Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

26 October 2015

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Rapid's progress, 21 October

Chester (John Mathers)

Shotton (Tim Rogers)

Abergele (Roly High)

Bangor (Jim Johnson)

Holyhead (Dewi Griffiths)

Pen-y-Clip viaduct (Peter Basterfield)

Bangor (Jim Johnson)

Bangor (Alan Crawshaw)

Prestatyn (Roly High)

Forthcoming events

This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived page.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

October 2015

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

November 2015

Tuesday 3 November North Wales Railway Circle Brian Pearce, Sugar Railways of Java

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.

Friday 6 November (note the first Friday in November)  Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society "Great Western Steam in South Wales and the South West in the 1950s and 60s" a colour slide presentation by Alf Storey.

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.  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

Friday 11 December  Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society "Steam in Spain and Italy" a colour slide presentation by John Sloane. The slides were taken by John in the 1960s and 70s.

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.

Friday 8 January  Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society "The History and Development of the National Tramway Museum" a colour slide presentation by Mike Crabtree.

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.

Friday 29  January Great Western Society NW Branch W.J. Denning: The West Somerset Railway, a personal view. 

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   

Friday 12 February  Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society "Prince of Wales, Britain's most powerful steam locomotive. The Project to build a new P2 Locomotive" a digital presentation by Graham Nicholas.

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.

Friday 26 February Great Western Society NW Branch  Group Annual Meeting, afterwards possibly Members slides.

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

Friday 11 March  Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society "A Photographic Tribute to Alan Gilbert. Steam on the main line in the 1950s and 60s" a digital  presentation by Paul Shackcloth.

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.

Friday 25 March  Great Western Society NW Branch  Railway Images, Thirty Miles around Warrington, Barrie Rushton.

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.

Friday 8 April  Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society "Steam in the North West of England and Scotland in 1965" a digital presentation by Noel Coates.

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.

Friday 29 April    Great Western Society NW Branch    A tribute to Tom Lewis, Railway cameraman 1947-1970, Paul Shackcloth.

May 2016

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

A look inside the cab of 68 004 Rapid on its visit to Holyhead, 21 October. Picture by Dewi Griffiths.

Welcome to the 400th issue since January 2009 when our RSS-feed began. We've lost count of how many updates there have been since the site was born in 1996! Thanks as ever to everyone who contributes.- Charlie

Steve's last day

On 15 October Signaller Steve Lake worked his very last shift in Llandudno signal box - dressed in British Rail uniform - having worked for 44 years on the railway. His last train was 1K21  the 21.45 Llandudno to Crewe with 150 240. An behalf of all North Wales rail staff, enthusiasts and travellers, we wish him well for the future - a job well done. Picture by Gary Bentley of the S & T department.

Incidentally, the signalbox track diagram is somewhat inaccurate in suggesting that three roads are available at re-instated Cae Mawr sidings, as one of them is now buried under spoil.

Club 55 returns (again)

Arriva Trains Wales have re-started their Club 55 ticket offer for those aged 55 or over, this time running from from 19 October 2015 to 27 February 2016, except that no outward travel is permitted between 11 December and 2 January, whilst no return travel is permitted between 18 December and 2 January. Days of sporting events in Cardiff may also be blocked. Break of journey is permitted, and tickets are valid on the ATW network as shown in blue on the website's map, even on non-Arriva services such as Virgin's coast line trains between Crewe and Holyhead. An anomaly on the map is that although a few ATW trains go to Manchester Airport, the ticket is not valid there without an add-on payment

Tickets are sold on-line from the special part of the website, or at station ticket offices. In t it also says that on-train conductors can sell them if no there was opportunity to purchase at a station. Fares are £24 return 'Not Fridays' (£23 with a railcard) or £29 return 'Anyday' (£28 with a railcard). The return must be within 8 days of the date of outward travel with the outward date counting as the first day. Add-on fares are available, e.g for some Northern Rail services at £2.50. The last day for outward travel is 27 February 2016. All return travel must be completed by 5 March 2016.

Travel is not permitted before 09:00 on Monday to Friday, except except on certain routes; as usual the restrictions listed are muddled. The website document reads...
Travel using a Club 55 ticket is not permitted before 09:00 Monday to Friday except between the following locations (in either direction):

    * Shrewsbury – Aberystwyth/Pwllheli
    * Shrewsbury – Llanelli/Swansea via Llandrindod
    * Chester – Holyhead/Llandudno/Blaenau Ffestiniog
    * Neath – Milford Haven/Pembroke Dock/Fishguard Harbour
    * Wrexham Central - Bidston
... implying that the ticket is valid on all ATW trains, in either direction, before and after 09:00 on all days of validity.

