Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

21 July 2014

Last issue


RSS feed RSS

Link to this issue

Share this issue

Contributions and comments are encouraged: see the Contributions Page

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This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page.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

July 2014

26-27 July Llangollen Railway 1960s weekend.

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 Note change of route Crewe, Wilmslow, Stockport, Manchester Piccadilly, Warrington Bank Quay 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 Note change of route Crewe, Wilmslow, Stockport, Manchester Piccadilly, Warrington Bank Quay 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. Note change of route Crewe, Wilmslow, Stockport, Manchester Piccadilly, Warrington Bank Quay 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.

57 009 leads the return 'Caterpillar Cat' railtour (see below) past the public footpath crossing at Dodleston (O.S. SJ 372612) between Saltney Junction and Wrexham on 19 July, pictured by John Mathers.  The 're-doubling' team has yet to arrive at this location, although the single track shows signs of having been re-laid recently.

'Irish Mancunian' is Go

The proposed second loco-hauled diagram for Arriva Trains Wales, to be on the Manchester line, mentioned here in previous issues, has 'gone public' with a press announcement from the Department for Transport, from which we quote (minus the speeches):
Rail passengers in England and Wales will benefit from thousands more seats on services across the border thanks to a £1.2 million deal between the Department for Transport and Arriva Train Wales, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced today (16 July 2014).

Under the plans, which have been supported by the Welsh government, the train operator will run an additional locomotive and 4 carriages, boosting services for passengers and local businesses on the popular routes between Llandudno and Holyhead to Manchester and Birmingham.

The additional services are expected to start in December and will mean at least 2,450 extra seats across the morning and evening peaks every week.  The deal has been made possible through money paid to the department by Deutsche Bahn, following the company’s acquisition of Arriva Plc. Under the current rail industry framework train companies are required to pay a change of control fee when changes to the operator are made.
Who knew there was such a thing as a 'change of control fee'? The diagram for this 67-worked push-pull train, as we have it, will be:
 1D51.07:16 Crewe - Chester
1H84 07:40 Chester - Manchester Piccadilly
1D34 09:50 Manchester Piccadilly - Holyhead
1H89 12:59 Holyhead - Manchester Piccadilly
1D31 16:50 Manchester Piccadilly - Llandudno.
2D79 19:13 Llandudno - Llandudno Junction
2D80 19:28 Llandudno Junction - Llandudno
1K96 19:38 Llandudno - Crewe
Quoting 'extra seats per week' seems to be a way to create a nice high figure, without actually saying how many more seats there will be on a single peak-time train, which is what people actually want to know.  The reference to Birmingham is interesting; presumably this refers to the re-deployment of rolling stock displaced by the loco-hauled train, although on other forums it has been said that the stock released will be used on the Manchester - Cardiff service and/or an hourly train to Aberystwyth.

The plan has already become controversial, because the current 07:40 departure from Chester is a train which has started from Llandudno, making possible a commuter arrival in Manchester before 09:00. If replaced by a train starting in Chester, this option will be lost to passengers from west of Chester. There is a currently Virgin train from Holyhead which will make a connection at Chester for Manchester, but this does not  serve Llandudno, Abergele or Shotton. We await developments.

The new train certainly be popular with enthusiasts: let's hope they don't take up all the extra seats intended for commuters!

Locomotive assortment

A Network Rail test train, top and tailed by 37 402 Stephen Middlemore and and 37 423 Spirit of the Lakes passes Mobberley on the Mid-Cheshire line, 21 July (Andrew Vinten). 37 402 was a regular performer 20 years ago on the Manchester - Holyhead 'Irish Mancunian' service.

The evening Cardiff - Holyhead express passes Dorrington just after 19:00 on 15 July with 67 003 in charge. Picture by Stavros Lainas.

35 minutes later, the Baglan Bay to Chirk loaded timber train with Colas 56 113 (Stavros Lainas).

