19 January 2015
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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
Saturday 11 April. Excursion. The Great Western Express from
Hooton to Worcester and Oxford The railtour is jointly promoted by the
Chester Model Railway Club and Ffestiniog Railway Society Dee &
Mersey Group. Full details can be found at the Chester
Model Railway Club website.
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
Ten Years Ago: 47 847 Railway World Magazine / Brian
Morrison in its Virgin-applied 'heritage' livery makes a smoky
start from Bangor with a Manchester - Holyhead train on 30 January
2005. In 2015 the magazine is long-defunct, but ace photographer Brian
Morrison and 47 847 are still with us, while a new era of loco haulage
on Manchester trains, this time with Class 67 locos, has begun. Picture
by Ken Robinson.
January in North Wales - pictures by Aled S. Williams
67 001 sits at Llandudno on 14 January after
terminating with the 16:50 from Manchester Piccadilly.
Driving Van Trailer 82308 stands at the head of the train at
67 001 at Llandudno Junction on 14 January working the 19:34
67 001 at Llandudno Junction on the 14 January working the 1934
Llandudno - Crewe.
Arguably the most comfortable modern DMUs in the UK? 175 002
stands at Llandudno after working the 17:50 from Manchester Piccadilly
on 14 January.
On 15 January, the second Arriva Trains Wales loco-hauled set failed,
leading to 175111 deputising for the day. It is seen here at
Rhyl working the 13:01 Holyhead to Manchester Piccadilly.
Ice troubles on Merseyrail
The Branch Line
Society organised a tour of the Merseyrail system on 18 January, to
include some unusual lines. The train itself became something unusual
when, due to problems with ice on the conductor rails, the line between
Rock Ferry / Ellesmere Port / Chester was in chaos when a Merseyrail
unit failed at Rock Ferry. Operations to clear the line and rescue the
failed train resulted in a train of six units - 18 coaches - on the
move at one stage, including the stock for the special. John Mathers
photographed this amazing train approaching Hooton. The monster was
also captured on video which can be viewed on YouTube.
sent through to Chester and back to Liverpool in
order to clear the ice off the 3rd rail.
507 001 and 508 143 were detached at Hooton on the
way back to Liverpool, and formed the '750v Tracker' railtour, seen
above at West Kirby terminus (John Mathers). The schedule for
the train included 'New Brighton Siding No 1' and 'New Brighton Siding
No 2', along with the connecting line from James Street to Liverpool
Central, both depots, and many other such rarities. The proceeds were
donated to Merseyrail's nominated charity of the year, Clatterbridge
On 14 January Network Rail ran an Ultrasonic Test Train from Crewe via
Chester, Wrexham General, Croes Newydd, Bidston siding, Wrexham
General, Wrexham Central, Wrexham General, Croes Newydd, Chester,
Wrexham General (again), and Chester. Traction was 37 604,
photographed (above) by John Mathers coming off the Wrexham
Central branch into the former Exchange station, now known as
Wrexham General platform 4.
Tim Rogers watched the train pass Penyffordd station,
running 10 minutes late on teh return from Bidston.
A look at the vechicles forming the train. At the head, Driving Trailer
9702, now referred to by Network Rail as an RTOV: Remote
Vehicle. This was originaly converted for use in
passenger trains in Scotland, and later used in East Anglia
before being transferred to Network Rail.
Ultrasonic Test Train coach (UTU2) 62287, which retains the number it
originally wore as part of a Southern Region '4-CIG' electric multiple
unit (Tim Rogers),
Generator van 6262 (Tim Rogers)
37 604 on the rear (Tim Rogers). This loco was built at Vulcan
Foundry in 1960 as D6707, one of the very first batch of Class 37
locos. Its varied life since then, like all Class 37 locos, is
tabulated in the marvellous Fleet History pages of the Class 37
Approaching Balderton crossing heading for Wrexham, with the second
track under construction alongside. Note the meeting of two lengths of
rail, awaiting work to create a proper joint (John Mathers).
