Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

09 January 2017

Contributions and comments are encouraged: see the Contributions Page

Forthcoming events

This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived issue. For full information visit our Calendar page.
January 2017

Wednesday 11 January Welsh Highland Railway North Wales Group Dr. Dafydd Gwyn - The First 80 Steam Locomotives.

Friday 13 January Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society Lecture Steam in the North West of England and Scotland in 1965 (Part 2). A digital presentation in black and white by Noel Coates

Thursday 12 January Llandudno & Conwy Valley Railway Society My favourite memories of preserved steam on the Coast by Ron Watson Jones

Monday 16 January RCTS Chester AGM.  Followed by John Cashen with a slide presentation Non-members are welcome after 20.15 hours for John’s presentation which will cover his reminiscences during the 1960s.
Friday 27 January Great Western Society North West Branch. North of Preston Barrie Rushton

February 2017

Wednesday 1 February  RCTS Liverpool  Mark Youdan. North West Railway Photography, 1995-2015. Mark, a Branch member, is a Driver/Trainer for Arriva Rail North and held the same position with Northern Trains.

Friday 3 February Clwyd Railway Circle BR Steam - The Splendid Years (1959-65 in B&W) Steam around the regions in the early 60’s by John Sloane.

Tuesday 7 February     North Wales Railway Circle Birkenhead to The Coast. North Wales Railway Circle life member Ken Owen entertains us with a selection of pictures starting in Birkenhead, visiting his home town of Wrexham and travelling via his present home Redhill to Eastbourne and Margate on the South Coast.

Wednesday 8 February Welsh Highland Railway North Wales Group Gareth Haulfryn Williams - The Vale of Rheidol Railway.

Thursday 9 February Llandudno & Conwy Valley Railway Society Snowdon Mountain Railway, by Mike Robertshaw

Friday 10 February  Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society Lecture The Splendid Years of BR Steam 1959-1963. A digital presentation by John Sloane

Monday 20 February RCTS Chester Fred Kirk: Leicester Area Steam Days. Fred, from Leicester, spent a lot of his time bicycling around with his camera at the ready to various locations on all the main lines within reasonable reach of his home.

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

March 2017

Friday 3 March  Clwyd Railway Circle Amlwch Branch Line and Annual General Meeting Chairman of the Lein Amlwch - Central Anglesey Railway Company, Walter Glyn Davies  will give a presentation on the progress of the lines revival. The talk will be followed by the Annual General Meeting.

Tuesday 7 March   North Wales Railway Circle The Abergele Accident. Tony Griffiths gives a talk on the accident that occurred on 20th August 1868 at Abergele involving the Irish Mail and a part of a goods train that was being shunted.

Wednesday 8 March  Welsh Highland Railway North Wales Group Speaker to be confirmed

Thursday 9 March  Llandudno & Conwy Valley Railway Society    ... And we run trains too! Clare Britton (Ffestiniog Railway)

Friday 10 March  Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society Lecture Eric Lomax, Railwayman of War and Peace. Images of steam in the UK before and after the Second World War with a few taken in India during the war; featured locos are a mixture of industrial and main line, mostly in Scotland A digital presentation of black and white images by Dr Michael Bailey

Monday 20 March  RCTS Chester    Paul Chancellor. A Colour-Rail Presentation. Paul, from Bromsgrove, is owner of Colour-Rail and will highlight the work of many fine railway photographers covering the better part of 70 years. He is also the RO Editor for the ‘Preservation and Other Railways’ section.

Friday 31 March  Great Western Society North West Branch.  Birkenhead Joint Railway.  Paul Wright.

April 2017

Tuesday 4 April    North Wales Railway Circle Bangor to Hong Kong by Rail. Adam Fetherstonhaugh gives an account of his epic journey by rail from Bangor to Hong Kong via Beijing and then on to Vietnam and Cambodia.

Wednesday 5 April RCTS Liverpool David Rapson. Railways - The Digital Effect David, who lives in Connah's Quay, has worked on the railways for many years spending a lot of his life in Control positions and now works for West Coast Railway Company. He is also a Branch member and for those who read Rail Express will be aware of his contributions.

Friday 7 April Clwyd Railway Circle Railways of North Cheshire in Early BR Days Being a Manchester lad, Russell Hatt was able to capture the busy scenes around his home area.

Friday 7 April  (note: first Friday  of the month) Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society Lecture The Last Years of British Trolleybuses A colour slide presentation by Brian Yates  

Wednesday 12 April Welsh Highland Railway North Wales Group Norman Kneale, Renowned railway photographer.

Thursday 13 April Llandudno & Conwy Valley Railway Society Barry Wynne's Steam Odyssey.

