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11 November 2013
The nameplate of 'Patriot' 45551 currently under construction. See item below. Picture by George Jones.
Cambrian Coast mishap
Unfortunately the old wooden bridge, Pont Briwet, which carries the Cambrian Coast line near Penrhydeudraeth, is reported to have 'moved vertically', an event possibly related to construction work on the new rail/road bridge alongside. As a result, Arriva Trains Wales services are replaced by road transport between Harlech - Pwllheli in both directions until further notice. The line is expected to remain closed until at least Wednesday 20 November according to the Arriva website. Let's hope they do get it fixed soon.
Light and dark on the Ffestiniog
A sunny November day can offer some great photographic opportunities, exemplified by these two from Ian Pilkington. Above, Single Fairlie 0-4-4T Taliesin arrives at Minffordd with empty stock to work the 10:25 to Blaenau Ffestiniog on Thursday 8 November. Services were temporarily starting from here while engineering work was carried out at Porthmadog.
0-4-0STT Welsh Pony stands outside Boston Lodge Works. An appeal is under way to restore this loco to working order in time for her 150th anniversary in 2017. The website for the project tells us: 'The most enigmatic of the original Ffestiniog locos, Welsh Pony was the third engine in line for restoration to service when the railway was reopened in the 1950s, but the job was never done. All this is about to change.... for more details and an online donation opportunity: festrail.co.uk/welshpony.
By contrast, here is a view of the Ffestiniog's Hallowe'en special, showing Merddin Emrys trying to look scary at Porthmadog (Greg Mape).
RCTS Chester news
The next Chester meeting of the Railway Correspondence and Travel Society meets at the Town Crier opposite Chester railway station on Monday 18 November at 7.30 p.m, features well-known local railway photographer, and contributor to this site, John Hobbs from Warrington presenting railway views, including steam, across North Wales, in a 'Circular Tour of North Wales from 1966 to 1980.'
Visitors are more than welcome to attend this meeting but with a £2 voluntary donation. Such donations enable the Society to continue its regularity of such meetings. Further inquiries about this meeting can be made by telephoning 0151–608 4296.
Remembrance at Llangollen
9-10 November was the Llangollen Railway, Remembrance Weekend. GWR Loco no 3802 was in traffic suitably adorned with a Remembrance headboard, pictured above by Martin Evans at Carrog after arriving with the 11am service from Llangollen on 9 November.
Running round the train at Llangollen (Martin Evans).
Driver Malcolm Lees with the specially made headboard before the 3pm departure (George Jones). These trains were the last daily services of the season pending the start of the Santa Special season on 30 November, although there are some driver training sessions due later this month.
New-build 'Patriot' class loco 45551 The Unknown Warrior (creating the new Royal British Legion endorsed National Memorial Engine) was on show to visitors, decked in poppies, as was documented practice in steam days at Rugby motive power depot.
The association of this loco type with remembrance dates from 1927, when the first one, 5501, was given the name Patriot. The name had previously been carried on a 'Claughton' class locomotive built by predecessor company the London and North Western Railway in 1920 and withdrawn in 1935. That nameplate had the subtitle 'In memory of the Fallen LNWR Employees 1914-1919'. The 3719 such employees who died in the war are commemorated by the LNWR war memorial at Euston station.
View from the rear shows the current state of construction (George Jones). As can be seen, the smokebox is awaiting the addition of a boiler, a major component, for which the LMS-Patriot Company, the charity behind the project, need to raise the major sum of £477,000. If you can help, visit the project website.
The arrangements for the delivery of the locomotive to the model railway exhibition at Birmingham NEC on 23/24 November are progressing, with a 'flat-pack' set of parts for the cab due to arrive along with the main wheels for assembly. Departure from Llangollen is set for early on 21 November.
Another new-build currently under way at the Llangollen works and on view for the weekend was Great Western 'Grange' 4-6-0 6880 Betton Grange (Martin Evans). The charity behind this project also has a website with donation possibilities. This loco does have a boiler, currently stored elsewhere, from a loco of the 'Hall' class, a similar design of GWR loco with larger driving wheels.
Rail Head Treatment Tales
The Rail Head Treatment Trains (RHTT) continue their daily round. Above, on 6 November 97 304 John Tiley made a solo run, photographed at Bangor by Peter Basterfield.
Above, 97 302 passes Bangor with the 3S71 RHTT for Holyhead on 7 November. Note the professional-looking filming on the platform.
