Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

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This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page.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

November 2014

Saturday - Sunday 1/2 November Wirral 2014 Model Railway Exhibition at Mosslands School, Mosslands Drive, Wallasey, Wirral CH45 8PJ . 18 layouts, 13 traders, demonstrators and Society stands, refreshments, free vintage bus rides.

40 145, back on the main line as 345 without the D prefix, passing under the GWR lattice footbridge at Hagley with the Rawtenstall - Castleton - Oxford  'East Lancs Stalwart' excursion on 7 June. Picture by Chris Morrison.

Return of the 'Irish Mancunian'?

As mentioned in an earlier issue, Arriva Trains Wales (ATW) are considering possible use of Mk3 coaches and Class 67 locos on a North Wales - Manchester service, and made non-public trial runs with the 'Premier Service' train on Sunday 8 June.  Bob Greenhalgh photographed the train at Helsby on the way from Chester to Manchester in the afternoon...

... and again at Helsby on the return to Chester.

The train ran non-stop from Holyhead - Chester, and proceeded to Manchester Piccadilly calling at the usual stations served by ATW, then beyond the station into Longsight Down Goods Loop, the line opposite Longsight Depot which still has alongside it the remains of the 'Excursion Platform' once used by trains of visitors to the nearby Belle Vue Pleasure Gardens. (Normally ATW trains reverse in Mayfield Loop which is just outside Piccadilly station.)

The train then returned to Chester, back to Longsight and finally returned to Holyhead. Above, it arrives at Newton-le-Willows as the 17:35 from Longsight to Chester, the last run of the day which continued empty to Holyhead (Mark Youdan). The first run from Chester to Piccadilly was for gauging,  stopping at the usual stations for clearances etc., and the second run  was to establish point-to-point timings. The train stopped at the usual stations, did not release the doors and departed, on the way back running non-stop Warrington Bank Quay to Chester.

Departing Newton-le-Willows: Driving Van Trailer 82307 on the rear (Mark Youdan).

 Peter Lloyd's picture above shows it at Llandudno Junction.

What's this all about, you might ask. We understand that the plan is to introduce the service in December 2014 to free a class 175 which in turn will release a class 158 for the planned hourly service on the Cambrian line between Shresbury and Aberystwyth. It is not dependent on the (uncertain) future of the existing 'Premier Service.'

Readers may recall that on 26 March four Mk 3 coaches were extracted from storage Long Marston and taken to Arriva's works in Crewe for attention; our picture above by Martin Evans shows the move at Crewe.

Day Trip to Warrington - pictures by Darren Durrant

The morning of 7 June started early for us with a trip from North Wales up the motorway to Warrington Bank Quay for the arrival of the West Coast Railways 'East Lancs Stalwart' Rail tour from Rawtenstall to Oxford. Right on time 345 rolled into the platform and after a quick 'photo op' for some passengers it was time to go. What a noise as the engine accelerated out of the station, tailed by 57 315.

Next stop was breakfast before heading back to Chester for the arrival of the 'Northern Belle' from Cardiff. The Belle went forward to Crewe for servicing.

Chester was the host to two Charters that day, the next one being the Pathfinder's 'The Shrewsbury & Chester Explorer' from Eastleigh. This was pulled by 67 025 Western Star, and also followed the Belle to Crewe. Chester was host to "Chester Rocks" at the racecourse that afternoon, so the volume of people passing through the station was quite high. More photo opportunities were had when the 67 returned later that afternoon with a change of driver ready for its trip via Wrexham down south. As before the Belle was not far behind arriving on platform, each coach door was opened and a named welcome carpet was laid for the guests comfort.

The Belle, headed by 47 832 Galloway Princess made a fine departure leaving us time for a quick break until the log train came through on the middle line.

Then it was a leisurely trip back up to Warrington to catch the return of the 40. Staff were on hand making sure nobody tried to get on without a ticket, although spirits were high as the train set off back to the ELR in good style. 

175 005 gets its skates on

The wheelskate (or wheel skate) is an intriguing piece of railway equipment that is brought into play to enable the movement by rail of a railway vehicle which would not be able to be moved due to damage to a wheel or axle, or similar problem.

On 31 May 175 005 suffered a problem with the drive from its under-floor diesel engine to the wheels on its motor bogie, a seized 'final drive' mechanism, which because the drive is to both axles of the bogie, meant that none of the wheels could turn. It was working  train 1D66, 21:00 Crewe to Holyhead on Saturday 31 May and it was stopped at Ty Croes after the signaller at Gaerwen reported sparks when it passed. (Not something that will be likely in the technological future when all signalling is done from Cardiff, it might be added.)

