Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

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This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page.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

November 2014

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 publicly 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

Thursday 27 November  Merseyside Railway History Group   Geoff Holmes 'Railway Shipping'

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

Saturday/Sunday 6-7 December Bala Lake Railway Santa Specials.

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

Thursday 18 December  Merseyside Railway History Group   Keith Maxwell  'Film Evening & The Old Buffers'

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

Thursday 29 January 2015 Merseyside Railway History Group  Brian Roberts 'Merseyside Connections 1973 - 85'

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.

Thursday 26 February  Merseyside Railway History Group  Trevor Gauntlett  'The Halton Curve'

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

Thursday 26 March  Merseyside Railway History Group  AGM Members Slides

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

Thursday 30 April    Merseyside Railway History Group  Geoff Coward  Quiz and informal evening

May 2015

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

97 304 John Tiley leads the Rail Head Treatment Train through Llandudno Junction, 3 November. Picture by Peter Lloyd.

Arriva Trains Wales locomotive prospects

In this issue we planned to give you some definite information about Arriva's loco-hauled plans, but this seems hard to come by, so here's some information which may not be definite at all.

Firstly, we do know for sure that from the start of the next timetable period, Monday 15 December, an additional loco-worked diagram will be instituted, for a Class 67 loco and some additional Mk3 coaches which have been procured from DB Regio's stock and are being repainted at the Arriva LNWR works in Crewe. This is funded (as we understand it) by the UK Department for Transport using a fee that Deutsche Bahn had to pay for taking over the franchise from the original Arriva firm. We understood that the diagram was to be as follows:

1D11 07:11 Crewe - Chester
1H82 07:38 Chester - Manchester Piccadilly
1D34 09:50 Manchester Piccadilly - Holyhead
1H89 13:01 Holyhead - Manchester Piccadilly
1D31 16:50 Manchester Piccadilly - Llandudno
1K96 19:34 Llandudno - Crewe

But ... we hear suggestions that this may be changed following protests from commuters from West of Chester who have been using the 06:34 Llandudno - Manchester to get to work in Manchester before 09:00. The proposed 07:38 Chester - Manchester would run in this path, thus effectively cancelling the commuter service from Welsh stations. Perhaps Arriva planners though nobody could possibly travel that far to work?

In Manchester, the loop line opposite Longsight depot, the former Excursion Platform in the heyday of Belle Vue, will be used for the train to lay over, rather than Mayfield Loop just beyond Piccadilly which is normally used by Arriva trains. To familiarise drivers, the 06:34 Llandudno - Manchester train is already following this route ... at least on days when it it does not arrive late at Piccadilly.

During the Christmas school holiday periods, there will again be weekend loco-worked trains between Holyhead and Crewe, apparently this time on Sundays as well as Saturdays:

1D01 08:46 Crewe - Holyhead 10.48
1K51 12:22 Holyhead - Crewe 14.19
1D02 14:24 Crewe - Holyhead 16.24
1K52 17:15 Holyhead - Crewe 19.28

The diagram starting at Crewe implies that this will be operated by the 'Manchester' set rather than the Holyhead-based 'Premier Service' train, which has been used for these holiday specials in the past.

Now, on to the future of the Holyhead - Cardiff Premier Express (a.k.a. 'WAG' or 'Gerald'). This is separately funded by the Welsh Government, along with the Valley - Cardiff air service,  to encourage business people and politicians to use public transport to reach the capital. Famously, or notoriously depending on your viewpoint, it includes a first class / restaurant car in which passengers receive a traditional meal cooked on board.

It is being said that the Government are 'cancelling the funding' from spring 2015. This appears to mean either (a) that the train itself will still run, but without any first class service; (b) first class will still exist but with microwave meals only; (c) There will be 'business class' as on Chiltern; or now of the above. What we do know is that the Welsh Government has agreed to include a petition proposed by Gareth Peate  on their petitions site  to 'Support the Arriva Trains Wales First Class Service.' This supersedes the previous one on an independent site, and anyone who signed before is asked to sign again. This is the necessary link.

Critics of the cost of service point out that on many occasions very few first class passengers actually travel and partake in the meals. What we find strange is that standard class passengers can find they can  buy meals on board at a reasonable cost, but Arriva do not advertise the fact. A recent Freedom of Information request attempted to establish the extra cost involved in providing the on-board chef and meal service, but this was refused as 'the information is exempt from disclosure under Section 43(2) - Information prejudicial to commercial interests of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.'

