Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

13 March 2017

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Forthcoming events

This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived issue.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

March 2017

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 

150 259 passes a Voyager at Abergele station, 13 March. Picture by Greg Mape.

Abergele station back in business - pictures by Roly High

A picture survey of Abergele and Pensarn station in its simplified form, ready for westbound trains again on 13 March after work to remove the platform loop line and widen the platform. Pictures taken on Sunday 12 March. The signalbox remains in use for the moment, but controlling signals only as all points have been secured out of use.

Looking west:  the Down Slow signal post remains amid the contractors' paraphernalia, standing sentinel to a bygone age.

At the east end, the full length of the platform could not be widened due to remains of the old line still being in place. Actually removing the points at both ends is a project for the future.

The platform is well-provided with double-sided lights, complete with yellow bands to deter people from walking into them. The grey structure carries an indicator which we expect will show, for the benefit of the train guard, the word 'OFF' when the starting signal, awkwardly placed on the right-hand side of the line, is cleared.

Valley - Cardiff air service hiccup

Van Air Europe, which has been operating the Welsh Government's north - south air service on behalf of 'virtual airline' Citywing, has had its operating licence suspended by safety regulators following an 'incident' on 23 February during 'storm Doris'. Citywing has ceased trading and gone into liquidation. Passengers have apparently been told that their tickets will be valid by rail. The Citywing press statement says:
As a result of Van Air losing their route licenses on Friday 24th February 2017, the company has found it difficult to source suitable viable aircraft to fulfil our contracts. The company has tried to offer a service whilst suffering considerable losses but these have proved unfortunately to be commercially unsustainable.
However, the service will continue, as yet another operator has been found to give it a try: Eastern Airways, operator of a number of internal services around the UK.

Mostyn on 8 March - pictures by Tim Rogers

175 113 passes Mostyn on 8 March, working train 1H90 14:40 Llandudno to Manchester Piccadilly. Behind the train is the newly-installed Down-to-Up-line facing crossover.

Soon afterwards, 57 007 and 37 218 with FNA wagons 11 70 9229 003-2 and 550046 form 6K41 14:58 Valley to Crewe flasks, running 42 minutes early, as has become usual.

A closer look at 57 007. Rebuilt from 47 332, it is  one of the batch of twelve Class 57/0 locos originally delivered to Freightliner, without train heat supply as they were intended as freight locos only. Its number inspired Freightliner to name it Freightliner Bond.  The Freightliner company disposed of the fleet once they had enough new Class 66s, and DRS now has nine of them The other three are in the West Coast Railways fleet, two of them - 57 005 and 57 006 - having previously spent time with the short-lived Advenza Freight company.

Welsh Highland journey - by Martin Evans

On 8 March I visited Porthmadog and travelled to Hafod y Llyn halt on the Welsh Highland Railway, the present terminus for the winter services due to work being carried out at both Caernarfon and on the Blaenau Ffestiniog line.  Above, Ffestiniog Double Fairlie no 10 Merddyn Emrys brings the empty stock into Harbour station for the 11.15am departure.

Merddyn Emrys running round after being coaled and watered. Work at Caernarfon includes the replacement of the present terminus by a new million-pound facility. This project has commenced with the demolition of the existing station the project scheduled to be completed in 2018.

After reaching its present terminus at Hafod y Llyn preparing to run round for a return to Porthmadog. This halt, between Pont Croesor and Beddgelert is no longer served by normal Welsh Highland services; its passing loop acted as terminus of trains from the Caernarfon direction for a while in 2009-10 while the section on to Pont Croesor was still under construction.

North East Wales Metro

As we have reported before, the Welsh Government has grand plans for a 'Metro' network in South Wales, and a North Wales equivalent has also been mentioned, although with out much detail until now. A document called 'Moving North Wales Forward' has now been issued, and can be downloaded in PDF from the Government website.

