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17 March 2014
A diesel 'scene from the past' - Conwy station in Summer 1987, soon after opening of the new station on the site of the original which had closed in 1966. The 'Sprinter' passing through is also very new: 150 248, built at York, entered service not long before. When first delivered to British Rail's Provincial Sector, the corridor-connection-fitted 150/2 units were used to replace loco-hauled trains on TransPennine expresses - including those which at that time continued to North Wales - a duty for which their short length and cramped 3+2 seating made them quite unsuitable. This particular unit, rebuilt with better seating layout. now works regional services for First Great Western. Picture by Christian van der Veen.
Rugby Day, Saturday 15 March
The Wales v. Scotland 'Six Nations' rugby match between Wales and Cardiff on 15 March prompted a Saturday outing for Arriva Trains Wales's 'Premier Express' train, working an 08:07 extra from Holyhead to Cardiff, calling only at Bangor, Llandudno Junction and Rhyl on the way to Chester, the ran via Crewe calling at various stations to Cardiff. Peter Lloyd photographed the train at Llandudno Junction arriving four minutes late at 08:54 with 67 001 leading. To the left is 175 007, working the 06:50 Manchester Piccadilly to Llandudno, waiting for a path across the junction and in the distance 175 103 arrives in platform 1 as the 08:45 Llandudno - Manchester.
Extra trains from Holyhead can be tricky to schedule, due to the sparse signalling arrangements. An eastbound train cannot leave Valley until the previous one has passed Gaerwen, a journey of 12 minutes. Seen leaving Rhyl on time at 08:58 (above) 221 143 Auguste Picard has departed Holyhead for London at 07:55, just 12 minutes before the rugby special (Roly High).
Now just three minutes late, the special arrived Rhyl at 09:10 and departed at 09:11.
As the train with Driving Van Trailer 82307 on the rear passed Rhyl's starter signal and Roly High's camera, the sound of a 'wheel flat' could be heard. We understand that under certain conditions the brakes on one or more axles on a DVT can lock, with no way that the driver in the loco can tell that it is happening.
175 112 departs Rhyl on time at 09:42 with the regular 08:22 Holyhead - Cardiff train which makes more station calls.
The special passed Shotton on time (Bob Greenhalgh). But at Chester, where it arrived, apparently on time, strange things happened. Apparently two schedules had been set up, both departing Holyhead 08:07. One (train 1V54) would travel more slowly than normal and arrive and arrive at Cardiff at 13:37 in time for a 14:30 kick-off at the Millennium stadium; the alternative (1V74) would run at a normal speed and arrive Cardiff at 12:30. What actually happened that it travelled to Chester on the faster timings, only to be held at Chester for 25 minutes, and for shorter times at Crewe and Shrewsbury, in order to arrive Cardiff at 13:40.
The return working left Cardiff at 18:21, and ran via Wrexham, requiring a reversal at Chester, with the result that (presumably) the train returned to Holyhead (arrival at 23:36) having been turned round, with the locomotive now at the Holyhead end, so Monday morning's express left with the DVT leading.
News from the Vale of Rheidol - press release
February & March Boom: February and March have proved to be a boom time for the Vale of Rheidol Railway. 2013 was the first year trains have run before Easter since the GWR trimmed the operating season back in the 1930s – this year we have continued to build on 2013's success. Trains running throughout both Welsh and English Half-Term weeks and on weekends in March were noticeably well filled, even more so once Carriage No.5 was released from the Winter Set of carriages for refurbishment. This innovative winter set of carriages includes under-seat electric heaters to enhance the passenger experience. Power to the carriages is provided by a generator, installed in a four wheel van, marshalled near the end of the train.
