Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

07 March 2016

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March 2016

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.

Saturday 12 March Railway and Canal Historical Society North West Branch - The London & Dublin Railway: Surveys & Parliamentary Influences by Derek Cobby & Brian Dotson. Realisation of the inadequacy of the port of Holyhead and the increasing pressure for improvements coincided with the development of railways.  Plans prepared for the Oxford, Worcester & Wolverhampton Railway included a route from Worcester to Porth Dinllaen on the Llyn Peninsula.  Vignoles and Brunel favoured developing Porth Dinllaen route rather than Holyhead which would avoid crossing the Menai Straits.  Vignoles direct route on standard gauge to connect with the Grand Junction Railway did not attract sufficient finance leaving Brunel's second broad gauge direct scheme as an alternative to
developing the route to Holyhead.

Monday 14 March  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 18 March
  Great Western Society NW Branch  Railway Images, Thirty Miles around Warrington, Barrie Rushton. Note change of date.

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.

Saturday 9 April Railway and Canal Historical Society The Presidential Address: The LMS
School of Transport, Derby by Graham Wild. The speaker will  tell the fascinating story of the school. The talk starts with the reason for the building and its location, moving on through a description of the building to the successful fight to save it and subsequent developments with what is now a
listed building.

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    

57 310 on Mother's Day Northern Belle special passes Milepost 211, Green Lane crossing, Saltney 6 March. Picture by Bob Greenhalgh. We hear that the second track on this section will not now be usable until June 2016.

Mothers' Northern Belle

The 'Northern Belle' worked a luxury Mother's Day dining trip  on 6 March, which ran from Chester to Liverpool Lime Street (reverse), Crewe, Stafford, Bushbury Junction, Shrewsbury, Chester and back to Liverpool. Above: 57 312 Solway Princess was leading on the first run round the Halton Curve, with 57 310 on the rear (Mark Barber).

Some time later, 57 310 Pride of Cumbria leading northbound at Gobowen, running ahead of the Birmingham to Chester service train due at 14:39 (George Jones).

57 310 leads past Balderton heading for Chester amid a sea of new ballast (John Mathers).

57 310 leading on the second run along the Halton Curve - travelling the same direction as the first run, but the whole train had reversed at Liverpool Lime Street and by running round the curve from Bushbury Junction to Stafford Road Junction to head back north, it avoided a further reversal.  (Mark Barber). This shows particularly well the extensive drainage work which has been carried out; however considerable work on the track connections at each end will be needed before the link can be used in both directions again, as has been promised.

End of the day out at Liverpool Lime Street, 16:35 (Ian Henderson).

Loco swapping

On Saturday 5 March, 67  001, which had been allocated to the Manchester loco-hauled diagram, was sent light-engine from Crewe to Holyhead, and was photographed by Roly High at Rhyl.

On Monday 7 March, 67 014 from the Cardiff express duty headed east on its own, as seen at Aberele (Roly High). 67 001 worked the express to Cardiff,  and the Manchester turn was reportedly covered by a Class 158 railcar set.

Rhydymwyn, 1974 - pictures by John Hobbs

As a follow-up to the mention of the Rhydymwyn Branch on the last issue,  here are some pictures which John Hobbs managed to catch up with on one lucky occasion, 12 July 1974. Above, 40 183 is seen at the unloading point with the unloading crane in the background.
The site was adjacent to the renowned 'Valley Works'  where much second world war nuclear research was undertaken.

40 183 departs with the empty wagons...

... which were bogie bolster wagons fitted with cradles to hold the stack of pipes in place. Does anyone have a picture of the loaded train and/or details of where the pipes were made?

Pipes were delivered by rail for the pipeline from Rhosgoch tank farm on Anglesey to Stanlow refinery that passed along the Wheeler/Alyn Valley. Rhosgoch itself was provided with a siding off the Amlwch branch for delivery of construction material. T
he Shell company's idea was that crude oil would be unloaded from tankers and stored at Rhosgoch as a supply to Stanlow refinery, but the tank farm abandoned after a just a few years of operation and the site was donated to the people of Anglesey who apparently have yet to make any use of it.

40 183  passes over the traincrew-worked level crossing at Bromfield Road, Mold with the empty wagons.

