Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

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This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived issue.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

February 2017

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 

Again on Sunday 5 February  infrastructure trains were at work along the coast. Andrew Vinten photographed 56 113 stood at Mostyn by the decrepit-looking, and now-closed signalbox with an assortment of wagons including point carriers. 56 087 was at the other end. 66 139 and 66 197 had involvement in the work also.

For the future?

News from the politicians is that Flintshire and Cheshire county councils, with Merseytravel will back proposals for a new Deeside Parkway Station at Deeside Industrial Estate and work together on a bid for funding in the next round of station funding for 2017/18.

This will also support a half-hourly service between Bidston - Wrexham using either 'cascaded' 150  units from other companies or the 'new' class 230 if they are successful in testing. The class 230 concept is a rebuild of redundant but not life-expired London Underground 'D-stock' carriages into diesel units. Chris Morrison photographed the first prototype, 230 001 arriving at Tyseley in December 2016 for tests prior to entering trial service with London Midland.

Unfortunately, during testing on 30 December the unit suffered a fire in the underfloor equipment, which has set back the project, but promoters Vivarail are determined to go ahead. Underfloor fires are not an uncommon event on trains with engines under the floor: Class 175, for example are not immune - back in the 2000s one coach was seriously damaged and was out of traffic for months.

That last Class 60 (revisited)

More thoughts about the last time a Class 60 locos appeared on the Coast before the recent used of a Colas 60. It seems that the answer lies with the sadly long-lost Holyhead - Braunau am Inn aluminium traffic.

Doug Birmingham writes: 'I certainly photographed 60039 on 6F18 14.40  Holyhead RTZ - Arpley Sidings “Aluminium” (consist of 7 bogie vans) at Hawarden on 31st May 2008.  It was the first photograph I took after returning from a 3 week holiday across Canada (& Chicago) with my previous image being two GMD SD70s on a mile and half long empty coal train - not much difference! However, I am not convinced that my Class 60 sighting was the last one on the coast either - I be surprised if it was.'

David Rapson writes: 'I like a challenge, so on reading the note on the website about Class 60s down the coast I've gone back through extensive notes kept on behalf of both the Merseyside Railway Society and Rail Express magazine. Starting in January 2017 and working back, the most recent occasion I can find occurred on 25 April 2009 when 60 040 handled 6D19 06.40 SO Warrington Arpley - Holyhead AA and 6F18 14.50 return. The note states "this is the first Class 60 on the diagram since 60 091 covered 6D19 and 6F18 on 10 January 2009". Presumably those were the last two occasions until the recent appearance of 60 002?'

Looking back: Abergele engineering - with Michael Henney

In the light of what is going on there at the moment, I wondered whether the two attached photos might be of interest. Above, 25 211 and 25 178...

... and celebrity 47 076 City of Truro on 8 July 1984 during Sunday engineering works at Abergele & Pensarn.

Track-bashers' delight - Branch Line Society announcement

The Branch Line Society is delighted to announce an exciting loco hauled charter train in conjunction with Brush Type 4 Fund, operated by West Coast Railway Company (WCRC), traversing much sought after curves, loops and lines in the North West and along the scenic North Wales coast, with a leg stretch break in Holyhead. The nine coach train will be hauled by two Class 47 locomotives operating in top ‘n tail formation, with one Class 47/0 requested, subject to availability. As usual, there will be an on train raffle with proceeds donated to Brush Type 4 Fund. There will be a buffet car serving hot food including delicious breakfast rolls, drinks, snacks and light refreshments. At least two real ales are expected to be available for sale. First Class passengers will additionally benefit from complimentary morning tea / coffee with a Danish pastry, and in the afternoon, tea or coffee with savoury of the day and a selection of fine cakes. Our ROUTE, validated by WCRC and bid to Network Rail, is as follows:

Carnforth P2 (PU 05.40) – Lancaster P3 (PU 05.58) – Preston P7 (Up & Down Goods Loop) (PU 06.25) – Crewe Coal Yard – Up Liverpool Independent – Salop Goods Jn – Up Slow Independent – Stafford P6 (PU 08.12 /RM) –Norton Bridge Dn Slow Chord – Crewe Up and Dn Loop – Chester Dn and Up Goods – Dn Goods Loop – Hooton P0 (PU 09.28) – Hooton Long Siding (Run Round side requested) (RM) – Chester North Jn – Chester South Jn – Dn Slow – Holywell Jn Down Goods Loop – Rhyl Dn Main – Abergele and Pensarn Dn Main – Llandudno Junction P4 – Llandudno Town P3 (leg stretch / RM) – Llandudno Jn P1 (RM) – Bangor Down Main – Holyhead P3 (leg stretch / RM) – Bangor Up Main – Llandudno Junction P3 – Holywell Jn Up Goods Loop – Up Fast (Roodee Jn) – Chester West Jn – Chester P3b (SD 16.27) – Dn and Up Main via crossover – Up Chester Independent – Up Through Siding – Up Slow – Stafford P1 (SD 17.59 /RM) – Dn Slow – Norton Bridge Dn Slow Chord – Crewe Dn Fast – Dn Slow (Coal Yard) – Acton Grange Jn – Walton Old Jn – Warrington Bank Quay – Preston P2 (SD 20.11) – Lancaster P5 (SD 20.35) – Carnforth P2 (SD 20.57)

All timings are provisional. See the Branch Line Society website for booking details.

Skelton Junction - feedback from Andrew Macfarlane

A couple of comments on Greg Mape's interesting photos of diversions in the Skelton Junction area in 1985. In the first picture (repeated above) the train has actually just passed the site of Broadheath No.1 box where the connecting line to Timperley Junction diverged to the left until closure in 1962. Broadheath station was about a third of a mile before this point.

Regarding the caption to the second picture, the Lymm line actually closed (surprisingly) in the middle of the Crewe remodelling project. Crewe didn't reopen until later in July (the web tells me that the present Crewe power box opened on Sunday 21st July).  


The westbound Crewe - Valley flasks after passing through Belmont tunnel on their way to Valley on 1 September (Alan Crawshaw).

The loading point at Valley, photographed from the train by Ian Wilson on 1 February...

with 37 605 and 37 607 in attendance.

Heading for Crewe at Mostyn (Tim Rogers).

FNA wagon 550051, one of a batch built by Procor in 1988 (Tim Rogers).

Bangor on 3 February, with 37 602 and 37 610 (Rowan Crawshaw).


DRS locos 57 312 and 57 305 (on the rear) power through Stafford on 2 February with an empty stock working from Crewe Carriage sidings to the Severn Valley Railway at Kidderminster. Picture by Martin Evans.

This little diesel shunter (Hunslet 7183 of 1971 we think) still languishes in the yard of the Anglesey Aluminium plant near Holyhead which closed in 2009. Surely a candidate for preservation, or it it being saved for some future use on site?

66 009 passes Hope on 1 February, with 6M18 15:37 Killoch Colliery to Penyffordd coal train (Tim Rogers).

Diverted due to engineering work, 175 113 heads for Manchester on the single line through Navigation Road station (Greg Mape). The other track is Metrolink.

Rail revival news

We've not heard much from 'Lein Amlwch' for a while, but clearly the volunteers hoping to return the Amlwch branch to traffic are still active: Alan Crawshaw came across this clearance party  between Llangefni and Llanerchymedd on 31 January.

The scene from the next bridge, still on the same section, shows the extent of vegetation growth on some parts of the track.

News from another branch line revival project in North Wales is that contrary to some reports, the Blaenau Ffestiniog & Trawsfynydd Railway Society were unable to raise the sum needed to purchase shunter 08 757 from DB Cargo, and it has been procured by the Telford Steam Railway. Clearance of the line continues, however; perhaps a smaller diesel shunter might become available from the industrial community?