Revenue was maximised with increased numbers of passengers taking the opportunity to travel in First Class and make the most of the panoramic views afforded from the Observation Carriages. These views have been enhanced over the winter by targeted tree felling, opening up old views of the Vale of Rheidol which have been lost to rampant pine tree growth in recent years. The enlarged shop at Aberystwyth is performing better than ever before, sales at least doubling those for the same period in 2013 and matching those expected over Easter. The shop stocks both hot and cold drinks, and will hopefully start stocking sandwiches from local sandwich maker, Spartacus, from April. Aberystwyth wasn't the only station to perform well, the recently restored stations at Capel Bangor and Nantyronen experiencing unanticipated levels of passenger traffic.
Booking Office staff counted several visitors who came to Aberystwyth Station to see the three Network Rail Class 97s (formerly 37s) stabled in the Network Rail loop. Above: No.9 Prince of Wales, officially a Class 98, numbered 98 009 under the BR TOPS numbering system. blows down at Aberystwyth after a busy day in March in the company of Network rail locos. 97 301 and 97 303.
New Workshop: Aberystwyth's New Workshop and associated trackwork is edging ever-closer to commissioning later this year. After completion of the New Workshop Yard trackwork locomotives No.10 & No.8 Llewellyn (see top picture) were moved to the Yard for gauging tests before No.8 was used as the test load for the new crane. The new overhead crane was supplied by AB Cranes of Sheffield. AB Cranes have built up a reputation for first class supply and installation of cranes and their work for the Vale of Rheidol was no exception. The New Workshop's latest visitor is Vale of Rheidol's diminutive Kerr Stuart Wren Class, No.3114, which has been turned using the crane. The line has also taken delivery of a hardwood smoke vent, manufactured by Dixon Balston Design. This is to be installed in the east gable end of the New Workshop, whilst the railway awaits delivery of the clock destined to adorn the west end. As the external contractors continue outfitting the shed it has started being used for rolling stock storage.
See the railway's website www.rheidolrailway.co.uk for full information.
Electrification news (1)
This fascinating view was taken by Shaun Stanley on 16 March from a position east of Salford Central station looking towards Manchester Victoria. Notable is that fact that almost all the buildings in clear view have been built in recent years, the only exception being the Grade II listed Cook Street Brewery of 1896, with its square chimney. Once used by Threlfall's and later Chester's, it now acts as offices, part of a 'business park' known as the Deva City Office Park. (Yes, they know that Deva is the Roman name for Chester.)
Installation proceeds of the supports for the overhead 25kV wires being installed as part of the 'Northern Hub' electrification project. The line on the right was part of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway's line and dates from the 1840s when the LMR's passenger trains began to use Manchester Victoria station instead of the original Liverpool Road terminus which became solely a goods depot; later, extra tracks were added. Today the remaining pair are used by stopping trains between Liverpool and Manchester Victoria, although these cannot stop at Salford Central as there have never been any platforms on that line. North Wales services from Manchester and beyond once travelled this way (from Exchange station, until it closed) before it was decided to concentrate them at Piccadilly instead. The 37-hauled 'Irish Mancunian' memorably started from Victoria in the early 1990s.
The two tracks to the left also carry trains to Manchester Victoria, calling at Salford Central station. This is the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway's route to Bolton, Wigan, etc. from Victoria.
Electric trains between Manchester and Scotland are already using part of the Liverpool and Manchester route, running via Manchester Piccadilly and the 'South Junction' line to Ordsall Lane Junction, but it intended that some future electric services to Liverpool will serve Victoria, possibly running through from Stalybridge and beyond and continuing to Oxford Road and Piccadilly via a new 'Ordsall Chord' which will cut across part of the historic Liverpool Road site.
Freight (etc) pictorial
66 618 at Steel Heath (between Whitchurch and Prees) at 16:51 on 9 March with the Sundays-only Tunstead (Derbyshire) to Westbury (Wiltshire) cement working, formed of the JGA wagons specially built in France c.2003 for the new cement plant built that time at Tunstead by Buxton Lime Industries, an old name which was revived for the Quarry section of ICI when it was broken up. That was later was sold to Tarmac which in turn has now been sold to Lafarge... Picture by Stavros Lainas.
