Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

01 May 2015

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Class 97/3 gallery

Forthcoming events

This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page.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

May 2015

Tuesday 12 May North Wales Railway Circle. AGM followed by photographic competition.

Wednesday 13 May Welsh Highland Railway North Wales Group. AGM (usually a short affair) which will be followed by an illustrated talk on New Zealand railways by Mr.Alf Williams.

Thursday 14 May    Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society 6G locomen: personal reminiscences by A Guest Panel

15-17 May Welsh Highland Railway Rail Ale Festival including live music.

Wednesday 20 May Excursion Compass Tours by West Coast The Cornish Explorer From Chester, Wrexham, Ruabon, Gobowen, Shrewsbury, Craven Arms, Ludlow, Leominster, Hereford & Bristol tp Penzance. The train is routed via the scenic Welsh Marches line, South Wales, the Severn Tunnel, Bristol, Somerset, the Dawlish Sea Wall, Devon and rural Cornwall.

June 2015

Sat/Sun 21 June Llangollen Railway Railcar Gala

July 2015

Friday 3 July Excursion Compass Tours by West Coast  The Conway Valley Explorer
Via the Scenic Conway line (with Ffestiniog Railway option). From Grantham, Peterborough, Stamford, Oakham, Melton Mowbray, Leicester, South Wigston, Hinckley, Nuneaton, Tamworth, Lichfield TV, Rugeley TV & Stafford to Betws-y-Coed & Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Saturday 4 July Excursion Compass Tours by West Coast  The Conway Valley Explorer From Lincoln, Newark NG, Grantham, Bottesford, Bingham, Radcliffe, Netherfield, Nottingham, Tutbury & Hatton, Uttoxeter, Blythe Bridge & Stoke to Betws-y-Coed & Blaenau Ffestiniog. (with Ffestiniog Railway option).

August 2015

September 2015

Wednesday 9 September Excursion Compass Tours by West Coast  The Conway Valley Explorer
Via the Scenic Conway line (with Ffestiniog Railway option) Sheffield to Betws-Y-Coed and Blaenau Ffestiniog. From Sheffield, Rotherham Central, Swinton, Moorthorpe, Normanton, Shipley, Keighley, Skipton, Hellifield, Carnforth & Lancaster.

12 September  Excursion Compass Tours by West Coast  The Conway Valley Explorer Via the Scenic Conway line (with Ffestiniog Railway option) Scarborough to Betws-Y-Coed & Blaenau Ffestiniog.eparts – Saturday
From Scarborough, Seamer, Malton, York, Wakefield, Brighouse, Sowerby Bridge, Hebden Bridge, Todmorden & Rochdale.

October 2015

Saturday 10 October  Excursion Compass Tours by West Coast  The Conway Valley Explorer
Via the Scenic Conway line (with Ffestiniog Railway option) Hereford to Betws-Y-Coed
Departs – From Hereford, Ledbury, Gt Malvern, Worcester FS, Droitwich, Barnt Green, Walsall & Wolverhampton.

Network Rail Class 97/3 locos have been running along the Coast recently on route-learning duties. David Jinty's picture shows 97 303 approaching Llandudno Junction on 29 April. See the left column for more views.

This is an extra catch-up issue.  Don't miss the 27 April update. The next update will be a day later than usual, late in the evening of Tuesday 5 May. Thanks as always to all readers and contributors.

Arriva's Airport Attempt Arrested

We should to write something about the situation regarding Arriva Trains Wales and the line to Manchester Airport, although it's hard to believe that such a situation could have arisen.

A number of years ago, when the current timetable for North Wales - Manchester services was designed, the planners allowed enough time in for trains to continue beyond Manchester Piccadilly to Manchester Airport, only to find that Network Rail refused to allow this except in the early morning and late evening, on the grounds of congestion. So  since then, on each hour through the main part of of the day, a valuable Class 175 unit (lately sometimes a 158) has stood idle in 'Mayfield Loop'  just beyond Piccadilly.

Recently, work has been under way at Manchester Airport station to create a fourth platform, which is planned to open with the new timetable on 17 May, so Arriva saw the chance to apply again for paths throughout the day. And indeed, such paths were validated, and included in the timetable database. According to the application, trains would arrive at the Airport at xx.15 and depart at xx.37, just ahead of Northern Rail's xx.40 train to Liverpool.

