Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

18 November 2013

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RHTT assortment

Video by Alan Crawshaw

Forthcoming events

This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page. For the current list visit our Calendar.

November 2013

Thursday 21 November Locomotive Club of Great Britain  Steve Fort "Carlisle to Crewe " - mainly steam scenes

Wednesday, 27 November   Ffestiniog Railway Society Dee & Mersey Group George England Locomotives, by Chris Jones

Thursday 28 November  Geoff Morris   Merseyside Railway History Group 'The Many Varied Railways of Australia'

Friday 29 November  Great Western Society North West Branch Railways of the Iberian Peninsula, by Barry Rushton.

Saturday 30 November Llangollen Railway Santa Specials

December 2013

1 December Llangollen Railway Santa Specials

Friday 6 December   Clwyd Railway Circle   'Members Night & Christmas Celebration' 
Members are invited to give a 15/20 minute presentation of their choice (any format). This will be interrupted by festive treats (all high calories). Members must book their slot no later than 16th November by telephoning David Jones.

7-8 December Llangollen Railway Santa Specials

7-8 December Bala Lake Railway Santa Specials

7 December Llangollen Railway Real Ale Train evening

Monday 9  December    Wrexham Railway Society. Stephen Gay, Railways in a Yorkshire Landscape,  from Sheffield, he specialises in researching and photographing railways, particularly the old lines and former features alongside current routes all over Britain by walking along them in the company of his dog.  He is a Yorkshireman and his presentation will be based on his home county, including the beautiful Settle to Carlisle line.

Thursday 12 December  Merseyside Railway History Group Geoff Coward 'Europe & The Old Buffers'

Thursday 12 December Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Xmas Social and talk by Anthony J Robinson "Dad had an engine shed" - an illustrated talk on the life and times of the son of a shedmaster at Mold junction shed.  The speaker has a book published by Oakwood Press of the same title.                

Friday 13 December  Altrincham Electric Preservation Society STEAM SHEDS ACROSS THE YEARS By John Sloane

14-15 December Llangollen Railway Santa Specials

Monday 16 December  RCTS Merseyside, Chester & North Wales ‘Early Days’ by David Maidment, Formerly Operations Manager BR London Midland Region David  presents his early days at Swindon and commuting on the Southern and around the UK in the early 60s

Thursday 19 December Locomotive Club of Great Britain  John Ryan "Various Gauges in France and Spain 1966 to 1973"

20-24 December Llangollen Railway Santa Specials

26-31 December  Llangollen Railway Mince Pie Specials.

January 2014

1 January 2014 Llangollen Railway Mince Pie Specials.

Friday 3 January   Clwyd Railway Circle  David Rapson  'Wrexham to Bidston Line' A history of the route illustrated with pictures covering the last 70 years.

Thursday 9 January  Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society 'From a Driver’s point of view' Dave Trains

Friday 10 January  Altrincham Electric Preservation Society HISTORY OF BOLTON TRAMWAYS by Derek Shepherd (Vice-Chairman, Heaton Park Tramway)

Monday 13 January   Wrexham Railway Society. ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING AND RAIL REVIEW ENTERTAINMENT Annual General Meeting will be followed by various  members’ own presentations.

Monday 20 January  RCTS Merseyside, Chester & North Wales BRANCH A.G.M  Followed by Alan Donaldson ‘Around Britain 1983 to 2010’

Thursday 30 January  Merseyside Railway History Group   David Rapson 'Seacombe to Wrexham'

February 2014

Friday 7 February    Clwyd Railway Circle   Brian Bollington & Peter Hanahoe  'Polish Steam' The presentation is a mix of slide shows and video showing steam on the national network, including shed scenes, taken in the 1990’s.  

Monday 10 February   Wrexham Railway Society. Fred Kirk,  A Scottish Trip 60 Years On. The results of  a week long trip to Scotland, shed bashing previously not seen, black and white images of long gone shed scenes, Princes Street station etc.

