Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

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This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page.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

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

Friday 10 October   Altrincham Electric Railway Society  Dr Michael Bailey MBE "The Archaeology of Early Steam Locomotives". Digital Presentation.

Monday 13 October Wrexham 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

Friday 31 October Great Western Society North West Branch Under and Over and on Top, by Gwynne Parry.

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

Monday 10 November  Wrexham Railway Society: 'Fun With Southern Steam In The 60's : Malcolm Garner

Tuesday 11 November Shrewsbury to Chester Rail Users Association  public meeting  featuring guest speaker Professor Paul Salveson MBE. The meeting will be held at the Church Hall of All Saints' Church, Chirk Road, Gobowen, Shropshire SY11 3LL. Access is from the rear off Old Chirk Road. It's 5-10 minutes' walk from Gobowen Station, depending on the fitness of the walker. The start time is 19:30 which allows time to connect with trains arriving at Gobowen from Chester and Shrewsbury directions.

Paul's presentation to our meeting is titled 'A Peoples Railway for Wales & the Borders' . This will look at his 2013 publication 'Rail Cymru - A Peoples Railway for Wales' which examines the case for a publically run 'not for dividend' rail franchise for Wales & the Borders.

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

Friday 14 November   Altrincham Electric Railway Society Paul Shackcloth "A Photographic Tribute to Tom Lewis". Main line steam across Great Britain from 1948 with many scenes in the North West.  

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

Friday 28 November   Great Western Society North West Branch Five Men who made St Helens, by Joe Cowley.

December 2014

Friday 5 December Clwyd Railway Circle Members Night & Christmas Celebrations

Monday 8 December   Wrexham Railway Society: Annual General Meeting

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

Friday 12 December  Altrincham Electric Railway Society Peter Fitton "The Railways of the Fylde from 1961". Colour slide presentation.

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

Friday 9 January  Altrincham Electric Railway Society   John Hobbs "A Circular Tour of North Wales 1966-1980". Colour slide presentation.       

Monday 12 January  Wrexham Railway Society: Phil’s Quiz: Phil Davies
Monday 19 January  RCTS Merseyside & North Wales: Branch A.G.M followed by members slides and digital presentations

Friday 30 January  Great Western Society North West Branch 50 Years of Railway Photography, by Colin Ellis.

February 2015

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

Monday 9 February  Wrexham Railway Society: Rossett – Saltney Junction Re-doubling: Speaker from Network Rail

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

Friday 13 February  Altrincham Electric Railway Society David Young "A Further Selection of Slides from the Manchester Locomotive Society Collection". Colour Slide presentation.     

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.

Friday 27 February  Great Western Society North West Branch Group Annual Meeting

March 2015

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

Monday 9 March  Wrexham Railway Society: A view from a signal box window:  Adrian Bodlander       

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

Friday 13 March  Altrincham Electric Railway Society   John Sloane "Chinese Steam in the 80s". Colour Slide Presentation.      

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

Friday 27 March  Great Western Society North West Branch Liverpool's Disused Tunnels, by Paul Wright.

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

Friday 10 April  Altrincham Electric Railway Society   Alvin Barker "A Selection of British Transport Films from the Steam Era". Digital presentation.    

Monday 13 April  Wrexham Railway Society: Back to the ‘60s :Geoff Coward

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

Friday 24 April  Great Western Society North West Branch Standard Gauge Railways of France and Germany, by Barry Rushton

May 2015

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

37 609 and 37 608 pass Rowton on 26 September (Stavros Lainas).

Premier Express Problems

The Holyhead - Cardiff 'Premier Express' has had troubles in recent days. The northbound train on 24 September was terminated at Chester due to technical problems with control cables between the locomotive and the driving trailer, and the next morning (25 September) the morning southbound service was operated by 175 105. 67 002 worked the train empty-stock from Chester to Cardiff in the afternoon, and was photographed at Cardiff (above) by Martin Evans.

On Monday 29 September the southbound train was terminated at Llandudno Junction, seemingly having left Bangor with a door (of coach 12177) not securely closed; this then struck the wall of Bangor tunnel. It is said that there have been known faults with the door catches on these coaches, but surely they have the 'central door locking' equipment designed to prevent opening even if the catch fails? They do not, however, have any system to prevent a train starting with a door open. The matter has been reported to the Rail Accident Investigation Branch so we will get to know the full facts eventually.