The timber train on 15 July had a short stopover at Sutton Bridge Junction which gave Stavros Lainas another opportunity to photograph it again at 20:15 in soft evening sunshine at Battlefield, north of Shrewsbury. This is traditionally believed to be the site of the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403, which features in Shakespeare's 'Henry IV Part 1': the nearby Battlefield 1403 Farm Shop and Café has an exhibition about the battle.

The 'Caterpillar Cat' - report by Richard Putley

The 'Caterpillar Cat' railtour from Eastleigh to Crewe on 19 July, organised by Pathfinder Tours, was run in connection with the DRS Gresty Road Depot Open Day. It had been billed as the first passenger train hauled by one of the new DRS Class 68 Diesel Locomotives, but when my ticket arrived the accompanying letter said that they have not been passed for passenger operation as yet. So instead the tour would be hauled by a class 57 loco.

[The name of the tour refers to the diesel engine in the Class 69 locos, which is made by the Caterpillar company in the USA. The name might be faimilar to some from die-cast models of tracked vehicles and bulldozers.]

I joined the tour at Westbury (picture above) where no less than four new Colas Class 70 diesel locos could be seen. But I was only able to identify 70 809 the one nearest to me. The tour arrived a few minutes late behind former Freightliner locos 57 009 and 57 008. Further pick ups were at Trowbridge, Bath and Filton Abbey Wood, the train used the 'Rhubarb Curve' to avoid Bristol Temple Meads station.

We headed north via Gloucester, where we passed The Statesman Rail 'Exmoor Coast Statesman' excursion from Sheffield to Minehead, which was topped and tailed by a  maroon (ex-Arriva Blue) West Coast Railway locos 57 314 and 57 315. We then took the Worcester line at Abbots Wood Junction, taking the former Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton line ...

... through Worcester Shrub Hill (above) with its array of lower-quadrant semaphore signals, Kidderminster - where two preserved class 50s - including newly-restored 50 026 Indomitable -  were noted, and a Deltic.

At Stourbridge Junction, Chiltern Railways 67 014 Thomas Telford was stabled with a set of their 'Mainline' carriages. We turned right on to the Stour Valley Line and climbed the steep bank to Rowley Regis. We had been booked to stop in the Up Loop line here to allow a scheduled train to overtake us,  but as we were running about 9 minutes late we carried on only to be held at Smethwick Junction. After a train from Birmingham Snow Hill had passed we then turned right on to the chord line down to Galton Junction and on to the Birmingham New Street - Wolverhampton line.

Turning left at Soho West Junction we followed the Soho Loop Line to Perry Barr where we gained the original Grand Junction line.

This took us to Crewe, passing several locos at Bescot including 60 099 Tata Steel in its silver paint job which looked commendably clean. After Crewe the tour continued to Chester for those who wished to visit there instead. I walked down to Gresty Road depot where examples of most DRS diesel classes could be seen, including several class 68s. They fired-up the engine of one and it sounded impressive but it was disappointing not to see any running. Also on display was the narrow gauge Ffestiniog loco Prince which was in steam.

After I'd seen everything at Gresty Bridge I walked over to the Crewe Heritage Centre (The Railway Age as was.) I got there just in time to see the stock of our train returning, with 57 009 leading and 57 008 on the back.  Parked awaiting overhaul were several steam locos including GWR 2-6-2T 5553 and 2-8-0T 5224. On 'Thunderbird' duty at Crewe Station was 57 308.

Rumours were flying that a different loco would haul the return leg of the tour, possibly even a 68; we understand that there was a plan to use a Class 66/4 for the benefit of the 'rare traction' fans, but it had a broken windscreen, so in the event it was 57 009 and 008 again. I rejoined the tour, which then headed on to Chester to pick up people who had opted to visit the city. We continued via Wrexham, Shrewsbury (where 97 302 and 97 304 John Tiley were noted in their depot) , Hereford and the east chord at Maindee Junction on the outskirts of Newport (Monmouthshire), then through the Severn Tunnel, re-joining our outward route at Filton Abbey Wood. We arrived back at Filton Abbey Wood several minutes early, but we were then held on the 'Rhubarb Curve' until it was time for us to proceed. So ended an enjoyable day out.

