Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

28 December 2015

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Forthcoming events

26-29 December Llangollen Railway 'Mince Pie Specials'

January 2016

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. 

February 2016

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

May 2016

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.

37 413 Loch Eil Outward Bound at Chester, 1996. Who now remembers Transrail?

Conwy Valley flooding

As so often in the past, the recent outbreak of flooding around Britain has had a drastic effect on the Conwy valley line. Train services have not re-started after the Christmas break, and are unlikely to run to Blaenau Ffestiniog in the near future; a bus replacement service has been organised.

A Network Rail report details the result of an inspection of the line:
Extensive flooding between North Llanrwst and Llanrwst station ... Severe flooding and over 100 washout sites between 7m 15ch and 9m 73ch, and other issues, including a collapsed wall at 14m 30ch allowing a stream to flow onto the railway. Nine further washout sites between 12m 260yds and 12m 460yds. Undermined foundations at a slab track bridge at 12m 460yds. A repair plan will be formulated after a full inspection of the damage has been undertaken.
We'll  pass on any further information as received.

Busy time at Hale - pictures by Greg Mape

The Mid-Cheshire line has its busy moments these days, as evidenced by these views taken at Hale station in a 30-minute period on the afternoon of 28 December. Above, at 13:46, 66 753 EMD Roberts Road climbs the gradient from Altrincham with train 4M18, 07:50 Drax power station to Liverpool Bulk Terminal empty biomass hoppers.

These wagons (coded IAA), designed by Lloyds Register Rail and built by WH Davis, have a tare weight of 30 tonnes and are capable of carrying a 71.6-tonne payload with a total capacity of 116 cubic metres. 200 are now in service, featuring a stainless steel bodyshell with aluminium roof doors and a patented product flow system for unloading. We understand that a further batch is on order.

Hale station is a pleasantly-preserved example of a country station; all the structures are 'listed' including the signalbox (closed in 1991) and the surrounding area is classified as a Conservation Area. At 13:53, the 12:59 Chester - Manchester calls, formed of 142 053.

The original name of the station was Peel Causeway, named after the farmstead, Peel Causeway Farm, on which the station was built. It became Hale in 1902.

The 13:17 Manchester Piccadilly - Chester (2D44) runnning 13 minutes late, arrives at 14:02, formed of 156 468, which last appeared in these pages in September when it formed the last Chester - Runcorn weekly train of the season. On 31 January 1995, it was working the 17:45 Carlisle - Leeds train which collided near Mallerstang with 156 490 which had derailed on a landslip on the adjacent line; the conductor of the derailed train was killed, and several passengers injured.

At 14:03, the 08:20 Liverpool Bulk Terminal - Drax biomass rolls through, led by 66 717 Good Old Boy.  The good old boy in question was Steve Drew, a GB Railfreight operations manager who died in 2006.

A few minutes later, Freightliner Heavy haul loco 66 604, returning from Hope cement works to Freightliner's Crewe Basford Hall depot after working a train of empty cement wagons to Hope from the cement terminal at Dewsbury. The signals, operated by Deansgate Junction signalbox, which is named after ts location on Deansgate Lane in Timperley, not to be confused with Deansgate station which is some distance away.

Liverpool electric event - report by John Hobbs

I was fortunate to be invited to attend the inauguration of "Northern Electric" services from Liverpool (Lime Street) to Warrington  (Bank Quay) on Monday 14 December when Class 319's took over most of the trains on the route via Huyton and Earlestown.

Above: The modern scene at Liverpool (Lime St) with three Class 319s and the old guard in the form of a 'Pacer', forming a backdrop (the latter to be replaced by better trains within 5 years); with an honour guard formed of from left to right representative of Warrington Borough Council - Council Leader Cllr. Terry O'Neill, Merseytravel Director - Chairman -  Liam Robinson &  and Northern Trains - Director Alex Hynes. All standing in front of the 09:47 inaugural service to Warrington Bank Quay, on which the celebratory party travelled on Monday 14 December, formed of 319 368.

Chris Dale, Chairman, part of the 'Official Party' representing  'TravelWatch NorthWest' at Warrington (Bank Quay) with Unit 319 368 which has just arrived with the inaugural service.

Cllr Terry O'Neill addresses the Official Party in the Mayor's Parlour in Warrington Town Hall and celebrates the arrival of "Northern Electrics" in the Borough, Alex Hynes and Liam Robinson look on with others and enjoy the occasion.
Editor's note: Class 319s have also taken over the Manchester Piccadily - Manchester Airport shuttle service from the same date.

Mince Pie specials on the Llangollen line - report by George Jones

A ride on the Mince Pie Special on Boxing day is a traditional festive season trip and the journey has taken place in mixed weather conditions over the years. This year's was damp, although the rain had eased off in North East Wales, but there was still plenty of water about!

The first train of the day departed Llangollen at 1050 with a good load of passengers on board, many as booked groups on Christmas breaks at local hotels, making a busy journey for those serving the Mince Pies and refreshments en route to Corwen. For those looking out of the window, the trip alongside the River Dee was dramatic as heavy rain over the Christmas period drained out of Bala Lake and the other tributaries. With the river bursting its banks in places the expanse of water created wide areas of flooding in surrounding fields. Even so, we were not prepared for the arrival at Corwen East where the platform was marooned due to the extensive flood waters on what is the Corwen flood plain below the railway embankment.

