NORTH WALES COAST
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13 April 2015
67 023 at Rhyl with 1W96 Cardiff - Holyhead express on Wednesday 8 April. Picture by Ivor Bufton. A contract was recently signed for this train to run for another three years.
Thanks for all the great contributions - some have been held over until next time.- Charlie
The Great Western Express
On Saturday 11 April, two excursions were scheduled to run from Hooton, but the 'The Wight & Sussex Express to Portsmouth & Chichester with optional tour of Sussex and Hampshire' which was to have been run by West Coast Railways 'bit the dust' in the aftermath of the suspension of West Coast's operating licence (see last issue). Passengers were informed of the cancellation on 8 April.
However, the 'Great Western Express' to Chester, promoted by the Chester Model Railway Club and the Ffestiniog Railway Dee and Mersey Group operated as planned, with DRS locomotives and Riviera Trains stock. Above, the train awaits its 07:20 departure from Hooton. Picture by Ian Henderson.
An interesting feature of this working was that it called at the small station of Bache to collect passengers from Chester, then avoided Chester station by means of the little-used 'Up and Down Fork' line. Chad Glingris was in position to photograph this occasion, and while waiting photographed 175 105 at Chester South Junction heading for Chester with the 1H82 06:34 Llandudno to Manchester Piccadilly. The 'fork' line can be seen in the left background.
A couple of minutes later 57 301 Goliath appeared at the head of the railtour, with an interesting assortment of coaches as it snaked its way across the junction to join the North Wales main line with 57 310 Pride of Cumbria bringing up the rear (Chad Glingris).
From Saltney Junction, the train headed south for its next stop at Wrexham General. Tim Rogers photographed it passing the level crossing at Rossett; the end of the newly-doubled section of track can be seen in the distance.
Arriving at Wrexham. Picture by George Jones.
57 310 on the rear of the train at Oxford - the front loco was off the platform (Ken Robinson).
George Jones, who travelled on the train, and sends some impressions of the day: 'An on-time arrival in Oxford saw the train reverse into platform 1 and after assorted options for entertainment (see separate item) we were back for the 15:53 departure which saw the train run in from the north end sidings (above).
'The function of 57 310 on the rear, apart from taking the empty stock to Hooton, was to accomplish the reversal at Oxford. Due to the circular return trip via Swindon it stayed on the back for both outward and return journeys. Called an 'express', in places this was more like a 'trundle' as we rarely exceeded 60mph, being fitted in between service trains en route with junctions to negotiate around the back of Birmingham with the goods only line from Walsall, and often down to 25mph. The fastest was going down the Lickey when 80mph was reached at the bottom but coming back the up hill climb saw the speed drop off to 15mph minimum beyond the half way point until it crawled over the top.
The route timings proved remarkably accurate allowing for junctions until an early arrival at Wolverhampton was achieved and the 8 minutes gained were maintained to Shrewsbury where they let us go 13 minutes early. The train arrived 14 minutes early at Wrexham, and was allowed to continue rather than waiting for a Holyhead - Birmingham train to clear the single line, thus reaching Hooton 30 minutes ahead of schedule.
'Even the weather forecast was right, with blue skies in Oxfordshire and sun all the way home until darkness.'
The return was via Didcot, the GWR main line and the Golden Valley line, then to Worcester;
Above, 57 301 heads out of Worcester Shrub Hill amongst the semaphores (Ken Robinson).
Conway old station
Anthony Ashley, who is building an N gauge model of Conwy, Penmaenmawr and Bangor, asks if anyone has a colour photo of the original Conwy station buildings, demolished in 1966 that he could use to identify brick colouring and detail, or even if anyone knows from memory what colour the brick was? Most likely red brick, but the LNWR did use blue engineering bricks for some structures
There are plenty of black and white pictures online, such as on the Disused Stations website, but if anyone does have a colour view we can publish here, we'd be very pleased to see it.
RCTS news - by Richard Neale
The Railway Correspondence & Travel Society (RCTS) holds its final meeting of the winter season at the 'Town Crier' opposite Chester railway station on Monday 20 April at 7.30 p.m. The subject is '21st Century Steam in China'. The video and stills from his visit to China in 2002 is presented by Wirral resident Geoff Coward.
Visitors will be most welcome to attend on donating £2 to help defray meeting expenses and further details can be obtained by telephoning 0151-608 4296.
Crewe Saturday - pictures by Roly High
In bay platform 7 at Crewe on 11 April, 175 005 prepares to depart at 11:08 for Milford Haven. This unit had started its day as train 1W48, 05:08 from Carmarthen to Manchester Piccadilly, which had been delayed by 40 minutes at Cardiff for an unknown reason, and arrived 48 late at Crewe at 10:15, so Arriva Trains Wales controllers decided to turn it back. Passengers could transfer to the next Carmarthen - Manchester service at 10:30.
Virgin Pendolino 390 005 City of Wolverhampton arrived with a train to London Euston.
It was the day of the Grand National horse race at Aintree, Liverpool, and the Belmond British Pullman made the journey north from London Victoria with a load of 'well-heeled' racegoers. 67 005 Queens Messenger brought the train into Platform 11.
The train, whose regular duty is as the English section of the 'Venice Simplon Orient Express' is formed of lovingly restored Pullman carriages built in the 1920s and 1930s, complete with art-deco period girls' names of those of ancient gods. 'Ibis', built in 1925 by the Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon company, spent some time in Italy and France before returning to Britain in 1930 for use in the London - Paris 'Golden Arrow'.
