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15 December 2014
67 001 at Llandudno on 15 December after working the 16:50 from Manchester, which runs in the times of the old 'Manchester Club Train'. Picture by Larry Davies.
The 'Irish Mancunian' returns
The first run of the new loco-worked 09:50 Manchester - Holyhead at Prestatyn, 15 December, with 67 001 propelling. Picture by Dave Sallery.
The main news of the week is the appearance of additional Arriva Trains Wales loco-hauled services, on Mondays to Fridays from 15 December.
1D51 07:11 Crewe - Chester 07:30
1H82 07:38 Chester - Manchester Piccadilly 08:51
1D34 09:50 Manchester Piccadilly - Holyhead 12:36
1H89 13:01 Holyhead - Manchester Piccadilly 15:51
1D31 16:50 Manchester Piccadilly - Llandudno 19:03
1K96 19:34 Llandudno - Crewe 21:06
The stock - Class 67 loco, four Mk3 coaches, and a Driving Van Trailer - spend the night at Arriva's LNWR works in Crewe. At Manchester, the train lays over in the 'excursion platform' line at Longsight.
Llandudno Junction (Peter Lloyd). 67 001 is propelling coaches 12184, 12180, 12178 and DVT 82308. Coach 12179 was to be included, but was left behind due to a fault. Of these, only 12184 is from the batch being newly-converted from first class vehicles for this service; the others are from the fleet already available for the Cardiff trains.
The return working, 15:01 from Holyhead, arrives at Bangor (John Hobbs).
The 13:01 Holyhead - Manchester approaches Colwyn Bay with 67 001 leading (Jack Bowley). Unlike the Holyhead - Cardiff train, this one does not have first/business class or buffet counter service.
In preparation for the new service, Coach 12178 was moved by 67 013 from Cardiff to Crewe on 4 December. John Mathers photographed it at Green Lane crossing on the Saltney Junction to Wrexham line, with among the beginnings of the second track which is in process of construction.
This new service will be fun for enthusiasts, and we wish it success, but the associated reorganisation means further erosion of the 'clockface' timetable of which Arriva were once so proud. In particular, Llandudno's through service to places east of Llandudno Junction now has a mid-day gap between the 11:40 and 14:44 departures, with only two shuttles to The Junction between.
Business Class on the Premier Service
15 December also sees the dawn of a new era on the Holyhead - Cardiff 'Premier Service': First Class accommodation is now branded 'Business Class' to match that on sister company Chiltern Railways. This change has undergone a number of updates since it was first announced, but basically the idea is that passengers can pay a supplement on top of the standard class fare to travel in the former first-class coach and receive the complementary food service, as detailed on Arriva's website. Enquiries by our contributor Bob Hargreaves have elicited some typical supplements: Cardiff Chester £25.00, Cardiff Llandudno Jn £30.00, Cardiff - Holyhead £35.00.'
The 'travelling chef' will continue to prepare the meals; at one time it was suggested that breakfast would be a continental style only (Including 'Toast and Preservatives', but it seems that a cooked breakfast will be available as before. Tickets including Business Class can also be bought in advance. In fact, the only real difference would seem to be the change of the name, presumably intended to avoid restrictions on expense claims by politicians for first class travel.
As so often with Arriva, finding information about the service via the website, such as whether meals are sold to standard class passengers, is hard to locate. Some passengers may well still have First Class tickets, for through journeys from other train companies' systems. It is not stated whether they will be entitled to a take-away version of the complementary food - no doubt all will become clear.
Gareth Peate travelled on the last trip with First Class, on Friday 12 January, and reports that
the on-board team were engaged removing all 'First Class' branded items for disposal.
Llangollen Railway news
George Jones took the afternoon option on 13 December for catching the Santa Specials at Berwyn when the sun comes round the mountain prior to dipping below the ridge, although the station remains in shadow at this time of the year. Above: 45337 returning the second train to Llangollen. Notice in the background that the chain bridge over the river has been dismantled: see the item below.
5199 with the 13:35 departure climbing past and catching some sunlight.
One hour later, 45337 lifting the fourth Santa Special of the day through Berwyn
Details of the timetable for the Winter Warmer two-day event on 2/3 January are available now on Facebook. Three steam locos, one diesel and a DMU will be available for an intensive winter service through to Corwen East.
Floods of 1964 - by Chris Magner
Fifty years ago this week, nature took a hand in the already-planned closure of the Ruabon - Barmouth line.
When the 9.28pm Wrexham to Bala train set out on the night of Saturday 12 December 1964 hauled by 2-6-2T No. 41241, neither the crew or passengers knew it was the last-ever train. That night the line breached west of Corwen. On the Sunday the Bala driver met some of his passengers and told them how lucky they were that the line had not breached earlier.
