Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

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This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page.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

August 2014

Sunday 10 August  Steam on the Coast. Railway Touring Company. North Wales Coast Express Crewe, Wilmslow, Stockport, Manchester Piccadilly, Warrington Bank Quay (Note change of route) and Chester to Llandudno, Bangor and Holyhead. Diesel-hauled Crewe - Manchester. Cancelled.

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.

Sunday 31 August Mersey Ferries: Summer New Brighton Lifeboat fundraising cruise

September 2014

Tuesday 2 September Steam on the Coast. Railway Touring Company. Welsh Mountaineer. Preston, Warrington BQ, Frodsham and Chester to Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Friday 5 September Clwyd Railway Circle Working Steam in the 21st Century: James Shuttleworth

Sunday 7 September  Steam on the Coast. Railway Touring Company. North Wales Coast Express Crewe, Wilmslow, Stockport, Manchester Piccadilly, Warrington Bank Quay (Note change of route) and Chester to Llandudno, Bangor and Holyhead. Diesel-hauled Crewe - Manchester.

Thursday 11 September Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Disappearing slides:  Larry Davies   

Monday 15 September   RCTS Merseyside & North Wales: All the Colours of the Rainbow.  David Walker

Saturday 20 September Steam on the Coast. Steam Dreams: Cathedrals Express. London - Holyhead.

October 2014
Friday 3 October Clwyd Railway Circle Dinorwic Slate Quarries - The Lower Levels - Part 1: Dave Sallery

Thursday 9 October Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society The Railways of Wirral Dave Southern

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.

Monday  20 October  RCTS Merseyside & North Wales: Railways in a Yorkshire Landscape.  Stephen Gay. Stephen joins us again with his latest slide show of his railway rambles with his faithful German Shepherd dog Wrawby, this time in his native Yorkshire

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.

Friday 7 November Clwyd Railway Circle German Mainline Steam: Ian Mainprize

Thursday 13 November   Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society   AGM Members Evening   Keith Jones/Bob Barnsdale/Llew Groom

Monday 17 November  RCTS Merseyside & North Wales: Scottish Steam in the 1960s.  John  Cashen

December 2014

Friday 5 December Clwyd Railway Circle Members Night & Christmas Celebrations

Thursday 11 December   Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society   Xmas Social/ Arriva Trains Wales: the first 10 years & the future: Ben Davies                

Monday 15 December  RCTS Merseyside & North Wales: Steam Sheds through the years: Part 1.  John Sloane

January 2015

Thursday 8 January    Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society   The Corwen Extension - Llangollen Railway:  Steve Jones

Friday 9 January Clwyd Railway Circle Severn Valley Railway - Past, Present and Future: Nick Ralls
Monday 19 January  RCTS Merseyside & North Wales: Branch A.G.M followed by members slides and digital presentations

February 2015

Friday 6 February Clwyd Railway Circle A Year in the Life of an International Train Spotter: Phil Thomas

Thursday 12 February Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society A black & white circle of North Wales:  John Hobbs

Monday 16 February RCTS Merseyside & North Wales: Welsh Wanderings in the1980s".  Geoff Morris. A trip through Wales in a decade during which livery variations started to appear and steam reappeared on a scheduled basis along the Cambrian & North Wales Coasts.

March 2015

Friday 6 March Clwyd Railway Circle Annual General Meeting followed by an illustrated talk entitled Back to the ‘60s by Geoff Coward

Thursday 12 March Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society A view from a signal box window:  Adrian Bodlander        

Monday 16 March RCTS Merseyside & North Wales: A History of Railway Preservation in Britain. Robert Gwynne .Bob is the Associate Curator Rail Vehicles at the NRM in York

April 2015

Thursday 9 April Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Railway enthusiasm - international: Phil Thomas    

Friday 10 April Clwyd Railway Circle The View From a Signalbox Window: Adrian Bodlander

Monday 20 April RCTS Merseyside & North Wales: 21st Century Steam in China.  Geoff Coward. Geoff presents video and stills from his visit in 2002.

May 2015

Thursday 14 May    Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society 6G locomen = personal reminiscences A Guest Panel

61994 The Great Marquess heads out of Blaenau Ffestiniog with the return 'Welsh Mountaineer' on 29 July. See report below. (Picture by Ian Pilkington)

Thanks for all the contributions as always: some have been held over to next issue.-Charlie

North Wales Coast Express 3 August

Report by Alan Crawshaw

After two journeys to north-east England for A4 pacific-hauled charters that suffered late cancellations, I played safe by driving from Bangor to Llandudno Junction with the aim of negotiating a reduced fare for the shorter journey on the North Wales Coast Express to Holyhead and back. If this failed then we would photograph the train and return home. A steward told us that next weekend's 'North Wales Coast Express' has been cancelled because of low bookings, some people transferring to today's run but there were still plenty of seats so the train manager was happy to accommodate us.