The 07:47 from Wrexham, and other timetable news
Prominent among the emails that get 'copied' to us are many concerning
the future of the 07:47 train from Wrexham General, and alleged
proposals by Arriva Trains Wales to abolish this service to free up a
Class 158 unit to for the promised hourly service on the Shrewsbury -
The following press release from the Welsh Assembly sums up the
In the Senedd today [14 January] during questions to the Welsh
Minister North Wales' Liberal Democrat Assembly Member Aled Roberts was
that the Minister would take up the concerns of Wrexham commuters who
will lose a direct service to Birmingham.
Aled Roberts asked the Minister if she would
intervene to overturn the decision of Arriva Trains Wales to
propose the withdrawal of the 7.47 commuter train from Wrexham to
Birmingham in May when a new timetable will come into force. This train
also serves Ruabon and Chirk. The Minister, Edwina Hart, said
that she recognises the importance of train timings for people to carry
out their business and her comments were welcomed by Aled Roberts.
Something that seems odd about the above is the claim to have reversed
decision to withdraw the direct Llandudno - Manchester train link. The
early train from Llandudno to Manchester, which allowed commuters to
reach Manchester before 09:00 without changing trains, has been
replaced by a loco-hauled train starting from Chester, apparently
Llandudno passengers in the lurch, so what does Mr
Roberts refer to?
"I am pleased that the Minister responded so positively to my
question today," said Aled Roberts. "We managed to get Arriva
Trains Wales to reverse an earlier consultation proposal to withdraw a
direct train link from Llandudno to Manchester and I hope that, with
the support of people in Wrexham, Ruabon and Chirk, we will be able to
get the withdrawal of this proposal.
"The 07.47 train which provides a direct link without any changes
between Wrexham and Birmingham is one of our busiest commuter trains
serving Telford, Wolverhampton and Birmingham in time for the working
day. Its likely replacement will leave about 15 minutes earlier and
then wait at Shrewsbury which makes it very inconvenient for those who
want to commute using public transport."I understand that the train
which forms the current 07.47 service to Birmingham is to be
transferred to the Cambrian line so that there is a new hourly service
from May 2015 linking Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury," commented Aled
Roberts. "I do worry that North East Wales is being ignored by
Cardiff-based planners in Arriva Trains Wales who seem determined to
cut commuting trains into England - they should be introducing more
commuting trains, not fewer."
Our thanks to Bob Hargreaves for the following explanation:
ATW have transferred the 05:14 from Holyhead to go to
Manchester rather than Birmingham and added a brand new service from
Llandudno to Llandudno Junction departing 05:54 to connect with it at
the Junction. So we have two trains going to Manchester, 05:14
from Holyhead forming calling at Llandudno Junction at 06:14 plus
the 05:46 from Llandudno Junction direct to Manchester. In fact two
Manchester bound trains within half an hour. These two direct
Manchester early morning commuter trains replace the old 06:34
Llandudno to Manchester.
Yes, but they do involve a significantly earlier start from Llandudno
A positive feature of the May 2015 timetable is that there will be
through trains from North Wales beyond Manchester Piccadilly to
Manchester Airport spread throughout the day, rather than in the early
morning and late evening only as at present, although not at peak times
as it is considered that the turn-round time is not sufficient to
recover from any lateness. Arriva have intended to serve the Airport in
this way for a while: currently most trains spend over 50 minutes
over in the siding beyond Piccadilly.
By May 2015 the additional platform at the Airport station will be
open, allowing these trains to run; the station
closed from 18 January to 8 February to allow the new tracks to
East Lancashire winter steam gala
The East Lancashire
Railway's Winter Steam Gala on 17-18 January coincided with some
cold and snowy weather. Above, on Saturday 17 January, Great Western
Railway 0-6-2T 5643 makes a spectacular departure from Irwell Vale
running train 1J61 towards Rawtenstall, photographed by Darren
BR Black 61994 The Great Marquess with 5643 on the rear
passing Burrs Country Park during a glimpse of sunshine (Darren
Richard Putley writes: 'On Sunday 18 January Richard Putley reached
Bury in time to see Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway 0-6-0 12322
(above) haul a demonstration parcels train to Rawtenstall which left at
10:10. Richard writes: ' I took the 10:30 to Summerseat behind BR 2-6-4
80080. I then got the 11:04 to Hopwood. This was topped and tailed by 61994
The Great Marquess and 'Crab 13065' and returned non-stop to Bury.