Monday 24 April   RCTS Chester   George Jones : Onwards to Corwen.George lives in Wrexham and for many years has been an important publicist for the Llangollen Railway and certain of its locomotives. He will cover the railway’s reinvigoration of the line to Corwen and look at its future prospects.       

Friday 28 April Great Western Society North West Branch. The L&Y in BR days.  Noel Coates.

May 2017

Tuesday 2 May   North Wales Railway Circle AGM and Annual Photographic Competition.  The Annual General Meeting of The North Wales Railway Circle will be followed by the annual photographic competition.  Members are invited to submit their work in three categories, prints, slides and video.  Video to be kept reasonably short, approx. 5 mins.  In line with Circle rules all work should have been taken in the last 12 months.

Wednesday 10 May  Welsh Highland Railway North Wales Group Group’s AGM + John Ellis Williams - The Continuing Story.

Thursday 11 May   Llandudno & Conwy Valley Railway Society   A tribute to the late David Jones, by John Myers 

A convoy of five DRS 37s runs into Crewe to reverse on 3 January:  37 610 / 602 / 605 / 059 / 603. Picture by Martin Evans.

All change at Abergele - pictures by Roly High

On the  quiet Sunday morning of 8 January at Abergele station, work progresses (above) with removing the track bed ballast from the Down Fast line.

Note that the signal arm and identity plate have been removed from the platform line signal, and a 'loading gauge' erected over the line, presumably to ensure that any excavator arms, etc. will clear the road bridge.

Bogie box wagons of various sub-types form the train: this one is an internationally-registered 'IEA' type which are similar to the MLA variety; both are designed for this work with lower sides that other box wagons to prevent overloading.

This vehicle pushes the old ballast up into piles ...

... then it can be loaded into the wagons. Readers may wonder why the main line has been removed, since the plan is to removed the platform line and widen the platform to reach the main line. The answer is that the Main line has to be renewed  to lower it to the right level to suit the new platform design. Removal of the platform loop should be under way as you read this. Abergele passengers -  both for and from  - Westbound services are being shuttled to and from Rhyl station by bus every day until the new platform is ready, although this fact has not been widely publicised by Arriva.

66 112 at the head of the spoil train.

Looking back towards the station,where 66 109 is at the front of a train loaded with new ballast.

66 112 (above right) easing up, so more wagons can be loaded.

66 109 with the train of new material.

Unfortunately, this stage of the work was not completed in time for the start of service on Monday 9 January and the line did not re-open until about 09:00. Similar problems beset the Conwy Valley line.

Penmaenmawr Quarry

In our recent item about possible events in the New Year we mentioned the work that was going on  at Penmaenmawr Quarry sidings, and wondered whether it might presage some new rail traffic.  Paul Chaplin of the Hanson company has written to tell us that the operation was to change the lights to LED bulbs - all Hanson sites are going through this change at the moment.  Hanson UK have secured a five-year contract with Network Rail to supply ballast and there was a hope that Penmaenmawr would have been supplying 250,000 tons a year. However, it has been decided that the company's quarries in the Midlands will continue to supply Network Rail. There is a possibility that stone may be transported by rail from Penmaenmawr in the future; this would be going to Hanson sites in the South of England.

New Year scenes - by Tim Rogers

On 4 January at Shotton Low Level,  train 6K41 14:58 Valley to Crewe hauled by 66 305 and 37 603, with FNA wagons 550045 and 550030.

Shotton Low Level on 5 January with new regular loco 67 008 on 1D34 09:50 Manchester Piccadilly to Holyhead.

Tim spent time at Flint station on 6 January to capture the variety of rolling stock. First,1D34 09:50 Manchester Piccadilly to Holyhead with 67 008 again.

Voyagers 221 112 Ferdinand Magellan 221 104 Sir John Franklin pass Flint on 6 January working 1A48 13:58 Holyhead to London Euston.

'Coradia' 175 002 calls at Flint as 1H90 14:40 Llandudno to Manchester Piccadilly.

57 301 Goliath and 57 312 Solway Princess were DRS's choice on 6 January for the flask train, running 49 minutes early with wagons 11 70 9229 010-7 and 550043.

The only other type regularly seen at Flint is the BREL-built Class 158. The driver of 1D14 13:08 Birmingham International to Holyhead, formed of 158 830 and 158 835, checks the situation on the platform.

Looking back:  Stranded on the Cambrian - by Aled Rees

35 years ago, on 8 January North Wales witnessed one of the heaviest snowfalls in living memory and this combined with very high winds led to severe drifts. An empty stock train derailed in the snow near Barmouth, and worse was to come. A report in Railway Magazine related:
The 12:10 Pwllheli - Dovey Junction train formed of two 2-car DMUs, train became stuck in a snowdrift just north of Tonfanau on the Cambrian Coast line with four passengers, the driver, guard and a railway maintenance man. While the passengers stayed in the train (fortunately, the heaters were working) the driver and guard struggled with 90mph gusts to a lineside phone to summon assistance. They walked the half mile or so to the telephone about six times between 14:30 and 21:00 to try to find out what was happening.  Diesel locomotive No. 25 201 was sent out from Machynlleth to assist, but this could not get through snowdrifts near Tywyn.