However, it did run, and I was able to photograph it arriving at Llandudno Junction; I had time to return to the station during the half-hour watering stop.

After topping up the tender with water, we were away, 60009 Union of South Africa registered 74.38 mph on the outward run, almost the maximum 75 mph permitted for steam. Above, the view of the train in platform 1 at Holyhead from the Celtic Gateway bridge after arrival.

The nameplate: Gill Sans typeface at its purest. Note the flaps in the streamlining - for access to sandboxes and oiling points?

57 316, on the rear of the train on arrival, would assist with shunting and couple to the other end before departure. In the carriage sidings is Arriva's Premier Express train, stabled here on Sunday as usual.

Released from the train, 60009 ran round and returned to platform 1 before heading off tender-first to Valley to turn on the triangle there in preparation for the return.

Having turned, the A4 backs on to the train.

A view through the first class dining carriage to 67 002 in the sidings.

Holyhead town centre was 'closed': surprisingly not a single café took advantage of the influx of potential customers, and none of the pubs looked inviting. 70 mph was touched on the return journey, a lovely afternoon out.

Pictures from the lineside

Bagillt (Ian Pilkington)

Passing through Robert Stephenson's addition to Conwy town walls (Garry Stroud).

Passing Llanfairfechan westbound (Peter Basterfield).

Negotiating the bridges and tunnels at Penmaenbach on the return journey (Peter Basterfield).

The evening return train passing Abergele station, whistle blaring (Darren Durrant).

The driver looks out for signals approaching the bridges and tunnels before Chester station; picture by Anthony Thomas looking over the wall on Raymond Street. The springbok plaque on the side of the locomotive was donated on 12 April 1954 by a Bloemfontein newspaper proprietor, according to Wikipedia. It is on the left-hand side only, whilst the South African Coat of Arms appears on both sides of the cab.

57 316 on the rear (Anthony Thomas). Note the milepost on the cutting side marking 180 miles from London Euston. The train has just passed Roodee Junction, the point where two tracks widen to four.

With the NWCE - by Stephen Hughes

I made a last minute decision to travel along the North Wales Coast On the RTC 'North Wales Coast Express' on August 3 , not having had steam haulage along the coast since the regular trains over twenty years ago. I did, though, cut it rather fine, road closures in Bangor and a malfunctioning parking ticket machine would have meant that I 'd have missed the 10:59 train to Chester, but happily that was running over ten minutes late due to 'technical' issues at Holyhead. The two-car 158 was crowded, standing room only after Rhyl, extra passengers generated presumably by Chester races. I only had a few minutes at Chester to change platforms before the on time arrival of the NWCE headed by 60009. Conflicting information had led me to believe that the train might have been 'Black 5' hauled, an authentic class for the line (last time I had authentic steam haulage on the North Wales Coast was a Britannia in 1965!) but I wasn't complaining, as I later realised that I had now completed main line haulage by all three of the current serviceable A4s,  it had only  taken 47 years to achieve since my first trip behind 'Sir Nigel Gresley' in 1967!

However, it was a good fast non-stop run to the Junction with no checks, coming to a stand just before the Queen's Road bridge only 48 minutes after leaving Chester. After a stop of about 30 minutes for water  a similar good run followed to Bangor.

For any North Wales enthusiast who fancies a ride along the coast, I would certainly recommend buying a ticket 'on the day'. (There were enough available seats). When I eventually located the Train Manager, I was charged £25 for the single journey, which I thought was very reasonable (and about right). I might even have to do it again.

Editor's thoughts

Although these on-the-day fares often exist, they cannot be booked in advance and places are not guaranteed. The Railway Touring Company would no doubt emphasise that they are intended for local residents, not for people who want to save money by driving from Manchester to Chester. Yet many people will always leave the train for the day at Llandudno so there will always be room west of there, so why not offer bookings for the section west of there? The economics of these operations are very fragile, as can be seen from the tendency to cancel some of the advertised trains.

From a very personal point of view: we rarely travel on such excursions: Mk1 coaches, sometimes in less than sparking condition, are no great attraction, there are no longer any 'photographic run-pasts' in this country to allow passengers chance to get a decent view of the loco, and the long stops for water, etc, are really quite tedious.

