Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

07 October 2019

Contributions and comments are encouraged: see the Contributions Page

Forthcoming events

October 2019

Saturday 12 October Steam at Chester. Vintage Trains 'Cheshire Venturer' Dorridge - Chester.

Saturday 12 October UK Railtours The Snowdon Panorama (diesel) London - Llandudno Junction

Monday 21 October RCTS Chester "South Wales Railways since the 1970s " Stuart Warr. Stuart from Cardiff will look back at the changing face of railways across South Wales since 1973, featuring steam and diesels working all manner of services with a few rare views.

 November 2019

Friday 1 November Clwyd Railway Circle  ''Shrewsbury to Holyhead in the 1980s' Geoff Morris

Saturday 2 November Stephenson Locomotive Society. Manchester Centre. Geoff Stocker
‘Rebuilding the Welsh Highland Railway’ An illustrated presentation of the stage-wise re-construction of the WHR (closed 1936) on the abandoned trackbed, from 1995 to completion in 2010 & subsequent developments - including locos and rolling stock.

Tuesday 5 November North Wales Railway Circle Dave Rapson. A digital presentation of all sorts.

Friday 8 November Steam on the Coast Railway Touring Company North Wales Coast Express  London - Holyhead, Flying Scotsman Crewe - Holyhead - Crewe.

Thursday 14 November  Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Railway Signalling    Gareth Parry

Monday 18 November RCTS Chester "Railway Safety" David Maidment. David Maidment will discuss the change in railway safety management systems and safety culture from his experience in South Wales in the 1960s, as Regional Operating Manager of the LMR in the 1980s.  Also as Head of Safety Policy at the BR Headquarters in the 1990s

 December 2019

Tuesday 3 December  North Wales Railway Circle   Christmas Bash - as usual please bring any items of interest with you.

Wednesday 4 December RCTS Liverpool "Liverpool And Its Railways " John Ryan. A look at the varied railways of Liverpool and its surrounding over many decades by former British Rail civil engineer.

Friday 6 December  Clwyd Railway Circle  ' Member's Selections & Christmas Celebrations'
Members are invited to give a 15-minute presentation of their choice (any format).
Contact David Jones 01244 537440 to book a slot.

 Saturday 7 December Stephenson Locomotive Society. Manchester Centre. At Sale United Reformed Church lounge, Montague Road, Sale M33 3BU Including seasonal refreshments!
Owen Russell ‘Memories of the Woodhead Line’ The Woodhead line linked Lancashire, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and London. As there were shorter routes to London, express trains often comprised only 5 or 6 coaches. The line was a good place to see a variety of GC and, later, LNER engines, which had to work hard on the notorious gradients. Like many steam routes, Woodhead was a line of contrasts.

Thursday 12 December  Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society A railway pictorial of steam Barry Wynne (Special Christmas meeting with quiz)

Saturday 14 December Steam at Chester UK Railtours 'The Christmas Chester Chuffer' London - Chester. Steam  Bescot - Chester - Crewe.

Monday 16 December RCTS Chester "1960s Southern  Branch Lines" David Miller. A 1960s archive of black and white photographs mainly of Southern branches but also from further north, with some interesting diversions.  Images never seen before.

Thursday 19 December Steam at Chester Railway Touring Company 'The Chester Christmas Express' Stevenage - Chester. Loco 6233.

 January 2020

Tuesday 7 January  North Wales Railway Circle NWRC committee member and Coast Railway website contributor Peter Basterfield.   Home & Away.

Friday 10 January  Clwyd Railway Circle  “Railways Around Holywell Part 1' Ray Bailey

Monday 20 January RCTS Chester  AGM followed by "The Ffestiniog Railway" Geoff Coward. After 20.15 hrs Geoff will take a look at the steam loco’s of the Ffestiniog Railway, past present and future. Then a trip along the line from Porthmadog to Bleanau Ffestiniog, looking at each station, maintenance facility and scenery

 Saturday 25 January Stephenson Locomotive Society. Manchester Centre. Centre AGM (brief) followed by: Christian Wyatt ‘21st Century signalling Control Centre – The Manchester Rail Operations Centre’ Christian Wyatt, a career railwayman with 38 years’ service, started as a signal box lad at Manchester Victoria and is now Project Operations Interface Manager for the London North Western route. One of his key responsibilities is the development of the Manchester Rail Operations Centre. Christian will describe the MROC from its build in 2012 to its present operational status.

