Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

16 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This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived issue.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

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 historic moment captured by Evan Ashton: the last ever passenger train to use the Down Passenger Loop at Abergele, 1W98 19:34 Cardiff to Llandudno Junction on 7 January.

Club 55 is back again

Arriva Trains Wales have started their 'Club 55' offer again, until 25 February. Passengers aged 55 or over can purchase a return ticket all owing travel anywhere on the Arriva Trains Wales network for £26 return, or £25  If you hold a valid Senior or Disabled Persons Railcard. 'All you need' say ATW, 'is the inspiration for a journey and proof of age.  Travel using a Club 55 must be after 09:30 on Mondays to Fridays; there are no travel restrictions on Saturdays or Sundays (except journeys to/from or via Cardiff on Saturday 11 February due to a major sporting event in Cardiff that day). Here's the link to the Club 55 booking site, or you can buy online from your nearest staffed station. You can also download the PDF Club 55 leaflet which has a map of the network and explains the 'add-ons' you can buy to go to London Marylebone, some Northern stations, etc.

The higher fare for Friday travel, seen in the past, seems to have been dropped, but an additional restriction has appeared that travel must be on Arriva Trains Wales services only, so no travel by Virgin from Holyhead to Crewe, or London Midland between Wolverhampton and  Birmingham, for example.

Arriva's normal fares are so high these days that you don't have to go far to make a saving with these tickets. Holyhead - Manchester for example, is now £51.50 for an off-peak return (which is actually valid all day!), although there are Advance tickets for less.  There's also a Virgin Trains off-peak return, which presumably has to be used via Crewe, at only 40.70. Holyhead - Manchester Airport return is £60. For Rhyl to Manchester, on the other hand, it is cheaper for Railcard holders to buy an ordinary off-peak return, and there is no peak restriction.

Holyhead to Cardiff is £94.60 normal return, but with Club 55 you could catch the 10:40 departure and have a couple of hours before returning on the loco-hauled service. Day expeditions to Fishguard (etc) will require a Saturday. Manchester - Cardiff normal return is £83.40 - the one-way fare is £72.10! The Club 55 is silent on the topic of routing; presumably one could catch the 09:50 loco-hauled from Manchester to Chester and travel to Cardiff by another ATW train from there, for example.

Notes and news

Our regular contributor Ian Pilkington writes to tell us that he's presenting his digital presentation "Steam and Diesel in the Northern Fells" at two meetings this month: Thursday 19 January at 19:30 at LCGB North West Branch, The Pied Bull Hotel, 54 High Street, Newton-le-Willows WA12 9SH and Friday 27 January at 19:30, RCTS Lancashire & North West Branch, Fulwood Lawn tennis Club, Highgate Avenue, off A6 Garstang Road, Preston PR2 8DY. We feel sure visitors will be welcome at these meetings on payment of a donation to help with expenses. Judging by the quality of Ian's pictures we receive, it should be a great show.

Chris Coxon writes to point us to a recent article on the Daily Mail's website featuring a spectacular collection of pictures taken from air by a drone flown by a Bryan Lloyd, showing the marooned ship Duke of Lancaster which still sits forlorn on the shore alongside the North Wales Coast.  The website is still on line, but now without any of the campaigning against the authorities seen in the past, so we can't tell you any more about what the ship's future might be that we have in the past. In June 2016, the owner (who lives in Romania it seems) permitted some arcade machine enthusiasts to buy some 1980s arcade machines and remove them from the ship.

The February 2017 issue of Railways Illustrated magazine has an interesting article by Pip Dunn about the Regional Railways loco-hauled 'Club Trains' which operated in peak hours from 1991 between Blackpool and Manchester Victoria and between Southport and Manchester Victoria as well as Blackpool -Liverpool. Class 37/4 locos were the usual traction, hired from the freight sector, but 31s were also seen.

Mr Dunn does not mention this explicitly, but by 1995 some of the 'Club' workings were using the 'Windsor Link' to reach Manchester Piccadilly. This picture from archive shows (we think) one such working, hauled by 37 402 Bont Y Bermo from the North Wales Coast, at Deansgate. Note that the first carriage is a 'full brake' vehicle with no passenger accommodation, presumably due to a shortage of serviceable 'Brake/second' coaches to provide a guard's compartment.