Passing over the former Mold by-pass by the level crossing in the background (there is a much bigger by-pass today), this is on the approach to Llong. Built in 1962 as D383, 40 183 lasted in service until 1983.

Semaphores at Plumley - pictures by Phil Clarke

Sunday 28 February: trains passing two remaining semaphore signals controlled by Plumley West signal box on the Mid-Cheshire Line. Above, 60 100 heading to Lostock Works (Tata chemicals soda ash plant), to take empty limestone wagons back to Tunstead Quarry.

Northern Rail 150 225 on the Chester to Southport service.

175 110 on a non-stopping Chester to Manchester Piccadilly, diverted from the usual Arriva route due to Sunday engineering work.

Killoch Colliery - report by John Cowlishaw

While I was on holiday recently in Galloway I noticed on Tuesday 1 March  Real Time Trains  indicating that the Penyffordd cement works coal train was running, and decided to explore the whereabouts of Killoch Colliery, the relatively new origin of these train.  It is obviously not
now a colliery but a vast, somewhat ramshackle, empire of piles of various types of stone and earth, partially run by Breedon Aggregates, set high in the hills to the Easy of Ayr.  Fortunately the sound of an idling 'shed' carried on the stiff breeze brought encouragement that the train was actually running. 

Knowing that it had run 38 minutes early the previous week, a conservative approach was required and so I embarked on a long wait on the A70 bridge awaiting the train to come round the corner from the colliery. Finally at 15:32 66 194 slowly made its way past (picture above) with about 25 loaded wagons, having set off at 15:16, 52 minutes early. 

The line is very tortuous and so it was easy to beat the train to Mossblown or in railway terms, Annbank junction where the Killoch Colliery branch joins the Mauchline - Newton-on-Ayr freight only branch.  The train was stopped at the only signal there where two orange dressed chaps arrived by van for it.  One was probably a driver and entered the cab, the other a presumed Network Rail chap who took the token from the 66 driver and placed it in the ground frame which, after a telephone call, was released to move over the points and clear the signal to allow the train out.  The train would have been followed further but by then the weather had deteriorated enormously and the last pictures shows a very wet and dark scene.

Picture Gallery

A class 150 on a Bidston - Wrexham service having just crossed the River Dee at Hawarden Bridge on 6 March (Greg Mape)

Recently the log train from Carlisle to Chirk has been running about an hour early so making it possible to take photos, if the weather is OK. Here's Bob Greenhalgh's effort from Thursday 3 March at Green Lane crossing, Saltney. The scruffy-looking loco is 60 095.

While on a breezy bike ride along the coast cycleway, Greg Mape captured a Class 221 crossing the A55 near Colwyn Bay on a Holyhead - London Euston service on 5 March.

Snow on the hills as 175 102 departs Llandudno for Manchester, 5 March (Greg Mape)

A new meaning to the term 'out-of-the-box' shot as 37 605 and 37602 pass Bangor with the Flasks on 4 March (Peter Basterfield).

Northern Hub vs. Arriva Trains Wales

The question of whether or not Arriva Trains Wales should be permitted to run more trains to Manchester Airport still rumbles on. Back in November the press was reporting that Arriva 'gave the UK Government a bloody nose' after a decision by the Rail Disputes Committee, and that the trains would run after overcoming 'one final hurdle' - obtaining 'contractual rights' from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), which will 'take into consideration any objections from other train operating companies.'

Unfortunately it seems that the final hurdle is proving a high one, as a letter dated 4 February 2016 from Ian Messner, Customer Manager, Wales Route, Network Rail, to ORR just goes over again all the earlier objections from previous applications. Extra trains might cause congestion, and in any case a path is need for the promised service from the Calder Valley stations (Rochdale, Halifax, etc.) to the Airport via the new Ordsall Chord as part of the future 'Northern Hub' plan, and if ATW trains are allowed now, people will be upset ('reputational risk') if we take them away again later. The letter ends with a glimmer of hope:
Network Rail does not support the sale of these rights. In the event, however, that ORR should decide to direct the parties to enter into this agreement, Network Rail would request that the rights should apply for a limited period only and that any future rights should be considered on the basis of emerging performance.
What does not seem to have been considered, but is obvious to anyone who hangs around Piccadilly station watching the trains, is that the terminating train from North Wales currently stands in Platform 14, the only available platform for trains running through from Liverpool, Blackpool, etc., for several minutes while staff ensures that everyone has alighted, and then crosses in to Mayfield loop at low speed. If the train continued to the Airport, an extra path through this congested area might be possible.

