Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

02 June 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This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page.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.

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.

67 003 has returned to Arriva Trains Wales service after a period of just over twelve months. 67 003 worked the Cardiff to Holyhead 'Premier Express' on the evening of 28 May, and is seen in Ivor Bufton's picture at Rhyl with train 1V91, the morning train from Holyhead on 30 May.

Flask scenes

The 05:41 Crewe - Valley flask train crosses Malltraeth arches, about 19 minutes early on 28 May. 37 608 is leading 37 423, which after running without logos for a while, now carries the new-style DRS branding as already seen on the ex-Virgin Trains class 57/3 locos. Picture by Peter Basterfield.

The return train, 14:48 Valley - Crewe, is almost lost against Penmaenmawr mountain as it leaves Pen-y-Clip tunnel in this view from Penmaenmawr station by Peter Basterfield. The currently unused Hanson's Quarry sidings can be glimpsed in the left foreground; also visible just beyond the A55  are two granite pillars - all that remains of the former loading jetty.

A few minutes later, passing through Penmaenmawr station (Peter Basterfield).

A smoky passage through Bangor (Rowan Crawshaw). This irregular working remains the only commercial freight traffic on the North Wales Coast line, despite the existence of paths for various other trains which have been inserted in the timetable for proposed other traffics.

Llandudno Junction at 15:35 (Peter Lloyd). These trains serve Wylfa power station, with road transport of the flasks between Valley and that site. Wylfa began operating in 1971, and was the largest, and last, of the 'Magnox' power stations to be built; it is believed to be the last in the world still operating. The Anglesey Aluminium plant, opened in the same period, took a large portion of its output, but was closed down in 2009.

One of Wylfa's two reactors was shut down in 2012; the other continues to operate until September 2014, or possibly 2015, after which the long period of decommissioning begins. It is thought that it will be safe to dismantle the reactors by 2091. Meanwhile, a new power station is planned to be built at Wylfa, by a Hitachi-owned company, its generators driven by steam turbines fed with steam from  an advanced boiling water reactor - in other words, a modernistic form of steam engine.

Beeches Farm, west of Chester (Bob Greenhalgh) The curious colour variation on 37 423 looks rather strange.

Crewe Station new entrance - report by Ian Bowland

I visited Crewe station on 29 May and was rather surprised to see that the underpass was open to the public.I have wondered for years just what was down there, having watched the mail trolleys disappear down the slope years ago, so I ventured down to see. Above, the view from Platform 8.

The underpass currently links the two main island platforms with the new entrance and car park. This view looks towards the platform 5 entrance and the main exit to the car park.

Staircase (and lift, not quite ready) out to the new entrance.

The new entrance, accessed from Weston Road, seen from the 254-place car park.  This new entrance, which is not staffed but has ticket machines, is intended as an alternative to the main entrance on the bridge, according to information from Cheshire East Council. The Official Opening took place on 30 May, we understand

The project's website mentions that 'As part of the project, a memorial remembering staff who gave their lives in the Great War is to be erected on the wall of the lift shaft in the new building.  The memorial plaque was recovered from one of the derelict buildings which were demolished as part of this project. In addition, a plaque commemorating Post Office workers who died in the world wars will be incorporated in the paving, and the Train Pension Group is funding a memorial bench to be provided outside the new entrance.'

Parts of the old structure remaining.

The section not accessible and leading towards Platform 12 and the so-called 'Horse Landing' on the far side of the station.

Editor's note: The project website also offers a poem from an old issue of Punch magazine:

How oft since childhood have I wished I knew
What lay behind the mystery of Crewe;
It was a word on every mystic mouth
Of those who spoke of journeys North and South
And, long before I know what "travel" meant
Crewe was a word of magical content.
"We change at Crewe" said grown-ups, yet they came
Back from adventure looking just the same!

And when, at length, to travelling years I grew
Time but intensified the thrills of Crewe.
Crewe stood for haste, for working in the night,
For noise, for terror and for delight!
For loud-mouthed porters breaking up a dream,
For shrieking whistles and for hissing steam.
Crewe stood for trains in splendour, pomp and glow
For trains and ought else? Oh how I longed to know.

Well worth repeating here, we feel.

Visit to North Wales for Steam - report by Roger Carvell

On Saturday 24 May I paid my usual annual visit to the 'coast' and wasn't let down at all, an enjoyable day with excellent timekeeping by Arriva Trains Wales, but less so by Virgin West Coast. The 08.10 Voyager from Euston is booked to do the journey in two hours and has done so. Saturday proved otherwise with a 15-minute late arrival at Chester; there seemed to be no apparent reason why. The Voyager was put into Platform 3A to avoid any other conflict with ATW to Crewe. After a rain-lashed journey down the West Coast Main Line, Chester proved to be bright.

