Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

16 May 2017

Contributions and comments are encouraged: see the Contributions Page

Forthcoming events

Saturday 27 May: Friends of the Mersey Ferries: annual Dock and River Cruise. The ferry Royal Iris of the Mersey will depart Seacombe 12:00 noon for a 5-hour cruise to Eastham Locks and entry to Royal Seaforth docks.

27-29 May: Bala Lake Festival of Transport.

This list may be out of date if you are reading an archived issue.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

[Details of events during the summer of 2017 are welcome for this space]

68 016 Fearless and 68 017 Hornet depart from Valley with the flasks for Crewe, 10 May (Garry Stroud).

Don't miss the 12 May extra issue.

Bike Ride to Valley - with Alan Crawshaw

As Wednesday 10 May was such a fine day, I jumped on the bike and raced into Bangor to photograph the Flasks. I knew I was cutting it fine so rode to an overbridge west of Belmont tunnel and waited. All I got for my trouble was a London-bound Voyager (above) so I continued into Bangor for coffee and wifi where I learned that it had passed six minutes earlier than the estimated time.

No matter, I'd catch it at Valley. Once over the Menai bridge, the quiet leafy lanes which comprise the Anglesey section of Lon Las Cymru took me to a handy location in time for the Manchester to Holyhead loco-hauled, due in ten minutes or so. Half an hour later, a double Voyager which formed the 09:10 from Euston passed, the service which should have followed the Manchester.

I pressed on to Valley where the shiny new 68s were waiting to back out from the loading point, and chatted to two photographers on the platform until 68 016 and 68 017 pushed their load into the platform and posed for us in the sunshine before being granted the road. Then the long ride home, arriving tired and well exercised.

Voyager footnote: Virgin have announced that from the new timetable which starts on 21 May, the 10:42 from Crewe to Holyhead and 13:55 from Holyhead to London Euston will be worked by a double Voyager set.

Freight events

Ian Pilkington writes: 'The Carlisle - Chirk logs returned at last to the Settle-Carlisle on Wednesday 10 May, and although subsequent workings on 12 and 15 May have run over Shap, I understand the train will be returning permanently to the S&C.' These four images are from 10 May: Above, 6J37 Carlisle-Chirk logs with 60 087 Clic Sargent in charge approaching Helwith Bridge.

Approaching Hellifield.

Leaving Hellifield on the line to Blackburn.

Climbing the 1 in 91 Wilpshire Bank at Billington Crossing near Whalley.

Greg Mape writes: 'Stoney Bridge, Timperley yielded these two pictures within 30 Minutes on 13 May. The bridge has been refurbished which allows better views of the track as there is metal fencing either side of the bridge wall that you can poke your camera lens through.'

Above, 66 506 Crewe Regeneration with the empty hoppers from Fiddlers' Ferry power station to York, the return working of the regular working of store coal from the close Eggborough power station.

GBRf 66 738 Huddersfield Town with another load of imported American wood pellets from Liverpool to Drax  power station.

Passenger assortment

With the Down Main Line at Rhyl still 'persona non grata' to all traffic, on 13 May 57 315 eases 1Z28, the 'Spirit of the Lakes' charter from Peterborough to Blaenau Ffestiniog into the Down Passenger Loop (Roly High).

47 237 was at the rear. The return working was to terminate at Grantham,where the empty stock was stabled overnight, leaving around 13:00 for Carnforth (Roly High).

The refurbished and repainted footbridge at Llanfair PG on 7 May, with 175 105 passing (Richard Fleckney)

On 11 May, driver 'Dave Trains' brings 67 012 and the 09:50 Manchester - Holyhead to a stand in Bangor station ...

... with the usual driving van trailer 82308 on the rear (Richard Fleckney).

Wrexham speed-up

Chris Taylor writes: 90 mph running southbound on the Chester - Wrexham line is arriving soon. The existing, planned 60 mph Temporary Speed Restriction on the Up line between Saltney and Rossett Junctions is scheduled to be lifted from 05:15 on Friday 26 May.

Llangollen diesels - Pictures by Marc Thomas

7 May's diesel outing proceeded as planned. Above,  Class 37 6940 at Llangollen station.

Class 47 D1566 also made an appearance on the 15.10 to Corwen along with Class 37 6940. The headboard reads 'Pete's 50th Birthday Special', a celebration also alluded to by the headcode.

Great Britain X

Day 7 of this year's grand 'Great Britain X' tour on 5 May was between Grange Over Sands and Bristol, originally scheduled to travel via Chester and Shrewsbury, but re-routed to the  Crewe to Shrewsbury line, and then onwards to Bristol.  The run was entrusted to 45699 Galatea, photographed (above) by Phil Clarke at Hartford

Passing through Nantwich and heading towards Wrenbury (Robert Meredith).

Shrewsbury (Richard Putley). The 'X' in the name means its the tenth run of this grand tour, nothing to do with algebra, spying or voting.

