Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

07 January 2019

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Forthcoming events

January 2019

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 20.00 hours)

February 2019

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 Pilkington.

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

March 2019

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 Nixon

April 2019

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 Grainger

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 Carlisle.
John Cashen

Friday 12 April  Altrincham Electric Railway Society Great Western and Southern Steam in the West Country. A colour slide presentation by Alf Storey.

Monday 15 April RCTS Chester "Steam on the North Wales Coast" (Video Presentation) Ron Watson Jones

May 2019

Tuesday 7 May North Wales Railway Circle AGM and Members' Photo. Competition.

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 Beechwood...

... approaching the tunnel under Junction 12 of the M56 motorway.

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 Railway 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 Rogers).

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 Putley

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 Wolverhampton.

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 way.

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 train.

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 Manchester Piccadilly.

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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