Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

01 May 2017

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May 2017

Tuesday 9 May (change of dateNorth 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 Groupís 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 

Holywell Junction on 1 May, with 57 316 leading The Victorian Day Pullman (Spirit Of The Lakes) 06:10 Skegness to Llandudno. Picture by Tim Rogers.

Thanks to all who have sent pictures this week, and everyone involved in the running of so many interesting trains. We will catch up on narrow-gauge events next week. - Charlie

Llangollen Diesel Group news - by Ian Wright

The Llangollen Diesel Group's Class 37 loco 6740 (37 240) will be working on the Llangollen Railway on Sunday 7 May, making three trips:  10:40, 13:00 and 15:10 from Llangollen, working to Corwen East and back.

The overhaul of the Class 47, 1566 (47 449) continues; on 11 April  it had a test run to Corwen hauling the 37.  There are still some things to be done including a top coat of paint. The pictures show the 47 at Corwen and the 37 running round at Carrog.

Earl to Llandudno

The May Bank Holiday weekend saw the Llandudno Victorian Extravaganza taking place as usual in Llandudno, and among the visitors on Saturday 29 April were the passengers on excursion trains. We'll report first on a steam-hauled excursion from Tyseley (Birmingham) to Llandudno featuring 'Castle' class loco 5043 Earl Of Mount Edgcumbe, a youngster by Victorian standards.

With no locomotive run-round facility at Llandudno any more, 100% steam haulage of a train not continuing to Holyhead is problematic, so the plan was to have a diesel (47 773) on the other end of the train throughout reverse the whole train using the triangle at Chester, and haul the train with the diesel from there to Llandudno with 5043 trailing tender-first. The return from Llandudno to Tyseley was still 100% steam hauled.

The train, 1Z34 06:30 Tyseley Steam Trust to Llandudno, is pictured above passing near to Cholmondeston lock, as the horses in the field carry on regardless as  Earl of Mount Edgcumbe passes them through the Cheshire countryside. Picture by Robert Meredith.

Beeston (Phil Clarke).

Approaching Chester past the site of the Midland loco shed (Bob Greenhalgh).

Shotton with the diesel leading (Tim Rogers).

Approaching Abergele (Roly High) ...

And quite a lot of steam (and this coal) seemingly being wasted through the safety valves of 5043 as it ridesd along backwards. An odd sight to those familiar with steam locos of other companies: the Great Western Railway put their safety valves in the middle of the boiler rather than just in front of the cab (Roly High).

47 773 rests 'on the blocks' at Llandudno (Jim Ikin).

The return train arrives at Llandudno Junction (Jim Ikin).

Rhyl (Phil Clarke).

A classic study by Derek French of the return train near Flint.

Passing a rape field near Hargrave (Peter Neve).

Penmaenmawr station building auction

The station building at Penmaenmawr is the subject of an auction sale at Auction House North West in Bolton, Greater Manchester on 18 May, with a guide price of  £125,000 - £155,000 (plus fees):
Ground floor former booking office & waiting rooms which now provide A1 (retail) commercial space including three retail areas, modern kitchen, store/fire exit, shower & disabled WC. The ground floor benefits from original wooden flooring & has been modernised with surround sound wired speakers, CCTV & wood burning stove. The first floor provides separately accessed three bedroom living accommodation which has previously been let on a room by room basis which has produced between £350 - £400 pcm per room inclusive. At present there is only one room tenanted which can be vacated with one month notice. The first floor briefly comprises living room, kitchen, three bedrooms & bathroom. 
Full details at the Auctioneer's website. Why did a relatively small place needs such a large building? According to Anderson and Fox's book on North Wales station it was not an original station, and was extended in the 1860s and 1870s. Perhaps there was a need for accommodation for local railway workers.

NENTA Norwich to Llandudno

Another Saturday visitor was a diesel-hauled excursion organised by the North East Norfolk Travel Association from Norwich to Llandudno. Above, 47 580 County of Essex takes the westbound train through Rhyl (Roly High). 47 854 Diamond Jubilee was on the other end.

A very long 'Day Out'  for the passengers: starting at 05:00 and arriving back at Norwich by 00:30 the following day. Above, 47 580 trailing for the second weekend in a row at Llandudno Junction.

47 854 takes the return train through Bagillt (Tim Rogers).

A visit to Eccles  - report by Charlie Hulme

Eccles station, which serves an old market town now part of Salford, stands on George Stephenson's Liverpool and Manchester route, which has recently been electrified. The line through Eccles is busy with passenger trains, including Arriva Trains Wales North Wales - Manchester, Transpennine Express Scotland - Manchester and Liverpool - Newcastle expresses. Northern run their second-hand Class 319 units on an hourly semi-fast Liverpool - Manchester Airport service via Manchester Piccadilly and an hourly all-stations Liverpool - Manchester Victoria service; the latter is the only one that stops at Eccles, much to the annoyance of the local population who are denied access to Piccadilly except by the slow and meandering Metrolink service.

However, for a few weeks in April, due to Engineering work on the new 'Ordsall Chord', the stopping service was diverted to terminate at Manchester Oxford Road, and  on 19 April I decided to pay a visit...

... with a view to obtaining a picture of the Arriva loco-hauled 16:50 Manchester Piccadilly - Llandudno train, hauled on this occasion by 67 020. No North Wales trains stop here; in the days of First North Western there were a couple of peak-hour calls, but when Arriva took over they removed them, allegedly to 'save the paperwork.'

The garden maintained by the Friends of Eccles Station (Freccles) was looking good, as my return train to Manchester Oxford Road arrived, formed of 319 363.  These ex-Thameslink units are being repainted from the short-lived 'Northern Electrics' scheme seen in the first picture to the white base colour of the new Arriva Northern franchise, not unlike the livery carried by some of them before transfer to the North.