The train crew reported the incident to the signaller at Penmaenmawr who arranged for trains to be stopped in both directions while the Mobile Operations Manager travelled to the site and checked the line to ensure that nobody had fallen out and everything was safe. The door was discoved lying by the track east of the tunnel; normal working was resumed at 07:20, and the incident was recorded on the railway's database using the code for 'a problem with doors.' 

The train then ran empty-stock to Cardiff. The 05:51 Virgin service from Holyhead to London was heavily delayed behind the incident, and was terminated at Chester, just it time for its passengers to be transferred to the 08:35 London train from there; the unit from Wrexham which is normally added to the 05:51 at Chester had departed on time at 07:35.

On the subject of Arriva loco-hauled services,  reports indicate that the Arriva LNWR works at Crewe is engaged on preparing four Mk3 coaches for use on the new 'Irish Mancunian' services from December. First Class coaches 11013 / 27 / 44 / 89 are being modified with more seats as standard class, and will be re-numbered 12182 - 85. Mk3 vehicles are amenable to such changes, as they share the same body shell.

North Wales Railway Circle

The North Wales Railway Circle have a new venue for their meetings, The Victoria Hotel, Telford Road, Menai Bridge, Anglesey LL59 5DR. On Tuesday 7 October at 19:45 Geoff Coward, from The Wirral, presents photos from his train spotting days c.1965 to 1968. 'Mainly on the WCML Preston to Carlisle with much steam and including some long lost classes of diesels.'

Flasks coming and going - pictures by Peter Basterfield

The week of 22-26 September saw, most unusually, the flask train make its way to Valley and back three times. Above, 37 609 (in the new livery) and 37 608 head east through Talybont on Tuesday 23 September.

Llandudno Junction, Thursday 25 September, with 37 667 and 37 607.

37 609 and 37 608 made a comeback on Friday 26 September: the westbound train passes Bangor. 

Shrewsbury to London

The December timetable, as included in Realtime Trains, includes the planned direct Virgin Trains services between Shrewsbury and London. The diagram on Mondays - Fridays appears as:

5J21 04:30 Barton-under-Needwood depot - Shrewsbury 06:17 [empty stock]
1R21 06:39 Shrewsbury - London Euston 09:13
9J14 10:23 London Euston - Shrewsbury 12:58
[stables at Coton Hill sidings]
1B68 15:24 Shrewsbury - London Euston 17:56
9J38 18:23 London Euston - Shrewsbury 20:55
5D38 21:14 Shrewsbury - Barton-under-Needwood depot 22:55 [empty stock]

The diagram is slightly different on Saturdays, and on Sundays there is just one Shrewsbury - London return train.

The route is direct via Wolverhampton, eschewing the odd idea of reversal at Stafford which has been mooted in the past. However running times look somewhat relaxed: the 06:39 from Shrewsbury is allowed 23 minutes from Wolverhampton to Birmingham, presumably for pathing reasons; it departs Shrewsbury just 6 minutes after an Arriva Trains Wales service from Chester to Birmingham.

A weekend trip - report by Alan Crawshaw

Wednesday 17 September was perfect for a 'contre jour' monochrome shot of 175 104 before boarding at Bangor, alighting at Chester for the connection to Warrington Bank Quay. As I had all day to get to York, I broke my journey to attempt to seek out the transporter bridge and complete my set of three, having visited the working examples in Middlesbrough and Newport. Warrington's bridge over the Mersey is derelict inside a chemical plant but I've seen photographs from public land.

After trudging around in the heat I gave up and returned to Bank Quay, where 66 549 passed through the station whose platforms had been decorated with painted old bikes.

After a night in York, I caught the 07:37 Aberdeen service, transferring from the HST to a Northern 142, still kitted out with 3+2 seating of the old bus variety. A short bounce up the east coast line took me to Chester-le-Street for the "Waggonway" bus route to Beamish museum. I arrived before the 10:00 opening time but the coffee shop opens at 09:30. The bus ticket entitled me to a 25% discount on the museum admission. I've been wanting to visit for years and was not disappointed. Three trams were running, Blackpool 280, an example from Porto and "Sunderland 101" (above) which is actually the similar Blackpool 703, Sunderland's fleet numbering 1 to 100.

I started with Porto 196 which took me to the "town", early on a Thursday out of season I was able to photograph without 21st century tourists dispelling the illusion. The waggonway, near the "pit village" featured a replica of an early steam engine and open coaches with wooden seats. The drift mine was another highlight, I highly recommend a visit to Beamish.