Problems on the 'Welsh Mountaineer'

The Preston - Blaenau Ffestiniog 'Welsh Mountaineer' steam excursion has run a few times each summer for a few years now, mostly without problems, once it was realised that because of the steep gradients and sharp curves of the Conwy Valley line the train must be kept relatively short by charter train standards, with relatively high fares to compensate. It has not been though necessary to add a diesel locomotive to the rear of the train as happens with the 'North Wales Coast Express' and other Railway Touring Company trains.

The train on Tuesday 29 July ran more-or-less to time on its outward journey, including a scheduled scheduled stop for water at Frodsham, a half-hour spent at Chester while the loco was turned so as to face forward when travelling up the Conwy Valley route, and another half-hour for water at Llandudno Junction - Ian Pilkington's picture above shows 61994 The Great Marquess in its trendy black livery passing Dunham-on-the-Hill.

Ian Pilkington caught up with the train climbing the 1 in 62 gradient near Dolwyddelan, with rather smoky exhaust in evidence. By this time the loco and its crew were struggling to keep the train on the move.

The train made Blaenau Ffestiniog 48 minutes late at 14:03; Peter Basterfield's picture shows it approaching the station. Departure time from Blaenau was on schedule at 16:00, but arrival at Llandudno Junction was over half an hour late at 18:00. The coal was said to be of poor quality, and despite much effort the crew were unable to get the steam to the required boiler pressure - it was said to be down to just 105 psi - and after some discussion about possibly continuing to Chester it was decided to cancel the rest of the excursion, and send the passengers home by normal services starting with 175 112 on the Llandudno - Manchester Airport service. Passengers for Preston would have had to change at Warrington; lets hope nobody was compelled to buy a ticket.

A rescue loco in the shape of 47 245 departed from West Coast Railways' Carnforth depot at 18:40, and arrived at Llandudno Junction at 21:47 after a delay at Chester, reportedly caused by the fact that the driver who brought the loco from Carnforth could not continue as he did not 'sign' the North Wales line, in other words did not have the required route knowledge, with the result that the driver of the steam loco was obliged to also travel by service train to Chester to collect the rescue loco and drive it to Llandudno Junction. The empty train, with 47 245 hauling and 61994 going backwards in the rear, eventually departed Llandudno Junction at 22:04.

The good news is that no ordinary passengers were seriously inconvenienced by all this, even on the Conwy Valley branch with its long single-line sections. What went wrong? Clearly this is a very sensitive topic, and we are no experts on steam loco operation, but comments received from readers suggest that the coal, which is imported, is of a different chemical make-up from British steam coal used when steam was regular traction, hence the 'continued failures year after year, time after time of steam traction, with poor steaming or causing multiple fires.'

Why couldn't a rescue loco be found from Warrington or Crewe, you might wonder. Although Network Rail does apparently have the authority to 'commandeer' a loco in emergency situations, this was not justifiable in this case, even if feasible, as the problem train was not blocking any others. Arriva's Class 67 loco was still working its normal train from Cardiff at the time, and anyway Arriva does not have a 'safety case' for rescuing steam trains. Whether the 'Thunderbird' Class 57 loco from Crewe could have been used, we leave as a 'problem for the reader.'

Llandudno station officially open

BBC news reports on 22 July: 'A seaside town's train station has been officially opened, after a £5.2m refurbishment. It was built [to replace a smaller one] in 1892, and the refit started in 2012. The project received £3.5m of Welsh Government and European funding, as well as money from the Department of Transport and the Railway Heritage Trust.'

Welsh Finance Minister Jane Hutt was in attendance for the ceremony, as was Mark Langman, Wales director of Network Rail. You can watch their speeches, and see some view of the station, on YouTube. The new facilities include a new ticket office, upgrade of the concourse area featuring a  new glass curtain, and a new car parking area for up to 125 cars as well as car and taxi drop-off points.  A bus lay-by with two bus stops has been created at the front of the station with additional bicycle storage facilities.  The front of the station continues to be in keeping with the Victorian architecture of the town. 

Work has also been undertaken to improve accessibility at the station.  The whole station area has been levelled off, in line with the regulations of the Equality Act, which has made the station a much smoother, more accessible space. New toilet facilities have also been installed including a specialist accessible toilet, a "Changing Places" facility, complete with showers and hoists.

These platform gate signs could surely have been integreated into the heritage look?

High Summer at Tan-y-Bwlch - with John Roobottom

The Ffestiniog Railway's Fairlie David Lloyd George drifts into Tan-y-Bwlch on the sunny Saturday afternoon of 12 July, having left Blaenau Ffestiniog at 15:05.  It is in the works grey livery, similar to the grey undercoat sported by Taliesin way back at Easter 1957.

