Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

12 May 2014

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This site is dedicated to all our regular contributors and supporters, and especially the rail staff of North Wales.

Forthcoming events

This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page.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

May 2014
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.

Tuesday 27 May Denbigh Film Club invites all railway enthusiasts to an evening of 'Railway Nostalgia - on Film' in aid of the Llangollen Railway Corwen Extension. Theatr Twm O'r Nant, Station Road, Denbigh.  Doors open 7pm, show starts at 7.30. Licensed bar and refreshments available. Admission 5.

June 2014

Sunday 15 June Excursion Compass Tours 'The Cumbrian Moorlander'. Holyhead, Llanfairpwill, Bangor, Llandudno Junction, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl, Flint, Shotton, Chester, Helsby, Frodsham & Warrington Bank Quay to Carlisle via the Settle & Carlisle railway route.

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.

October 2014

Saturday - Monday 18-20 October Land Cruise Compass Tours  Autumn Highlander. Holyhead, Llanfairpwll, Bangor, Llandudno Junction, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl, Flint, Chester, Delamere, Northwich, Knutsford, Altrincham, Stockport, Manchester Victoria, Bolton, Preston, & Carlisle to Inverness and Kyle of Lochalsh. A 3-day weekend break by rail to the Scottish Highlands, inclusive of two nights stay in quality hotel  accommodation at Inverness. From 329.00 each.

47 828 at Chester with the 'St Asaph Pilgrim' charter on 5 May: see report below. Picture by Ivor Bufton.

Timetables change from 18 May: see the Arriva Trains Wales website for downloads and a summary of changes.

Class 68 news
[Update 17 May: test runs have been postponed for two weeks.]
There are scheduled to be some appearances by the new class 68 locomotives in our area in the week beginning 19 May, the first on the mainline under their own power. On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday a loco should be working between Crewe and Chester and vice versa on test. Then towards the end of the week (Thursday) the loco being used should make its way up to Carlisle for a first revenue-earning turn on the Carlisle Yard to Shap Quarry and return stone train, with the loco then going light to Motherwell on Friday. Of course these plans are subject to the usual caveats of alteration/cancellation.

Incidentally, despite rumours to the contrary, there have been no discussions between Arriva and DRS regarding use of Class 68s on the Holyhead - Cardiff express; they will however definitelky be be used by Chiltern Trains (also a DB-owned company) on their express services.

37s at Bangor

The radio survey train arrives at Bangor on 8 May, hauled by 37 409 Lord Hinton.

The train shunted to Platform 1 and headed back east to Manchester Longsight, headed by 37 402 Stephen Middlemore (Richard Fleckney).

Also available: a YouTube video by Alan Crawshaw.

Premier Express events (the inside story)

Our report (last issue) on the unusual events involving Class 67s from 29 April to 3 May prompted some enlightening comments from 'insider readers.'

The Holyhead - Cardiff train on 29 April departed from Holyhead but was brought to a stand in the Valley area with dragging brakes on the loco. The train was returned to Holyhead and examined by the maintenance staff at Holyhead.

As for 67 015's Saturday light-engine run along the Coast: 67 015 had to be returned from Cardiff to Crewe as one of the 'normal' locos, 67 003, had returned to Cardiff depot follwing repairs by owners DB Schenker. However, due to engineering work between Cardiff Central and Newport, no path was available to return 67 015 to Crewe where it was required for a routine examination at Crewe Electric Depot.

So the decision was taken to run the northbound evening service out on Friday 2 May with 67 001 as train engine and 67 015 on the extreme rear (double-tailing?) so that 67 015 would be leading after the reversal at Chester (Above, another look at Ivor Bufton's picture from Rhyl).  The same driver was available for Saturday, and would take 67 015 light-engine to Crewe on Saturday afternoon.  Thanks for organising this interesting move are due to the Control staff and Depot Manager involved, both from the enthusiasts who enjoyed the double-headed run and from Dave Trains the driver: it 'put a ray of sunshine on a rather dismal scene (all units) on the North Wales Coast railway at the moment.'

