Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

04 April 2016

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April 2016

Tuesday 5 April North Wales Railway Circle Change of Speaker: 'Little and Large' with Peter Basterfield

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 Recollections.  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    

158 837 powers through on the Down Fast with the ex 11.15 Birmingham New Street to Holyhead. 30 March. Picture by Roly High.

Main Line Steam returns

The problems of West Coast Railways now seem to have been resolved, allowing 45699 Galatea to perform on the 'Cathedrals Express' from London to Chester on 2 April.  Robert Meredith photographed the 'Jubilee' passing over the Shropshire Union Canal at Nantwich.

The itinerary and haulage of the train were considerably different from what had been advertised previously.  The loco was 45699 instead of 34067 Tangmere, and the train was brought as far as Crewe by a two diesel locos rather than running steam-hauled from London.  47 245 was detached at Crewe and ran direct to Chester where it stabled in the parcels bay (above). Picture by Roly High.

From Crewe the train ran steam-hauled to Shrewsbury and reversed using the triangle of lines there - the passengers reportedly being required to leave the train during this operation - before heading to Chester (above) via Wrexham.

47 580 County of Essex remained on the other end of the train, assisting with the reversing move at Shrewsbury and bring up the rear into Chester (above).

47 245 was re-attached in place of the steam loco, which headed home to Carnforth (Roly High). The return train ran direct via Crewe to London hauled by 47 245 throughout.  Lichfield had been advertised as a stop for anyone wishing to visit the Cathedral there; anyone taking that option have been expecting steam haulage northbound, but as it happened they'd have seen no steam at all.

Chester Carriage Shed - report by Chris Coxon

A new public space at Chester station was opened by the leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council Samantha Dixon on  31 March. 'Chester Carriage Shed' is intended to provide commuters, residents and visitors with a new outdoor space. The picture above shows the refurbished entrance with the new City Place building in the background.

The Tradesmen's Entrance to The Queen Hotel, a lovely retained feature, and the  'City Place' office building.  But what the Station needs is a close by, built for purpose, adequate Car Parking facility, not another office, we have plenty empty already!

Public Launch Event in the Carriage Shed space on 2 April.

Interesting, and attractive Granite Benches ...

...  although no doubt some will carp about historical inaccuracies.

67s on the Manchester

We asked whether 67 002 - photographed (above) at Aberlete on 30 March - had appeared on Arriva's Manchester trains before 3 March 2016 when it began its current stint.   The answer is no, as shown by the table below kindly compiled for us by a reader:
67 001    15/12/2014  -  20/02/2015
67 020    23/02/2015  -  24/02/2015
67 001    02/03/2015  -  29/05/2015
67 022    04/06/2015  -  07/08/2015
67 014    10/08/2015  -  23/10/2015
67 001    26/10/2015  -  11/12/2015
67 014    14/12/2015  -  04/02/2016
67 016    05/02/2016  -  10/02/2016
67 001    11/02/2016  -  03/03/2016
67 002    08/03/2016 -

A signalbox enthusiast, perhaps? (Roly High).

On 30 March, 67 002 has arrived at Llandudno at 19:02 with train 1D30, 16:50 from Manchester, as 150 255 prepares to leave at 19:06 with 2D19, the last train of the day to Blaenau Ffestiniog (Eurwyn McMahon).

67 002 has, of course, appeared a number of times on the Holyhead - Cardiff 'Premier Express'  and the various specials which use the same stock. It is one of three locos (001-003) painted specially for Arriva. The loco-hauled set then forms the 19:34 to Crewe.

Rockcliffe Hall signalbox history - by Alan Roberts

In answer to the query in the North Wales Coast Railway web site regarding Rockcliffe Hall signal box. There was indeed a signal box there before the 1950s one.
The first known hut controlling signals at Rockcliffe Hall opened in July 1886 and lasted until c.July 1916. It had 4 levers. The second one opened on the down side of the line c.July 1916. Again it was a hut with 6 levers controlling signals to split the section between Connah's Quay and Pentre (near Flint) and opened on Summer Saturdays only. It closed on 20 December 1953.

