Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

31 July 2017

Contributions and comments are encouraged: see the Contributions Page

Forthcoming events

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

August 2017

25-28 August Bala Lake Railway Steam Gala

September 2017

Friday 1 September Clwyd Railway Circle Dave Walters 'Railway Memories' The first half of the programme will feature images from John Dickinson, sadly no longer with us taken from 1970’s to 1989 in North Wales and other areas. The second half features images from Pat Webb taken from 1949/50 to the 80’s and 90’s mostly in black and white.

1-3 September Welshpool and Llanfair Railway Gala Weekend

15-17 September Welsh Highland Railway Super Power Weekend

16-17 September Penrhyn Quarry Railway Special event

Saturday 23 September Welshpool and Llanfair Railway Diesel day

23-24 September Llangollen Railway Diesel Weekend

October 2017

Friday 6 October Clwyd Railway Circle Les Nixon '55 Years of Railway Photography - Part 3' A selection of railway pictures which include genuine BR steam, a wide variety of mainly older modern traction along with industrials, some preservation and brief visits, worldwide, to nearly 20 countries.

6-8 October Ffestiniog Railway Victorian Weekend

13-15 October Llangollen Railway Autumn Steam Gala

November 2017

Friday 3 November Clwyd Railway Circle 'Snowdon Mountain Railway' A presentation given by Mike Robertshaw Msc IEng MIED, Senior Engineering Manager of the railway.

Saturday 18 November Steam on the Coast Steam Dreams Cathedrals Express London Euston - Llandudno for the Christmas Market.  46233 Duchess of Sutherland: Crewe  - Llandudno and return

December 2017

Friday 1 December  Clwyd Railway Circle 'Members Night & Christmas Celebrations' Members are invited  to give a 15 minute presentation of their choice (any format). FREE tea/coffee & festive treats during the interval. Contact David Jones 01244 537440 to book a slot.

January 2018

Friday 5 January  Clwyd Railway Circle Mike Blackburn 'The Welsh Highland Railway (NWNGR)' A history of the North Wales narrow gauge and Croesor Tramway and the linking to form the Welsh Highland Railway, restoration and building of the new.

February 2018

Friday 2 February Clwyd Railway Circle John Sloane 'From Vulcan Foundry to the Khyber' British built steam at work in Pakistan, It includes pictures taken on the spectacular line up the Khyber Pass to the Afghan border.

March 2018

Friday 2 March Clwyd Railway Circle Annual General Meeting followed by “Film Shows - Railways Past and Present”.

April 2018

Friday 6 April Clwyd Railway Circle John Cashen 'North West & North Wales Reminiscences In The 1960s' The presentation will cover from Liverpool to Liverpool within an area bounded by Southport, Burscough, Standish, Warrington, Crewe, Whitchurch, Chester, Holyhead, Barmouth, Aberystwyth, Shrewsbury, Wrexham, the Wirral, Chester, Northwich and Speke

158 830 approaches Barmouth with a service from Pwllheli on 20 July. Picture by Eddie Knorn.

Diesel loco doings

The 09:50 Manchester - Holyhead calls at Llandudno Junction on 27 July, with loco 67 022 in charge (Ken Robinson).

The Cardiff - Holyhead 'WAG Express' was unusually routed into Platform 2 at Holyhead on 28 July with regular loco 67 029 Royal Diamond propelling (Eurwyn McMahon).

A change in the weather for 68 027 leading 68 016 Fearless through Bangor in the rain, watched over by the student flats, with the Crewe - Valley flasks on 26 July (Alan Crawshaw).

68 016 and 68 027 with one flask at Valley, 17 July (Dave Sallery).

68 018 Valiant and 68 030 at Llandudno Junction, 31 July.

Now a Freightliner working, 6M86 Margam - Dee Marsh Junction steel train on 24 July passes Wrexham General ...

... and Gwersyllt. Pictures by Paul Shannon. Paul writes: ' This change of operator is believed to be a consequence of DB Cargo closing its Hereford signing-on point, but it's possible the traffic could revert to DB if they find a way of covering these trains from other signing-on points.'

Welsh Mountaineer

Tuesday 25 July saw the only run this year of the Railway Touring Company's Preston - Blaenau Ffestiniog 'Welsh Mountaineer' excursion. As usual, the locomotive - 46115 Scots Guardsman -  hauled the train chimney-first from Preston to Chester, where it was run round to proceed tender-first to Llandudno Junction in order to be the 'right' way round for the climb of the Conwy Valley line. Running tender-first on a main line with a high-sided tender bocking the view must be an ordeal for the loco crew who have to lean out to observe signals. Roly High's picture above shows the train approaching Rhyl past a small detachment of the Network Rail 'Orange Army'.

For those who missed a late update of last issue, the reason why last week's returning 'North Wales Coast Express' was held for so long at Rhyl is that Prestatyn signalbox closes at 18:00 on Sundays and Talacre at 19:00,  creating a very long section: the train had to wait until the delayed train ahead passed Holywell Junction before it could proceed. Thanks to Alan Roberts for this explanation.

Running round the train at Llandudno Junction (Garry Stroud).

Near Glan Conwy (Alan Roberts).

Near Dolgarrog (Ian Pilkington).

Dolgarrog station, from behind the crossing gates (Garry Stroud). The station was closed on 2 November 1964 during the 'Beeching' era but after protests was reopened on 14 June 1965.

150 229 arrives at North Llanrwst with the 11:35 Blaenau to Llandudno service, as 46115 waits in the loop (Garry Stroud).

Scots Guardsman has the attention of a local schoolgirl as it sets off from North Llanrwst, having waited in the loop for the northbound service train to pass (Alan Crawshaw).