Sixties at Llangollen

26-27 July is the 1960s Weekend at the Llangollen Railway. 'Relive the sights and sounds of the 60’s. Visitors are encouraged to dress up! BBQ on the platform at Llangollen Station. Come in a 60s era car and claim one free rover ticket plus a 1960s style market place ... An extremely popular event that you will not want to miss out on.'

It seems that 'up to 3' steam locomotives are likely to be in use (subject to availability). Currently available are standard class 4 tank 80072 and GWR 2-8-0 3802. At least one of these will get  special temporary weathering treatment for the weekend to show visitors how grimy and uncared for steam locomotives became in the run up to their replacement with diesel locomotives and railcars in the 60s.

Class 26 diesel number D5310, in 1960's green livery with original train describer discs will run on both days. This locomotive was the state of the art in the 60s, having been built in 1958 in Smethwick by the Birmingham Railway, Carriage and Wagon Co. The superbly restored Class 109 Wickham DMU is likely to complete the line-up of trains. Free vintage bus rides will be on offer between Llangollen and Carrog, using two vehicles from the North West Museum of Transport, calling at Berwyn and Glyndyfrdwy en route.

A vintage vehicle rally will be staged at Glyndyfrdwy station and live music with Dr Beeching's real ale bar can be enjoyed on Llangollen station throughout the weekend, where there is also a 1960s-style market place.

A timetable for the weekend can be found on the Railway's Facebook page where we located most of the above information, supplementing the brief mention on the Railway's website. (Unfortunate for the few remaining oldies who don't understand that Facebook now rules many people's lives.)

Mold Junction 1995 - by Roger Smith

I was interested by the changes which have taken place in the vicinity of the Mold Junction Yard, as depicted in John Cowlishaw's photograph from this year and Dave Sallery's photograph from 1984 (last issue).  The Silver Birch is doing wonders. I enclose an intermediate photograph of the same location taken on 6 August 1995, eleven years after Dave Sallery's photograph.  It is of an eight-car InterCity 125 service from Holyhead to London Euston passing the derelict Mold Junction Yard. BREL. HST Power Car no. 43 042 is leading; no. 43 041 was trailing. Dave Sallery refers to loudspeakers to the left of the main line;  these are seen in my photograph close to the left of the frame.

My grandfather Caleb Smith worked his entire life at the Mold Junction Yard — 50 years' service.

Another change in this scene  has occurred in the background.  In 1993 (I believe it was), the American company Raytheon acquired the ownership of what had been the British Aerospace 125 business jet production at the Hawarden Airport.  In the background in my photograph is a hangar at 2-Site at the airport; just visible is the then-new 'Raytheon Corporate Jets' logo.

Open Day at Gresty Bridge

A selection of views from our contributors of the selection of motive power on show on 19 July at the DRS Gresty Bridge depot open day. Above, pictured by David Hennessey, a line-up of 20 309, 37 606 and electric loco 90 034 - the latter displaying the 'DRS Crewe on a Mission' headboard as well as the yellow 'Taking You to the Tour' one created for DRS's participation in transporting spectators to the British stages of the Tour de France.

90 034 shows off its DRS livery (Richard Putley). There is a complex story here: Virgin Trains has a set of Mk3 coaches, known as the 'Pretendolino' which it uses for charters and for Thursday and Friday-evening relief trains (19:03 London Euston - Birmingham and 20:50 return). DRS has been awarded a two-year contract to provide a locomotive, but does not have any electric locos, so it has hired this one from DB Schenker and had it re-liveried in a simplified version of DRS branding. It is based at Wembley depot: as can be seen, Gresty Bridge depot has no overhead wires.

