|Home | Notice Board | Travel
Info | Calendar | History
| Route Guide | The
Trains | For Railfans | Links | Contact
23 December 2013
Sunshine on the snow: the day before what was planned to be the last day of regular Class 37 passenger working in North Wales (although a few trains did run in January 2001), 37 421 stands at Bangor with the 12:07 Birmingham - Holyhead on 29 December 2000. This loco is now preserved at the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway, although currently awaiting overhaul. Picture by Ken Robinson.
Another Christmas issue (the 16th?) and another seasonal 'thank you' to all our readers and contributors, and especially all the people who keep the trains running for us to photograph and write about.- Charlie
Arriva's Christmas Message
'At Arriva Trains Wales, we recognise that Christmas and the New Year is a particularly important time for all your travel needs. Whether it's visiting family and friends, buying gifts for loved ones or going to work, we want to ensure that all our customers can plan and make those important journeys. To help, our website contains a summary of our service levels, timetable alterations, last trains home on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve and details of planned improvement works that may impact Arriva Trains Wales customers during this festive period.
'Please visit our website before you travel between Monday 23 December 2013 and Friday 3 January 2014. You can also check live service information on your desktop computer, tablet
or mobile by visiting our JourneyCheck website.'
[Of course there no trains at from mid-evening 24 December until the morning of the 27th, and the way the weather's going there will be floods, trees on the line, and so on. As we write on 23 December there is flooding between Welshpool and Newtown and also the line is blocked between Abergavenny and Hereford.]
After weeks of suggestions that services would be restored once the old bridge, Pont Briwet on the Cambrian Coast line, was repaired, and a bus replacement between Harlech and Pwllheli, it is now becoming clear that Network Rail are not willing to sign off the bridge as safe, and the bus service will continue, with hopes that the new bridge will be completed in time for the start of the summer timetable on 14 May. Ken Robinson's picture published here in April 2013 shows the bridge in happier times.
Apparently Network Rail are paying for the buses, and also paying Arriva £10,000 per day in compensation; how this money offers any benefit to the passengers who are being badly inconvenienced is hard to say. When a similar situation occurred in Bavaria about 30 years ago, temporary platforms were built either side of the bridge and passengers walked across to board a train waiting on the other side until a new bridge was ready.
On 21 December the wind uprooted three of the large trees in the grounds of the Cadwgan Hotel adjacent to Dyffryn Ardudwy station, and one of them fell on to the line, but appears to have been cleared.
Some news of a more positive nature is that two West Coast Railway Company locomotives, 37 668 and 37 669 are being equipped with ERTMS equipment (made by Hitachi) to enable them to work over the Cambrian lines. Charter trains will then be able operate without the use of Network Rail's Class 97/3 locos, which have frustratingly sometimes not been made available when requested for charter passenger work, leading to the decision by WCR to stop organising them. There also seems to be some glimmer of hope that steam specials will be able to resume in the future: we shall await developments with interest.
Snowy Scenes from the Past - by John Hobbs
Two views showing ex-LMS Class 5 4-6-0 45116 ambling through Ladies Wood and approaching Allt-y-Craig road overbridge, on 5 March 1965, with the return goods from Dyserth Quarry. It was unusual to see a locomotive smokebox leading in the 'up' direction but not unprecedented. Perhaps the snow fall rendered the turntable at Rhyl inoperative on this particular day. However, having seen the locomotive running tender first to Dyserth; I had set off in pursuit to photograph the return working.
The short branch from Prestatyn was basically a freight line, although it did have a passenger service at one time. It closed completely in 1973 and is now a cycle track. Here's a link to its history on the Dyserth website.
The Roodee Viaduct, Chester, 09:13, Saturday 21 December DVT 82308 pushed by 67 002 heads the 08:46 Crewe - Holyhead train, pictured by Bob Greenhalgh. Note the path on the right leading to the footway across the bridge, which has finally re-opened to the public following repairs.
As has become normal on school holiday Saturdays recently, the Premier Express train has been used for extra capacity on the North Wales Coast, on this occasion making three return journeys from Holyhead to Crewe and back, starting from Holyhead at 03:35 to collect passengers from the ferries from Dublin which arrive after midnight. Above, 08:46 Crewe - Holyhead passes Shotton, (Tim Rogers).
67 002 at the front of the train on platform 3 at Holyhead ready to work 1K51, the 12:22 to Crewe (Jack Bowley). Curiously, we have no pictures of this 12:22 service en route to Crewe even though it ran in the best lighting conditions. Maybe all our contributors were on board...