Testing this on the booking website does apparently offer the chance to travel, for example,  from Holyhead to Cardiff and back on the Premier Express (05:33 from Holyhead, 17:16 return) as little as £24, or £23 with a Senior or Disabled Railcard.  However, this may be misleading, as a little further down the page is the curious condition that 'If you are starting your journey from a station with no time restriction, you may only depart or pass through Neath, Shrewsbury and Chester stations after 0900.'  So it seems you can buy a ticket online, stating your travel times, only to find when you travel that is not valid. What is definitely possible for loco-hauled fans, however, is a return run from Manchester (09:50) to Holyhead (return dep. 13:01).
Further details, if you can understand them, can be found on the Arriva Trains Wales website.

Class 68 to Holyhead

On 21 October, DRS loco 68 004 Rapid travelled light-engine from Crew Gresty Bridge depot to Holyhead and back. We don't know the reason - route-learning, traction training, or maybe checking clearances - but it was closely tracked by our photographic contributors, as the pictures here and in the left column prove. Roly High photographed the return working passing Prestatyn's Up Starter signal, PN15, and entering a section where 85 mph running is permitted. Note that the traditional signal-post telephone to contact the signaller has been replaced by a plate carrying a phone number.

Above, Beeches Farm, west of Chester at 15:51. Picture by Bob Greenhalgh. These 3750-horsepower locos are built by Vossloh at the same Spanish plant that produced the Class 67; the body styling shows a vague family resemblance. The diesel engine, however, is very different, being a Caterpillar product.

It seems that the loco nicknamers have proposed 'war skips' (67s are 'skips' and 68s have warship names) or maybe 'cats' as suitable soubriquets. Two more for DRS, 68 016 and 68 017, have recently been delivered by the ship Douwe S to Workington docks.

Stena Explorer sold

The Irish Ferry Enthusiasts Forum is reporting that the fast ferry HSS Stena Explorer which last operated from Dún Laoghaire to Holyhead on 9 September 2014 has been sold to Turkish interests, for static use in Istanbul, and is expected to leave its berth Holyhead’s Inner Harbour (adjacent to the railway station) under tow. The offshore tug Bluster was reported en route to Holyhead on 26 October to undertake the task.

Autumn leaves

After some early difficulties at the start of the winter timetable, the Rail Head Treatment Treatment train has settled in to its duties.  Roly High risked a wetting to capture the high-pressure action from behind the fence near Rhyl on 16 October. The water jets send water on to the rail head at a pressure of over 20,000 pounds per square inch, and can work at speeds of up to 60 mph; if the train stops, the operator (who travels in the loco) must turn them off to avoid damaging the rails.

Larry Davies photographed the eastbound train at Llandudno Junction on 17 October, passing the junction for the Conwy Valley Line, as usual with 97 304 John Tiley leading and 97 302 nearest the camera. At this stage the locos are still relatively clean.

Sandycroft, 20 October (Tim Rogers).

Amid very leafy surroundings, 97 304 brings the train off the Britannia Bridge single-track section  on 23 October (Peter Basterfield).

Smoky passage through Bangor station, 26 October (Jim Johnson).

The cause of all the trouble (Roly High).

Rails of Java

At North Wales Railway Circle monthly meeting next Tuesday, 3rd November,  Mr. Brian Pearce F.R.P.F. presents an interesting show illustrating the sugar railways in Java. Meeting, as usual, at the Victoria Hotel, Telford Rd., Menai Bridge, LL59 5DR.

Busy moment at Chester - report by Mike Campbell

I was at Chester station on Friday 23 October to see the Northern Belle pullman excursion (1Z60) which was running an afternoon-tea service round trip from Chester, via Liverpool and Crewe. The full train of 11 coaches along with the two locos were in the striking Northern Belle livery. 57 305 Northern Princess was leading with 57 312 Solway Princess on the rear. Scheduled for a 13.40 departure, when just a minute before this, the Rail Head Treatment Train (RHTT) arrived into the station from Holyhead, and paused alongside.

So for a minute or two this meant there were 2 x class 57's and 2 x Class 37's alongside each other at Chester station. A bit of a rarity these days for a station that mainly sees just a variety of units all day.