The 09:50 from Manchester Piccadilly is seen above, worked by 175 116, arriving at Chester through the points that divide Platform 3; the 11:35 Virgin West Coast Voyager to Euston awaits custom. At Platform 4, a Class 175 is heading to Manchester from Llandudno.

[Editor's note: It's a shame that the recent improvements to the station did not include improvement of that dirty brickwork.]

The threatened rain really set in mid-afternoon but I was lucky to be able photograph 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe in the dry on the curve approaching Llandudno Junction, with the with the empty-stock move for servicing. For more about this train, see the report in the last issue.

5043 has a quiet moment at 'the Junction'. It still seems strange to see a Great Western locomotive here, after all these years.

47 773 sits at Llandudno while the train crew enjoy their 'snap' on the cushions. Outside it really is raining hard. Not much else to do but keep out of the rain. [The train indicator system fails to interpret the code for Tyseley Steam Centre.]

Cab storm sheet up, umbrellas up, but still an appreciative audience at Llandudno. My thanks  as always to Arriva Trains Wales train and station crew. Whoever I spoke to was warm and friendly.
The Llandudno air show almost disappeared into the murk but the four aerobatic aircraft put on a spirited formation display. Despite the awful weather I hope the day added to the town's prosperity.

Seen at Crewe, 30 May - pictures by Darren Durrant

58 022 in the car park at Crewe station after being towed out from the former diesel depot after 16 years of storage. (The trailer had 79 wheels and one flat). The loco was being moved to Crewe Electric Depot.

GBRf 66 738 (with Biomass wagons)  and Freightliner 70 001 'racing' through the avoiding line at Crewe Salop Junction.

Riviera Trains shunter 08 507 shunting coaches, including one from the short-lived revival of the 'Blue Pullman' brand. This rake of Mk2 coaches was given the Pullman makeover in 2005, and ran in charter service from January 2006 under the auspices of FM Rail, a company which unfortunately collapsed later that year with overwhelming unpaid debts. The coaches passed to Cotswold Rail, another of the small companies that appeared after privatisation of the railways and disappeared again soon afterwards. Most of the Blue Pullman vehicles are now, it seems,  owned by West Coast Railways and have been repainted; does anyone have details of the coach pictured?

Also now reduced to the role of shunter is 47 847.

The 'Northern Belle' luxury train at Crewe returning from the Lake District to Coventry. 47 805 leads, with 47 770 on the rear, while over in the 'Thunderbird' siding is another DRS loco, 57 308 County of Staffordshire.

Ledbury Statesman - report by Richard Putley

Having been used on a Hereford - Carlisle excursion the previous day, top and tailed by former Arriva Trains Wales locos 57 313 and 57 316, the 'Statesman' locos and stock ran empty-stock on 1 June  from Hereford to the West Coast Railways depot via Ledbury. I photographed it, and also a London Midland Class 170 working  the 12:00 Hereford - Birmingham Snow Hill, on Ledbury Viaduct ...

... and also at Ledbury station ...

... where it had to wait for a Paddington - Hereford HST, led by Power Car 43154, to come off the single line section between there and Malvern Wells.

57 316 on the rear as the train heads into the 1,323 yard single-track Ledbury Tunnel.

Llangollen picture report

2-8-0 3802 worked Llangollen Railway services on Saturday 17 May alongside the Class 109 Wickham DMU. Sadly, 80072 had failed with broken copper stay. This meant that a shortage of available steam locomotives led to the Class 26 diesel working the steam diagram on Sunday 18  May alongside a DMU.  3802 was in operation on driver experience courses throughout the day so was unavailable to operate the public services (Peter Dickinson).

In better news, the railway has just released into traffic newly restored Mark 1 TSO E4472, which has been finished in BR chocolate and cream livery. This made one of its first appearances in service on 17 May and was still attached to the rear of the chocolate and cream set on 20 May when photographed by Peter Dickinson at Llangollen, from the station footbridge.

The Class 26, D5310, made three 'Driver Experience' runs between Llangollen & Carrog on 24 May. In contrasting weather conditions, the diesel is seen at Berwyn hauling the Chocolate and Cream rake (including newly restored TSO 4472). 3802 and the Wickham Class 109 were out operating the normal service trains. 3802 and the chocolate and cream rake formed the 19:30 Llangollen to Carrog "Steam & Jazz Train" in the evening (Peter Dickinson).