'By them it had started to snow so as I'd managed to photograph the
Crab at both Summerseat (above) ...
... and Heywood, and also travelled over the section of line between
Heywood and Hopwood which is not normally open to the public so I
decided to call it a day and head home. This I did after I watched the
Crab, now piloted by 12322, depart from Bury with the 12:30 to
North Wales to Hopwood - report by Stephen Hughes
On Sunday 18 January I caught the 09:13 from Bangor to Chester and then
the 10:36 to Manchester Piccadilly, where arrival was over 20 minutes
late due to an unspecified 'fault with the train' - 10 minutes late
departing from Chester and what one might only call a 'leisurely' run
to Piccadilly. Heading for the tram station, it took me a while to
realise that there weren't any direct trams to Bury any more, despite
the signs that clearly stated that there were! However a change at St
Peter's Square was all that was needed and heading through a snowstorm
saw an arrival in Bury at 12;50, a brisk walk to Bolton Street arriving
nearly four hours after leaving Bangor, I could have been in London
earlier but can't complain!
As usual, The East Lancashire Railway had put on an excellent timetable
with interesting locos swapping services and providing much movement
around an atmospheric Bolton Street in the grey cold. There was an
unexpected extra in a short trip over the level crossing at at Heywood
to Hopwood, the limit, I think of the ELR's jurisdiction on the
Castleton branch. A double-headed 'Black 5' combination led the train
with the Standard Class 4 tank at the rear. At Hopwood, after a brief
pause, the tank hauled the train back to Bury, running non-stop through
Heywood. I remained on the train to Ramsbottom, alighting to pick up a
return with the K4 'The Great Marquess', a loco that put in some
excellent performances last time I travelled behind her on last
September's 'The West Highlander'.
I remained at Bolton Street for the next hour with a decent pint of ale
from the excellent 'Trackside' pub watching the movement of loco's and
trains. Although the sun tried to come out, it was bitterly cold and
deciding to avoid the football fans returning from the Etihad Stadium
made my way back to Piccadilly. The trains back to Bangor were on time
and, surprisingly, not too busy for a Sunday. It was a well-spent few
hours on the ELR, but I must make an effort to visit when it's not so
Cheshire Best Kept Stations award -
report by Charles Allen
On Tuesday 13 January the annual awards evening for Cheshire Best Kept
Stations was held at The Grange Theatre in Hartford. Representatives
from Arriva Trains Wales, Network Rail and the North Cheshire Rail User Group
were there to receive awards for the following:
Frodsham - The Cheshire Best Kept Station Award
Chester - The Marketing Cheshire Award for its
considerable investment leading to a vastly improved welcome to those
visiting Chester by Train.
Helsby - The Cheshire West and Chester Award
Runcorn East - The Cheshire Youth Challenge Award
Princess on the Flasks
The Valley - Crewe flask train ran on Wednesday 14 January with an
unusual combination of traction in the shape of Northern Belle-liveried
57 305 Northern Princess and
numerically-matching 20 305, pictured above at the Valley
loading point by Nick Gurney.
Heading across Anglesey (Garnedd Jones).
Colwyn Bay (Jack Bowley).
Running 54 minutes up on booked time, with three FNA flask carriers,
the train approaches Glan-y-Mor Elias Crossing at Llanfairfechan in the
rain and cold. The last time this loco combination ran was back in June
last year. Picture by Peter Basterfield.
