Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

10 August 2015

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August 2015

Sunday 16 August Stockport Railshow, Stockport station.

Sunday 16 August Excursion West Coast Railways Holyhead, Llanfairpwll, Bangor, Llandudno Junction, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl, Flint, Chester, Frodsham, Warrington, Preston, Lancaster & Oxenholme to Edinburgh.

Tuesday 25 August Steam on the Coast. Railway Touring Company. Welsh Mountaineer. Preston - Blaenau Ffestiniog.

28-30 August. Bala Lake Railway: 'Winifred' gala.

September 2015

Friday 4 September Clwyd Railway Circle Geoff Morris: New Zealand Railways in 2011/12. A digital presentation of visits to New Zealand in 2011 & 2012 showcasing mainline steam charters in the North & South Islands, visits to preservation sites and a look at the rapidly-changing everyday scene.

Wednesday 9 September Excursion West Coast Railways   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.

Thursday 10 September Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society    Larry Davies/Philip Evans: Llandudno Junction: a railway town

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

Monday 14 September Wrexham Railway Society, No Meeting

Monday 21 September RCTS: Railway Correspondence and Travel Society, Merseyside, Chester and North Wales Branch. LNER an appreciation by John Feild. Local member and keen follower of anything LNER John takes a look back at locomotives of that company and of its predecessors including some of them at Chester Northgate station

Friday 25 September. Great Western Society NW Branch. P. Spilsbury. Steam Miscellaneous.

October 2015

Friday 2 October Clwyd Railway Circle Tony & Barbara Griffiths The Fate of the Irish Mail.  This is a presentation in pictures, music and film, telling the story of the Abergele rail disaster of 1868.

Thursday 8 October Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society W Gordon Davies:  American Wanderings:- heading East            

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

Monday 12 October Wrexham Railway Society, Diesels In The 1960's by Barry Shore, looking at those rarely photographed trains and engines in the
1960s, those other than steam including the numerous and mostly very unsuccessful types of the new motive power.

Monday 19 October  RCTS: Railway Correspondence and Travel Society, Merseyside, Chester and North Wales Branch.  Aspects of the Chester & Birkenhead Line by John Ryan To mark the 175th Anniversary of Railways across Cheshire former BR Civil Engineer and local rail historian John looks at the more recent rail aspects of this line

Friday 30 October. Great Western Society NW Branch. Mike Kenwright. Cutting of the Manchester Ship Canal.

November 2015

Friday 6 November Clwyd Railway Circle John Hobbs: A Black & White Circle of North Wales during 1963 - 66. A journey commencing in Chester and continuing to Holyhead before retracing our steps to Caernarvon, Afonwen, Morfa Mawddach, then a brief visit to Bala Junction before continuing through Dovey Junction to Shrewsbury & Wrexham.

Monday 9 November  Wrexham Railway Society, Building a Grange with Quentin McGuinness, Chairman of the 6880 Betton Grange Society describing the enormous work being undertaken to produce a new locomotive of the Great Western Grange class at Llangollen, looking at the build so far and their Steel, Steam & Stars fundraising events.

Thursday 12 November Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Ron Watson Jones    AGM Class 40’s remembered              

Monday 16 November  RCTS: Railway Correspondence and Travel Society, Merseyside, Chester and North Wales Branch. LNER, an appreciation by John Feild. Northern Delights by Steve Batty. Steve our RO Branch News Editor and railway author from Selby reviews modern traction in Northern England 2002  2009.

Friday 27 November. Great Western Society NW Branch. John Hobbs. A Black & White presentation, North Wales Circular  1963  - 66  (Steam)

December 2015

Friday 4 December Clwyd Railway Circle  Members Night & Christmas Celebrations. Members are invited to give a 15 minute presentation of their choice (any format). FREE tea/coffee & festive treats during the interval.
Contact David Jones 01244 537440 to book a slot.

