07 January 2019
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Tuesday 8 January North
Wales Railway Circle "The Penrhyn Railway" Ellis Morey
of the Penrhyn Railway Society
Friday 11 January Altrincham
Electric Railway Society. Journeys through Wales
during the 1960s including narrow gauge railways A colour
slide presentation by Bill Chapman.
Monday 21 January RCTS
Chester AGM, followed by "A Photographic Tribute to
Edgar Richards" ( Non-members are invited to attend from
Friday 1 February Clwyd
Railway Circle “The Glorious Steam Railways of India”
The images were taken when it was a fully steam worked
system, with a variety of steam across four different
gauges. John Sloane
Tuesday 5 February North
Wales Railway Circle [To be announced]
Friday 8 February Altrincham
Electric Railway Society Steam and Diesel in the
Northern Fells 2010-2016. A digital presentation by Ian
Wednesday 6 February RCTS
Liverpool "North West & North Wales Reminiscences
of the 1960s" John Cashen
Monday 18 February RCTS
Chester "A Taste of Japan" Gordon Davies
Tuesday 5 March North
Wales Railway Circle Humph Davies with mostly
narrow-gauge archive material.
Friday 1 March Clwyd
Railway Circle “Annual General Meeting” followed
by “Chairman’s Choice” A night of self indulgence from the
retiring chairman, David Jones
Friday 8 March Altrincham
Electric Railway Society. The Glorious Steam Railways
of India. Steam across India from 1976 to the early 1980s. A
digital presentation by John Sloane.
Monday 18 March RCTS
Chester "55 Years of Railway Photography, Part 2" Les
Tuesday 2 April North
Wales Railway Circle Gareth Haulfryn Williams,
archivist and author, on 'Rails to/from Bethesda.'
Wednesday 3 April RCTS
Liverpool "Manchester to Liverpool by CLC" Ken
Friday 5 April Clwyd
Railway Circle "Scotland in the 1960s" The talk
covers the whole of Scotland - going up the west side to
Wick and Thurso and returning down the east side from/to
Friday 12 April Altrincham
Electric Railway Society Great Western and Southern
Steam in the West Country. A colour slide presentation by
Monday 15 April RCTS
Chester "Steam on the North Wales Coast" (Video
Presentation) Ron Watson Jones
Tuesday 7 May North
Wales Railway Circle AGM and Members' Photo.
London - Holyhead Voyager at Llanddulas, 4 January. Picture
by Alan Martin.
The shortest journey
Followers of the 'All The Stations' couple, Geoff Marshall
and Vicki Pipe, will be aware that back on 21 June 2018 -
the 'longest day' - they travelled with their video cameras
from Aberdeen to Penzance on Britain's longest end-to-end
passenger train working. More recently they discovered
that the equivalent 'shortest' equivalent is train 2J00,
07:10 Wrexham General to Wrexham Central, allowed two
minutes for the 49-chain journey before spending the rest of
the day shuttling to and from Bidston. (A possible rival for
the title, Stourbridge Junction to Stourbridge Town, is 62
chains.) Their trip on the 'shortest day' - 22 December - is
chronicled on their YouTube
channel. They spent the rest of the day visiting
stations at Maghull North and Kenilworth which have opened
since their epic 'All the stations' summer, before returning
home to London.
Halton curve in action - pictures by Mark Barber
On 6 January Transport for Wales 175 005 ventured
over the Halton Curve working ' empty stock' as 5Z75
11:51 Chester to Widnes (Alstom Transport Technology siding)
and 5Z76 12:58 return. The outbound train is seen at
... approaching the tunnel under Junction 12 of the M56
The return (heading towards the camera) passes signal
WE 7805 which controls the junction with the Crewe -
Liverpool main line which is glimpsed crossing between the
train and the houses. The 'WE' code means that it is
controlled from the 'Wavertree workstation' within the
Manchester Regional Operating Centre. According to the
Codes website, the WE code only came into use on 2
January 2019; perhaps the reason for running the
train. The LNWR Halton Junction signalbox, which formerly
controlled the junction, closed in May 2018. Note that
the overhead lines have been continued for a short distance
round the curve in case a mis-directed electric
main line train cannot stop in time.