Behind the fence to the right is a goods loop, a fragment of the one-time quadruple track and four-platform station. Beyond that is the M602 Motorway, which runs alongside the line for some distance. A major accident occurred here in 1984 when the driver of the 10:05 Liverpool to Scarborough train (hauled by 'Peak' 45 147) passed at danger the semaphore signal at the Manchester end of the station  and ran into the rear of an oil train, killing the driver and two passengers and injuiring many more. A fire took hold, throwing debris on to the motorway. As late as 1984, the distant signal giving advance notoce of this signal was not fitted with AWS (Automatic Warning System) which would have alerted the driver and stopped the train if he had not acknowldged a warning horn.  Investigators, blamed the poor visibilty of the signals, which were later replaced by colour-light versions.

The return journey to Manchester offered a good view from the train of the new river bridge which will carry the Ordsall Chord line over the river Irwell, now with its lattice of supporting cables. The technical term is a 'Network arch bridge' and this is said to the the first such structure on the UK rail system. The arch has not 'gone rusty' - it is intended to stay like that, being made of 'corten steel.'  In the left foreground is George Stephenson's 1830 stone bridge over the river, which until the new work began carried the line into Liverpool Road station (now the Museum of Science and Industry) which Network Rail say will now be conserved as a heritage structure.

A little further along, we pass the new viaduct which will carry the chord line. The rusty look is to be continued along the viaduct on both side of the bridge.

This view taken from Liverpool Road a few weeks ago shows the relationship between the new viaduct and the historic station structures.The red brick building is a house which is said to have already existed and was bought by the Liverpool and Manchester Railway for the use of its stationmaster. The 1830 station building is on the right. The ramp crossed by the bridge looks a little like the ramp provided for arriving passengers, as seen in old prints, but in fact it is a later replacement from the days when this was a goods yard. Originally there was also a stone 'cistern' or water tower with a pump to bring water from the river: this was removed in the nineteenth century, perhaps after the river became polluted by industry.

Back to 19 April, and at Oxford Road I took the opportunity to photograph one of the trailer coaches of 319 363, showing the empty space between the bogies which has given Porterbrook leasing's engineers the idea to add diesel engines and generators which would allow the train run continue beyond the overhead wires when necessary, for example from Hazel Grove to Buxton. This concept - the 319-Flex - has found favour with Northern who have agreed to accept a prototype.

These Class 319/3 trains were built in 1990, to the same basic steel-bodied design as the Class 150 diesels.  Northern is also receiving some 319/4 units, which were originally built 319/0 around the same time as the 150s.

An earlier version of the same design, the Class 317, appeared in 1981 intended for services out of London St Pancras but remained out of use for months after the railway union 'blacked' them as they were designed for driver-only operation: the very same issue which is leading to the recent bout of strikes on Northern. 25 years later, the same basic issue has yet to be resolved nationally.

At Piccadilly, the new look of the TransPennine Express fleet. In the background is a Class 185, many of which have now appeared in the new colours. This was, however, my first sighting of the livery on a Class 350 electric - 350 401 - of the small fleet used on Manchester Airport - Scotland workings.  Early Class 185 repaints has the number on cab front, but it has now been decided that the bottom of the cab side is better for staff, if not for trainspotters.

Great Western in Wirral

Our contributor Tony Robinson writes to tell us that the first part of his article 'The Great Western in Wirral' is published in the May issue of Backtrack magazine, now on sale , and available at all branches of WH Smith. Part 2 will appear in the July Edition. This will be of special interest for those who can recall rail travel to and from Birkenhead in the post-war years.

Skegness to Llandudno May Day

On Bank Holiday Monday 1 May the West Coast Railways 'Spirit if the Lakes' Pullman train made its way from the East Coast town of Skegness to the Llandudno Extravaganza, a journey of over six hours. Above, 1Z61 'The Victorian Day Pullman' , is seen passing Wardle on the Crewe - Chester line, running 'right time', with 57 316 leading and and 57 313 on the rear of the train.

Near Deganwy on the Llandudno branch (Greg Mape).

Llandudno, with 57 313 ready for the return trip to the bracing resort (Greg Mape).

The return train passes Rhyl  (Roly High).

Rhyl's rusty rails

The eastbound view at Rhyl reveals that the rails on the Down Main track are looking rusty. Picture by Roly High who writes: At present all traffic including the Flasks and charters are being routed through the Down Platform Loop due to serious damage to the pointwork during a Tamper movement. We understand that a new set of points are being built, which will take a few weeks.

Sojourn at Valley - with Peter Chapman

On 13 April, 67 020 passes Valley (the station is in the distance) with the 09:50 Manchester to Holyhead ...

... and returns later propelling the 13:07 Holyhead - Manchester.

37 602 and 37 606 back their flask wagon out of the sidings into Valley station ...

... and prepare to depart Valley for Crewe.

Northern's underwhelming improvement - by Charlie Hulme

On 23 April I was able to ride in Northern's first 'fully-refurbished' Class 150, 150 275, seen above at Deansgate showing its weird balloon-like locos and white-based livery.

We had hoped for something like the Arriva Trains Wales revised interior with 2+2 seating, but all that's happened is that the same old 3+2 seating designed for the stick-thin passenger has been retained, with new upholstery and a general re-decoration.

Much effort has been put into improving the facilities of the disabled, with a information displays, completely new toilet module and a wheelchair space, which is of course admirable, and a forthcoming legal requirement; although there still many stations that are very hard to access for the less-mobile.   On the other hand, those of us are able but might just be a little wider over the shoulders than the norm still have put up with inadequate seating or hope for one of those single seats by the toilet, unless the train is half empty and/or we have a travelling companion who doesn't mind physical contact.

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