Middlewich diversions

The line between Crewe and Chester is closed from Monday 12 May to Saturday 17 May (inclusive) to allow Network Rail to carry out essential drainage improvement work. The tracks on either side of the Christleton Tunnel, on the outskirts of Chester, regularly flood during wet weather causing delays to services and disruption to passengers. Network Rail will be upgrading drainage in the area to prevent future flooding and improve the reliability of the railway.

A look at the Real Time Trains website (here is Wednesday at Middlewich for example) shows the  hourly service between London Euston and Chester / North Wales running via Crewe, Sandbach, Middlewich and Greenbank, with much use of the passing loop at Middlewich. A good chance to travel on the Middlewich - Sandbach line which does not have a normal passenger service, although there is a long-standing campaign to start one. The diverted trains are allowed over an hour between Crewe and Chester, compared to about 20 minutes by the direct route.

Virgin are able to do this because a regular empty-stock working travels this way to retain drivers' knowledge line. The Arriva Trains Wales Chester - Crewe shuttle will not run, with replacement buses running at times when there is no connecting Virgin train available.

Pilgrimage to Glasgow

The 07:00 Compass Tours excursion from Llandudno Junction to Glasgow on 5 May was run in conjunction with the Diocese of St Asaph, which has organised a Year of Pilgrimages, with short trips to holy sites in and around North Wales, culminating on 5 May -  the feast day of St Asaph - with a the train to Glasgow, on which five coaches were reserved to the pilgrims, the rest of the seats being on general sale. Roly High's picture above shows the train arriving at Rhyl.

The shrine of Saint Kentigern (also known as Saint Mungo) the  founder of the Diocese, is in Glasgow Cathedral. Kentigern was the bishop of Strathclyde; he was driven into exile and founded a monastery at Llanelwy (the Welsh name of the city) where he remained until his return to Scotland in 573, leaving the Diocese in the care of Asaph, who replaced him as abbot-bishop when he died in 596.

Arriving at Prestatyn (Ivor Bufton). The two locos were needed to power the train over the Shap and Beattock gradients, so they double-headed the train. In the more usual top-and-tail formation used on excursions, the rear loco cannot be under power. 47 828 and 47 313 Solent were provided by DRS. Note the two ex-Arriva blue coaches at the front of the train.

Window label (Ivor Bufton).

After crossing the mountains, before arrival at Glasgow, it was necessary to re-marshal the train to put a loco on the rear, ready to haul the train out of Glasgow Central, which is a terminus, to the carriage sidings for servicing. At Polmadie Clydesdale Loop, opposite the old Polmadie steam
depot, 47 828 ran round the train. Noted during this layover were two spare Voyager driving coaches (Picture by Roly High), presumably those which resulted from the used of the other coaches in that set to add am extra vehicle to each of two Class 221s which were built as 4-car.

Electric local trains passed by (Roly High). A pair of Class 334 units show (left) the current Scorail livery, which  is intended to be retained whatever company holds the franchise. The other carries the Strathclyde Passenger Transport colours, a modern version of the 1950s British Railways carmine and cream, known in those days as 'blood and custard.' This livery will be replaced by the Scotrail blue.

47 813 at the buffers in Glasgow Central (Ivor Bufton), with Scotrail 156 503 for company.

47 828 at the other end (Ivor Bufton). The run-round move at Polmadie was repeated in reverse on the return journey to bring both locos together at the front.

Set-down at Colwyn Bay (Darren Durrant). Arrival back at Llandudno Junction was at 23:30, 11 minutes early.

Shrewsbury - Chester Rail Users Association

A public meeting of the Shrewsbury - Chester Rail Users Association (SCRUA) will be held on Tuesday 20 May 2014 at 19:15 at St Mary's Catholic Club, Wrexham. The Public Meeting will feature a talk by Professor Les Lumsden of the University of Central Lancashire and author of a number of travel books, on the subject of 'Sustainable travel in the Marches'  All are welcome.