Peter Dickinson writes: 'After the departure of the 17:33 DMU back to Llangollen, I headed out to Corwen to view the extension. The GWR 'Toad' brake van is still out-stationed there and the view from the A5 road is very impressive.  Well done to all concerned!'

31 May - 1 June were 'Thomas' time at Llangollen again: above, we see Thomas - just back from his annual visit to the National Railway Museum in Denmark, and back to his literary name after a period as Jessie - and Daisy. Picture by Martin Evans.

Another train of that name, unofficially named, but more authentically a Class 101 unit, will be making a guest appearance on the Llangollen line on 21-22 June. Another dip into our archives: 101 685 herself (above) is seen at Preston in the course of the memorable Class 101 Farewell tour on 21 December 2003.

Past Times with John Hobbs - Machynlleth 1965

'Manor' class 4-6-0 7822 Foxcote Manor  - today preserved on the Llangollen Railway - approaches Machynlleth with the 18:05 Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury (with vans for York), on 8 June 1965.

7822, having undertaken station duties at Machynlleth, heads for Shrewsbury with the Welsh Mail; Machynlleth Shed displays a wide variety of traction from diesel railcars to a Standard Class 4 2-6-4T.

7822 digs in for the run to up to Cemmaes Road on the same evening,  which rounded off a trip to Aberystwyth with Parents and Grandma in tow, all that time ago in 1965. By the end of that year all the 'Manors', some of them less that 15 years old, had been withdrawn from service; the following summer the remaining Cambrian line steam-hauled duties were undertaken by British Railways standard locomotives....

... such as 75004 and 46521, seen resting at Machynlleth shed earlier on 8 June 1965.

The 'Chopper Topper'

The twice-postponed Pathfinder Tours "Topper Chopper" tour on Saturday 31 May was a meander from Crewe around north west England, mostly in Lancashire and including some rare track for a passenger train. The postponements were due to the late commissioning of the reinstated Todmorden curve. Plenty of cameras were trained on our train as it rounded the bend, and photographers were out in force over the entire route. 20 308 and 20 305 (photographed at Crewe by Alan Crawshaw) were leading most of the way ...

... with 37 419 on the other end being called into action when reversals were required (Alan Crawshaw).

Having run via the Middlewich branch, the train comes off the Chester line at Edgeley Junction No.2, before passing through Stockport station (Charlie Hulme).

After negotiating the Todmorden curve and the Copy Pit line, the train made a very unusual visit for a loco-hauled train to the Kirkby branch, and Chris Morrison went to have a look. Above, the very odd double-terminus Kirkby station with a Mereyrail 508 at the buffer stops having arrived with the 15:20 from Liverpool Central. Northern Rail 156 491 waits further down the platform with the 15:44 to Todmorden. Once this was a two-platform through station on a main line of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway.

37 419, heading the train after a reversal,  approaches Rainford, the station before Kirkby, having waited for 150 118 on a Kirkby - Huddersfield working to clear the single line from Kirkby.

20 308 and 305 bring up the rear of the tour, heading onto the single line to Kirkby at Rainford Junction signal box (Chris Morrison).

The driver of 20 308 surrenders the single line token at Rainford Junction as the train returns with  the Kirkby - Crewe leg of the tour, watched by a number of Network Rail staff with cameras, no doubt in attendance to ensure the safe working of the train ... of interest is the generous maximum line speed of 70 mph permitted on the line towards Kirkby (Chris Morrison).

Tale of Two Bridges

Ken Robinson writes: 'An iconic footbridge which crossed the South Wales mainline at Cardiff Canton was demolished in April and will not be replaced; it was very popular with trainspotters and photographers alike. This means that we won't be able to take photos like these any more - this one taken on 19 April 1992 shows 60 034 hauling an eastbound loaded steel from Port Talbot. And the N. Wales link? This loco was named Carnedd Llewelyn! The Tugtracker website has more details about this loco which is now stored at Toton, and indeed about all Class 60s.

Work appears to be nearing completion on the refurbishment of the Hoole Road bridge at Chester; its new light grey livery is now mostly visible, and a considerable improvement over its previous appearance. 221 105 passes with a North Wales - London train on 24 May (George Jones).

Bus troubles

Llanberis-based Padarn Bus went into administration on Friday 30 May, and ceased operations immediately, leaving its 80-odd staff out of work and no services on any of its routes from Bangor, Caernarfon, Llanberis and to Beaumaris on Anglesey. It also held contracts for 'Snowdon Sherpa' service and a number of school runs. Alan Crawshaw's picture shows the company's depot on 2 June with nothing moving.

It has been reported that two people from the company have been arrested on charges of financial irregularity. Gwynedd council staff have been working to find operators to resume the lost routes, with the results shown on their website.

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