At Llangollen (top) Driver Steve Jones attached The Mince Pie Special headboard to the bunker of BR Standard tank 80072.

Passing Goods Junction the river level entering Llangollen gave some idea of the conditions ahead

Approaching Dee Bridge the swollen River Dee was evident.

At Berwyn the river was flowing fast beneath the King Edward VII bridge ...

 ...through the Dee Gorge below the Chain Bridge.

West of Berwyn heading for the tunnel ...

 ... and a more pastoral scene as River Dee heads for the Horseshoe falls.

No trade at Glyndyfrdwy today.

West of Glyndyfrdwy the river was high alongside the line...

... and continued through to Carrog where the ex-Weston Rhyn signalbox is being prepared for eventual relocation to the Corwen Central station site.

Approaching Plas Bonwm the river had taken on the appearance of a lake ...

... and threatening the line at Bonwm gates, a traditional weak point on the line.

Fields flooded to the west of Corwen.

Arrival in the elevated platform at Corwen East found the water lapping around the station building at the bottom of the access ramp - no passengers here today and no staff either!

The train crew survey the scenegj16. extensive flood water alongside and on the approach to the station  ...

... another good reason to progress to the Corwen Central terminal site

Back at Carrog and the loco ran round for the MPS head board to be fixed to the smokebox.
In view of the flooding at Corwen and the threat to the line at Bonwm, later services during the day were terminated at Carrog. Quite how long it will take for the flood waters to subside in the face of further rain forecast remains to be seen but in the meantime the railway is providing a grandstand view of the Dee valley under water.

Some facts about Arriva Trains Wales

(Extracted by George Jones from a fact sheet presented at a recent Chester meeting of the Railway Travel and Correspondence Society)

Customer satisfaction at record levels – 89% Spring 2015

Outstanding performance – consistently the best regional and second best national ‘right time’ performing rail operator in the UK
£31m of investment since the start of the franchise vs £400k contractual requirement
One of the largest employers in Wales, employing around 2,200 people and creating more than 300 jobs since the beginning of the franchise in key locations such as Carmarthen, Pwhelli, Machynlleth, Holyhead and Cardiff.
National Awards Winning Apprentice Scheme; recruitment has included 21 apprentices and 13 graduate trainees.

Key Performance measures

Public Performance Measures: Annual reliability and punctuality currently 97.9% and 93.5% respectively.
Best regional ‘Right time’ operator.
UK's second-best right-time operator (trains arriving and departing within 59 seconds of scheduled time).

National Rail Passenger Survey

Overall satisfaction has now risen to 89%, up 10% from when the franchise started and 8% above the franchise benchmark. 31 out of the 32 different areas of measurement have improved over the past decade.

Investment in franchise

ATW has invested £31m against a franchise requirement of only £400k.
ATW investment includes:
Over £11m on train refurbishments (class 158 fleet and loco hauled services)
Chester station £2m
Train driver simulators £2m
Improved staff facilities £2m
Ticket gates £3m
123 Ticket vending machines all across the network £5m
Brand new depot at Machynlleth £3m
New wheel lathe £2m at Cardiff Canton
Numerous other small projects, such as station lighting enhancements worth a total of £10m
National Station Improvement Programme in partnership with others, plus numerous improvements to accessibility. Major station refurbishments included Aberystwyth, Llandudno and Rhyl and new stations at Ebbw Vale Town, Pye Corner, Energlyn and Churchill Park, Fishguard and Goodwick.

New and Improved services

ATW has consistently acted to add capacity and improve services whilst working with a limited fleet size. We provide 20% more services (65,000 services every year) than the franchise agreement specifies and added over 525,000 annual seats to the timetable in 2012 alone.
Around 5,000 extra trains a year were added in May 2013 for Gowerton following the station improvement and Loughour viaduct redoubling – all at no additional cost to the taxpayer.

In 2015 at the request if the Welsh Government, extra services were added to the Heart of Wales and Cambrian lines and timetables were extended to the New Ebbw Vale Town station.
Two new innovative Smartphone m-Ticket products were launched as were the UK's first video assisted ticket vending machines. ATW is a key supporter of community projects including Disability Sport Wales, Velothon Wales and Cardiff Half Marathon.

Franchise Overview

ATW’s  network extends throughout Wales and the border counties of England, providing local and long distance services to destinations including major cities such as Swansea, Cardiff, Newport, Birmingham, Chester and Manchester.
2,204 employees
Franchise started December 2015
1.009 route miles
956 services operated per day
30.5 million passenger journeys per year
A fleet of 128 trains
247 stations (10% of the UK total) 55 of which are staffed.
ATW works with a wide range of local and national partners, such as the Welsh Government, to grow and improve rail transport for the public they serve.

Nottingham Trams - by Anthony Robinson

I made my first ever brief visit to Nottingham city centre on 16 December. It's interesting to compare the older Alstom (above) and new 'Citadis' (below) vehicles with their very different Manchester equivalents.

Note that they are all four-wheeled articulated sets; a complete set resembles a snake! They are very smooth riders though.

[On a very different topic, Anthony has published an article  in the January edition of BackTrack magazine:  'A Wheel Tapper's Lot'.]

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