Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

21 March 2016

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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    

67 002 brings the 09:50 Manchester - Holyhead through Llanfair PG, 15 March. Picture by Richard Fleckney.

Great Malvern to Criccieth, 18 March - with Richard Putley

Having won a ticket to an event at the former Butlin's Pen-y-chain, I thought this was a perfect excuse for a ride on the Cambrian Coast line. So on Friday 18 March  I set off from Great Malvern on the 09:45 to Hereford. Despite dire warnings on the monitor screens that trains were delayed due to 'signalling problems at Worcester' it was only a couple of minutes late. A punctual arrival at Hereford gave me plenty of time to catch the 10:28 to Holyhead, which I took as far as Shrewsbury. It was formed by 3-car class 175 115.

Here we arrived into Platform 3 (above), the first time I've been on a train from Hereford that has done this. Crossing through the subway to main island platform I saw that the 11:29 to Aberystwyth and Pwllheli was due to depart from Platform 4. Meanwhile two Arriva Wales class 158s were in Platform 5 which was shown as a train to Birmingham International.

I was puzzled when a single Arriva Wales class 158 - 158 820 - arrived on Platform 4, having come in from the Aberystwyth direction. Normally these trains reverse at Shrewsbury and then go on to Birmingham International. So I was expecting our train to arrive from the Birmingham direction. It turned out that Arriva Wales had decided to swap trains round. So we had to wait while all the passengers for the Birmingham line from 158 820 alighted and walked across to Platform 5 and boarded the train waiting there. As it was full and standing this took some time! We were then told that 158 820 would go through to Pwllheli; passengers for Borth and Aberystwyth would have to change at Machynlleth.

These shenanigans at Shrewsbury meant we departed 10 minutes late. But by Newtown we were on time. As we journeyed on I saw evidence of recent track relaying with the old track panels dumped alongside. We crossed an Up Train at Talerddig, then at Machynlleth we ran in under caution. Passengers for Aberystwyth were told that another train was waiting at the far end of the same platform for them. This meant the majority of people aboard had to alight but I could stay in my window seat I had secured at Shrewsbury.

By now the skies had cleared and it was a lovely day. We departed Machynlleth on time at 12:54 so I could relax and enjoy the ride. We passed an up train at Tywyn and continued on. At Harlech we had a booked 10 minute wait which gave me a chance to take a few pictures. 158 841 arrived on an up train and loads of school children joined our train. Departure was again on time at 14:31 and arrival at Criccieth (above) was too.

As soon as I'd checked in to my hotel, I went straight out determined to enjoy the good weather. I photographed 158 820 returning on the 15:50  departure from Criccieth to Birmingham International. Then I caught the Number 3 bus into Porthmadog where I walked over to the Ffestiniog Railway Station and along the cob.

From the Cob I photographed another class 158 on the next Down Train; in the distance there appeared to be a little snow on the top of Snowdon.

I had not expected to see any trains on the Ffestiniog Railway. But after dining in Spooner's Bar at their station, I was surprised to hear the warning siren sounding. This indicated that the road barrier which stop traffic crossing the section of Porthmadog High Street which the Welsh
Highland Railway run through. A group of people sat next to me, who I think were FR employees told me a light engine was coming from Dinas to pull next morning's train to Caernarfon on the Welsh Highland. It turned out to be the Blue Beyer-Garratt, 87,  rounding off a thoroughly enjoyable day.

Llandudno Adopted - report by Larry Davies

A group of members of the Llandudno & Conwy Valley Railway Society who have been accepted by Arriva Trains Wales  as the 'Station Adoption' group for Llandudno Station, had their first meeting there on 18 March, and were briefed on safety and other issues by Ben Davies and Karen Kinder from the Company.  

A number of interesting projects were discussed including the restoration of a steam era seat from the town's station.  Priority will be given to updating, refreshing and restocking the floral planters in readiness for a celebration in June where the station will play its part in the commemoration of the Queen's 90th birthday.

On the Cambrian Coast

A class 158 unit leaves Barmouth on 10 February heading for Machynlleth (Ian Wright). For a look at the Cambrian line in a 'golden era' visit the film 'Cambrian Coast' on the British Film Institute website. Richard W. Jones writes: 'A film made for the Great Western Railway Company to encourage people to discover - via the train - that "England isn't the only country in the British Isles". "Dear old Wales" is cast as the hospitable purveyor of wholesome holidays, with a never-ending supply of "smooth sands, sparkling seas, sunshine and good clean air" for those who are first seen crowding onto a train at Paddington Station in London. Dukedogs galore as well.'

