NORTH WALES COAST RAILWAY:NOTICE
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30 September 2013
It's a splendid morning on 28 September at the Conwy RSPB Nature Reserve as the All-Wales Express (a.k.a. 'Gerald') rolling stock, led by DVT 82307 and propelled by 67 001, arrives at Llandudno Junction at about 08:50 to reverse in order to travel into Llandudno to collect the delegates from the previous day's ACoRP awards ceremony for their outing to Porthmadog. See report below. Picture by David Parry.
Club 55 is back
The Arriva Trains Wales 'Club 55' offer for people over 55 years old has made a re-appearance, starting on on 1 October and available until 30 November. The flat fare for a return ticket anywhere on the ATW network is a little higher than before at £23, but still worthwhile for a day out, on weekends at least. See the Arriva website for details. It should be noted that is not valid before 09:30 on Mondays - Fridays on many parts of the Network, including Manchester - Llandudno Junction, Chester - Crewe and all of Manchester - Swansea via Crewe, making some long-distance day trips on weekdays impractical. For example,. it is not possible to reach Shrewsbury (except from the Cambrian line) in time for the 09:28 Cambrian departure or the 09:00 Heart of Wales train. In the latter case, the next departure is not until 14:05.
A similar offer is available on TransPennine Express, but expires on 16 November.
Community Rail treat
The empty stock for the 09:33 Llandudno - Blaenau Ffestiniog special, en route from Holyhead where it normally spends the weekend, passes Maesdu Golf Course outside Llandudno on the way to collect its passengers (Garry Stroud).
At Llandudno station, with the new car park taking shape behind the oddly-shaped new wall (Peter Lloyd).
View from the train during its call at Llandudno Junction showing 150 763 stabled in the tamper siding: see report below. Picture by Peter Lloyd.
Passing Dolgarrog station on the Conwy Valley line (Darren Durrant).
67 001 on the rear at Dolgarrog (Darren Durrant). This may be the first time pictures of Dolgarrog station have appeared in these pages.
Singe-line tokens are exchanged at Llanrwst (Greg Mape).
North Llanrwst station (Greg Mape).
Crossing the Conwy south of Llanrwst (Garry Stroud).
Approaching Roman Bridge station (David Parry).
The train approaches Blaenau Ffestiniog in some sun! (Ken Robinson)
Looking back from almost the same position as above, with 67 001 at the rear (Ken Robinson). Arriva Trains Wales are to be congratulated for making this contribution to the Llandudno event, and pleasing local rail enthusiasts too.
Greeted at Blaenau Ffestiniog by former Penrhyn Quarry loco Hugh Napier (Ken Robinson).
After unloading its passengers, the train set back to shunt into the loop so that the service train from Llandudno could arrive (Ken Robinson).
Hugh Napier at Blaenau (Garry Stroud). The loco, Hunslet 855 of 1904, belongs to the National Trust. and was displayed at Penrhyn Castle, until it was restored to working order in 2011-12 at the Ffestiniog Railway's Boston Lodge works.
67 001 at Blaenau (Garry Stroud).
Merddin Emrys has arrived with a Ffestiniog Railway train from Porthmadog, and 150 230 forms the normal train from Llandudno (David Parry).
Three very different types of traction (Dave Sallery).
Merddin Emrys has run round and awaits departure with the service train, also carrying the passengers from the Arriva special train (Garry Stroud).
Headboard on Merddin Emrys (Dave Sallery).
Hugh Napier heads back to Boston Lodge (Dave Sallery). Hugh Napier Douglas-Pennant (1894-1949)
Lyd on a service train at Tan y Grisiau (Dave Sallery).
... arrived at Blaenau Ffestiniog (Garry Stroud).
The guest returned to Blaenau in a special train of vintage carriages provided by the Ffestiniog Railway: above, Palmerston and Taliesin prepare to couple to the train - seen in the background - at Porthmadog Harbour station (Larry Davies).
The Vintage Train at Dduallt (Dave Sallery).
