Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

11 December 2017

Contributions and comments are encouraged: see the Contributions Page

Forthcoming events

December 2017

Thursday 14 December  Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society    Xmas Social / Bill Rogerson: Roaming the Rails with Bill 

Monday 18  December    RCTS Merseyside Chester & North Wales    CHESTER    Bob Barnard – “The Lynton & Barnstaple Railway“

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.

Tuesday 9 January  North Wales Railway Circle Speaker to be announced                                                            
Thursday 11 January  Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society   Ron Watson Jones:  Rails to Roads

Monday  15 January    RCTS Merseyside Chester & North Wales    CHESTER    AGM, followed by John Cowlishaw – “The End of the Line, Part 1 (Non-members are invited to attend from 20.15 hours)

Thursday 25 January Light Rail Transit Association (Manchester) Tony Young: The Tramways of Bury

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.

Tuesday 6 February  North Wales Railway Circle Barry Wynn, assisted by Steve Morris, presents more of his work.  A superb collection of photographs depicting British Railway practice going back to steam days.           

Wednesday 7  February   RCTS Merseyside Chester & North Wales     LIVERPOOL    Doug Birmingham – “Rail Reflections in Merseyside”

8 February  Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society    Ellis Morey: The Penrhyn Railway

Monday 19  February   RCTS Merseyside Chester & North Wales     CHESTER    Ian Pilkington – “Steam and Diesel in the Northern Fells”

March 2018

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

Tuesday 6 March  North Wales Railway Circle North to South. North Wales Railway Circle member Ken Owen returns with a pictorial journey north to south over the British Rail network.

Thursday 8 March     Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society  John Cashen RCTS:  North West & North Wales Reminiscences in the 1960s   

Monday 19  March   RCTS Merseyside Chester & North Wales    CHESTER    Peter Berry – “The Robert Whitfield Collection, UK Steam 1948 - 1958”

April 2018

Tuesday 3 April  North Wales Railway Circle Tony Griffith returns with two presentations.  The Dyserth Branch and an historic shipping disaster off the North Wales Coast.  
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

12 April Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society  Members Evening    

Wednesday 4  April   RCTS Merseyside Chester & North Wales     LIVERPOOL    Alan Moore – “The Railways of St. Helens”

Monday 16 April    RCTS Merseyside Chester & North Wales    CHESTER    Brian Armand – “Railway Roundabout”      

Thursday 26 April Brian Yates: Light Rail Transit Association (Manchester) The Tramways of Berlin, Potsdam, Lyon and Grenoble.

May 2018

Tuesday 8 May  North Wales Railway Circle AGM and Annual Photographic Competition  
Thursday 10 May  Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society  W. Gordon Davies:  A taste of Japan

Tan-y-Bwlch, 10 December. Capture by Dave Sallery from the Ffestiniog Railway webcam.

Bangor, 30 November - report by Jim Johnson

A visit to Bangor Station on the afternoon of Thursday, 30 November, ostensibly to film Colas Class 67s on the Network Rail Test Train, revealed severe delays caused by signalling problems in the Penmaenmawr area. It was obvious that something was amiss when I turned up on the station at 14:15, and the 1H89 13:07 Holyhead - Manchester Piccadilly, propelled by 67 015, and due off Bangor at 13:32, was still sitting in Platform 1. It departed at 14:29, 54 minutes down, and was terminated at Manchester Oxford Road. The 1A48 double-Voyager, 13:58 Holyhead-Euston, left at 15:23, 57 mins. down, and was terminated at Milton Keynes. Down services were also delayed, but not to the same degree. All up services were departing with the starting signal still on red, obviously under special arrangement. The picture above shows 67 027 Stella leading the the 10:36 Derby RTC to Crewe via Holyhead measurement train through the down loop (Platform 2) at 15:11.

With 67 027 Charlotte trailing, the train 21 mins. down on the schedule.  This was, we believe, the first visit to North Wales of a Network Rail train worked by the two Class 67s under the ownership of Colas, who bought them recently from DB. Double Voyagers 221 105 William Baffin  and 221 104 'Sir John Franklin' can be seen stood in platform 1, the severely delayed 1A48 mentioned above.

158 828 on 1G60 15:44 Holyhead-Birmingham International, leaves right-time at 16:23, permitted by the signaller to pass the signal at red. The procedure for this is that authority was given via GSMR cab radio from Bangor signalbox (the conversation is recorded). It is no longer necessary for the driver to leave the cab and use a telephone by the signal. The actions of the driver when receiving permission to pass a signal at red are to repeat the instructions back to the signalman. Whilst going towards the signal in question the driver would override the TPWS (Train Protection and Warning System) which would normally force the train to stop at a red signal. This action, which involves pressing a button for 20 seconds, would be recorded on the train's 'black box' - the On-Train Monitoring Recorder. The Handbook for the system is available online.

The return test train, with 67 027 illuminates the interior and facade of Belmont Tunnel with its strobe lights, arriving at 16:42, 5 minutes early.

Slowing to a halt on the Up main.

The silhouette of the old '6H' Bangor Loco Shed behind 67 027.

67 027's nameplate. Reportedly Charlotte works in the Colas office in Rugby.

1Q30 departing right-time, with signal on green, at 16:47.

[This report was accidentally omitted from the last update.]

Festive scenes

Maid Marian on Santa duty, Bala Lake Railway, 10 December (Bob Greenhalgh).

Dolbadarn on the Llanberis Lake Railway, 5 December (Jim Ikin).

