Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

19 May 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This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page.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.

May 2014

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.

Crossing the well-known railway photographer's location of Northwich Viaduct is the diverted 13:10 Euston-Chester on 15 May.  The semaphore signal in the foreground applies to boats approaching Hunts Lock on the Weaver Navigation. Picture by Simon Barber: see below for more.

Northern Belle

The 'Northern Belle' luxury train - the 'Belmond Northern Belle' as it appears to be called now - took is passengers from York to Bangor and back on 15 May. Above, the train passes Bagillt with 47 828 leading. Picture by Matthew Travis.

Cadnant, Conwy (Garry Stroud).

47 813 Solent heads the empty train (5Z21) after being serviced at Holyhead into Bangor to collect its passengers from their various optional coach trips (Rowan Crawshaw). After its passengers loaded it returned to Huddersfield, Leeds and York as train 1Z21.

47 828 is on the tail as the train passes the new flats built on the site of a former cinema, and heads through the Egyptian-style portal of Bangor Tunnel (Rowan Crawshaw).

47 828 on the rear at Llandudno Junction on the return trip (Garry Stroud).

47 813 leads the return train through Rhyl (Roly High).

Past Times with John Hobbs - Around Rhyl

BR Standard Class 2 2-6-2T 84003 rests in the Denbigh Bay at Rhyl, a favourite place for the Rhyl pilot to park up, while they had a brew, 28 May 1965.

A pair of Black 5s on the 'Up' side at Rhyl. My notes for this week are very poor; so at a guess the passenger is the 16.25 Holyhead to Manchester and the passing freight the usual Menai Bridge to Mold Junction afternoon freight; interestingly both Black 5s have combined domes and top-feeds which means they are both early examples of the class. Again 28 May 1965.

'Black 5' 4-6-0 45149 passes through Foryd Junction with a down special at 11.25 on 5 June 1965.

Another LMS Class 5 4-6-0 45429 with a short freight which reflects the reduction in traffic following the withdrawal of freight facilities at many smaller stations during the previous year. The train passes Foryd Junction at 12.04 on Saturday 5 June 1965.

Another Black 5, this time 45415 on the Down Slow with 1T13 at 12.04, as it runs off the Foryd viaduct on Whit Saturday 5 June 1965.

8F 2-8-0 48287 arrives at Rhyl with yet another short freight, most strange you may say, perhaps control thought the freight in both trains was urgent, but hardly enough vehicles for a decent train even if they had been combined!  Again it's 5 June 1965.

Present times at Rhyl - pictures by Roly High

158 825 powers through Rhyl on the down fast line with the Holyhead portion of the 08:50 from Manchester Piccadilly, 15 May.

175 005 arrives with a service from Manchester Piccadilly which had started at Warrington Bank Quay.

The platform end by the disused Rhyl No 2 box is getting some attention as 175 110 departs from Rhyl with the 07:21 Cardiff Central to Holyhead.

XP64 50 years

In a recent issue we mentioned 47 853 Rail Express and its past fame  as locomotive for the 'XP64' train which ran in 1964 to demonstrated British Rail's new livery concept and advances in carriage design, and wondered what had happened to the coaches which formed the set. Thanks to everyone who replied to our appeal. Some of the specially-modified coaches were withdrawn and scrapped many years ago. Five were bought for preservation, three for the Dean Forest Railway, and two for the North York Moors. Two of the Dean Forest vehicles have since been scrapped, and the other three survivors are out of use, but it is hoped that one will be saved for the National Railway Museum if funds can be found to remove the asbestos insulation it contains. The XP64 set also included four standard Mk1 vehicles, and of these, one, 3150, is now part of the Scottish Railway Preservation Society's main line fleet.

The obvious fact that 'XP64' took place 50 years ago escaped us when writing the original item, but has certainly not escaped the editors of Rail Express magazine, whose June 2014 issue, now on sale, includes an excellent detailed feature about the XP64 project, as well as a marvellous picture captured by Richard W. Jones from the Dyfi Osprey Project webcam of an osprey watching a passing 97/3-hauled ballast train.

New Measurement Train

Another visitor to the Coast line on 15 May was the HST-based 'New Measurement Train' keeping an eye on the state of the track, working from Derby to Crewe via Holyhead via Crewe, Warrington and Chester. Locomotives were 43 013 on the west end and 43 014 on the east; here they are at Bagillt: picture by Matthew Travis.

