23 May 2016
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Sunday 5 June Steam Dreams THE
CAMBRIAN COAST EXPRESS (Day 1 of 4) London Paddington - Pwllheli
(WCRC) Steam loco 60103 Flying Scotsman: Paddington -
Leamington - Shrewsbury
Monday 6 June Steam Dreams THE
CAMBRIAN COAST EXPRESS (Day 2 of 4)
Tuesday 7 June Steam Dreams THE
CAMBRIAN COAST EXPRESS (Day 3 of 4)
Wednesday 8 June Steam Dreams THE
CAMBRIAN COAST EXPRESS (Day 4 of 4) Bangor - Paddington. Steam loco
60103 Flying Scotsman: Chester - Wrexham -
Hereford - Bristol Parkway - Paddington
Wednesday 15 June Steam Dreams
THE EMERALD ISLE EXPLORER (Day 1 of 9) London Euston-Holyhead
Steam loco 60103 Flying Scotsman: Euston-Holyhead.
Sunday 24 July Railway Touring Company THE
NORTH WALES COAST EXPRESS Liverpool-Holyhead (WCRC) Steam loco
45690 or 46100: Liverpool - Chester - Holyhead and return
Tuesday 26 July Railway Touring Company
THE WELSH MOUNTAINEER Preston - Blaenau Ffestiniog . Steam loco 45305
or 48151: Preston - Chester - Blaenau Ffestiniog and return
Sunday 21 August Railway Touring
THE NORTH WALES COAST EXPRESS Crewe - Manchester - Holyhead
Steam loco 45690 or 46115: Manchester - Chester - Holyhead and return
Sunday 4 September Railway
THE NORTH WALES COAST EXPRESS Crewe - Manchester - Holyhead
Steam loco 45690 or 46115: Manchester - Chester - Holyhead and return
57 003 and 57 310 pass Bangor with the 6K41 Valley
to Crewe flasks on 20 April 2016. Picture by Rowan Crawshaw.
The Cambrian lines have seen more locomotives than usual in the week
covered by this update, and our contributors have braved the weather to
bring us pictures. On 17 May, Inspection Saloon 'Caroline' was taken
from Derby to Pwllheli. Kate Jones photographed the train
approaching Barmouth Bride, led - as is the requirement - by one of
Network Rail's four locomotives fitted with the ERTMS signalling now in
use on the Cambrian - in this case 97 303 which was attached at
Coleham west of Shrewsbury ...
... and on the rear, an old favourite of this site : 37 425 Concrete
Robert McAlpine which brought the train from Derby and stayed
with 'Caroline' as the 97/3 class are not equipped to provide heat and
light power to a train (Ian Wright). This was shown on Real Time
Trains as a class 5 'empty stock' train, suggesting nobody was aboard
the coach for
the outward journey, although close inspection reaveals at least two.
The train returned the next morning, 18 May, apparently visiting
Aberystwyth on the way back to Derby, with the 97/3 re-marshalled at
the front. Ken Robinson captured the train running in to
... and pausing at Porthmadog station to cross the 06:43 Machynlleth -
Pwllheli passenger train.
Aberystwyth on Friday 20 May. 57 313 stabled with the
stock for the following day's Statesman Rail excursion to Carlisle (Jim
At the other end, 97 303 (note the little Welsh Dragon under the cab
window) which led the train and would pilot it to Shrewsbury the next
day (Jim Ikin)...
... and train engine 57 601 which would also be working hard to
get the train up the hill to Talerddig. Two West Coast Railways Class
37s were being fitted with Hitachi ERTMS signalling equipment to allow
them to be used on this line, and one of them 37 668, made test
runs - see our 18
September 2015 issue, but nothing has been heard since. As far as
we can tell, the other loco, 37 669, is still at Barrow Hill where the
installation was being undertaken.
Statesman Rail's Kitchen Car 1659. This vehicle started life as one of
a batch of Restaurant-Buffet card built by the Pressed Steel company
for British Railways between 1959 and 1961. It has been with its
present owner, Railfilms, since 2005.
Jim Ikin took a trip on the Vale of Rheidol line from
Aberystwyth on 21 May, unfortunately a wet day. By the time
Devil's Bridge (above) was reached it was 'absolutely lashing it down'.
