NORTH WALES COAST RAILWAY:NOTICE
|Home | Notice Board | Travel
Info | Calendar | History
| Route Guide | The
Trains | For Railfans | Links | Contact
20 January 2014
The view from Holyhead Mountain on 29 December, with the Arriva 'Premier Service' train in view. Picture by M.Lloyd Davies.
Flask train 17 January
The flask train from Valley to Crewe ran twice in the week beginning 13 January. The picture above by Bob Greenhalgh shows Tuesday 14 January's eastbound train passing Beeches Farm hauled by 37 601 and 57 003.
Above, on Thursday 16 January, 37 423 Spirit of the Lakes and former Virgin trains loco 57 311 Thunderbird have reversed their load of one wagon out of the loading siding and are about to head east. Picture by Richard Fleckney.
Passing Beeches Farm with a few miles to go to Chester (Bob Greenhalgh).
Trains in Barmouth High Street
The two Class 158 units which had been stranded at Barmouth station after the recent storm and flood damage to the Cambrian Coast line have been removed on road vehicles operated by the Allely's company. 158 837 was carried through Barmouth town centre on 14 January, and 158 831 on 17 January. The moves through were photographed and filmed by a number of locals, including John Lewis who has published his videos on YouTube. Well worth watching. The two units were, we understand, taken to Chester and then travelled by rail to Cardiff Canton depot.
When will the damage to the line be repaired? The news is mixed, it would seem from a report on the BBC website of 20 January:
The Cambrian Coast railway line may not fully reopen for another four months as repairs after tidal storms continue, Network Rail says. It is closed between Dovey Junction and Pwllheli in Gwynedd due to flood damage at Tywyn, Barmouth and Criccieth. Engineers used a helicopter to conduct an aerial survey showing the line north from Barmouth to Pwllheli suffered the "most devastating damage". The line south from Barmouth to Tywyn [and presumably Dovey Junction] could be reopened by 10 February.Re-opening to Barmouth will at least avoid the long road diversion via Dolgellau and allow the school at Tywyn to be served. One of our correspondents wonders 'what GWR / BR would have done.' Who knows, but certainly what the Swiss Railways would have done would be to call in the Army engineers for help. Repairs at Llanaber will be hampered by the limited access to the line there by road vehicles; the nearest possible access point is the level crossing at the end of Barmouth promenade.
A recent post on the 'Love Tywyn' Facebook site includes some fascinating old pictures of Tywyn's sea defences being reinforced in 1979 using one of British Rail's steam breakdown cranes and large rocks carried in 'Grampus' wagons.
On the Anglesey Central Railway - report by Alan Crawshaw
On 16 January I walked from Llangefni to Llyn Cefni while the car was being fettled. Opposite the old station is a pub called 'The Railway' with the customary oddly-proportioned steam locomotive on the inn sigh, though it least it's in LMS crimson (see left column). I followed the path to a point where it was flooded, taking the next photo from the path, and seeing the chap ahead of me climb up to continue along the line, I followed suit, this was the only way I'd reach the reservoir and gave me a better opportunity to view the condition of the track.
A BBC report from April 2012 describes work to clear the track, and it's apparent that a lot of effort has gone into clearing it to the west of Llangefni but grass becomes more evident after a while.
I was surprised to see a trespass warning sign, surely this is no longer in force.
Approaching the reservoir, the track became very overgrown ...
... but still with evidence that some clearance work had been undertaken.
Editor's note: The Lein Amlwch Supporters Group does not have a high profile on the web, but a Blog, last updated in 2012, has details of how to become a member of the line's supporters' group. Anyone who can update us on the group's activities, is invited to get in touch.
Dangerous 'mishap' near Hadnall
175 113, forming the 22:36 Manchester Piccadilly - Shrewsbury of 16 January, had left Manchester a few minutes late and was still a few minutes 'down' when it departed from Wem at 23:49, with (it is reported) just one passenger still on board. However, before reaching its final destination it ran into a track workers' trolley, whose operatives had run clear when they saw the train approaching.
