14 March 2016
Link to this issue
Contributions and comments are encouraged: see the Contributions Page
This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived
issue. For full information visit our Calendar page.
Friday 18 March
Society NW Branch Railway Images, Thirty Miles around
Warrington, Barrie Rushton. Note change of date.
Monday 21 March RCTS:
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
Circle Denbigh Film Club. Railway Enthusiasts Film Night. A night
nostalgia and fun with a selection of films old and new to end our
season in great style.
Tuesday 5 April North
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
Monday 11 April 2016 Wrexham
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
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
Friday 29 April Great
Branch A tribute to Tom Lewis,
Railway cameraman 1947-1970, Paul Shackcloth.
Tuesday 3 May North Wales
Circle AGM and Photographic Competition.
Thursday 12 May Llandudno
Valley Railway Society Ray Bailey: Steam into
Preserved 37 025 Inverness TMD, now registered for main
line operation, passes Nantwich on the way from Barry to Crewe, 11
March. Picture by Andrew Vinten.
67 002 has started work on the Arriva 'Manchester diagram'
for the first (?) time. Mark Youdan photographed it on 10 March at
Newton-le-Willows working the 16:50 Manchester Piccadilly to Llandudno.
Sunday morning at Abergele, 13 March. 175 107 calls with train
1V90, 10:20 Holyhead - Cardiff (Greg Mape). We recently stumbled
across an interesting set of old pictures of the station on the RMWeb
Navigation Road on 10 March. 67 024 on route learning duties
from Wigan to Wakefield for the forthcoming domestic waste traffic to
Wilton, chasing Deansgate-bound tram 3019 just pulling out of the
station (Greg Mape). This section of Metrolink remains under the
control of Network Rail's Deansgate Junction signallers; trams numbered
higher than 3060 are not fitted with the older signalling system used
on this section and cannot work Altrincham services; current orders
take the fleet up to 120, of which 112 have so far been delivered.
Colas Rail tamper DR 73108 in Rhyl Engineers' sidings on 3
March.Tamping work was being carried out near Prestatyn. (picture by 40025Lusitania).
A pair of 66s negotiate the Skelton Junction - Deansgate Junction
curve with a stone train on 7 March (Greg Mape). From 1 March,
DB Schenker UK, operator of these locos, is now to be known as DB Cargo UK
- these locos have not yet caught up with the previous change from EWS.
Letter from West Coast Railways
It's curious how West Coast Railway Company publicity continues to
appear as though all is normal, even though the company is currently
prohibited from running any trains. Here's a recent missive sent to
Re: Hooton to Portsmouth 16 March 2016. Due to
insufficient numbers of passengers interested in this trip we have had
no choice but to cancel it. We believe this is likely due to the
continuing inclement UK weather. We are looking to reschedule the trip
for later in the year, but as yet no dates have been made available. A
full refund of monies paid on each booking will be made. These refunds
will be completed by Monday 14 March 2016.
Could it be that inclement weather was not the only reason for the lack
We are compiling a waiting list for passengers who would like to travel
on this trip later in the year. Please contact us on the above if you
would like to register an interest in this.
Class 37 thoughts - by Charlie Hulme
Inspired by our recent mention of the 'Irish Mancunian' service, Ken
Robinson sends this marvellous picture of 37 407 Loch
Long leaving the Britannia Bridge with train 1J44, the 13:30
Holyhead - Manchester Victoria on Saturday 21 August 1993. This was the
return working of 1D37, 09:50 Manchester Victoria - Holyhead;
connection was made at Holyhead with ferries to and from Ireland, so
Regional Railways coined the title 'Irish Mancunian' for that pair of
trains - not a historic name, but a brand-new one for a train, although
a common local term for the many Irish migrant families living in the
The headboard looks like the work of local North Wales staff: can
anyone tell us its history?
The service was later altered to start from Stockport and run via
Manchester Piccadilly, losing its title when the Class 175s took over.
For a while under Arriva's obsession with a 'clock-face' pattern
timetable there was no direct Manchester - Holyhead train at all, but
today it is back - sadly minus name - loco-hauled at 09:50 from
Manchester, albeit from Piccadilly rather than Victoria ... although
there are suggestions that North Wales trains might return to 'Vic' in
The carriages are all in Regional Railways livery, although the loco
still carries the name from its days in the Highlands, and the
so-called 'Mainline' livery dating which was designed for (I think)
locos which were mainly for freight but could be used on passenger
duty. It differed from Inter-City livery by not having a white roof. At
the time these Crewe-based 37/4s were used on North Wales trains ans
also the 'Club Trains' which ran from Southport and Blackpool in the
morning peak and back in the evening. 37 407 never received Regional
Railways livery, but was repainted in 'Railfreight Triple Grey' later
embellished with Transrail's 'Big T' logo during the pre-privatisation
phase. In February 1995 it was re-named 'Blackpool Tower'. Sources
differ on where the unveiling took place; was it Blackpool or London
Euston, or both?
