NORTH WALES COAST RAILWAY:NOTICE BOARD
Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd
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03 December 2018
70000 Britannia attracts attention at Ruabon, 2 December; more pictures below. Picture by Martin Evans.
The next update will be on the evening of Tuesday 11 December due to a holiday. - Charlie
Mr Skates explains
On 29 November saw Welsh Cabinet member for Transport Ken Skates why trains services have been in chaos recently, reported on the Wrexham.com website. Here are couple of extracts:
'Normally, we operate at about 80 per cent of the entire fleet. There are 127 trains in the fleet, so normally we’d be operating at around about 105, with the remaining trains in for servicing and maintenance. I can tell the Member that, as of this morning, the number was up to 96. We’re therefore operating at around about 76 per cent. It will return to normal—back to the 80 per cent—within a few weeks.'Fair enough, but then:
'We inherited a fleet of trains that have been very poorly maintained, which we did not have full and proper access to ahead of inheriting them, and that, along with Storm Callum, and taking over the franchise in the autumn period, presented huge challenges for Transport for Wales and the operator and the delivery partner.'What evidence does he have to claim that Arriva's maintenance was poor? One interesting point he makes is that none of the fleet are fitted with wheel-slide protection equipment that helps to avoid 'wheel-flats' developing in Autumn. He also speaks of
... a decision taken in 2016—and this is across the UK—to stop applying sand to rails...Can some reader explain why this decision was taken? One thing we have noticed on our travels is that there seems to have been a understandable 'crack-down' by Network Rail on trains operating in service with wheel flats which tend to damage the rails. Is our impression correct?
Steam on the Welsh Borders
'The Welsh Borders Explorer' Saphos Trains excursion from Crewe to Crewe via Chester, Shrewsbury, and Wolverhampton featured newly-overhauled 70000 Britannia. Above, the train west of Beeston Castle between Crewe and Chester. Picture above by Ian Pilkington.
Northgate Locks, Chester (Robert Meredith).
Climbing Gresford bank. Picture by Peter Neve who notes: 'The ascent did not disappoint; With a good, clean fire the spirited attack of the Bank could be heard quite some distance away. Mechanically and visually, the locomotive appeared to be in very good condition.'
... with D1924 on the rear (George Jones).
Approaching Walcot, east of Shrewsbury (Ian Pilkington).
Halton Curve news
On Sunday 2 December an empty Class 175 unit made two return trips from Chester depot to Liverpool Lime Street, said to be for crew training purposes. How often have 175s been seen at Lime Street in the past? We can't recall any booked workings. Picture by Ray Barber.
Chester variety - report by Bob Greenhalgh
A visit to Chester on 29 November to photograph 70000's test run in advance of its passenger run on 2 December produces not only Britannia ...
... but also the Rail Head Treatment Train ...
... and the Network Rail New Measurement Train.
On 28 November at Barmouth, 97 303 prepares to return to Coleham depot after piloting a track machine, as 158 822 departs with the 08:10 Birmingham International - Pwllheli (Kate Jones).
56 094 and 56 087 with the Rail Head Treatment Train approaching Nantwich en route back to the depot at Coleham Shrewsbury on 26 November (Robert Meredith).
In the goods loop at Stockport on 21 November, 37 610 (formerly T.S. (Ted) Cassidy) in tandem with 37 612 for reversal en route from Barrow Hill to take up a Colas duty for Network Rail. This loco wears an odd 'small-logo blue' hybrid livery recently applied by Locomotive Services at Crewe after being bought from DRS, but we understand it has since been transferred to the Harry Needle company in exchange for a 47.
Blue and Grey Days with Barrie Hughes - Cambrian Coast
A series of images taken on slide film on 1 September 1990. Staying at Harlech for the weekend allowed a trip to Newtown on the 'Butlitz Express', a summer dated service that ran in both directions to and from Butlins Pwllheli (see earlier story). The morning 37 hauled duty took campers home from Butlins and a second working brought new campers in during the afternoon passing at Newtown.