Sixteen stations in the former county of Cheshire have scooped awards at the 14th Cheshire Best Kept Stations Awards Evening held on Tuesday 10 January 2017. The Awards were presented by Prof. Paul Salveson MBE, Group Advisor, Society & Communities at Arriva UK Trains and a 'founding father' of the Community Rail movement. Chester won a special 'Queen's 90th Birthday award' for commemorative events, Frodsham (above) won the 'Cheshire West and Chester Award'.  Poynton won the coveted top 'Best Kept Station’ Award, and Rose Hill won the first 'Transport for Greater Manchester Award' to be presented, a new award in which TfGM help the judges to select the best of the 31 stations in Greater Manchester that used to be in 'Old Cheshire'. All those mentioned are now Arriva stations since the Northern franchise was handed to the Arriva group.

In other news, Arriva Trains Wales have made a start on providing Wi-Fi on their trains, thanks to Government funding announced by David Cameron (remember him?) in 2015 to complete the provision of on-train wi-fi across all train companies. 175 104 is now fitted; there are two saloon aerials, above is a photo of one. Apparently a 158 is similarly fitted.

Abergele, 11 January - report by Roly High.

With a very angry sea in the background and gale force winds,Abergele & Pensarn signalbox stands forlornly over the remains of its track formation.

Looking West,the Down Fast has been re-connected, and the Down Passenger Loop taken up.

175 115 passes with the 07:21 Cardiff Central to Holyhead...

... and heads West over the soon-to-be removed pointwork. I was hoping to snap a Tamper that was coming from Chester to Llandudno Junction but it was running late, and by that time the ice storm, snow, hail and tempest had arrived, I was losing the will,and thinking what I am I doing here, so I had to leave.

Abergele:  still in business

Although the Down platform is out of use, trains towards Chester are continuing to call at Abergele's Up platform, as illustrated by Jim Johnson's picture of 175 003 on 1H90 14:40 Llandudno - Manchester Piccadilly on 9 January.

Unfortunately, the dissemination of information about this situation has not been as effective of accurate as it might have been, not helped by the poster extract photographed by Jim Johnson at Bangor station.  (Complete with 'appalling americanism'.)

Then and Now - by Jim Ikin

Looking at the images taken by Roly High at Abergele had me looking at a superb book I picked up second hand in Colwyn Bay, Historical Survey of the Chester to Holyhead Railway by V R Anderson and G K Fox. Abergele has changed several times since first built, being extended in 1883 and a revamp around 1902 – the facilities being described as quite lavish – with a goods shed and yard where 'The Original Factory shop' now stands. Cattle pens were situated where Lloyds Caravans now is opposite a timber yard and shed on the seaward side – see the postcard (above) from my collection dated 1905. Adjacent to the station on the up side was a long siding which held around eight camping coaches for many years giving direct access to the beach. As can be seen on the postcard the timber yard is full and several wagons can be seen. Also of interest are three lines of washing and a bathing machine!

On the afternoon of 7 January I ventured into Conway to try and replicate a postcard from the early 1900s - it was posted in 1912  - unfortunately I was stopped by excessive vegetation but the nearest  position is shown below. As can be seen the road then ran straight on to Telford's suspension bridge. The area, known to the railway as Conway Quay, has the siding to the right (next to a much lower wall than today) which although taken up is still evident. To the left of the double headed ‘'Irish Boat Express' can be seen the three sidings down to down to the Quay which were brought into use in 1852 to allow shipment of slate, fish and other goods brought down the Conway Valley by boat. The opening of the Conway Valley line made them almost redundant and they were used for storage - evidence of the main siding still exists though.

Cold comfort at Rhyl - report by Jim Johnson

On 11 January I was waiting at Rhyl for 1D34, 09:50 Manchester - Holyhead, due at 11:31.  However, the departure board stated that it was cancelled because of a train fault. Next thing I knew, the Down Main signal was pulled off, and, at 11:47, 1D34 came hammering through (67 008 leading, 82308 trailing.) On checking the Real Time Trains website, 1D34 had left Manchester 15 minutes down for whatever reason, and had not made up any time en route. Presumably, the Rhyl stop was sacrificed to lessen the penalty payments to Virgin, whose 1D83 Voyager was running 15 minutes late behind 1D34.