2-6-2T no. 8, in Great Western livery without nameplates which were
only carried after nationalisation, is seen running round the
Even after the rain had eased a little, visibility wasn’t great (Jim
Approaching Aberffrwd (Jim Ikin).
97 303 (again), having run light-engine from Coleham depot
pilots the Network Rail 'Stoneblower' off Barnouth bridge at 17:00 on
22 May (Kate Jones).
Taking water at Bangor
Our recent items about relics at Bangor station inspired John Donohoe
to send this historic photo taken by his brother, Paul Donohoe,
of 40 015 taking on water whilst waiting to depart with train
1J53, 15:38 to Manchester Victoria on 4 April 1983. The water was for
the train-heating boiler; clearly the connection to the former water
column was retained to service this low-level device. When built,
these locos were fitted with scoops to collect water on the move from
the between-the-rails water troughs which were provided for steam
locos, but of course the troughs were all removed once steam had passed
Arriva's Airport letter
As reported last time, from the 15 May timetable many weekday services
from the Llandudno line have been extended beyond Manchester Piccadilly
to serve Manchester Airport. This despite several known objections from
other rail organisations and no apparent authority from the Office of
Rail and Road (ORR) to start operating.
It transpires that a letter authorising the commencement of services
does exist, dated 13 May, just three days before services began, and is
now in PDF format on the ORR
to read. A fascinating document it is too. All
the objection are detailed, and then over-ridden by a decision to allow
the trains to run until December 2017 when a major timetable change
will occur with the opening of the Ordsall Chord line. Messages of
support from various bodies on behalf of passengers are also listed.
The comments by First TransPennine (as it was called before 15 May) are
First TransPennine Express said that ATW's proposals
Presumably the supposed financial loss will come from the system which
shares out fares revenue among the operators on a section of line based
on how many services they operate on that route, in which case the new
TransPennine will also lose out by the transfer of Manchester Airport -
Blackpool service to Northern.
abstractive in nature and it stood to lose £254,000 annually from them,
with total industry revenue being degraded by £25,000. It also
expressed concerns about performance between Manchester Piccadilly and
Manchester Airport, disagreed with ATW's assertion that unused capacity
was currently available and stressed the risk of incorporating
additional paths into arguably the busiest section of an already
congested network. It also questioned whether the industry should be
seeking to prioritise connectivity between North Wales/Chester and
Manchester Airport over and above connectivity from other settlements
in the North of England.
So far there seem to have been few congestion problems. A look at
Friday 20 May's data for Manchester Airport shows a handful of trains
delayed by two or three minutes, and several arrivals a minute or two
early. Observing at Manchester Piccadilly on 19 May, we noted a
train from Llandudno arriving and departing 13 minutes late due to
unspecified delays on the Coast line. Yet the return working arrived at
Manchester on-time, so there is clearly some 'slack' in the timings. On
21 May we noted that the Mayfield loop line just south of Piccadilly
was used by TransPennine to turn round late-running Airport-bound
trains from the North, which would not have been possible had the
Arriva train been 'laying over' in there as normal before 15 May.
Thanks as always to Mike Stone for his expertise in navigating
Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Circular - report by Dave
On May 18th we travelled the circular route from Llandudno Junction to
Blaenau Ffestiniog, Porthmadog, Caernarfon and then along the north
coast back to The Junction.
(The picture above of Earl of Merioneth at Blaenau is from a
different occasion: see below for the reason).
Llandudno Junction dep 10.28
Blaenau Ffestiniog arr 11.30, dep 11.35
Porthmadog arr 12.45 ,
Caernarfon arr 16.20
Caernarfon bus station dep 17.00 (route 5C)
Bangor bus station arr 17.32
dep 17.34 (route 5)
Llandudno junction arr 18.21
A note of caution: get off the bus at the stop after the flyover
in Llandudno Junction as route 5 doesn't call at the station, although
curiously it does in the other direction.
150 240 formed the well filled 10.28 to Blaenau. On
arrival the connection is a bit tight to purchase tickets so they are
best bought on the Ffestiniog train. 'Earl of Merioneth' worked
the 9 coach 11.35 departure, which was very busy with at least three
coachloads of Shearing's coach customers.
The 1 hour 20 minute break at Porthmadog allows plenty of time to visit
the High Street for lunch, etc. The maroon Garratt 138 was on
the front from Porthmadog (above) to Caernarfon.