A Police spokesman wrote: 'British Transport Police were called on Friday following a report that a rail trolley had been struck by a train near Station Road in Hadnall, Shrewsbury. BTP officers attended the incident, which was reported at 12.25am, alongside colleagues from West Mercia Police and West Midlands Ambulance service. The train ... is understood to have struck the rail trolley which contained engineering equipment that was being used by rail staff working on the tracks in the location. One passenger was on board at the time and there are no reports of any injuries to them or the driver of the service, who was treated for shock. Three men, who were working on the tracks at the time, managed to move out of the way and were uninjured but have been left extremely shaken. The train remained upright but has been badly damaged by the trolley, which was lodged underneath it. Officers will now be working to establish the circumstances surrounding the collision.'
The person in charge of entering 'delay attributions' to the railway's information systems chose to use code 'IY' which is officially described as 'Mishap - Network Rail causes' which seems to be something of an understatement of a potentially fatal event. How the 'mishap' was allowed to occur we cannot say: clearly there was a big misunderstanding at some point; the Rail Accident Investigation Board has been informed, but has not made any public statement at the time of writing. Last year the intermediate signalboxes on the Crewe - Shrewsbury line were closed and control of the signalling transferred to Cardiff signalling centre. It will be interesting to see whether this change turns out to have had any bearing on the incident.
To the ELR steam gala (1) with Alan Crawshaw
The Arriva Trains Wales website for the 'Club 55' offer for over-55s gives this advice : 'The least expensive and most convenient way to purchase your Arriva Club 55 ticket is by using this website!' [Note the exclamation mark!] I followed their recommendation, and the first eastbound train from Bangor on Saturday was shown as the 10:02, an indication that the after 09:00 Mon-Fri restriction is wrongly programmed for Saturday also. The route given included Crewe to Manchester, and checking the route map confirms that this is now valid. Ignoring the "not before nine", I then tried unsuccessfully to add a normal ticket for Rowan to the basket. On Saturday morning 18 January, the booking clerk at Bangor station effected the transaction in seconds, and the Club 55 ticket was the same price as offered by the website. Above, Ian Riley's Bury-based 'Black 5' 45407.
January steam galas are my favourite, helping to dispel the winter blues and the East Lancashire Railway's event of 17-18 Januarydidn't disappoint. It was very well attended, the crowds and the gloomy weather making photography a challenge but not detracting from the enjoyment of riding behind steam and savouring the atmosphere at Bury Bolton Street station. Ex-LNER B1 Class loco 61264 (above) is visiting from the North Yorkshire Moors line.
76084 (above), visiting from the North Norfolk Railway for January and February, was built at Horwich Works and in British Railways days saw service in the North West of England. This is not the first time a locomotive numbered 76084 will have run on the ELR, as former resident loco 76079 (since sold to the North Yorkshire Moors line) paraded as '84 on at least two occasions, but it is the first for the real 76084.
The mix of locomotives suited the line, all being classes that stalked The North and of a scale befitting this line, with no massive pacifics. Tank loco 80080 belongs to the Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust and is on long-term hire to the ELR.
East Lancs by Night - pictures by Peter Basterfield
Four pictures from the 'Night Shoot' stage by the East Lancashire Railway on the evening of 17 January in conjunction with Bury-resident photo charter operators, 3P20 Parcels Group. Above, 'Super D' 0-8-0 49395 poses with 2-6-0 76084.
Later, 61264 replaced the 0-8-0 as promised.
61264 in colour, captured at 20:49.
The next evening, 18 January, and 80080 is seen at Bury Bolton Street station.
The MCRUA 'Robbie Burns Express' 3 May 2014 - press release
The Mid-Cheshire Rail Users' Association is delighted to give early notice of their Spring 2014 special train, The 'Robbie Burns Express' to Dumfries, Kilmarnock and Ayr. This year, we’re travelling over the Glasgow & South Western line to Dumfries, and up scenic Nithsdale to Kilmarnock, and then to Ayr - a line we have not previously covered and with destinations new to us.
Having headed up the West Coast Main Line, after Carlisle and crossing the Solway Firth we turn west at Gretna Junction and skirt the Solway coast to Dumfries. We then head up Nithsdale to Kilmarnock, then turning left and heading down to the seaside at Ayr with its stunning views over to Ailsa Craig and home to the Burns National Heritage Park and Museum. There is also a Burns Centre and house in Dumfries and the Burns Monument Centre in Kilmarnock.