Thursday 13 February  Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society 'A short history of Crosville & my time with it' Clive Myers                        
Friday 14 February  Altrincham Electric Preservation Society A JOURNEY FROM MANCHESTER TO EASTLEIGH WORKS IN 1910 By Mike Hayward (Secretary, Manchester Locomotive Society)

Monday 17 February  RCTS Merseyside, Chester & North Wales Barry Shore ‘BR freight in the post steam era 1967 to 1979’

Thursday 20 February Locomotive Club of Great Britain  John Sloane "BR Scenes from the 60s”
Thursday 27 February  Merseyside Railway History Group Allan Lewis 'Union Pacific Steam'

March 2014

Friday 7 March    Clwyd Railway Circle    The Committee & David Southern AGM followed by the talk 'Railways of the Wirral'    After the formality is over, we can look forward to Dave sharing his railway experiences of 60 years living on the Wirral.

Monday 10 March   Wrexham Railway Society. Geoff Morris- Railways of New Zealand a digital presentation based on two steam-hauled trips around New Zealand in 2011 & 2012 including both preservation activities and the rapidly-changing current railway scene on the other side of the world.

Thursday 13 March Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society 'The Dinorwic Quarry Railway & its locomotives' Eric Lander

Monday 17 March  RCTS Merseyside, Chester & North Wales ‘The Ugly Duckling’: Bob Casselden looks at the transformation of B.R.’s ‘Other Provincial Services’ via ‘Regional Railways’ into today’s privatised railways
Friday 14 March  Altrincham Electric Preservation Society A Selection of Doug Darby's UK PHOTOGRAPHS by Paul Shackcloth (Photographic Officer, Manchester Locomotive Society)

Thursday 23 January Locomotive Club of Great Britain  Neville Bond “From Sea to Shining Sea” 30 years of North American scenes

Thursday 20 March Locomotive Club of Great Britain  Dr Michael Bailey "The Manchester Ship Canal Railway"

Thursday 27 March  Merseyside Railway History Group AGM & Members Slides

April 2014

Friday 4 April    Clwyd Railway Circle   Ron Watson-Jones   'The Irish Mail Train Crash at Penmaenmawr Aug 1950' Ron’s account of the accident on 27th August 1950.

Thursday 10 April Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society 'Welsh Wanderings in the 1980’s & 90’s' Geoff Morris   

Thursday 10 April  Merseyside Railway History Group Ted Lloyd 'Quiz and informal evening'

Friday 11 April  Altrincham Electric Preservation Society Slides from the Manchester locomotive society collection by David Young.  Mainly steam locomotives taken 1950s and 1960s

Monday 14 April   Wrexham Railway Society. Jon Penn.   Railway Pictures From the  1960’s –scanned black and white negatives and vintage colour slides, favouring the Cheshire and surrounding areas.

Monday 28 April RCTS Merseyside, Chester & North Wales ‘South of the Border steam in the 50s and 60s’ by David Kelso, David travels from Kent to present a follow up to his  earlier North of the border presentation, including a period when he was resident in the West Riding of Yorkshire.

Thursday 17 April Locomotive Club of Great Britain  Norman Matthews "Steam in Central America"

May 2014
Thursday 8 May Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society 'The Deganwy Dock Story' Eric Smith

Thursday 15 May Locomotive Club of Great Britain  AGM and Members/Visitors Slides & Digital Photos.

An everyday scene at Machynlleth on 13 November ... except for the 'Harlech' destination shown for the 10:54 train (Ken Robinson). The line beyond there remains closed thanks to the damage to the Briwet bridge at Penrhyndeudraeth reported in the last issue: Arriva are now quoting 25 November as a possible re-opening date, with buses replacing trains (on quite a roundabout route). On the other platform, the 08:25 from Harlech is being coupled to the 09:30 from Aberystwyth to form the 10:07 onwards to Birmingham International. The now redundant 1960-built signal box can be seen in the distance.

Crewe - Shrewsbury signalling

The new signalling between Crewe and Shrewsbury, with its controversial new level crossing systems, has finally been brought in to service after several postponements. The intermediate signalboxes at Nantwich, Wrenbury, Harlescott, Wem and Prees have all been closed: safety supervision of the full-width-barrier crossings, previously done by the signaller looking out of the window, is now carried out by 'obstacle detector' systems using radar, augmented by low-level 'LIDAR' laser detectors. The Network Rail code for this kind of crossing is MCB-OD - manually controlled barrier with obstacle detector - although as we understand it, the operation will be automatic when a train is approaching. If any such obstacle is detected on the crossing, then the protecting signal cannot be cleared and the approaching train will come to a stand. (What happens next?)