Chester-le-Street is served by a 16:15 Transpennine Express service which took me to Leeds for the first of three Throwing Muses gigs on consecutive evenings. I spent the next morning photographing the city, including a shot (above) of a Transpennine Express crossing the River Aire, before catching an Arriva bus to Cleckheaton to see my godmother and another one to Dewsbury for a Transpennine Express to Manchester. There's an excellent pub on the platform at Dewsbury, the West Riding Refreshment Rooms, and I had time to quickly refresh myself before squeezing on to the packed train, the 16:47 departure running 7 minutes late.

After another great show in Manchester we had an easy day, a lift to Holmfirth for the final gig at the Picturedrome and next morning a lift to Huddersfield to catch the train to Manchester.

The spare Sunday afternoon presented an opportunity for a first visit to Heaton Park where Blackpool 619 and Manchester 765 were operating.

After the tramway it was time to return home but the 15:38 East Midlands Trains Norwich to Liverpool, formed of two class 158 units, had developed a fault on platform 14, staff frantically trying to fix it. Eventually, the 15:56 to Chester was routed into platform 13 although the 158s were away before the Arriva train, which left ten minutes late. The conductor announced that he'd arranged for the Holyhead connection to be held at Chester but having lost our path we were held outside Warrington Bank Quay for a Pendolino to pass, to the fury of a woman sitting opposite who held an advance purchase ticket on it. We were 16 minutes late into Chester and there was no sign of the Holyhead train, realtimetrains shows it was held for five minutes and left five minutes before our arrival. I bought a pint in the pub opposite and sat down to watch Manchester City v Chelsea.

Corwen extension news - by George Jones

Route learning for operational staff continues on the Llangollen Railway with staff-only trains running west of Carrog. On Sunday 28 September the Wickham diesel unit was seen in section followed by a light engine movement with 2-8-0 3802. Both trains were photographed by me at Bonwm Gates as seen from the A5 road side. Above,  the Wickham railcar on a return working from Corwen approaches the site of the former Bonwm Halt.

The same train as it retreats towards bridge 27 adjacent to Powys Country House.

As a contrast, the same scene when the site was an abandoned trackbed with gates across it circa 2010.

3802 approaches Bonwm Gates running light engine from Carrog for footplate crew route learning.

3802 returns tender-first as seen from the road near bridge 28, a fisherman's underpass.

An aspect of this occasion was the extent to which traffic noise on the A5 road drowned out the sound of the approaching trains/engine which might take a watcher by surprise - the occasion also emphasizes the point that the extension is now a live railway and trains might be expected at any time as preparations continue towards an opening of the extension for passenger trains, which is now planned for 22 October - mainly for supporters of the scheme. More information in the next issue.

Trains in the Railcar 60 event on 4-5 October will be extended to run to Colomendy Curve, which is short of the final run into the platform at Dwyrain Corwen East station where work continues to complete the facilities and the access ramp.

Re-doubling progress - pictures by Richard Menkin

Work on the Saltney Junction to Rossett line doubling seems to be going well track bed and sleepers have turned the bend from Saltney Junction and have almost reached Green lane level crossing, as  these pictures show, taken during the engineers' possession on Sunday 28 September.

Duchess run commemorated

The 'Duchess' pacifics made their last runs in in British Railways service 50 years ago. On 26 September 1964, the Preston Branch of the Railway Correspondence & Travel Society ran a rail tour from Crewe to Edinburgh with the Crewe - Carlisle and return legs powered by 46256 Sir William Stanier, the final occasion a 'Duchess' would work a train in regular BR Service.

On Saturday 27 September 2014, the Railway Touring Company replicated 'The Scottish Lowlander' tour using 46233 Duchess of Sutherland between Crewe and Carlisle, 50 years and a day after the sad final run of 46256. I would have liked to have photographed the train passing Wigan North Western where I stood to watch in 1964 - regrettably without a camera - but the early timing meant a trip further north. Above: at 07:44 with the sun rising, 46233 hurries past Brock, north of Preston.

Rounding the curve at Greenholme, 46233 storms the 1 in 75 gradient towards Shap Summit.

Great Western reunion

As mentioned in the last issue. the GWR Reunion took place at the Eagles Inn, Llanuwchllyn, Bala, on 25 September, 2014, and twenty-three ex-Railwaymen from the Ruabon-Barnouth railway which closed in 1964, together with relatives, attended, and thoroughly enjoyed this Annual Event. The Organiser, Eryl Edwards of Llanuwchllyn, tells us that a DVD was shown of the steam era on the Corwen - Bala line which was followed by a most interesting talk given by Miss Dorothy Selleck of Wrexham, whose late father was seriously injured during his Railway duties, and this in his early years of service. She spoke about  the comradeship, support and the valued care and assistance which she, as a six-year-old child, and her mother received from railway colleagues, who in her words were 'one big happy family' which has been lost for ever.