No doubt all will become clear in due course.

Locomotives down the Coast, 31 October - pictures by Peter Basterfield

37 607 + 37 611 with 2 FNAs between Gaerwen and Llangaffo with the 6D41 ...

... and the return from Bridge 145 on the road to the Spinnies Nature Reserve at Talybont.

97 302 brings the westbound Rail Head Treatment Train though the platform line at Bangor.

Arriva's Apology Letter Regarding Fleet Shortages, October 2014

Dear Customer,

We would like to take this opportunity to apologise to our customers for any journeys you have made with us recently where the number of carriages we have provided has been fewer than normal. We’re also mindful that in some instances it has been necessary for a different type of train to be provided in order to avoid cancelling the service and this has meant that you haven’t experienced the usual standards of comfort on longer distance journeys. Our staff on the ground have been feeding back customer experiences from on board the train and comments raised on our Twitter feed have also highlighted to us how frustrating this is for you.

A number of unrelated incidents have meant that we have been unable to deliver all our fleet at the right time and in the right place. Some of these issues have been caused by freight trains breaking down on our Cardiff to Manchester / Holyhead routes and this extensive disruption has led to us needing to re-start services with another train to avoid them being completely cancelled. The only way we can do this is by taking capacity from other local services, which then reduces the overall number of carriages allocated to each service. The disruption has also led to some trains finishing the day in a different location meaning they’re not in the right place the next morning and this affects the number of carriages and type of train that we can deliver at peak times.

In addition we have been unable to deliver all our trains to passenger services due to a combination of urgent maintenance or repairs to our fleet. Two of our Class 175 trains (used on longer distance routes) have been out of service for a number of weeks, one due to striking a tree on the line, but both these trains will be back in service from 03 November, greatly assisting capacity and comfort on longer distance journeys.

We have also had several services affected by low rail adhesion, which is caused by the leaf fall season when leaves are crushed onto the railhead making them slippery, and the majority of these trains operate our busiest services on the Cardiff local routes & Valley lines. This can cause the train to slide along the rails when the brakes are applied and result in damage to the wheels. If this arises we may have to take the affected carriages out of service to avoid damage to the track and further damage to the wheels. We then carry out the repairs as quickly as possible by ‘turning’ the wheels on a wheel lathe in order to get the train back into service, but in the meantime this will mean that some services run with fewer carriages than normal.

Please be assured that we are working hard on finding ways to reduce instances of us being unable to provide the required number of trains for service each day and we will keep you updated on our action plan.

Our apologies again for the frustrations you have been caused and we thank you for your patience in the interim.

Lynne Milligan, Customer Services Director
Matt Prosser, Engineering Director

[A refreshingly frank and detailed letter: your editor recently had an 'interesting' journey from Cardiff to Stockport in a Class 150, and they have been noted on the Manchester - Llandudno service. Clearly Arriva's the decision to re-fit their 150s with more comfortable 2+2 seating was a wise one.]

Pretendolino, Part 2

We have received some more pictures of the 25 October 'Pretendolino' special (see last issue) which are much too good not to include. First, a report by Larry Davies, Community Rail Officer for the Conwy Valley line.

"The Welsh Warrior" suitably adorned by headboard and poppy wreaths traversed the a circuitous route from Crewe to Chester and then to Holyhead, North Llanrwst, Llandudno and back to Chester and down over the Western to Salop, Wolves,(Bushbury), Stafford back to Crewe. Above, the Special approaches Llandudno Junction heading for Holyhead at speed.


Leaving Llandudno Junction for North Llanrwst amid the Network rail nature.

After coming back off the Conwy Valley Branch one 37 (37 682) was taken off at Llandudno Junction, followed the main train into Llandudno, and into Platform 2.  It is seen above heading out of Llandudno Junction, where the main train was stabled in platform 3.

Then after some shunting (good old memories of days long gone) the train loco 57 302 was detached and stabled complete with headboards etc in Platform 2 at Llandudno on top of 37 682. We had the treat of two 37's ticking over under the new roof - if only you could bottle that sound ! - we could never have envisaged such a memorable occasion. Full marks to DRS who know how to run a tour which captures the right spirit; and they are so accommodating and professional.  