In 1997 it was transferred away to other parts of the country. Its
final duties were on the Cardiff - Rhymney line passenger services
until February 2002, after which it languished in various EWS depots,
still in grey livery, until sold (with 37 424) in 2007 to a
preservationist and moved to the Churnet Valley line where it continued
to languish - see this
picture from 2012. Salvation came in the shape of DRS who, having
won passenger contracts in Cumbria and East Anglia, decided to increase
their Class 37/4 fleet, as the sub-type is fitted with electric supply
for train heating and lighting. Along with 37 424, it was moved by road
to the RVEL works in Derby for a full overhaul which is in progress at
the time of writing. 37 403 and 413, which had been preserved at the
Bo'ness and Kinneil line, have also been bought by DRS.
Below is a summary of the situation of the surviving Class 37/4s:
37 401 - Mary Queen of Scots DRS fleet
37 402 - Stephen Middlemore DRS fleet
37 403 - On hire to DRS, under overhaul
37 405 - in service with DRS (currently out of traffic)
37 407 - DRS under overhaul
37 409 - Lord Hinton - DRS fleet
37 413 - DRS stored at RVEL
37 418 - at the East Lancashire Railway, only 37/4 now in preservation
37 419 - DRS fleet
37 421 - Colas Rail fleet
37 422 - DRS fleet
37 423 - Spirit of the Lakes - DRS fleet
37 424 - DRS under overhaul
37 425 - Sir Robert McAlpine / Concrete Bob DRS fleet
The engineers who created them by rebuilding Class 37s back in 1985-86
must be pleased to see 12 of the original 31 examples still needed by
main line operators in 2016. All the class were given 'BR large logo
blue' livery on rebuilding, and in an interesting development, DRS
appear to have decided to apply that colour scheme to all of them. 37
401 was done while on loan to the Bo'ness line, 37 402 has recently
entered traffic in this style, and we understand 37 403 has also been
given the heritage look.
As many people have pointed out, however, the large numbers are being
applied to the loco sides in a typeface (Arial?) different from the
original 'Rail Alphabet' as custom-designed for British Rail back in
the 1960s. It seems that every time a rail company decides to go
for a 'heritage' rail blue look, this detail is missed. The most
obvious difference is that the '7' should have a straight down-stroke.
Virgin trains got it 'wrong' with 47 847, and Arriva Trains Wales with
37 425, although 47 847 at least was corrected. (Late news - 37 402's
numbers have now been corrected at DRS Kingmoor depot. Thanks to Richard
Jones for this info.)
Above, preserved 37 025 Inverness TMD shows off the
accurate version, and the correct space between the 37 and 025,
at Bury last summer. The black nameplate looks odd, as blue locos
usually had red backgrounds, but it is authentic, as a picture
Flickr shows ... and also proves that British Rail used
Helvetica numbers on this loco so the preservationists are 'wrong'!
Arriva's first effort using Helvetica - seen at Blaenau Ffestiniog in
Looking back at Chester West - with Anthony Robinson
Chester West in summer 1996 (above). The old Great Western Railway loco
shed is being treated to a re-roofing. For a short while this resulted
in a gaudy blue corrugated affair ill-suited to its G.W. architecture.
The intention seems to have been to fit it out it as a depot for the
new Class 175 units, but the project was abandoned and soon afterwards
the building was demolished completely and replaced by the
edifice pictures below.
A panoramic view taken from the old Cheshire Lines bridge showing the
ex-G.W. shed and yard now weed-strewn. Alongside is the 1957-built
diesel multiple unit shed which replaced a former LNWR building. When
the larger North Western shed (Chester Midland) opened, around 1890,
the G.W took over the whole of this site until conversion to
dieselisation closed the Western Region steam shed in 1960.
Summer 1999, and construction of the new Alstom servicing facility well
advanced. This depot now handles all servicing of the Class 175
'Coradia' units that have all but taken over Arriva's North Wales
November 1999, and another view from the Cheshire Lines bridge, now
carrying a cycleway, shows the yard end of the depot with a Merseyrail
Engineering Dept. 'de-icier' train heading into Chester station.
