NORTH WALES COAST RAILWAY:NOTICE
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31 December 2013
Ex-Great Western Railway 2-8-0 at Berwyn on Llangollen Railway on 'Mince Pie Special' duty on 28 December, pictured by Peter Dickinson. You can ride behind this locomotive, and others, at the Winter Warmer gala on 4 and 5 January. More details below.
67 002 runs into Trouble
The plan to make three runs from Holyhead to Crewe and back on 27 December with the Class 67 loco and coaches which normally operate the Holyhead - Cardiff service, to cope with the post-Christmas traffic to and from Ireland, unfortunately ran into problems.
This was, of course, the first day of service after the two-day Christmas closedown, during which it was reported that the raised level crossing barriers at Valley and Llanfair PG had suffered some wind damage. The first outing of the train ran well enough in the stormy weather, but the next one, 1K02, the 12:16 from Holyhead to Crewe hauled by 67 002, ran over some debris lying between the rails in the Valley area, damaging the air brake lines under two coaches, and locking a pair of wheels on one of them.
The train continued slowly to Bangor, and then Llandudno Junction where it was cancelled and the loco and coaches put in the Tamper Siding, as Jack Bowley's pictures here show. At 17:37, the train headed back empty to Holyhead. The two damaged coaches are, we understand, to be 'top-and-tailed' to Cardiff for attention on 2 January.
It was also intended (although passengers and enthusiasts did not find out very long in advance) to run the Holyhead - Crewe trains on Monday 30 and Tuesday 31 December, and indeed most of these trains did run, with a railcar set working the 'Premier Service' for the two days.
Llangollen: Golden Fishplate and Winter Warmer
In order to acquaint Corwen community representatives with the progress made on the extension we had a little ceremony at Bonwm on 27 December. County Councillor Huw Jones was invited to tighten up the fishplate between the two lengths of track and for the occasion a golden plate was produced 'at vast expense'.
Anyone going looking for the golden plate will be disappointed as it was recovered for re-use when the buffer stop is fixed to the final panel at Corwen. Volunteer effort which has seen over a thousands yards of track laid eastwards from the restored overbridge, near Plas Derwen, towards the existing railhead at Bonwm. A volunteer work force has achieved this milestone working on a two-day a week basis throughout the autumn to assemble panels of track on a prepared trackbed base. With work on bridge 28A about to be completed and the scaffolding removed, the 'way west' should become available in January.
Those wanting to view the track progress are reminded of the opportunity to take a walk on 1 January 2014 starting from Carrog at 11.45am - depending on the weather of course. Right now the forecast for New Years day in LL21 is light showers which would be acceptable - but strong gales would be best avoided.
The Railway presents a 'Winter Warmer Gala' on Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 January. featuring an intensive timetable of home-fleet locomotives are being brought together for this new exiting wonderful Winter event. A cocktail of double heading, top-and-tailing, demonstration freights with plenty more in the mix. Locomotives in service will be he locos are 80072, 44806, 3802, the class 26 diesel and a diesel multiple unit. The 'Black Five' 44806 (pictured above by Martin Evans on a Santa Special on 24 December) making its last appearance before re-locating to another railway, will be pulling the Thompson buffet with the bar open all weekend. There will be a special beer on offer called the '44806 special' and one called the 'winter warmer'.
Also a special 'New Year Cheer' train is to run on the Saturday evening. For details of timetable, fares and on-line advance bookings, visit the Llangollen Railway website.
In response to our comment that we didn't have of the 12:12 Holyhead - Crewe on 21 December, Colin Partington writes: 'At the risk of you being inundated with photos now, here's one from Ffynnongroyw. I was mildly surprised to find I was the only person there! Following the storm damage, Network Rail haven't yet 'reopened' the footbridge, the temporary blockade being at the top of the steps. That said, someone has reopened it for beach access...' [No, we weren't inundated.- Ed.]
Earlier in the day, 67 002 propels the train towards Holyhead through Llanfair PG (Richard Fleckney). The Pringles store, seen in the background, remains closed following a kitchen fire in October, to the dismay of other local traders who from refreshment sales to the coach parties that came to Pringles. The company say the store will re-open 'as soon as possible in the New Year.'
A scene at Chester on 28 December featuring four trains of different classes. From left, Northern Rail 142 030 and 150 148, and in the background an Arriva 158 and a 175 (Peter Dickinson).
Work in progress on the buffer stops of Platform 1 at Chester, following the recent mishap involving a Virgin Voyager (Peter Dickinson).
Flooding under River Lane bridge outside Asda store in Saltney, as a 175 passes (Richard Fleckney).
Manchester reservations explained
Further to our festive item about a punch-up over non-labelled reservations (last issue) we now have full details of the procedure regarding reservation tickets on Manchester - Llandudno services.
Conductors working trains from Manchester to Llandudno are issued with the seat reservation labels by Arriva Trains Wales station staff at Chester during the stop on the inward service from Llandudno; Manchester Piccadilly staff only provide dispatchers and customer assistance. The conductor then places them on the seats during the layover in Mayfield loop.
However, seat reservations aren't always provided by Chester station staff, so it becomes impossible for conductors to put them out whilst in the Mayfield loop. This can be due to printer problems, computer delays, or other reasons. Would anyone from Chester care to comment (anonymity guaranteed)?
Possibly someone might make an on-line booking after the reservation cards have been printed at Chester. Occasionally the conductor will find a reservation for Manchester Piccadilly to Manchester Oxford Road, perhaps part of someone's longer trip, and naturally will not place it on the seat. Sometimes, there is confrontation over seat reservations and on investigation by the conductor it turns out someone has boarded the wrong coach, the wrong train service entirely, or the right train on the wrong day. Another mistake we have seen is to read the seat numbers from the wrong part of a return ticket.