For those who would like to enjoy the trip today, Dave Sallery has updated his Cambrian Rail Cruise website with this summer's times and fares for the circular trip via the North Wales and Cambrian Coasts using the Ffestiniog Railway as a link. Doing the circuit is a good day out, and there is a special ticket available to do it, but each year Dave has to work hard to suggest practical timings. This year the 'clockwise' route seems the best, although it involves some quite early starts and a 12-minute connection at Blaenau Ffestiniog; Dave is always very interested to hear travellers' experiences of the journey; we'd welcome them here, too.


Blaenau Ffestiniog station on the morning of 15 March, with 150 280 awaiting departure for Llandudno, and tamper DR73502 of the Trackwork company, on duty for the post-floor repairs to the track on the branch (Eurwyn McMahon). In view of the location, a security man was in attendance to deter anyone from tampering (!) with the machine.

As usual, Arriva used the 'WAG Express' stock to form an additional service to Cardiff for
the Six Nations rugby on 19 March.  67 001 is seen leading train 1V74, 05:45 from Holyhead to Cardiff at Rhosrobin, the summit of the 1 in 82 'Gresford bank' (John Cowlishaw).

This picture from 21 February by Chris Coxon shows Chester-bound 508 141 passing the remnants of the lost station of Upton-by-Chester. The former Scout Hut, which can be seen in some of the pictures on the Disused Stations website, has been demolished and relocated to a new purpose-built building on the nearby Upton Dene Development. The former Scout Hut site is now being cleared, in advance of Morris Homes building detached houses there.

Upton-by-Chester station had a very short life, as it did not open until 1939 as Upton-by-Chester Halt, and closed in 1984.  Bache station, a short distance away, and visible in the distance in the picture, replaced it.

66 007 is powering as it starts the descent of Gresford Bank on 20 March with the early
0930 from Bromfield (Ludlow) to Crewe Basford Hall Sidings ballast working (John Cowlishaw).
It started 135 minutes early and after a stop at Sutton Bridge Junction passed Wrexham 40 early, leaving some would-be watchers still at home.

Liverpool upgrade

A Network Rail press release details the '340m railway upgrade planned for Liverpool City Region'. Of special interest is this section:
New Liverpool to Chester service the re-opening of the Halton Curve: The full business case for the scheme is expected to be considered by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority at its meeting in April. If approved, work is expected to begin in June 2017 and be completed by May 2018.

It is proposed that a new service between Liverpool and Chester, serving Liverpool Lime Street, Liverpool John Lennon Airport, Runcorn, Frodsham and Helsby will be created through the re signalling and upgrading of existing single direction track  on the Halton Curve. The existing line, which currently only runs one way passenger services in the summer, will be upgraded to provide a 2 way hourly service with connections to North Wales in the future. The scheme is supported by Growth Deal funding to Merseytravel.
The implication seems to be that the Halton line will remain single track, although maybe it's just badly written. Certainly it is badly in need of a few hyphens.

Rail grinder

A Loram rail-grinding train has been at work on the Coast line; it was stabled at Rhyl engineers' sidings on 16 March when photographed from a passing train by Eurwyn McMahon.

Maintenance operations in progress (Roly High).

Behind these covers are the grinding wheels which smooth the surface of the rail, reducing noise and also inhibiting crack formation (Roly High).

Matters arising from last week's issue

Ivor Bufton writes: The 'Irish Mancunian' headboard was my creation and was fitted with a lamp bracket from an old BR tail lamp, so was securely attached to the locomotive (tightened with a spanner I carried with me!) - probably the reason the train crew were always happy to allow the headboard to be fitted to a locomotive.

Richard W. Jones wrote with some interesting points about the 'large logo' livery and its typeface, which we added to our original item. Photographs of 37 025 in British Rail days show that it did indeed have a black background (correct for the 'railfreight' livery) to its nameplate, as preserved, and also had 'incorrect' Helvetica numbers, so the preserved loco with its 'correct' numbers is 'wrong'. It also had a rather inaccurate form of the BR 'double arrow.'  Confusing.

Next, the Class 150 mysteriously pictured at Stafford.  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.'

Charles also appends some stills from a video taken from the back of 150 262 on Tuesday 8 March passing Norton Bridge, showing some of the track layout changes taking place there. The first (above) shows the new trackwork with the new Down Slow line parting on the right.

Further on, the existing Norton Bridge Junction.

And the new bridge carrying the Stoke lines over.

And the Down Slow coming back in on the right.  Read about the project on the Network Rail site

Steam season at Llangollen- report by George Jones

Saturday 19 March and the season of daily steam operations began on the Llangollen Railway and are set to continue through to 10 April - the last day of the spring steam gala. 2-6-2T 5199, rostered on the first train, 10:40 from Llangollen, was seen (above) from the platform end entering Corwen East running a little late.

Later it was seen departing over the crossing at Glyndyfrdwy, where it had waited for the Wickham class 109 railcar to come through on a driver experience session.

The railcar returned and was seen waiting for the token to depart back to Llangollen, as viewed from the signalbox.