The Network Rail service was operated by 97 302 leading ...

... with 97 304 on the rear.

Cambrian corner

158 831 has just passed the site of the former Black Rock Halt, forming the Pwllheli portion of the 12.09 from Birmingham International to Pwllheli, 10 October (Trefor Thompson).

The newly-rebuilt Bont Briwet, seen on Saturday 10 October, with the new viewing area on the north bank. A lay-by has been built adjacent. The train is the 12:09 Birmingham - Aberystwyth/Pwllheli that divides at Machynlleth (Barrie Hughes).

Barmouth bridge at sunset, 13 October, seen from the Mawddach Trail, route of the old Dolgellau branch (Ian Wright)

Class 67 update

67 014 continued its stint on the Manchester - North Wales 'DfT' diagram until 23 October. Above: the driver of the 09:50 Manchester - Holyhead awaits the 'right away' on 19 October (Richard Fleckney).

The same train at Abergele, 23 October (Roly High). Although the return service calls at the Up
platform, this Down service does not, although there is now a DVT/ 67 loco marker board in place on the platform.

On the other loco-worked turn, things have not gone so smoothly. On the morning of 22 October, 67 029 failed at Colwyn Bay at 06:27 while working the 05:33 Holyhead - Cardiff. Single-line working was (according to some reports) instituted on the Down line, but not before several other services were much disrupted.

Temporary single-line working requires a person to act as 'pilotman' who travels with, or authorises, every train through the section. When all the signalboxes are closed and all is controlled from Cardiff, who does it then? Judging by installations elsewhere, extra signals governing 'wrong line' movements will be installed at places where crossovers are available.

A rescue loco, 67 017 Arrow, arrived at 08:30 but the train did not depart Colwyn Bay until 10:35, terminating at Chester. The train continued to Cardiff as empty-stock, and 67 017 worked the evening service from Cardiff. John Mathers photographed the train at 20:26 (above) at Flint. This is one of the 67s which received names in their early days copied from those of numerically-matching 'Britannia' steam pacifics, in this case 70017. At the time, it seems to have been thought that plates could not be bolted to the corrugated part of the loco sides, so special thin versions were made to fit the cab side without making the loco 'out-of-gauge'.

Bangor Railway Institute saved (for now) - Report by Jim Johnson

Monday 19 October saw Gwynedd Council Planning Committee hearing the developers' application to demolish the Bangor Railway Institute building. (The meeting was in Dolgellau, causing maximum inconvenience to Bangor residents.) The Council's Planning Officers were recommending acceptance of their plans, and things did not look good. Members of the public can attend planning meetings, but not participate, except one person may speak in favour, and one against, for a maximum of 3 minutes, provided they register beforehand. I duly registered, and spoke against the demolition. Four local councillors also spoke up against the application.

When it came to the vote, it was a unanimous (barring one abstention) show of hands against the developers' application, so it has been refused. A heartening display of popular opinion over-riding officialdom's recommendations. However, the developers are bound to lodge an appeal, and for this reason, I have kept open the online petition against the demolition.


Train 6D43, Crewe - Valley flask train, at Llanfairfechan with 37 218 and 37 671 on 26 October (Peter Basterfield).

60 054 at Pigeon House Lane, Hope with 6V75 Dee Marsh - Margam, 14 October (John Mathers).

66 091 brings the regular train of 'white vans' from Merseyside to Doncaster through Bagueley on the Altrincham - Stockport route, 19 October (Greg Mape).

Measurement train 1Q08 was photographed in beautiful sunshine with 37 667 pushing as the train headed for Chester over Green Lane crossing on the Wrexham line. Note the new milepost in the foreground (Bob Greenhalgh).

The same train covered the Conwy Valley branch on 13 October: above, the driver of 37 667 has just handed in the single-line token at Llandudno Junction on the return run (Peter Lloyd).

Phorographed by Tim Rogers on 24 October at Guilden Sutton (Hare Lane), Jubilee 4-6-0 45699 Galatea with West Coast Railways excursion 'The Brief Encounter'  1Z27 07:25 Carnforth to Chester via Hellifield.  Presumably the passengers all said misty-eyed goodbyes to their secret lovers amid clouds of steam, only to lose the plot and find themselves back in Carnforth at the end of the day...

... On the rear 47 580 County of Essex well turned-out in its patriotic livery as adorned by Stratford depot for the Queen's silver jubilee in 1977.

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