06 June 2016
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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
The classic view of Barmouth bridge with the 'Cambrian Coast Express'
excursion on 5 June: see report below. Picture by Chris Morrison.
Cambrian Coast Express
The first leg of Steam Dreams' four-day railway holiday starting on 5
June was a train (1Z45) from London Paddington (dep. 08:31) to Pwllheli
(arr 19:18) where the participants would repair to a hotel. The train
had been advertised to feature Flying Scotsman between London
and Shrewsbury, but in the event, 45699 Galatea was
used: Robert Meredith photographed it near Nantwich on its way
home with support coach.
West of Shrewsbury, ERTMS signalling-fitted 97 304 John
Tiley and West Coast Railways 37 516 Loch Laidon.
Heading across Barmouth Bridge (Chris Morrison).
As seen from the Cregennan Lakes on a slightly hazy day (Ian Wright)
Near the site of Black Rock Halt between Porthmadog and Criccieth (Ken
The previous day, a run by Flying Scotsman from London was - yet again
- disrupted by trespassing photographers straying from a foot crossing,
despite appeals by Network Rail and the National Railway Museum for
people to behave, and attempts to make the run semi-secret by the
removal of details of the run from online sources. The train, and a
Cross-Country Class 170 heading the other way came to a stand after
being warned by a signaller, and the crews of both trains had to shout
at them to clear the line: This
link and this
one are pictures on Twitter from the two trains.
The train returns - steam hauled - along the North Wales Coast line on
8 June, but it seems we are not allowed to tell you about it.
Pretty in Pink - and friends
67 013 certainly adds a dash of colour to the early
morning railway scene. Eurwyn McMahon photographed the visitor
on 1 June working train 1V91 05:33 Holyhead - Cardiff at Llandudno
... and Colwyn Bay.
On 3 June, 67 013 had been replaced by 67 001, back in traffic
with new wheels and a few other 'shiny bits' on the bogies and
underframe (Eurwyn McMahon).
67 002 pushes the evening Llandudno - Crewe train through
Deganwy on 3 June (Greg Mape).
Loco headlamp question answered
Thanks to all for the flood of replies about the headlamp
positions on 9F-2-10-0s as illustrated by David Pool in the last issue.
The answer relates to the implementation of 25 kV overhead
electrification on the West Coast Main Line in the 1960s. Combinations
of headlamp positions were still meant to be used to indicate to
signalmen the class of the train, and there was felt to be an
electrocution risk to anyone attempting to attach a headlamp to the top
centre position, so it was decreed that it should be re-located
downwards on any locos expected to be used 'under the wires'. It had to
off-centre to avoid other fittings; the one at footplate level was also
moved so as to maintain the pattern of lights. The 9F in David's
picture is showing 'Class H' lights (Class 8 in the alphanumeric
headcode system) as shown here.
The same arrangement can be seen on the Class 8F 2-8-0 photographed by
a teenage Charlie Hulme in 1966 at Stockport. This change can
be a useful clue in establish an approximate date for photographs.
The top bracket was also often used for train headboards, many of which
which were designed to match the curve of the smokebox, such as the
Stephenson Locomotive Society example, photographed on 70038
Robin Hood by Harold Bowtell at Stockport on 2
July 1967. Photo by courtesy of the Manchester
Keith Stewart writes: 'In the Crewe area one day a
fireman was tragically electrocuted when (force of habit?) he climbed
onto the tender and swung his pick in/close to the wires. It was around
this time that the small warning notices still seen on today's
locomotives about this danger started appearing. If you look carefully
at the photograph of 92157 you can see what may be one of these low
down of the nearside smoke deflector. Another change about this time
was the lowering / repositioning of headlamp brackets for the same
Tony Robinson adds: 'Not many photos exist to show it but
there was another "temporary" mod carried out on the smaller
3000-gallon tenders fitted to the few remaining ex-GWR engines that ran
to Crewe. This was a constricting bar fitted over the coal door on the
footplate end of the tender; this horizontal bar assembly with its
vertical supports was initially painted red and was supposed to prevent
firemen from climbing back up into the coal space to pull the coal
forward when under the wires.'
What happens today, here is Flying Scotsman herself, pictured
passing Salisbury on 28 May by Richard Putley. The handrail
across the front of the smokebox has been replaced by two shorter
handrails and a bracket for the headboard.
Here's another picture from ye olde black and white pile
showing the original layout: taken at Finsbury Park in 1968 on the
occasion when an attempt at a non-stop run from London to Edinburgh was
made to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first.
A Weekend in Wales - by Richard Heslop
Over the Early Spring Bank Holiday my girlfriend and I had a
weekend away to North Wales staying in a wonderful cottage just north
of Pwllheli. I travelled up by train from Milton Keynes via
Manchester and arranged to meet at Llandudno. (I should point out we
live separately: me in Milton Keynes and Kath in Leeds) I arrived at
the Junction to be told my lift was waiting outside. It turned out she
was outside ... outside Llandudno station! It took some explaining that
there were two stations called Llandudno they were in different towns.