The Annual General Meeting of SCRUA, which is a members only event, will follow the public meeting.

Locos at Large

DRS loco 47 805 powers down Gresford Bank, at Pandy, with Pathfinder Tours' 05:20 Hereford - Scarborough excursion on 10 May in a successful attempt to make up around 30 minutes delay in the Leominster area after picking up at Wrexham General. This was successful and departure from Chester was made right time. The may blossom to the fore shows the vegetated state of this
section of track, which is to remain single, and the narrow angle now available for this picture, taken by John Cowlishaw.

Passing through Crewe station at 11:40 on Friday 9th May, Peter Dickinson was fortunate enough to catch Ian Riley's Black 5 locomotives 44871 & 45407 passing southbound with just their support coaches ...

 ...  They certainly made an interesting comparison to Network Rail 57 312 Peter Henderson sat in the station! (Peter Dickinson)

Peter Henderson was Asset Development Director at Network Rail; he joined the company in 2002 when Network Rail took over from Railtrack, and left in 2012 to 'pursue other interests.' NR's website tells us that 'his expertise was invaluable in fixing the broken railway that was inherited from Railtrack.' In 2010-11 he acted as Interim Chief Executive - salary 613,000 p.a. - on the departure of Ian Coucher.

Above: On Tuesday 6 May, 56 087 is seen approaching Chorley with train 6J37 Moses Gate Loop - Chirk logs, heading north to run round at Preston.
It was decided to run a log train from Carlisle in an 'as required'  path on Saturday 3 May. However the West Coast Mail Line was blocked that day due to engineering work between Wigan and Golborne Junction. It was therefore diverted to run via Chorley and Manchester, but terminated in Moses Gate loop just south of Bolton, where it resided for three days.  It was reported that 'no driver was available' to take the train forward; whether the driver was 'out of hours',  had not 'signed the route' for this section, or other reason, we cannot say. (Log trains have travelled this way before, most recently during engineering works in Summer 2013.) Colas Rail do seem rather prone to this kind of oddity, though.

9 May say a Flask train run from Valley for the first time in a while. Above, eastbound train 6K41 passing Llandudno Junction at 14:58,  55 minutes early, with 37 601 Class 37-Fifty ...

...and 57 010, in a previous life named Freightliner Crusader. Pictures by Peter Lloyd.

Freightliner 66 616 at Colwyn Bay on Sunday 4 May, with 'autoballaster' hopper wagons from overnight track-relaying work (Darren Durrant).

A Multi-Purpose Vehicle, DR 98962 leading, passes Waen Crossing, Conwy, while on a vegetation control (weed-killing in 'old money') run on 6 May. The spray can be seen near the centre of the train. Picture by Darren Durrant.

Llanfairfechan in steam days - pictures by Alan Fozard

Above, 'Royal Scot' 40609 46149 The Middlesex Regiment of Holyhead (6J) depot passes Llanfairfechan in 1959 with the 7.50 a.m. Holyhead to London Euston 'Emerald Isle Express.'

Two years later, and now in colour - the same express passes, double-headed by a 'Black 5' 4-6-0 and a 'Britannia' pacific.

In 1960, there was a local train starting from Bangor either at 5.15 or 5.25 p.m This train was quite often hauled at that time by an express locomotive which had been newly outshopped from Crewe as a running-in turn (starting out from Crewe on a Crewe - Holyhead stopping train at about 9.15 a.m.) Above is 46164 The Artists Rifleman passing Llanfairfechan on the local from Bangor.

Sometimes you had a Stanier Pacific running with just 3 coaches on the 5.55 p.m. local from Bangor! In 1961, 46245 City of London seen from Alan's bedroom window.

Can anyone tell us more about these pictures?