97 302 passes Bangor with the return 3S71 RHTT for Crewe on 7 November (Rowan Crawshaw). There are lot more leaves still to fall...
97 304 and 97 302 sprays its way through a wet Mochdre on Friday 8 November with the Rail Head Treatment Train (Jack Bowley).
97 302 is seen at Belmont Road bridge near Menai Bridge with the 3S71 RHTT for Holyhead running very early on 9 November, having skipped its 'booked' nocturnal pause at Shrewsbury (Rowan Crawshaw).
97 304 passes Talybont, east of Bangor, bound for Crewe on 9 November (Rowan Crawshaw)
97 302 brings the RHTT through Llandudno Junction at 08:32 on 11 November (Peter Lloyd).
These trains come in various shapes and sizes around the network. The picture above taken by Darren Durrant at Nuneaton shows the Bescot - Bescot West Midlands version passing Nuneaton with 66 232 and 66 034.
In Yorkshire, DRS Class 20s can be seen: this is Barnsley on 28 October, with 20 302 leading. Elsewhere, Network Rail's 'Multi-Purpose Vehicles' do the honours.
Running in an unusual Sunday path, the empty Chirk - Carlisle log train at Cosford at 11:00 with 56 105 in charge. By heading south from Chirk, through Shrewsbury, and round the Bushbury curve near Wolverhampton to reach Stafford and north to Carlisle, the train can head directly south from the sidings at Chirk, avoiding the run-round and reversal at Gobowen which was the former practice. Picture by Stavros Lainas.
The proposed Virgin Trains Shrewsbury - London service, so far refused the right to run by the Rail Regulator, would take this route, and reverse at Stafford to head for London.
67 002 leads a Holyhead - Cardiff Rugby special through Colwyn Bay on Saturday 9 November with Driving Van Trailer 82307 on the rear (Jack Bowley).
37 259 leads 37 605 through Bangor on the return flasks, 5 November (Alan Crawshaw).
It's not only Colwyn Bay (last issue) that has a floral display! Tome for a competition perhaps? Picture by Peter Basterfield,
Cumbrian Jubilee - report by Stephen Hughes
Having had a similar experience to Alan Crawshaw as reported a few weeks ago (9 September) - a cancelled tour having spent money on a hotel - I also wondered whether it was worth the effort to travel behind a steam or even a diesel on a charter train ... but then the lure of a trip over Shap and back down the Settle & Carlisle proved rather irresistible, not least because it was organised by Vintage Trains, with whom I had a couple of previous successful tours. The added attraction from North Wales for many of the tours on this itinerary is that Crewe is often a pick-up point and with a sensible time it is easily accessible from the North Wales Coast. Most seem to depart from Crewe around 09:30, returning around 19:30.
Thus I made a last-minute decision to travel, and armed with a 'Club 55' ticket I joined a well-filled 07:22 Virgin Voyager at Bangor, arriving in Crewe with plenty of time to grab a coffee and wait on the lonely outpost of platform 12 (above) for D1755 (47 773) to bring the excellent Vintage Trains Mk2 stock from Tyseley - on time. A good run to Carnforth ensued, where the recently returned to traffic 45699 Galatea, in its controversial West Coast Railway Company colour, took over and headed off northwards. Whether the showery conditions affected the track I don't know, but the performance wasn't that great, and after losing 10-15 minutes the train stopped at a 'green' and one of the crew presumably asked the signalman to switch us into the loop, which duly occurred, allowing a Pendolino to speed by.
Anticipating a longer wait for Transpennine and CrossCountry services, we were surprised to move almost immediately and managed to breast the summit without further alarms and eventually reached Carlisle (above) about 20 minutes down.
This allowed about 1 hour 40 minutes in Carlisle, ample time for a pint of Cumberland Ale and a quick lunch.
[Those bold-face numbers look more like EWS than WCRC.- Ed.]
The return journey was uneventful along a line that is always inspiring, with the arrival at a Hellifield station that is undergoing some renovation where the 47 was waiting to take over. By now it was dark, and the 47 certainly showed it was in good condition with a run that threatened a very early arrival back in Crewe, but the signallers thought different and we were held just north of Crewe to allow a few service trains to pass. An on-time arrival followed, and I arrived back in Bangor around 21:45, via a Virgin service to Chester and a three-coach ex-Cardiff service from Chester that was very busy. And that was that, a good day out!