In December 2014 Network Rail’s Customer Relationship Executive for Arriva Trains Wales took our aspiration to a meeting of Network Rail’s 'Sale of Access Rights Panel' (What's that? See this document) and faced two objections. To quote:
(a) Performance between Manchester Piccadilly and Slade Lane Jn. Network Rail LNW Route [Network Rail's North West division] believes that performance between these locations is particularly sensitive and that an extension of Arriva Trains Wales’ services would likely affect train performance in the area and also likely further afield. It cited TransPennine Express’ ‘fifth path’, an additional hourly service between Leeds and Manchester, that has had a severe impact on the operator’s PPM with knock-on effects to other lines and operators. It points out that, with a number of services already running to the Airport, the introduction of additional services will result in tighter headways and a reduction in turnaround times for existing services. It cited the Blackpool North to Manchester Airport service which would have 8 minutes’ turnaround time compared to the current 14 minutes.

(b) The industry’s reputation if services are withdrawn when the rights expire. LNW Route states that there is broad agreement with the Department for Transport over the outputs of the work at Manchester Airport (specifically the new 4th platform) in relation to the wider Northern Hub programme, which would enable a new service to run to the Airport from the Calder Valley route via the new Ordsall Chord. LNW Route considers that Arriva Trains Wales’ requested rights would have to be removed at that point and so the service extensions would be withdrawn, creating a reputational risk to Network Rail and the wider rail industry in the area.
The second objection seems quite absurd, since refusing to allow trains from Chester and North Wales access to the Airport is simply damaging the reputation of the rail industry right from the start. One might think that the removal of the congestion caused at Manchester Piccadilly by terminating trains crossing over the down line to reach Mayfield Loop might be a plus point, but apparently not.

Arriva have replied to these objections in strong terms (see the PDF document), but the proposed services will not now run: the present meagre service of three trains a day continues. It has been rumoured that when the 'Northern Hub' comes to fruition, North Wales trains will be diverted to Manchester Victoria (and possibly on to Stalybridge), which would rule out continuation to the Airport in any case, although passengers could change at Victoria to one of the trains using the Ordsall chord, or perhaps at Newton-le-Willows into a Northern Rail service; it is not clear whether this is a firm proposal, but  it seems a particularly unhelpful one, especially for residents of the south Manchester area wishing to reach North Wales.

Passenger assortment

Regular loco 67 023 arrived at Chester at 07:47 on 17 April, about to reverse and head south with the Holyhead - Cardiff express (Peter Basterfield).

Moreton-on-Lugg on 20 April, with 67 023 propelling the southbound Cardiff express (Richard Putley)

Watched by the usual small group of enthusiasts, 67 001 propels empty stock of the 13:01 from Holyhead.  Picture by Charlie Hulme, after the Manchester equivalent of the old 'Llandudno Junction footbridge sprint'. I rode this train from Warrington, which I reached by means of the 13:50 from Manchester which was unusually formed of a Class 150 in place of a 175 - we were told that a replacement train would be provided from Chester.

The loco-hauled service was far from full, offering a change to photograph the seating, which is rather comfortable. The layout appears to be that used in standard class when these Mk3 coaches were built; these actual vehicles started life as first class, and have received new seats for their new role. One point I would make is that the instructions on how to open the doors by opening the window are not conspicuous enough, lost amongst various other notices. Many users today will have forgotten, or never known, about such things. 

It's a decade since any such rolling stock has appeared on the Manchester - North Wales route, and people can be seen puzzling over what to do, and occasionally banging frantically on the window trying to escape. The doors cannot now be opened unless released by the guard, so why not fit handles on the inside? Probably because the huge Mk3 door might hit someone on the platform if pushed open without looking.

Looking a touch filthy on the front, 67 001 on the 1D34 09:50 Manchester to Holyhead passes Abergele & Pensarn at 11:34 on 21 April. Picture by David Jinty.

Ten minutes later, a pair of Class 221 Voyagers forming train 1D83, 09:10 London Euston to Holyhead (David Jinty).

Usual Driving Trailer 82306 on the rear of train 1D34 Manchester - Holyhead, departing from Rhyl on 28 April (Jack Bowley)

Les Burton photographed the 09:50 Manchester - Holyhead calling at Warrington Bank Quay at 10:30 on 1 May. Oddly, the record on Real Time Trains (RTT) for this service shows it 'cancelled throughout due to a person hit by a train' suggesting it could not have been at Warrington.  The fatality in question appears to have occurred in the Shotton area, as a number of trains on the Coast were indeed cancelled, but 67 001's train would surely have run as far as Chester, as did the 10:50 from Manchester.  In fact it is not entirely uncommon for out-of-the ordinary situations to be mis-reported on the database, or at least RTT's view of it. Not long ago we noted a Freightliner Class 66 running light through Stockport, and indeed delaying the train on which I was to travel, yet no such movement appeared on RTT.

On 29 April, 175 011 powers through Abergele & Pensarn on the Down Fast line with the 07:50 Manchester Piccadilly to Holyhead (Roly High). Various changes to Arriva's original 'clock-face' concept in recent years mean that not all trains from Manchester now call at Abergele. The slow line which serves the station platform, once beyond here, as evidenced by the length of the bridge span in the distance which dates from 1902.