Above, the train is seen west of Bangor heading for Holyhead (Rowan Crawshaw).

Passing through Bangor station on the return run (Rowan Crawshaw).

Rhyl (Roly High).

Middlewich diversions

During the week of 12-16 May engineering work - which hopefully will prevent future flooding -  took place in Christleton Tunnel, and Virgin Trains diverted their North Wales / Chester - London service via the Middlewich line. Above,  A surprisingly verdant scene as the 12:58 Holyhead-Euston takes the curve from Northwich West to South Junctions on 15 May, with Witton church tower in the background. Picture by Simon Barber.

The ten-coach 12:58 Holyhead - Euston passes Northwich South Junction on 15 May, taking the single line towards Middlewich.

Northwich South Junction on 16 May as the 10:10 London - Chester train comes off the Middlewich line and takes the left fork towards Greenbank and Chester (Greg Mape).

The ten-coach 09:10 Euston - Chester arrives in the passing loop at Middlewich to wait for the 10:47 Chester-Euston which will cross it there, 16 May (Simon Barber). Trains were arriving 15 early at Middlewich, suggesting that very pessimistic timings had been used for the diversions.

The (normally) rare sight of two passenger trains passing in the loop at Middlewich: the 10:10 Euston - Chester (left) and the 11:47 Chester - Euston (right). Picture by Greg Mape.

A reminder that there is an active campaign to re-open the line through Middlewich to passenger trains.  This sign on the remains of the old station platform will have been visible to many Virgin passengers this week.  The line was re-laid recently with concrete sleepers and deep ballast, and control transferred to the Manchester South signalling centre.  It would not take much work to raise the line speed and make it fit for regular passenger use once more (Simon Barber).

Network Rail speaks to Rossett - report by George Jones

Taking advantage of a public information session in Rossett village hall, I attended to learn about the forthcoming engineering work and something of the sequence of events due to take place. The occasion was illustrated with maps of the route and plans for the engineering work, as well as driver-eye views of the route between Saltney and Rossett. Above, the view north from Rossett crossing -the  junction will be in the near middle distance.

A small works compound is to be sited at the former Rossett station site - the larger one will be at Balderton. July will see the delivery of the set of points to form Rossett Junction as the southern end of the 5.5 mile stretch of redoubled track south from Saltney.

In August there will be a 9-day blockage whilst the level crossings and Balderton tunnel are given attention. Of the four crossings, Green Lane, Balderton and Pulford will be renewed for double track and the gates enhanced from the current half barrier type. Signalling will also be introduced at each. The fourth crossing at Broad Oak (immediately north of Rossett) will be replaced by a bridge. The additional signalling will enhance the capacity of the line to accommodate upwards of three trains, but no immediate improvement on the hourly Arriva Trains Wales service is envisaged as a result of this work.

Sleepers, ballast and rail will be delivered prior to February 2015 and the new rail connections will be put in with a 31 March 2015 completion date. The speed limit on the re-doubled section will rise from 60mph to 90 mph with a 50 mph lead in from Saltney.
The single line "nice to have redoubled" section will remain from North Wrexham through to Gresford within the 2.5 miles from south end of Rossett through to Wrexham for future enhancement, if money becomes available. The work is being funded by the Welsh Assembly government aimed at route improvements in accessing  North & South Wales, rather than the perceived local view of the need for better train connections from Wrexham to North West England.

The 'blockade' in August will likely see a reduced train service on the line south of Wrexham to Shrewsbury whilst trains are diverted. The prospect of the engineering work is of concern to Rossett residents and rail representatives were on hand to explain the process and efforts to alleviate any disruption and noise arising from night time work.

X-Men Pendolino - report by Mark Riley

Thanks to a kind "tweet" by Virgin Trains, I was finally able to see the X-Men branded Pendolino 390 155 (advertising the new film 'X-Men:Days of future past') on 17 May. Above, Just after 11 a.m., it approaches Crewe on the up fast with a Glasgow Central - London Euston service.


Later in the afternoon, 390 155 [previously named Rugeley Town] returned, and is seen departing from Crewe, working from London Euston - Liverpool Lime Street. Not much time to take many photos of it, and I was unable to photograph the nameplate. But these photos are better than nothing!

This is certainly a colourful and distinctive Pendolino, with a lot of time and effort taken applying the vinyls, supplied by 3M and applied by Manchester firm Stewarts signs.  The vinyls were applied in March before a high profile launch of the Pendolino on 31 March at London Euston, with cast from the film present. All the coaches carry pictures of various characters from the film, in this photo it's Bishop (played by Omar Sy). The train will carry these vinyls until July and revert to VT livery, but will retain the actual nameplate. The film itself is set for release on 22 May.

