Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

24 April 2018


Contributions and comments are encouraged: see the Contributions Page

Forthcoming events

April 2018
Thursday 26 April Brian Yates: Light Rail Transit Association (Manchester) The Tramways of Berlin, Potsdam, Lyon and Grenoble.

Friday 27 April  Shropshire Railway Society AGM, followed by Member's talk

Saturday 28 April Steam on the Coast UK Railtours  Ynys Mon Express. Leicester - Holyhead  60163 Tornado  Derby - Holyhead - Derby.  Postponed due to loco damage

Saturday 28 April Model Railway Exhibition at Manchester Museum of Science and Industry. Mainly narrow gauge in support of the scheme to build a working replica of the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways loco Gowrie.

May 2018

Saturday 5 May Stockport Community Rail Festival at Stockport Station.

Attractions include:
Webb Coal Tank steam locomotive
Modern diesel locomotives
Model Railway layouts in operation
Vintage Stockport Corporation buses
Original Stockport Tram
Horse drawn dray
World War One trench
tramway petrol locomotive
See how trains are signalled
through Stockport
As well as:
Local traders
Stands from todays railway
Community Rail displays
Preservation Society Stands
Talk by local expert Paul Shackcloth

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

June 2018

Saturday 2 June Steam on the Coast. Saphos Trains. Crewe - Holyhead and return. 46100, 34046 or 70000.

2-3 June  Llangollen Railway Heritage railcar gala

30 June Llangollen Railway Classic transport

July 2018

7-8 July North Wales N Gauge Model Railway Show, Conwy.  With 12+ layouts on show with trade support and second-hand sales. Refreshments available and full disabled access. Saturday 10:00 - 17:00, Sunday 10:00 - 16:00. Adults 4, Children 2. Ysgol Porth y Felin, Llanrwst Road, Conwy LL32 8FZ

Sunday 22 July Steam on the Coast Railway Touring Company North Wales Coast Express
Liverpool - Chester - Llandudno Junction - Holyhead and return. 45690

Tuesday 24 July Steam on the Coast Railway Touring Company Welsh Mountaineer Preston - Blaenau Ffestiniog. 45699 or 48151: Preston - Chester - Llandudno Junction - Blaenau and return

August 2018

Saturday 4 August. Steam on the Coast. Saphos Trains.  Bangor (07.00/22.15) Llandudno Jct (07.25/21.55) Colwyn Bay (07.35/21.45) Rhyl (07.50/21.30) Prestatyn (08.00/21.20) Flint (08.10/21.10) Chester (08.30/20.50) Crewe (09.30/20.00) Stafford to Stratford-on Avon. 46100, 34046 or 70000.

September 2018

Saturday 8 September Steam at Chester Railway Touring Company Norwich - Chester. 60009: Norwich -Peterborough - Nuneaton - Chester - Peterborough

29 September Llangollen Railway Diesel gala

October 2018

12-14 October Llangollen Railway Autumn Steam gala

Friday 19 October Steam on the Coast Golden Eagle Luxury Tour (Day 5 of 12) (Provisional)  Chester - Blaenau Ffestiniog 46100: Llandudno Junction - Blaenau Ffestiniog, Holyhead - Crewe

Photographed by driver Jim Scott, 56 105 stands at Llandudno Junction with ballast for the Conwy Valley line. Jim writes: 'I got as far as a mile beyond Llanrwst station before we ran out of stone. Question for your viewers, when was the last class 56 down the branch; I have it as the Trawsfynydd Lament railtour in 1998, but has there been anything since?'

Don't miss our 20 April extra issue. Back to Monday night updates next week.- Charlie

Tornado postponed

As we feared, A1 pacific 60163 Tornado, which was scheduled to work an excursion along the Coast on 28 April, is now partly dismantled awaiting expensive repairs, following its failure on 14 April in which parts of the valve gear were fractured and damaged. The 'Ynys Mon Express' is postponed to a date to be announced.

There's a full report on the situation on the A1 Steam Trust website.

Fire down below - pictures by Gary Jones

On Saturday 21 April 175 107, working the 06:34 Llandudno - Manchester Airport, started its journey 12 minutes late, and came to a stand shortly afterwards in Deganwy station due to a fire in the underfloor equipment.  The fire service attended, as well as a paramedic car, the handful of passengers were de-trained safely, and the branch was blocked for several hours until the train was declared safe. The firefighters declared that it was an electrical fire; the lack of smoke damage in the pictures suggest that it was less serious than some other fires under 175s over the years.

A bus shuttle to Llandudno Junction was organised; the train was towed to Llandudno Junction and stabled in the Tamper Siding, later travelling empty to Chester depot.  The 12:57 Llandudno Junction - Llandudno was the first service allowed to run down the branch.