It was a day of sunshine and scattered heavy showers which caused the
loco to 'lose its footing' a couple of times.
Arrival at Caernarfon was on time. It was then a 10 minute walk
to the bus station for our bus to Bangor and a quick connection from
there to arrive back in Llandudno Junction after very nearly eight
It's quite a long day out but one which should be on everybody's 'to
Fares: Llandudno Junction to Blaenau is £8.60 single. The 'Snowdonia
Single' ticket from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Caernarfon is £30. I
cannot find out the cost of the bus journey but I think a day saver for
£5.50 would be the cheapest. The above fares are only a guide and
can be considerably reduced if you have a Wales bus pass, which also
gives free travel on the Conwy valley line.
Berwick to Holyhead Railtour, 25 June
Bill Miller of North East Railtours writes to let us know of their
excursion on Saturday 25 June from Berwick-upon-Tweed, Alnmouth,
Morpeth, Cramlington, Newcastle upon Tyne, Hexham and Haltwhistle to
Chester, Llandudno Junction, Bangor and Holyhead. The train will
be top-and-tailed by West Coast Railways diesels, and formed of the the
Scottish Railway Preservation Society rake of Mk1 Coaches, including
buffet and meals service. Bill adds 'If anyone should be interested in
loco hauled Mk 1s I could offer some seats from Chester onwards to
Holyhead. Proposed times are Chester dep 11:30, Holyhead arr 13:15 dep
14:45, Chester arr 16:30, although Network Rail may change this.'
Contact details are on the SRPS website.
Bananas on the Coast (etc)
Network Rail trains in North Wales: You may have thought that Class 31s
would not be seen again on the main line, but 31 233 still
perhaps because of the lighting equipment fitted on the cab front. Bob
Greenhalgh's pictures from 17 May show it at Green Lane crossing
And at Penyffordd - or Pen-y-ffordd has the platform sign has it. Is
that the Welsh spelling? Attempting to check this on the National
website reveals a surprisingly large station.
On 18 May, train 3Q01, 09:30 Derby RTC - Longsight via Llandudno,
and Bangor, with Driving trailer 9702 leading and 37 601 Class
Fifty pushing, seen arriving at Bangor ...
... at 18:06, crossing 158838 on 1J70 17:30 Holyhead-Shrewsbury
... and into Belmont Tunnel ...
... before moving to the the up loop, to be held at the up loop starter
a few minutes, then disappearing into Bangor Tunnel at 18:17, after
1J70 had cleared the section. Pictures by Jim Johnson.
Thursday 19 May saw the New Measurement Train head west , forming the
10:53 Derby - Crewe, via Holyhead. Bob Greenhalgh
photographed it passing the site of Mold Junction locomotive depot.
Power was provided by 43 014 The Railway Observer
... and 43 062 John Armitt. Pictures at
Abergele by Roly High.
Bangor (Jim Johnson).
Arriva Trains Wales and the evening peak
Arriva Trains Wales (ATW) introduced from 15 May what
they describe as 'big savings if you travel off-peak.' However,
along with this comes a definition of 'peak' as introduced by Northern
Rail in 2014: On Monday - Friday these off-peak return fares on
'selected' services will not be available for journeys before 09:30 or
between 16:00 and 18:29.
As Northern passengers have discovered, evening peak restrictions lead
to all sorts of complications, especially if your journey involves a
change of trains. ATW's flyer, and even their website, make no attempt
to explain any of this, expecting you to just use their online booking
system and see what you get.
Fortunately, a third-party site called brfares.com
gives access to the
data in the Fares Manual which includes details of restrictions and
of which company sets the fares, so we can explore the situation a
little (ignoring various irrelevant entries which seem to be included.)
For example, we have:
Llandudno to Chester: Unrestricted return (still classed by National
Llandudno to Chester: Off-peak Day Return with restrictions: £19.40.
The earliest train available for the £19.40 ticket is the 09:45 which
arrives at 10:50. You
can return at 15:55, then 18:55 onwards. Not a vast saving, and
comes with an irritation: if it's really sunny down by the river you
might decide on the spur of the monent to stay in Chester longer but
still be home in time for an
evening meal. Can you pay the difference at Chester booking office? Who
Of course, these are 'walk-up' fares. 'Advance' fares are another
matter, although for this journey only Virgin offers them: you are
allowed to use ATW from Llandudno to Llandudno Junction.
