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14 December 2015
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12 December Llangollen Railway 'Real Ale Train' 6.30pm departure from Llangollen Station 'Step on-board and soak up the atmosphere whilst enjoying the Real Ales on offer at our well stocked bar. Double return journey – arrive back approximately 9.30pm. Ticket price includes a free glass and pint for all pre-booked tickets.'
19-20 December Talyllyn Railway 'Santa Specials'
19-20 December Llanberis Lake Railway 'Santa Specials'
19-20 December Cambrian Heritage Railways 'Santa Specials' (Saturdays at Oswestry, Sundays at Lynclys)
19-22 December Rhyl Miniature Railway 'Santa Specials'
20 December Llangollen Railway 'Santa Specials'
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.
22-24 December Llangollen Railway 'Santa Specials'
24 December Talyllyn Railway 'Santa Specials'
26-29 December Llangollen Railway 'Mince Pie Specials'
2-3 January Llangollen Railway 'Winter Warmers'
Tuesday 5 January North Wales Railway Circle Member Clive Evans starts 2016 with a show of his own work starting back in the sixties.
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.
Tuesday 2 February North Wales Railway Circle 'The First Penrhyn Railway' Dafydd Gwyn, industrial archaeologist, author of The Slate and other publications and fireman on The Bala Lake Railway will be talking about the first tramway that served Penrhyn Quarry.
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.
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.
Tuesday 8 March North Wales Railway Circle 'Railways of Ontario' Chairman Brian Bollington shows a mix of slides and video he has taken of the railway scene in Ontario and Quebec, Canada. Including main lines, short lines, preserved lines with steam and museums. Due to Saint David's Day bookings this meeting has been arranged for the second Tuesday of the month.
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.
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.
Tuesday 5 April North Wales Railway Circle 'All Steamed Up' Mr Barry Wynne presents a selection of his work from his vast catalogue of photographs.
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.
Tuesday 3 May North Wales Railway Circle AGM and Photographic Competition.
Thursday 12 May Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Ray Bailey: Steam into Holywell.
Taking water at Rhyd Ddu, 10 December. Picture by Alan Crawshaw.
Santa Specials at Llangollen - report by George Jones
In damp and dismal lighting conditions around midday on 13 December the first two Llangollen Railway 'Santa' trains of the day were captured at Berwyn as the River Dee roared through the gorge below. Above, Standard tank 80072, now back in use, lifts the 11:00 from Llangollen towards 'Lapland' at Carrog.
'Large Prairie' tank 5199 follows with the 11:55 from Llangollen. Spare a thought for all the volunteers and staff putting on the Santa operation in less than ideal conditions.
Santa at Oswestry - report by Martin Evans
I ventured to Oswestry on Saturday 12 December with my grandson for the Cambrian Heritage Railways Santa Specials, they consisted of brake van rides in the confines of the station and out to Middleton Road, with Santa's Grotto in the station building.
The loco in use was Drewry 0-4-0 DM Telemon, works no D295 on what turned out a extremely wet and damp morning with very heavy rain.
On Thursday 10 December I took a return trip from Rhyd Ddu ...
... to Porthmadog, the last of this year's shuttles behind Linda and Blanche. They will resume in mid February, in the meantime there are Santa Specials and during Christmas week full line return trips with a Garratt in charge. Full details on the railway website. We were treated to morning sunshine, a welcome change from rain.
The rear carriage affords a great view back down the track.
We haven't heard anything from the 'Lein Amlwch' preservationists recently, although we understand that line clearance work is proceeding. Meanwhile, Dave Lissaman writes to draw our attention to a video posted on Facebook recording a journey along the line c. 1960 aboard an original 'Derby Lightweight' railcar.
Arriva for Northern England
On 9 December the Department for Transport announced the winners of the competition to run the Northern Rail and Trans-Pennine franchises. A press release gives some details; most relevant to our topic is the promise of 'an hourly Northern Connect service between Chester and Manchester (via Warrington Bank Quay). This will operate alongside an existing Arriva Trains Wales, which currently operates 1 train per hour off-peak and 2 trains per hour in the peak. This will be operated by brand new diesel trains, and will run through to Leeds via Manchester Victoria and the Calder Valley.'
Driver's Advisory System
The latest electronic aid for train drivers is the Driver Advisory System, currently being installed on trains across the Arriva Group, including Arriva Trains Wales, which intends fitting to all trains except 153s and Class 67 locos / Driving Van Trailers. All 150s and 158s have been fitted, with the 175 fleet in progress. Its display screen, to the left of our picture, gives drivers advice on speed to travel to keep time, and save fuel by coasting or running below line speed. The display also shows station stops, exact mileage in miles and chains, the speed to travel or coast when you are approaching a station, and also an also an Atomic clock claimed to be very accurate. The makers claim that saving of between 5% and 10% in fuel is possible.
