NORTH WALES COAST
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06 April 2015
67 026 brings the 'Spirit of the Lakes' excursion from Cleethorpes into Llandudno past the Maes Du golf course, 4 April. Picture by Greg Mape.
For additional items added on 7 April, Follow this link.
Engineering work over the Easter weekend led to some interesting diversions of the GB Railfreight trains that feed Ironbridge power station with fuel in the form of biomass (wood pellets) imported via Liverpool Bulk Terminal. On Saturday 4 April (above), 66 701 with 6G60, 15:04 Liverpool Bulk Terminal - Ironbridge is seen at Hapsford near Helsby (Andrew Vinten).
This train ran via Earlestown, Helsby, Chester, Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton to Bescot Yard, where it reversed, then ran back through Wolverhampton in order to be facing the right way to turn on to the Ironbridge branch at Madeley Junction which it reached between Shifnal and Telford Central. Above, 66 701 nears Balderton Tunnel (John Mathers).
66 721 Harry Beck with 4F61, 12:00 Ironbridge - Liverpool Bulk Terminal on 4 April passes Dodleston Foot Crossing south of Chester (John Mathers). The livery is based on the London Underground Map as designed by Harry Beck, and was applied when GBRf won a contract to run trains of materials for Underground updates.
66 721 returned from Liverpool with another load on Sunday 5 April, 6G55 12:00 Liverpool - Ironbridge, seen passing Northgate Locks, Chester (Bob Greenhalgh). Biomass wagons are covered hoppers, as the wood must not be allowed to get wet - so empty and loaded trains look the same.
66 761 at Green Lane crossing, Saltney, Sunday 5 April with the second loaded train of the day, 6G57 15:00 Liverpool - Ironbridge (Bob Greenhalgh). It is interesting to note that the loaded trains run as Class 6 (maximum speed 60 mph), while the empties are Class 4 and can run at 75 mph where permitted.
The heat from the exhaust as 66 761 powers through Chirk at 18:20 blurs the background view of the Kronospan factory (John Mathers).
Most of the diverted on Sunday evening trains took the route as described above, but on Sunday evening train 4F66 Ironbridge - Liverpool embarked on a more roundabout journey. Avoiding Wolverhampton by the Bushbury curve, it travelled via Stafford, Crewe, Stockport, Manchester Piccadilly Platform 14, Earlestown and Olive Mount Junction - which at least has the benefit of not requiring a reversal with its attendant need to run the loco round the train.
West Coast in trouble - but Cleethorpes special runs
On 3 April, the day before the Easter Holiday weekend, Network Rail's press office put out a statement which appeared to presage drastic results:
Network Rail has issued West Coast Railways with a suspension notice with effect of Friday 3 April. A Network Rail spokesperson said: 'Network Rail has issued a suspension notice to West Coast Railway Company Limited (WCR) as a result of ongoing safety concerns. This decision has not been taken lightly, however safety will always be our number one priority. We have set out a number of actions to address the safety concerns raised and will continue to work with WCR to ensure their services can run safely in future.'An accompanying PDF document makes it clear that a recent incident at Wootton Bassett junction in Wiltshire, involving a steam-hauled excursion driven by a West Coast Railways member of staff, was something of a 'last straw' in the relations between NR and WCRC. The train passed a signal at red and crossed the junction into the path of a London-bound express which fortunately had just passed by the time 34067 Tangmere came to a stand with its train across the junction. Remarkably, it came to light that the train crew failed to cancel in time a warning from the AWS safety system at a speed restriction, and therefore the system automatically applied the train brakes. In an effort to avoid the train stopping, the crew then, in flagrant contravention of the rules, 'took an action which cancelled the effect of the AWS braking demand after a short period and a reduction in train speed of only around 8 mph. The action taken also had the effect of making subsequent AWS or TPWS brake demands ineffective.' So the TPWS system, which would have stopped the train when it passed the later red signal, did not operate. See the Dangerous Occurrence Report on this very worrying incident.
The company has been given until 15 May to improve their safety procedures and documentation. This does not bode well for steam-hauled trains in the near future, but diesel haulage can be transferred to other companies, as evidenced by the fact that the Cleethorpes to Llandudno excursion advertised for Saturday 4 April did run as planned, with DB Schenker locos 67 026 Diamond Jubilee and 67 005 Queen's Messenger instead of the expected West Coast Railways 47s or 57s. Contrary to a muddled newspaper report, this was never planned as a steam train.
The train reached North Wales via Stalybridge, Stockport and Altrincham, and our loyal contributors were on hand as ever with their cameras.
Chester (Roly High).
Some of the coaches, as photographed at Chester by Roly High. These are 'genuine' Pullman cars, from the last batch ever built, the 29 Mk2 cars for the 1960s Manchester Pullman and Liverpool Pullman services. British Rail named them in 1983 after historical Manchester and Liverpool people, and brake coach 586 (above), now Derwentwater, carried the name of John Rylands, whose name is still carried by the Manchester library for which your editor has the honour of working for many years.