Star attraction were the new Class 68s. Illustrating 150 years of traction evolution, 68 002 Intrepid was posed  alongside Ffestiniog Railway no 2 Prince which was in steam (David Parry). David notes 'A great show with a good attendance, though unfortunately visited by rain.'

68 004 Rapid (David Parry).  Three other class 68s were in the shed.   DRS is giving the new locos names mostly familiar to Western Region enthusiasts as carried by members of the diesel-hydraulic 'Warship' classes. Why these particular warship names have been chosen we cannot say: is there a reason?

According to a recent article in the railway press, the only component of these locos (except the nameplates perhaps?) that is made in Britain is the TPWS cab-signalling gear which is a system unique to the UK.

Crewe station views, 19 July - by David Hennessey

First Great Western have been sending Mk3 coaches from their HST sets to Wabtec at Kilmarnock for refurbishment and modification. One such train passed through Crewe station on 19 July, hauled by  57 316.

West Coast Railways / Stratford 47 Group 47 580 County of Essex trailed the Kilmarnock-bound move out of Crewe station.

Two of the coaches - first class opens, apparently.

57 308 County of Staffordshire on standby, back to normal duties after its Tour de France exploits. Its smart appearance contrasts with that of 57 316.

DRS 57 009 and 57 008 blast their way out of Crewe bound for Chester, with the Eastleigh-bound return leg of Pathfinder's 'Caterpillar Cat' tour.

Privately-preserved 86 259 Les Ross gets going from Crewe, doing is usual work of  hauling the London to Preston / Carlisle leg of Railway Touring Company's 'Cumbrian Mountain Express'. The steam leg was due to be hauled by LNER A4 60009 Union of South Africa, subject to the present firefighter's strike permitting this ... and in fact the steam loco did work the train, but only south from Carlisle over the Settle and Carlisle line. We understand that as a precaution the diesel loco on the rear assisted over the steeper sections to reduce the risk of sparked being thrown out of the chimney under heavy load.

Blaenau Adopters' Event - report by Larry Davies, Community Rail Officer

On Thursday 17 July 2014 the Conwy Valley Line Partnership held a ceremony at Blaenau Ffestiniog to acknowledge the culmination of a rail safety project undertaken with the pupils and staff of Ysgol Maenofferen which is alongside the stations.

The sun shone and there were plenty of smiles when the children from Ysgol Maenofferen visited Blaenau Ffestiniog station. The children from year 3 have been working hard and having lots of fun working with Arriva Trains Wales' School Liaison Officer, Phil Caldwell, on the rail safety
awareness project. The class have made trips on both the Conwy Valley line and the Ffestiniog Railway and have also done some wonderful artwork which has been erected on the Ffestiniog Railway's station building to welcome Conwy Valley trains to the town. The murals are certainly 'bang up-to-date, even featuring people enjoying the newly opened Zip World at nearby Llechwedd Slate Caverns.

The murals were unveiled by Lord Dafydd Ellis Thomas (Assembly Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd) at an early morning ceremony but something was missing - Trains! So the whole school came back in time to welcome the lunchtime arrivals from Porthmadog and Llandudno. Dr Dai Roberts, a Trustee of the Ffestiniog/Welsh Highland Railways addressed and advised the gathering of all the good work and achievements of the Project.  Passengers were rewarded with some enthusiastic singing, flag waving and music from the school band. Newly appointed Mayor, Rhian Williams, and Chair of the Chamber of Commerce, Clare Britton joined in the festivities.

Ysgol Maenofferen join the Blaenau Ffestiniog Station Adoption group to look after 'their' station. The station adoption group were formed last year under the Arriva Trains Wales very successful scheme and their achievements are clear to see - cheerful flowers and a litter free station. A plaque recognising their work was also presented by Lord Ellis Thomas.  At the conclusion of the ceremonies, a joint simultaneous departure of both FR (hauled by David Lloyd George) and Arriva (150 260) trains was achieved at 11:46 to much whistling and horn blowing.