Many journeys, such as Llandudno to Manchester still seem to have
off-peak day tickets with no restriction at all. If we consider
Llandudno to Wrexham, there is an 'Anytime Day Return' at £20.70 with
no restrictions, cheaper than the Chester one, so buy that, save 60p
and get off at Chester!
In the case of Manchester to Chester, the cheap 'restricted' fares
apply, but the number of options gets out of hand. The cheapest ticket
by some way is The 'Virgin Trains Only' one - changing trains at
Chester - but note that you have to use Virgin trains for both
parts of the journey. Time available is too short to explore this
this week: any
comments or experiences from readers are welcome.
The Liverpool - Drax biomass trains are an impressive sight: above, 66
742 Port of Immingham Centenary 1912-2012 crosses
Stockport Viaduct at 15:06 with a rake of empties (Charlie Hulme).
loaded trains normally pass here within a few minutes.
Mobberley on the following day, 19 May, and a look at the 12:20
sidings to Drax loaded train, powered again by 66 742.
Sporadic replacements, due to staffing difficulties, of the Manchester
loco-hauled set by railcars continue to frustrate enthusiasts: on 19
May, 175 114 passes Deansgate with the 16:50 Manchester
Piccadilly - Llandudno. The same afternoon, a Class 150 was noted on
the 14:50 train which is booked for a Class 158.
The LNWR lives on at Heaton Norris goods (Charlie Hulme).
Having found the barriers open at London Kings Cross station on 10 May,
Putley walked to the far end of the platform to see which 67 was on
East Coast 'Thunderbird' duty, to find was Arriva Trains Wales-liveried
67 003 It had a West Coast Railways class 33 (33 207?) for
Twilight of Banbury's lower quads - report by David
After hearing that the remaining semaphores at Banbury are due to be
replaced this summer, I decided to make a photographic visit before
their demise. Having grown up in ex-GWR territory,
lower quadrant signals were “normal” to me, so this late-in-the-day
opportunity was especially compelling. However,
as the main running lines had already been re-signalled with colour
light signals some time ago, the photographic opportunities were
somewhat limited. The south end of the station was particularly
interesting with four starting signals still semaphore, as shown in
the picture (above) of a Cross Country Voyager arriving with the
11:45 Reading to Newcastle. The typically-GWR Banbury South
signal box is in the background.
Remodelling work was evident throughout the station area, not least
through the “orange army”, who are seen as Chiltern unit 168325 Banbury
runs into Platform 1 with the 1143 London Marylebone.
On the opposite side of the station, DB loco 66 120 had been
put onto the up goods line briefly to allow a Cross Country Voyager to
overtake. A Western Region goods line signal controls access back to
the main line. These signals have shorter boards than main
running line signals and replaced ex-GWR signals that had plain red
boards with overhanging white circles from the mid-1960s. New
lineside equipment is being installed in the cabinets on a raised
The frequent service between Banbury and Marylebone makes use of
another of the starting signals, as seen with 165 025 departing
with the 13:44 Banbury – London Marylebone.
As well as the signalling, there were other interesting moments to
photograph, such as the open end of a returning automotive train to
Jaguar’s Halewood plant from Southampton, which shows the influence of
the curve through Banbury station. All the main
elements in the picture follow the curve – apart from the over-bridge!
Banbury is not exclusively served by lower quadrant signals as there is
also a pair of upper quadrant home / distant signals on the Up side,
north of the station, one of which I believe serves the Up goods
line. This is shown in the following photo of 168 216
arriving with the 13:12 Birmingham Snow Hill to London Marylebone.
Finally: I had seen plastic buckets with long reach brushes on the
platform during my visit, but it wasn’t until 68 010 called with
the 13:10 London Marylebone to Birmingham Moor Street that I discovered
Croagh Patrick Railtour - report by Stephen Hughes
I travelled to Ireland for the Irish Railway Preservation Society
event, The Croagh Patrick Railtour (named after the holy mountain in
Co. Mayo). Above, On 14 May Diesel 071 brought in the
empty stock for the tour at Dublin Connolly. (It was also used on the
Diesel tour to Waterford and Limerick the previous day.) To celebrate
the 40th anniversary of the General Motors-built class, 071 was
repainted by Irish Rail in its original livery.
