Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

18 March 2019


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Forthcoming events

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

Saturday 4 May Steam on the Coast: Vintage Trains: Llandudno Victorian Extravaganza  -  Dorridge - Llandudno  7029: Dorridge - Wolverhampton - Llandudno and return

Saturday 4 May Steam on the Coast: A1 Steam Trust: 'The Ynys Mon Express'  60163: Leicester-Holyhead-Crewe

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

June 2019

Tuesday 6 June  Steam on the Coast: West Coast Railways: London Euston - Holyhead
Steam  Crewe-Holyhead and return

July 2019

Sunday 21 July  Steam on the Coast: West Coast Railways. Liverpool-Holyhead.   45690: Liverpool - Chester - Llandudno Jn - Holyhead - Chester

Tuesday 23 July:  Steam on the Coast: West Coast Railways, Welsh Mountaineer: Liverpool-Holyhead  Preston-Blaenau Ffestiniog  48151 or 45600: Preston-Manchester-Chester-Llandudno Jn-Blaenau and return

August 2019

Saturday 3 August Steam on the Coast: UK Railtours, 'The Irish Mail' London Euston - Holyhead
34046, 46100 or 70000 Crewe - Holyhead and return

LMS Pacific 6201 Princess Elizabeth is back on the main line after a long absence. In Ian Pilkington's picture she passes Long Preston with a Carnforth - Hellifield test run on Thursday 14 March. Hopefully we'll see her on the Coast line before too long.

Branch Line News
Transport for Wales  had planned, as on a previous occasion to reduce the Bidston - Wrexham line to a two-hourly service (with bus replacements in the other hour) to release rolling stock for the rugby crowds expected in South Wales on 16 March, but  in the event the normal service ran, but the Conwy Valley service was, also also planned replaced by buses.

Over the weekend, the Conwy Valley line was overwhelmed by flood waters yet again - the picture is from Network Rail, and the bus service is likely to remain for some time until the damage, at three or more locations, is assessed and repaired.

Another 175 fire

175 107 is currently running without its centre car, which was damaged by a fire in on 15 February at Pontrilas while working 08:31 Manchester to Milford Haven (see picture on Twitter). The passengers were evacuated safely.   Gareth Thomas captured it at Wrexham General on 15 March working a Holyhead - Cardiff service. The 175s are good trains - we'll mist them - but they do have a very poor record of such events, possibly due to the way the engine and underfloor equipment are packed in behind those skirts.

Another repaint (or vinyl?) - pictures by Sean Thomas

150 253 and 158 830 at Crewe working 5Z30, Crewe carriage sidings  to Shrewsbury Abbey Foregate carriage sidings on 18 March. 158 830 is the second 158 to be out-shopped in Transport for Wales Livery.

Mixed pair on the flasks - pictures by Sean Thomas

88 005 Minerva and 68 005 Defiant made an unusual pairing on the flask train on 15 March.  Above, the Valley-bound train passes Llandudno Junction in the morning.

The return working at Valley, having reversed out of the loading siding into the station in preparation for the return to Crewe with three wagons.

The 88s have a subtle addition to their livery in the form of thin red lines across the doors. It's interesting that the two types can work in multiple; does this also work when the 88 is in electric mode?

Cambrian Corner

Inspired by our report in the recent use of 37 418 on the Cambrian and its earlier appearances in 1991, Ken Robinson sends this scan of a slide showing what was then Pectinidae  in Railfreight Petroleum livery on train 1G12, the 09:36 Pwllheli  - Birmingham New Street leaving Pwllheli on 20 July 1991. It would haul the train as far as Shrewsbury.  Note the coach in unmodified Network South East colours; the main influx of these coaches to Wales came in 1993 after Class 159 units took over the London Waterloo - Exeter services.

Petroleum's small fleet of 37s were for services over lines for which their Class 47s were considered too heavy, including the Stanlow - Aberystwyth tanks which 37 418 did work on occasion.

Back to 2019, and 37 418 in the siding Aberystwyth on 9 March, as the ballast train waits for the start of work.

On Sunday 17 March the work site was the little station at Caersws, with track renewal and ballasting under way. 37 418 (above) in attendance ...

... with 97 304 John Tiley on the other end. (Pictures by Richard W. Jones).  More on Flickr and YouTube.   Thanks to Andrew Royle for some more information about the Autoballaster wagons: 'The majority of these operate in sets of five, with the fifth wagon having the generator. Whilst some of the later built ones are in NR yellow livery, most still have the Railtrack blue and light brown, as these vehicles go for many years between overhaul.'

We think the 97/3s are in need of a lot of TLC; the body panels are clearly rusting in places.

The 97 3s are also required to pilot on-track to and from work sites on the Cambrian while the live is open to normal traffic.  Above, 97 303 is returning a tamper from Barmouth to Newtown on 14 March, at 12:30, delayed by some kind of signalling problem. Newtown was reached 152 minutes later than scheduled, and after stabling the tamper there, the loco proceeded to Coleham depot, arriving 224 minutes late.

On 18 March a different tamper, SB Rail DR 73804 James Watt , was brought on to the Cambrian Coast by 97 304. Both pictures by Kate Jones. Overnight work has been taking place between Barmouth and Fairbourne.

The view from above (Ian Wright).