549 Bassenthwaite is one of the 14 Parlour Cars.
504 Ulllswater is a Kitchen car.
67 026 heads the train past the lagoons at Bagillt (Tim Rogers).
Tim Rogers obtained side views of the royal-themes locos as they passed. 67 026 carries no company branding on the sides, although it does have DB logos on the ends. This livery was created in 2012 for the 60th anniversary of the Queen's reign.
67 005, in its traditional Royal Train livery still carries the mark of defunct operator EWS. Members of the class can be seen in a wide variety of liveries, recently added to by the application of Caledonian Sleeper 'midnight teal' and the name Cairn Gorm to 67 004 for use by the new Caledonian Sleeper franchise.
Prestatyn (Dave Sallery).
Llandudno Junction (Larry Davies).
The bridge by the golf course at Llandudno is a popular spot for photos: this one is by Gary Thomas. The golfer in the red jumper looks interested in the train.
On the approach to Llandudno (Greg Mape).
67 005 on the rear as the train passes Llandudno's home signal (Greg Mape).
Diamond Jubilee rests 'off the block' on platform 3 at Llandudno in the afternoon sunshine. It had been hoped that the special would have been stabled in the new Cae Mawr Carriage sidings which had been passed for use earlier in the week, but that did not happen (Larry Davies).
67 005 heads the return working out of the town (Larry Davies).
With 67 026 on the rear, the charter heads into Deganwy alongside the beach promenade, now restored after the storms of 2014 (Larry Davies).
The return working passes Deganwy (Dave Sallery).
67 026 on the rear at Deganwy (Gary Thomas).
The classic view from the heights above Old Colwyn (Greg Mape).
Passing Manor Lane, Sandycroft (John Mathers).
East of Frodsham, 1950s - pictures by Norman Jones
Captions by Anthony Robinson
Another set of pictures fron c. 1956, from the Norman Jones collection. Above: a BR Standard Class 5 (probably a Patricroft engine on a Manchester Exchange - Llandudno train) heads west over Frodsham viaduct past Frodsham Junction signalbox with 12 'blood and custard' bogie coaches in tow.
Backing down slowly off the main line at Frodsam Junction onto the Halton curve we see ex-LNWR 'Super D' (G2A) 49134 of Speke Junction (8C) shed. These engines were not popular with crews when worked tender first due to the degree of weather exposure experienced, hence many were fitted with tender cabs in LMS days. (Taken from the Junction signal box).
Further down the Halton curve, we see what was a one-time common method of crew changing that would be totally against modern H&S regulations today; the crew of 49134 are exchanging their spartan steed for the more comfortable cab of an unidentified Stanier 8F on a Stanlow-bound train of oil empties. By the mid-fifties the 'Super D' would already be over forty years old.
An unidentified but comparatively clean Bangor (6H) 'Black 5' emerges from Halton tunnel on a North Wales-bound express excursion, reporting number W494.
The date is Friday 28 September 1956 and a train with telegraphic code OGLO ("Out of Gauge Load" bell code 2 - 6 - 1) consisting of 13 loaded Borail wagons double-headed by two 'Royal Scot' 4-6-0s (regrettably out of the picture) heads through Norton station towards Chester.
Looking down on to the West Coast main line from the Warrington - Chester line we an unidentified 5X 'Jubilee' heading north with twelve bogies behind it. That's when we had proper length trains running!
1. By Lee Davies
Some pictures from Easter Saturday. We had a lovely trip from Tan-y-blwch to Porthmadog, where we caught sight (above) of Taliesin with a vintage train along the Cob.
And then had a return trip to Tan-y-blwch (above) behind diesel Vale of Ffestiniog following problems with steam loco Earl of Merioneth.
Then a nice drive up to Rhyd Ddu, where we watched the Garratts passing. A lovely day out in the sun.
2. Pictures by Daniel Whitnall
Two pictures from Easter Monday, 6 April. Above, Welsh Highland Railway Garratt 87 departing from Pont Croesor.
In view at Dinas is 2-8-2 class NG15 loco 133, built in 1953, which was imported from South Africa along with sister loco 134. Restoriation of No. 134 is now under way: the project has its own website.
A freight selection - pictures by John Mathers
A Class 70 is a rare sign in North Wales - a Colas Rail class 70 even more so. On 2 April 70 804 appeared on a Teigngrace (Devon) to Chirk log train; John managed a photograph at Chirk station at 22:35.
60 066 with 6M30 Margam - Dee Marsh steel-carriers on Easter Sunday at Rhosrobin Farm near crossing.
Passing Lostock Gralam (on the Stockport - Chester via Northwich route) on 3 April at 14:12, 6H39 Runcorn Folly Lane - Northenden empty domestic refuse containers, hauled by 66 507. Freightliner was recently sold to the US Genesee & Wyoming Railroad: whether this will lead to changes remains to be seen.