Near Pont-y-Pant (Ian Pilkington).

On the approach to Blaenau Ffestiniog, where fellow photographers had cleared some vegetation prior to its arrival (Ken Robinson).

Dolwyddelan station (Greg Mape).

At the station, after the sun had decided to make an appearance (Ken Robinson).

Blaenau Ffestiniog, as 150 229 heads off with the 14:57 to Llandudno and the Ffestiniog loco runs round its train while the special waits in the loop (Greg Mape).

Leaving Blaenau Ffestiniog (Ian Pilkington).

Skirting the Conwy Estuary near Tal-y-Cafn (Ian Pilkington).

Approaching Pensarn Bridge by Llandudno Junction (Brian Jones).

Passing the Belgrano Crossing, Pensarn (Ian Pilkington).

Water stop at Frodsham (Phil Clarke).

Departing Frodsham (Phil Clarke).

Three Double Fairlies - by Ian Pilkington

While in the area for the 'Welsh Mountaineer'  Ian was able to photograph all three of the Ffestiniog Railway's double Fairlie locos. Above, Merddin Emrys (built 1879) leaves Tan-y-Grisiau with the 1340 Blaenau-Portmadog.

Earl of Merioneth (built 1979) heads the 13:35 Porthmadog-Blaenau near Tan-y-Grisiau

 David Lloyd George (built 1992) heads the 14:30 Porthmadog-Blaenau near Tan-y-Grisiau.

Halton Curve special

29 July was the date for the annual extended Chester - Runcorn Halton Curve service for stations to Liverpool South Parkway. This “Parliamentary Train” is expected to be the last with a proper service commencing in December 2018. Northern provided 156 468 for the working which carried a good number of enthusiasts and interested parties along with a number of travelling passengers, not just there for the ride. Above: The departure screen at Chester Railway Station, with Facebook link (Charles Allen).

Ready for departure (George Jones).

Liverpool South Parkway shown as the destination  (Charles Allen). [What other Northern trains terminate there?]

North Cheshire Rail Users Group (NCRUG) marketing material was distributed on the train (Charles Allen).

The River Weaver as viewed from the train with M56 in the background (George Jones).

On the Curve with the view of the roundabout on the A557 (George Jones).

The view of the M56 from the rail overbridge (George Jones).

Liverpool South Parkway: journey's end (Charles Allen). This may well be the last run of this eccentric summer one-way saturdays-only train, as work has started on preparing the line for a proper two-way service, with a target date of December 2018. We understand that the schedule for the main works is: Frodsham Junction Crossover – November 2017;  Frodsham Junction Signalling - February 2018; Halton Junction Crossover – April 2018;  Halton Junction Signalling – early May 2018; Halton Junction overhead wiring – late May 2018.


The NCRUG committee and VIPs at Parkway (Charles Allen).

Obvious at Liverpool South Parkway is work to extend platform 4 towards Speke Junction in preparation for Virgin Pendolinos being terminated here during the initial period when Lime Street station will be closed for three weeks starting 30 September. It is deemed the best option for passengers from London to go forward to the city centre by Merseyrail even though the Northern line platforms are some depth below the mainline involving stairs or lifts. Notice that a signal is encompassed by the work (George Jones).

After the three-week closure period, Lime Street station will be subject to a further 9-week closure in 2018 as the station platform and entrance throat is totally revamped and extended to 11 platforms (rather than current 9). 

Liverpool South Parkway station is on a restricted site due to the bridge across the dual carriageway of Woolton Road at the northern end with Allerton Junction at the southern end providing access to the former CLC route to Manchester. On the down side the available length is restricted by the overbridge across the Merseyrail Northern line, but what space is available above the car park is being made use of. Seen departing Parkway for Scarborough was 185 110 still in the old TransPennine  livery with Allerton depot in the background. A 319 unit is visible in the wheel lathe shed of Allerton depot, having been pulled in by a specialist shunter dedicated to this task.

Secret Politics

The July 2017 issue of Rail Express magazine has a curious piece by 'Industry Witness' reporting fears by 'stakeholders' that the draft proposals for the next Wales and Borders franchise, now devolved to the Welsh government will be withheld from the public until the 15-year contract from October 2018  has been awarded. There has been a consultation process, the results of which are yet to be revealed, and the shortlist of bidders is already known: Abellio Rail Cymru; Arriva Rail Wales/Rheilffyrdd Arriva Cymru Ltd; KeolisAmey and MTR Corp (Cymru) Ltd.

The implication seems to be that the contract will favour the Cardiff area at the expense of other parts of Wales, many of whose residents look to cities in England for employment and services. Mr Insider tells us that:
A decision has already been taken that Chester will be removed from Wales and Borders franchise control. It has been under-invested, and a visitor from the 1960s would find a time warp in the station layout and lighting. Much the same applies for the principal stations on the North Wales Coast Line, which are largely unchanged since the Victorian-era upgrade to accommodate a huge demand for travel to the resorts served.
Chester station building is of course, a Grade II* listed building, and Arriva have created some new structures within. The same applies to several other grade II listed Coast line stations. How can they be brought out of the 'time warp' when that seems to be part of their charm? Rhyl, Prestatyn and Llandudno stations in particular have seen considerable upgrades already.

New or re-opened stations are a common theme in discussions about the Coast line, and the writer refers to the Airbus factory at Broughton where 6,000 people work. Presumably this, and some  re-openings, would be served by a new commuter-type service in addition to the current long-distance trains. Let's hope that Network Rail's forthcoming new signalling will allow for this. If the Rhyl plans are anything to go by it seems rather limited in its scope.

Comments on the above are welcome.

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