57 305 started out new as D1758 back in 1964 and allocated to Tinsley
depot (41A). It became 47 164 in December 1973 and had a
large Union Jack added in 1977, as part of the Queen's Jubilee
celebrations when based at Stratford depot (30A) It became 47 571 in
November 1979 and then 47 822 in March 1989. On 25 May 1998, it was
named 'Pride of Shrewsbury' at Shrewsbury Station by Pauline Peart, the
winner of a competition organised by the Shrewsbury Chronicle, to find
a name for the loco to haul the inaugural run direct to London Euston.
The plates were unveiled before the run and were subsequently removed
in May 2002. The loco was rebuilt to a 57/3 for Virgin Trains in
January 2003, and gained the 'Thunderbirds' name John Tracy. It
was repainted and named in October 2014.
From December 2014, a through service from Shrewsbury is running again,
and again has been celebrated by a Virgin Trains naming: this time
Voyager 221 117 has been dubbed The Wrekin Giant following a
vote by readers of the Shropshire Star. The name achieved 676 votes,
beating 'The Flying Salopian', 'Floreat Salopia', 'Wilfred Owen' and
Holywell Junction (Tim Rogers).
On 19 January, 66 057 passes Baguley on the Altrincham -
Stockport line with the 07:56 Warrington Arpley Yard to Doncaster
Europort freight, diverted from its more usual route via Earlestown.
This train is officially a 'wagon-load' service which can include any
freight traffic, but most often, as here, it carries imported Peugeot
commercial vehicles which came into the country at the Automotive
terminal on the Portbury Dock branch near Bristol.
A closer look at the load: a mixture of vans and chassis/cab units
which will be fitted with custom bodies (Greg Mape).
There was no traffic for the Mondays-only Briggs Sidings - Warrington
Arpley trip working on 12 January; all that materialised for Les
Burton to photograph at Northenden Junction was 60 063
running from Peak Forest to Arpley.
Corwen 1965 and 2015 - report by George Jones
The Ruabon to Barmouth line closed as of Monday, 18 January 1965, and
the last train from Llangollen to Ruabon ran on Saturday, 16 January,
so the 50th anniversary of the closure is this week. The fireman on
that last train was Mr Elwyn Jones, of New Broughton, near Wrexham, and
on Saturday, 10 January 2015, he was invited down to Llangollen to join
in the Volunteers' day and sample a ride to Corwen. The special train
ran topped and tailed with the class 26 D5310 leading and with 0-6-0T
'Jessie' on the rear. Mr Jones posed with the footplate crew of the
steam engine and remembered the occasion, 50 years ago, when he
prepared Ivatt 2-6-0, 46509, for the return journey, departing
Llangollen at 7.15pm.
D5310 stands at Corwen East platform.
By way of a contrast, this Harold Bowtell picture shows Corwen
station, with its typical Greater Western architecture on 2 October
1955, with 42461 on the RCTS North Wales railtour.
Wrexham delays - report by John Cowlishaw
On 16 January the engineering works to re-double the line between
Wrexham and Chester over-ran requiring Arriva Trains Wales to amend
their service. Services which would normally have reversed at Chester
ran via Crewe, buses used from Wrexham to Chester with a rail shuttle
service between Shrewsbury and Chester. Here 158 826,
forming the rail shuttle, passes the site of the former Bersham
Colliery exchange sidings south of Wrexham with special train 1Z01
08:21 Shrewsbury - Wrexham service, which returned as 1Z02 at 09:
42. It appears that the rail shuttle made two return journeys,
giving a two-hour frequency before the 11:09 Birmingham International -
Holyhead ran normally.
Editor's note: The headgear of Bersham Colliery, seen in the
background, is preserved as part of the Bersham Colliery Mining Museum,
a heritage project which has suffered from lack of funds and support,
and has yet to achieve the status of a public museum . The current
advice from the owners, Wrexham Council. is 'The Headgear site can be
seen from the road at all times. However, the site is fenced in for
security. Bersham Colliery Mining Museum is open by prior appointment
for group visits and on special open days.'
A 'skip' and some bins! 67 001 sits at
Llandudno Town on 14 January after terminating with the 16:50 from
Manchester Piccadilly. Picture by Aled S. Williams.
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