Engineering images

Some insiders view during weekend engineering work, contributed by Colas driver Jim Scott. Above: night scene at Mostyn.

A portrait of a doomed signalbox.

A couple of the trains ran to Llandudno Junction to change ends and wait for the possession to be lifted before heading back to Crewe This is 56 105 on train 6C57.

Corwen Central Progress - report by George Jones

With several aspects of the project coming together in early February, there is a need to provide a summary of recent progress at the Llangollen Railway's terminal station site in Corwen. News that the grant aid application from the Welsh Government's European Regional Development Fund has been successful to the point of receiving an Initial letter to proceed, has allowed the volunteer work force to begin construction of the island platform walls. The method of construction is to use pre-caste concrete Easi-Blocs as a modern and economical means to allow speedy progress and the supplies on site have been purchased from donations received by the Corwen Central Development Project.  The first section of two layers have been laid alongside the Downside track on footings which are already in situ next to the subway access unit - this serves to illustrate the height to which the platform level must eventually reach - see picture above (All pictures taken with permission.)

Weighing in at three-quarters of a tonne, each bloc requires careful handling with assistance from a Hyab crane; time has been spent in trial positioning and gauging to ensure correct alignment. There are some 460 blocs to be laid to provide the base, to be followed by a mix of other blocs and edgings to build up the necessary profile. With a total length of 160 metres (526 ft) the space between the two walls will require some 1000 tonnes of spoil infill and the work is going to take the volunteers the next several months to complete. Whilst some grant aid is expected, it comes with the inevitable need for the Llangollen Railway Trust to find match funding and donations from supporters and well-wishers remains necessary to see the project completed.

Adjacent to the northern boundary of the station site, the new access road to the Welsh Water/Dwr Cymru Waste Water Treatment Plant was opened without ceremony on 2 February when all service road traffic was diverted to use the new entrance from Green Lane. This has allowed closure of the former access via the breach in the railway embankment, for long seen as the major obstacle in extending the railway from its present railhead at Dwyrain Corwen East into the terminal station site. The new road has been engineered to provide a graded access and  the attached photo 6808  shows the new route into the plant, as seen from the summit at the point where it crosses the former Ruthin branch embankment. The Corwen station site is on the right and shows how the original Great Western line embankment has been extended to provide space for the terminal loop and island platform.

Finally, the search for an independent water supply to feed the planned locomotive refreshment facilities saw the commencement of a borehole on land adjacent to the railway embankment at the point where under bridge 31, the original access to the Waste Water Treatment plant, once existed. Dragon Drilling brought in their Italian made Comacchio MC30 drilling rig (above)  which was erected to a height of 60 ft on 23 January. In the course of six working days, the rig sank steel casings and extracted the pale grey clay of the Corwen Flood Plain.

Ground conditions proved to be more challenging than expected before a flow of water was detected at 30 metres (100ft) and this now needs to be sampled for analysis of content. Completion of the borehole will follow with the insertion of a slotted plastic lining tube and submersible electric pump before the assembly is capped. Further work in phases 2 and 3 will bring the water supply up to the water tower when this is built and erected at the eastern end of the platform.

Train services to the existing station, Dwyrain Corwen East, resume as of Saturday, 11 February, and during the three day Gala event on 3-5 March escorted access will be available for visitors who wish to see the tremendous progress which is being made with the challenge to create the new Corwen Central station.

Manchester and Cheshire update - pictures by Greg Mape

The Mid-Cheshire line continues to be a busy freight artery; here are two pictures from the afternoon of 17 January as trains make their way through Altrincham. Above, 66 737 Lesia with another load of biomass (scheduled to pass at 14:06) imported via Liverpool for Drax power station; we believe the large '37' refers to the age of the eponymous lady back in 2011 when the loco was named. Loaded biomass trains use the route via Stockport, Hebden Bridge and Wakefield Kirkgate to avoid the steep gradient out of Manchester Victoria. Originally the daytime empty wagons travelled the same route, but recently they have adopted the shorter route through Manchester Victoria (pass 12:06) and Earlestown.