February 2020

Tuesday 4 February North Wales Railway Circle Robin Humphrey-Davies ('Humph'). The route of the Welsh Highland Railway, Part 2, Rhyd Ddu to Porthmadog.

Wednesday 5 February RCTS Liverpool "The Black & White Collection Of Bill Ashcroft " John Sloane. Bill Ashcroft was a well-known name in Lancashire steam railway circles and John Sloane from Wigan will present some of his large collection of monochrome pictures from the steam era.

Friday 7 February Clwyd Railway Circle  'Rheilffordd Talyllyn Railway' David Murphy

Thursday 13 February  Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Llangollen Railway    Dave Southern   

Monday 17 February RCTS Chester "The Unknown Warrior – The Patriot Rebuild" John Hastings-Thomson. The LMS Patriot project are rebuilding a Patriot, ‘The Unknown Warrior’ and this presentation will describe the huge amount of work and money involved to build a new steam locomotive.

 Saturday 22 February Stephenson Locomotive Society. Manchester Centre. Tony Wright
‘Aspects of the Origins & Development of Monorails including Behr, Lartigue and the Manchester to Liverpool Lightning Express Railway’ You may remember Tony’s excellent presentation on Mayfield Station. Don’t miss this intriguing meeting.

Tuesday, 25 February  18:30 Stephenson Locomotive Society. Manchester Centre. Joint meeting with the Newcomen Society, Location to be confirmed. Bob Gwynne, Associate Curator, National Railway Museum ‘Sticking with steam – an examination of why Britain’s railways stuck with steam into the space age’ This talk examines some of the complex history behind moving on from the steam age on Britain’s railways and attempts an answer as to why the UK’s love affair with the steam hasn’t ended.

March 2020

Friday 6 March Clwyd Railway Circle   Annual General Meeting - followed by a Film Show

Thursday 12 March    Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society  plan to have a visit from a representative   from Transport for Wales. More details later

Tuesday 3 March North Wales Railway Circle Barry Wynne and Steve Morris.  Another show from Barry's superb collection.

Monday 16 March RCTS Chester "The Lever Brothers Railways Of Port Sunlight" Mike Lister Telling the story of Levers’ railways.  The soap factory was constructed in 1888 and its railways covered 54 track miles and the talk will describe the railway within the soap factory and other factories at Bromborough.

Saturday 21 March  Stephenson Locomotive Society. Manchester Centre.  Melvyn Roberts
‘Indian Summer of the Somerset & Dorset Railway’ The S & D was (and still is) many enthusiasts’ favourite cross-country railway. We will hear about its unusual history, but the main feature will be a slide show of its operations in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

April 2020

Wednesday 1 April RCTS Liverpool "L&Y Engines At Work" Paul Shackcloth. Paul Shackcloth is the photographic historian for the Manchester Locomotive Society who have a large collection.  This talk will show Lanky locomotives at work over the whole of the ex-L&Y network, including Liverpool Exchange.

Tuesday 7 April North Wales Railway Circle   Richard Sant, Secretary of the LMS Patriot Company.  Progress on The Unknown Warrior

Thursday 9 April  Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Trams in Llandudno (Including L & CBER and Great Orme Tramway) John Davies

Saturday 18 April Stephenson Locomotive Society. Manchester Centre.  Tim Owen ‘The activities of the Furness Railway Trust’ The Furness Railway Trust has a collection of six steam locomotives, including Furness Railway No. 20, plus historic carriages. The illustrated talk will cover the work of the Trust over the past 30 years..

 Monday 20th April RCTS Chester "Another Colourail Journey" Paul Chancellor

A Ninth Colour-Rail Journey will again trawl this vast collection of images for both views from across the country and through time, so expect both steam and modern traction to appear with may be the odd bit of infrastructure thrown in for good measure.