67 001 passes the £500,000 station house at Roman Bridge with the return 16:11 Blaenau Ffestiniog - Llandudno Junction Community Rail Awards special (Chris Morrison).
The return train crossing the river near Llanrwst (Garry Stroud).
At 17:12, the return rail tour approaches Glan Conwy, as viewed from the Nature Reserve, some of whose avian visitors are identifiable. A grey heron stands on the left (David Parry).
At 17:27, the empty stock approaches the Conwy tubular bridge on its return run to Holyhead (David Parry).
First Great Western to Llandudno
Another 'first' in conjunction with the ACoRP event was the operation of an Exeter - Llandudno train by First Great Western for the benefit of the Community Rail delegates from the south-west. The train travelled north to Llandudno on Friday 27 September, stabled overnight at Llandudno Junction and returned the next day. The train ran via Wrexham, as seen the picture above by George Jones.
The northbound train ran late due to a freight locomotive failure at Hereford earlier in the day; instead of the planned 20-minute stopover the train ran straight through Wrexham General at speed, no doubt anxious to get ahead of the following 15:00 service. The first 'Great Western' train in the former Great Westeern Railway Wrexham General station since nationalisation in 1948, one might suggest.... The building in the background is the nearly-complete Premier Inn hotel due to open in October.
Above, the westbound train passes Colwyn Bay (Darren Durrant). 158 763 was the choice of traction.
Llandudno (Larry Davies).
The 'Local Lines' version of the FirstGroup corporate livery has the lines formed from the names of interesting tourist destinations served (somewhat distantly in the case of the island of Tresco) by First Great Western services (Larry Davies).
Delegates were met outside Venue Cymru in Llandudno, where the ACoRP Awards were being held on Friday evening 27 September, by vertical-boilered loco Leary, an 0-4-0 vertical boiler tank locomotive, built in Nelson, Lancashire, in 2010 along the lines of the nineteenth century products of De Winton in Caernarfon as used in local slate quarries. Note the water supply and box containing team-making materials including Yorkshire tea. Picture by Larry Davies.
The train rests in the Tamper Siding at Llandudno Junction, the only siding now available for use there (Garry Stroud).
A sister unit from the Arriva Trains Wales fleet calls at Llandudno Junction on a normal service (Darren Durrant). The Arriva units are the Perskins-engined version of the type, whilst 158 763 has the more common Cummins engine. It is quite unusual, however, in being two-car, as all but two of First Great Western's small 158 fleet are three-car units.
First Great Western had this special window label printed for the occasion, which will no doubt become a collector's item (Ivor Bufton).
On Saturday 28 September, 158 763 drifts past Abergele with the 11:30 Llandudno - Exeter St Davids special conveying delegates back to the Western Region from the ACoRP Community Rail The undergrowth seems to be getting a bit dense between the lines (Chris Morrison).
Prestatyn (Jim Coates). Sadly the Western contingent were not able to participate in the Conwy Valley trip as the train had get through the Severn Tunnel before it closed for overnight engineering work.
See also a Youtube video by Matthew Travis.
A brief visit to Wem - with David Parry
Answering our Editor’s call to photograph the semaphore signalling system on the Crewe – Shrewsbury line while there is still time, I chose Wem as my destination on 26 September 2013 as I was aware from trips on the 'Gerald' that there was still a signal box controlling the busy road crossing. After checking with Google Images, I knew that the remaining semaphores were somewhat remote, but I felt the location had still some heritage worth capturing. I decided that a lunchtime trip would be most productive, with potentially two freights within less than two hours.
As I arrived at about 12:30, a Manchester – Carmarthen fast flew through, with a Shrewsbury – Crewe local calling shortly afterwards. This cluster of potential photographic subjects was continued shortly afterwards by the crossing gates falling to allow another southbound train, which turned out to be a Freightliner Fiddlers Ferry - Stoke Gifford empty coal hoppers, behind 66 566, pictured above. This was running only three minutes late at 12:45, despite reported as leaving Fiddlers 44 minutes late. This recovery appears to have been achieved by omitting a 43 minute stop at Crewe.