Down the Coast - with Charlie Hulme

Readers may be surprised to learn that I haven't travelled the full length of the Coast line for a considerable time, for various reasons. A short stay in Chester for an ornithological expedition offered a chance to fit in a loco-hauled ride starting at a reasonable hour. We arrived at Chester by the slow Pacer on 13 March.  There was some disruption underway; 150 231 was in Platform 7 showing the destination as Maesteg, although apparently not  the 12:32 Holyhead to Maesteg which had left on time an hour earlier.

Later we made our first acquaintance with the cavernous new 'Bus Interchange' tucked away beyond the end of Frodsham Street; the few passengers around on our several visits seemed to be dwarfed by the place.

We spent 14 March at the RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands reserve, which also offers a railway viewpoint. The train is the 14:32 Bidston - Wrexham Central, close to the Welsh border.  Shotton steelworks is on the skyline.

On 15 March we headed to Chester station for the 09:53 Manchester - Holyhead which departs Chester at 11:02.  150 242 with its Heart of Wales roundel intact was stabled in Platform 2 for some reason.

67 014 rolled into Platform 3B on time, hauled, as expected, by 67 014, and many passengers alighted.

It was a windy day, although the weather was not as stormy as had been forecast. At Rhyl, Network Rail staff were trying to tame a wayward anti-pigeon net.

At Holyhead, the family tradition of a photograph with the loco was performed; the last ever appearance of that hat which I later left on a train. (Another custom among certain rail staff is to claim ownership of any loco that works their trains.)

In Platform 2 a London train, formed by 221 115 with its Bombardier branding and hopeful slogan on the side. The train departed on time at 12:53, unfortunately just before the arrival of a contingent of passengers from a ship which had no doubt been delayed by the weather conditions. They were directed to the loco-hauled service which would get them to Chester.

After purchasing some food from the station shop (and losing out on a 'Meal Deal' by buying the wrong drink) we re-joined the 'Manwag' for another comfortable ride as far as Llandudno Junction. Passing Valley, I managed a 'grab shot' of an unusual Class 68 / 88 pairing in the process of reversing their train on the triangle.

The train departs for Manchester with 67 014 propelling.

The station is in the midst of a very thorough overhaul.  Few people will be able to read the very small lettering next to the TfW logo.

One task which is under way is to excavate the foundations of the columns supporting the canopy, which may well be originals from the 1897 re-location of the station,  to check their condition and strengthen if necessary. Each column is surrounded by a temporary wooden box which hinders passenger movement a little. The cosmetic cast-iron bases of the columns are stacked on pallets in the fenced-off working area.

We made our way to bay Platform 2 to board 175 114 departing at 14:28 on one of the workings which usefully shuttle from Llandudno and back between Manchester services. A member of staff travelled with us to put on the reservation labels for its next duty...

...  the 14:40 Llandudno - Manchester, seen ready to start at Llandudno. The painted metalwork of the station, including the iconic LMS gates, has been repainted in BR London Midland Region maroon,  although as can be seen, Arriva blue survives in odd places.

After a walk wound the town and along part of the Marine Drive - where we saw choughs, seals and a harbour porpoise - we stayed for meal and formed 66% of the passengers on the  20:08 to Llandudno, which had travelled empty-stock from Chester to Llandudno Junction to form the 19:55 to Llandudno. It would make another foray to Llandudno and back before spending the night in Platform 2 and (normally) shunt to platform 4 at 04:43 to become the first train of the day to Blaenau Ffestiniog at 05:30. On this particular night, however, it was required in South Wales to help with the carriage of Rugby supporters on Saturday 16 March, when the whole of the Conwy Valley service was operated by a bus. Posters announcing this tactfully gave no explanation or apology. As things turned out, with no winter Sunday  service on the Conwy Valley, and the flooding, the Conwy Valley trains  didn't re-start.

We returned to Chester on a Birmingham-bound 158, and the next morning suffered yet another 'Merseyrail' Pacer back to Stockport. At Chester we noticed the new-liveried Voyager 221 101 in the Platform 1 bay, but didn't feel like missing our train and waiting another hour to get a picture (any offers?)

Along the way I was able to try out the abilities of my new camera (Panasonic DMC-TZ70)  with its 30x zoom and 'intelligent features' such as taking six versions of a hand-held night shot and somehow putting them together - here is the result when pointed at Llandudno's famous signal gantry, perhaps the last survivor of its kind.  The camera also has a setting which, when it 'sees' an against-the-light situation, will quickly take two frames and merge them to equalise the exposure. One thing I soon learned is to turn this off when taking a moving train as the two images will differ, resulting in a strange effect.

As ever, thanks to all the North Wales rail staff, including the helpful refreshment-trolley lady on the loco-hauled service.  A civilised way to travel, and a nostalgic experience to hear again the squeak of gangway connections and smell the aroma of Mk3 coach brakes.

Llyn Corwen - pictures by Paul Reynolds, notes by George Jones

The successive days of gales and heavy rains have caused the River Dee to run high and fast with an additional impact on the water table of the Corwen flood plain on which the Llangollen Railway embankment sits. As of Saturday 16 March, a lake had appeared alongside the Corwen station side covering the overspill car park which volunteers use for access.

The view across to Corwen town with a stranded car as the water level rose past 18 inches.
The wet conditions are inappropriate for the importation of spoil to infill the gap and a drier spell is needed if layering and compacting of spoil is to be satisfactorily achieved.

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