The diagrammatic plan of the signalling and track layout is in the public domain, downloadable from the Giaconda website in PDF format, and reveals that in addition to the level crossing changes, axle-counters have been used instead of track circuits, and the route has been equipped with bi-directional signalling so that trains will be able to run on the 'wrong line' when necessary without special arrangements. However we believe this facility is not to be used at present. David Peacock's pictures here were taken for us at Nantwich station, the only one where new signals are at the platform end. The signals with their LED lights look rather odd, having reverted to the single-light layout used by some companies in the early days of colour-light signalling. Adding to the strangeness is the lack of a ladder (the post hinges down for maintenance in the style of a platform lamp) as well as a slight resemblance to a famous extra-terrestrial...

A close-up of the head of signal SC 8466, which can show red or green, shows the 'modular' nature of the head. This type can show red, yellow, or green; on high-speed lines where a double-yellow advance warning is needed, a second head would be needed. Note the repeater on the edge for when a train is standing at the signal.

Meanwhile, the grand old LNWR signalboxes in the Shrewsbury station area continue as before.

In other news ...

A mention of various other new developments follows. The railway's new network for train drivers to talk to signallers or to 'control', is now 'live' on the North Wales Coast line, following recent checking visits by the Radio Survey train. GSM-R is in fact a private application of the same communication used by the public mobile phone network. It is capable of transmitting data as well as voice, and is used as such on the Cambrian lines, but on the Coast line (for now) it simply replaces the old radio system.

On the Manchester line, 25kV overhead line electrification of the route from Castlefield Junction (Manchester) to Parkside (Newton-le-Willows) is now complete and energised. From December, Manchester Airport - Scotland trains will be diverted to this route, calling at Wigan instead of Bolton, and the ten new Class 350/4 'Desiro' 4-car electric trains will take over services as they are delivered and tested. Most of the newly-electrified section, which is just Phase 1 of a much larger scheme, is part of the famous Liverpool and Manchester Railway route of 1830: no doubt George and Robert Stephenson would be impressed. From next May, the diesel trains displaced by the new fleet will be used on a new direct hourly service between Liverpool and Newcastle which will increase the number of TransPennine Express trains between Manchester and Leeds to five trains per hour.

Finally, news has leaked out, via an article in the Shropshire Star newspaper, picked up by other media, that a limited through train service will be operated by Virgin Trains from May 2014 between Shrewsbury and London Euston. Until now Virgin's proposals have been totally blocked by the Office of Rail Regulation in the grounds of line capacity. Apparently there will be an 'off-peak service' Monday to Friday and 'one train' on Sundays, and according to the BBC on 14 November,  'exact times would be revealed on new timetables issued on Friday'. So far (17 November) we can find no mention of this on the Virgin, Network Rail, or Rail Regulator websites.

Premier Express at large

On 11 November the northbound 18:21 Cardiff - Holyhead express (a.k.a. 'Gerald' or the 'WAG Express') was top-and-tailed by Class 67 locos, reportedly because the Driving Van Trailer vehicle had developed flats on its wheels, a common problem at this time of year when trains are prone to sliding on leafy rails when the brakes are applied.  Jack Bowley photographed the train at Colwyn Bay, with 67 002 leading ...

... and 67 001 trailing. Theoretically Arriva Trains Wales has three (82306-8) of the eight 823xx ex-Virgin Trains Driving Van Trailers which have been fitted for working with Class 67 locos, but we believe that 82306 has been loaned to work alongside 82301-5 by fellow Deutsche Bahn subsidiary Chiltern Railways. Maybe they are also having problems?

On 13 November, a DVT was back in service in the shape of 82307, but to judge from a video of the train at Chester posted by 'Video47' on YouTube, the wheel-flat problem remained unsolved.

On the evening of Friday 15 November, to-and-tail was in force again, although DVT 82308 was included in the train, 1W94 Cardiff - Holyhead, pictured by Jack Bowley at Llandudno Junction with 'celebrity' loco 67 029 Royal Diamond up front, and 67 001 at the back.  The silver livery reflects the station lighting remarkably well. Jack's pictures prove that with modern cameras there is no need to use flash lighting, which is in any case very much disapproved of by train crews and platform staff.

Jack also made a video of the ensuing departure.

The next day, Saturday 16 November, the same formation, complete with both locos was used for a Holyhead - Cardiff extra 08:07 Holyhead - Cardiff to carry fans to the Wales v Argentina Rugby international, seen above at Llandudno Junction in the morning (Darren Durrant).

