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Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd
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13 August 2018
Colourful scene at Bangor on 9 August as 37 607 arrives with a Network Rail train. Picture by Rowan Crawshaw. The loco has been sold by DRS to Colas, who haven't got round to applying their livery. The blue vehicle, 6397, is a converted Mk1 passenger brake van, apparently owned by Porterbrook, its intended use being as a Translator Vehicle for hauling HSTs.
New Measurement Train on the Coast
43 014 The Railway Observer leads 43 062 John Armitt westbound through Conwy on 9 August (Garry Stroud).
Bangor (Rowan Crawshaw).
Returning through Llanfair PG (Rhodri Williams). The train, which originated at Burton-on-Trent, would next visit Liverpool Lime Street twice before finally terminating at Crewe.
Llandudno Junction (Garry Stroud).
This train was driven by Colas Rail driver and rail enthusiast Jim Scott, on his final day with Colas before starting a new job with GB Railfreight.
Class 67 action
67 010 propels the 13:07 Holyhead - Manchester through Conwy, 9 August (Garry Stroud).
67 023 Stella leads at track recording train, 1Q18 14:56 Tyseley to Burton-on-Trent Wetmore Sidings through Wrexham on 10 August. The rest of the train was Mk2d BSO 9481, Network Rail Support coach; Mk2f 977997 Radio Survey Train Test coach, Mk2f 72631 Plain Line Pattern Recognition vehicle PLPR1, Mk1, 975091, OHLM Test coach (formerly Test Car 3 "Mentor") and on the rear ...
... 67 027 Charlotte (Tim Rogers).
67 029 Royal Diamond and 67 022 pass Leominster on the way from Crewe to Cardiff, 7 August (Garry Stroud).
On 8 August the Ultrasonic Test Unit, powered by 37 607, worked from Shrewsbury to Bangor, seen above passing Beeches Farm west of Chester. Picture by Bob Greenhalgh.
37 607 arriving at Bangor at 19:08, DBSO 9702 on the tail. Picture by Jim Johnson.
Disappearing into the Buddleia on the old Platform 4 (Jim Johnson). The train spent the night here.
Passing Conwy, heading from Bangor to Blaenau Ffestiniog on 9 August (Garry Stroud).
Regaining the main line at Llandudno Junction after visiting Blaenau (Garry Stroud).
On the Roodee Viaduct at 19:29, passing the 18:47 Llandudno Junction - Chester formed of 175 001 (Bob Greenhalgh).
Class 40 on test
On the 7 August D213 Andania completed two round trips light-engine from Crewe to Chester fdor Locomotive Services. According to the Real Time Trains website it was supposed to run into platform 3 and then through west, north and south junctions. However, when I arrived at the station the classic 'Whistler' engine noise could be heard echoing around the station. I found it resplendent in green so glossy it was mirror-like, on platform 5 with 142 065 and 175 006 in attendance.
One of the Class 40s named after ocean liners; the first RMS Andania was sunk by the Germans in World War I, and the second by the Germans in World War II. Picture by James Shuttleworth.
Picture by James Shuttleworth.
On 8 and 9 August, D213 ran a loaded test train, on the loop previously used by Saphos Trains from Crewe to Chester, down the 'Western', emerging at Stafford and back to Crewe on the West Coast Main Line. On 9 August (above), Andania passes through Chester's centre road on 5Z90, 09:30 Crewe H.S - Telford Central (David Wood). A third run scheduled for 10 August did not take place.
Bangor from Above
A Long-range shot of Bangor station from Penchwintan Hill, showing the temporary covering for the refurbishment. Also the now-empty loco shed, and the north-lights of the old goods shed (believed to be the original LNWR loco shed). Picture by Jim Johnson.
70 813 brings the logs for Chirk across Roodee viaduct, Chester on 9 August ...
... and on 10 August at Balderton Crossing (Bob Greenhalgh).
Freightliner locos 90 043 and 90 047 arrive at Crewe on 6 August ready for a crew change on the Daventry to Coatbridge service at 14:05 (Martin Evans).
