Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

21 April 2014

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Forthcoming events

This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page. For the current list visit our Calendar.

April 2014

Friday 25 April Great Western Society Tony Icke 'Around the regions in the sixties'

Saturday 26 April Excursion Chester Model Railway Club / FR Dee and Mersey: 'Somerset Coast Express' Hooton, Bache, Wrexham, Gobowen and Shrewsbury to Bristol, Weston-super-Mare, Taunton and Minehead.

Monday 28 April RCTS Merseyside, Chester & North Wales ‘South of the Border steam in the 50s and 60s’ by David Kelso, David travels from Kent to present a follow up to his  earlier North of the border presentation, including a period when he was resident in the West Riding of Yorkshire.

May 2014
Friday 2 May (change of date) Mid-Cheshire Rail Users' Association Excursion from Hooton, Chester and stations on the mid-Cheshire line to Dumfries, Kilmarnock and Ayr.

Thursday 8 May Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society 'The Deganwy Dock Story' Eric Smith

Saturday 10 May  Wirral O Gauge group open afternoon: 'We would like to invite model railway people to come along and bring a loco or just watch. We are also looking for new members to join us.' Unit 7, The Odyssey Centre, Corporation Road, Birkenhead, CH41 1HB on 10th May 2014 from 13.00 to 17.00. Admission £2. 2 rail F/s DC & DCC continuous tracks. More details can be obtained from Jenny Elliott on 0151 6530637 or j.elliott37[at]

Tuesday 13 May  8E Railway Association Les Nixon - Railways of Scotland.

Tuesday 13 May (Change of DateNorth Wales Railway Circle A.G.M.  followed by Members Videos, Prints, Slides, and Digital work in the Photo Competition.

Thursday 15 May Locomotive Club of Great Britain  AGM and Members/Visitors Slides & Digital Photos.

Saturday 24 May Steam on the Coast Vintage Trains Seaside Flyer hauled by steam loco 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe from Tyseley, Wolverhampton, Stafford and Crewe to Llandudno for the Llandudno Air Tattoo which is taking place that day.

June 2014

July 2014

Saturday 5 July North Wales Area Group of the N Gauge Society. Welsh N Gauge Model Railway Show. St Mary's and St John's Halls, Rosehill Street, Conwy. What?  -  The largest gathering of N Gauge model railway layouts in Wales Opening times  - 10.00am to 4.00pm Admission £4.00 adults  -  £3.00 concessions - Children under 15 Free when accompanied by a paying adult.

Sunday 27 July Steam on the Coast. Railway Touring Company. 'North Wales Coast Express' Liverpool, Broad Green, Warrington BQ, Frodsham and Chester to Llandudno, Bangor and Holyhead.

Tuesday 29 July Steam on the Coast. Railway Touring Company. Welsh Mountaineer. Preston, Warrington BQ, Frodsham and Chester to Blaenau Ffestiniog.

August 2014

Sunday 3 August  Steam on the Coast. Railway Touring Company. North Wales Coast Express Crewe, Wilmslow, Stockport, Manchester Piccadilly, Altrincham and Chester to Llandudno, Bangor and Holyhead. Diesel-hauled Crewe - Manchester.

Sunday 10 August  Steam on the Coast. Railway Touring Company. North Wales Coast Express Crewe, Wilmslow, Stockport, Manchester Piccadilly, Altrincham and Chester to Llandudno, Bangor and Holyhead. Diesel-hauled Crewe - Manchester.

Sunday 17 August Steam on the Coast. Railway Touring Company. 'North Wales Coast Express' Liverpool, Broad Green, Warrington BQ, Frodsham and Chester to Llandudno, Bangor and Holyhead.

Tuesday 19 August Steam on the Coast. Railway Touring Company. Welsh Mountaineer. Preston, Warrington BQ, Frodsham and Chester to Blaenau Ffestiniog.

September 2014

Tuesday 2 September Steam on the Coast. Railway Touring Company. Welsh Mountaineer. Preston, Warrington BQ, Frodsham and Chester to Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Sunday 7 September  Steam on the Coast. Railway Touring Company. North Wales Coast Express Crewe, Wilmslow, Stockport, Manchester Piccadilly, Altrincham and Chester to Llandudno, Bangor and Holyhead. Diesel-hauled Crewe - Manchester.

Saturday 20 September Steam on the Coast. Steam Dreams: Cathedrals Express. London - Holyhead.