Following our very successful train last September, we are again running this excursion in association with Compass Tours who will be administering the bookings and whose terms and conditions will apply. Visit Compass Tours website to Book online, for further information, or to download a Booking Form if you wish to book by post and pay by cheque.
ELR steam gala (3) - report by Stephen Hughes
Under some rather typical north-western gray skies (the sun appeared for about 3 minutes in the late afternoon) the five black locomotives actually fitted in very well and provided excellent entertainment for what I thought was a well-attended day, for many enthusiasts I would imagine it was the first outing of the year. I travelled to Manchester from Bangor using a Club 55 ticket, nothing unusual in that, I suppose, except that the journey there and back was entirely on Virgin It does seem slightly incongruous that a promotion offered by one Train Company can be used entirely on another. Above, 80080 has just taken on water and runs round the train at Heywood.
76084 with a train to Rawtenstall waits at Ramsbottom as 61264 glides past with a Heywood train.
49395 bursts under the road bridge at Bury after a signal stop prior to entering the station.
A frontal view of 45407 and 80080, as seen from an approaching train hauled by 61264 as it headed for Platform 4 at Bury.
The ELR runs trains every weekend, and there is another steam weekend at the ELR on 22-23 February
Into A New Year at Llangollen - report by George Jones
Another grand occasion occurred for Llangollen Railway volunteers on 2 January 2014 when a ballast train ran from Carrog to Bonwm. For the first time since the scrap man’s train came through in 1968/69, a diesel locomotive and train paused at the site of the former Bonwm Halt. Later it proceeded west of under pass bridge 28 to drop stone on the newly laid track. Volunteers celebrated with a group photograph in front of the class 26 locomotive D5310 at the end of its run.
Bridge 28A Repairs Completed
The contractors finished repairs to the brick arch and abutments of the overbridge in early January and the scaffolding was dismantled on 5 January, although some final pointing of the lower layers remains to be done.
This opens up the way west for the final half mile of track into the Corwen station site and will involve the laying of 46 panels of rail. Tracklaying depends on the provision of further supplies of concrete sleepers and fittings, as well as base ballast, and sources for these are being investigated for early delivery. Good support has been received for the Sleeper Appeal organised by volunteer Mr Paul Bailey and the Appeal remains open for further contributions towards the £20,000 target.
Pending further track laying the volunteers are hard at work clearing the over grown vegetation on the sides of the cutting beyond Bridge 28A and on the final approach into the station site. Bridge 29 has been rebuilt to provide pedestrian access to the riverside nature reserve.
Dwyrain Corwen East station site
The access on site of the contractors for the Corwen Flood Alleviation Scheme to provide an outflow into the River Dee neared completion in early January. Restatement of the level at the location of the former bridge 30, where outflow pipes were installed, is now complete and has allowed renewal of vehicle access from the Corwen end on to the trackbed.
The picture above from 15 January shows how the Railway’s contractors marked out the locations of the footings for the bases of the five coach length platform. Excavations on the embankment quickly began and, with concrete being poured, completion is due in the week ending 24 January.
Completion of this section is dependent on the provision of materials and the continuing spell of mild weather. Based on past performance, half a mile of track can be laid by the volunteer work force in approximately twelve work days, equating to six weeks, once the base ballast is laid and sleepers are distributed along the length.
The application of resources, both manpower and financial, are the key elements to the completion of this project. If you wish to help, your donation for the Corwen Sleepers Appeal can be made by cheque, payable Llangollen Railway Trust Ltd, and addressed to: Mr P Bailey. Dolwen, Bryneglwys, Corwen, Denbs, LL21 9LY. Gift-aiding your donation will add to the financial benefit obtained.
Holyhead movements - pictures by M.Lloyd Davies
67 002 is seen here at Holyhead on 29 December preparing to shunt for the removal of two
coaches from the set which was used for Christmas and New Year reliefs.
The busy Sunday morning scene at the carriage sidings.
67 002 during shunting.
A close up view of the shunt.
Drop off two coaches in the siding...
... draw forward again...
... and set back on to the restaurant car and driving trailer leaving the train reformed with a shorter rake of coaches.
On 31 December, 67 002 stands at Platform 3 about to work the lunchtime relief to Crewe.