More from the Ffestiniog - report by Ian Pilkington

Some further images from the Ffestiniog 'Our Railway Adventure' event. Above, on Friday 2 May, Simplex 'Mary Ann' arrives at Porthmadog Harbour with a two coach train from Boston Lodge, recreating the FR reopening service of 1954.

Double headed Fairlies cross the bypass bridge at Minfordd with a Porthmadog - Blaenau train on Saturday 3 May. David Lloyd George, returning from overhaul in workshop grey, pilots Merddin Emrys.

Visiting from the Statfold Barn Railway, Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0 Lautoka No. 11 approaches Snowdon Street Crossing with a Pont Croesor- Porthmadog service on Saturday 3 May.

Pioneer Garratt K1 visited the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway for the weekend, seen arriving at their Porthmadog Station, Saturday 3 May.

Lautoka No 11, which had been named Fiji at a ceremony the previous day, crosses Pont Croesor Viaduct with a Hafod y Llyn - Porthmadog service, Saturday 3 May.

Prince eases its train of four wheeled 'bug boxes' into the bay at Dduallt on Monday 5 May.

Quinn Glass

A couple of issues ago we discussed the nocturnal trains which run to Ellesmere Port with sand for the glass works at Elton, and the difficulties involved in photographing them.  Colin Partington has responded with some pictures proving that it is not impossible. Initially, the train was worked by Freightliner, and one was seen in daylight at Stafford (above) with 66 614 on 19 July 2011. The 'sand cloud' from the wagons is conspicuous.

66 614 at Ellesmere Port on 4 October 2012 - It stood there all day.

66 515 at Ellesmere Port on 28 March 2013.

By 29 May 2013, DB Schenker had taken over the train: haulage by a Class 60, 60 079, turned out to be a unique event.

Usual traction is a Class 66, as seen on 2 April 2014.

At the site of the planned sidings near the glass plant, track materials for the project have been stored for some time: Tony Robinson took this picture in summer 2013.

Berwyn in view - by Peter Dickinson

On 10 May, 80072 arrives at Berwyn, past a classic bike,  with the 1 p.m. train from Llangollen to Carrog on 10 May.

The booking clerk's view at Berwyn.

Vintage shipping

Peter Hanson sends this photograph of the MV St Seriol, of the Liverpool and North Wales Steamship Company on the landing stage at the Liverpool Pier Head after the day's sailings about 1961/2. The ship was built by Fairfields of Govan in 1931 and scrapped after the company closed in 1962. 270 feet long and driven by steam turbine, she operated between Liverpool and, Holyhead, Llandudno and the Menai Straits piers of Beaumaris and Bangor.

These tourist trips faded away, but the landing stage at Llandudno Pier has recently been made serviceable again, and for the August 2014 Bank-Holiday weekend, we are promised sailings by the paddle-steamer Waverley from Liverpool to Llandudno Pier and cruises from Llandudno.

The May Day weekend saw the historic steam-powered tug Kerne, built in 1913,  moored in the North Bay outside the Lowry at Salford Quays, and open to visitors. Its owning group believe it is the last ship which saw use in World War I still in working order. See the Kerne website for details of the ship's history and activities.

The red and white vessel moored next to Kerne runs 45-minute sightseeing trips around the docks area: see the Manchester Cruises website.

Also busy in the area in early May was the dredger Norma, seen above on 1 May as a Metrolink service departs from MediaCityUK station in the background.

At the Liverpool end of the Mersey, the 'Friends of the Ferries' have chartered ond of the Mersey ferries on 31 May for a Dock and River Cruise, starting from Seacombe at 12:00 and Liverpool Pier Head at 12:10 and Woodside at 12:25, returning at approximately 17:00. The Cruise includes the Royal Seaforth Dock, and the Eastham Channel, and offers a chance for inspection of the work under way on the creation of the new 'Liverpool 2' river berth which will allow larger container ships to off-load in the Mersey rather than have to enter the docks system. Booking details are on the Mersey Ferries website.

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