I quickly jumped on the next train down the branch (A ludicrously
over-appointed class 175) which gave me a nice bonus trip along the
As this was our proper first visit to the area (I have made flying
trips for work) we looked at what might be available to fill our time.
I wanted to travel on one of the great narrow gauge railways of Wales
so traded a trip to Portreirion in return. Our visit there was
brilliant and my lack of interest was quickly dispelled by the
whimsical architecture and the ambience. That will teach me! On
the way back to the cottage I suggested a cup of tea in Porthmadog
where we ended up in Spooners café where we watched the comings and
goings. Above: 1992-built Double Fairlie 0-4-4-0T David Lloyd
George runs over the Cob into Porthmadog Harbour station.
Ffestiniog Railway 0-4-0STT No.4 Palmerston at Porthmadog. (Behind the
loco is Adrian Shooter's parlour car 'Carrabasset', based on the
carriages of the 2' gauge lines in Maine, USA.) Whilst
there we looked at the timetables and picked the Welsh Highland Railway
to Caernarfon over the Ffestiniog.
The next day dawned wet with a gray, low cloud base and as we pulled up
to Porthmadog the rain was falling steadily. However, fortified by a
bacon roll things were looking up so we climbed aboard our carriage and
settled in for our long journey. Up front was a former South African
railways Class NG G16 2-6-2+2-6-2 Garratt articulated steam locomotive.
Number 138, built in Manchester by Beyer-Peacock in 1958, and
resplendent in its red livery, was happily simmering away.
Within no time we were pulling out of the station and on to the street
running section over Britannia Bridge. It is an odd sensation to be
running along the High Street, through Wilko's car park and along
someone's back lane in a train. How the FR got this approved I will
never know. In no time we were over the Cambrian line on the
flat crossing and out into the country. The cloud was really low
the time we reached Nantmor with the rain coming down hard. Sadly the
view along the Aberglaslyn Pass wasn't great but it was very mysterious
and Tolkien-like in the murk.
Soon Beddgelert was upon us where the train took water and the fireman
built up his fire. He would need it. We were away slowly but progress
was good until we reached the horseshoe section at Cwm Cloch. Here the
speed fell, jogging pace, walking pace, crawling pace, snails pace,
inch by inch and then almost to a stand. You could just about hear the
footplate crew,: “don't stop, don't stop, don't stop” as their
locomotive struggled on the greasy rails. Progress was
agonisingly slow until just before the deep cutting where the beat of
the locomotive became more constant and the speed increased. I bet the
last thing the driver and fireman wanted was to have top stop at
Meillion but stop they did and after a few anxious moments were away
and steadily attacking the climb to the summit which was reached with
ease before rolling to a water stop at Rhyd Ddu.
Downhill all the way now through the lovely scenery which was more
visible as we had left the bad weather behind. Snowdon Ranger, Plas y
Nant, Waunfawr and Tryfan Junction (must go back to visit the pub
there!) didn't detain us before a longer stop at Dinas allowed us to
look at the engineering yard there. Soon we were pulling down the hill
towards the end of the line at Caernarfon where the grey imposing bulk
of Edward I's castle towered over us.
We had a couple of hours to explore a damp Caernarfon before
heading back to the station where No.87 (above), another former South
African Garratt, was on hand to haul us back over the hills to
Porthmadog. The return journey was in slightly better weather making
the scenery more enjoyable but the on-board afternoon Welsh tea of
buttered bara brith, Welsh cakes and builder's tea went down a
Near Snowdon Ranger.
No.87 takes water (in the rain) at Rhyd Ddu.
87 coasts down the 1:50 gradient from Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert.
Back at Porthmadog at the end of the long journey from Caernarfon. We
had a lovely day out and a journey we would love to repeat in better
weather. It wasn't cheap but we had a full day out and we made the best
it despite the rain.
The long awaited opening of the Midland Metro to Birmingham New St
happened on 30 May. CAF built No 24 has arrived at New St and is moving
to the headshunt to cross tracks from the return journey to
Wolverhampton (Chris Morrison).
Welsh Highland Railway at Rhyd Ddu on 3 June, with a clear view to the
visitor centre on Snowdon summit (Ian Wright).
Holy War in action on the Bala Lake Railway, 31 May (Greg
Hope Construction Materials, operators of Dowlow Quarry near Buxton,
have signed a 5-year contract with DB Cargo to deliver limestone to ten
terminals around England. Les Burton was at Mobberley station
to record the passing of 66 040 with a train head for Bow East
terminal in London.
A Sunday afternoon walk by Greg Mape around the ruins of Gwrych
Castle during an an open day on 5 June gave a different view of the
coast line: A Voyager from Holyhead to Euston is seen passing Abergele
The castle, a landmark for North Wales passengers, is little more than
a roofless shell after many ears of neglect and vandalism. But all is
not lost: the Preservation
Trust members are doing their best.
