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25 May 2015
5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe hurries the return 'Seaside Flyer' of 23 May through Flint Station on fine style, as the crew appears to be trying to recover some seven minutes of lost time. Picture by Glyn Jones.
The Network Rail staff strike which was threatened for 25-26 May, which would have disabled the whole National Rail network at a popular holiday time, was suspended, following a 'better offer' from the management, after many passengers had been put to the troubke of making alternative plans to avoid the inconvenience.
The Seaside Flyer
Operators of steam specials have had a troublesome time recently, as West Coast Railways had their licence to operated suspended, as chronicled in recent issues. They have now been allowed to operate by Network Rail, although the Office Rail and Road (new name of the Office of Rail Regulation), while allowing continued operations, recently issued an 'Improvement Notice' that the company has 'not sufficiently documented or implemented all parts of [its] safety management system to ensure the control of risks associated with [its] operation.' This is required to be remedied by 20 July.
Tyseley-based Vintage Trains, which has its own equipment but operates under West Coast's Safety Case, lost a number of trains, but was able to run 'The Seaside Flyer' excursion from Nuneaton to Llandudno on 23 May, coinciding with the Llandudno Air Show. The method of operation was the same as the similar event in 2014: Vintage Trains' own diesel loco 47 773 was attached to one end, with steam loco 5043 on the other. The diesel hauled the train from Tyseley to Nuneaton and from Chester - where the train was turned on the triangle of lines there - to Llandudno. Above, the exhaust from 47 773 contrasts with the clean steam from 5043 bringing up the rear, tender first, westbound through Flint. Picture by Glyn Jones.
At Deganwy on the Llandudno branch...
... with 5043 trailing (Greg Mape).
Arriving at Llandudno (Roly High).
Coupled to the loco was Vintage Trains' water-carrier, 96100, created by installing water tanks inside a General Utility Van. The water-pipe can be seen below the vacuum-brake pipe in Roly High's picture. The loco and water-carrier were detached and, we understand, ran to the recently-reinstated carriage sidings, becoming the first train to do so - they were not ready in time for last year's trip.
A brief look at the Air show - above, the preserved Catalina flying boat (Roly High).
Preserved Bell Huey helicopter lifts off from the Promenade (Greg Mape).
5043 takes the train out of Llandudno (Greg Mape).
Rhyl (Roly High).
Mold Junction (George Jones).
67 001 soldiers on
67 001 continues its remarkably long stint on the Manchester - North Wales services: above, the 09:50 Manchester - Holyhead passes Llanfair PG (Richard Fleckney)
Lighter evenings enable views of the 16:50 Manchester - Llandudno. Here it is west of Abergele, by up distant signal AE60, on 25 May. Picture by Greg Mape.
66 745 Modern Railways The first 50 years brings a diverted biomass train through Wrexham General on 23 May ...
... and 23 bogie wagons later, the back of the train. These 'IIA' wagons were converted from coal-carrying vehicles by the addition of top doors to keep the wood pellets dry: the simple mechanism that opens the doors can be seen.
Also on biomass duties on 23 May was 66 729 Derby County, seen approaching Ruabon (John Mathers).
57 301 and 57 002, in contrasting liveries, head the 6D41 Crewe - Valley flasks, 5 minutes early just west of Llanfairfechan on 21 May (Peter Basterfield).
Some news of freight prospects: a recent planning application submitted to Wrexham Council concerns the possible reclamation of Bersham Colliery tip adjacent to the Chester - Wrexham route, including 'the installation of rail freight sidings.' This was first granted in 2010, on condition that work on the development should commence within five years. Clearly, nothing has happened on the ground, and now the applicant, whose name and details are 'redacted' from the on-line version of the documents, wants an extension for another five years. In terms of persuading Network Rail to provide sidings, even that seems quite a short time scale...
Prestatyn views - by Roly High
The jungle has reclaimed the old Dyserth branch line bay platform at Prestatyn (above), and the same fate apparently beckons for the signal box, which is now sans name board.
67 001 departs from Prestatyn with the 09.50 Manchester Piccadilly to Holyhead, 20 May.
Nameless Virgin Super Voyager 221 114 (formerly Sir Francis Drake) hurries through Prestatyn with the 09:10 London Euston to Holyhead on 20 May.
Green Lane Crossing - pictures by George Jones
Green Lane crossing south of Saltney Junction, now in use on 20 May, complete with a user who's not in proper control of her bicycle.
The new second track is now continuous throughout the section being re-doubled from Saltney Junction to Rossett; trains are to transferred to the new Up line to allow re-fettling of the old track on the Down line.
Temporary fishplates on the new line by the crossing. Conspicuous are the are the purple rail clips. This colour code indicates the Corrosion Protection version of the Pandrol FC04 clip, recommended for 'Wet tunnels, coastal areas, level crossings and adjacent to heavily salted roads and platforms.'
Irish events - pictures by John Mathers
084 approaches Dublin Connolly on 8 May with the empty stock to form the Irish Railway Preservation Society 'The Strand' railtour to M3 Parkway and Rosslare.
K2 class number 461 and Class V number 85 Merlin being prepared at Connolly shed in readiness for a railtour the following day (See Stephen Hughes' report in the last issue).
