NORTH WALES COAST RAILWAY:NOTICE BOARD
Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd
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02 April 2018
This picture escaped inclusion earlier, but is too good not to use. At Holyhead. With the 175s withdrawn because of the wheel problem , the only direct service to/from Manchester on 28 February was the loco-hauled one, as this diagram does not pass over the location of the track fault which was damaging wheels. DVT 82306, with 67 015 pushing, await the the
signal at Holyhead with the 1H89, 13:05 to Manchester. Picture by Tony Peters.
Prestatyn signalbox saved
We'll save more items relating to the recent signalbox closures for next time, except to say that we are pleased to hear that at least one, Prestatyn, has been saved from destruction by Prestatyn Town Council inspired by a Facebook campaign. We understand that Network Rail have agreed to put a metal fence around it with some land within the fence. The box is well away from the current running lines, and accessible from the nearby market area, making it a good choice for preservation, especially as it is not a tall structure like the Rhyl ones. We await developments with interest.
The picture by Richard Billingsley shows 67 015 passing on 21 March with the 09:50 Manchester - Holyhead.
Fire and Ice
As we write this, all trains (except Conwy Valley trains which are replaced by buses) are running non-stop through Llandudno Junction station, and Arriva Trains Wales are telling people it will not re-open until at least Thursday 5 April.
At 07:10 on Saturday, a 'small fire', believed to be caused by an electrical fault, was discovered in the 'Roger's Taxis' office which occupies the support structure of the station footbridge. Two fire engines attended and quickly put out the fire, but the electrical supply to the station buildings was disabled and there are fears that the footbridge, which is the only access to all the platforms, may have been been structurally damaged.
Bus replacements have been running between Llandudno, Llandudno Junction and and Colwyn Bay, and also for the Conwy Valley - although it appears that the town of Blaenau Ffestiniog inaccessible by road due to snow.
Double-tailed to Holyhead
An unusual occurrence on 28 March was the presence of two locos instead of one on the rear of the evening Cardiff to Holyhead express, captured for us at Llandudno Junction by Peter Lloyd. 67 022 (above)...
... and 67 020.
67 022 remained at Holyhead (above) the next day; the aim of exercise was to test-run Mk3 carriage 12176 which had been detached from its train and left at Holyhead on 27 March, with some kind of bogie problem; Rhodri Williams was there with his camera.
The 67 waits at the stabling point, while 175 009 departs past some new-looking colour-light signals.
67 022 emerges with the errant coach...
... under the road bridge ...
... and back to the depot, as viewed from a departing train (158 830).
Loco and coach headed for Cardiff on 30 March, photographed by Bob Greenhalgh at Beeches Farm.
67 022 has not been a regular performer recently on the North Wales trains, but here it is on 18 August 2017, its last appearance, having arrived with the 09:50 from Manchester (Rhodri Williams).
Class 37s then and now
Flashback to 14 July 1994, and 37 407 Loch Long (re-named Blackpool Tower the following year) leads 37 421 The Kingsman (Dave Sallery). Both these locos are active on the main line today: 421 was preserved until returned to main line use by Colas Rail, while 407 has recently returned to traffic by DRS after a very extensive overhaul.
37 509 in 'Transrail' colours passes Rhyl on 22 July 1995 with the empty tanks, Holyhead depot to Stanlow (Dave Sallery). These two Rhyl semaphore signals have now been abolished, whilst the fuel train disappeared when Stanlow refinery ceased to send out products by train. Trains are now re-fuelled at Holyhead with field which has come by road; the same applies to almost all the traction depots in the UK. 509, despite its lack of train heating apparatus, did some North Wales passenger runs in the summers between 1995 and 1997, and was one of the locos used on the 'Slate and Narrow' railtour to Blaenau Ffestiniog in 1997, but did little work after 1998, being finally written off in 2008.
The present day: West Coast Railways 37 518 stands at Birmingham New Street with the return leg of the Branch Line Society tour from Bognor Regis to Crewe on 24 March (Chris Morrison).
Corrections and clarifications
Sadly there are number of points to mention about recent issues, some of which were corrected after publication, but readers may have missed the change; many thanks to the people who contacted us. The last issue contained several 'typos' which have now been fixed. Notably, we meant to say thanks to the rail staff who put up with us, and the signalling between Shotton and Colwyn Bay is now controlled from Cardiff. If you spot any such nonsense, please don't hesitate to write.