This year's destination was Westport, a pretty town on Ireland's west
coast. This was new territory for me, and with No. 4 returning to
service after overhaul some decent running was promised after some
under performance in recent years by the 2-6-0 No.461. As in the UK,
slowish steam locos do not sit happily with the modern railway and it
was hoped that the sturdy and powerful No 4. looking clean but
work-stained, would put in a good performance - and be able to keep to
the timetable. Single line working between Kildare and Portarlington
did lead to some delays to service trains which impacted on ours, and
so the late arrival in Westport was expected and reasonable.
One of the features of the Irish Railtour is that water stops and stops
for crossing service trains are invariably at stations, which gives the
opportunity for a stretch of the legs, a chat with fellow passengers,
the chance for a photograph or two and walking back from the bar along
the platform with a beer. (none of this can happen at Carnforth
Thus stops were made at Portarlington (above, taking water) and Athlone
(water) and Roscommon, Castlrea and Claremorris (crossing, pathing).
An attempt was made at Claremorris to turn No. 4 on the turntable, but
despite the attention of 17 orange jackets she wouldn't balance.
Above, No. 4 reverses off the turntable. It had successfully turned a
GM 071 loco the previous day,
Sunday 15 May was a trip up the branch to Ballina, which although the
station has only a short platform (we weren't allowed to detrain here)
it is also a major freight hub for Irish rail with trains to the ports
at Dublin and Waterford. To release No. 4 the train was hauled back to
Claremorris by GM 075. Operational difficulties on the Westport single
line led to a delay in No. 4 returning light engine and a round trip to
Ballyhaunis was cancelled. Thus more than two hours was spent in
Claremorris in the very warm weather. We were due to return to Westport
at 17:38, but about 10 minutes beforehand, frantic whistles sounded and
we were all hurried back on to the train and No. 4 made a swift
departure, we were then informed over the excellent tannoy system that
if we had not left so suddenly in a pathing 'window' we could have been
there for another couple of hours, which might have stretched the good
No. 4 reverses the stock out of the platform at Westport to make way
for a service train.
IR diesel unit 22/204 has just arrived from Dublin Heuston and
is alongside No'4 and GM 078 at Westport on 16 May.
On the following day (Monday 16 May) our train left Westport just after
09:00 with No. 4 bunker first, again in beautiful sunshine. Water was
taken on at Ballyhaunis, Athlone and Portarlington and brief
stops were also made at Castlerea and Tullamore to cross service
trains. There was some good running by No. 4, a locomotive that
I'm sure the IRPS is pleased to have back in service. All seemed set
fair for a mid-afternoon arrival at Connolly until the events at
Hazelhatch.I had tentative plans to visit one of the places in Dublin
that commemorate the 1916 uprising as the evening departure was not
until 19:00 (after the departure of commuter trains), but our late
arrival scuppered those plans and instead a leisurely pint and meal at
the Brew Dock opposite Connolly station was had.
Our train was brought into the platform a few minutes before 7pm by GM
071 with No. 85 'Merlin' looking resplendent as usual at the business
end. Although we followed a 'Dart' and were held a couple of times, the
water stop at Dundalk was achieved on time with some steady running in
the low 60's A quick splash from the water column still extant at
Lisburn after an excellent climb up Wellington bank and we arrived at
Belfast Central just about on time, having also made set-down stops at
Portadown and Botanic.
On the return to Dublin on 16 May No.4 waits at Tullamore to cross a
Dublin - Westport train.
The unbelievably sunny and warm conditions in Ireland over the weekend
of the annual tour caused the return run to come to a sudden halt at
Hazelhatch, about 15 miles from Dublin Connolly after the Derby-built
2-6-4 tank No. 4 caused a series of lineside fires which led to a
suspension of services between Dublin and Kildare. (No. 4 was also
guilty the previous day but there were no sanctions, luckily for the
The Irish Rail Regulator refused to let the train continue but reacted
swiftly to summon a railcar unit to whisk passengers back to Connolly.
(It was, apparently, a Heuston - Portlaoise local which was
terminated at Hazelhatch and returned to Connolly). There were rumours
that the evening return to Belfast and Whitehead behind 4-4-0 No. 85
'Merlin' might also be cancelled but happily the train was allowed to
run (see picture in left column.)
As ever, thanks to the volunteers on the train from the IRPS and those
people from Irish Rail and NIR who make an effort to contribute to the
success of the tour. If they can only arrange such good weather next
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