Padeswood cement works improvements

Construction work at the Hanson works, which is rail connected at Penyffordd, is on-going regarding the new silo and associated works, including replacement of the outdated loading equipment within the works in readiness for cement to leave by rail once again. Potentially three to four trains a week will run to various locations including Glasgow Bellshill,  Avonmouth, and London Kings Cross all currently served by from other Hanson works. It is hoped that trains may start running before the end of the year and the company promises that inbound coal trains, suspended during the work, will return.

Another part of the current project is the installation of a new, larger,  cement grinding mill, which has been obtained second-hand, but 'nearly new', from a works in Bilbao, Spain which had to close due to lack of demand in that area. Much more details available on the company's community website.

46100 in action

On 21 April, Locomotive Services ran a private charter from Oxford to Chester. The empty stock travelled overnight top-and-tailed by their two Class 47s to form an 09:34 to Crewe, where 46100 Royal Scot was attached and took the train (complete with diesel locos) on to Chester and back to Crewe.  Ian Pilkington captured the westbound train near Beeston.

Arrival at Chester. Picture by Bob Greenhalgh.

Departure, after the whole train was turned on the triangle. Bob Greenhalgh writes: 'I have to say she sounded superb as she left and the coaching stock looks brilliant, not long ago painted at a guess.'

Near Beeston (Ian Pilkington).

Looking back: received just too late the collection in the last edition, 46100 at Bangor with the inaugural Saphos Trains excursion to Holyhead on 14 April (Rowan Crawshaw).

Class 24 identified - by Dave Plimmer

Following up on Barrie Hughes's picture of an unidentified class 24 in 1978 at Chester (last issue - picture repeated above); this is 24 082, identifiable as it was the only one of the remaining six which still had the steam heating connection pipe below the buffer. There is also a less easily spotted distinguishing feature - just to the right of the centre lower disc, there is a small, round, metal-framed grommet.

This  picture (taken at Barmouth on 5 May 1977 with Queen's Silver Jubilee adornments) shows this more clearly (together with the steam heat connection). 24 082 had the grommets at either end, as did 24 133. I believe they were fitted to allow a communications cable to be routed between engine and train when the 24s worked the Royal train over the Cambrian lines in the early 1970s.

With such a small pool of 24s in service, it became possible to build a list of the small differences on each front end - those electrification plates were arranged in 5 different places on the last 6 locos - allowing identification of a loco when only the front was visible. I still have my list - I was disappointed to see that Barrie's picture was of 24 082 (an easy one!) as I thought that perhaps I could use my list again 40 years later.

I've checked my notes for 24 August 1978 and it was a good day for Sulzer Type 2s. As well as the ones Barrie saw,  25 043 was out on the 11:11 Manchester Victoria - Holyhead and 25 317 on the 19:30 Bangor- Manchester Victoria. 25 126 was on the Amlwch trip, and 25 169 on the 17:55 Bangor - Crewe parcels.     

[Our thanks again to Dave, whose 2D53 website is a cornucopia of North Wales railway information]

Rhyl scenes - with Roly High

Colas Rail's ballast regulator 77327 in Rhyl's Engineers sidings, 18 April. Reminiscent of the fire breathing dragon in the James Bond film Dr No, a ballast regulator's job is to shape and distribute the ballast trackbed, on either side of the track and between the rails, in conjunction with a tamper which packs the ballast under the sleeper to ensure that the track is level and supported.

150 284 arrives with the 10:02 from Chester to Llandudno. Departing from platform 1 is the 09:23 from Holyhead to Birmingham International.

The now-disused Rhyl (No.1) signalbox seems to be getting a lick of paint ...

... by contrast, here's a picture provided by Network Rail of its replacement, the 'Rhyl Workstation' in the Cardiff Rail Operating Centre.

The old and the new order (left). Signal FH 6064 incorporates an indicator for the new facing crossover between Up and Down lines.The glory years of Rhyl No 1 and No 2 boxes are now symbolized by a single radio mast.

Colas Rail's Tamper DR73935 in Rhyl's Engineers siding after arriving from Crewe on 19 April.

Cambrian Corner - with Ken Robinson

A ban on locomotive haulage was put in place recently, west of Sutton Bridge Junction, due to the
condition of the track.  So for the time being, we have to be content with scenes like this - 158830 approaches Minffordd with 2G55, the 13:38 Pwllheli-Birmingham International on 14 April 2018 - ...

 ... unless, of course,  they decide (interesting but unlikely) to go back to the extraordinary sight of a diesel unit on ballast and inspectors saloon workings as was the case in the early 1980s following the ban on loco-hauled trains over Barmouth Bridge!  The picture shows a Class 128 Parcels Unit with Inspection Saloon at Porthmadog in 1981.

Editor's notes: The background to the current situation, as we understand it, is that a track recording train found 'cyclic top'  in various locations.  This refers to poor track geometry which can lead to, or be a factor in, train derailments. This affects certain freight vehicles at speeds greater than 30mph.  Network Rail would normally apply a differential 30mph temporary speed restriction (TSR) for locomotive-hauled trains only, with the 158s proceeding as normal over the affected section of track until it could be repaired, often by tamping or stone-blowing.