The narrow-gauge Bala Lake Railway, notable for its lake views, is now operating daily over 4½ miles of what was once the Ruabon to Barmouth main line, between Bala and Llanuwchllyn (except certain Mondays and Fridays) until  28 December: see the Timetable Page for details. The picture by Bob Greenhalgh shows Hunslet-built loco Alice in service on a sunny 16 April.

New 68s, and thoughts from Winwick Junction - by John Hobbs

On 16 April (above) 37 609 heads towards the former Winwick Quay area with brand new locos 68 003 Astute, 68 004 Rapid and 68 005 Defiant (already fitted with their Warship nameplates) in tow; quite a contrast in locomotive design over 60 years. Let's hope that 68 003 fares better than its namesake submarine which famously ran aground during sea trials in 2010.

The going-away shot shows the fine lines of these locomotives; the 'rumour factory' says they will soon be working from Holyhead to Cardiff as well as Birmingham to Marylebone. [The first chance to travel behind a 68 may be the Pathfinder Tours 'Caterpillar Cat' excursion from Eastleigh to Crewe and Chester planned for 19 July, named after the Caterpillar company whose diesel engines are fitted in these locos.]

Northern Rail 156 455 passes with the 11:16 Liverpool (Lime Street) to Warrington (Bank Quay) service. These trains are rumoured for early conversion to electric working with class 319s; we will see if they can spare enough of those high-mileage trains to do that; the first two will arrive in the North West un-reburbished,  unlike the 170's that are leaving Trans Pennine Express (TPE) which are being equipped with wi-fi and having an overhaul to meet Chiltern's high standards before they take them on. If somebody wanted to, of course, we could now have electric trains from Manchester (Oxford Road) to Warrington (Bank Quay), a bit unnecessary but we could.

Electric freight with 92 024 JS Bach also passed Winwick Junction with the 06.05 Mossend to Daventry which, although it started very late was nearly on time by the time it reached Warrington. This loco still carries its original British Rail Railfreight livery, with EWS sticker, although now part of the DB Schenker fleet.

66 109 heads North towards Winwick Junction as a buzzard takes flight from one of the pylons; it can be seen gliding away to the left.

Sun, Scenery and 'Syphons'

A colourful train such as the Radio Survey Train, a Class 37, a sunny day, and the North Wales scenery put together make a magnet for photographers.  37 611 leads the along the Chester - Wrexham single line (very soon to be partly doubled) at Rossett on 15 April. 37 612 was on the rear.

(The curious name 'Syphon' used by some railfans for this loco class, particularly in its early days, is explained by an anonymous Internet pundit: 'When the locos were first introduced they were dubbed by some as 'Syphons' in reference to the GWR "Syphon" parcels/milk vans in use at the time, primarily because "EE Type 3" rhymed with "Syphon G".  The name used for the vans was one of many randomly-chosen telegraphic codes used by the Great Western Railway for different types of Wagon. The idea survives today in the names of marine creatures applied to wagons used to carry railway track components etc. End of digression)

At Penyffordd on the Bidston line, with 37 612 now leading as 150 267, working the 12:32 Bidston - Wrexham despite the setting of the destination blind, calls at the station (Bob Greenhalgh).

Following the visit to Bidston, 37 611 approaches Wrexham Central later in the afternoon for a stop of just 7 minutes, a rare visit of a locomotive-hauled train to this small terminus (Mark Riley).

The train stopped just long enough for Mark Riley to get ahead for a picture of it heading back along the branch line to Wrexham General. A lot of the encroaching vegetation has been cut back, opening up the view in this area considerably.

The train re-appeared on 18 April as the 09:00 from Crewe, its mission to travel up the Conwy Valley to Blaenau Ffestiniog, before returning to Chester and heading via Wrexham to Shrewsbury, then back via Chester, Crewe and Stoke-on-Trent to its base in Derby. James Shuttleworth's picture (above) shows it heading out of Chester pas the canal locos towards the North Wales Coast.

North Llanrwst station (Garry Stroud). The train paused here from 11:09 to 12:25 to await the passing of the 11:46 Blaenau Ffestiniog - Llandudno passenger service; perhaps the train crew took the chance to have lunch.

Crossing the Conwy river above Llanrwst (Garry Stroud).

Blaenau Ffestiniog (Dave Sallery)

Down the line at Tan-y-Bwlch,  a Ffestiniog Railway train headed by Earl of Merioneth (Dave Sallery).

The return train near Dolwyddelan (Garry Stroud).

Dolgarrog station (Garry Stroud).

The tide was in at Glan Conwy (Ivor Bufton).

