Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

01 August 2016

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Forthcoming events

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August 2016

Sunday 21 August  Railway Touring Company THE NORTH WALES COAST EXPRESS  Crewe - Manchester - Holyhead (WCRC) Steam loco 45690 or 46115: Manchester - Chester - Holyhead and return

September 2016

Sunday 4 September Railway Touring Company THE NORTH WALES COAST EXPRESS  Crewe - Manchester - Holyhead (WCRC) Steam loco 45690 or 46115: Manchester - Chester - Holyhead and return

Friday 30 September Great Western Society North West Branch. Steam in Black and White. Peter Spilsbury.

October 2016

Friday 28 October Great Western Society North West Branch. Railway Personnel. Paul Shackcloth.

November 2016

Friday 25 November Great Western Society North West Branch. GW Steam in S. Wales and S West. Alf Storey

December 2016

January 2017

Friday 27 January Great Western Society North West Branch. North of Preston Barrie Rushton

February 2017

Friday 24 February Great Western Society North West Branch. Group AGM

March 2017

Friday 31 March Great Western Society North West Branch. (To be announced)

April 2017

Friday 28 April Great Western Society North West Branch. (To be announced)

45690 Leander lights up the sky at Northwich on 30 July with a charter from Liverpool to Scarborough (see item below). Picture by Phil Clarke.

Some splendid pictures this week - some other items have been held over to next time.- Charlie

The Welsh Mountaineer

On Tuesday 26 July the first (and only)  'Welsh Mountaineer' excursion of the year from Preston to Blaenau Ffestiniog operated, with 46115 Scots Guardsman hauling the train for the first time - just six coaches to avoid problems on the Conwy Valley line. Phil Clarke photographed the train crossing Frodsham viaduct ...

... and passing Helsby after the water stop at Frodsham station.

65 minutes were allowed at Chester, to reverse the train. In Eurwyn McMahon's picture the train awaits departure time.

Mold Junction (Tim Rogers).

Flint (Glyn Jones). These trains travel from Chester to Llandudno Junction with the locomotive tender leading, so that it is running forward up the steep hills of the Conwy Valley branch. A problem of signal visibility for the driver, and indeed general forward visibility; as the picture shows, he has to turn away from his controls and lean out of the window to have any view ahead.

Llanddulas viaduct (Greg Mape).

The train waited in the Down Passenger Loop for the passage of the 08:50 Manchester - Holyhead, formed of two Class 158s, to overtake...

... before departing for Llandudno Junction (Roly High).

Running round the train at Llandudno Junction (Brian Jones).

North Llanrwst (Brian Jones).

Roman Bridge (Lee Davies). The station building looks in good fettle. We reported in 2013 that it was for sale as a home by Roger Latham who 'bought it from the station master's widow' in 1997.

Approaching Blaenau Ffestiniog ...

... and arrived on time (Ken Robinson). Some had expressed qualms about the possible performance of a large-wheeled express loco on the Conwy Valley's gradients and curves, but the train actually gained a couple of minutes on the 67-minute schedule laid down for the North Llanrwst - Blaenau Ffestiniog section, compared to 40 minutes by the normal Class 150-worked services.

A summer shower appeared while the train was stabled in the loop at Blaenau Ffestiniog (Larry Davies).

Return train at North Llanrwst ...

...  where the 16:20 Llandudno - Blaenau Ffestiniog (150 236) was crossed - seen heading off into the jungle (Greg Mape).

The return train at Old Colwyn, loco now the right way round (Lee Davies).

Flint (Glyn Jones).

Mostyn (Tim Rogers).

And finally, near Helsby (Lee Davies).

Cambrian Collapses

The following appeared on the Arriva Trains Wales website on the morning of Saturday 30 July:
Because of a failure of the signalling system at Machynlleth signalling centre. NO trains will run between the following locations, Machynlleth to Pwllheli and Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth.

Passengers are advised NOT TO TRAVEL until at least 6pm today. THERE IS NO ROAD TRANSPORT AVAILABLE.
According to a report by respected Cambrian line commentator Richard Jones, the problem lay not with the sophisticated ERTMS signalling system as the notice implies, but with a piece of telephonic equipment known as a 'concentrator' which allows the controller at Machynlleth to take calls from any of the lineside phones at the many 'User Worked Crossings' which require users to seek permission before crossing. There are two of these concentrator units, but reportedly both failed with the same fault.

It was decided that running trains would be a safety risk so all trains west of Shrewsbury must come to a stand and wait for a repairs to be effected: trains in both directions were terminated at Barmouth station at 07:45 and everything stopped. Staff and passengers were given little or no information, and as can be imagined, on this summer Saturday things got somewhat 'heated' among the assembled crowd at Barmouth. Eventually, for 'public order' reasons, someone decided that a unit could run at 12:55 from Barmouth to Machynlleth and 'that was it' unil some sort of normality resumed at 17:15.

At Machynlleth, nothing moved between 08:08 and 15:55. On the subject of no replacement buses were organised we have no information. To their credit, Arriva did manage to arrange ticket acceptance with various local bus companies, according to a Tweet posted at 09:00, but one wonders how well this information was conveyed to passengers.

Diesel doings

There was disruption to the local-hauled services on 25 July, due to some problem at Chester in the morning, but normality had returned on 26 July as 67 008 took  the 09:50 Manchester - Holyhead past Abergele on 26 July, not a call for this train as the signals show (Greg Mape).

