Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

09 December 2019

Virgin's last day, Stockport.

Contributions and comments are encouraged: see the Contributions Page

Forthcoming events

(see our Calendar page for venues)

December 2019

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

Friday 13 December Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society Steam across South Africa in 1973 Part 1. a digital presentation by John Sloane, who visited the country when many of the older classes of steam locomotive were still in service.

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

Friday 10 January Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society Locomotive Sheds of the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway. a digital presentation by Noel Coates.

Monday 20 January RCTS Chester AGM , then John Cashen will do a whistle stop tour throughout Britain of photographs he took in the 1960s and 1970s (Change of speaker)

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

Friday 14 February Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society People and Places 4. Images of the pre-1968 steam railway including trains and railway staff, enthusiasts or the general public. a digital presentation by Paul Shackcloth.

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

Friday 13 March Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society Wheels on Reels. Transport Films – taken with a cine camera and shown using a cine projector. Geoff Lomas presents a selection of his Films in the traditional manner.

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.

Friday 3 April Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society Great Named Trains. (note: first Friday) featuring postcards of named trains and video of the engines which hauled them and survive in preservation. a digital presentation by Society President Nick Dodson

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 20 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)

The final run under Virgin auspices at Wrexham General of the Wrexham portion of the 18:10 from London Euston was undertaken by a scruffy-looking 221 105 on Friday 6 December.  Photograph by John Cowlishaw, who writes: 'The end of an era but there's still doubt as to how many folk actually do all the journey.'

Rolling stock (delay) news

We have reported in the past that Transport for Wales (TfW) intended to transfer away to South Wales services the Class 150 units which currently ply between Wrexham Central and Bidston. The line is earmarked for the Class 230 (rebuilt London Underground) trains, but TfW's units are not yet ready, so as an interim measure Class 153 single-units were to be drafted in.

This was  officially confirmed only very recently; the Wrexham - Bidston Rail Users Association and its members  were not happy with this proposal, providing evidence that the 153s would not be able to maintain the current timetable, and after some test runs it has now been decided - according to a report from the Association - that the 150s will remain. The 153s will still (temporarily) take over the other proposed Class 230 routes, viz. the Conwy Valley Line and Crewe - Chester. 

It's clear that the Class 230 project by 'Vivarail' is not unfolding as smoothly as was hoped. The units in service with London North Western on the Bletchley - Bedford line have suffered from a series of problems leading to service cancellations, and we hear that the TfW ones have yet to be handed over, although originally scheduled for May 2019.

Also proposed for the 15 December timetable was the introduction of Mk4 coaches, second-hand from the East Coast, on  enhanced loco-worked Cardiff - Holyhead and North Wales - Manchester services.  These will be powered (in push-pull configuration) by an enlarged stud of Class 67 locos, which will need some modification to control systems to work with the Mk4 stock, recognisable by an extra socket on the cab front (67 008 is one example). One set of coaches was delivered to Arriva Traincare's Crewe depot, where they will be based, back in October, and is still there, while other sets are believed to be at Eastleigh. There have been some test runs made, but the introduction into passenger service has been postponed to 'early 2020'.

There is talk on social media of a second Cardiff diagram using existing stock from 15 December, but plans seem to be changing daily. Meanwhile, the Manchester train has been worked by a railcar set in early December,  said to be due to 'wheel flats' (caused by sliding on leaves) on the driving van trailer. We'll have to wait and see what develops.

TfW's website has a summary of the Timetable changes and leaflet downloads.

Meanwhile, the other late-running project, the creation of bi-mode Class 769 units from redundant 319 EMUs has finally delivered one complete set to Cardiff Canton. The units ordered some time  earlier by Northern Rail have still to enter service.

Santa Season

Santa specials took to the rails at Llangollen on 7 December. George Jones provides these photographs, taken at Lapland (a.k.a. Carrog). 5199 (above) worked  the 11am off Llangollen.

On the second train of the day was 7822 Foxcote Manor. If you would like a ride, you may well be out of luck, as nearly all the trains are sold out: more information on the LR website.

The weekend of 7 and 8 December was the Bala Lake Railway's Santa weekend. Trains were worked by 0-4-0ST Winifred ...

... as seen in these pictures taken by railway volunteer Bob Greenhalgh on 7 December.

Afonwen anniversary - remembered by Ken Robinson

5 December marked the 55th anniversary of the end of services on the Caernarfon - Afonwen section of the Afonwen - Bangor line. Services actually ceased as from 7 December 1964, but this being a Monday and there were no Sunday trains, the last trains ran on Saturday 5 December.

Attached is a copy of the last day ticket (I travelled with my late father on the last day from Porthmadog to Caernarfon and return) but alas with no camera. However, the photograph shows Afonwen station, believed to be in 1963, with 42606 arriving with a train from Bangor - original photo taken by the late Steve Coulson.

Stafford selection - by Martin Evans

Above, 66 169 in (heritage?) EWS livery brings the Halewood to Southampton Docks service through Stafford on a sunny winters day at Stafford at 13:15, 3 December.

90 036 Driver Jack Mills and 90 040 power through Stafford on 3 December with a Mossend to Daventry intermodal service at 13:25.

Pendolino  390 046 hurries through Stafford at 14:05pm on 3 December with a service from London Euston.  This was one of the last units in Virgin Trains full livery before the change over to Avanti West Coast. All had been de-branded by the 8 December handover.

Last Virgin in Wrexham

Friday 6 December saw the last Virgin Trains arrival from Euston to be recorded at Wrexham General, as the Wrexham service does not run on Saturdays. The service itself continues under the new owner.

221 105,  due at 20:38, turned up at 20:34 and awaited the road for Croes Newydd loop ...

 ... before departing empty at 20:55 running ahead of the late running Holyhead. Unlike the Virgin Pendolinos, these units have (except 221 101) not been given the 'ghostly' de-branding, possibly because they will simply by 'vinyled'. The 221s are not to be retained by Avanti, who are ordering 23 new 'bi-mode' units to replace them, even though they are just 20 years old and unlikely to be wanted by any other company.

The onward connection to Shrewsbury was provided by 150 258 departing platform 3 at 20:49. Pictures by George Jones.

A look back at the very first Virgin from Wrexham, with  221 103 Christopher Columbus doing the honours on the 07:00 to Euston on 15 December 2008. The station has changed little in those 11 years (John Cowlishaw).

From Dave Sallery's Archive

Bangor on 7 May 1994 with loco 37 402. 37-hauled services on the coast started in May 1993, but this loco and some of the coaches still carry the liveries of their previous use.

14 July 1994, and 37 407 Loch Long leads 37 422 Robert F . Fairlie past Penmaenmawr on a rake including several Mk1 vehicles, now in Regional railways livery.

Chester on 7 September 1995, and Charlie's favourite loco, 37 422 again, looking very smart.

Stockport, 7 December

390 042 arrives at Stockport from London on 7 December. Avanti's branding fills all the stations' poster sites.  We hear that the last Manchester - London train of the day - and the Virgin era - was terminated at Stockport due to damage to its windscreen wipers combined with a heavy rainstorm.

Next issue,  we'll back at some Virgin services.

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