Departing Llandudno Junction for Chester, with 37 612 now on the rear (Garry Stroud).

Having reversed at Chester, 37 612 is in charge again heading for Saltney Junction and the Wrexham line. The single-line branch in the background is the link to the Merseyrail electric line, the side of the triangle of lines not normally used by passenger trains (James Shuttleworth).

In good afternoon light, approaching Wrexham General (Mark Riley).

Mark Riley's final view of this particular train was on the last leg of its itinerary, heading back north over Cefn viaduct, returning to Crewe via Wrexham and Chester.

Running slightly late at 17:55, the train passes Saltney heading for Chester (Bob Greenhalgh).

A visit from Bridlington

West Coast 47 786 Roy Castle OBE eases past Conwy Castle with the 06:30 Bridlington - Holyhead excursion on 19 April. The twelve-coach train called at Conwy station on the outward and return journeys. Picture by Chris Morrison.

Passing Waen Crossing (Darren Durrant).

West Coast 47 826 powers the 16:30 Holyhead - Bridlington return charter past Rhosneigr on 19 April. 47 786 was on the rear (Chris Morrison).

The Radio Survey Train's job is testing the signal strength and operation of the new GSM-R train-to-base communication network which 'went live' on 1 April and and replaces the now-outdated NRN radio which will be switched off at the end of the year.  Our picture shows the cab console of a Class 150 prepared to work train 2D16, a Conwy Valley service.

A separate network, but using digital mobile phone protocols, the new system is responsible for the conspicuous steel towers which have appeared at points along the railway. The data capability of GSM-R offer the option of use for more than just talking to control, and is an essential feature of the ERTMS signalling now installed as a pilot scheme on the Cambrian lines.

Railcar miscellany

Above, the 14.23 Chester - Holyhead on 19 April, formed of 175 005, approaches the partly reconstructed Saltney Junction, whence it will continue on the line heading off to the top right of the picture by Tony Robinson. When complete, trains from Chester to Wrexham will take the left-hand route at the turnout seen just ahead of the train, and continue on the re-instated second track. Lengths of rail have been laid down in the 'four foot' along the length of the track through what was once Saltney Yard in preparation for the re-instatement of double track.

Some Arriva trains now carry 'Ten Years of Service' decorations, as exemplified by 150 213, photographed at Llandudno Junction on 19 May by Chris Morrison.

Here's the version on 158 833, photographed by George Jones at Wrexham on 16 April. The roundel is at the 'inner' end of the coach.

Light and shade at Manchester Piccadilly on 18 April as 175 102 waits with the 17:30 departure to South Wales (Charlie Hulme).

Merseyrail electric 507 003 departs Chester in bright sunny conditions with the 17:15 to Liverpool Central on 8 April (Martin Evans). Fleet-wide replacement of this livery, which introduced in 2003 and has tended to suffer from the attentions of the train washing plant, has begun. These trains, 33 of which were built built from 1978-80, along with the similar Class 508s, are some of the oldest in everyday use on the National Rail system, although they still look quite modern.

A 10-car Virgin 'Super Voyager' comprised of 221 103 Christopher Columbus and
de-named 221 116 rushes through Abergele forming the 09:10 from London Euston to Holyhead on 19 April (Roly High).

Penyffordd Puzzle solved

In the last issue we expressed confusion about the working of the empty coal wagons after unloading at Penyffordd Cement works.  The timetable shows that the train heads to Dee Marsh Junction where the loco runs round the train which then heads back south, passing through Penyffordd station on the way to Croes Newydd and another run-round. The actual timings on the Real Time Trains (RTT) website, however, appear to suggest that the trip to Dee Marsh does not happen and the train heads directly south from Penyffordd.

However, observations by our contributors of the train which ran on 16 April prove that it certainly does happen. Paul Shannon photographed the train heading north, with Penyffordd station in the distance. 66 120 is the loco of the day. The train left Penyffordd cement sidings at 17:16, no data appears to have been entered at Dee Marsh, and a time of 17:18 (93 minutes early) was recorded for Penyfford station (presumably the signalbox). It seems that the RTT software, or maybe the railway's own system, cannot deal with two consecutive timings recorded for the same place.

Bob Greenhalgh visited Penyfford station, and photographed the train (above) passing southbound on its way back from Dee Marsh at 18:57. Note the discrepancy in spelling between the signalbox sign and Arriva's station sign.

Incidentally, although coal used to come from Maltby Colliery in Yorkshire and a path from there still exists on the timetable database, that closed in 2013 and the source is now New Cumnock in Scotland.