The Crewe - Valley Flask train passing Abergele on 10 August with 68 004 Rapid and 68 003 Astute giving super power (Greg Mape).
66 506 Crewe Regeneration brings loaded steel train 6M86, 10:29 Margam T.C. to Dee Marsh Reception Sidings through Wrexham General on 10 August (Tim Rogers).
Cambrian Corner - with Ken Robinson
Last week our annual 'Preserved Railways' course was held at Plas Tan y Bwlch, and we had some great days out visiting various railways. The highlight for me was the Vale of Rheidol which we visited on Thursday - the weather was very good, and we had a 'works visit' on top of which we had a lovely return journey. The VoRh has really become one of the 'leaders' in narrow gauge preservation, and it employs 32 people! On a personal level, it brings back many memories for me of travelling on it in the late 1960s, and it has that close link with the Cambrian. Above, loco No. 8 in August 1967 at the 'old' (but not original) station at Aberystwyth, with myself looking on.
158 824 departing Aberystwyth with 1G55, the 15:30 to Birmingham International on 9 August 2018. The hourly timetable seems very tight and even slight delays can affect punctuality, although trains were running almost to time on this day.
No 1213 (previously No 9) departing Aberystwyth past the old engine shed with the 15:45 to Devil's Bridge on 9 August (taken with permission, on VoRh property - one of the advantages of being on an organised tour.)
Lein Amlwch now and then - by Barrie Hughes
The possible revival of the Amlwch branch has been in the news recently. The North Wales Chronicle of 30 July featured an interview with Walter Glyn Davies, chairman of the volunteer group who have a licence from Network Rail to work on the line to remove vegetation to clear the route for possible reopening at a heritage line between Llangefni and Amlwch. (There a long standing hope that Network Rail with Council support will revive the Gaerwen to Llangefni section for a Bangor commuter service). The picture above (from the group's Facebook page) gives an idea of the challenge.
Mr Davies told the reporter: We have been assured that our work won't go without reward although we don't know when the line will re-open. Bringing the railway back would bring huge benefits to not only Amlwch, but to the island as a whole as well. I am certain that the railway line would be popular. If it works for other areas across Britain, then why not here too?' Ynys Môn Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorwerth recently visited to take a look at the progress volunteers have made. He says he is keen to see the line re-opened, and will urge Welsh Government and others to support this project in every way they possibly can.
Needless to say, we wish them well. Here are some archive views from before the line closed. On 7 August 1985 I randomly turned up at Gaerwen and the signalman told me I was in luck, the Fisons’ weed-killing train had just gone up the branch. I was very lucky to get several shots at various locations. I caught up with the train at Llanerchymedd (above) where 25 224 was propelling the red-liveried Fisons’ weed train including as 'DVT’ Class 100 DMU trailer 56315.
The train moved quite slowly so we were able to catch up again at Rhosgoch. The railcar.co.uk website has a much detail about this train and its operation.
25 224 is seen propelling the rake towards Amlwch from Rhosgoch. This loco was to last less than a year being withdrawn on 8 May 1986 and cut up at Vic Berry’s scrapyard Leicester in March 1987.
Here the train is seen, probably departing Amlwch, from Mona Street bridge. The line closed to passengers in 1964, but was retained to serve the Associated Octel works at Amlwch which extracted Bromine - essential in the production process of 'anti-knock compound for petrol engines - from sea-water. It saw its last Octel freight in 1993 after the loss of traffic to road transport; the works itself closed in 2004, but its history is documented in a very interesting website.
This picture, kindly supplied by Max Birchenough, shows 24 055 hauling the Octel tanks on 28 May 1975. The location is said to be Llangefni on the ACR but the level crossing gates look to be those of the Octel Branch in Amlwch. Steam locos were not allowed in the works, and trains had to be handed over to the company's shunter, but diesels could work through. 24 055 was to last just over four months being withdrawn on 4 October 1975 and cut up at Swindon two years later on 1 December 1976.