Thursday 10 December Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society    Xmas Social / Christmas Treats and Bob Barnsdale: a Local Tribute

Monday 14 December  Wrexham Railway Society, Annual General Meeting and Rail Review Entertainment, a mixture of members' slides, DVD's and other
interesting items.

Monday 21 December  RCTS: Railway Correspondence and Travel Society, Merseyside, Chester and North Wales Branch.   Arriva Trains Wales. Last 10 years going forward with Ben Davies. This is an opportunity to hear about more about one of our local Train Operating Companies from one of its locally based officers.

January 2016

Friday 8 January Clwyd Railway Circle Dave Sallery Dinorwic Slate Quarries - Part 2 This is the final part of Dave’s fascinating journey around the quarry.

Monday 11 January Wrexham Railway Society, Woodhead - The Lost Railway by Stephen Gay describing the former Great Central main line from Manchester to Sheffield across the Pennines via the Woodhead tunnel closed in 1981 with  photographs along the route of the former railway.

Thursday 14 January Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society    Dave Southern: Chester - Pwllheli - days long gone                    

Monday 18 January  RCTS: Railway Correspondence and Travel Society, Merseyside, Chester and North Wales Branch.    BRANCH A.G.M  followed by Back to The 60s with Geoff Coward. Geoff highlights photographs in various locations of the last few years of steam (1964-1968), including early diesels, mostly in the North West of England.

February 2016

Friday 5 February Clwyd Railway Circle John Sloane: Chinese Steam in the 1980's This is drawn from the first part of a tour in the winter of 1986/87 and centres on railways in what at one time had been the Japanese occupied area known as Manchuria in the north east of China. This was still a busy steam operated railway with plenty of variety and steam locos were still being built at that time.

Monday 8 February Wrexham Railway Society, Steam in the East Midlands in the 1950's by Fred Kirk. Local Member and keen cyclist looks back at
previously unseen pictures of those main lines accessible from his home city of Leicester ranging from the East Coast Main Line at Stoke to the Great
Western's line to Birmingham Snow Hill, also the West Coast, Midland and Great Central lines.

Thursday 11 February Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society    Geoff Morris: Welsh Wanderings in the 1990’s   

Monday 15 February   RCTS: Railway Correspondence and Travel Society, Merseyside, Chester and North Wales Branch.  "American Wanderings - Heading East" by Gordon Davies. Gordon,  our RCTS National Chairman gives a digital presentation showing the American railroad scene in the eastern states depicting diesel locomotives working passenger and freight trains as well as electric locomotives, light rail and preserved steam in operation on preservation lines.

March 2016

Friday 4 March Clwyd Railway Circle Annual General Meeting followed by: Dave Southern, A journey from Chester to Pwllheli in colour looking at the closed lines both standard and narrow gauge including closed steam sheds and some goods yards.

Thursday 10 March Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society    Alan Roberts: Railway signalling in the Conwy/Llandudno area

Monday 14 March 2016 Wrexham Railway Society, Railways Of Wales in the 1980's - Geoff Morris describes a trip through Wales in a decade during which livery variations started to appear and steam re-appeared on a scheduled basis along the Cambrian & North Wales Coasts

Monday 21 March   RCTS: Railway Correspondence and Travel Society, Merseyside, Chester and North Wales Branch.  "20 Years Of The Privatised Railway - What Does The Future Hold?" by Bob Casselden. Bob, a retired former B.R. manager looks at the changes to Britain's privatised railway over the last twenty years and reflects on what the future might bring.

April 2016

Friday 1 April Clwyd Railway Circle Denbigh Film Club. Railway Enthusiasts Film Night A night of nostalgia and fun with a selection of films old and new to end our season in great style.

Monday 11 April 2016 Wrexham Railway Society 'Days Gone' A Nostalgic Look Back at the 1960-90's by Larry Davies, looking at the enormous changes which have taken place on the railways in North Wales during the last four decades of the last century illustrated, mostly by Larry's own work.