It has lots of maps, charts and diagrams, and a long list of proposed road improvements, plus a list of Rail improvements which is something of a rag-bag, including things already under way, and aspirations for a distant future:
1. Capacity Improvements, Chester Station: development of options to accommodate increased number of rail services through the station.
2. Integrated Transport Hubs and Improved Rail Access, Deeside: development of options to improve access by rail, bus and active travel to key employment sites in Deeside.
3. Integrated Transport Hubs, Wrexham: development of options to improve rail / bus / active travel [walking and cycling] interchange at Wrexham General Station and other key locations within the Wrexham catchment area.
4. Electrification of the North Wales Coast Main Line continue to work with partners to make the case for investment by the UK Government in this scheme to improve access to HS2 and the wider UK market.
5. Rail Capacity Improvements between Wrexham and Chester: development of options for further capacity improvements to facilitate additional rail services.
6. Signalling and Linespeed Improvements on the North Wales Coast Main Line: to be delivered by Network Rail and will facilitate faster and more reliable rail journeys.
7. Linespeed Improvements on the Wrexham Bidston Line: development of options to facilitate faster and more reliable rail journeys.
8. Holyhead Port Rail Freight Facilities: work with partners to identify opportunities to develop rail freight facilities at Holyhead Port and promote transfer of freight from road to rail.
9. New Wales and Borders Franchise:  continue preparation of specification for new franchise to operate from 2018.
10. Direct Rail Services to Liverpool via Halton Curve: development of services between North Wales and Liverpool via Liverpool Airport using a re-opened Halton Curve.
The 'North Wales Metro' previously mentioned has become a 'North East Wales Metro' and like the South Wales version, the Government has decided to use the term 'Metro' in an unusual way to indicate a network of bus and rail routes. Possible new stations at Queensferry and North Wrexham appear on one of the diagrams.

Rail Freight to Holyhead Port would be certainly very welcome, but it's certainly going to take a lot of 'working with partners' to achieve.

Spring freight - pictures by Bob Greenhalgh

Wednesday 8 March: 66 130 enters Penyffordd station with the Killoch to Penyffordd cement works coal train.

On the same day, 57 007 and 37 218 with their two flasks pass  Beeches Farm, Sandycroft, on the Valley to Crewe run.

Friday 10 March: 57 305 Northern Princess and 37 218 bring a single flask past Beeches Farm.

Busy day at Wrexham - report by George Jones

On Saturday 11 March, the diversion of Manchester Piccadilly - South Wales services via Wrexham saw 4 trains per hour on the Marches line and the unusual sight of north/south trains passing in platform 1 & 2. Northbound trains were held for varying numbers of minutes to allow the southbound trains to come through the single line section. At 11:06 (above) northbound 158 830 Birmingham to Holyhead train waited for the passage at 11:08 of 175 103 with a Manchester to Milford Haven service.

At 11:48, 175 109 on the 05:55 Milford Haven to Manchester finally got going after waiting (as scheduled) 29 minutes for 158 835 on 09:23 Holyhead to Birmingham International.

At 12:14 175 005 from Cardiff awaited the passing of 175 108 heading for Carmarthen. Later at 12:41 175 112 passed 175 102  which had waited since 12 29. Routing via Chester rather than via Shrewsbury - Crewe direct added an extra hour or more to the journey times, some of it down to dwell times at Wrexham or Chester.

Level Crossing Closures, Chester to Wrexham

From 10 March through to 14 April the level crossings on the newly-doubled section of the   Saltley Junction to Wrexham line will be closed at various times whilst the final round of enhancement work is undertaken. Network Rail say:
Balderton and Broad Oak level crossings will temporarily close on Friday 10 March to Friday 24 March, and Green Lane and Pulford Level Crossings will temporarily close on Saturday 25 March to Friday 14 April. The work will see the crossings benefit from safer, state-of-the-art obstacle detection systems, and new full barriers, as part of the final phase of the North/South Wales Enhancement project. Diversionary routes for road users will be in place throughout the closures.
Rail replacement bus services will be in operation as follows:

21.00 Friday 24 March to 23:35 Saturday 25 March  -  Chester to Rhyl
23:35 Saturday 25 March night to 03:55 Monday 27 March – Chester to Llandudno Junction
21.00 Friday 24 March to 05.10 Saturday 1 April – Chester to Wrexham
From this we can infer that the second track, originally planned to be ready in 2015, will finally be brought into use in April after a long delay for signalling systems to be updated, but the press release does not explicitly say that.

Cambrian Corner

Wednesday 8 March marked the 30th anniversary of the last class 25 to work the Cambrian Coast line. (March 8 1987 was a Sunday). The loco in question, 25 109, unofficially named Castell Trefaldwyn/Montgomery Castle hauled two empty ballast wagons to Pwllheli on the 7th from Machynlleth, and Ken Robinson was on hand with his camera. A small 'virtual quarry' was established at Afonwen and ballast was loaded there (above) on 8 March using a local JCB + driver , and ballast was then taken to pre-determined 'drops' between Afonwen and Pwllheli.