Onibury, Shropshire at 16:02 on 11 March, and the northbound 6M86 steel train from South Wales to Dee Marsh Junction. Picture by Stavros Lainas who writes: 'Not only was the weather fine but to my surprise a class 60 - 60 020 - was on it!'
Southbound with empty wagons from Dee Marsh on 27 February, 66 194 passes Gobowen (Martin Evans).
Two solo 86 s through Winsford within minutes of each other on Saturday 1 March, photographed by Steve Morris. Above, recently returned from fire damage repairs 86 638 worked south on 4Z47, the 09:12 Garston to Basford Hall Freightliner ...
... and shortly afterwards, 86 259 Les Ross heading the other way on its usual duty at present, 1Z86 07:09 Euston to Carlisle 'Winter Cumbrian Mountain Express' charter.
On 17 March, 66 007 rolls past Edgeley Junction No.2 signalbox towards Stockport station with empty limestone hoppers from Bescot to Tunstead quarry at 15:18 on 17 March. Picture by Charlie Hulme from a public footpath location which will be obscured by ash trees before long. The line on the right goes to Altrincham, Northwich and Chester.
Mystery station revisited
The 'mystery picture' (above) offered by Alan Hart in the last issue produced several suggestions from readers, including one who persevered with several attempts. Thanks to all. Two people thought it might be Morley Top or some other station on the same line in Yorkshire.
The most convincing offer so far comes from Robert Darlaston who writes: 'I am certain the photo shows a train from Wellington to Stafford arriving at Hadley station, the first station out of Wellington. I attach a photo (above) of Hadley station taken on 9 November 1962 looking
towards Stafford. The photo was taken from the rear of a train heading for Wellington behind 2-6-4T 42183. Notice the attractive bargeboards of the station building. The service between Stafford and Wellington was withdrawn and Hadley station closed on 7 September 1964.'
Could the original picture, processes in October 1964, have been taken in the last week, or maybe the last day or even the last train? The Eastern Region coaches are a puzzle, but the known fact that the loco was allocated at Stafford for part of 1964 makes sense.
Robert also sends some other pictures: 'My photo was taken in the course of a round trip which included Wellington - Market Drayton - Crewe, then on the main line to Stafford for the trip back
to Wellington via Newport (Salop). The continuous rain ruined the chance of worthwhile photographs, but I attach three more from the same day. Above, 41232 at Crewe with the 10.8 from Wellington via Market Drayton. 41232 spent the early 1950s at Llandudno Junction before
having spells at the former GC shed at Wrexham and the CLC depot at Chester. It was at Wellington 1960-64 and ended its days back at Llandudno Junction being withdrawn in 1965.'
42183 at Stafford on 9th November 1962 with the 12.57 pm to Shrewsbury; Stafford station was then being rebuilt. The area to the right of the photograph is now occupied by the disused former Royal Mail platform. 42183 was a much-travelled loco during 1962: in the course of the year it
was allocated successively to Speke, Northampton, Willesden and Crewe North before moving to Rugby in January 1963! It was eventually withdrawn from Bolton in 1966.
D1010 Western Campaigner at Wellington on 9 November 1962 with the 7.40 Birkenhead to Paddington. Westerns had taken over in September 1962 and the loco would be working through from Chester to Paddington, although some London trains were still steam-hauled north of Wolverhampton. D1010 was then allocated to Old Oak Common but spent most of its life at Laira
(Plymouth) before withdrawal in 1977. In the photo D1010 seems to have a good head of steam from its train heating boiler - just as well in view of the leaks apparent from the train.
Electrification news (2) - report by George Jones
A trip to Liverpool on a foggy Thursday 13 March included a trip out to the Huyton area to check progress on the North West rail improvement work. Evidence of the overhead gantry erection work east from Edge Hill is obvious as the train enters the Olive Mount cutting through to Broad Green. Beyond Broad Green, contractors are recovering the track bed on the north side for the quadrupling of the line. Ballast is being spread and sleepers are in position with some rail. At Roby (above) the work was sufficient to encourage alighting from the train.