Thursday 14 April Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society    1960/70s North Wales Railway Recollection Barry Wynne/Steve Morris

Monday 18 April  RCTS: Railway Correspondence and Travel Society, Merseyside, Chester and North Wales Branch.  One Mans Rubbish is Another's Treasure by Russell Hatt. Russell presents a selection of historic railway photographs that whilst too poor for publication are of interest to the railway historian.

May 2016

Thursday 12 May   Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society    Ray Bailey: Steam into Holywell           

Under the rainbow: the classic view from above Old Colwyn on the morning of 10 August. Picture by Greg Mape.

Steel Trains

60 040 The Territorial Army Centenary passes Johnstown, between Ruabon and Wrexham on 6M86 Margam - Dee Marsh on 31 July (Tim Rogers).

The same train approaching Hawarden Bridge (John Mathers).

60 024 Clitheroe Castle passes Vauxhall foot crossing near Ruabon with 6V75 Dee Marsh - Margam on 3 August (John Mathers).

Approaching the Dee bridge at Shotton on 6 August, 66 148 with 6M86 09:23 Margam to Dee Marsh (Tim Rogers).

Both the loco and the recently-refurbished bridge reflect the morning sun on 7 August as 60 066 in special Drax Power livery brings 6V75 09:30 Dee Marsh to Margam empties across the bridge. The larger of the spans was once capable of bring swung to allow shipping to pass.

Wrexham-Chester re-doubling date announced

Extract from a Network Rail notice of 28 July:


From the above date, the single line between Wrexham North Junction and Saltney Junction, controlled from Chester PSB, will be redoubled between a new junction near Rossett Level Crossing and Saltney Junction. Permissible line speeds will be changed and additional signalling provided in order to increase capacity and reduce journey times.

The Welsh Mountaineer revisited

Following on from last issue's report the run of the 'Welsh Mountaineer' excursion, we have received first-hand reports on the events on the Conwy Valley line, which reflect considerable credit on the organisers and staff involved. David Jackson, who was a passenger on the train, writes:
The loco, 45231, performed very well, and was pulling hard and smoothly all the way up the Valley, through Betws-y-Coed, and up the 1 in 36 to and beyond Gethin's Bridge. Once past that point the adverse gradient is assisted by more severe curves, most with check-rails which act as brakes binding on the back of the wheels (not just of the loco but the coaches as well). All that was expected on that line, but when the elements joined the fun it became a show-stopper.
Apart from the heavy rain, the water was dripping off the trees onto the rail head - the sand dropped by the loco was being washed off as fast as it was dropped. After several slips, expertly corrected by the driver, speed dropped off until we came to a stand, and attempts to restart caused further slips and the driver set back to the level at Gethins Bridge, dropping sand as we reversed. A spirited start took us almost up to where we had been earlier, but the slipping started again, and with further severe curvature ahead the driver took us back to Betws-y-Coed to contact Network Rail for permission to propel down to the loop at North Llanrwst. The crew were also concerned that the level of water in the tender was getting low, and on reaching the loop a search was made for the nearest fire-hydrant.
Our pictures, by Larry Davies except where noted, record the events.  Above, at Betws-y-Coed, the train starts its 'setting back' manoeuvre. The line alongside is the Conwy Valley Railway Museum's tramway.

Run-round in progress. Picture by Andy Hyde.

At North Llanrwst, the loco prepares to take water. The loco ran round the train here, once a Network Rail manager had been stationed to 'clip' the loop points, as they are no longer operated from the signalbox, being fitted with hydraulic 'spring' mechanisms which in normal operation as a passing loop allow trains to take opposite lines on arrival, and 'trail through' the departure points on departure, which then re-set automatically for the next train. This means that only the normal crossing of two trains can be made without manual intervention.