The answer was a pair of wheelskates, devices with tiny wheels which, when assembled around the offending wheelset, raise it off the rail just enough for its flanges to be above the rail head.

These pictures were kindly taken for us at Holyhead sidings by someone with a right to be there. The lettering on the skates shows they are owned by DB Schenker, and have been brought from Toton depot.  It is most unusual for a pair of skates to be deployed: normally the problems affect a single un-powered axle, or one axles on a diesel locomotive where each wheel is powered independently by its own electric motor. The hydro-mechanical transmission of the 175 effectively couples both axles together.

The ingenious design of the wheelskate means that the vehicle wheel is only lifted slightly, and is still well clear of bridges and other overhead obstacles, but does not touch the rail

There are, however, severe speed restrictions on movement of vehicles in this way due to the small wheels and the lack of braking power: powered by the other coach in the set, 175 105 proceeded at 15 miles an hour to Llandudno Junction and then the next evening to Chester depot. Departing Llandudno Junction at 23:22 on 4 June, it arrived at Chester depot four hours later.

Wrexham, Rossett and Re-doubling

Work proceeds on the doubling of the Saltney Junction - Wrexham line as far as Rossett. These pictures by George Jones taken on the afternoon of 8 June show a trainload of ballast material at Wrexham General station, hauled by 66 602. Stopped in platform 2 it awaited permission to go forward into the closed section to the north. The temporary stop sign and red lights were removed from the track and the train sent off for Rossett conveying ballast of assorted shapes and sizes.

The train of open wagons was an interesting mixture of types. This one (above) is an MHA, built on the underframe of a redundant 'merry-go-round' coal hopper wagon.

The last wagon is probably one variety of the bogie open, coded JLA: these can be identified by the door in the centre of the side and the deeper section of the side at each end. The train was destined for the works compound which has been created at Rossett.

The unloading in process at Rossett later in the afternoon. Note the new long-welded rails lying alongside the line ready for installation. Picture by Mark Riley.

The view from the footbridge: the area is becoming a 'virtual quarry'. (Mark Riley)

Looking south from Rossett footbridge on 7 June as 158 824 heads north. In the distance is the compound set up by Network Rail at Station Road. Several ballast drops had already taken place over the previous week, mainly at night (Mark Riley).

Looking north from Rossett bridge on 7 June, towards Broad Oak (Mark Riley).

67 025 heads south through Rossett with the return Chester - Eastleigh excursion on 7 June. A good afternoon for loco-hauled trains (Mark Riley).

North from Rossett is Broad Oak level crossing. seen with 47 823 on the Northern Belle on 7 June: clearance of the space3 for the second track, and laying of rails alongside, has reached this point (Bob Greenhalgh).

47 832 approaches Pulford level crossing, the next one towards Chester, in the rain. Again one can see here a long clear stretch of exposed track bed, ready for new ballast, but there are no extra rails in view. (Mark Riley).

67 025 at Green Lane level crossing, a mile south of Saltney Junction (Bob Greenhalgh). The junction itself has already been altered for the double track, but it seems that ballasting, etc. will be proceeding from the Rossett direction (Bob Greenhalgh).

Above, the return Pathfinder excursion on 7 June with 67 025 Western Star (above) passing Wrexham General in the afternoon sunshine. It was due to stop at Gobowen at 17:41 to pick up participants who had selected the Llangollen Railway visit option (George Jones).

It is not often one gets so much excitement at Wrexham in the course of half an hour or so. Hopefully there will be more excursions on the border when the line the north of Rossett is redoubled.

Camping at Marsh Brook - report by John Murray

I spent a couple of nights camping with colleagues at Shropshire Camping and Pods adjacent to the Station Inn  at Marsh Brook, a few miles south of Church Stretton in Shropshire. Marsh Brook manual signal box (above), erected in 1872 for the Shrewsbury and Hereford Joint Railway, is one of 26 granted Grade II listed status nationally for preservation.


A remnant of the Regional Railways days of British Rail remains on the sign next to the door.

Shortly after our arrival on 5 June, train 1W96, the 17:16 Cardiff Central to Holyhead 'One Wales Express', at speed passed the semaphore signal controlling the crossing. 67 003 was propelling from the rear, but photography in that direction is difficult.

This is a very busy stretch of line. In addition to the regular passenger services to and from Cardiff and Holyhead, there are regular freight movements. While we were sitting outside the pub, as darkness fell, a Colas train of logs from Margam to Kronospan, a Freightliner coal train from
Avonmouth to Rugeley B Power station and an train of white vans from Portbury Automotive Terminal near Bristol to Mossend Euroterminal passed north with the space of 2 hours. I heard further freight passing throughout the night.