67 029 is kept in very good external condition (Darren Durrant). It was the first 67 to be converted and repainted to work Mk3 push-pull trains, for use with the EWS 'company train' in 2004.

Contrast in front ends (Darren Durrant).

Was it really six years ago? (Darren Durrant).

Approaching Colwyn Bay (Jack Bowley).

Shotton (Tim Rogers). This train ran via Crewe, so did not need to reverse en route. The return service ran at 18:21 from Cardiff, and did run via Wrexham, reversing at Chester.

Beeches Farm (Bob Greenhalgh).

Bala Santa

Santa's Annual visit to his very own railway station on the Bala Lake Railway takes place on the weekend of 7 and 8 September. Trains will depart from Llanuwchllyn at 10.30, 11.30, 12.30, 13.30, 14.30, and 15.30.

Ticket prices. Adults  £7.50 and Children £8.50 include a drink and a mince pie for adults and a present, biscuit and squash for children who are aged 11 and under. Booking essential: download a booking form in PDF format.


A reflective view of a Hallowe'en special on the Llanberis Lake Railway, hauled alongside Llyn Padarn by Elidir (Peter Basterfield)

It had been suggested to us that the HST-based measurement train would no longer appear in North Wales, but here it is at Talybont near Bangor on 14 November (Peter Basterfield).

As mentioned last time, Network Rail's Multi-purpose vehicles also see service on railhead treatment work. Above, DR98954 and DR98904 are seen at Helsby on 15 November. This train is based at Wigan and serves the line to Chester via Warrington before treating the Merseyrail Wirral system, including two return visits to Liverpool James Street via the tunnel under the Mersey, the West Kirby and New Brighton lines, and Hooton - Helsby. This link shows the full route.

Other Wigan-based MPVs serve the Crewe - Manchester, Mid-Cheshire, Rose Hill and Buxton lines among others. Above, DR 98962 and 98912 make their way across Stockport viaduct at 12:05 on 13 November.

An interesting meeting at Crewe on 13 November. DRS 'Thunderbird' 57 308 County of Staffordshire rests with 92 002 H.G. Wells.  Behind, 66 425 undergoes a crew change on its way to Coatbridge with the 4S44 intermodal service from Daventry (Martin Evans). [92 002 was Charlie's first sighting of a 92 - in Vienna where it was undergoing cold weather tests in 1994.]

150 250 shows off its new Welsh Government livery on the Borderlands line at Shotton, 16 November (Tim Rogers)

Northern Rail is supporting the 'Movember' campaign by applying moustaches to the front of its trains, as shown on 156 438 on 15 November working the 10:30 Hazel Grove - Preston. A far cry from the 'speed whiskers' worn by the DMUs of yore.

Flask scenes

37 608 and 37 612 crawl through Llandudno Junction at 14:00 on 12 November, running early with the Valley - Crewe flask train (Peter Lloyd).

FNA wagon 550053 is nearest the camera (Peter Lloyd). Believe it or not, the bodies of these wagons are un-painted stainless steel.

On Friday 15 November  37 605 & 37 612 sit silent at the Valley loading point waiting for a flask to arrive by road from Wylfa power station (Nick Gurney).

Some time later, heading east over Pen-y-Clip viaduct (Peter Basterfield).

Beeches Farm (Bob Greenhalgh).

'Wires Down' - a traveller's tale by Alan Crawshaw

On 13 November, Christine had to take her bike to Roberts Cycles in East Croydon so we both went down to combine it with seeing friends and visiting some exhibitions. I was delighted to discover that we could avoid central London by taking the 09:22 from Bangor as far as Milton Keynes where a 12 minute connection would make the hourly Southern service; just one connection would avoid crossing London to Victoria. I arrived at the station in time for a shot of 97 303 / 304 (above) making their way to Holyhead with the Rail Head Treatment Train ...

...  while 175 107 waited time on platform 1 with the 08:05 Holyhead to Cardiff. The latter is used by schoolchildren on Anglesey, calling at the request stops across the island and timed for them to get to school by 9 am. It then waits to comply with the Arriva Trains Wales 'clockface' departure schedule. On Saturdays it leaves Holyhead at 08:20.