Real Ale on the Welsh Highland - pictures by Alan Crawshaw 

The Welsh Highland Railway's tenth 'Real Ale Festival' ran from 16-18 May, centred on Dinas station where the goods shed was transformed into the main bar and entertainment area, serving a selection of 85 beers and ciders from 50 breweries and cider producers from around Wales and across the UK. Some trains ran, too: above, 335 HP diesel-hydraulic Castell Caernarfon stands at Dinas with a short train.   Built by CH Funkey & Co (Pty) Ltd of Alberton, near Johannesburg, South Africa, for a diamond mine in Namibia, this loco is capable of hauling a full-length train over the steep gradients of the Welsh Highland when required.

Fiji heads the same rake of coaches on its return trip...

... and is seen at the next station, Waunfawr.

The first ever Beyer-Garratt loco, K1, at Dinas. In view, one of the commemorative glasses included in the admission fee to the goods shed / bar. Local hostelries were also involved in the festival, including 'The Black Boy' in Caernarfon, Y Castell Caernarfon, the Snowdonia Parc Brewpub in Waunfawr, the Tyn Llan in Llandwrog, the Newborough Arms in Bontnewydd and the Royal Goat Hotel in Beddgelert.

The other big diesel, Vale of Ffestiniog, runs alongside the cycle track near Dinas. This machine originally looked the same as Castell Caernarfon, seen in the first picture, and was imported from South Africa at the same time in 1993, then rebuilt in Boston Lodge workshops to enable it to fit through the bridges and tunnels of the Ffestiniog Railway line.

Corwen Progress - report by George Jones

Useful media headlines resulted from the arrival of the railhead at the Llangollen Railway's Dwyrain Corwen East station site in April, and local enthusiasm for the arrival of trains in 2014 is renewed. However there remains much to do and it would be unwise to speculate on an opening date at this point, although train services to Corwen in the summer remains an objective. The photo above shows the station site as seen looking east from the access gate, with buffer stop middle centre; the platform will be located on the right.

The installation of the platform and access ramp at the Phase 1 temporary station requires the hiring in of expertise for the task, and the Llangollen firm of Davies Bros have been appointed to undertake this work. Materials stored at the Llangollen Railway Carriage & Wagon works will be taken by rail through to Corwen and the erection work will start later in May. With an estimated six weeks work for the construction of the platform, it may be available for fitting out by early July.

Work on the Corwen Flood Alleviation scheme is now completed and the contractors have vacated the work site. In the course of restoring the area the surface on the over spill car park, on the approach to the station site, has received a new coat of asphalt, including the track up to the end of the existing railway embankment. This work is a notable improvement to the area. Also due for attention is the pedestrian route from the town’s car park through the Corwen Common area when a top coat is applied to the footpath. Other enhancements to this area to make it attractive to visitors are planned, including the provision of an all-weather route in the area now restored by the contractors.

The newly surfaced car park. New fencing and landscaping is under way in the background. Right is the meandering footpath to the car park via the Corwen Common. Meanwhile there is much still to do to arrange for the basic facilities to be provided at the public access point to the station site.

In order to prepare train staff for the operation of trains to Corwen, a visit by members of the Traffic Department was arranged on 8 May. In the course of an escorted walk from the station site into town, the party gained an appreciation of the access arrangements for those arriving by train or visiting by car/bus. A conducted tour of the town centre provided an awareness of what Corwen has to offer in terms of shops, refreshment facilities and places of interest. Further visits by other customer facing volunteers and Llangollen Railway staff are to be arranged.

The need for top ballasting of the new track remains a priority. Unfortunately there is a scarcity of the required grade of recycled ballast and resumption of deliveries from Crewe to Carrog is awaited. The calculated need is for 1,500 tonnes of stone requiring delivery by 55 lorry loads, at an estimated cost of £27,000. The start of ballasting is anticipated in late May and, if the section west of over bridge 28A can be completed during June, the hiring of a tamper machine in July will see the track work completed.

In the meantime, the extension has been the subject of a detailed in-house inspection to produce a list of items requiring specific attention to track and infrastructure. The list of ‘snags’ is being worked through by the project team but some of the heavier work requires the services of the 12 ton crane, once a repair to it has been effected.  One very visible addition to the railway scene is the installation of a fixed distant signal on the section east of bridge 28A as a sure sign the train will be coming.