Picture Gallery

27 September, and the 06:33 Newport - Oban Compass Tours weekend excursion to Oban (arr. 19:15) passes Wrenbury at 09:03. Traction is West Coast Railways 47 804 (leading) and 47 786.

66 185, looking smart in an a fresh coat of DB Schenker livery (good to see the space in the number) powers through Ruabon with the evening coils to Shotton on 25 September. This loco has been repainted into the DB Schenker's livery. Picture by Martin Evans.

On 25 September, 150 135 departs from Hale with the 10:59 Chester - Manchester service (Greg Mape).

Autumn starts to show in the trees  26 September at Northenden Junction, as 66 614 passes with the 12:11 Fiddlers Ferry - Tunstead service comprising empty wagons which have carried limestone the power station's flue gas desulphurisation plant.

Talyllyn's birthday - report by Eryl Crump

The Talyllyn Railway's first locomotive, No.1, appropriately named Talyllyn, was completed at the Lowca Works at Whitehaven on 24 September, 1864 and delivered to Tywyn the following year, and has remained on the line ever since. Despite severe under-investment the line remained open and in 1951 it became the first railway to be preserved as a heritage railway by volunteers.

On 24 September 2014 the loco ran a special trip hauling wagons along the line,  bursting a banner as it left Tywyn.   It ran as far as Brynglas (above) where it joined with No 2 Dolgoch, to become a mixed train of both passenger and goods services.  On board were a large number of enthusiasts, many of whom were volunteers and who had travelled long distances to be at Tywyn for the start of the Talyllyn 150 celebrations.
At Abergynolwyn a new book Talyllyn & Corris Steam Locomotives Vol 1: Pre Preservation written by the Martin Fuller who drove yesterday's train, was launched.  It is now available from the Talyllyn Online Shop.

Talyllyn very nearly missed taking part in its own birthday celebrations.  Earlier this year the loco suffered serious damage to its running gear while in service.   With the Talyllyn Railway’s Pendre workshops fully committed to other projects it was arranged for repair work to be undertaken at the Ffestiniog Railway's Boston Lodge workshops.  General manager Chris Price said while the repairs were being undertaken the opportunity was taken to carry out some other maintenance work.  'This will reduce the time taken for a full overhaul due when its boiler certificate expires. All the work was largely paid for by a generous donation by Canadian Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society member, Bryce Lee, for which the Railway is most grateful', he said.

The Talyllyn Railway runs daily until 2 November.

Government corner

Edwina Hart, Minister for Economy, Science and Technology, issued the following statement on 25 September, intended as 'an update on improvements to rail services in North Wales'. 

Following the UK Government’s announcement in July about the upgrade to the Halton Curve railway line, I wrote to the Secretary of State for Transport seeking further information on the project.   In response the Secretary of State for Transport has confirmed that the Government is providing £10.4 million in support of the Liverpool City Region Growth Deal to fund the reinstatement of the Halton Curve.  This will enable passenger services from North Wales and West Cheshire to directly access Liverpool City Centre and Liverpool John Lennon Airport. 

The scheme is currently being developed by Network Rail and detailed proposals are expected to be available early next year.  Subject to sign off, the UK Government has indicated that the scheme will be delivered in 2016/17.

The scheme has been identified as a priority by the Ministerial Task Force on North Wales Transport and is likely to make a significant difference to travellers on both sides of the border.  The reintroduction of the Halton Curve will allow for more flexibility in rail services in that area and we have commissioned a study in conjunction with Merseytravel to assess demand and MerseyTravel have separately commissioned further work to develop options. 

Furthermore, over the summer I responded to the UK Government’s consultation on the TransPennine Express and Northern Rail Franchises.  Good connectivity between Wales and the North of England is very important to sustaining and developing regional economies, and I am keen that all opportunities are taken to strengthen this connectivity during the process of renewing the franchises. My response raised issues around connectivity with services to and from Wales, the Wales and Borders services to and from Manchester, the TransPennine Express services, security and safety, passenger experience and Active Travel.

'Active Travel', we are informed, refers to walking and cycling which is now part of the Minister's responsibility. There is apparently still no information available about what train services will operate the revived Halton Curve to create the 'significant difference.' It will be interesting to see what is devised, and which train company gets the job of running the trains.

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