A new signal box opened on the same day, built to a BR (M) 'Type 14' all-brick design similar to the box at Penmaenmawr. It was needed in conjunction with the opening of the new Power Station at Connah's Quay and had a total of 30 levers.

The signal box was closed on 26 February 1995 and demolished to make way for the new diverted A548 road bridge over the railway. It was replaced by the current portakabin style box with a new panel. The portakabin was extended in January 2005 to accommodate a relay room in conjunction with signalling alterations carried out with the abolition of Sandycroft and Mold Junction signal boxes.

On the CME - with Stephen Hughes

Feeling the need for a bit of main line running after a long wet winter, I booked on 2 April's 'Cumbrian Mountain Express' which ran as planned,  West Coast Railways having been restored to mainline running. The disruption to the programme caused by WCR's suspension and the extended closure of the Settle & Carlisle line north of Appleby due to a landslip meant that the itinerary was out and back over Shap, with 46229 Duchess of Hamilton taking over from 86 259 Les Ross at Carnforth and returning the train to Crewe in the evening where the '86' would return to Euston.

The 'Duchess' performed comfortably enough, although a slow ascent to Grayrigg necessitated a stop in the loop and then Shap was breasted at a reasonable 31 mph. Sustained running in the low 70s took us to Carlisle, where the return was delayed by over an hour due to 'signalling issues'; apparently local 'control' ordered the stock to be removed from the platform despite Network Rail having previously stated that it could remain. Consequent shunting and awaiting a path led to a departure time some 75 minutes late which made me fear a missed connection at Crewe for Bangor.

I needn't have worried, though, as some spirited running enabled me to catch the Voyager to Chester with a few minutes to spare. If these journeys are all about nostalgia (and I don't travel often enough to feel blasé about them) then occasionally there can be supplementary occurrences on such trips that make the day feel even more nostalgic. On this day there were three such events.

Firstly, having been deposited at Crewe on time by my Voyager from Bangor I immediately noticed a pair of 47's on another excursion on platform 12, and in the distance at the north end of the station was a familiar outline of a stationary steam locomotive with the tell-tale wisps of smoke and steam. How well I remember standing on station platforms in the mid 1960's with my father, willing the engine to move so that I could get it's number (in those days, it seemed, it invariably didn't happen) but today it did, and 'Jubilee' 45699 Galatea moved into the vacated platform 12 in preparation for railtour duty.

Secondly, on the return from Carlisle, our train stopped in Preston to set down , and while some of the passengers awaiting their Pendolino on Platform 4 were still looking at the train with some surprise, along came Galatea with her support coach in the opposite direction! A Duchess and a Jubilee at Preston simultaneously? Must have been a timewarp! ... and lastly, having returned to Crewe with a few minutes to spare and noticed that the Voyager to Bangor was a couple of minutes late, I wandered  along platform 11 to take one last photograph of the 'Duchess' as she left the train on the adjacent platform. To my surprise, not only was the Class 86 waiting in the bay to take the train back to Euston, but on the rear of an empty stock working (hauled by a 66) was another class 86 - 86 101. It does seem many years since I last noticed two blue electric locos both working at Crewe. (I subsequently read that this was a football special working to Liverpool to pick up Tottenham supporters). All in all, a good day out.

Who knows, in 50 years time people will be flocking to travel on a historic eleven-coach Pendolino to Carlisle (but, on the other hand, perhaps not.)


Colas tamper DR 73910 crosses Cefn Viaduct at 13:10 on 31 March with a movement from Canton Vale sidings to Warrington Arpley. The viaduct carries the Shrewsbury to Chester line over the Dee Valley; the picture was taken from Pontcysyllte Aqueduct which is a World Heritage site (Martin Evans).