The Dutch-registered Eems Stream (Gross Tonnage 1862 t) at Port
Penrhyn, Bangor, on Friday, 3 June. It had docked on the evening of 2
June, having sailed from Belfast, and spent most of the next day being
loaded with slate waste at the quay. Sadly, the slate had not been
brought down from Bethesda by Linda or Blanche, but by
lorries (Jim Johnson).
A view just before the vessel sailed on the evening tide of 3 June,
bound for Rotterdam (Jim Johnson).
A complex array of transport infrastructure near Llanfairfechan at
20:08 on 4 June, with train 1G76 Holyhead - Birmingham New Street
taking in the evening sun on the North Wales Coast (Peter Basterfield).
High tide near Old Colwyn on 1 June as the Cardiff - Holyhead express,
powered by 67 013, passes an evening Holyhead - Birmingham
Virgin Voyager (Greg Mape).
A pair of 97/3 locos on the Cambrian Coast at 21:15 heading north with
a measurement train from Machynlleth to Derby Rail Technical Centre via
To the Airport - with Charlie Hulme
On 2 June I had a chance to sample the newly-enhanced Arriva Trains
Wales service to Manchester Airport. At Manchester Oxford Road I
boarded train 1H88, 12:53 Llandudno Junction to Manchester Airport,
formed of 175 105 which was a couple of minutes late but
managed to arrive in recently-opened Platform 4 at Manchester
Airport station (above) on time at 15:15. The train called at
Manchester Piccadilly and East Didsbury, but the latter place has
apparently not been added to the database of the automatic announcer,
as on leaving Piccadilly (where many luggage-laden passengers were
collected) we were told that the next stop would be Manchester Airport,
and East Didsbury was not mentioned at all.
In the background are the Metrolink platforms, with car 3077 waiting to
depart for Cornbrook; the Airport service cannot run to the City Centre
until the additional route ('second city crossing') opens. Passengers
in a hurry to reach Manchester are strongly advised to catch a National
Rail train, changing to a tram at Deansgate if the city centre is
wanted rather than Piccadilly station. Perhaps this is why the tram
does not run right to the end of the platform?
Comparison of front-ends with Siemens-built TransPennine Express unit 185
101. Another train came and went from the far end of Platform
4 before the Arriva service could depart for Llandudno at 15:36, which did
happen, despite not being recorded on the Real Time Trains system.
I alighted at East Didsbury (due 15:42), whence the train is seen
departing, partly to see if there were any other passengers on offer
(non, but one other person got off) and partly in the hope (but not
expectation) of photographing the Freightliner from Trafford Park to
Southampton (passing time 15:42) - sadly this passed just as the 175
was slowing down for the stop. The stations along here are well-placed
to photographed the freights which head hourly out of Trafford Park
during the afternoon, as the shadows on the platform confirm.
Mauldeth Road, Burnage, East Didsbury and Gatley stations are built on
top of embankments adjacent to bridges over roads, and in recent times
much work has been done to make them accessible to wheelchair users,
etc. without resorting to lifts; East Didsbury has a particularly
elaborate construction. There's a a fascinating aerial
picture from 1929 on the 'Britain from Above' website showing the
area before suburban development spread along the new road 'Kingsway'
which had first-generation tram tracks in its central reservation. A
tram can be seen near the bottom right of the image.
Out of interest, I decided to walk to East Didsbury Metrolink stop.
Although it has the same name as the Northern rail station, it is about
ten minutes' walk away. A quiet way to reach it is to follow an
un-signed route between the railway embankment and the Tesco superstore
(built in the 1980s on the site of Parrs Wood bus garage) and turn
right after crossing the tram track. Costa coffee fans might like to
know that there is such an establishment inside the Tesco store.
The view above looks towards the end of line as 3046 waits to
depart for Rochdale. This section of line occupies the trackbed of a
former main line, the Manchester South District Railway (Midland and
Great Central Joint) which was part of the route used by Midland
Railway trains to and from London St. Pancras. It closed to
passengers in 1968 and completely in 1969. There was no railway station
at this point: Didsbury's station was close to today's Didsbury Village
stop, the first stop for the tram. Just beyond the current end of track
is the boundary between Manchester and Stockport: after closure,
Manchester Council protected the trackbed, while Stockport's section
beyond was abandoned, its cuttings filled in, houses built and bridges
... although it is possible to have a very pleasant walk or cycle
ride to Stockport from East Didsbury along the banks of the Mersey as
this surprisingly rural view from the path illustrates. In the
distance, on the right of this picture behind the flood-bank, runs the
surviving single-track line used by freight trains between Hazel Grove
High Level Junction and Northenden Junction. There are various
proposals to create a tram extension, one of to most unlikely of which
involves building a river bridge to allow 'tram-trains' to run beyond
East Didsbury to Hazel Grove, but there is no funding on offer at
On 6 June at Rhyl, track machines DR 77903 nearest the camera,
and DR 73118 in the Engineers Sidings (Roly High). These
two are the regular participants in the 'high-output track-relaying'
programme that's happening most nights at present.
Colas Rail tamper DR 73920 passes Rhyl en route to Bangor from
Coleham ISU Engineer's siding in Shrewsbury on 28 May (Roly High).
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