Although some progress has been made in repainting Arriva's Class 150 units in the darker blue 'Welsh Government' livery, a number still retain Arriva's corporate colours, including 150 254 and 150 260, photographed at Chester on 28 April by Jack Bowley.

Freight views

On 15 April 66 104 passes Caergwrle with train 6M18 18:05 New Cumnock U.R.S. to Penyffordd Cement Sidings. The wagons are 'MEA' opens loaded with coal for the cement kilns (Tim Rogers)

On the same day, 66 118 passes Caergrwle 6V75 09:30 Dee Marsh to Margam steel-carriers (Tim Rogers).

On 17 April an additional loaded steel train - 6M84 09:19 Llanwern Exchange Siidings to Dee Marsh - operated, hauled by 66 041, seen above negotiating one of the Borderlands line's changes of gradient at Buckley (Tim Rogers).

The regular loaded steel train 6M86 09:23 Margam to Dee Marsh, seen  46 minutes at Cefn-y-Bedd on 17 April (Tim Rogers).

Later in the day, 66 041 returns past Cefn-y-Bedd with 6V85 17:36 Dee Marsh to Llanwern Exchange Sidings empty wagons (Tim Rogers).

The sylvan scene at Adswood, on the Altrincham - Stockport line on 14 April as 66 514 approaches Edgeley Junction with a load of empty refuse containers from Runcorn Folly Lane to Brindle Heath. The signal in the background is at Cheadle Village Junction: beyond there the line is single track as far as Northenden (Charlie Hulme).

At 13:28 on 30 April, 66 505 rolls through Manchester Piccadilly with the 03:00 Felixstowe- Trafford Park Freightliner service.  The Trains-Pennine Class 185 on the 13:06 Manchester Airport - York, seen in the distance, has reversed in Platform 1 at Piccadilly station, having crossed (on the level) every other track on the approach from the Airport. Now that's a risk of congestion (Charlie Hulme).

66 509 at Talybont on Sunday 19 April with the Valley - Crewe Basford Hall ballast train on 19 April (Peter Basterfield).

Some interesting news on the freight front. Frank Nicholas writes: 'I noted from the westbound carriageway of the M56 that the new sidings are being laid out in the space between the Ellesmere Port – Helsby line and the Ince chemicals plant siding for Quinn Glass.' We last reported on the trials and tribulations this project in the 28 April 2014 issue: perhaps we will soon see the trains of sand, which currently run to Ellesmere Port, able to reach a railhead near the factory which was a condition of the planning permission granted to the firm in 2009.

The Railway and Trakz - by Larry Davies, Community Rail Officer

Over the last few months the Conwy Valley Community Rail Partnership (CRP) and Arriva Trains Wales have been involved in the planning and support of a free fringe event  named 'TRAKZ which was hosted on 20 April by the Mayor of Conwy, Cllr Ruth Parker  in the town of Llandudno Junction.  Its aim was to bring together the community for the benefit of visitors,  the local populace and the businesses to support local artists and the Mayor's two charities, 'Hope Restored' and 'Aberconwy Domestic Abuse'

A strong theme throughout has been the fact that Llandudno Junction is a railway town and for five weeks leading up to the event, a series of lectures on railway and social related subjects were held in a local hotel and these proved extremely popular.  The Rail Partnership fielded panel member, Cllr Philip Evans, JP who spoke about the town's railway personnel and their skills of the steam age along with his personal reminiscences and the Community Rail Officer, Larry Davies delivered an illustrated talk on 'Llandudno Junction a Railway Town'.  The CRP also produced an exhibition of railway photographs of the station and sheds and their people in the station buffet and this will remain on display for the Summer.  Worth a browse over a cup of tea and a sandwich.

The TRAKZ main event started with a gathering of the Mayors of various North Wales towns travelling in by train and being entertained on the platforms by members of Anvil Productions suitably dressed in vintage costumes reflective of the Railway children era, followed  by a stirring dance feature by Clerical Error and then a resounding musical rendition by the Cambria Band.      The ensemble the formed a parade along the station platforms and led by the band and the mayors and left the station into the town proper, where throughout the day a wealth of events entertained the visitors. 

A good day has been  had by all and reassuring for us at the station, the railway had played its part in another day the life of The Junction.

Peter Basterfield's flask train scenes

16 April's flask train Valley-bound at Conwy with 37 604 and 37 612 with 3 FNA wagons.

The return at Britannia Bridge where a new Palisade fence has reduced the possibilities; previously it was possible to perch on the base of the pillar support and shoot over the top.

And finally ...

Railway relics on the upper levels of Dinorwic quarry. Picture by Peter Basterfield.

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