On the Premier Express - with John Oates
I travelled on the Premier Express back from Cardiff to Chester on 4 November. I’d checked the website in advance and it was showing 'this week’s menu', but dated 9 October 2013. Oops! On the day, we had 67 002 on the front to Chester with DVT 82308 on the back. All ran to time, and much as I like the Mk3s, I found the ride harsher than in the class 175 on the way down, though to be fair the class 175s provide one of the best rides we have in the UK.
I decided to treat myself to the Premier Upgrade - £24.75 with my 'Old Codger Railcard'. The food, all included in the price of the ticket, was very good. I started with the asparagus soup which tasted like it was 'home made which came with very nice crusty bread. Then followed chicken stuffed with pork, sage, nuts, etc., which was excellent. Then, around the time we sailed through Ludlow a selection of 5 welsh cheeses with chutney and biscuits, all with a pots of tea refreshed all the way back to Chester. This, together with a First Class seat was 'life as it should be'. Being a Monday, I expected patronage to be low, and it was. On leaving Cardiff there were 5 in First Class including me. One left at Newport, another at Abergavenny. No more joined until two of us left at Chester, leaving one going 'down the coast'. The chef and waiting lady in the kitchen looked after us well, whilst another lady ran the buffet counter. I hope it's busier on other days. I think moving the service forward one hour from December should help its patronage – it was too early before, now it’s too late.
'Real life' arrived as I left Chester back to Mobberley on one of Northern’s 142s with the ex-Merseytravel uncomfortable seats as we squealed out of the station.
I had gone there on the 'Club 55' to have a look at the lines around Barry, and also the line past Aberthaw Power Station and on to Bridgend that I’d not travelled on previously, a line that was freight only when I was a student in Cardiff from 1969-1972. Great views over the Bristol Channel to Devon and plenty of coal deliveries with EWS 66s on trains from Avonmouth, Onllwyn Washery and Tower Colliery.
Preparing for the Brocken: report by David Parry
Some things just look better in monochrome! Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but the steam age seems to suit black-and white (and the infinite shades of grey), and, inevitably, that’s what most of the steam photographs I grew up with were. So, on a recent Ffestiniog Travel tour of the Harz Mountains in central Germany, I decided to take some of my images directly in monochrome, and to de-saturate some of the full colour shots. In fact, most of this selection are the latter, the subject matter urging me to produce mono versions.
My selection features two of the massive 2-10-2T locomotives being prepared at the depot at Wernigerode, followed by shots of both at the passing siding near the summit of the Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz range, indeed, in northern Germany. Above: On 17 October 2013, locomotive 99 7241-5 eases on to the turntable at Wernigerode, with sister loco 99 7235-7 stabled outside the relatively modern shed.
Having arrived back at Wernigerode from a turn on the Brockenbahn at 18:00, about half an hour later, 2-10-2T no. 99 236 has already been re-coaled, moved off the coaling bay and paused in failing light while loco crew members hold a discussion by one of the coal containers. The Brocken is behind the jib of the coal crane, hidden in cloud.
At this point, it is worth remarking on the sheer size of these locos – which have one more axle than a 9F! They share boiler types with a standard gauge class, and have been modified to allow their long wheelbase to negotiate the curves of the Harz metre gauge network. So it was easy to forget these were “narrow gauge” locos when seeing them in action – but unforgettable was the smooth functioning of the motion – a rugged but delicate machine.
Next day, I had some time to explore Wernigerode again, before our enthusiasts’ special up the Brocken (behind an 1897 Mallet) and caught 99 236 again on the coaling bay from a vantage point on the approach spiral of a new footbridge over the western rail approaches to Wernigerode.
Back at the station, which has an excellent viewing platform overlooking the loco shed, 99 7241-5 has just been receiving some attention to its motion from an engineer with what looks like a long-reach grease gun.
Later in the afternoon, our charter train was nearing the summit of the Brocken and had to reverse into a passing siding and await both down and up trains before reaching the station. This gave an opportunity to photograph some steam action from the line side.
Here, 99 7241-5 is running down the main line and will turn into the passing siding behind our charter train. As can be seen, weather conditions are, well, atmospheric ... ! Incidentally, the Brocken is 1141 metres high, compared with Snowdon at 1085 metres (source: Wikipedia) but it is not as angular or rugged as Snowdon or the Alpine peaks, so the Brockenbahn operates on adhesion, rather than rack, including a 360o spiral to reach the summit.
A few minutes later and 99 236 approaches with an up train (with some digital editing).
This sequence illustrates a few moments in an action-packed weekend that can be recommended to steam lovers.
Source – Organ, J, (2004) North East German Narrow Gauge. Midhurst: Middleton Press.
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