The modified London and North Western Railway (LNWR) signal box is unfortunately looking rather shabby. Apart from the signal box, the other station buildings are modern, the platform shelters representing a great improvement on the types the railway placed at unstaffed stations in the 1970s and 1980s. There was a steady flow of passengers for the local service, which I saw calling on three occasions during my brief visit.
As an expected second freight, from Donnington to Arpley, did not materialise, I took some photos of the passenger trains, trying to get at least some suggestion of the semaphores. The local train was the same unit, 153320, running between Crewe and Shrewsbury to serve the local stations on a two-hour cycle, much like a rail motor of 100 years ago. Above, it is arriving at Wem at 13:54.
Editor's note: There has been considerable disgruntlement among residents of Wem regarding the planned removal of the signal box. Firstly, its location near a crossroads raised safety fears, and then, heritage-minded locals hoped to save the box as a museum and/or cafe, but it is not 'listed' and Network Rail are adamant that it will be demolished once it becomes redundant after mid-October.
In this picture, 153 320 is leaving Wem towards Shrewsbury through the reverse curves. (I have exercised some digital license to fill in the end of the signal board otherwise obscured by vegetation.)
In the next picture, 175 106 passes Wem 'right time' at 14:09 as the 09:10 Milford Haven to Manchester Piccadilly express.
Shortly afterwards, 175 105 approaches Wem level crossing at 14:36 with the 13:30 Manchester Piccadilly to Tenby express. The laser detector for low-level obstructions can be seen, bottom right, and the radar reflector and signs to the left.
At 14:39, 153 320 arrives back at Wem as the Crewe local.
Past times with John Hobbs - Britannia Parade
Above, 'Britannia' Class 4-6-2 70045 Lord Rowallan leaves Rhyl, on a damp morning, with the 08.10 Saturdays Only Holyhead to Crewe; the signal gantry still in all its glory and the carriage shed still in use on the left.
An equally grubby 70027 Rising Star leaves Prestatyn with the 14:45 Llandudno to Crewe on 2 May 1964.
70026 Polar Star roars through Connah's Quay, at Rockcliffe Hall, with the 12 noon Manchester (Exchange) to Holyhead on 4 May 1964.
Galatea visits Chester
On 28 September, 'Jubilee' 4-6-0 45699 Galatea, recently returned to the main line, worked an 07:25 Carnforth - Chester charter for the Lune Rivers Trust. Andrew Vinten photographed the train (above) near Helsby (Andrew Vinten).
Arriving at Chester (Roly High). The livery looks rather incongruous, as only Pacifics received this British Railways version of LMS colours, but of course the owners can paint it any colour they fancy.
The loco and support coach head for the triangle west of Chester station to turn (Roly High) ...
... returning to Chester station after turning on the triangle of lines in preparation for the 16:15 return trip. This train had no diesel loco attached as is sometimes the case so Galatea had to do her own shunting (Roly High). An excellent site for information about these locos, by the way, is www.jubilees.co.uk run by Simon Robinson.
The return train crosses the junction at Helsby station (Bob Greenhalgh). Galatea is a character from ancient mythology, but the name of the loco, which was built in 1936, comes via the warship of the same name, one of a series of warship names (5687 to 5730) which followed on from series of naval heroes and naval battles. Several Royal Navy ships carried this name over the years; the last was HMS Galatea, an Arethusa class light cruiser commissioned in 1935 and sunk by a U-boat in the Mediterranean in 1941, resulting in the death of 22 officers and 447 other crew members.
However, the name is perpetuated by THV Galatea, a lighthouse tender operated by Trinity House.
Busy Day at Chester: a selection of pictures by Roly High (on YouTube)
Final farewell to BR
BRB (Residuary) Ltd, the company formed at the time of privatisation to continue the few functions of British Rail that had not been sold, including some which appear to have been forgotten about at the time, has been abolished from 30 September 2013. The Government announcement of this tells how its functions have been divided, although it does not say who we need to ask for permission to reproduce BR publications, as we have spoken to that body in the past.
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