A few minutes later, 66 621 heads 6H49, 12:39 Fiddler's Ferry Power Station - Tunstead Quarry, having delivered a load of limestone for the de-sulphurisation process.
[Users of Realtime Trains should take care when hoping to photograph trains operated by the Freightliner company. Their trains are frequently shown as 'activated' due to an automatic process two hours before scheduled departure, only to change to 'cancelled' some time after they should have left. You should never be confident that a freight train is running until its actual departure time appears.]
Past Times with John Hobbs - Gronant (it's rather flat)
Following the dieselisation of the passenger traffic in North Wales at the end of January 1965 and the slow return of the London trains to diesel traction as the EE Type 4's were repaired; the "Club" returned to steam haulage while Easter brought some steam back with some trains "made steam" while Excursion traffic still mainly brought steam traction to North Wales.
Above: LMS Class 5 4-6-0 45276 heads west between Talacre and Gronant with 1Z18 Excursion on Easter Sunday 18 April 1965. it also worked 1Z18 the following day, which I think originated from Stoke: today there are no through trains from Stoke to North Wales or vice versa. Perhaps if we eventually get the electrification of Crewe to Chester we will get London Midland extending some services to Chester? Historically the North Staffordshire Railway ran to Llandudno and there was a through DMU from Derby to Llandudno and return for many years in the sixties. It is also not so long since (twenty years) we had a regular loco hauled train from Derby to Llandudno in the summer period.
45391 heads east at Gronant with the Sundays 10 am Holyhead to Broad Street meat train, also on Easter Sunday 18 April 1965; they needed their food in London and this train even ran on Easter Sunday. To the left can be seen the remains of the Gronant freight depot, which had also seen use as a Camping Coach location in the fifties.
BR / Sulzer Type 2 Bo-Bo D5133 approaches Prestatyn, as seen from Bodnant Bridge, with excursion 1Z22 on the same day. In the background Nant Hall signalbox can be seen; it controlled only the 'Down' lines when open; the Distant signal for Prestatyn is cleared on the 'Down Slow'. This bridge and its access roads were built in 1903 at the expense of Mrs McLaren, later Lady Aberconway, to access the beach, and was later taken over by the Flintshire County Council for the new A548, in 1923. The bridge was closed for some years, 1905/11 due to a dispute with the Council over access to the bridge as the land on both sides was owned by her; the dispute went to Parliament, but she relented when her husband became Lord Aberconway. The bridge now over 100 years old is still in use today for the heavy traffic on the Coast Road.'
Rhyl Miniature Railway article
The April 2015 issue of Railway Bylines magazine, now on sale, includes an eight-page article, reprinted from Issue 889 (September/October 2014) of the Stephenson Locomotive Society Journal, on the Rhyl Minature Railway and its Barnes 'Atlantics'. Every aspect of the line's history and motive power is covered in detail.
Chain Bridge progress - report by George Jones
Works is progressing on the rebuilding of the 'chain bridge' over the Dee near Berwyn station on the Llangollen Railway. In mid-March it was reported the refurbished chain links were being reinstalled by contractors as part of the project to restore the famous bridge for public use.
Seen from a train train on 15 March, the pictures show progress with several link spans in position. A reopening in late April is now thought possible, creating a convenient access to the Chain Bridge Hotel.
Looking back at SSS IV - pictures by Anthony Thomas
The train workings in the recent Steel, Steam and Stars even at the Llangollen Railway were covered in earlier issues, but here are some pictures of aspects not mentioned before. First, a little curiosity. These two pictures of 92214 Central Star might be of interest because of the fact that
the two photographs were taken 30 minutes apart in Llangollen station - the one above taken at 17:42, showing a shed-code plate 6C (Croes Newydd, which provided locos for the Line through Llangollen), having just hauled the train from Corwen to Llangollen ...
... The second was taken at 18.12, with a shed plate of 82F, while the engine had just backed up to the front of the carriages and being prepared to leave Llangollen. 82F was the code used from 1958-1966 by the Somerset & Dorset Railway depot at Bath, and several of the the visiting locos had that well-remembered line in common. It had been planned for sister loco 92212, which had been an S&D loco and carries an 82F shed plate to be the visitor, but this suffered problems and the owners of 92214 stepped in to the breach. How many people noticed this subtlety?
Visitors were able to look around the works at Llangollen where new steam locos are under construction, including 6880 Betton Grange, the funding for which is supported by revenue from the gala (which, we understand, raised £20,000 for the scheme).
The new cylinders in place. For more information and to support the project, visit www.6880.co.uk. A boiler is required, and one previously carried by a member of the similar 'Hall' class has been acquired, but requires extensive refurbishment.
Also a work in progress is 'Patriot' class 45551 The Unknown Warrior. Like the 'Grange' class, no examples of the 'Patriot' type survived into preservation, a fact which has inspired these new constructions.
The LMS-Patriot project also has an interesting website, through which donations are very welcome.
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