The problem on the Cambrian is that the ERTMS signalling system has no provision for such differential speeds. The 'ban' on loco-hauled services was seen as a way to ensure that the consist of each loco-hauled train can be checked for 'cyclic-top-susceptible' vehicles before it is allowed to run. This instruction can only be lifted when the next track-recording run proves that the various works have solved the problem. Unfortunately the Cambrian is only track-recorded every six months, but it appears that a passenger train, like piloted track machine movements, would be allowed.

Our archive picture from 1984 shows a Class 128 DPU at Pwllheli: it was attached to two four-wheel ballast hoppers of the 'catfish' of 'dogfish' variety in the bizarre 'fishknd' system used for engineers' vehicles. Ten class 128 units were built in 1959-60, but all were scrapped with the decline of parcels and newspaper traffic in the early 1990s. The only possible (fantasy) substitute in recent times might have been the Class 121 single-unit revived by Arriva for use on the Cardiff Bay branch, but of course this was not fitted for ERTMS and has now disappeared into the world of preservation, along with its Chiltern Railways cousins. Modern stock such as 158s has different coupling and braking systems.

Barely-relevant postscript: In the workshops of the Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway, Chiltern Railways (ex-Virgin) Driving Van Trailer 82113 was last year being converted to a locomotive to test an innovative type of hydraulic transmission: more on this link. Little has been heard about this project so far in 2018, though.

Steam assortment

Three images taken by Ian Pilkington of the of the Railway Touring Company's multi-day 'Great Britain XI' tour on Friday 20 April. Above: 35018 British India Line made its debut on the Settle - Carlisle line with the York - Carlisle leg, seen passing Helwith Bridge...

...and passing Lazonby. The sheep and their lambs seem more interested in Ian than the passing train.

45690 Leander and 45699 Galatea head the Carlisle - Edinburgh leg near Quintinshill, the first time 'Jubilees' have double-headed on the main line in preservation.

Another Southern pacific, rebuilt 'West Country'  34046 in its war memorial disguise as 34052 Lord Dowding, made a test and training foray from Crewe to Chester and back on 18 April. Phil Clarke was in place at Crewe Heritage Centre to photograph the return run rounding the curve into Crewe.

On 17 April, 60103 Flying Scotsman made the eight-hour journey from the East Lancashire Railway to West Coast Railways' southern base at Southall, west London. Greg Mape photographed the iconic machine passing the splendid garden at Eccles station, with the station's 'Harrington Hump' in the foreground.

Hartford, with rather more spectators on hand (Phil Clarke).

Bury (East Lancashire Railway) on 22 April:  'Crab' 13052 carried a wreath in memory of the late John Hobbs, a long-time supporter and worker on the railway, and a regular contributor to our website who died in September 2017. The 'Crabs' were John's favourite loco class, and it was fitting that his ashes were thrown into the firebox on the return journey. Picture by Tony Robinson.

Traction variety

The New Measurement Train at sunny Prestatyn on 19 April, with 43 013 leading and 43 014 on the rear. On the left is the 12:52 Holyhead - London Euston (Jim Coates).

Now the light evenings are here again, viewing of  trains at Wrexham General is possible.
On 19 April the Carlisle - Chirk Kronospan logs came through on time at 19:03 with Colas 60 085 ...

... hauling 18 bogies. The previous week, 60 087 was in charge (George Jones).

66 544 on the Margam to Dee Marsh loaded steel service approaching Wrexham General at 17:25 on 11 April (Martin Evans).

An old North Wales favourite, 37 425 Sir Robert McAlpine / Concrete Bob passes Green lane Crossing on 13 April with inspection saloon Caroline. Picture by Bob Greenhalgh.

67 015 at Northgate Locks, Chester with the 09:50 Manchester - Holyhead on 13 April (Bob Greenhalgh).

73 964 Jeanette at Rossett on 9 April, with 73 961 Alison tailing Network Rail Brake Force Runner 96609, Radio Survey Train Test coach 977997, Plain Line Pattern Recognition vehicle PLPR1 72631
and Overhead Line Monitoring Test coach (formerly Test Car 3 "Mentor") 975091 (Tim Rogers).

The other end of the Conwy Valley ballast train pictured on our header view: 56 087 stads in Chester station, 23 April (Jim Scott).

It was 20 years ago today ... 56 083 rumbles down Aston Hill between Hawarden and Shotton with steel coils from South Wales to Dee Marsh, 24 April 1998 (Dave Sallery's archive). The wagons used in those days were of theair-braked  BLA type, which were BBA 50ft bogie bolsters fitted with boxes to hold the coils of steel sheet; when it was decided to to protect the steel from the elements, some were fitted with telescopic covers.

The future? Great Western IEP bi-mode units 800 021 and 800 024 arriving at Cardiff Central on diesel power to form the 14:56 service to London Paddington (Martin Evans).

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