However, a recent report to the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee throws another spanner into the proverbial works:
32.3 TfGM lodged a position in opposition to the application by Arriva Trains Wales to secure a direct path to Manchester Airport at the cost of a path between Manchester Piccadilly and the airport.
In January the matter was raised in Parliament in a written question by Ian Lucas MP. The reply from the Under-Secretary for Transport was:
Last month, the Department wrote to the ORR in connection with the application from Arriva Trains Wales (ATW) for additional train paths to and from Manchester Airport. The letter acknowledged that the ATW proposal offered passenger benefits but also noted that, on conclusion of the Northern and TPE franchise competitions, there were likely to be other competing pressures for train paths on the route between central Manchester and the Airport. The purpose of the letter was to draw ORR’s attention to the likelihood of such pressures emerging, and to observe that ATW’s application should be considered alongside the proposals from the successful Northern and TPE bidders to ensure that maximum passenger benefit is obtained from the train paths available.
Meanwhile, except at the crack of dawn and late at night, valuable Class 175s (and crews) will continue to while away 50 minutes in Mayfield loop each time they arrive at Manchester, as the timetable was designed some years ago on the assumption that they would be able to go to the Airport.

Elsewhere, in the confusing world of legal operations, even though heritage objector Mr Whitby has been given leave to appeal against the previous court decision not to allow him to appeal against its decision to allow work on the 'Ordsall Chord' to continue as planned by Network Rail (have we got that right?), some preparatory work on the ground has already begun.

Thanks to Mike Stone for assistance with this piece.

On the Welsh Highland - pictures by Peter Basterfield

The Welsh Highland line from Porthmadog to Caernarfon is without doubt one of Britain's most scenic journeys, as these pictures from 3 March illustrate.

Departure from Beddgelert, with two visiting locos from the Ffestiniog line in charge of the train.

In the Aberglaslyn pass.

Churnet Valley Gala - report by Vince Chadwick

The Churnet Valley Railway Steam Gala on 27 and 28 February proved to be a great weekend. We enjoyed dry weather and even some sunshine! Lots of passengers visited, and everything worked a treat - no loco or infrastructure failures, just a coach that had to be taken off the Ipstones set on Sunday setting the schedule back half an hour, most of which was made up by end of day. And not a diesel in sight all weekend - a true steam gala. In addition to the Valley line, the steeply-graded Ipstones line - a part of the Cauldon Low branch currently only used a few times a year - was in traffic, as seen above with GWR 0-6-2T 5619 makiing smoke. Picture by Dave Gibson.

Portrait of 5619 at Cheddleton (Barry Knapper).

Also in steam was US-built wartime S160 2-8-0 6046. Above, the first train of the Gala leaves
Consall for Froghall on Saturday morning as view from the signalbox (Vince Chadwick).  6046 is on the rear of the train, Polish tank 2944 Hotspur on the front. The train has brought the combined staff to Consall which the signalman has just separated into the tokens for the Consall - Leekbrook section (which has been inserted into the Tyers Machine) and the Consall - Froghall section (which 'Hotspur' is carrying), and used them to 'switch in' Consall box.

The enabler for the weekend's intensive service, The Tyers Electric Key Token Machine. This is the one in Consall box, while its partner is in Cheddleton box, and they control the Leekbrook to Consall section. Only one token can be removed from either machine at a time (not both), and
it's not until that token has been replaced into either machine that another can be removed. Since the train crew needs to be in possession of a token to enter the section, this ensures that only one train can ever be in the section at any time. The same system is still in use at a few places on the Network Rail network, notably on the Conwy Valley line.

6046 arriving at Consall on 28 February alongside the Cauldon canal (Frank Richards). Frank has also created a lovely video of the event, which can be viewed on YouTube.

Mind the steps

The steps from platform 4-7 to the footbridge at Chester have been taken up on 6 March, it looks like the framework was rotten. Note the colection of curious objects revelaed below. Picture by 40021Lusitainia.

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