On board the Voyager, the conductor announced that some of the wires were down near Watford Junction and that some trains had been delayed by 30 minutes. We weren't too concerned but on alighting at Milton Keynes we found that all the local trains had been cancelled. There were no staff around to advise, simply an information display advising passengers to refer to the rail companies' websites or Twitter feeds, which is no substitute. We took the safe option of boarding the next train to Euston, as we had to get to the bike shop before closing time. The bike door on the Pendolino was locked so Christine had to stand in a vestibule with it while I found a seat. After apologising for the train being half an hour late because of the Overhead Line incident and warning of possible further delays, the train manager then had a go at Christine for being in a vestibule without a bike reservation for that train! Other passengers were grumbling unfairly about Virgin for the delay, not their fault but their customer service is shockingly bad at times.

We walked to Victoria, where the barrier staff accepted our ticket after our explanation, transacted our business at the bike shop and caught the tram from East Croydon to Wimbledon, my first experience of the Croydon system which was efficient and well patronised.

Christine stayed to visit her sister while I returned home on Friday, catching the 14:40 Manchester Pendolino, first stop Crewe. Almost every seat was reserved so I claimed one of the tip-up seats in a vestibule, which was soon home to more people sitting on the floor and standing. The train manager wished us "a pleasant and comfortable journey", which could only be achieved in first class on this train, and we were off. The experience was not enhanced by a party of noisy lagered-up Londoners making frequent visits to the shop and the lavatory, after which the class 150 Chester shuttle seemed luxurious.

I transferred to Merseyrail for the trip to Hamilton Square as the Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society were running a 24 hour "Tramathon" in aid of Children in Need. I took a night ride to the depot, which was open to visitors, and a few tripod-assisted shots of tram 69, built in 1992 for the tramway.

I returned to Chester (the picture above shows 508 139 at Birkenhead Hamilton Square) ...

 ...  where one of the departure boards was displaying a Windows error, and caught the 20:26 Voyager back to Bangor, very busy but I was able to get a seat and the train was mercifully free of idiots.

Past times with John Hobbs - Brymbo

The Brymbo Heritage Group (BHG) has been awarded £97,000 to help preserve the heritage of Wrexham's former Brymbo steelworks. The site which closed in 1990 with the loss of 1,000 jobs has some protected buildings although their condition is said to be deteriorating. The Heritage Lottery Fund which pledged the cash called it unique, a surviving example of an 18th Century ironworks.

I thought these pictures might appropriate to celebrate this. Above: GWR 2-8-0 3850 climbs up towards Brymbo, the steelworks buildings  which can be seen on the plateau to the left of the image, this area is now covered by housing. This working was from Croes Newydd Yard to the Steelworks which would reverse in the loop beyond Brymbo Middle Signal Box,  run around and climb into the complex on the plateau;  this was 5 August 1965.

3850 carried on up the climb and is seen here at the site of Brymbo Station, with only seven wagons in tow it was an easy climb with no banker.  The line to Mold diverted just beyond the locomotive and the branch to Wheatsheaf Junction on the Wrexham to Chester line trailed in at the rear of the train. When I asked for a ride at Croes Newydd the guard asked if I had a ticket, I replied that I had a "Runabout Ticket", he responded that was good enough; the clerk  at Prestatyn Booking Office was surprised to hear that my North Wales Runabout Ticket covered the freight-only line to Brymbo! 

Llangollen events - report by George Jones

The overhaul of WD71516 Welsh Guardsman at Llangollen  has come to a conclusion and as of Sunday 16 November was in the yard awaiting a fire. On 17 November it was due to take a private party of sponsors down the line.

In steam and taking water, 18 November. It is due to head off to the Gwili Railway on Thursday 21 November.

Meanwhile the cab for the 'Patriot' (see last issue) has arrived and is seen installed on the frames. The big lift to assemble the frames with the newly delivered wheels ...

...  big at 6ft 9ins (2.06m) diameter, will take place later this week and the whole assembly should be on the road on Thursday when the loco will be moved to the Warley Model Railway Exhibition at the Birmingham NEC 23/24 November. It will be visiting Tyseley for axlebox work before coming back to Llangollen.

Sunday saw no train services but the Class 08 13265 (above) was active with a shunt at Llangollen station to extract the exhibition coach and put in Santa's Grotto.

The appearance of Santa's sleigh with Welsh greeting on the platform means that is nearly that  time of year again. For Santa Special details see the Llangollen Railway website.

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