And on the next passenger service, 1300 ex Llangollen, 5199 was seen departing the west end of Glyndyfrdwy as viewed from the 'Barmouth South' signal box.

Here members of the Llangollen Railway Youth Group have accepted the challenge of restoring the interior of the preserved 'box and are seen assembled with their supervisor. (Picture taken with permission.) The members come from various parts of North East Wales and find the introduction to the Llangollen Railway beneficial in furthering their interest in railways and the work experience it provides in developing skills.

In better weather on Sunday 20 March 5199 was seen running into Berwyn with the 13:00 from Llangollen.

A View from the Lineside - report by Peter Dickinson

Over the winter period, a large amount of work has been going on at the Llangollen Railway to manage the vegetation growing along the lineside. This is a regular but often 'behind the scenes' part of railway operations and enables the travelling public to see the superb countryside through which the railway runs instead of a green corridor.
A dedicated group of volunteers have cleared the shrubs, trees and overhanging branches from both ends of Berwyn Tunnel, making the approaches to it much lighter and drier. The immediate benefit for photographers is that the view from the dedicated Lineside Viewing Area (opened in 2015) at the eastern end of the tunnel has been much improved.

Between 10 and 13 March, a shredder was hired in to tackle the lineside between Berwyn station and the tunnel, making light work of the vegetation growing on the embankments. This has dramatically improved the view from the train of the Horseshoe Falls and the Llantysilio mountains, whilst restoring the lineside back to its original Great Western and British Railways condition.

On the Somerset and Dorset - with John Hobbs

It's fifty years since the legendary Somerset & Dorset line closed; let's divert for a moment on to the route of the old 'Pines Express' and its branches.

This was one of the more cruel closures of the Beeching era, the line being a 'thorn in the side' of the Western Region's endeavours to rid itself of steam traction. The scene above shows the iconic Bath Green Park terminus, today a Sainsburys Supermarket, but at least it still exists. Class 4 4-6-0 75073 heads the 16:33 to Templecombe while 'Peak' D45 is in charge of the 13.10 Bournemouth West to Bristol on 28 July 1965.

Another famous location, Evercreech Junction, with Class 5 4-6-0 73051 pulling in with the 15:40 Bournemouth West to Bath on the same date. Notice the large pile of mail on the trolley, a sight no longer seen, which just shows how important the  S & D was to the local community at the time.

Another well known S & D location, Highbridge.  41291 is on the 19:10 Highbridge to Evercreech Junction, while in the background a sister loco rests, having arrived with the 18.05 Evercreech Junction to Highbridge, again on the 28 July 1965.

Now famous but at this time mainly known for its Strawberry crop, hence the provision of a large van, Ivatt Class 2 2-6-2T 41291 pauses to load the strawberries while working with the 19:10 Highbridge to Evercreech Junction.

At Templecombe  BR Class 4 2-6-4T 80043 with the 07:35 Templecombe to Bournemouth West on 29 July 1965. This was the junction with the Salisbury to Exeter main line; 80043 will set back,  with 80037 which is at the far end of the train leading to Templecombe No.2 Junction, where the train will reverse again before passing under the Southern Region main line and heading for Bournemouth.

Later, 80043 rests at Blandford Forum while working the 07.35 Templecombe to Bournemouth.

Somerset and Dorset lives on - report by Richard Putley

On 6 March 1966 the much loved Somerset and Dorset from Bath to  Bournemouth was closed. This line was much loved by railway enthusiasts due to the variety motive power that used it. Trains were often double headed due to the steep gradients. To mark the 50th anniversary of this sad occasion a number of S & D themed galas have been staged. At Midsomer Norton station the S & D Heritage Trust have relaid about a mile of track on the old S & D line.

On the weekend of 27 / 28 February they had a gala featuring LMS 'Jinty' 0-6-0T 47406, hired in the from the Great Central Railway, and newly restored Sentinel 0-4-0 7109 which is identical to two BR owned examples, 47190/1 which used to work here. Thus a typical scene was reproduced.

On 5-6 March it was the turn of the West Somerset Railway to host its S & D themed weekend with a galaxy of guest locos. From the Great Central Railway these include heavy freight power in the shape of 8F 2-8-0 48624 (above) ...

... and 9F 2-10-0 92214.

The Midland Railway Centre provided former S & D 2-8-0 53809.

Also present were Battle of Britain Pacifics 34053 Sir Keith Park (rebuilt) and 34070 Manston (unrebuilt) seen above double-heading at Blue Anchor.

Other visitors included LMS 4F 0-6-0 44422, seen near Doniford ...

...  and BR 4 2-6-4T 80043, seen at Watchet.

And finally ...

Another was to travel S & D is the remarkable Two Tunnels Greenway near Bath, which includes the 1829-yard Combe Down tunnel, the longest cycling and walking tunnel in the UK, seen above in 2013 (Joanna Hulme).

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