A last look at the train diving into the tunnel. The
Frodsham Junction to Halton Junction line was authorised by
the London and North Western Railway (Additional Facilities)
Act 1869 and opened on 1 May 1873, greatly shortening the
rail distance for LNWR trains from Chester to Liverpool. The
Great Western Railway had objected to its construction, as
it would abstract traffic from the route from Chester to
Birkenhead via Rock Ferry. It was built as double track, but
passenger services were withdrawn in the 1970s, around the
time the Rock Ferry route was electrified by Merseyrail.
The 'singling' in the 1990s was done 'on the cheap' with the
result that there was no crossover available at Halton
Junction to allow a Liverpool - Chester train to run; since
then a summer-only weekly service from Chester to Runcorn
has operated to avoid a closure procedure. Question
for readers: why was this necessary if the line had been
closed to passengers back in the 70s?
It is hoped that a Transport for Wales Chester - Liverpool
service will start in May 2019, later than planned due
to late delivery of rolling stock. Much credit is due
to the North Cheshire
Rail User Group for campaigning over many years for
the re-instatement of a service.
3 January at Shotton: 68 016 Fearless
and 68 017 Hornet with wagons FNA
550060 and FNA 11 70 9229 009-9 6K41 14:57
Valley Nuclear Electric to Crewe, 43 mins early (Tim
The next day, 4 January, it was the turn of
elecrto-diesels 88 006 Juno and 88
008 Ariadne seen at Bangor by Jim Johnson.
Heading east (Jim Johnson).
Bagillt: the wagons are FNA 550057 and FNA
550060 (Tim Rogers).
That Coach at Chester
Further to our previous reports about the coach stabled in
the sidings at Chester, we have more details about its
journey. West Coast Railway Co. Coach 4940, which had
unfortunately derailed at Dee Marsh sidings while part of
the consist of the 'Ruby Vampire' railtour on 4 November.
It remained at Dee Marsh until 21 December, when, with the
damaged wheel on a 'wheel
skate' it was collected by a loco to form 5Z47 21:45
Dee Marsh Yard to Preston Croft Street, where the the
Preston Dock lines offer a place to transfer a rail vehicle
to road trailers - presumably it would continue by road to
West Coast's Carnforth depot.
However a routine inspection upon arrival at Chester found a
wheel running hot, so the coach was shunted into into
the Middle Yard. The journey resumed on 7 January,
successfully reaching Preston.
As for the ill-fated railtour, it will be re-run on 24 March
- see the Branch
Line Society website.
Locos out and about
66 703 Doncaster PSB , looking very smart in
the latest version of GBRf livery, crosses over to enter
Trafford Park sidings with the Felixstowe - Trafford Park
intermodal, at 11:35 on 5 January (Martin Evans). The
line on the right is a turnback siding installed in the
1980s (?) for passenger trains from the south that
terminated at Deansgate; in recent years it has fallen into
disuse. The last use was by a single daily evening peak
train from Deansgate to Stoke-on-Trent.
66 768 has recently been engaged in driver-training
duties on the Mid-Cheshire line: Greg Mape captured it
passing Timperley on 4 January.
Same date and location: 66 568 with domestic refuse
empties from Runcorn to Northenden (Greg Mape).
Looking back - test train
'Test Train' is often used to refer to one of Network Rail's
trains which conduct various test on the infrastructure, but
until the 1990s the phrase also applied to train workings to
test-run locomotives built or overhauled at Crewe works. The
North Wales Coast line was ideal for the purpose; in the
picture by Dave Sallery, 47 739 Resourceful
and 47 476 Night Mail of the
long-lost 'rail express systems' sector of British
Rail returning to Crewe with such a train at Holywell
Junction, 4 October 1994. The loco being tested was
generally accompanied 'inside' by another in case of
problems, as here. 47 739 had recently been re-numbered from
47 594. It survived a long period in store to be
purchased by Colas in 2007 and renamed Robin of
Templecombe. In 2017 it was sold to GB Railfreight,
along with two other 47/7s, apparently intended for use by
the Caledonian Sleeper operation on empty-stock work.