The 16:50 Manchester - Llandudno approaches Prestatyn at 18:23 on 27 July, and Mike Sheridan finally gets the shot he wanted after twice being defeated by DMU substitutions.

Later that evening at 20:38, 67 008 propels the Llandudno - Crewe service past Beeches Farm (Bob Greenhalgh).

27 July: 57 313, with 57 316 on the rear passes Rossett with  West Coast Railways excursion 1Z57 05:54 Barrow-in-Furness to Cardiff Central (Tim Rogers).

More locos on 27 July, 37 069 and 37 259 work 6K41 14:58 Valley to Crewe flasks, formed on FNA wagons 550029, 550050 and 550041 (Tim Rogers)

Beeches Farm (Bob Greenhalgh).

The high-output Network Rail train continues its work along the Coast. Behind 66 550 at Beeches Farm on 27 July is DR76701, which is apparently a 'Vacuum Preparation Machine'.

At the other end of the long train, 66 528,  something of a celebrity loco thanks to its 'Powerhaul' livery and its name honouring Madge Elliot MBE, long-time campaigner for the re-opening of the Borders Railway. The story is told on the Freightliner website.

Llandudno Junction had a rare visit from a freight train on 30 July, photographed at 22:08 by Peter Lloyd.  Train 6Y64, 19:22 Crewe Basford Hall to Talacre with 66 620 waits in platform 1 with the engine uncoupled ready to run round the train after 1D66 21:00 Crewe - Holyhead had passed through. The wagons are of the low-sided JNA type used for waste ballast stone.

Royal Scot move

Also on 26 July, sister 'Royal Scot' 46100 Royal Scot passed through our area with train 5Z46, engine plus support coach from Bristol to Crewe via Shrewsbury and Wrexham, pictured above by Martin Evans.

Passing Balderton level crossing between Wrexham and Chester, where the second track still awaits commissioning (Tim Rogers).

Observers at Chester (above) saw two of the class on the same day. Roly High was in place to photograph 46100 passing. The headboard reads 'Icons of Steam' - apparently the marketing name for main-line registered locos 46100, 34046 Braunton (currently running as 34054 Lord Dowding) and 71000 Britannia. Investment banker Jeremy Hosking owns all three, and some other locos too.

Departure from Chester (Roly High) and interesting look at some end detail of the support vehicle, British Railways-built Mark 1 brake-second coach 35317. Notable is the 'buckeye' coupler used when connecting to other coaches (and some locos) fitted with this device.When requited to connect to a loco or vehicle with only the traditional three-link screw coupler, the buckeye is lowered as seen here. To return it to the active position, someone has to lift the heavy steel casting back to the horizontal plane, requiring considerable strength.

Charity from Chester

Tickets are now on sale for the Railway Magazine (in conjunction with Virgin and DRS) charity railtour which runs on 3 September starting at Chester hauled by a Class 57/3 calling at Crewe (pick up) before running via Alsager and Stoke so as to continue to Stafford (pick up) using the new Norton Bridge flyover.

Here the train will reverse direction with a pair of DRS Class 37s taking the train right through to Scarborough, running via the new down fast line at Norton Bridge, Crewe Independent lines, Crewe Coal Yard, Warrington Bank Quay (pick up), Chat Moss, Manchester Victoria, Hebden Bridge, Wakefield Kirkgate, Church Fenton, York (set down) and Scarborough. There will be approximately five hours in York and three in Scarborough.

Full details on the Railway Magazine website.

Jubilee in action

Following the successful visit on 24 July along the North Wales Coast of Jubilee 45690 Leander, the engine was again heading to the coast on the 30 July hauling The Railway Touring Company 'Coast To Coast Express'. Above, the 0Z71 05:58 Liverpool Lime Street to Scarborough seen at  Northwich (Phil Clarke).

Plumley (Phil Clarke). The first steam special on the Mid-Cheshire Line since 70013 Oliver Cromwell in October 2013, and a perfect morning for it.

Hale Signal Box at 07:33, with diesel locomotive Class 37 37 668 attached to the rear of the train. Hale Station west platform Buildings, canopy and (disused) signalbox are all grade ll listed historic structures. Picture by Robert Meredith. The train avoided Stockport and Manchester by traversing the normally freight-only line from Northenden Junction to Hazel Grove High Level Junction.

Holyhead's Rush Hour

Weekday lunchtime at Holyhead station is a time of the day, with five departures in 90 minutes, about the most that the signalling can manage:

12:32 1V96  three car 175 to Cardiff and Maesteg
12:52 1A43  single Class 221 Voyager to London Euston
13:05 1H89  loco-worked push/pull to Manchester Piccadilly
13:24 1G50  Class 158 to Birmingham International
13:58 1A48 A pair of Class 221 to Euston

Pictured by Eurwyn McMahon on 28 July are the 12:52 and 13:05 departures in Platforms 2 and 3. The picture reminds us that one thing that's not 'real-time' about Real Time Trains is the platform allocation of trains, which can be varied by local staff without being recorded.

These trains provide connections from Dublin off the 11:30 Irish Ferries arrival and the 11:50 of Stena Line. Will 'Brexit' lead to a new boom in 'Duty Free' cruises?

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