On the day, the 2014 Railway Correspondence and Travel Society Members' Weekend and Officer's Conference was held in Llandudno and it was great to see the look on delegates faces as they arrived back in the town on the 14:57 ex Blaenau (150 262) after a round trip on the Welsh Highland and Ffestiniog Railways to see this feast of motive power.

Finally, two rather beautiful scenic views contributed by Alan Hart. Above, the westbound train heads for Colwyn Bay, as seen from the classic viewpoint.

On the Stanley Embankment outside Holyhead (Alan Hart).

The last run of the train in ordinary service was the 19:03 out of London Euston on 24 October, with a good complement of enthusiast aboard. The coaches are reported to have been placed in store by the leasing company pending a decision on their future. Almost certainly we well see them again, probably in a different (blue?) colour scheme. Surely there is a market for a such a good-quality train for charters. It even has on-board wi-fi.

An evening with Paul Salveson

Tuesday 11 November 2014 at All Saints' Church Hall, Chirk Road, Gobowen SY11  3LL.

The Shrewsbury Chester Rail Users Association is delighted to have secured the services of prominent railway commentator Paul Salveson to speak to a public meeting on 11  November. Paul has spent most of his life working in the railway industry, starting as a blacksmith’s striker at Horwich Locomotive Works in 1974. He was elected secretary for the Manchester District of the National Union of Railwaymen and established the Association of Community Rail Partnerships in the mid-1990s, before going on to a senior management post with Northern Rail in 2005. He now works as an independent consultant on community railways issues, and contributes to a number of publications including Today’s Railways and Red Pepper. He is a visiting professor in transport studies at the University of Huddersfield and committee member of Passenger Focus as well as being a Labour councillor. He was awarded an MBE for ‘services to the railway industry’ in 2008.

The aim to start at 19:30 which will allow for trains arriving from Shrewsbury and Chester.  All are welcome.

New Metrolink line opens

The new Airport branch of Manchester Metrolink opened to passengers on 3 November after a week of 'ghost' running - appropriate for Hallowe'en perhaps. All on new formation or roadside, it leaves the East Didsbury line at St Werburgh's Road station and takes a somewhat indirect route to serve the Wythenshawe area, bridging over two motorways, the river Mersey, and the Stockport - Altrincham Railway in the process.

The terminus adjoins the Network Rail station at Manchester Airport, as seen above (all pictures by Greg Mape). Until the additional line across the city centre is built, Airport trams run to and from the interchange station with the Eccles and Altrincham lines at Cornbrook.

Tram 3063 crosses the bridge over the Stockport - Altrincham route near Baguley. Note the concrete trackbed which has been used extensively on this line.

A Chester-bound train passes the site of the old Baguley station, closed on 30 November 1964, not far from 50 years ago.

The new Baguley station.

Across the Mersey - and the Trans Pennine Trail - by tram (during an earlier test run). This line is not intended as competition for the train service from the city centre to the airport, as running times will be somewhat longer; it is aimed at local passengers including the 10,000 or so employed at and around the airport.

Northern Belle 17 October

The 'Northern Belle' made its way up the Marches Line on Friday 17 October with 57 305 Northern Princess (fiormerly John Tracy) at the northern end and 47790 Galloway Princess at the southern end.  The outward service was the 06:45 from Swansea to Chester, photographed by John Cowlishaw approaching Wrexham (above).

The empty train ran from Chester to Crewe for servicing: Stavros Lainas photographed it at Tattenhall at 12:20. 57 305, one of the locos transferred recently from Network Rail to DRS, has been chosen to wear the Northern Belle colours, while retaining its Dellner couplers (discretely covered by a yellow bag), for possible rescue of failed Pendolino trains. 47 832, which once carried this livery, has been sold by DRS to West Coast Railways who have repainted it in their unexciting maroon.

In the evening the return train passes under the bridge - which looks in need of a coat of paint - at Wrexham General station with 47 790 leading (George Jones).

57 305 on the rear as the train powers through Wrexham with a green signal for the section towards Ruabon and Gobowen. Wrexham's new Premier Inn hotel is a notable feature to the right of the tracks (George Jones).

North Wales Coast home pageArchivePrevious Notice Board