The purpose of this unit is to deposit anti-freeze on the conductor
rail prior to an expected sharp frost.
Editor's note: The train is formed two former North London Line Class
501 cars sandwiching a former Southern Region Electro-diesel Class 73
loco, of which several were transferred to Merseyrail. The loco shown
is one of the two - 73 001 and 73 006 - which gained the yellow
Merseyrail colours. 73 001 is now preserved on the East Lancashire
Railway; it will be performing at the ELR 'Small Engines weekend'
on 16-17 April. 73 006, which was also sold for
preservation, was purchased by GB Railfreight in 2014 and received a
drastic rebuild into 73 967, for use on the Highland portions of
the Caledonian Sleeper service.
The present-day scene on 27 February 2016, with 507 027
departing for Liverpool. No Class 175s in view: the fleet is kept very
busy during the day.
Arriva Trains Wales dispute settled
The Daily Post reports that drivers in the ASLEF union has now
voted to accept a new pay and conditions offer from Arriva. Talks
have broken down on a number of occasions and led to a 24 strike action
on January 4 that wiped out train services across the region. An ASLEF
spokesman said: 'ASLEF drivers on Arriva Trains Wales have voted to
accept a revised package offered by the company. The vote was Yes 59%
and No 41% on an 82% turnout.'
Stock surprises at Stafford - report by David Parry
On Thursday 3 March, I spent a few hours at Stafford with the intention
of photographing freight traffic, which turned out to be rather more
scarce than I had expected. However, the trip had its
compensations, amongst them some interesting empty stock movements.
Firstly, I was surprised at about 1240 when I saw, in place of an
expected Royal Mail train, a different type of emu approaching, red,
but with gangway connections. This turned out to be a pair
of new Gatwick Express units presumably on a test run, 387 214
They returned at about 14:30, this time on the up fast line, 387 213
in the lead, having reversed at Crewe.
Just before I was about to leave, I was tipped off that the two Network
Rail class 73 conversions were approaching from the Crewe direction,
passing with 73 951 leading at about 14:55.
The reverse shot of 73 952 makes it clearer that the two
coaches between the electro-diesels are Driving Van Trailers. I
understand the role of these locos and vehicles will be network
monitoring. [The jpeg picture compression algorithm is not kind to
colours of this nature.]
One movement that I certainly had not expected to see was Arriva unit 150
236 carrying destination indications for Bidston at one end and
Wrexham General at the other. I assume the unit was
returning from Cardiff Canton to Wrexham following maintenance, but the
route is intriguing...
Addendum - Charles Allen writes: 'ATW have been carrying out
some train crew training runs with a 150 running empty stock from
Chester to Birmingham, covering the lines through Bescot, Soho and
Aston in order to train and maintain route knowledge for Drivers and
Guards for diversions from the usual route through Smethwick.'
Portrait of Helsby
Helsby station has won a number of 'Best Kept Station' awards. Charles
Allen offers a selection of portraits of the place. Above, 175
101 calls on a Manchester - North Wales service.
Panorama showing the four platforms, footbridge, and Helsby Junction
175 108 heading for Manchester.
Accurately-measured gradient on a concrete-cast sign.
Catering for avian visitors.
The work of local volunteers shows up in the station gardens. Helsby is
fortunate in having (for now) a working signalbox, a human presence
which deters any anti-social behaviour.
The station buildings in Jacobean style using local red sandstone are
an adornment to the station; now the LNWR standard signalbox with its
21st-century security precaution.
Goodbye to the Bangor Railway Institute
Despite protests and petitions, the historic Bangor Railway Institute
had now been demolished. Jim Johnson photographed the work
under way on 3 March.
Some interesting bricks could be found in the rubble. Above, one
bearing the name of Rhydymwyn, a village mentioned in out last issue.
Did their products to travel to Bangor by rail?
Remains of the abandoned works of the Ruby Brick Co. could still
be seen in recent times.
Brick-making in Ruabon, especially of the hard terra-cotta type was
once a major industry. The Monk and Newell works closed in the 1920s
and the site was later used for housing ('Newell Drive') and the
adjacent flooded clay pit (Monk's Pool) is now used by a local angling
If you are interested in named bricks, out contributor Dave Sallery's
Bricks - history at your feet" is the place to start.
home page | Archive | Previous Notice Board