03 November 2014
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Friday 7 November Clwyd Railway
Circle German Mainline Steam: Ian Mainprize
Monday 10 November Wrexham Railway Society:
Tuesday 11 November Shrewsbury
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
Thursday 13 November Llandudno
Valley Railway Society AGM Members
Evening Keith Jones/Bob Barnsdale/Llew Groom
Friday 14 November Altrincham
Paul Shackcloth 'A Photographic Tribute to Tom Lewis'. Main line steam
across Great Britain from 1948 with many scenes in the North
Monday 17 November RCTS
Wales: Scottish Steam in the 1960s.
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
Friday 5 December Clwyd Railway
Circle Members Night & Christmas
Saturday/Sunday 6-7 December Bala
Lake Railway Santa Specials.
Monday 8 December Wrexham Railway Society:
Thursday 11 December Llandudno
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
Wales: Steam Sheds through the years: Part
1. John Sloane
Thursday 18 December Merseyside Railway
History Group Keith Maxwell 'Film Evening &
The Old Buffers'
Thursday 8 January Llandudno
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
Monday 12 January Wrexham
Society: Phil’s Quiz: Phil Davies
Monday 19 January RCTS
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.
Friday 6 February Clwyd Railway
Circle A Year in the Life of an International Train Spotter: Phil
Monday 9 February Wrexham
Society: Rossett – Saltney Junction Re-doubling: Speaker
from Network Rail
Thursday 12 February Llandudno
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
Monday 16 February RCTS
Merseyside & North Wales: Welsh Wanderings in the1980s'.
Geoff Morris. A trip through Wales in a decade during which livery
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
Friday 6 March Clwyd
Circle Annual General Meeting followed by an illustrated
talk entitled Back to the ‘60s by Geoff Coward
Monday 9 March Wrexham
Society: A view from a signal box window: Adrian
Thursday 12 March Llandudno
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
Thursday 9 April Llandudno
Valley Railway Society Railway enthusiasm - international:
Friday 10 April Clwyd
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
Monday 13 April Wrexham
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
Thursday 14 May Llandudno
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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)
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
Leaving Llandudno Junction for North Llanrwst amid the Network rail
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.
train heads for Colwyn Bay, as seen from the
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
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
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
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
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
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