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22 December 2014
7819 Hinton Manor draws forward into Machynlleth station with the daily freight from Bordesley, running some hours late, on 28 December 1964. 7819 still exists, part of the Severn Valley Railway fleet, but has not been in running order for some years. Picture by John Hobbs: more below.
Riding the Irish Mancunian - with George Jones
Three of us travelled from Chester (above) to Holyhead on 16 December by means of the new loco-hauled 09:50 from Manchester Piccadilly, 11:00 from Chester. 67 001 was the loco in charge. With only three coaches it was said to be full and standing from Newton-le-Willows but there was plenty of choice for seats west of Chester.
What better way to enjoy going 'Down the Coast' than from a Mark3 coach while sat at a table for four and touching 80 mph-plus in places?
Arrival at Holyhead was five minutes early ...
... and the train posed in Platform 3 for half an hour before departing for Manchester at 13:01.
We took the 13:58 Virgin 'Super Voyager' back for the contrast and the extra time in Holyhead it offered to take a look at the harbour. This is the Stena Explorer.
The Virgin train in Platform 1. Stena Line appear to have discontinued the Christmas Custom of dressing their office building as a Christmas parcel.
Seasonal scenes from the past - on the Cambrian with John Hobbs
Ivatt Class 2-6-0 46517 enters Oswestry with the 9.45 am Whitchurch to Aberystwyth, on 28 December 1964; a cold, bleak morning with everything running an hour late. Only three weeks to go before passenger services on this section of the Cambrian main line ceased on 18 January 1965. A branch shuttle to Gobowen continued until November 1966, and general freight until 1971. A single track from Gobowen through Oswestry to serve a quarry at Nantmawr: the quarry is no longer served but much of the line remains in situ and includes two preservation sites run by the Cambrian Heritage Railways.
BR Standard Class 4 2-6-4T 80102 stands in Welshpool station waiting for passengers from Shrewsbury, having taken over from 46517 at Oswestry. Chaos is in progress due to the heavy snow. Swirling steam heat completes the scene - not that much of the steam got to heat the train!
Manor Class 4-6-0 7827 Lydham Manor (now preserved on the Dartmouth Steam Railway) running hard with the late running "Cambrian Coast Express" as it powers through Forden; I bet the token exchange was quite something; the speed it was going; you could hear the echoes rising off the hills as the sound was emphasised by the snow covered countryside, what a fine sight as she burst through the steam surrounding the stationary 80102 on our train. Along with several other intermediate stations on the Cambrian main line between Welshpool and Aberystwyth, Forden closed in June 1965.
More Arriva locomotive views
67 001 leaves Bangor with the first 09:0 Manchester Piccadilly to Holyhead, Monday 15 December (John Hobbs).
Runcorn East, 15 December with the 13:01 Holyhead - Manchester (John Hobbs).
Departure from Runcorn East, with Norton signalbox (John Hobbs).
'On the blocks' at Llandudno (Peter Lloyd).
The 09:50 Manchester - Holyhead at Llandudno Junction, on its second day of operation, 16 December (Peter Lloyd). The whole train had been turned round to face the other way from the previous day, presumably by means of the triangle of lines at Chester.
Llandudno Junction, Friday 19 December (Ken Robinson).
Arrived at Manchester Piccadilly at 15:51 on a wet afternoon, 19 December (Charlie Hulme).
The Manchester service does not run on Saturdays, but on 20 December the train, now augmented by a fourth coach, was used on two Crewe - Holyhead return trips in view of an expected flow of Irish ferry passengers. Rowan Crawshaw photographed 67 001 at Holyhead after working the 1D01 08:46 'ferry-ex' from Crewe.
The Cardiff 'Premier Express' set remained in the sidings at Holyhead for the weekend as normal, with loco 67 029 Royal Diamond in its 'EWS Company Train' livery now featuring the world's biggest 'DB' symbol (Rowan Crawshaw).
67 001 departs Bangor with the 12:22 Holyhead to Crewe return extra (Rowan Crawshaw).
Chris Morrison's view
Chiltern Railways 68 012 passes Dorridge with the 09:30 London Marylebone - Stourbridge Junction driver training run on 16 December. The 68 works the 07:44 Banbury - Marylebone blue and grey Mk3 set with passengers before being used for driver training during the day.
67 028 arrives at Shrewsbury with the 07:05 UK Railtours 'Shrewsbury at Christmas' charter on 20 December.
Later the same day, 67 028 arrives at Shrewsbury with the empty stock from Crewe to form the return 17:13 charter to Basingstoke on 20 December.
A steward checks for passengers before departure. All pictures by Chris Morrison.
Northern's Christmas Present
As mentioned previously, Northern Rail have been operating loco-hauled extras on Saturdays from 22 November to 20 December on the Manchester Victoria - Preston route. Here's a further selection of pictures. Above, 47 790 Solway Princess heads the 10:45 Chorley - Manchester Victoria past Ladybridge Lane, Lostock, Bolton on 29 November (Ian Pilkington).
47 790 heads the 12:47 Buckshaw Parkway - Manchester Victoria through Blackrod, also on 29 November (Ian Pilkington).
47 853 Rail Express approaches Chorley with 09:32 Manchester Victoria - Preston on 13 December. The occupation bridge in the distance will be completely replaced next year for the forthcoming electrification (Ian Pilkington).
On the final day, 20 December, 47 818 brings the 12:47 Buckshaw Parkway - Manchester Victoria into Salford Crescent station (Charlie Hulme). This is a still from our YouTube video: please take a look.
The sun is already low in the sky as the 13:52 Manchester Victoria - Chorley pulls away from Salford Central station, with the new overhead wires on the adjacent Liverpool reflected in the coach windows. There is no doubt that these smartly turned-out trains were a success with the travelling public as well as a good contingent of railfans. 'This train's got, like, real old-fashioned coaches' said a young passenger excitedly into her phone. A hit with rail staff too, judging by the number of volunteer stewards manning the doors! Picture by Charlie Hulme.
47 853 has arrived at Preston with the 13:52 from Manchester Victoria on 20 December (Ian Pilkington). Note the remains of the yellow paint on the buffers applied for the Tour de France specials in July. Some of the trains were advertised to run between Manchester and Buckshaw or Chorley only, running as empty-stock between there and Preston.
We heard that TransPennine Express were asked to make a financial contribution in return for carrying some Manchester - Preston passengers, but declined to do so; it was not just a plan to frustrate enthusiast travellers.
At the opposite end of the train 47 818 stands at Preston with the 15:12 for Manchester Victoria on 20 December (Ian Pilkington). Note that the two locos have different buffer styles.
More Santas at Berwyn - report by George Jones
The Llangollen Railway had GWR 2-8-0 3802 rostered on 'Santa Specials' on 20 December, with continuing use of newly-overhauled 2-6-2T 5199. Above, 3802 on the 11:00 from Llangollen passing Berwyn.
5199 bunker-first past Berwyn with the 11:55. With dry rail head conditions trains had no problems on the climb up through Berwyn and with some cloud about the light was diffused compared with previous weeks to provide better photo opportunities.
3802 returning the first 'Santa' and seen passing opposite the Horseshoe Falls.
Trains run from 22 December through to Christmas Eve and, after a day off, trains resume with 5199 rostered for 'Mince Pie Special' duties through to 1 January, and then two days of the 'Winter Warmer' (see poster on left column) event to keep rail fans entertained with an hourly service and assorted travel options.
A Virgin Christmas
'Traindeer' with its shiny (?) nose at Crewe on 20 December (Darren Durrant).
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