66 124 approaches Johnstown footbridge with the 6V75 Dee Marsh to Margam empty steel working at 10:11 on 4 April. Obviously these workings will be in jeopardy unless the issues surrounding the sale of British Tata Steel operations, which include both Port Talbot steelworks and the plant at Shotton, are resolved. Picture by Martin Evans.

A Talyllyn Railway  'driver experience' train at Abergynolwyn, 4 April with loco Peter Sam. (Ian Wright).

Blue-roofed 142 009 passes Baguley heading from Chester to Manchester on 31 March, the last day of the Northern Rail franchise  (Greg Mape). Incomers Arriva have made great play of their intention to scrap all these unpopular units, and buy new, better ones. However the new ones will not be seen on services like this, being reserved for a new network of 'Northern Connect' semi-fasts between cities.

Later, in a hail shower, 67 003 passes Baguley on a DB route-learning run for the planned domestic refuse trains from Merseyside (Greg Mape).

'Northern Belle' power appeared on the Valley Flasks on 29 March. Above, 57 312 and 57 305 pass Beeches Farm bridge (Bob Greenhalgh).

And again on 31 March: Tim Rogers photographed Northern Princess and Solway Princess passing Mostyn 47 minutes early with 6K41 14:58 Valley Nuclear Electric to Crewe Coal Sidings (DRS) 47 mins early. The consist was FNA wagons 550027 and 550038.

The refurbished footbridge at Bagillt. The one at Mostyn is also back in place, however it was still not available to use as of 29 March (Tim Rogers).

The view from the bridge on 29 March, with 175 114 on 1H90 14:40 Llandudno to Manchester Piccadilly (Tim Rogers).

Scruffy-looking 60 085 passes Green Lane crossing with the logs for Chirk, 29 March (Bob Greenhalgh). The train is not running 'wrong line' - the new second track still awaits commissioning.

Dovey Junction movements - report by Ken Robinson

On 31 March I went down the Cambrian Coast to Dovey Junction and Machynlleth to see for myself what goes on there when three trains meet. Keeping to schedule on the hourly timetable between Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury / Birmingham International. is a challenge, and staff waste no time at stations. However the distance one has to walk/run from the Cambrian Coast platform at Dovey Junction to catch an Aberystwyth-bound train is a physical challenge to say the least! However trains were seldom more than a few minutes late.

The first photo (above) shows platform 2a/2b at Dovey Junction. with 1G35, the 11:30 Aberystwyth - Birmingham International. leaving for Machynlleth in the background formed of 158 825 (2G35, the 09:34 Pwllheli - Birmingham International. had left for Machynlleth a couple of minutes earlier), whilst 158 835 departs with 1J09, the 10:29 Shrewsbury-Aberystwyth. To the right of the photo, the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust's new Dyfi 360 Observatory can be seen.

The second photo shows the whole of Platform 2 (the nearest part of which is platform 2b for Aberystwyth bound trains). The picture is taken from the path leading from the station to the road, which crosses the line at this point. Incidentally only the down platform is in use at Machynlleth at the moment - work on the new footbridge and lifts is still ongoing.

Editor's note: Sadly, reaching the Nature reserve and Osprey Centre from the station at Dovey Junction requires walking the length of the path and then doubling back for some distance along the busy A487 which has no footpath alongside. The road distance could be much reduced by extending a path from the road which follows the stream but stops short of the station - see this Google Map link. Perhaps some funding might be available?

Bala Lake by bus - report by George Jones

I set myself the task at Easter to check out the public transport possibilities in the Dee Valley relative to the two heritage railways. On Saturday 26 March, taking the 09:05 T3 TrawsCymru bus from Wrexham (above), I planned to visit the Bala Lake Railway and then connect with the Llangollen line at Corwen. The bus timetable suggested it was possible, but would it work in practice?

In the event the T3  had me at Llanuwchllyn village for 10:48, (due 10:43) and a brisk walk down the lane to the station allowed time to buy a single ticket to Bala and join the 11:00 train.

Hunslet Quarry engine Maid Marian provided the motive power for the run alongside the lake in blustery conditions which presented a grey scene across to the Arenig mountains.