Old passenger coaches with windows covered were common on
these trains, but at the time of the picture the test train
was always formed of this set of mail/parcels vans. This
leads us to suspect that it also covered a regular postal
service - can anyone say which?
Cambrian Christmas, 28 December - with Richard
I had enjoyed a ride on the Severn Valley Railway’s trains
on Thursday 27th December 2018. I’d managed to get hauled by
both visiting locos, 40 106 Atlantic
Conveyor and 6990 Witherslack Hall.
Then a friend who lives in London suggested a ride on the
Cambrian the next day, Friday 28 December. She informed me
that she would be catching the 06:43 Pendolino from Euston.
This connects with the 08:09 from Birmingham International
to the Cambrian.
I meanwhile was staying in Malvern with my family. So I got
up in time for the 06:47 from Great Malvern to Birmingham
New St. It was formed of 2 x 2 car 170/5s and ran to time.
But the 06:43 from Euston had been delayed and it arrived at
Birmingham International just as the 08:09 pulled out. I
suggested she stay on the 'Pendo’ and we took it
On arrival there we found out it must have overtaken the
08:09 as it was the next train to come in to the platform
we’d just arrived on. The 08:09 duly arrived and was formed
of just a single 158. But another unit, 158 823, was
waiting in Platform 5 and we coupled on to it.
We then departed from Shrewsbury and as we passed Coleham
Depot we saw Colas 56 105 there. My
friend got a picture with her phone.
As the train was now formed of four coaches we asked the
guard if the rear 2 cars were the Pwllheli portion. He
confirmed this so we moved in to 158 823. The train duly
divided at Machynlleth and after a short wait we were on our
We crossed an Up Train at Tywyn (above) ...
... and then proceeded on to Barmouth. Arrival was within 5
minutes of our booked time there.
We had a good lunch at the Tal-y-don Hotel in Barmouth
High Street and then walked to the headland by Barmouth
Bridge. Here we photographed the 10:09 from Birmingham
International as it crossed Barmouth Bridge. It was formed
by 158 828 (above and heading picture)
We returned on the 14:55 from Barmouth which was also formed
by 158 823. Departure was a couple of minutes down and we
were further delayed at Tywyn due to the Down service being
about 15 minutes late. Despite this, we were almost on time
when we arrived at Shrewsbury at 17:21. But we soon found
that no trains were running between there and Wolverhampton
due to a signalling problem. We considered our options. We
decided her best course was to get the 18:53 to Crewe and
then a train from there to London Euston.. In fact she
didn’t have to wait that long as they laid on an extra
I too did not have to wait as long as I thought. I had
decided that the 17:40 to Hereford would be my best option
and then the 18:48 to Great Malvern. But the 17:16 to
Hereford was running 15 minutes late so I was able to catch
it. It got me there in plenty of time for the 18:48 to Great
Malvern which left on time. So ended an enjoyable day
despite the service delays we’d experienced.
Coast Passenger scene - Pictures by Tim Rogers
3 January, at Maude Street foot crossing,
Connah's Quay. 3 January, 175 101 is on 1W93
11:21 Cardiff to
67 020 propelling 1H89 13:07 Holyhead to
175 105 arrives at Shotton with 1H90 14:40
Llandudno to Manchester Piccadilly, 3 January.
158 837 and 158 841: 1D14 13:08 Birmingham
International to Holyhead at Shotton station.
4 January at Bagillt: 175 112 passes with 1H90
14:40 Llandudno to Manchester Piccadilly.
Fishing chairs - picture by Jim Ikin
Seen on Conwy quay: numerous ex-Great Western Railway
bullhead rail chairs in use as weights for lobster pots.
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