Other matters: Regarding the flask trains, there is of course an empty flask under the covers of the wagons on the outward journey to Valley, contrary to the wording of our original piece. The flasks will be used again to carry more fuel elements back to Sellafield. Incidentally, we read that another batch of new flask wagons has been ordered to replace the older ones in the fleet.
The 09:50 Manchester to Holyhead does not stop at Abergele, as our picture caption suggested.
Signalling: Our simple description of the traditional system wandered away from the true facts a few times. A distant signal is only 'pulled off' if not just the 'home' signal but all the relevant signals, including the 'starter' which indicates that the line is clear into the next 'section', are cleared.
A shortened handle on a lever indicates not only a signal, but any equipment, including points, that are power-operated, Mechanically-worked semaphore distant signals are now very rare on Network Rail: On the coast, Deganwy has a electro-hydraulic powered example, while the Down Distant at Ty Croes is the only one with true wire-pull operation. Llandudno (town) retains pure semaphore signalling, but its distant signal, which never needs to be cleared as Llandudno is a terminus, now has a reflective board with a picture of a distant signal on it.
Finally, the 'stirrup' on LNWR signal lever has to be pushed down, not up, to operate the lever. This pulls up a rod behind the lever which raises a catch at the base.
Halton Curve progress - pictures by Mark Barber
Revival of the Halton Curve line is progressing. The picture above shows engineering work in progress on 22 March at the Halton Junction end of the line from Frodsham Junction. The track Formation is being slightly slewed (moved sideways).
Next day, 23 March, and the sleepers have been laid, awaiting the rails.
And the next day, 24 March, rails are in place, although not quite ready for use. Halton Junction signalbox, along with the one at Runcorn, is due to close in May 2018, with control transferred to the Regional Operating Centre at Ashburys, Manchester. Frodsham Junction box, at the other end of the branch, is being retained for now, and has been fitted with a new control panel for the new points and signals which will enable trains to use the single line in either direction.
A new service between Liverpool and Chester, complementing the existing Merseyrail route, is scheduled to start in December 2018; through working beyond Chester to North Wales will be feasible in the future.
'The Salopian' of 21 March was an excursion from Barrow-in-Furness to Shrewsbury featuring 35018 British India Line. Phil Clarke photographed it on the approach to Crewe ...
... with plenty of coal left in the tender ...
... and West Coast Railways 47 760 on the rear.
Passing through Nantwich and about to cross over the Shropshire Union Canal (Robert Meredith). A late change was made to the advertised itinerary, as the train was originally scheduled to be steam hauled from Crewe, and travel along the the circular route of the Welsh Borders Crewe - Chester - Wrexham - Shrewsbury - Crewe, but was switched and routed outward and return via the Crewe - Whitchurch - Shrewsbury line.
Near Whitchurch (Chris Morrison). The charter was diesel hauled from Barrow to Carnforth where the steam now took over, and to the surprise of many passengers Southern Railway Merchant Navy Class 35018 British India Line backed onto the 13 coach train. The locomotive was making only its second passenger hauled trip since its restoration to main line standards by the West Coast Railways engineering workshops at Carnforth, following withdrawal by British Railways in August 1964 and later being sold onto Woodham Brothers scrapyard in Barry South Wales, but like many other locos stored at Barry thankfully managed to avoided the cutters torch.
At Shrewsbury, 35018 heads for Coton Hill sidings with support coach after turning on the Abbey Foregate triangle (Chris Morrison).
The return train hurries past Hartford station (Phil Clarke).
67 015 waits for 'the road' at Crewe on 20 March having just come off the electric depot.
86 610 and 86 609 power through Stafford at 13:00 with a Crewe Basford Hall to Felixstowe service on 20 March (Martin Evans).
Not so well-loaded, the 09:00 Trafford Park - Southampton DB Cargo intermodal passes Gatley station on a soggy 27 March. Loco 66 140 (Les Burton).
57 308 James Ferguson acting as the Crewe 'Thunderbird' on 20 March (Martin Evans).
6D43 Crewe - Valley flasks pass Bangor on Wednesday 28 March, at 11:48, running nearly two hours late, with locos 66 301 Kingmoor TMD and 66 425 (Jim Johnson).
The Preston Ribble Rail to Long Marston bitumen tanks move (possibly for storage) on 20 March with 60 095, seen at Balderton crossing on the Chester to Wrexham line.
A week later, sister loco 60 085, same location, but a different train - the Carlisle - Chirk log train (Bob Greenhalgh).
Colourful GBRf 66 711 in Aggregate Industries garb passes Baguley on 26 March with a biomass train (Greg Mape).
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