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23 March 2015
67 023 hauls the empty stock of the UK Railtours excursion past Hargrave on the way back from Crewe to Chester to collect the passengers for the return to Stevenage - see item below. The matching crimson and cream coaches make an impressive sight. Picture by Stavros Lainas.
Stevenage to Chester
On Saturday 21 March UK Railtours ran an excursion from Stevenage (dep. 07:30), Welwyn Garden City, Potters Bar and Finsbury Park to Ruabon and Chester. DB Schenker provided the traction in the form of 67 023, as seen above arriving at Chester at 11:04. Picture by Roly High.
The loco ran round its train in Chester station, a event which is not common. 67 023 backs on to the train in Platform 4 ready to take it empty to Crewe for the coaches to be serviced (Roly High).
Coupling up (Roly High). Note the first coach, equippped with diesel generator in the brake van area.
Stevenage to Corwen - report by George Jones
Some 324 passengers from the UK Railtours excursion (see above) opted for a trip to the Llangollen Railway: seven road coaches carried them to Llangollen in time for the 13:30 Corwen Special. Whilst some chose to sample the delights of the class 104 railcar with the 13:00 service, the majority boarded the 5-coach special headed by 2-6-2T 5199.
On a day of unexpected spring sunshine, the party enjoyed a non-stop run to Carrog to pass the returning railcar then through to Corwen for 14:08 where the tour participants spread out into town, some taking in the opportunity to investigate the phase 2 station site and others the Railway Museum in Capel Goch.
Representatives from Corwen were on the train to hand out literature and Llangollen staff dispensed a Corwen Extension handout dedicated to the occasion, with supplies of the new LR stock book also available for sale. A welcoming party at Corwen acted as guides into town.
Whilst the party was in Corwen the special propelled back to Carrog for the run round and returned empty to take the participants back at 15:15 with 5199 leading. Deposited in Llangollen for 16:00, the party made their way to the coach park for transport to Ruabon (above) where the return charter train was to pick them up at 17:05.
158 833 and a sister unit called at Ruabon with a service train. Was the driver expecting so many customers?
67 023 arrives with the return trip. The train planners had wisely allowed six minutes here for everyone to board, but the train was still three minutes late departing. An interesting experience for all concerned; let's hope there are more of the same.
Llangollen Stock book
The new edition of Llangollen Railway Stock Book, published on 1 March, has 112 pages in card cover, detailing 170 items from steam and diesel locomotives, diesel multiple units, carriages, wagons, cranes and 'assorted oddments on wheels' with 186 photographs. Now available from LR outlets, price £7.50, it is the work of Martin Gill and Richard Dixon-Gough with proceeds going to the funding of the extension through to the terminal at Corwen.
Orders by post from the LR office at Abbey Road, Llangollen LL20 8SN can be had for £10 including p&p UK. Cheques payable to Llangollen Railway Trust Ltd; credit card sales available via the office number 01978 860979.
On Tuesday 17 March (above) 6D41 Crewe - Valley flask train emerges from Bangor Tunnel with 37 667 and 37 059 hauling one 'FNA' flask wagon, 15 minutes early at 07:01 (Peter Basterfield).
At Valley, 37 667 and 37 059 - illustrating the two versions of DRS Livery - in the process of running round their solitary FNA on the triangle. Taken from the public footpath by Jim Johnson.
The two locos wait in Valley station after propelling the flask from the triangle. The semaphore starter will 'pull off' for them as soon as the 13:58 Holyhead-Euston double-Voyager has cleared the long section at Gaerwen, and the Valley crossing barriers have come down. The train (6K41 to Crewe) departed at 14:16, some 80 minutes ahead of its scheduled departure time. However, this has been a regular occurrence, with few exceptions, over the last few weeks that it has run. The
temporary shut-down of Wylfa's remaining operational reactor doesn't seem to have affected traffic yet. (Picture by Jim Johnson taken from the public footpath/road on the crossing while the barriers were up.)