On somewhat rare track for the 'WAG Express' train, the Down Main (Centre Road) at Rhyl, as 1D02 14:23 Crewe to Holyhead passes on its way back to Holyhead (Ivor Bufton)
Llandudno Junction, with 67 002 on the rear of 1D02 14:23 Crewe to Holyhead (Peter Lloyd).
67002 calls at Bangor with the 1D02 14:23 Crewe to Holyhead (Rowan Crawshaw).
67 002 at Holyhead after working the 14:23 from Crewe (Jack Bowley). Some interesting news for modellers is that Hornby's 00 scale new models programme for 2014 includes versions in the correct livery of all three coach types needed to run a current version of this train: the standard Mk3 coach, the first/restaurant vehicle and the Driiving Van Trailer, as well as a second version of the loco as 67 003 in addition to 67 002 which is already available.
67002 at Chester working the 1K52 17:15 Holyhead - Crewe, the last eastbound of the day (Jack Bowley).
We understand that this diagram in a modified form, will apply again on Friday 27 December, the day after the railway's Christmas Close-down. The Premier Express (05:33 Holyhead - Cardiff and 17:16 Cardiff - Holyhead will not operate that day. The diagram for 27 December is as follows:
1K01 06:13 Holyhead - Crewe 08:09
1D01 08:39 Crewe - Holyhead 10:52
1K02 12:16 Holyhead - Crewe 14:19
1D02 14:23 Crewe - Holyhead 16:24
1K03 17:15 Holyhead - Crewe 19:29
1D03 21:10 Crewe - Holyhead 23:14
These trains, like the 21 December ones, call serve only Crewe, Chester, Llandudno Junction, Bangor and Holyhead.
Picture News miscellany
Sunday 21 December. Berwyn, Llangollen railway. 44806 (above) heads the first Santa train of the day towards Carrog. 44806 is soon to leave Llangollen for the North York Moors after being sold by its owner. Picture by Bob Greenhalgh. Note the missing headboard ...
... which was present the day before, along with the '1T57' headcode, a replica which was made for the anniversary events for the last British Rail steam train, the '15 guinea special' in 1968.
The farewell event for 44806 is to be a Winter Warmer two-day gala on 4/5 January - more details later - meanwhile it will also be on the 'Mince Pie Special' trains from 26 December. Other Llangollen news is that the gap at Bonwm (see last issue) was filled on 19 December and there is now a two-mile track extension west of Carrog past Bonwm with half a mile to go to reach the Corwen station site in early 2014.
57 311 Thunderbird on 'thunderbird' rescue duty at Crewe, 17 December (Martin Evans).
Wearing a shiny new livery connect with the new traffic in imported 'biomass' wood chips to Drax power station in Yorkshire, 60 066 found itself working the 6V75 Dee Marsh - Margam empty steel wagons through Shotton on Monday 16 December (Jack Bowley).
60 099 also has a silvery colour scheme, this one being for Tata Steel, this one appropriate for the Dee Marsh steel trains, a seen above at Penyffordd on 17 December (Bob Greenhalgh).
31 233 stabled at Bangor with the ultrasonic test train on 20 December (Alan Crawshaw).
47 805 John Scott passes Frodsham station with the 'Northern Belle' luxury train on 18 December (Bob Greenhalgh).
On the same day at Frodsham, 70 004 The Coal Industry Society (the nameplate is on the frame) leads an Ellesmere Port to Fiddlers Ferry coal train (Bob Greenhalgh)
56 312, pictured by Mark Youdan at Warrington Bank Quay on 23 December on its way to Scotland with a track machine has gained rather a lengthy name: Jeremiah Dixon Son of County Durham Surveyor of the Mason-Dixon Line U.S.A. Indeed we have heard it claimed that the nameplate contains more characters (including spaces and punctuation) than any used on British locomotive ever. For more on Mr Dixon, there's a fine song by Mark Knopfler.
Following from our report in the last issue about new electric trains for TransPennine, here is a picture by Mark Youdan at Manchester Oxford Road on 12 December of the first to be delivered, 350 401, on a demonstration run from Oxford Road to Preston and return. Mark notes: 'Quite a few people were on the train and it looked like they were enjoying an at-seat meal. I wonder if this is the first time a meal has been served like this on a Desiro?'