Saphos arises

A  Train Operating Company licence was awarded in August 2017 to Locomotive Services Ltd, a company formed to operate steam-hauled excursions, which will be operated by a related company, curiously-named Saphos Trains, which has set up a website under that name. The locomotives and trains will be based at the former Crewe North Diesel depot, which will also be the hub for the services, which as we understand it will run on the North Wales Coast and Crewe - Cardiff lines, and start running in 2018. Locomotive Services Ltd has also procured two Class 47 locomotives, which will perform ancillary roles.  The two 47s  have recently been engaged on crew familiarisation runs, initially from Crewe to Chester and back on 1, 4 and 5 December. Robert Meredith captured them near Beeston (above) on 5 December.

To the enjoyment of our contributors the pair gained three coaches and ran on to Llandudno on 9 December. Robert Meredith's picture above shows them top-and-tail on three coaches passing Wardle between Crewe and Chester on the way to Llandudno with D1944 Craftsman leading.

Passing Hawarden Airport (Bob Greenhalgh). According to the company, ''Saphos Trains is part of the expanding and respected 'Locomotive Services' group who are custodians of numerous steam engines and historic carriages at their impressive engineering base in Crewe and we are pleased to launch a new and exciting series of trains which will offer steam hauled trips departing mainly from Crewe.'

Abergele (Roly High). All these companies are part of the empire of Jeremy John Hosking, born 1958, who set up Saphos as a Limited Liability Partnership in 2015. Wikipedia tells us that 'He made his fortune through investment and private equity, including as a co-founder and investment portfolio manager for private investment fund Marathon Asset Management. He donated £1.7 million to "Vote Leave" in 2016.'

Approaching Llandudno Junction (Jim Johnson). Mr Hosking owns several steam locos: according to Steam Railway magazine  Locomotive Services has a Network Rail Gauging Certificate for both Stanier No. 46100 Royal Scot and 'West Country' No. 34046 Braunton (currently running as 'Battle of Britain' No. 34052 Lord Dowding) to run along the North Wales coast to Llandudno and south to Cardiff.

'Between the greens' near Deganwy (Peter Basterfield). The depot at Crewe was sold by Pete Waterman to Mr Hosking in 2014. Could it be a sign of the times that a man who made millions from amusing pop songs in the 80s and 90s has handed the baton of steam's rich uncle to a man who made millions in the world of financial services in the new century?

As 175 109 heads into Llandudno platform 2 with a service train, D1944 and its train were exploring the Cae Mawr sidings, which were refurbished a couple of years ago with a view to stabling excursions, but have hardly seen any trains since. Picture by Peter Lloyd.

D1944 brings the stock of the crew training special into Llandudno platform 1 from the carriage sidings. The carriages are Mk 2f FOs 3330 and 3426 and Mk 2d BFK 17159 which appears to have been purchased from DRS, who used it occasionally on Cumbrian Coast services but had no real need for a first class vehicle. (Chris Morrison).

Llandudno (Rowan Crawshaw). Why 'Saphos'? We don't know, but another Hosking company, Saphos Hotels, owns a hotel near East Grinstead.

Basking in brief sunshine at Llandudno (Rowan Crawshaw). These two Class 47s have been acquired as surplus to the requirements of DRS, and given a smart coat of the original British Railways two-tone livery.  There is no outward sign of their current 'official' numbers 47 501 (D1944) and 47 805 (D1935) so presumably we should refer to them by the 1960s BR numbers.

D1935 arriving from Llandudno in bay platform 2 at Llandudno Junction where it will reverse to go to Valley to learn the workings of the turning triangle (Peter Lloyd). D1935 is the former 47 805, which back in the 90s was one of the Virgin Trains passenger fleet as Pride of Toton.

Portrait of D1935 (Paul Jones).

Flashback to 2005, and 47 805 has arrived at Manchester Oxford Road on an Arriva Trains Wales service from North Wales.

D1935 returns through Bangor at 15:02 ...

... Making a 'claggy entrance into Bangor Tunnel (Jim Johnson).

D1935 returning from Valley at Deganwy (Peter Basterfield). The loco has been turned on the triangle, as the main radiator grilles reveal.

D1935 now heads the 15:58 Llandudno - Crewe (Chris Morrison).

Pausing at Llandudno Junction to check for any gauging problems against the platform. Picture by Paul Jones.

The train leaves Colwyn Bay having stopped briefly, perhaps another gauging check (Chris Morrison).


68 022 leads the flask train across the Britannia Bridge, 4 December (Peter Basterfield).

68 034 and  68 033 with the 6D43 Crewe to Valley flasks at Bangor on 11 December (Rowan Crawshaw)

Ordsall Chord opens to traffic - Pictures by Greg Mape

Greg Mape turned out on the cold Sunday morning of 10 December (along with his 12-year-old
eldest daughter!) for the first service both ways over the new Ordsall chord. The first train  ran empty from Newton Heath depot to Victoria (above) to form the 08:40 passenger from there to Oxford Road where it terminated in Platform 5 before working the 08:57 to Leeds.

Oxford Road Platform 5. Initially there will be a quite limited hourly service over the line departing Oxford Road from 09:38 to 16:38 on weekdays. Trains call at Deansgate which is a useful connection to Metrolink, although just too late for passengers from North Wales.  It appears that bay Platform 5 will be used by most trains, with the Liverpool via Warrington Central trains which start from Oxford Road moved over to through platform 3.

The first train from Leeds to Victoria crosses the Irwell on the artistic new bridge. It will be interesting to see whether this added train over the busy Cornbrook Junction will add to the chaos which sometimes ensues.

This Network Rail view shows the lie of the land, with the new line cutting across the trackbed of the original Liverpool and Manchester route, abolishing rail access to the Museum of Science and Industry. The adjacent river bridge  is being restored as part of the project, as it is a listed structure.

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