It was then agreed that the train could set back to the small station, Llanrwst, opened in 1989 adjacent to Llanrwst town centre, so that passengers could sample the facilities of the town, thus becoming what was certainly the first steam train, and possibly the first loco-hauled train, to call at this station. Certain Llanrwst pubs and 'chippies' were then seen to receive an unexpected boost in patronage; one chip shop apparently opened early, by popular demand!

Flask movements

Seen from the 13:01 Holyhead - Manchester train, 20 308 and 20 305 outside the flask-loading compound at Valley (Ian Wilson).

The vegetation is re-growing in Talybont cutting as 20 305 and 20 308 pass with two flask wagons (Peter Basterfield).

37 612 and 37 259 pass Bangor, 35 minutes early at 07:03 with the early morning train to Valley on 31 July. Just one passenger waits for the 06:28 Holyhead - Cardiff train (Peter Basterfield).

The return train on 31 July ran 255 minutes late, leaving Valley at 18:55 instead of the timetabled 14:58. In fading light, 37 612 leads 37 259 under Beeches Farm bridge (Bob Greenhalgh).

37 612 and 57 301 head the Valley to Crewe train on Monday 3 August, running 54 minutes early at Llandudno Junction (Larry Davies).

Shotton (Tim Rogers).

Arriva's rugby team train

As mentioned last time, Arriva asked the Government if they could use the Premier Express train to chauffeur some rugby players. The following gushing message arrived in our inbox on 10 August:
Today (Monday 10th August), the Wales Rugby squad have commenced their only training session in Wales as part of the build-up to Rugby World Cup 2015. In partnership with Arriva Trains Wales they travelled by train from Cardiff Central to Colwyn Bay.

Arriva Trains Wales is delighted to be working with the WRU on this exciting journey, made possible with the support of the Welsh Government. The train being used for this historic trip routinely provides an important connection for communities throughout Wales from Cardiff, mid and north Wales to Holyhead, as funded by the Welsh Government.

Today we are excited to be connecting the Wales Rugby squad to what’s important to them and supporting their successful World Cup journey. We wish them all good luck in the tournament ahead.
As described Premier Express set worked 1V90 04:25 Holyhead - Cardiff on 10 August instead of its normal 1V91 05:33 which was run by a railcar set; this service calls at Ruabon or Chirk, which may explain the platform-measuring shenanigans we reported in the 27 July update ... except that they involved the northbound train and platforms.

After a quick turn-round, the special ran on 10 August as 1W77, 09:35 Cardiff Central to Colwyn Bay, arriving at 13:15, then ran empty to Holyhead where it will presumably remain until Tuesday's 05:33 departure. Our understanding is that the return working for will be on Wednesday 12 August, 1V77 14:10 Colwyn Bay-Cardiff Central 17:55 (Timings). This leaves just enough time for the Premier set to be used on the 18:21 Cardiff - Chester (then empty stock 21:35 Chester to Holyhead) instead of its normal 17:21 to Holyhead.  The 18:21 runs via Crewe, so certainly won't be calling at Chirk or Ruabon.


The Anglesey Aluminium Metal works, mostly closed in 2009 and finally in 2013, still stands forlorn. Ian Wilson, passing on the 13:01 loco-hauled Holyhead - Manchester service on 27 July, photographed one of the former works shunters, Hunslet works no. 7183 of 1971, still standing in the sidings.

The 'biomass power station and eco-park' planned for this site nearing the end of the consultation stage: an article in the Daily Post gives some idea. As far as we know, there is no intention to involve the railway in the transport of materials, but we'd be happy to be proved wrong.

Having brought in the 4.15pm from Llanfair Caereinion, 822 The Earl basks in the afternoon sunshine sporting a BR shed code – 89A, Oswestry. Picture by Glyn Jones.

DRS Class 47s are rarely seen out on the line these days; an exception is 47 818 which is the regular power for Network Rail's inspection saloon 975025  'Caroline', as seen on 22 July passing Rhos Ddu, Wrexham as train 2Z02 London Marylebone - Liverpool Lime Street. Picture by John Mathers.

