00 for loading.
However, Friday morning ranged from dull and drizzly to downpour and drenching, so I stayed close to my parked car - indeed taking several shots from within the vehicle to keep the camera dry(-ish). After a couple southbound merry-go-round trains, the day’s logs departure for Chirk set off at 12:30, again behind a class 56, presumed to be the same as Thursday (above).
Following the same pattern as the day before it made its southbound appearance at about 12:55 (above). So, a well worthwhile trip to see one of North Wales’ enthusiasts’ most popular photographic subjects at the originating end of the trip, together with some other photographically rewarding subjects.
I recall an eminent railway photographer telling his audience that, if you must take a photo of a Diesel Multiple Unit, then make it as small as possible! Well, most of the S&C traffic is DMUs so I have taken a fair number over the last few years. At Ribblehead, making them as small as possible is very easy as the majesty of the Pennine scenery and the splendour of the Midland Railway engineering give the humble DMU the best possible pictorial context.
97 302 on tour
Network Rail locomotive 97 302 spent 5 September in North Wales on route-learning duties, we understand for measurement trains, including a visit to the Conwy Valley branch. Peter Lloyd photographed it at Llandudno Junction.
Heading through Rhyl (Roly High).
The surviving signal gantry (albeit with only one signal) at Mostyn (Andrew Vinten).
The trip was repeated on 9 September. Jack Bowley photographed 97 302 passing over Ffordd Maelgwyn level crossing on the approach to Llandudno Junction from the Conwy Valley line. running early on the driver training run for Llandudno and Crewe.
Heading for Llandudno Junction (Jack Bowley).
At Llandudno Junction showing off its red buffer beam (Peter Lloyd).
Llandudno town station (Reg Jones).
And Llandudno again on 10 September (Peter Lloyd).
Abergele on 11 September (Roly High). Note the four brick pillars between the tracks, can anyone remember what was bolted to them?
Platform sharing at Llandudno (Darren Durrant).
Compass to Carlisle 11 September
The 'Settle-Carlisle Express' tour on 11 September commenced at Hooton and travelled via Chester and the Mid-Cheshire lines to Stockport and then to Manchester Victoria via a couple of freight lines then Blackburn and then joining the Settle and Carlisle at Hellifield. Above, DRS loco 47 805 John Scott brings the tour into Chester on time for an 08:10 departure (Martin Evans).
A sequence of three pictures by Greg Mape showing the train calling at Altrincham. Above, Metrolink tram 1021, of the original fleet now being withdrawn, is on the rear of a two-car set arriving from Bury.
The two very different versions of rail transport stage a simultaneous departure.
The tram accelerates away, as one of the new Austrian-built vehicles arrives from Piccadilly. Beyond the bridge the two double tracks merge into two single lines through Navigation Road station before the railway route turns right at Deansgate Junction to head for Stockport and the trams continue on the former Manchester South Junction and Altrincham line towards Manchester.
Arrived at Carlisle (Martin Evans).
47 501 Craftsman brings up the rear at Carlisle (Martin Evans).
DB Schenker class 92 92 015 stands at Carlisle waiting its next turn of duty (Martin Evans).
Scot Rail Class 156 156 514 waits to depart Carlisle with a Glasgow Central service. This was the last 156 to be built, entering service in September 1989 (Martin Evans).
The return journey travelled via the Cumbrian Coast route joining the West Coast Main line at Carnforth then Preston and via Bolton and our original route home. The tour ran to time throughout; the only hiccup was that it was terminated at Chester on arrival at 10.30pm with a bus providing road transport to Hooton. The tour was run in conjunction with the Mid Cheshire Rail Users Association who provided an excellent itinerary.
Another desirable residence
If you like to live on a railway station but can't run to the £500,000 for Roman Bridge, how about Fairbourne on the Cambrian Coast line, on sale for a guide price of just £85,000? Handy for the Fairbourne Railway as well as the main line.
The sale details tell us that 'Those seeking a doer-upper with character will be on the right track with Station House; a 3 bedroom detached property in need of refurbishment. It already benefits from uPVC double glazing, an enclosed garden with parking area and a former railway carriage. It stands right on the platform so will suit train enthusiasts.'
'At the rear of the property there is a picket fence and gated entrances into an enclosed potential garden with parking area. Currently laid with chippings, featuring outside tap, cellar entrance, mature shrubs to the boundary and an old railway carriage which was brought by the Great Western to serve as a flour store at Fairbourne, later becoming the Station Master's garage.'
The wagon looks like quite an interesting relic, quite elderly judging by the wooden underframe. The arrangement of the doors seems unusual, although may not be original. Does anyone out there have a GWR wagons book?
Charlie's 'holiday snap'
And what did we do on your holidays this September? Yes, we looked for diesel loco-hauled trains to ride ... Here is Salzburger Lokalbahn loco 83 in the narrow-gauge bay at Zell am See awaiting departure for Krimml. These push-pull fitted 760mm-gauge locos, built by Gmeinder in 2004-12 for this line and the Zillertalbahn, are rated at 735 kW (986 HP) and have a maximum speed of 80 km/h. The markers in the ballast, found on all Austrian lines, indicate the safe stopping points for any vehicles which need to be passed by a loco running back over the crossover. The red one applies to standard-gauge wagons loaded on to narrow-gauge transporters.
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