In situations where no seat reservations are placed on a train, we are assured that passengers should treat the entire train as un-reserved and have no right to lay claim to any seat, whatever the Train Operating Company involved. The conductor is not required ask people to move from seats when reservations are not placed and people who cause an issue with other passengers risk removal from the train by the British Transport Police.
One thing that seems to confuse the issue is that sometimes one can have a 'reservation' ticket with no actual seat numbers, just ***. TransPennine Express, for example, will do this when they think the trains on the chosen day are going to be very busy, which seems odd, because from the passenger's point of view such a day is exactly when one would like some guarantee of a seat when booking in advance.
Past Times with John Hobbs - Jinties everywhere
Above, on 25 March 1964, LMS Class 3F 0-6-0T 47389 shunts in the east bays at Chester (General) with a DMU vehicle which had arrived on the back of a parcels train; this was a common method of moving ex-works DMU vehicles at the time and I can remember seeing several moving around in this fashion. They were dispatched from the carriage works to Chester as this of course had a major DMU depot, at the old Chester (West) steam depot; on the site today is the depot for maintenance of the Class 175 Arriva Trains Wales units.
A rather forlorn 47511 at Bangor on 6 May 1964. The locomotive had just been withdrawn but looks like it was laid aside a while earlier. [These shunting locos were nicknamed 'Jinty' - perhaps only by enthusiasts - for reasons that are not altogether clear.]
"Jinty" 47519 is hard at work preparing to shunt rolling stock at Liverpool (Lime Street) on 25 May 1964. Trains for North Wales would have been the subject of the locomotive's activities; sadly direct trains from Liverpool to North Wales have not operated daily for over 40 years, and on Saturdays for 20 years.
At Holyhead on 28 August 1965, "Jinty" 47266 couples to the rear of a recently arrived train and prepares to draw it back up Holyhead bank, and drop into the carriage sidings. This work had to be undertaken quickly as the platform had to be clear for other services to arrive at this location which was where the Departure Hall (a big shed!) for Irish boat passengers was located. This work once kept a pair of "Jintys" on continuous duty, shunting stock and on occasion 'banking' heavy trains up the 1 in 75 gradient out of the station.
The original Hotel building towers over the station, it was subsequently demolished and replaced by another similar building for office use; today even this replacement is largely out of use. This view is on 28 August 1965.
"Jinty" 47482 survived a trip to Darlington Works for overhaul and returned to Crewe wearing this exotic numbering scheme - the number on the tank side instead of the bunker - which had hitherto been applied to ex-LNER tank locomotives. It made a pleasant change; the locomotive is seen at Crewe South depot in the company of another more plainly-attired, dirty and anonymous "Jinty", on 24 May 1964 during an RCTS shed visit.
Which Crewe station?
Above, a nostalgic view of Crewe station in 2004: 47 828 Severn Valley Railway has arrived with a Holyhead - London train; it will be detached and the train will continue propelled from the rear by a Class 87 electric (see below).
Back in 2008 there was a plan mooted by Network Rail to close the present station at Crewe and create a completely new one a mile and half to the south at Basford, which it was said would improve road-rail interchange and permit faster running of non-stop trains. A spokesman told the press that with an 80mph speed limit on its through lines and potentially conflicting and obstructive movements of South Wales to Manchester services across the North to South routes, the present station, with its restrictive layout and large number of bay platforms, could not meet the needs of 21st century services. Not surprisingly the idea did not find favour with the people of Crewe and was dropped. See also Parliamentary Early Day Motion 709 for 2008-9.
More recently, various improvements have been made to the present station, culminating in work now under way to create a new entrance building with better parking, etc. on the Platform 1 side of the station, on the site of a former Royal Mail building and linked to all platforms an upgraded version of the subway formerly used to move mailbags to and from the mail trains which used the station every night.
This week, we have had messages from readers telling us of a new plan to move the station, in connection with the 'High-Speed 2' line which is to be built. The source for this is a press report on comments made by Michael Jones, Cheshire East Council leader, who says he had held "positive talks" with Network Rail about building the new station 300 metres from the existing one. It would cost between £200m and £600m depending on how many services would come through it.
Mr Jones said the council's plan was to make the existing station a transit station that would link to the new building and Crewe town centre via a monorail system.
As we understand the current plans for HS2, the second phase of that line will have a link to the existing West Coast Main Line in the Basford area, and then dive into a tunnel which will take it beneath the existing station before emerging again and heading North towards Manchester. Trains from London to Crewe and North Wales, formed of 'classic-compatible' stock, would use the link to serve the current station. (Detailed map from the HS2 website). There seems to be a proposal by some Crewe residents that HS2 platforms should be created in the tunnel, but Mr Jones' idea seems to take this further by also creating a completely new ground-level station on a different site. A document from the Cheshire & Warrington Local Transport Body suggests that a report is to be published with more details; until then we can only sit back and wonder where the 300 metres come in. A recent entry on Tim Fenton's Zelo Street blog makes interesting reading.
87 022 Lew Adams The Black Prince is coupled to the train.
Christian van der Veen took this picture in 1991 from the now-removed footbridge at Mostyn, at a time when the box was 'switched out.' Built in 1902, this has a classic example of the 'stirrup' lever frame used only by the London and North Western Railway; the signaller has to lift the 'stirrup' to release the lever before pulling it. The colours of the levers indicate their purpose: red for a signal, black for points, white for a lever not in use. The levers with shortened handles would have worked colour light signals which do not need any force to operate. The signalbox, which is rarely used now that there is no freight traffic into Mostyn Docks, is a a Grade II listed building.
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