Malltraeth Viaduct on Friday 20 March, and the westbound train about 10 minutes late with 57 008, 20 308 and two wagons (Peter Basterfield).
The Valley to Crewe return working (6K41) on 20 March, about 51 minutes early at Glan-y-Mor Elias crossing, Llanfairfechan, with 20 308 leading 57 008. Notice that the Class 20 is now in the lead. Normally, locos run together round the triangle at Valley so the same loco leads the train in both directions (Peter Basterfield).
Passing Shotton (Tim Rogers).
The 09:50 (Mon-Fri) Manchester - Holyhead (let's bring back the name 'Irish Mancunian') is a particularly photogenic train, normally running with the locomotive leading. On 18 March, usual loco 67 001 was photographed by Stavros Lainas climbing Hapsford bank near Helsby at 10:48am.
Approaching Abergele, with 175 005 passing on a Llandudno - Manchester service (Greg Mape).
Beside the seaside at Llanfairfechan (Tim Rogers)
67 001 propels from the rear as the 13:01 to Manchester heads across Anglesey on 18 March, with the Valley airport buildings on the horizon (Tim Rogers)
On 19 March, 67 001 departs Rhyl for Holyhead (Stavros Lainas).
The return service, 13:01 Holyhead - Manchester, runs along the sea wall at Ffynnongroyw on 19 March (Stavros Lainas).
News of the other loco-worked train, the Holyhead - Cardiff 'WAG Express' is that the Welsh Government have signed a contract with Arriva to continue running this service for a further three years, until the end of the current Welsh rail franchise. Silver 'Celebrity' loco 67 029 Royal Diamond has become the regular power in recent weeks: the word on the platform is that the other two Arriva-blue locos, 67 002 and 67 003, have been rejected by Arriva, due to reliability and now see use on other work for DB Schenker.
The WAG express will head from Wrexham to London on Sunday 29 March, a special charter for fans of Wrexham FC whose team are playing North Ferriby United in the FA Trophy final. The train is not yet on the Realtime Trains database at the time of writing, but is advertised to depart Wrexham General at 08:15 and run via the Chiltern route and arrive at Wembley Stadium, station at 11:36, returning after the match in one of two possible paths depending on extra time, etc. This is a repeat of the events of March 2013 when Wrexham were last in the Final, beating Grimsby (on penalties) on that occasion. That day did not go quite according to plan, as our 24 March 2013 issue related. The fares are £60 for first class adult, £40 for standard class adult, £35.00 first class child and £25 standard class child) - tickets have to be bough from Wrexham General booking office, and may well be sold out by the time you read this.
Saltney Junction update - pictures by Anthony Robinson
Two telephoto view of the new track layout at Saltney Junction on 21 March. Above, the 14.23 Holyhead - Cardiff (16.19 from Chester) is negotiating the junction. The new second track is in place leading off from the junction but is clearly awaiting tamping and levelling which will probably be done when the entire section to Rossett is completed.
The view illustrates well the layout now favoured by Network Rail for junctions between two double track lines. The traditional method involved use of a 'diamond crossing' which is difficult to maintain, and constricts possible options for curve radius. In the 1970s and 80s British Rail did away with the diamonds by having a short length of single line on the 'branch' route, trains coming off the branch then using the crossover. More recently, the alternative layout seen here has been used, which allows trains to run on and off the branch simultaneously.
Arriva sponsors road race - report by Larry Davies
On Sunday 15 March Arriva Trains Wales and the Conwy Valley Community Rail Partnership sponsored a 5k/10k road race for runners around the town of Llandudno, which proved to be an excellent community event in which the profile of the local rail network was very much raised. The race was waved off (above) by Mr Ben Davies, Stakeholder Manager for Wales who does so much for the cause of community involvement in the principality.
Many Arriva staff took part ... and 158 873!
Drivers of the future?