Peter Lloyd writes: 'Cycling to work on 6 August I stopped at the Automatic Half-Barrier level crossing at Tremarl industrial estate between Llandudno Junction and Glan Conwy and managed to picture train 2D16, the 13:10 Llandudno to Blaenau Ffestiniog with 150 253.'

Driver Jim Scott was recently permitted to capture the views from Llandudno signalbox. The train above is approaching on the short section of single line which was devised in 1978 to allow trains to come and go from platform 1, 2 or 3 as needed with the minimum of pointwork. To the right of the train are the Cae Mawr carriage sidings, refurbished and returned to use in 2014 (at a reported £500,000 cost). We have claimed on these pages that these have yet to see a train, but a clip on YouTube dated 23 May 2015 shows steam loco 5043 and its water-carrying carriage venturing in there, presumably to establish that it was possible.

... 175 101 departs Llandudno on 1 August under one of the last (the last?) surviving semaphore signal gantries on Network Rail's network (Jim Scott).

Cumbrian Coast Erratum

In the first version of the 31 July, we fell victim to what in media circles is known as a 'factoid.' The true reason for the window bars on the Cumbrian Coast line loco-hauled coaches is nothing to do with the tunnel at Whitehaven.  The limited clearances are on the old Maryport and Carlisle company's line between Carlisle and Maryport where the bridges were built to sub-standard width. There are no clearance issues south of Maryport, so in theory trains could run without window bars between Barrow and Maryport and vice versa.

Charter trains are allowed all the way round the coast with unmodified coaches, but only on condition that either all door droplight windows are locked, or stewards are present in all vestibules to forbid any leaning out.

Class 67s in action

67 022 pushes the evening Llandudno - Crewe past Beeches Farm, Sandicroft on 31 July (Bob Greenhalgh)

Warrington Bank Quay station is not an easy place to take pictures; but here's an action shot by Jim Scott of the 16:50 Manchester - Llandudno getting the 'right-away' on 4 August.

67 016 brings the Derby - Holyhead track recording train into Llandudno Junction on 3 August, with 67 014 on the rear (Larry Davies).

67 022 passes a Network Rail staff access point at Guilden Sutton on 4 August with 1D31, 16:50 Manchester Piccadilly to Llandudno (Tim Rogers).

67 014 leads the return working past the lagoons at Bagillt (Tim Rogers).

Behind the loco is 5981, also known as PLPR2, one of Network Rail's Plain Line Pattern Recognition vehicles fitted with advanced video and computer equipment to report any anomalies in the track (Tim Rogers).

A look at vehicle 975091; originally created to check the status of overhead electric lines, this now finds itself in general track recording usage, while a new Mk3-based vehicle (977993, ex-HST trailer guards second 44053) has taken on its role in the 'New Measurement Train' (Tim Rogers).

10 August saw now-nameless 67 014 take over the 'DfT' loco-hauled Manchester workings from 67 022. Jim Coates photographed the train at Prestatyn on the first day.

Bangor Railway Institute

The Railway Institute building in Euston Road, Bangor, was built by the London and North Western Railway, on a very awkward sloping site, in 1898, as a club for the recreation and improvement of its many employees in the area. An extension was added in 1905, and in later years the building was used as a public venue for meetings, music events and so on - the North Wales Railway Circle met there for years.

In 2014 the building was put up for sale; it is now in the hands of a property developer, Kingscrown Properties Ltd, who propose to demolish it and build apartments for students, although the local council has previously stated that no more such accommodation is needed. The application details can be found on the Gwynedd website, ref. C15/0533/11/LL. It is not a listed building, and is not in a conservation area, and it is claimed in the planning application that Heritage Wales say their is no merit in retaining the existing building. However, locals with an interest in railway heritage are concerned about the loss of this historic building, and invite readers in the Bangor area to comment on the proposal through the usual channels, and/or local politicians.