There are more images of the Octel trains on Dave Sallery's Penmorfa website.
Holyhead Thoughts - by Bernard Allan
There are proposals for a port access road in Holyhead which would run from the A55 at Black Bridge (the bridge over the railway immediately east of Holyhead station) apparently over Network Rail land to meet up with the existing road (within the port’s secure area and parallel to Victoria Road) leading to the berths. The need for this road is understandable – no longer will articulated trucks need to join the local road network and negotiate two near 90 degree turns (off the A55 onto Black Bridge and off Black Bridge into the port).
More than likely nothing will happen on this project until the implications of 'Brexit' become clear. Clearly Holyhead will remain an important station, stabling and servicing point however this leads to some thoughts regarding the future configuration of the railway at Holyhead.
First and foremost any port development surely needs to future-proof in physical layout terms the potential use of rail for freight in the future. The train shed (over platforms 2, 3 & the disused platform) is a listed building (Grade II) and rightly so as it, and this part of the station, have much character. The British Listed Buildings website entry suggests the platform between the current platform 2 and 3 was last used around 1979. Why was it taken out of use? Perhaps this platform may need to be brought back into use with the current platform 1 no longer seeing use? It would appear that the port access road would see the sale of some/most/all (?) of the railway land between between platform 1 and Victoria Road to Stena Line Ports with the attendant removal/rationalisation of the tracks. One would hope that at least one line would remain on that side of the station.
As a brief semi-related aside I do not support the case for a third Menai crossing – at most I favour an extension of Britannia Bridge. Rather two things need to happen - a level of freight needs to shift to rail and the two competing ferry operators on the Holyhead – Dublin route need to space out their sailings more so that there is a sailing in each direction approximately every three hours. At present there is a de facto 'deluge' of traffic at particular times of the day and night as two ferries arrive/depart almost simultaneously several times a day (e.g. 14:00 Stena Line to Dublin; 14:10 Irish Ferries to Dublin).
For further example there is no sailing from Dublin to Holyhead between 14:50 and 20:40 which neither facilitates business users nor day trippers; the former sailing being too early for day trippers or business users and the latter too late especially if one faces a long onward journey from Holyhead. Some time ago due to a rail delay I missed the 20.30 sailing from Holyhead and had to await the 02.30 sailing! Both operators are investing in new vessels for the route (e.g. Stena Line E-Flexer) and I am aware I’m not alone in wishing for a service every three hours.
The foregoing are my own points based on the information publicly available (Scoping Report and Holyhead Prospectus) in the hope it will stimulate dialogue and input from others who may know more about the plan and particular aspects thereof than I do.
On 23 June I took the above photograph of the ticket office at Holyhead.
Returning from the SailRail journey to Ireland in late June there were barriers (as illustrated) in front of the ticket office which was undergoing some sort of renovation. I recall a handwritten notice affixed to a concourse pillar saying it was closed for a fortnight and for passengers to purchase tickets from (ATW) Customer Services on platform 2, the ticket machine (just outside the ferry terminal doors) or on board. Can any readers supply a photo of the revamped ticket office?
Shipping news - report by Jim Johnson
Port Penrhyn was visited by two newcomers (to my knowledge) on consecutive days, to collect ornamental slate waste. Thursday, 9 August saw Antigua & Barbuda-registered RMS Ratingen arriving on the morning tide, seen above sailing down the Menai Straits from the east. Local mussel boat Valentia heading in the opposite direction.
Turning in the channel, to berth stern-first. Bangor's Victorian pier (currently under refurbishment) in the background.
Cautiously approaching the quayside. Local mussel boat Mare Gratia heading out of harbour.
Docking nearly complete. The cargo is visible to the left behind the fence. In the far distance is Penrhyn Quarry, whence it came.
Friday 10 August saw Cayman Islands-registered Sea Kestrel arrive on the morning tide, in somewhat less pleasant weather than the previous day.
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