Above is 37 429 Eisteddfod Genedlaethol in 'Large Logo' livery approaching Bont Briwet as seen from Y Garth, the hill overlooking the Afon Dwyryd viaduct. The train was open to ordinary passengers and ran from Pwllheli. ICI's Cooke’s Explosive works can be seen on the hillside above. this generated much traffic for the Cambrian Coast line from Penrhyndeudraeth yard - or Maentwrog Road on the Trawsfynydd/Conwy valley branch when Barmouth bridge was closed for a while. Following closure of the site, it was cleared in 1997 and is now a nature reserve.
37 429 runs on to Pont Briwet, a wooden viaduct as seen from the hillside, Y Garth, which had a World War 2 machine-gun post on the summit protecting the estuary against the potential threat of a German invasion from the Irish Republic. The wooden viaduct was similar in construction to Barmouth viaduct but carried a traffic-light controlled single track toll road on the east side. The driver is throttling up to keep the train moving a a steady speed across the heavily speed restricted curved viaduct. External check rails were provided to mitigate any derailment. The train itself consists of a mixture of Blue and Grey, Network South East and even Provincial-liveried early Mk2 stock.
37 429 exists the bridge and is about to pass Llandecwyn Halt. The Grade 2 listed bridge was replaced taking 15 months from March 2014 to September 2015. The original bridge was demolished though it had been intended to keep it for pedestrian and cycle use, as it was damaged by the currents generated after piling for the new concrete structure.
The train rolls past Llandecwyn halt which was rebuilt in a slightly different location while the line was closed. Although a footpath runs around Y Garth, the viewpoint on the top is now fenced off and inaccessible.
Harlech Castle in visible on the horizon as the train commences the long straight run to Talsarnau.
After many years of stalwart service 37 429 was withdrawn on 31 December 2007 and cut up just two months later on 29 February 2008.
Mid-Cheshire locos - pictures by Greg Mape
Freightliner loco 66 413, which had been running in de-branded DRS colours, has been treated to a new look based on the livery of its current owner the Genessee and Wyoming. The G & W was originally just a 14-mile short line, but since the 1980s it has become a multi-national owning numerous US lines as well as operations in Australia, Canada and the Netherlands. A website by Steve Sloan gives an overview.
On 5 November 66 413 was named Lest We Forget as part of the World War I centenary commemorations. Greg's picture from 20 November captures it passing Altrincham with a Redcar - Fiddlers Ferry coal train.
On 21 November, seen from Greg's favourite location by the A34 road, 66 763 Severn Valley Railway passes with a Liverpool - Drax biomass train.
On the Northenden - New Mills section, 60 040 The Territorial Army Centenary passes with stone empties from Warrington Arpley to Tunstead.
'Santa Specials' began at the Llangollen Railway on Saturday 1 December. Seen above arriving at Carrog, in its disguise as Lapland, was the first train of the day, the 11am off Llangollen, with 3802 in charge. Santa's sleigh awaits the photo opportunity for families with the man in the big red coat.
One hour later 5199 arrived with the second morning train on a day when fitful blue sky was in evidence in the Dee Valley. The Santa Season continues at Weekends and selected weekdays through to Christmas Eve. Note that booking is essential for these trains.
Gareth Thomas looked in on the Cambrian Heritage Railways at Oswestry on Saturday 1 December to see the start of the Santa season. The scene he found is shown above: 0-4-0ST Fife Flyer No 6, Andrew Barclay Sons & Co. no. 2261 of 1949 attached to a Mark 1 carriage recently transferred from the LLynclys site and a marked improvement on previous train formations. Trains run at Oswestry on Saturdays to 22 Dec; a Santa operation is at Llynclys on Sundays to 23 December. Some details at the Cambrian Heritage Railways website.
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