A helicopter from RAF Valley tried to reach them that afternoon, but was unable to
do so and eventually, after spending the night in the train, the passengers and railwaymen were taken off at about 10.30 on the Saturday when the RAF helicopter was able to land nearby.
The photo above taken at Cemmes Road that shows  one of the locos involved to rescue the unit the following day.

The two Cemmaes Road signalmen, Wil Breese and Ronnie Thomas attempting to clear a path over the level crossing.

This picture of  Machynlleth on 13 January 1982 shows the Up platform road still hasn't been cleared.

Information wanted for Llangollen Gala - by Peter Dickinson

This year's Spring Steam Gala on 3, 4 & 5 March 2017 at the Llangollen Railway is entitled 'Along Birkenhead Lines' and commemorates 50 years since the last through working between London (Paddington) and Birkenhead Woodside, as well as the last steam-hauled services from Woodside.

It is our intention to make this gala one of the highlights of the 2017 Preservation Calendar, focussing on historical accuracy in all that we do, whilst offering a quality event targeting both the enthusiast & family markets. I am therefore appealing for information, photographs and artefacts which can be incorporated into the event, specifically:
Photographs of or artefacts from Birkenhead Woodside station during steam days, for incorporation in temporary exhibitions in the Henry Robertson Suite & Berwyn station during the gala.

Photographs, paper ephemera and information of the RCTS 'Wrexham, Mold & Connah's Quay' Rail Tour of 29 April 1967 which saw 8F 48697 visiting the Llangollen line as far as Goods Junction.

Photographs, paper ephemera and information of 'The Zulu' and ' The Birkenhead Flyer' Ian Allan Rail Tours of 4 March 1967.
Full credit would be given for any photographs and information received. If you can help, write to and we will pass it on.

An 8F 2-8-0 'in the flesh' will be one of the attractions of the Gala. The 8Fs were no strangers around the Wirral and North-East Wales during the 1950s and 1960s, including hauling heavy goods train up the notoriously steep climb to the nearby Brymbo steelworks.  As mentioned above, in 1967 a now long scrapped member of the class, 48697, hauled the final passenger train through Llangollen on an enthusiasts railtour.

48624, see above at Loughborough on the Great Central Railway, its normal base, is unique in preservation in that it is the only surviving 8F built by the Southern Railway, being completed as part of the War Effort in 1943 at Ashford Works.

Sampling Merseyrail disruption - report by George Jones

In order to see how the rail replacement arrangements during the current closure of the Mersey rail tunnel worked out for travellers from Wrexham. I sampled the train on the Bidston line for through connection to Liverpool Lime Street on 4 January. The 10:30 departure from Wrexham Central with 150 253 ran a little late and was in Bidston for 11:33, due 11:28. Whereas there is normally a Merseyrail connection here at 11:37, the revised timetable on the West Kirby line provides for a half hourly service and a train at 11:46, so there was an enforced wait. The short journey to Birkenhead North was in a six coach set headed by 507 007 (above, at Bidston).

We  arrived at Birkenhead North (above) at 11:50 and terminated in the island platform for passengers to exit by the footbridge. Outside a rail replacement bus service to Liverpool departed at 11:56, routed via the Kingsway (Wallasey) Tunnel to serve Moorfields station at 12:15 and arrive in Lime Street at 12:22. The net effect was that the usual rail journey time was extended by 29 minutes.

Returning via Chester a rail replacement bus from Lime St at 13:38 was routed via the Queensway (Birkenhead) Tunnel to Birkenhead Central for 13:50. This provided access to a 13:58 departure to Chester with six car set, including 507 027, due 14:30.

I alighted at Hooton and witnessed 507 014 operating the Ellesmere Port shuttle into platform 2 before continuing to Chester on 507 032 for 14:43 with the service that remains at 15 minute frequency. This sequence of events will last until 12 February whilst track in the tunnel is relayed.
All the arrangement's as announced were provided; there is plenty of publicity on Merseyside about this work and the consequences, although I am not sure it has circulated to the wider region. Passengers from North Wales need to know their journey times into Liverpool via Merseyrail Wirral lines will be extended and some inconvenience is inevitable.

Editor's note: I enquired of Arriva Trains Wales whether tickets from the North Wales Coast line would be accepted via Crewe during this period, and was told this would be treated as 'off route.'
It is apparently permitted to travel via a change Earlestown, but sadly the trains from North Wales arrive at Earlestown two minutes after a train to Liverpool has departed.

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