Real Time Trains showed 1D34 as having called at Rhyl for 0 minutes. The photographs prove otherwise. This was a minor inconvenience for myself, but other passengers waiting on the freezing cold platform doubtless had more important business to attend to, and should not have been treated in such a cavalier fashion. On the positive side, there were plenty of announcements about the 'cancellation', but I found the whole episode somewhat underhand.

The Mersey Weaver II

On Saturday 14 January, a Pathfinder Tours Excursion - The 'Mersey Weaver II' started 2017 with a freight line  exploration of North Cheshire and the Merseyside areas. The excursion was photographed at Chorlton on the down slow line approaching Basford Hall Junction heading towards Crewe with 66 182 leading

The advertised excursion route was from Westbury to Crewe,  then Weaver Jn - Walton Old Jn - via 'the Hole' tunnel under the main line at Warrington - Bank Quay Down Slow - Earlestown Up & Down Loop (reverse) - Dallam Royal Mail Terminal - via Up Slow / Up Goods - Acton Grange Jn - West Cheshire Jn - Elton Encirc Terminal (reverse) - Helsby - Halton Curve - Runcorn - Ditton East Jn - Down Ditton Slow - Up & Down Goods - Speke Jn Down Goods - Garston Freightliner Holding Siding (reverse) - return to Halewood Jns (reverse) - Wavertree Jn - Edge Hill - Down Wapping Siding (reverse) - Edge Hill - Wavertree Jn - Speke Jn - via Up Ditton Slow - Ditton West to East Jns via Reception Sidings - Up Low Level / Up Goods - Fiddlers Ferry Jn - Arpley Jn - Latchford Sidings (reverse) - Arpley Grid Iron Jns North to South via Feeding Line - Acton Grange Jn - Hartford - Crewe, then return via joining stations to Westbury.

Mark Barber photographed the train a Frodsham station, now after reversing at Earlestown hauled by 66 056 which was on the other end of the train from Westbury ...

... and while the train went to the recently-opened Encirc glass factory sidings to reverse, Mark Barber relocated to a vantage point by the Halton Curve to capture the train, now hauled by 66 182 again, negotiating the one-way single track link.  Conspicuous in the picture are the results of the drainage improvements which have been carried out.

66 056 on the rear as the train approaches Halton Junction (Mark Barber).  Note the supplies of cable-troughing which will soon be laid to carry signalling cables. We understand that the project to reinstate two-way working (over the single track for this short section) is on schedule for completion in time to begin a regular service between Liverpool and Chester in December 2018.

Later in the day the train visited, and reversed at - Edge Hill Down Wapping Siding, where Laurence Wheeler was able to take a picture from the train of the three tunnels at this very historic site, part of the 1830 Liverpool and Manchester Railway.  The train is standing on what was the line to Crown Street goods station, opened in 1846 and closed in 1972. The tunnel is still used as a headshunt and run round for the Intercity depot, although the latter does not seem to be used. In the centre, the Wapping tunnel leading to Park Street goods station, opened in 1830 as the original freight terminus of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway and closed in 1972. To the right is the tunnel to the original Liverpool & Manchester Railway passenger station at Crown Street, opened in 1830 and closed in 1836 with the opening of Lime Street station. The Subterranea Britannica website has the full story.

The excursion was judged a success: reportedly the only promised section in the North West which was missed was Dallam Royal Mail Terminal which had been the scene of a minor derailment some hours earlier.


Greg Mape visited the banks of the river Irwell on 10 January to take a look at the construction works for the new Ordsall Chord line. In view either side of the river are the beginnings of the 'iconic' Corten steel bowstring-style bridge which will take the new line across the river. The Class 175 in the background is on the existing line between Deansgate (Castlefield Junction) and Ordsall Lane Junction.

On 12 January, DB locos 66 002 and 67 021 arrive at Crewe with a couple of empty flat wagons from Warrington Arpley; they were moving on to the Electric depot and then to Bescot (Martin Evans).

The German-registered MIA SOPHIE-B, which docked at Port Penrhyn, Bangor, in the early hours of Monday morning, 9 January. Slate waste from Penrhyn Quarry was the cargo it was picking up. She had gone by the morning of the following day, destination Rye, Sussex (Jim Johnson).

The ship's previous Russian identity TULAS is still apparent (Jim Johnson).

66 186 at Penyffordd on 16 January on an Alexandra Dock, Newport to Dee Marsh light-engine working; the purpose of the trip is unknown (Bob Greenhalgh).

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