The same train seen passing RAF Valley.
67 029 Royal Diamond stands at Holyhead on 7 January, having been sent to recover the two coaches damaged by contact with debris blown on to the track on 27 December. Picture by M.Lloyd Davies.
Past Times with John Hobbs - Frayed Great Western grandeur at Shrewsbury
By the spring of 1965, ex GWR locomotives were getting harder to find and their condition had deteriorated with the transfer of the Western Region depots to the London Midland Region, the name and number plates were removed in some odd management manoeuvre which classed these items as unnecessary adornments.
The locomotives consequently looked emasculated, compared with the many LMS Class 5's and 8F's, which they worked along side for 18 months or so, before the GWR type locomotives were all withdrawn from service at the end of 1965 (some ex GWR freight engines continued in traffic until November 1966). The numbers were stencilled on them in a quite amateur way and represented the very nadir of steam operation in the UK ( in my opinion). The daily grind of working on such machines must have had a demoralising effect, on footplate crews who could well remember the beautiful condition which many former GWR had been maintained in earlier times.
Above, ex-GWR Modified Hall 4-6-0 6976 (formerly Graythwaite Hall) which had earlier worked a parcels to Chester (General) climbs up the bank from Coton Hill, to Shrewsbury Station, with the 11.10am Saltney (Green Lane) to Banbury freight, on 3 April 1965.
Above, and below: A similarly shorn Ex GWR Grange Class 4-6-0 6819 (formerly Highnam Grange) heads a "down" freight for Saltney (Green Lane), probably from Bordesley or Oxley, out of Shrewsbury on the same date.
Once these ex GWR engines found themselves on the London Midland Region, their use must have become an increasing anachronism; their brakes operated at a higher vacuum - 25 inches of mercury - than the 21 inches of former LMS locomotives and the change from ex-GWR to LMS type of brake would create the need to "pull the strings" to release the vacuum on a whole rake of vacuum fitted wagons or coaches at stations or marshalling yards. Failure to do this would result in dragging brakes on the coaches or wagons. This explains why yards such as Saltney (Green Lane) and or various yards at Shrewsbury existed to change over the braking systems on trains. In a similar way it would have been necessary to reset the vacuum chambers at Chester or Shrewsbury or even Crewe on passenger trains; at the time even Western Region diesels' locomotive brakes operated at this higher elevated vacuum. This was altered about 1970 to be consistent across the country; of course air brakes now rule supreme but these problems still occur on our preserved railways where GWR and LMS locomotives are in use together.
Another look at Nigel Emery's mystery picture from last issue showing 47 349 on a Freightliner. Nigel asked if the date of closure of the signalbox might help date the picture.
Our thanks to Alan Roberts who has kindly sent some historical notes. The box was opened by the LNWR in June 1907. It ceased to be a signalbox as from 9 December 1973 but was retained thereafter (all levers and equipment removed!) for the crossing keeper manning the crossing between 07:30 and 16:30 (times booked in 1975). Permission had to be granted via the signalman at Holywell Junction to allow the crossing to be used and then advise the signalman again when the gates were closed and the crossing clear. During the time the crossing was in use the signalman at Holywell Junction would not allow any up trains towards the crossing nor accept another train from the next box at Rockcliffe Hall (or Flint, when the box was open) over the down line.
The former signalbox at Bagillt was demolished in September 1985 and alternative accommodation for the crossing keeper provided in a portacabin on the down side. Indicators were fitted in the cabin in January 1994 repeating the block instruments between Holywell Junction and Rockcliffe Hall and advising the crossing keeper the state of the line of any trains. The crossing had less usage during the 1990's and as from 10 May 1999 the crossing keeper post was dispensed with and the crossing became a UWG (User Worked Gates) crossing with telephone communication with the signalman at Holywell Junction.
So, it appears that the box would still have been outwardly intact until after Freightliner workings ceased in 1991. There are no signals in view so it must be after 1973. Can anyone date the picture by any other means and identify the train? The loco was renumbered to 47 349 in 1973, and allocated to Crewe depot from then until 1990, and kept the same livery all that time, although possibly minor changes e,g, headcode panel removal might be clues?
North Wales Coast home page | Archive | Previous Notice Board