May 2020

Tuesday 12 May North Wales Railway Circle AGM and Photo Competition.

Thursday 14 May  Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society Evening Train Trip to Betws-y-Coed, where we will spend an hour in the Gwydyr. (Times will be confirmed later)



This week's 'dog-box' is ex-Great Western 153 333 which has gained shiny new TfW livery, seen at North Llanrwst on a familiarisation run on Sunday 6 October by Greg Mape. Weekday runs continue between Chester and Llandudno Junction only.

Mk4s to Manchester

A press release from the Welsh Government  issued on 3 October explains why late deliveries of new stock have led to a request to keep non-disabled-friendly stock to be kept in service after the 31 December 2019 deadline, but also has some good news about the December timetable, when it is hoped to introduce second hand Class 170 units on some services and also, in a surprise development, ex-East Coast Main Line Mk4 carriages (displaced by new 'Azumas') on the Manchester loco-hauled diagram.

It has been announced in the past that these will be used on Cardiff - Holyhead services, but the Manchester idea is new.  The advantage of the Mk4s over the current Mk3s is that they have powered doors, which will be very welcome, especially to the platform staff at Manchester Piccadilly where a minute's delay can wreck the service. The image from 1997, from the Manchester Locomotive Society collection, shows them in their original 'Intercity' livery.

RHTT season starts

The first high-pressure water-jetting train (Rail Head Treatment Train) of this year's leaf-fall season set out from Coleham depot (Shrewsbury) at 21:18 on 1 October, visiting Machynlleth, then back to Shrewsbury for a trip to Craven Arms and back,  then via Wrexham  to Bidston and back, then via Crewe to Chester and Holyhead, then back to Chester, Crewe and finally Coleham, due to arrive at 16:12, giving five hours for servicing before starting again.

Approaching Llandudno Junction (Jack Bowley). The Cambrian line to Machynlleth requires both locos to be Class 97s to work the ERTMS signalling, so a loco swap must have been made at some stage.

Heading towards the station (Jack Bowley).

In action approaching  ... 

...  and passing through the station (Ryan Lloyd). The jets are turned off through stations to avoid damaging the platform structure.

56 078 viewed from Valley station's 'Harrington Hump' ...

... and 97 304 on the rear, returning from Holyhead (Wyn Jones).

Garry Stroud captured the return from Holyhead at Llandudno Junction with 56 078 leading ...

... and 97 304 on the rear passing the Conwy Valley junction.

Bagillt (Tim Rogers).  The FEA wagons are 642027,  642045 and  642016.

Departing Chester at 09:33, Saturday 5 October with 97 302 Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways leading and 97 304 John Tiley on the rear....

... and the view in the other direction towards Saltney Junction (Bob Greenhalgh). The train proceeded on to the North Wales Coast, even though the 'feather' on CR117 signal in the distance appears to be indicating a left turn on to the Wrexham line. Presumably a call to the signaller was made.

Among the mobile homes on the approach to Abergele ...

... and spraying towards Abergele station (Greg Mape).

Note: We can't promise to include every RHTT image received...

Close call at Bagillt

The report (downloadable at this link) by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch on the events at Bagillt crossing on 17 August 2018 make interesting, if disturbing, reading. The user-worked crossing with telephone, on a track with leads to the work area of the Bagillt Car Spares company,  is only used by vehicles too tall to use the alternative route using an underpass.

A long and heavy HGV in the form of a 'baler' used to crush scrap cars including a crane attached to the rear, with a member of the Bagillt Car Spares staff to act as crossing assistant, arrived at the crossing and used the phone provided to talk to the signaller, who since recent changes is now working at a terminal in Cardiff. Asked about the vehicle, the assistant described it simply as a 'wagon'  which would take '2 minutes at most' to cross, which led the signaller to decide not to set the signals against approaching  trains, which he surely would have, had he realised the actual size of the 'wagon' weighing over 60 tonnes, which is illustrated in the report.

The vehicle crossed safely, but the assistant saw a train - the loco-hauled 09:53 Manchester to Holyhead - approaching him while walking back to close the gates, which are 24.5 metres apart because of the configuration of the track near to the former Bagillt station.