It is important to emphasise that this is an advisory device. It does not replace the driver's route and traction knowledge as this device is purely advisory and does in no way take over the driving of the train. The driver logs into the system, enters the headcode and type of traction or mixture e.g. 150 + 158. Part of the saving is to be passed onto the drivers in the form of bonus payments if certain targets are met.
Chester - Wrexham delays explained
The Wrexham Leader reports North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood's discussion with Network Rail concerning the delayed completion of the Wrexham - Chester line re-doubling project. It appears that it was discovered that 13km of cable is in poor condition and has to be replaced before the 'new signalling technology' can be implemented. Network Rail are in discussion with their partners regarding the final implementation in 2016 - possibly by March - a year behind the original plan.
There is also mention of 'months spent designing a bridge they discovered they didn't actually need.' This refers to a plan to replace the crossing at Broad Oak, near Rossett, which they wanted to close but local opinion was against. The impact of the high level structure at this location would have blocked access to two residences here, and required the acquisition of land, so the idea was abandoned. The Broad Oak crossing remains in situ and will feature full barriers, as with the other three on the re-doubled section, when the project is completed.
Thanks to George Jones for help with this item.
Graham Breakwell writes: 'For the record, it's worth mentioning a 'Statesman Rail' excursion that ran on the Cambrian main line on 28 November 2015. The empty stock was taken from Carnforth to Aberystwyth on Friday 27th, passing Shrewsbury around 22:15 consisting of 97 303 hauling 57 313, 11 coaches and 57 601 on the rear.
'At 04:12 on Saturday 28th the train departed Aberystwyth and ran to Bath via Wolverhampton, Tame Bridge, Birmingham International, Leamington Spa, Oxford, Didcot and Swindon. At 16.30 the same day the train departed from Bath returning on the same route passing Shrewsbury around 21:20, with 97 303 at the head, 57 'dead in train' and 57601 banking the train. The empty stock ran back to Carnforth on Sunday afternoon.'
[Did anyone take a picture?]
The light-engine runs along the Coast by Freightliner Class 66 locos, recently chroincled here, were for driver training only and not route learning as we speculated.
Mid-Cheshire freight - pictures by Greg Mape
The Altrincham area is a good place to see freight trains at the moment. Greg Mape catured two of them for us on Monday morning 14 December from the clasic viewpoint of the bridge above the sharp curve from Deansgate Junction to Skelton Junction. Above, 66 004 heads the DB Schenker Mondays-only Warrington Arpley - Peak Forest trip which returns repaired or overhauled wagons to the quarries. The disused bridge in the background once carried the Cheshire Lines branch to Glazebrook on the Manchester - Liverpool line. This train will take the freight-only line from Northenden to Hazel Grove.
Running in the other direction, 66 546 brings another load of domestic refuse from Bredbury transfer terminal to Runcorn Folly Lane.
Expedition to Salisbury - report by Richard Putley
On 12 December I went to Salisbury to photograph a West Coast Railways charter that was to have been hauled by LNER B1 4-6-0 61306 Mayflower. In the event it was hauled by 47 580 County of Essex. I drove to Westbury, from where I caught the 09:40 to London Waterloo, formed by South West Trains DMU 159 007. At Salisbury it combined with 2 classmates which arrived from Exeter, thus forming a 9 car train. At Westbury (above) while waiting I saw a variety of First Great Western (FGW) stock stabled alongside Colas 66 846.
On arrival at Salisbury I had plenty of time to walk round, aided by a free walking map you can get at the station (free cycling maps are also available) and I walked out to Tunnel Junction, about a mile and half east of the station. Here I saw FGW 158 954 passing on a Cardiff – Portsmouth train. I also photographed a trio of SWT DMUs at the station with 158 882 left in Platform 6, and a train from Waterloo arriving into Platform 3 with 159 019 bringing up the rear.
I opted to photograph the special from a footbridge half a mile east of the station, whose parapets are level so I could rest my cameras on them.
Once the special had passed I returned to the station, by which time 47 580 had run round the stock of the special. I was able to photograph it leaving for the siding to the east of the station where the special was parked for the duration of its stay.
As it would be dark by the time the special departed at 16:36, I decided not to remain in Salisbury and returned to Westbury on the 13:40 to Cardiff. This was formed of 158 798 in a special paint job.
Bangor time-travel - by Jim Johnson
The sign above the footbridge stairs at Bangor station. Arfon Borough Council has now been defunct since 1996, having been a sub-division of Gwynedd County Council since 1972.
It looks like they got fed up before finishing the painting of Bangor's City coat-of-arms!
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