Our contributor Jim Johnson writes: ' Should permission be granted for student flats (or any other purpose) it must be conditional on retaining the external structure and façades, with demolition  confined to the interior alterations. This has been very successfully achieved with the old British Hotel in the High Street, and numerous old, redundant chapel buildings, to name but a few examples.'

The Institution itself - the organisation - still exists, and is developing a new venue; the North Wales Railway Circle still flourishes, holding its meetings at the Telford Road pub in Menai Bridge.

Prestatyn bus contrasts - pictures by Jim Coates

Newly delivered to Arriva Buses Wales depot in Rhyl are five Alexander Dennis 'Enviro 200' 28-seat single-deckers, 2151 - 2155,  for Rhyl - Prestatyn - Dyserth - Rhuddlan (and vice versa) circular routes 35/36. Above, 2152 at Prestatyn Bus Station on 4 August.

At the opposite end of the age range, the Prestatyn Free Bus Service is in action again this summer. This year's vehicle, like last year's, is a former London Transport Routemaster, but this one has been converted to open-top. RM 1783 (783 DYE), built in 1963, was bought last autumn by Wrexham company Routemaster-4hire. Like many surviving Routemasters, it has had a complex career, chronicled in detail on the excellent Country Bus website.  Amongst other adventures, it was originally converted to open-top in 1986 for use at the Liverpool Garden Festival.

The service runs Tuesdays-only until 28 August, every 20 minutes from 11am to 4pm. Route details.

Isle of Man: Manx Transport Festival 2015 - report by David Hennessey

Monday 27 July: Arrival day at Douglas, sailing in aboard the Manannan from Liverpool. After checking into the Edelweiss hotel (my digs for the week), it was off on my first spin for the year on the Douglas Horse Tramway. With the proposed Promenade Redevelopment set to go ahead, 2015 looks set to be the last season in its original condition (running down the main promenade road as a double track system). It is proposed to move the tracks from the road to the walkway, with single line working and passing points in place, but what will actually happen remains to be seen...
The redevelopment was originally scheduled to go ahead in late 2014, but a delay to allow public consultation of the plans and further discussions in Tynwald (the Manx Government), granted the horse tramway one final operating season in its old form.

Tuesday 28 July: The day before the festival, but a day on the Manx Electric Railway was in order. Apart from the usual timetable, three charter workings by the Isle of Man 50 Group were in operation. Charter number one from Douglas Derby Castle to Groudle consisted of Unvestibuled Saloon Car 1 and trailer 47, charter number two from Douglas to Laxey was handled by Unvestibuled Saloon Car 2 and trailer 60, and charter number three from Douglas to Ramsey was worked by Crossbench Car 33, trailer 57 and open wagon 8.

Wednesday 29 July: The day that the festival commenced, when Manx Electric Railway Unvestibuled Saloon Cars 1 and 2 (both listed in the Guinness World Records as the world's oldest working electric tram cars) did a parallel run from Douglas to Groudle and Back, before the day's timetable started at 09:40 AM. Heading picture: Manx Electric Railway Cars 1 & 2 pause at Howstrake between Douglas and Groudle.

Then it was off to Port Erin by bus to catch the afternoon service on the Isle of Man Steam Railway. Beyer Peacock 2-4-0 tank No.12 Hutchinson was waiting with a return service to Douglas, and fellow Beyer Peacock tank No.8 Fenella was also out and about on 'Driver Experience' duties. Passing at Castletown, was Beyer Peacock tank No.13 Kissack (back in service earlier in 2015 after overhaul).

In the evening on the Electric Railway, Car 1 and trailer 51 worked a special return trip from Douglas to Dhoon Quarry and back (later being swapped with Car 2 for various evening runs from Douglas to Laxey and back, supplementing the Summer Wednesday evening 'Groudle' services).