Locomotive assortment

Crewe on 17 April, and a meeting of locos built by Brush Traction of Loughborough. 31 233 heads a Network Rail train heading for Wigan past 57 304 Pride of Cheshire on 'Thunderbird' standby duty. Picture by Darren Durrant.

Class 08 shunters, once a huge fleet but now much reduced, rarely feature here. Martin Evans photographed Riviera Trains 08 507 looking very smart on pilot duty in Crewe Carriage sidings on 15 March.

Photographed from the Fridays-only 10:33 Stockport - Stalybridge on 18 April, while being entertained (along as many other passengers than ORR statistics claim use this service in a whole year!) by a folk-music duo provided by the Friends of Reddish South Station, a lucky shot of 66 521 in Freightliner Heavy Haul's sidings at Guide Bridge, set against a digitally-enhanced sky. The pile of ballast to the right looks like grey Penmaenmawr Quarry material, now no longer used by Network Rail in favour of pink Cumbrian granite as seen in the Saltney Junction picture above. It may be left over from the deliveries to Manchester Metrolink for the Rochdale and East Didsbury lines in 2011-12.

Class 37/6 locos feature heavily in this issue, so readers might be interested to see what they  looked like  in the heady days of the early 1990s when it was thought that 'Regional Eurostars' and sleeping-car trains would link major cities other than London to the Continent. Twelve refurbished Class 37 locos from the 37/5 series were fitted with additional wiring to work with passenger trains, renumbered 37 601 to 612 and given the 'tunnel segments' adornments also seen on Class 92s. They were to act as 'rescue locomotives' for Eurostars and also haul the proposed overnight trains from the west of England. The project came to nothing (very sadly) and they saw little use before being sold to DRS.

In the picture, 37 608 (nearest camera) and 37 604 lay over at Stockport, after (I think) hauling a Regional Eurostar set to the newly-built depot at Longsight; a shiny new Class 158 can be seen in the distance.  The depot featured its large but ungrammatical sign 'Le Eurostar habite ici' for years afterwards until part of it blew off in a gale. The building has been used at times by Alstom and by Siemens for various projects. Behind the loco a pair of the Eurostar translator vehicles converted from bogie parcels vans; the Eurostar-style coupler can be seen covered by a yellow bag; these could be lowered for use in a similar way to the later Virgin Class 37/3 locos.

Past Times with Dennis Kerrison - GWR Moguls at large

Captions by John Hobbs

GWR 43XX Mogul 7314 leaves Chester for the east, leaving behind a fine trail of smoke which would quickly raise complaints today and possibly a "Form 1" (please explain...) even then. It's a Class 2 train so could  be an all stations to Shrewsbury perhaps bound for Barmouth. On such a  horrible wet day that old fashioned cab will not offer much protection in the Welsh hills. The engine was built in 1921 and lasted until February 1963.

The remnants of Chester station roof are suspended overhead and rebuilding is not far away, although this spot is the inevitable car park today. This all happened on 3 September 1960.

6368 is seen at Pwllheli on 14 September 1962, having just left the station on the "Up" main. There was double track to Pwllheli East, on what is now a shunting loop to enable loco hauled trains to be recessed to allow others to operate; the track layout has obviously been extensively rationalised. This train will no doubt be bound for Dovey Junction to connect with  a train for Shrewsbury or Aberystwyth, although some trains were short workings to Criccieth, Portmadoc or Barmouth.  6368 is in poor external condition - shown particularly clearly by the colour photography - reflecting the declining standards inflicted on locomotives as the sixties passed. It would last out until withdrawal at the end of 1963.

Have you ever seen such a marvellous sight as this? The locomotive is in magnificent condition and is  running light engine into Barmouth having probably been to Barmouth Junction to turn on the triangle of lines there in readiness to work a service over Barmouth Bridge to either Ruabon or Dovey Junction. This is July 1957 and 6339 would last until July 1962.

At about this period I was taken on a "Land Cruise" train by an Aunt who lived in Ruthin, we boarded the train there and enjoyed the trip through the Welsh hills past Bala lake to Barmouth; at Barmouth she rashly let me stand on the footbridge at the adjacent level crossing immediately to the south of Barmouth Station to watch the locomotives which were all in similar sparkling condition, and she missed her lunch as I could not be persuaded to leave this railway heaven! We later continued our travels returning to Rhyl with a bus back to Ruthin included in the price. The story of how my Aunt missed her lunch circulated in the family for years.

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