Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

19 January 2015

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Forthcoming events

This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page. For the current list visit our Calendar.

January 2015

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.    

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 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


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 Llandudno.

67 001 at Llandudno Junction on 14 January working the 19:34 Llandudno-Crewe service.

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. The cavalcade was 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 Cancer Hospital.

Ultrasonic push-pull

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 Train Operating 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 Locomotive Group.

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 - Aberystwyth line.

The following press release from the Welsh Assembly sums up the situation:

In the Senedd today [14 January] during questions to the Welsh Government's Transport
Minister North Wales' Liberal Democrat Assembly Member Aled Roberts was assured
that the Minister would take up the concerns of Wrexham commuters who fear they
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.

 "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."
Something that seems odd about the above is the claim to have reversed the 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 leaving Llandudno passengers in the lurch, so what does Mr Roberts refer to?

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 than before...

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 laying 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 is closed from 18 January to 8 February to allow the new tracks to be connected.

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 Durrant.

BR Black 61994 The Great Marquess with 5643 on the rear passing Burrs Country Park during a glimpse of sunshine (Darren Durrant).

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 Rawtenstall.

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 cold!

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 'Evolution'.

Holywell Junction (Tim Rogers).

Picture miscellany

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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