Ten minutes later, Freightliner 66 553 tackles the curve with the empty refuse containers from Runcorn Folly Lane to Northenden.

Baguley on 27 January, with 97 302 on Network Rail measurement train working from Crewe to
Stockport and back via Altrincham.

Contrasting colours at Manchester Airport on 24 January. The class 185 behind wears the now-obsolete First TransPennine livery, being replaced by a silver-based scheme for the new franchise. The Arriva Trains Wales 175 is on the recently-inaugurated North Wales service; so far there has been no move to repaint the 175s in the Welsh Government blue which now adorns ATW's other front-line stock.

On the Airport branch, 319 368 and a Ryanair 737.

Castlefield, Manchester, looking across the Bridgewater Canal to the restored remains of the Grocers' Warehouse, originally a multi-storey building. Beyond, a Northern class 319 has just passed Deansgate station with service to Liverpool via Earlestown.

The Northern 156 is on the 'Cheshire Lines' route to Liverpool via Warrington Central. The recently-refurbished Cheshire Lines cast iron arch makes an interesting comparison with the 'Millennium Footbridge' and the lattice viaduct which now carries Metrolink trams.

On 27 January Greg took a ride on the famous Fridays-only 09:22 from Stockport 'Stalybridge Flyer', along with around 10 other passengers. The stations at Reddish South and Denton (above) have very active Friends Groups, despite their minimal service.

Stalybridge: 142 061 on the left, with its sister unit, have come from Stockport, while 142 016 on the right is on the 09:17 Huddersfield to Wigan Wallgate. You may wonder why the Stockport train needs four coaches: in fact it is a slightly-modified version of an empty-stock train which runs every weekday from Manchester Piccadilly to Newton Heath Depot via Styal, Wilmslow (reverse) and Denton Junction. Stalybridge station has recently gained two additional platforms,a bay on the far right of the picture, and a through platform behind the fence to the left. Rather than create yet another 'platform zero', all the platforms have been renumbered, in the opposite way to the previous arrangement, the trains here are (left-right) in the former platforms 3 and 2. Electrification is to be extended from Manchester Victoria to Stalybridge.

Finally, some views from the 'Cloud 23' bar on the 23rd floor of the the Beetham Tower. This one looks down on newly-enlarged Deansgate-Castlefield Metrolink station and Deansgate railway station.

Turning slightly to the right, the Castlefield area is below, with the Grocer's Warehouse is central in the middle distance. The train is crossing the Rochdale Canal.

Particularly interesting is this view across the site of the new 'Ordsall Chord' line. In the foreground is the Museum of Science and Industry a fragment of its internal railway, now cut off by the new chord line.  Behind the yellow cranes is the bridge to carry the new line over the River Irwell; sitting nearby is the bowstring girder part of the bridge, which is soon to be lifted into position.  Beyond, two freight trains can be seen: a GBRf freight train of empty biomass wagons for Liverpool, and a DB Cargo train of empty stone hoppers from Hope Street terminal to Tunstead Quarry.  This picture links to a larger version - use your 'back' button to return.

Welsh Rail Survey

Caryl Mai Hughes of the Welsh Government communications office writes: We are currently assisting the Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee with the inquiry they have launched into the next Wales and Borders rail franchise. As part of this, the Committee would like to hear from key stakeholders in a survey about their priorities for rail services in Wales.

It is possible for the survey to be completed using these links: English Welsh

We would be very grateful if you could post this information ... I have included a picture of the Committee for you to utilise. In addition, the Committee would like to receive written submissions to their inquiry consultation, which is on their website here: Rail franchise consultation.

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