'Bailing' at Groudle Glen on the way back to Douglas, a trip on the Groudle Glen Railway from Lhen Coan to Sea Lion Rocks was made, with the railway's resident Bagnall 2-4-0 tank Sea Lion hard at work as usual, as seen (above) Sea Lion Rocks, having made the short journey from Lhen Coan.

Thursday 30 July: Day two, and after a morning visit to Howstrake on the Electric Railway (to record Crossbench Car 32 on a charter to Ramsey with open wagons 8 and 10), another day on the Steam Railway. Beyer Peacock tank No.4 Loch hauled a usual service to Port Erin, but with a twist - After proceeding out of the station at Douglas, the service was briefly brought to a stand outside the workshops, to enable No.8 Fenella, a spare carriage and a selection of goods stock (two open wagons and a van) to couple up to the rear. The top-and-tail cavalcade then proceeded to Port Erin, crossing a Douglas-bound service with No.13 Kissack on the way.

Isle of Man Steam Railway Beyer Peacock tank No.13 Kissack comes round the corner from Castletown station, with a service to Port Erin.

At Port Erin, following shunting of the stock and servicing of the two Manchester-built engines, the same train departed back to Douglas, with Loch hauling and Fenella tagged on the back again. Later on, I hopped on a Douglas service to Castletown, to visit the small harbour town for a while. In the early evening, after returning to Douglas with No.4 Loch, I recorded the evening 'Mash & Pie' train departing towards Port Erin. No.13 Kissack and No.10 G.H Wood (which had been temporarily out of action, and was fresh from running repair work and subsequent testing) double headed the train, which consisted of some of the railway's corridor stock offering a regular dining service.

Friday 31 July:  The Electric Railway. A morning trip up to Laxey was made (with Crossbench Car 33, trailer 51 and wagon 8), and a further journey on the Snaefell Mountain Railway (above). At lunchtime, a shuttle from the redeveloped Laxey station, involving trailer 51 and ...

 ... a small green Simplex diesel locomotive (seen with Mail Van 4) borrowed from the Steam Railway, was made to Laxey Car Sheds for a visit. This contained a variety of stored 'motor' and trailer cars; many having been out of service for a very long time.

On the horse tramway, double decker Car 18 made its usual daily and solitary appearance. With the imminent end of the horse tramway many will remember it for, a last ride with this car from Derby Castle to the Sea Terminal was gladly taken.

In the evening on the MER, Crossbench Car 33, trailer 44 and newly-restored mail van 16 ran a charter from Douglas to Ramsey, organised by the web administration team at The 'Delivering the Goods' charter was an opportunity to learn about the MER's freight carrying past (stone and mail were once conveyed); a good and informative evening out, only tainted by the deteriorating Manx weather!

Saturday 1 August: Day four, and another charter organised by the Manx Electric Railway website  was made. Green 'Paddlebox' Car 16 ran between Douglas and Ramsey all day, on both the right and wrong side of the tracks (literally!) Various photo stops were made en route, and trailer 60 also came out to play as well. The charter was a great success, raising some much needed funds for the Laxey & Lonan Heritage Wagons Trust, since the trip was being run on their behalf.

Sunday 2 August: Final day of the festival, and an 'American' theme day at Laxey station, complete with flags, hot-dogs and burgers, and a selection of American cars on show. Winter Saloon Car 22 was on 'Motorman Taster' duty, giving punters the chance to drive an MER car from Laxey to beyond Fairy Cottage and back (naturally, the author of this report couldn't resist getting his hands on the controls!).

On the Great Laxey Mines Railway, the replica Lewin 0-4-0 loco Ant was giving rides with its single coach, from Laxey Sidings to the Mine Entrances and back. Fellow loco Bee also came out, on test. I also took the opportunity to go and see Lady Isabella (alias the Laxey Wheel) in-between rides on the 18 inch gauge line.

An intense timetable was also in operation on the MER, giving many rare motor cars and trailers the chance to shine.