Both stations are looking much brighter with fresh paintwork on the Arriva platform and some new benches on the Ffestiniog platform to match those in the town car park. The money for these benches on the Ffestiniog Platform has been raised in memory of former booking office stalwart, Roy Woods, who passed away last year. Roy was a staunch supporter of the town and frequently complained about the lack of facilities, especially benches. Now we can say with certainty we have a station he could be proud of.

A visit to the Wirral Tramway - with George Jones

Saturday 19 July was scheduled as the public launch of the Liverpool Corporation 'Baby Grand' tramcar No.245 after its restoration by the Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society at the Wirral Transport Museum. Unfortunately, a problem with the braking system caused the MTPS to postpone the launch until a later date. Nevertheless, I went along to see how things had progressed with a well remembered vehicle from my schooldays which has survived the various moves in preservation since set aside in 1957.

On arrival at Woodside Ferry the second disappointment was the suspension of the tram service as a consequence of an electrical fire in the overhead supply. Offering a tram replacement bus service was Crosville DFG 38, 1961 Bristol Lodekka FS6G with ECW H33/27RD body, which took passengers on a tour of Birkenhead docks before calling in at the Museum in Taylor Street.  It is seen above at Woodside awaiting patronage - once a location for many Crosville buses offering routes in Wirral, Cheshire and North Wales.

All cars in the tram fleet were crowded into the shed where 245 had pride of place over the pit and an opportunity to board for inspection was granted. The streamlined styling still looks modern in 2014 - many people's opinion better than modern cars none of which are double deckers.

The interior layout on the lower deck, in the Liverpool Corporation green and cream styling with leather seats ...

 ... and top decks certainly rolled back the years and rekindled memories of journeys on this type of car in the era when the Liverpool Tramways system was being run down in favour of bus services. The width of the seats seems unlikely to cope with the average size of two of today's adults.

Following the end of tram services in September 1957, No.245 was put away in the municipal Edge Lane works where I saw it on occasions in 1968/69 as it awaited public display in the Liverpool Museum where the Transport gallery wasn't big enough to accommodate it. It eventually moved onto the Steamport depot at Southport where conditions caused deterioration, but it re-emerged on display in Liverpool as part of the Large Object Collection in Princess Dock. When this popular venue closed the tram went into storage at Bootle before agreement was reached to its restoration by the Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society.

The restoration of the car over the past 8 years is to a very high standard to meet the requirements of the National Museums Liverpool (a new title), aided by a Heritage Lottery grant.  It now seems that a resolution of the braking problem will allow for an appearance at the Wirral Bus & Tram show on 5 October.

Also showing signs of visible progress in the shed was  No.2, the sole surviving  Warrington car, with work now centred on the top deck. Completion of this long-term restoration project will result in another popular pre-war car for operation on the tramway. This for a car that was withdrawn in the 1930s and the lower saloon survived as a bowling green club house until 1977.

Meanwhile, out on the Mersey, the cruise liner Celebrity Infinity was moored at the Liverpool Cruise Liner terminal, taking fuel from the tanker Mersey Spirit and made for a day of some variety.

Metrolink events - pictures by Greg Mape

This interesting vehicle - a Mercedes-Benz Unimog - belongs to pantograph manufacturers Brecknell Willis, and was spotted on 15 July making tests on the Manchester Metrolink line to Manchester Airport, which opens to passengers later this year.

A look at the substantial building work around Manchester Victoria on 4 July. There is a single temporary tram track running to the right of the previous alignment (with no platform, trains are not calling there until November 2014), as the track enters the station. A new modern roof is being grafted onto the existing station.

This work will provide a third track through the station, to allow flexibility once the 'second city crossing' between St Peters Square and Victoria is built.  The single-track section is worked with a
token system, usually with 'flights' of two trams each way.

2015 will see extension work begin at St Peter's Square, involving a long period of closure of that very busy station.

North Wales Coast home pageArchivePrevious Notice Board