Severn Railway 50th Anniversary Gala - 21st March 2015
Report by Richard Putley
On Saturday 21 March 2015 I drove to Arley to see the various locos that were visiting the Severn Valley Railway for its Spring Steam Gala. For me the star guest was the only surviving WD 2-8-0 90733 from the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway. This was the first time it had visited another railway.
I photographed it running tender first southbound at Arley (above) and later heading north over Victoria Bridge across the river Severn. [This loco never actually operated for British Railways, whose machines of the same type were given numbers up to 90732. Used by the Army in Europe during World War II as War Department WD No. 79257, it was used by the Netherlands Railways after the war, and later passed to the Swedish Railways. It was brought back from Sweden, where it been part of the 'Strategic Reserve', in 1972, and worked in the Worth Valley until 1976 when it was taken out of traffic. A heavy repair began in 1993, and in 2007 it returned to service, having been modified to look more like a BR loco and given the imaginary number.]
Also making a return visit from the Worth Valley line was the LNWR 'Coal Tank' 0-6-2T 1054 which I also snapped at Arley. [This is also the last survivor of a very large class, of which over 300 were built between 1881 and 1897. It worked for British Railways until 1958, and was saved for preservation by group of determined enthusiasts headed by Max Dunn, the former Shedmaster of Bangor locomotive depot, and in 1963 transferred to the National Trust, which still retains ownership. Today it has its own website.]
Another visitor was GWR 2-8-0T 4270 from the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway. I caught it on camera hauling a set of GWR coaches over Victoria Bridge ...
... Likewise visiting GWR 0-4-2T 1450.
The fifth visitor was the Worcester Locomotive Society's Pannier tank GWR/BR 5786 but running in its London Transport guise as L92, seen on the approach to Arley.
Report by John Roobottom
LT92, built in 1930 at Swindon, was based on the SVR years ago, now in London Transport livery, was loaned by the South Devon Railway Trust and Worcester Locomotive Society Limited for this special event. She is seen leaving Hampton Loade on the 14.16 to Kidderminster. This engine famously reappeared to run on the London Underground last year.
No 1054. built in 1888, is now 127 years old: the oldest locomotive at the Gala. The timetable described this short train as a 'Local' which had just arrived at Hampton Loade from Bridgnorth on the 14:39 service.
There was plenty to see around the Hampton Loade Station with the Paddock Railway running model live steam trains, and plenty of railway memorabilia items on display. This particular sign was for sale at £300; it appears to have come from one of the canals owned by the Great Western Railway.
Voyagers 221 111 Roald Amundsen & 221 103 Christopher Columbus near Shtton with train 1A48, 13:58 Holyhead to London Euston, on 20 March (Tim Rogers).
Spotted at Chester on 21 March, the nameplate 'The Wrekin Giant' applied to 221 117 to mark the re-introdiction of a Shrewsbury - London through train (Roly High).
An eye-catching sight stabled at Chester on 21 March: Colas Rail tamping machine DR73922 John Snowdon. Picture by Roly High. What do we know abot Mr Snowdon?
67 012 appeared on the Coast on 18 March, with a very short Network Rail train comprising
Plain Line Pattern Recognition vehicle "PLPR1" 72631 (formerly coach 6096) and driving trailer 82129 as 1Q30 10:55 Derby RTC to Crewe via Holyhead, see above heading west through Rhyl (Roly High).
The return rum seen near Valley (Tim Rogers).
92 042 seen at Crewe on 17 March, having emerhed from the International Electric depot (Martin Evans).
On the same day, 57 307 Lady Penelope on 'Thunderbird' duty at Crewe (Martin Evans).
On 1 April, the new franchise takes over the Caledonian Sleeper trains, and as note here in recent issues, GB Railfreight Class 92s will provide the traction on the London Euston - Glasgow/Edinburgh legs, so specially-liveried DB Schenker loco 90 021, seen at Euston on 18 March, will have to find a new role in life (Richard Putley).
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