One can never say never. If those watching No.41241 leaving Llangollen that night and someone said in 40 years time it would return to Llangollen (after all the track had been lifted) and work to Carrog in a Spring Gala no one would have believed them. I hope that when 41241, which was saved for preservation on the Worth Valley line, is back 'in ticket' after overhaul it could return. There are not many locos left that worked the last train on a line (eg into Corwen) and could come back over 50 years later to work on reinstated track. If anyone has photos of 41241 on the Bala line we would be pleased to see them.
Germanic ownership revealed
It seems that orders have gone out from Berlin that Deutsche Bahn's ownership of the Arriva company should be drawn to the attention of passengers, as the wording above (seen on 150 240) is appearing on Arriva Trains Wales trains. We understand that CrossCountry trains will be getting the same treatment in English only!), and at least one Grand Central class 180 has been noted with similar markings.
Surely UK taxpayers will be pleased to know that some of the subsidy paid to run their our is also helping to fund the German state-owned rail system...
Llangollen Railway freight - report by George Jones
When the contractor for the Berwyn Chain Bridge restoration, SHEMEC Ltd, of Llangollen, asked for help in transporting the dismantled parts of the historic Chain Bridge away for refurbishment, Llangollen Railway provided a short goods train at Berwyn on 3 December. And to provide an appropriate motive power for this important heritage restoration job, the freshly out-shopped Large Prairie Tank 5199 was rostered.
The freight train comprised a 'Toad' brake van and a Tube wagon which were propelled up Berwyn Bank to meet the contractor's team who had assembled parts of the links and vertical tie rods, all manhandled up the steep path from the riverside. Above, stationmaster Ben Jackson congratulating Harry Edwards of Shemec on completing the arduous job of bringing all the ironwork up from the riverside for loading.
The historic links date back to the construction of the chain bridge in 1817 and consequently relate to the dawn of the steam transport age, nearly 50 years prior to the railway arriving at Berwyn.
With the assorted items loaded and strapped down it was arranged for the train to make a run past through the station for the benefit of the television cameraman from ITV/Wales who covered the story. Later the Tube wagon was shunted into the reception road in Llangollen yard where the load was transferred to the contractor's trailer for onward delivery and restoration.
Some recent railtours - pictures by Martin Dixon
Preserved Class 40 [D]345 at Westhoughton on a Southport to York trip organised by the Class Forty Preservation society trip on on 29 November.
47 804 was on the rear.
47 854 Diamond Jubilee, also tailed by 47 804, operating the 'Festive Settle Scotsman', seen approaching Bamber Bridge after transiting the Lostock Hall freight loop on 3 December.
Saturday 6 December, and one of Northern Rail's loco-hauled specials, seen from the iron bridge between Lostock and Horwich Parkway, complete with 'spotters' on every trip taking advantage of this rarity. Locos on that day were 47 818 (above) ...
... and 47 853 Rail Express, recently purchased by DRS from Riviera Trains. It has lost its Virgin Trains-applied 'XP64' colours, but retains its nameplates.
68 014, making its passenger debut, operating Pathfinder Tours' Newport (South Wales) to Leeds, 'Yuletide Yorkshire Special'.
A Visit to Worcester, 29 November - with Peter Basterfield
60009 Union of South Africs, having arrived at Worcester Shrub Hill with the 'Christmas Market' special from London Paddington, awaits the 'Right-away' to move the train to the sidings. Note the impressive Great Western-style bracket signal.
This unusual 'banjo style' signal is still in use on Platform 1, protecting moves over the adjacent crosssover.
60009 heading for the bridge over the River Severn to cross over at Henwick. the lines are bi-directional here which makes it necessary. The picture was taken from the balcony of the 'Hive', the new library building. There used to be a crossover between the triangle and Foregate Street station controlled by a signal box there but both are long gone.
Beyond the viaduct arches is another set which led to the 'Butts Branch' which led to the racecourse, used for occasional horse transport. The line came back under the main line and was originally proposed to go to Diglis for transfer freight with the canal, but this never happened.
The loco originally used had a cut-down cab and was built in Wolverhampton. See the 'Railways in Worcestershire' website.
Westbury Street, with the unique viaduct over the Birmingham and Worcester canal, which I first saw in Colin Gifford's book Decline of Steam (published in 1963 for 63 shillings!), plate 114 with 7002 Devizes Castle. The plan was to photo 60009 here but it was quicker making the crossiver move than timetable said, so I had to settle for a First Great Western train from Hereford.
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