Northern Belle's busy weekend

The 'Northern Belle' luxury train, pictured by Roly High approaching Prestatyn westbound on 6 June, has certainly been busy recently. Leaving Crewe depot on the morning of 6 June, it proceeded emty-stock to Nottingham, to form this trip via Derby (reverse), Burton-on-Trent, Stoke-on-Trent and Crewe to Bangor. Once the passengers had de-trained it travelled  to Holyhead, returning to Bangor for the return to Nottingham.

47 832 on the rear as the train passes the new shopping centre at Prestatyn and through the station (Roly High).

Arrived at Bangor (Richard Fleckney). Note how the door of the Mk2 First Class coach has been given a round window in an attempt to make it resemble a Pullman - although to be truly authentic the door shouuld open inwards.

The nameplate of 47 790 ...

... and its British Pullman crest (Richard Fleckney).

This impressive-looking vehicle, GD14 LAK, newest in the fleet of Lakeside Coaches, Ellesmere, was one of those waiting at Bangor for the Northern Belle passengers. It is a 13-metre long Volvo B11R with an SC7 body by Spanish firm Sunsundegui. The coach trip visited Beaumaris and Plas Newydd.

Having travelled to Holyhead for servicing, the train arrives back at Bangor with 47 832 leading (Rowan Crawshaw). Note the two sleeping cars at the front of the train, providing staff accommodation.

Llandudno Junction on the return (Peter Lloyd).

Chester (Bob Greenhalgh). From Nottingham the train travelled empty to Cardiff Canton Sidings via Tamworth, the Lickey incline and Gloucester to be in position for Saturday 7 June's trip from Cardiff Central to Chester (continuing to Crewe to servicing). 

A look at 7 June's trip to Chester, returning via Wrexham. After 158 833 called at Wrexham General on the 17:44 departure for Birmingham, the return 'Northern Belle' headed for Cardiff with 47 790 Galloway Princess at 17:59, a little early, but scheduled to be held at Wrexham whilst the preceding service cleared Gobowen (George Jones).

The train got away at 18:05 as the northbound Holyhead service formed of 175 102 came into view. 47 832 in matching livery brought up the rear.  A nice bit of scheduling allowed for best use of the single-line section through from Saltney for three southbound trains ahead of the next northbound train (George Jones).

After returning to Cardiff the travelled to Swansea ready for Sunday 8 June's excursion to Telford Central (for the RAF Cosford air show) and then via Shrewsbury and Nantwich to Crewe for servicing, after which it will return the passengers to Swansea before heading via Shrewsbury and Nantwich back to its home depot at Crewe.

Freight trains in view

The flask trains to and from Valley remain the only freight traffic west of Saltney Junction, and Peter Basterfield continues to look for new picture locations. Above, a view on Wednesday 4 June at Llyn Maelog, Rhosneigr from the public footpath around the lake. 57 002 leads 20 302 and
two FNA wagons which were 11 minutes late at Bangor but had pulled back 7 minutes on arrival at Valley

Peter Basterfield's second shot of this train taken with a long lens which gave an 'interesting' result at the Valley loading facility. Peter writes: 'I have yet to see the road transport bringing the load from Wylfa but remain optimistic.'

The week saw a second run of he flask train: 20 304 and 57 002 exit Bangor Tunnel with the 6D41 Crewe to Valley Flasks on 6 June. (Rowan Crawshaw)

6 June's train ran westbound later that usual, making use of the second allocacted path at 07:36 from Crewe, and running 15 minutes late on that. Peter Basterfield captured the train in the Anglesey landscape, coming off the viaduct at Malltraeth, with Llangaffo in the middle distance and the Carneddi behind.

Two closer views from the same viewpoint as above. Left, heading towards the camera with Glantraeth football pitch in view; right, heading away towards the two Bodorgan tunnels - 413 yards and 115 yards long.

The return train passing Bangor, 173 minutes early at 12:43 as the 'Northern Belle' arrives (Richard Fleckney).

Leaving Pen-y-Clip tunnel (Peter Basterfield). The locos were the same as 4 June's train but the other way round.

Near Mold Junction (Bob Greenhalgh).

66 847 brings a Chirk-bound load of logs from Ribblehead into Chester on 6 June (Bob Greenhalgh).

Car Park news

The new east car park for Chester station, mentioned in an earlier issue, is now open, as shown on this map. It is larger, although it's hard to tell from the shapes. The old car park will see commercial building developments.

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