Here the platforms are being heightened and lengthened on the existing lines and new platforms are being built for the new track.
It is clear that the nearby road bridge (Bridge Road) has been raised for overhead clearance reasons.
Taking the next train on to Huyton (above), further platform building work is under way here but the situation is more complex due to the need to take out the pedestrian subway access.
This had been "modernised" when the track was reduced to two lines and accessing the former railway land to rebuild the railway has required a Transport & Works Order.
Again the existing platforms are being modernised and there is a complicated subway access route whilst things are being sorted out.
Regrettably the foggy conditions reduced the photo detail, and a return on a sunny day is needed when the overbridge at Roby will provide a better vantage point of the track work.
Given the December 2014 opening date progress should be rapid this spring and summer Both Roby and Huyton are historic railway locations being listed as "stopping" places on the 1830 Liverpool & Manchester Railway. However the existing station buildings date from the original quadrupling of the lines back in 1871. Of course, there are those who remember these locations when it was four-track ... however, the evidence on the day of the train services, suggests they all more frequent than in my youth, albeit most trains are two-coach units, both all-stations and express.
All this was achieved on a Merseyrail 'all areas saver' ticket from Chester - £4.90 - which later included a trip to New Brighton, the bus to Seacombe and a one way trip on the ferry back to Liverpool, which is very good value.
Past Times with Dennis Kerrison - Rhyl Shed (6K) - Part 1
Captions by John Hobbs
Dennis Kerrison was brought up in Prestatyn, he worked in the banking industry although he lived in the Wirral for a time; now he is back in Prestatyn enjoying a long retirement; here is a selection of his photographs; which features Rhyl Shed in all its glory. Above, Ivatt Class 2 2-6-0 46423 rests at Rhyl shed in the late 50s; in the background a BR Standard Class 4 2-6-4T 80050 keeps company; most of these these 2-6-4Ts allocated to Chester were transferred in the late 50s to the Scottish Region. 80040, 47-53,86,91/2 were allocated to Chester 6A in 1959 before transferred away.
2P 4-4-0 40589 rests "In store" at Rhyl. It was still allocated to Rhyl in April 1959, although obviously not in traffic at this time, note the sheeted-over chimney to prevent some condensation in the boiler. This is about 1957/58. Rhyl No. 2 Signalbox can be glimpsed in the background while another BR Standard 2-6-4T lurks behind the spare fire irons which lie in the foreground; all this now forms a car park. The loco remained in capital stock until November 1959.
Former L&Y 0-6-0 52356 at Rhyl between turns of duty; was withdrawn in 1958, being built in 1897, so 63 years of service; this loco has a round topped firebox boiler and would no doubt have worked to Dyserth, Foryd and Corwen; some passenger trains were worked to Denbigh by this class as well but that service was withdrawn in 1956. A weather sheet is wrapped around the cab roof; this is from circa 1958.
Taken in the same period, another former L&Y loco, 52162, this time with a Belpaire firebox. This locomotive went on to be a Crewe Works shunter but at this time was undertaking the same sort of duties as 52356 above. The loco has been been nicely cleaned and was built in 1892 and withdrawn in April 1962.
Circa 1958, a Midland Railway version of an 0-6-0 58287, also a Rhyl engine; behind can be seen a glimpse of 58293 the other Rhyl allocated example of this Class. I can remember seeing the pair working light engine to Rhyl on re-allocation (both 'cops' of course!) passing through Prestatyn on the down slow line. Both had gone by 1961.
An engine first erected in 1903 and much rebuilt to the Standard G2 format, generally known as the 'Super D' type. They were not the easiest locomotives do drive and fire, stopping one when light- engine being a major problem; they had to be put into reverse gear in these circumstances. Here we see a nicely turned out example on 30 July 1960; interestingly it also has an electrification warning 'flash' attached. I wonder if it could have into worked to Rhyl on a passenger train as this was a peak time of the year for excursion traffic.
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