The train is shown here in action dropping ballast near Abererch Halt. 25 109 returned to Machynlleth later that evening and was still at Machynlleth on 9 March. By 11 March it was at Crewe, and was 'switched off' at Basford Hall on 16 March. It was cut up at Vic Berry's, Leicester on 14 July 1987.

The modern scene at Criccieth on 7 March, with 158 818 working the 11:37 Pwllheli to Birmingham International (Martin Evans).

We understand that Network Rail do not consider it necessary to replace all the remaining jointed track on this line with long-welded rail, so the traditional clicking of wheels on joints will continue to be heard on some sections.

6960 in 1985

The visit of 6960 'Raveningham Hall' at the Llangollen Gala prompted Peter Hanson to send these two photographs taking during the 'Great Western Railway 150' series of events in 1985.  The view above shows it approaching Saltney Junction with the exhibition train which toured the former GWR network.

The preserved loco poses in Chester station; at that time it was wearing an unusual early British Railways version of the livery, and was attached to a flat-sided Hawksworth-design tender of the type associated with the 'Modified Hall' sub-class of locos numbered from 6959 onwards, whilst today it has the older type of GWR tender. It was normal in pre-preservation days for tenders to be interchanged, and it could well be that as only the second example of the new loco type, it was turned out from Swindon Works in 1944 with an older-pattern tender. Does anyone know?

More 'Birkenhead Lines' gala views

A further selection of Llangollen Gala pictures which arrived s little too late for the last issue. We have also received several more fascinating pictures taken by readers in 1967, which will appear in the next issue.

4 March - by Jim Ikin

45337, in the guise of 45292 and with a temporary mucked up appearance, complete with painted-on 8H Birkenhead shed code drifts into Glyndyfrdwy with a pick-up goods.

2-6-2T 5199 and 6960 Raveningham Hall on the "Zulu" at Llangollen

5199 awaits departure at Llangollen.

48624 at Carrog – note the '60’s gricer’ complete with woolly hat and goggles.

6960 Raveningham Hall, visitor from the West Somerset Railway, at Carrog.

5 March - by Brian Jones

6960 Raveningham Hall and 7822 Foxcote Manor travelling through Berwyn with the positioning run to Carrog, the first train of the day.

6960  departing Carrog for Corwen with the "Zulu" railtour recreation.

6960 brings the "Zulu" into Carrog past 7822r waiting to attach itself onto the rear.

43106 ('The Flying Pig') running onto the rear of the train ready to go to Corwen.

48624 taking the first passenger train of the day through Berwyn to Corwen.

43106 pulling into Glyndyfrdwy station.

Pathfinder's Waste Train

On 11 March Pathfinder tours ran one of their 'track-bashing' trips, starting from Didcot at 05:55 and visiting various goods loops etc. en route to and from Knowsley Waste Terminal (on the Wihan - Kirkby line) and the waste and stone terminals at Bredbury on the remains of the Stockport Tiviot Dale line. Eric Shenton photographed the train passing Rainford station at the start of the single-track section towards Knowsley, with 66 002 leading ...

... and 66 125 trailing. If you are a fan of 'Slow TV' someone has placed a video on YouTube following the various movements at Bredbury.

Greg Mape's travels

Greg spent a week exploring North-East England in February. Above 142 087 waits at Bishop Auckland on 18 February to work the 13:25 to Saltburn via Darlington. The line continues in the distance as the Weardale Railway to Stanhope, an outpost of British American Rail Services (BARS), owned by the Iowa Pacific railroad, on which a 'heritage' service is operated by volunteers. The platform seen in the distance was built when the company ran a short-lived commuter service, but could not get permission to use the National Rail station. The heritage operation does not serve Bishop Auckland, running only between Stanhope and Witton-le-Wear, the first station out of Bishop Auckland.

The Bishop Auckland branch serves the National Railway Museum's operation 'Locomotion' at Shildon, where Greg phorographed ancient Furness Railway loco no. 20 of 1863, claimed to be the oldest working standard gauge steam loco in Britain, giving brake van rides.

What a real Metro looks like: Gateshead station on the Tyne and Wear system, with train 4014.

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