At Llangower, some walkers joined the train.

Arrival at the Bala station (above) coincided with a heavy rain squall, so only a chance for a quick photo and then the walk into town starting at 11:33 aiming for the 11:51 bus. The exposed section of the road over the river and through to the outskirts meant that a soaking and a soggy me made the High Street at 11:50 to find the bus stop. It seemed the T3 was running late, but made a welcome appearance at 12:00 for the journey through to Corwen where arrival was 12:36.  

As 'timetable B' was operating, I could have made it across the common for the 13:02 heritage railcar departure from Corwen East, but I elected to go for lunch and a chance to get dry in Parry's Plaice, the friendly fish and chip shop. This left plenty of time to head for the 14:02 departure with the steam service offered by 5199 for the run via Carrog to Llangollen (above) reached at 14:50. Onward transport back to Wrexham was on the 15:20 route 5 (bus branded Wrexham-Llangollen Express) which had me back at Kings St bus station for 15:50.

So the 8-hour jaunt did work out despite the inclement weather. Llanuwchllyn to Llangollen by rail with intervening bus following most of the route of the old Barmouth - Ruabon  line. On a better day the option would be to make a return journey on the Bala Lake and get a later T3 at Llanuwchllyn which would reach Corwen to provide a single journey on the Llangollen line and still make it back to Wrexham in time for tea.

Those trying this from further afield via Ruabon station would do well to study the bus and train timetables, as the current arrivals at Ruabon from north or south do not allow a convenient link into the T3 which runs two hourly. Connections to Llangollen via the route 5 are every 20 minutes but do not necessarily connect with train departures for Corwen which wastes time. The promised timetable improvements on the Chester to Shrewsbury line might eventually improve matters and the extension of the Bala Lake railway into Bala Town and the opening of Corwen Central would also make for added convenience for those who travel by public transport. Time will tell.

Foxcote Manor is back

The Foxcote Manor Society celebrated the return to service of there loco 7822 with a members' and supporters' private charter on the Llangollen Railway on Saturday 2 April 2016. Out shopped in the BR black livery, 7822 departed at 1410 for the train to run through to Corwen East passing the service train with 80072 and the Wickham railcar en route. In doing so, 7822 became the first 'Manor' to visit Corwen since 1964, when it arrived at Corwen East around 15:00 amid appropriate enthusiasm for the occasion. A return to Llangollen allowed time for a speech by Society Chairman Neil Evans and a launch of the repaired locomotive with the sprinkling of the contents of a bottle of Foxcote Manor Ale, before the special made another sortie to Corwen.

The Llangollen Railway’s 'Along Cambrian Lines' Spring Steam Gala will take place over three days from Friday 8 April to Sunday 10 April. 7822 will be in action, and headlining the event are two very special guests: 4-6-0 No. 7820 Dinmore Manor and Small Prairie class 2-6-2T No.
(photographed by Peter Hanson on a previous visit). Othe home loco in service will be 5199, 6430 & 80072. Expect to see double headers, express workings and an intensive timetable recalling the sights and sounds of the Cambrian routes in the 1950s and 60s.

The theme of the Cambrian routes and BR Western Region resonates as far as practically possible through many aspects of the gala. A special souvenir gala programme containing details on the loco fleet, attractions, timetable and photography locations, has been designed with a reproduction of the BR style timetable cover in order to make it blend in with the period. This is available to download for free from the railway’s website and will be available for free in paper format from the station booking offices during the gala itself. There will be recreations of a number of BR named trains from the 1950s and early 60s, with the most notable being the daily Cambrian Coast Express. Gala visitors are encouraged to download and create their very own CCE luggage label from the railway’s website, which can then be attached to their rucksack, bag or other items for their journey.

Over the winter period, a large amount of work has been going on 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.

Northern's ghost

The blanket removal of the Northern Rail branding from rolling stock in advance of the Arriva takeover has not been 100% successful in all cases. Picture by Roly High.

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