The 6K41 (runs when required) afternoon flask train from Valley is notable for its variety of motive power, and also the effort our contributors make to achieve variety in their pictures. Peter Basterfield took this one on 17 December from just below the scree slopes above Llanfairfechan: the locos are 37 609 and 37 612. The impact on the village by the construction of the A55 Expressway is clear to see.
The same working on 17 December passing through Mochdre between Colwyn Bay and Llandudno Junction (Jack Bowley).
20 December: 37 261 and 57 003 on the 6K41 Valley to Crewe flasks at Caergeiliog, approaching RAF Valley (Peter Basterfield).
Bangor (Alan Crawshaw).
Llandudno Junction (Jack Bowley).
Running 95 minutes early at Saltney Ferry (Tim Rogers). The Class 175 in the background is the 13:50 Manchester - Llandudno.
20 years ago: the final Class 101
A press release from the Wensleydale Railway reminds us that the last class 101 passenger train on the National Rail network ran 10 years ago (really!) on 24 December 2003. It left platform 3 at Manchester Piccadilly station as 2H56, the 20.28 to Rose Hill. Departure was preceded by a 10 second countdown from the assembled admirers. The stock was the green set 101 685 (53164 Daisy and 53160 ) and Regional Railways set 101 678 (53746 + 51210). The return left Rose Hill at 21.10 with 51210 leading. It was carrying a makeshift headboard and the arrival at Piccadilly was greeted with a salvo of detonators. The last passenger train was therefore led by 101 678, which is now active on the Wensleydale line, with a centre coach from a Class 117 unit added.
On 21 December 2003 First North Western operated a 'Class 101 Farewell special' with three units including 101 685 Daisy (seen above at Manchester Piccadilly) which gave a comprehensive your of the railways of north west England. 101 685 had originally been repainted in historic green in the early 1990s for use on the Conwy Valley branch, and 101s were also used on the Holyhead - Blaenau Ffestiniog - Llandudno locals which at that time formed part of the same diagrams. The farewell tour could not visit North Wales, as 101s had left the area some time earlier, and by this time the North Wales network had become part of Arriva Trains Wales which came into being on 7 December 2003 and is also celebrating 10 years.
You're in my seat!
It's Christmas, time of peace and goodwill to all men, so we feel bound to report a court case which recently appeared in the press, involving an Arriva Trains Wales train to Llandudno on departure from Manchester Piccadilly, back in Febuary 2013.
A man, reportedly a Priest, boarded the train at Manchester Piccadilly only to find that the seat he had reserved online was at a table already taken by a group of four people. 'An unholy row broke out' and the clerical gentleman was was alleged to have punched one of the occupiers.
It was stated at Manchester Magistrates Court that there were no reservation cards on the back of any seats, but the Priest decided to help the occupiers to move by moving one of their bags, which led to an altercation and an accusation of 'common assault' made against the Priest. However the Chairman of the Bench said the accused's evidence was 'consistent and believable'. He said: 'We believe, taking into consideration the defendant's good character, that you did cause injury to the complainant, but it was self defence to keep him at bay and the force you used was reasonable.'
Unfortunately, problems if this kind, thankfully rarely violent, are not uncommon. We have noticed on a number of occasions that our reservation labels have been missing from the trains on this service. When a train arrives from Llandudno, it waits a few minutes in Platform 13 before moving off into Mayfield loop outside the station where it waits, with driver and conductor aboard, to return to Platform 14 and on to Llandudno about 50 minutes later. As we understand it, during the stop at the station, someone is meant to hand the reservation tickets to the train's conductor so that they can be placed on the seats during the layover. Arriva surely does not have any station staff at Manchester, so whose responsibility is it?
As a general rule, what should I do if my seat is taken and the person won't move? Sit somewhere else only to find that is also reserved by someone else, ad infintum?
The daily hippo
Although not always pictured on this page, the Alstom Class 175 'Coradia' units, along with the older British-built 158s, provide the bread-and-butter services on the North Wales Coast. Above, 175 106 calls at Shotton with the 07:50 Manchester - Llandudno. Well we ever see a version in model form? If (when?) they receive the new Arriva colours there will be at least five possible livery options: FirstGroup, First Group without branding, Arriva, Arriva 'ghost' (remember that?) and new Arriva.
Meanwhile, we have discovered in our archives the 'cut-out' card model kit of a fantasy single-car 175 that First North Western issued. You can download the PDF version and print it any size. Perhaps some artistic reader could create an Arriva version as a break from the turkey and christmas pudding? Merry Christmas to all!
North Wales Coast home page | Archive | Previous Notice Board