The signaller had previously worked mechanical boxes in Norfolk, re-locating to Cardiff in early 2018.  Before the re-signalling, the crossing telephone connected to Holywell Junction signalbox, where the signaller would perhaps have had much more knowledge of the area and the crossing users, but the crux of the matter is that the crossing assistant did not clearly make clear to the signaller the nature of the vehicle as 'large or slow-moving' as required by the sign. Furthermore it appears that there is no official definition of 'large or slow-moving'. It would seem wise that in future the signals should be set to danger in response to all calls from that crossing.

From Dave Sallery's archive

Two memories from the 1990s when Class 37/4s were the star attraction that led to the creation of this site.  Above,  37 407 Loch Long heads west past Penmaenbach on 5 June 1993. The full Class 37 schedule had begun with the May timetable that year; the first coach is one of those inherited from Network South East, with just the red stripe of the NSE livery repainted in blue.  The loco has been transferred to Crewe depot on 2 May 1993.  it was renamed Blackpool Tower in 1995, but never received the Regional Railways livery. The name was lost after it was moved to other duties, but in May 2019 under the auspices of DRS, it regained the name at a ceremony at Blackpool North station. In recent times it has been working passenger trains from Norwich, but as new units take over there its passenger days may be over.

29 June 1998, and the Regional Railways image is well established. Dave photographed 37 414 Cathays C & W Works near Prestatyn with a typical four-coach train of Mk2a vehicles with one Mk1 in third place.

On the freight side, Trawsfynydd nuclear power station was still in operation in May 1994 when 31 224 and 31 134 arrived at Llandudno Junction with two flask wagons. At that period, safety rules required the brake vans each end of the train as well as old bogie-bolster wagons to keep any leaks of radiation away from the train crew.

Nicht Hinauslehnen? Thoughts on safety - by Charlie Hulme

Soon after uploading the last issue featuring George Jones's Llangollen Railway views, we read in Railway Magazine suggestions by the safety authorities that leaning out of train windows should be banned, even on 25 mph heritage railways should not be allowed.  One reader commented that he would no longer visit preserved lines if this were enforced.

Clearly, the two fatal accidents on the main  line in recent years (one involving an enthusiast who was a railway employee)  have brought this to the public eye; and indeed it is no longer safe to lean out because tree branches, and even railway signals,  can now be found closer to trains than was once the case. An accident report from 2016  states:
Data from RSSB’s safety management information system (SMIS) going back to the year 2000 revealed 26 other [i.e. 28] injury accidents involving passengers being struck while leaning from a moving train. Five of these involved infrastructure (one of which was a major injury and occurred on London Underground), 12 involved vegetation (one major injury), three involved other trains (one major), while the remainder (including one major injury) were grit or other objects.
We don't know of any of these were on heritage railways. For some time we have avoided including 'out-of-the-window shots' on main lines (although I have leaned out of many a train window in the past) but should we avoid using them on heritage lines? Should railways like the Llangollen and East Lancs have to put bars on their Mk1 coach windows, or have staff at every door as on railtours and the current South Wales Class 37 operation?  Or can we assume that heritage railways keep their lines clear of such dangerous obstructions?

The image above, well-known to travellers beyond  the Channel, is curious in that the French and German versions say 'do not lean out' while the Italian says it is dangerous.

Marine news

MV Eems Traveller docks at Raynes Jetty on 5 October to load limsetone for Shoreham in Sussex. (Greg Mape).

Logs in the north

70 015,  on hire to Colas from Freightliner, passes Ribblehead with train 6J37 Carlisle - Chirk logs on Wednesday 2 October (Ian Pilkington).

At Charnock Richard near  Chorley,  Lancashire (Peter Laithwaite).

The following day, 3 October passing Euxton Balshaw Lane Station (Peter Laithwaite).

153 at Llandudno Junction - pictures by Jack Bowley

153 367 from the TfW existing fleet on training duty near Llandudno Junction, 2 October.

175 109 departs from Platform 1.

The destination 'Cardiff Bay' recalls the short shuttle service between that station and Cardiff Queen Street, where a 153 is normally to be found.

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