Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

11 March 2019


Contributions and comments are encouraged: see the Contributions Page

Forthcoming events

March 2019

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.

Pathfinder Tours organised a Wales rugby supporters excursion for the 2019 Scotland v Wales Six Nations  International match on 9 March. Starting from Carmarthen and picking up at South Wales stations, Shrewsbury, and Crewe (pickup for North Wales passengers), then travelling to Edinburgh and Motherwell (for the Glasgow area), on Friday 8 March and returning on Monday 11 March. Robert Meredith  photographed the 8 March train near Nantwich with 68 001 Evolution.

Cambrian ballast trains

Following publication of our piece on the Barmouth and Aberystwyth ballast trains, we now have more information about what happened over the weekend of 1-3 March, and has been repeated on 8-9 March (any corrections welcome!).  The work sites are between Barmouth and Harlech, and near the former Bow Street station (which is planned to re-open) on the Aberystwyth line.  With just two Class 97/3 ERTMS fitted locos available to serve the two sites, two 'normal' locos - 37 099 and newly-overhauled 37 418, were hired from Colas, and on Friday 1 March, 'topped-and-tailed' the Crewe - Aberystwyth train, with one 97/3 piloting. The two 37s and the train were stabled out of the way in the run-round loop at Aberystwyth station, while the 97/3 returned to Coleham depot, to be ready to go to Crewe and double-head with the other 97/3 the ballast train for Barmouth on Sunday 10 March.

When the engineering work commenced on Saturday night, the Machynlleth - Aberystwyth section was put 'under possession' meaning that only trains involved in the engineering work were allowed, so the 37s were able to take the train to the work site and move it around as necessary.  In the early hours of Monday, the two 97/3s returned the wagons from Barmouth to Crewe, and later one  of them headed for Aberystwyth to collect the other train which will have been again stabled to the run-round loop to allow passenger traffic to return.

The two pictures above, by Ken Robinson, show the 10 April train from Crewe at Llanaber, north of Barmouth and within the possession. The wagons are known as 'autoballasters'  because the opening of the side chutes is powered and can be controlled remotely. The end wagon of the set (behind the locos) has a diesel generator to provide the power.

These views by Kate Jones  (taken during gale force winds) show the train near Morfa Mawddach.

97 303 is leading 97 304 (recognisable as the only named one).

Here's 97 304 John Tiley (looking in rather run-down condition) at Machynlleth on Monday 11 March, arrived from Coleham and ready to proceed to Aberystwyth to collect the train from there ...

... and the final cavalcade returning through Machynlleth with 97 304, 37 418 and 37 099.  Both pictures by Sean Thomas.

For more pictures of the operations over the two weekends, we recommend a visit to Richard Jones's Flickr page which has a set of 29 superb views of the trains. There were three distinguished Cambrian experts on that Llanaber footbridge! Richard has also uploaded to YouTube a spectacular video of Monday's triple-header.

An especially interesting (to us, anyway)) feature of this operation is the appearance of 37 418, which back in the 1990s was one of the stalwarts of the North Wales passenger fleet.  It has been a Scottish Highland loco from its creation as a 37/4 in 1985, but in 1990 it was transferred to the Railfreight Petroleum sector and named Pectinidae.  At that time, freight 37s were loaned to the passenger sector for weekend Cambrian trains, and in 1991 418 made several forays to Pwllheli and Aberystwyth, until (as we mentioned in an earlier piece) Class 37s were banned from the line.  In 1993 it was chosen for the North Wales Coast team, painted in Regional Railways colours and renamed East Lancashire Railway. A spell in preservation on that railway followed, then return to the main line under Colas, now wearing 1985-style large-logo livery, complete with Highland stag. Here is a picture on Flickr ; as so often which this livery is attempted, the 'wrong' style of figures has been used for the number, which should be in 'Rail Alphabet' with a straight stroke to the '7.'

Wrexham line freights - report by Bob Greenhalgh

 Wednesday 6 March saw the Carlisle - Chirk log train running in an early path,  and with the evenings drawing out I was able to photograph the train for the first time this year, at Balderton Crossing..

From Monday 4 to Thursday 7 March there was a Bidston to Crewe via Wrexham ballast train running. I managed to photograph it on Thursday morning at 07:50. Interestingly the ballast wagons each had the slogan "renewing the tube".

Laser gauging

Thanks to everyone who has written about the device attached to 150 237 on 25 February, as in Sean Thomas's picture reprised above.  It is a Laser Gauging Unit, which uses a laser record the structure gauge - the distance between a passing train and any fixed structures on the lineside. Two technicians travel with it, monitoring the results on a device inside the train which receives and stores them from the Unit in real time, using GPS to correlate the readings with the location of the train.  Two return runs to Blaenau Ffestiniog were made on the day.

Made partly of lightweight carbon-fibre materials, it attaches to the coupler and be lifted on and off by the technicians, necessary at teminal and reversal points.  The plan is to survey every Transport for Wales route in preparation for the introduction of the many new trains currently on order.  One problem that needs overcoming is that at Bidston,  the platform line where trains reverse is used by Merseyrail trains has a live third rail, with a risk to the staff who have to mve the unit.

Readers may recall the optical gauging wagon, DC 460000, seen in this picture taken at Crewe by Andrew Vinten for our  8 November 2010 issue, which needed its own train, with the end of the two adjoining coaches painted black. Tecnology marches on.

On Borderlands stations - pictures by Tim Rogers

Seen from the footbridge at Hawarden, 150 229 departs for Bidston (why bother changing the destination blind...)  on 9 March.  The house above was surely for the Station Master;  it merges seamlessly into the retaining wall.

Buckley, on 2 March, with 150 278.  The work of station adopters in evidence, including the replica signal arm which carries the station's pre-1974 name of 'Buckley Junction.'  The large buildings hint as it former role as a junction.

Flask update

68 003 Astute and 68 033 pass Flint heading for Crewe on 6 March with two of the new-type flask carriers, 11 70 9229 028-9 and  11 70 9229 011-5 (Tim Rogers).

On 8 March 68 018 Vigilant and 68 034  bring two wagons through Llandudno Junction (Sean Thomas).

Looking back: Mid-Cheshire line - pictures by Norman Jones

Tony Robinson, custodian of the collection of the late Norman Jones,  send these images taken by Mr Jones in the Mouldsworth area. Above, a westbound loose-coupled coal train, headed by ex-LNER class O2 2-8-0 63675 runs down from the summit bound for Saltney yard (GWR) via the Helsby branch.  The engine would be exchanged at West Cheshire Junction for an ex-GWR or LMS variant. The date is c. 1958; wooden (many ex-private owner) wagons have yet to be completely replaced by the 16-ton steel type.

LMS 2-6-4T 42452 on  a passenger train from Chester to Manchester Central, formed of a medley of non-corridor coaches.

Another 2-6-4T 42430 arriving at Mouldsworth with a Manchester Central to Chester Northgate service.  The first coach has the look of a survivor from the Cheshire Lines Committee days.

Standard Class 2 2-6-0 78033 stands by Mouldsworth Junction signalbox, while on duty as a 'Pilotman's loco'  - implying that single-line working was in force, requiring one person appointed as pilotman to  either travel every train or authorise it to enter the section.  If trains unexpectedly out of course,  the pilotman may need to travel to the other end of the single-line section. Today, this system is still occasionally used, but any necessary travel would probably be by car.

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