Irish Rail 084 (above) sits on the seawall at Kilcoole en route to Rosslare in the rain with 'The Strand' railtour on 8 May.
Former BR Mk 1 BSK coach 3185, which is now a generator van, sits on the rear of 'The Strand' railtour as it leaves Arklow en route to Rosslare.
The view from Arthog as a Class 97/3 loco passes heading towards Fairbourne on 18 May (Kate Jones)
A busy scene at Machynlleth on the afternoon of 20 May at 14:41 as 1J15 12:09 Birmingham International - Aberyswyth apporaches, while the unit to form connecting train 2J15 14:46 to Pwllheli waits in the siding. 97 303 had arrived an hour earlier from Coleham depot, Shrewsbury on what was perhaps a test or training run ...
... and headed home again as soon as the Aberystwyth train had cleared the single-line section to Talerddig. The train information displays were out of action all afternoon, and with all trains leaving from the one platform, passengers were a little confused. Pictures by Kate Jones.
Machynlleth station is a busier place since 17 May, with additional services between Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury now added to the timetable. Four additional return services now operate between Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury, Mondays - Saturdays, with hourly services at peak morning and afternoon times, leaving Aberystwyth at 06:30, 08:30, 12:30 and 18:30. There are
two new return Sunday services, leaving Aberystwyth at 10.30 and 14:33, and also new is an improvement to evening services on the Cambrian Coast between Barmouth and Pwllheli (Monday to Saturdays) by extending the train which previously terminated at Barmouth.
Electric to Victoria
The new timetable from 17 May saw the start of Northern Rail electric services at Manchester Victoria, when the stopping service to Liverpool was taken over by Class 319 units such as the one seen arriving on 20 May (Greg Mape).
On 21 May, the 15:02 to Liverpool awaits departure time, formed on 319 382, recently arrived from refurbishment at Wolverton works (Charlie Hulme).
The rebuilt Metrolink station nears completion, seen from the walkway to the Arena (Greg Mape). In view are 3033 and 3051. Deliveries of new vehicles had reached 3098 by early May; the current order runs to 3120. Newer cars from 3061 onwards are only fitted for the new-style signalling system and cannot be used on the Bury line, which still has the original system at present, or Timperley to Altrincham which is controlled by Network Rail signalling.
A visit to Eccles - report by Charlie Hulme
The old town of Eccles is now the first intermediate stop on the line from Manchester Victoria to Liverpool. I travelled there on 21 May to sample some more Class 319 travel and photograph some trains, including the loco-hauled Arriva Trains Wales service.
The station has a very active Friends Group, amusing known as 'Freccles': the very pleasant floral border behind the westbound platform is evidence of their dedication.
Eccles has only an hourly service of stopping trains, but expresses also pass this way. This is 1M97, 12:12 Edinburgh - Manchester Airport, formed of TransPennine Express 'Desiro' 150 406. The Scottish services come this way, rather than via Bolton, to allow the use of the electric trains, running via Wigan and the junction at Parkside.
A new booking office has the replaced the portable building which served for many years after the old buildings burnt down. A Northern Rail 'cycle hub' has recently appeared, but like those at other stations cannot yet be used because the methods of registering to use them has not been decided.
The station is very well placed for the town centre, and the Metrolink station, both a short, mostly pedestrianised, walk away.
This line is, of course, very historic, being the first passenger railway in the world to connect two cities. It was to Eccles that on the opening day in 1830 William Huskisson MP was brought in search of a doctor after being run down by a train in his eagerness to talk to the Duke of Wellington, who was at the time the Prime Minister, some time after his military career mentioned on the plaque.
Back on the platform to see the 1E75, 15:12 Liverpool - Newcastle, rush past. This service, calling at Manchester Victoria in addition to the four TransPennine expresses per hour that run via Warrington Central and Manchester Piccadilly, was introduced in the 2014 timetable. At present, there are more trains that usual passing Eccles, as some services from the Blackpool line are diverted via Parkside to avoid the engineering work at Farnworth.
The blue markers tell the drivers of different classes of train where to stop to lie up train doors with the 'hump' which is provided for easier access to and from the low platform.
This is 1F69, 13:10 Newcastle - Liverpool, with 185 116. Notice that the line behind the far platform, a remnant of the former 4-track layout on this section, has been electrified. For years this served mainly as a siding which allowed trains to reverse before descending under the main line to reach the now-disused cement terminal at Weaste, which itself is a remnant of the Manchester Ship Canal rail system. It has a connection to the main line at both ends which makes it possible for a fast train to overtake a slow one, and it rejoices in the name of the Up Goods Loop, although Goods trains are rarely seen these days on this part of the old Liverpool and Manchester.
And finally, 67 001 pushes past with the 13:01 Holyhead - Manchester. 'Freccles' would like some North Wales trains to stop here to augment their service and also provide an interchange with Metrolink for long-distance passengers and commuters to the Salford Quays area. Back in the 1990s, one morning peak train to Manchester did call, but this stop was removed after privatisation, allegedly due to 'paperwork issues'.
15 Years Ago ...
Scan by Alan Crawshaw.
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