Monday 3 August:  Departure day from the Isle of Man, but not before one last spin on the Electric Railway. Crossbench Car 33 worked the first Ramsey service of the day, the 08:40 AM from Douglas Derby Castle. Bailing at Laxey, I was in time to catch Paddlebox Car 16 and trailer 60 back to Douglas at 09:55.

Then, following a very last ride on the horse tram to the Sea Terminal and a walk to the Steam Railway station, I recorded Beyer Peacock tank No.4 Loch on a lunchtime departure to Port Erin. At the time of writing, Loch (a regular performer on the Steam Railway) was due to be withdrawn in a few weeks for overhaul.

All too soon, it was back aboard the Mannanan for a return crossing over the Irish Sea to Liverpool, with the 2015 Festival in the can. Will things be different in 2016? Time will tell...

A visit to Manchester - by Roger Carvell

Together with a Hertfordshire local as travelling companion, we visited Manchester last Saturday, principally to try Metrolink to Rochdale. I knew where the trams departed, from the 'basement'
of Piccadilly, so I thought I would set a test to see if my pal could find the tram station first. He did struggle to find any useful Metrolink direction signage on the concourse. Has anyone else had a similar complaint? I must admit, to a first-timer, looking for an onward tram connection, the trams are difficult to find. That said, we enjoyed the 50-minute run up to Rochdale, where the heavens opened. Nothing for it but adjourn to the excellent Java coffee shop on Rochdale bus station and sit out the rain for a while and watch the trams come and go.

Piccadilly is incredibly busy and there seems to be a train move every few minutes although it is a sign of the times, not a single locomotive was seen anywhere in revenue service, 175 002 has arrived two minutes early at 10:08 from Carmarthen, having set off at an ungodly 05.04. It will return south on the 10:30 to Milford Haven and arrive there right time at 16.44. A creditable performance for a very long journey, there and back to south and west Wales.

Pacer 142 051 departs on time with the 10:17 to Chester, via Northwich, as 156 425 arrives with a Manchester Oxford Road - Hazel Grove service.  Unfortunately, despite the shorter distance compared to the Arriva train, arrival of the Pacer at Chester was 5 minutes late. (with thanks to Real Time Trains).

A concourse view of a typical summer Saturday at Manchester Piccadilly.  Look hard for any Metrolink signage! I couldn't find any.

Returning south, our pre-booked tickets had us waiting for the 17:41 to Leeds. Unfortunately, there was a 'person-under-the-train incident at Greenfield and services via Huddersfield were suspended. It didn't look good, but then an announcement was made that the 17:25 TransPennine service to York would run, but that intending passengers alighting at Stalybridge and  Huddersfield would have to go to the station forecourt for onward coach travel.

We pondered and decided to leg it quickly to Platform 14 (above) and try our luck with a York direct, calling at Leeds only. I am glad we did for it meant, for me, a bit of new trackage. Heading west to York out of Manchester the TransPennine unit stopped at Salford Crescent. We had guessed which way we were about to go now. The driver passed our window as expected and soon we were restarted for Manchester Victoria. Incidentally, the electrification bases, with foundation bolts, are now in situ on this eastward curve. We stopped at Manchester Victoria (it seems very dark in there now) and buffered up to another TransPennine unit and then set off for Leeds up Miles Platting bank and onward via Sowerby Bridge.

We were following a stopping train for Halifax, so progress was a bit sluggish, but after the preceding train had cleared left for Halifax, the driver 'turned on the taps' and a spirited run to Leeds across Milner Royd Jct and through Batley had us both checking our watches to see if we could connect with the pre-booked 19:05 to King's Cross. Alas,a red signal stop outside Leeds saw the 19:05 gliding past our train! Nothing for it but to get a brew and await  the next departure at 20:05, the very helpful information desk saying that it was quite all right to board the next available Virgin East Coast service. And so it proved.

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