Out and About

70 002 at Runcorn East on the 12.04 Ellesmere Port to Fiddlers Ferry power station train of imported coal, Friday 18 July (John Hobbs).

On the evening of 22 July, Stavros Lainas was on the lane leading to Cheney Longville, just north of Craven Arms (OS ref. SO 430845). Above, a pair of Class 150s led by 150 256 bound for Swansea via the 'Heart of Wales line' passed at 18:38.

The Cardiff - Holyhead express with 67 003 heads north at 18:54 (Stavros Lainas). (This train runs via Crewe from 4 -8 August while Saltney Junction to Wrexham is closed for engineering work.)

56 113 passes Cheney Longville with a log train for Chirk. The junction signal in the background has two arms, one for each of the routes at the junction ahead; the left-hand one is lowered to show a clear route for a southbound train on the main line. The secondary route, into the Craven Arms goods loop, has a slightly shorter post.

The Colas log train from Teigngrace, (on the former Newton Abbott - Heathfield branch) to Chirk passing through Bristol Temple Meads station on 24 July hauled by 56 113 (Richard Putley).

56 105 on the Ribblehead to Chirk logs, taken by Dave Jepson  on 1 August 2014 at Red Bank on the section of the West Coast main line between Golborne and Winwick,which opened exactly 150 years previously on 1 Aug 1864. Prior to this traffic went via Earlstown and Newton-le-Willows on the Liverpool and Manchester line.

Acton Bridge staion on a very wet Friday 1 August. 57 012 passes with three more new DRS Class 68 locos, 68 009 Titan, 010 and  011 , which had been unloaded from a ship at Liverpool docks. 010 and 011 are in silver livery for use by Chiltern Railways. Picture by Darren Durrant.

66 213 passes Acton Bridge with repaired wagins from Crewe to Warrington Arpley (Darren Durrant).

Mixed traction for a Network Rail train: 97 301 and 31 465 pass Acton Bridge on 1 August (Darren Durrant).

70 810 waits time at Chester Locks with 6C41 Basford Hall - Saltney Junction engineers' train on 4 August (John Mathers).

The Saltney Junction - Wrexham line is closed from 2-10 August, with bus replacements, to allow work on the re-doubling of the track to proceed. John Mathers' picture taken with a telephhoto lens from Dodleston foot crossing on 4 August shows 66 957 sitting with a train of open wagons on the newly-laid down line, while the ballast on the old single line is being dug out and loaded into the train. John notes: 'Quite a contrast since my recent photo of the class 57s on the Pathfinder railtour.'

On Saturdays the 14:17 Leeds - Crewe Freightliner train runs via Stalybridge and Stockport (passing time 17:44) hauled by a locomotive which runs light-engine from Crewe earlier in the day. Above, the view from behind the anti-suicide fence as 70 014 brings the well-loaded train through platform 1 at Stockport on 2 August (Charlie Hulme).

'Lights, Camera Action' at Liverpool - report by Nigel Green

I went to Liverpool Lime Street station on Friday 18 July to catch the 14:47 Virgin Pendolino to London Euston. I was early and made my way to platform seven to use the Virgin First Class Lounge.  At the top of platform 7 a Virgin assistant stopped me to tell me the first class lounge was closed as Virgin Trains were filming their latest advertising campaign. I was given a voucher for Upper Crust to get a drink and a cake for my inconvenience.

As I boarded my train on platform 8 a bit of filming was taking place.  The actors were very, very slowly walking up the platform, as though they had just got off the train at platform 7.

This was quite an elaborate production as it had taken over an unused coffee shop on platform 7 as a wardrobe.  The cost of having an 11 coach Pendolino sitting unused for a whole day plus the cost of using platform 8, which meant other platform 8 services had to go elsewhere.

As I had my camcorder with me I went back to platform 7 and took some footage from the cash machine location.

Platform 7 was closed for the whole day and an 11icoach Pendolino was used as a back drop for the filming.  Clearly it had been given a good spit and polish. Services to and from London were transferred to platform 8.

As I boarded my train on platform 8 a bit of filming was taking place.  The actors were very, very slowly walking up the platform, as though they had just got off the train at platform 7. This was quite an elaborate production as it had taken over an unused coffee shop on platform 7 as a wardrobe.  The cost of having an 11-coach Pendolino sitting unused for a whole day must be significant,  plus the cost of using platform 8, which meant other platform 8 services had to go elsewhere.

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