In passing, some readers my know about the 'All the Stations' project by Geoff Marshall and Vicki Pipe to travel to, or be in a train that stops at, every station on Network Rail - 2563 of them - and record their summer adventures on YouTube, Facebook, etc. While at Penzance, they happened upon the 'Great Britain X' and made an extra video of their experience.

The Class 319 story - by Eddie Knorn

Further to previous items about the age of the Class 319 and 150 units, I can add some first-hand information.

The original build 150/1s must have been built at York during 1985 as they started to appear at New Street on Derby services from around January 1986. I started my career on the big railway on 15th September 1986 and a fortnight later began my placement at York Carriage Works. At that time, the works had just finished the last of the 318s for the Ayr electrification, along with a batch of 4x Class 317s for Great Northern suburban. The main new build job was Class 150/2s but at that time they could not fit the interiors fast enough, so there were unpainted 150/2 bodies on their bogies and with engines etc sitting around the works yard waiting for the interiors to be built. As I recall, the first unit to be completed in the correct sequence was 150 235.

In amongst all of this flurry of 150 construction, a Class 319 driving trailer stood in part of the works, presumably as a trial vehicle for the build of 60 four car units. During my time in the Frame Shop, I assisted with the initial construction of the underframe for the power car of 319 001.

Recalling the way that the works built things, I suspect that the 150/2 build continued until the 85th unit was finished with a steady stream of 319s starting around that time. This would have been around Spring 1987. The first 319 on site at Selhurst, their maintenance location, rolled into the shed at the beginning of October 1987.

Richard Putley in Ireland - Day 1

My first day with the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland (RPSI) Shannon and Suir Tour,  Saturday 6 May. Disappointingly ex-Great Northern Railway of Ireland (GNRI) Merlin failed to appear. Apparently an axlebox cover on one of the axles of her tender came off on the trip down from the RPSI’s base at Whitehead, Co. Antrim on Thursday. As a result oil leaked from the bearings and they over heated. This was only discovered the following day. So instead North Counties 2-6-4T Number 4 worked all of Saturday’s Dublin – Limerick leg. She had trouble getting steam up and only couple on to the train after the 09:30 to Belfast had left. We should have departed at 09:25 but eventually left 20 minutes late, but by Hazelhatch the deficit had been cut to 10 minutes thanks to some spirited running.

We had a water stop at Portalington which gave a chance to take some photos. We stopped in the Up Platform, which meant that an Up Train, formed of DMU No. 22215 had to cross over to the Down Platform.

 I also took a picture of the DMU arriving, where you can see the line to Athlone curving away to the right. We then took this line, departing only 5 minutes late.

Like most lines in Ireland, the line from Portarlington to Athlone and on to Galway is single track. Between Portarlington and Tullamore we passed an Up Container train hauled by an Irish Rail class 201 diesel loco (these are very similar to the the class 66s used in Britain since privatisation). Then at Tullamore we had to wait for a train from Galway to come off the next single section. Like most Irish Rail “Inter City” trains these days it was formed of two DMUs. Local hauled passenger are only used on the Dublin – Belfast and Dublin – Cork routes and the 201 class monopolise these works. The carriages used on the Cork trains were made by CAF in Spain about 10 years ago. I imagine the carriages they’re now building for Trans Pennine Express in England will be similar, The Cork carriages are certainly pleasant to travel in, so this should be something to look forward to.

Our next water stop was at Athlone (above) which boasts three platforms. We were overtaken by DMU 22337 on a Dublin Heuston – Galway service.

At Woodlawn we were looped as an Up train sped through. This station only has a platform on the Main Line so it we were unable to get out here. Our next stop was Athenry (above) which was also a water stop. Here the signalbox still stands but is now an empty shell – a sad contrast from when I visited it in the 1990s on a number of Irish Traction Group railtours. Back then it was still in use with a full complement of semaphore signals and at the east end of the station the branch line to Claremorris was in use. Now that line is disconnected though at least the track remains in situ. There are some nice gardens at Athenry which I took a picture of from the signalbox steps.

We then took the branch line to Ennis and Limerick. Back in 1992 (is that really 25 years ago?!) when I made my very first visit to Ireland and rode on the ITG’s Sligo Avoider tour, this line was not in regular use between Ennis and Athenry. But due to a derailment on the main Dublin – Limerick
Junction line that day, Irish Rail had deployed an inspector to check the state of the line. Having passed it fit for traffic our tour had then traversed that line – an unexpected bonus! Since then it has been re-opened to passenger trains.

At Gort we had another water stop. This time there was no convenient fire hydrant to use so the RPSI had arranged for the an Irish Civil Defence Water tanker to replenish No. 4’s tanks.After that we journeyed on to Limerick for an lively run which ended an enjoyable day. Meanwhile I gathered No 4 would do all the work on the next day from Limerick to Waterford and then on to Dublin.

[Continued next issue]

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