67 026 Diamond Jubilee (the only traction in this item with a number not ending in 05!) on the rear as the train departs. Passengers were collected by coach from Runcorn station (not Edge Hill as in Belmond's publicity) and later returned to join the train at Liverpool Lime Street. The passengers enjoyed a leisurely journey, as the Pullman coaches are limited to 75 mph.
The classic Pullman flat-sided coaches: each one has its own interesting history, summarised on the Belmond website and in much greater detail on the excellent Kent Rail site.
The return train passes Runcorn at 18:56. Picture by John P. Robinson.
6Z07 Warrington Arpley - Blaenau - Llandudno - Bangor - Arpley working, taken on 13 April by Jim Johnson at Llandudno Junction. In action, presumably on 'vegetation control' duty, Multi-Purpose Vehicles (MPV) DR98962 + DR98912. Above, arriving from Arpley, having just passed Queens Road Bridge.
Into Platform 4. 158 840 (looking fresh from overhaul) at platform 3 with 1G50 13:28 Holyhead-Birmingham International.
The driver carries the token for the Blaenau Ffestiniog branch back to his cab.
Infrequently-used Signal LJ66, down main Platform 4 to down branch, shows a green aspect, through the undergrowth, which covers the 'loop sidings' - still officially available, despite being allowed to disappear under the control of EWS / DB Schenker. [We understand that a recent ruling means they are now available for use by any train company - in theory.]
Departure for Blaenau at 14:39.
North from Malvern - with Richard Putley
On 2 April I travelled from Malvern to a friend's house in Huyton, Merseyside. I stopped at Craven Arms where 66 198 on a Dee Marsh – Margam steel train was held in the down loop. I arrived just in time to see it continue on its way south.
My next port of call was Llangollen where I caught the 13:00 train to Corwen and back, hauled by GWR Large Prairie 5199.
Arrived at Corwen.
On return to Llangollen I watched 5199 depart with the 15:10 for Corwen.
Behind the fence is GWR 2-8-0 2859, as yet un-restored.
I paused at Helsby to admire this well kept station with its lovely garden.
175 111 called on a Manchester – Llandudno train.
On the Cambrian Coast
Our thanks to the readers who responded to our request for Cambrian Coast line pictures. Above, on 11 April, a Birmingham-bound Class 158 conducts its business at Criccieth station (Greg Mape). Contrary to appearances, this station is a short walk from the centre of the attractive seaside village, well worth a visit for its ancient castle.
Sadly there are no locomotive-hauled trains on this line now - not even steam or diesel charters, but these two pictures by Ken Robinson remind us that back in 1990 there were Cardiff-allocated Class 37/4 locos to be seen on summer Saturday trains. Above. 37 427 Bont y Bermo is hauling the 1A52 the (SO) 09:32 Pwllheli-Euston at Traeth Mawr on 10 June 1990.
37 428 David Lloyd George is hauling 1J25, the Saturday 09:03 Euston-Pwllheli past Minffordd quarry on 1 October 1990. Neither 37 427 or 428 survives today; both were scrapped in 2013.
It's a real pity that there are no excursion trains along this most scenic of lines. Since the new-fangled ERTMS system was installed, any loco-hauled trains have to feature one of the yellow Network Rail Class 37s, but charter operators are very reluctant to use them. I was stated some time ago that two West Coast Railways Class 37 locos (37 668 and 37 669) were to be equipped with the necessary equipment, but there appears to be no news of this project. The design of ERTMS equipment for steam locos is in the proverbial 'long grass' as far as we can tell.
On to Didcot - pictures by George Jones
Some participants on the Great Western Express of 11 April went forward from Oxford by First Great Western 'Networker Turbo' 165 126 (above) to Didcot Parkway for the Great Western Society's Railway Centre.
Three Class 66s were conveniently parked up by the entrance: 66 160 and 66 170 seen in the picture, with 66 007 hidden.
It was an off peak Diesel day at the centre with the main line demonstration auto-train offering hydraulic haulage by class 14 D9516 ...
... and on the branch line by the GWR Railcar No.22.
Pannier tank 3650 was outside in the sunshine with Dutch 'class 08' No.604.
The sunlight provided light and shade in the shed to allow for easy viewing and photos of most of the fleet of which 6023 King Edward II in blue must have been the most attractive item.
This colour was selected by British Railways for the most important express types after the 1948 nationalisation, but soon abandoned, apparently because the paint was not suitable.
The Great Western prototype gas turbine loco 18000, brought back from Austria a few years ago with funding from Mr Waterman, was on static display in the yard.
The workshop, recently created, held incomplete 4073 Pendennis Castle awaiting its boiler, also heavy 2-8-2T 7202 nearing completion of ex Barry condition restoration, saddle tank 1363 reduced to basic parts, plus replica 'Saint' class loco 2999 Lady of Legend and County 1014 (the latter was hard to detect) and a new Thomas-the-Tank look-alike under conversion. 5227 is on external display being one of the 'Barry Ten' put back together after acting as a donor No.22 offered a ride to the broad gauge shed and a view of the two broad gauge replicas, Iron Duke and Fire Fly, then a return ride on the shuttle with D9516, whilst watching Crosscrountry Voyagers speed past on the East curve.
Two hours went all too quickly and allowed only a brief viewing of the museum and a quick cup of coffee. FGW had us back at Oxford in plenty of time for thereturn train at 15:53.
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