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13 January 2014
A different viewpoint - the view from inside Northgate Tunnel in Chester, courtesy of rail worker 'Paddy F'. Notice how a fissure in the rock on the right has been filled in by a diagonal line of brickwork.
After the Storm
The railways of the Welsh coast are slowly returning to normal after the storms. As we write on 13 January, the North Wales Coast route, the Conwy Valley line and Shrewsbury - Aberystwyth are back to normal, but Llanelli - Carmarthen and the Cambrian Coast line are still subject to bus replacements. Ian Wright's pictures from 11 January show work in progress at Milepost 89½ near Tywyn.
The adjacent road is closed to permit the operation. Maybe it will be possible to open Machynlleth to Tywyn before too long.
Further north, 30 of the 'Dragon's teeth' tank-traps from World War II, a familiar landmark at Fairbourne, have been dislodged. The brick-built 'pill-box', which was also part of the wartime defences, has collapsed.
37 402 now and then
37 402 and 57 003 at Valley loading site on Friday 10 January (Nick Gurney).
View from the public footpath as the pair await their load (Nick Gurney). 37 402 has been named (with a BR-style red background on its nameplate) Stephen Middlemore 23.12.1954 - 8.6.2013 by DRS. Mr Middlemore was a Safety and Train Officer with DRS. 57 003, when first converted from a Class 47 for Freightliner, carried the name Freightliner Evolution, but has yet to be named by current owners DRS.
Having left Valley at 12:12 , 166 minutes early, it passed Peter Basterfield's camera position on the footbridge at Penmaenbach at 12:48, 178 minutes early ... and arrived back in Crewe 3 minutes earlier than its booked departure time from Valley.
37 402 ran in the Scottish Highlands when first rebuilt from a Class 37/0 in 1985, and was given the name Oor Wullie after a famous cartoon character. While in Scotland it was repainted from the 'large logo blue' of 1995 to the double-grey with red stripe 'Mainline' livery. The name plates were removed in 1993, and in October of that year the loco was transferred to Regional Railways North West at Crewe depot. From there it initially worked on the Southport and Blackpool 'club trains such as the one seen arriving at Deansgate in 1994 (picture by Charlie Hulme) as well as North Wales services. When photographed it had recently received 'Railfreight triple grey' livery (but without the corresponding branding and symbols) and the Bont y Bermo name which had originally been applied some to Cardiff-allocated 37 427.
John Lewis photographed 37 402, still looking good, at Holyhead after a typical westbound run in 1999. Towards the end of loco haulage in North Wales, EWS transferred it to Cardiff where it worked passenger trains on the Rhymney line until the end of 2004 when it was placed in store.
At some point during its South Wales career, if was given a partial repaint, in an approximation of the style but in somewhat different shades, as in the above picture from our archive. (If you took it, please get in touch.) Note that the nameplate background has been changed from black to red.
DRS bought it in 2011, and after an overhaul at Barrow Hill it was returned to traffic in March 2013.
Gobowen freight - pictures by Martin Evans
For a few days in early January the steel coils from Margam to Dee Marsh were in the hands of the Brush Class 60s. One such working saw 60 066 in its unique Drax Biomass livery pass through Gobowen on train 6V75 Dee Marsh to Margam empties on 9 January.
A few days later, and a 'shed' in charge. DB Schenker's 66 128 powers through Gobowen on 13 January with the Dee Marsh to Margam steel empties in bright winter sunshine. Picture by Martin Evans.
Class 175s in view
Class 175s continue to ply their trade on trains from North Wales to Cardiff and Manchester. Above, 175 110 runs along the sea wall near Mostyn on 31 December. Picture by Tim Rogers.
175 102 calls at Helsby with a Llandudno - Manchester service on 9 January (Paddy F).
Jack Bowley built the re-liveried Class 175 card kit (see last issue).
Past Times with John Hobbs (1) Rare move at Prestatyn
On Saturday 20 June 1964, Ivatt Class 4 2-6-4T 42283 (above) worked the 12:08 Queensferry to Rhyl and is seen here leaving Prestatyn bunker first; this was unusual, as generally tank locomotives were turned before working down the coast.
Shortly afterwards the locomotive re-appeared on the 'Up Fast' line from Rhyl and was signalled from the 'Up Fast' to the 'Up Slow'; this move was very rare and I never saw such a move before or after. This view shows the signal cleared for the manoeuvre to take place.
Generally on the 'Up' lines Rhyl No 2 made switching moves, as the 'Up' Platform at Rhyl was effectively on the 'Up Slow', so stopping trains were turned in there and Rhyl No1 then put them out on Fast or Slow as required; Prestatyn was therefore not usually required to undertake this work. It also appeared that the locomotive was required back in Chester for some reason, so perhaps the locomotive was a replacement for a failure and it was required back at Chester urgently for its normal work, but why it had to go on the Slow is a mystery.
Photo information requested
Nigel Emery sends this picture of 47 349 westbound through Bagillt with a Freightliner train, of which he'd like us to establish the date and, if possible the details of the working. It must be before 1991 when Holyhead Freightliners ceased, and a picture from 1984 shows the signalbox closed and in a vandalised condition (it has since been demolished). There are no signals visible in the picture which suggests it was already closed at the time. Any thoughts are welcome.
The locomotive still exists today, rebuilt as 57 303.
Past Times with John Hobbs (2) Crewe 50 Years Ago
Above, British Railways built "Type A" Bo-Bo E3090 approaches Crewe station with 7H67, a train of loose coupled open wagons from Liverpool. The main line north of Weaver Junction was not yet electrified, so this consist must have come from somewhere like Ditton Junction at least. All on a rather damp 4 January 1964.
North British Locomotive Company-built "Warship" B-B D861 Vigilant comes off its train at Crewe on 4 January 1964 with, I assume, the combined 7.43am from Bristol & 8.45 Cardiff to Manchester and Liverpool, which was in Crewe at 12.15, the only West of England/South Wales train that arrived before darkness descended (who said train services are poor today?) In the background an electric loco lurks with a what looks like a steam heating van, as most trains were still steam heated at this time. Steam locomotives including 71000 Duke of Gloucester at Crewe North shed can be glimpsed through the gloom.
Ex-LNER 4-6-0 61158 runs through Crewe station light-engine, possibly having worked the Mail train from Lincoln via Nottingham, Trent and Derby the previous night and having being used on a filling-in turn before returning to Lincoln with the Mail train that evening; again on 4 January 1964.
Fiasco at Pont Briwet
Latest news from Briwet bridge near Penrhyndeudraeth on the Cambrian Coast, as reported by the Daily Post, is that it has now been decided to close the damaged bridge to road traffic as well as rail. Eryl Crump's picture above shows the state of the roadway.
It was blocked to trains last November, although it had been intended to keep it open until the replacement bridge is built, because the bridge was 'settling'. Now, rotting timbers underneath the deck have led to Gwynedd Council closing the road over the bridge on the grounds of public safety. Last month Network Rail said buses would replace trains on the Harlech - Pwllheli section until 2015 when the new bridge is completed, but now a revised date of May 2014 has been put forward for work to be completed on the new rail bridge and a temporary road bridge to open to traffic. Let's hope so.
A picture from happier times: 11 May 2013, and the 'Cathedrals Explorer Moors and Mountains' eight-day tour makes its way to Porthmadog over Briwet bridge at the required 15 mph with 97 303 and 97 304 in charge. Picture by M.LLoyd Davies.
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