Irish Journey, Part 1 - with Richard Putley

Having decided to go on the Railway Preservstion Society of Ireland's "Saint Canice" 3 day railtour, I decided I'd like to travel to Dublin, from where the tour would be based, by train and ferry. Having failed to find anyway of booking rail and ferry tickets on any of the websites I normally use to book rail tickets, I decided to phone the Ffestiniog Railway's Travel Office. The very helpful lady there soon sorted out a booking for me.

So on Friday 16 May 2014, I caught the 07:44 First Great Western HST train from Chippenham to Bristol Temple Meads. There I saw 31 233 (above) on a Network Rail Inspection Train. I then caught the 09:00 to Manchester Piccadilly as far as Wolverhampton. The 45 minute wait soon passed and I boarded the 14:42 Arriva Wales service to Holyhead.

This was formed of two class 158 DMUs. The rear one was detached at Shrewsbury, where we were held outside the station to allow a late running Cardiff - Manchester Piccadilly train into Platform 4 first. This meant we were now 17 minutes late but we managed to recover some time at Chester. The train had filled up at Shrewsbury and again at Chester. But as we headed west the train gradually emptied. I was only one of a dozen passengers remaining when it arrived at Holyhead.

My Dublin Hotel, Wynns, is very close to Connolly station. So I arrived there in good time to Irish Rail diesel loco 074 (above) bring the stock of the special from the carriage sheds.

Also there was 201 class diesel loco 207 River Boyne heading the first train to Belfast.

I walked to the car park where I saw Dublin & South Eastern 2-6-0 461 being made ready.

But where was the Great Northern Railway, Ireland 4-4-0 Merlin that was supposed to haul the first leg? As the time of our departure approached there was still no sign of it. So 074 hauled the tour to Howth (above).

461 then hauled the tour on from Howth, back through Dublin to Wicklow. Here she ran round (above) and hauled the train back to Dublin where we had an hours break before Merlin was supposed to take the tour on to Enfield.

Continued in the next issue...

Shipping supplement

Greg Mape writes: 'Cycling past Raynes Jetty at Llanddulas, I came across the MV Arklow Faith (3000 gross tonnes) just arriving to collect a load of limestone.'  The load was destined for Shoreham on the south coast of England, where the ship was reported on 19 May. The 'Dolos' interlocking castings used for coast protection works in the 1980s form the foreground  of the scene.

By contrast: The MSC Magnifica made its first visit to Liverpool on 18 May and was a big attraction for many tourists. The cruise liner, gross tonnage 95128, is 964ft long, has 16 decks and can cruise at 23 knots. With a sports deck, two open air swimming pools and a 1,300 capacity stunning theatre, there is more than enough to keep up to 2,518 passengers occupied, and a complement of 1,027 crew to ensure you are completely happy. The picture above was taken by Mark Riley from the ferry Royal Iris, whilst taking a (highly recommended) river cruise. The speedboats in the foreground give some sense of scale to this huge ship!

View from Birkenhead Woodside mid-afternoon, with the Royal Iris giving everyone a good look at it (Mark Riley). The MSC Magnifica was on day 8 of an 11 day cruise, starting from Amsterdam, then visiting Hamburg, Edinburgh, Invergordon, Belfast, Dublin, Liverpool, and then to Cork, before returning to Amsterdam. Most of the passengers on this particular cruise, we believe, were Dutch, French or German.

She departed the landing stage, unassisted by tugs, at around 17:20 a remarkable performance for a big ship using the latest technology employing thrusters. The ship, like most cruise liners, is fitted with live bridge and deck webcams for the virtual cruise experience. Picture by George Jones.

The same afternoon also also saw the Isle of Man ferry Ben-My-Chree depart from the Cammell Laird shipyard after overhaul (George Jones).

Mersey Ferries are promoting to sightseers the forthcoming visit by the cruise ship Queen Victoria which arrives at 10:15 on 30 May and stays until 16:00 on Saturday 31 May. 'Passengers on board ferry sailings from 10am - 4pm on both Friday and Saturday will also benefit from Blue Badge guides providing on-board commentary.'  31 May also sees the Friends of the Ferries annual Dock & River Cruise: booking information on the Mersey Ferries website.

On 30 May it is also possible to travel by Mersey Ferry from Salford Quays to Liverpool.

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