Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

16 December 2019

Contributions and comments are encouraged: see the Contributions Page

Forthcoming events

(see our Calendar page for venues)

December 2019

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)

7822 brings the first 'Santa Special' of the season into Berwyn, Llangollen Railway, 14 December. Picture by Bob Greenhalgh.

Looking Back - Virgin on the Coast

Virgin Trains took over the London - North Wales services, along with the rest of the InterCity sector's West Coast services, in 1997. Initially there was little change to the train service except the Virgin livery being applied to the stock.  The North Wales trains were a mixture of Class 47-hauled stock and HSTs, in variable amounts.  Above, HST at Holyhead, 19 April 2003.

HSTs first appeared under British Rail auspices in 1991; a small fleet, based at Manchester Longsight, was allocated to the InterCity sector.

Under Virgin Trains in  1998, 43 101 was treated to a naming ceremony at Holyhead, celebrating 150 years of the 'Irish Mail' named train and featuring a new style of locomotive naming using 'artistically-designed' vinyls.  It was said that Chris Green, when he took over the reins at Virgin Trains, ordered the removal of these and replacement by traditional nameplates.

13 April 2002 at  Crewe. 90 014 attached to rear of North Wales - London train.

Problems on 23 February 2002 at  Crewe, Platform 11. 47 789 arrived from North Wales towing a 'dead' 47 and train.

At the end of HST workings in May 2004, there were three weekday HST diagrams, which included two return trips on the Manchester - London service as well as the Coast workings. In Summer 2004 all Virgin's coast trains were loco-worked using Mark 3 coaches in push-pull format with a driving trailer which was normally at the Holyhead end of the train.  The train would be pushed from Euston to Crewe by a Class  87  or 90 electric loco, which would be detached (except on one occasion someone forgot) and a diesel attached to the front of the DVT for the run to Holyhead.  Class 47s from the 47 8xx series were normally used. In From July 2004, the Virgin locos were replaced by hired Freightliner Class 47s until the end of locomotive working at the September timetable change.

30 October 2004 at Crewe. Voyager 221 105 William Baffin.

Mochdre, November 2008 (Ken Robinson).

Virgin's plan was to run the London - Holyhead services with the 'Voyager' Class 221 units, four of which were earmarked for West Coast use, the remainder being allocated to the Virgin Cross Country franchise. One was shown off at Llandudno in 2001, but it was Autumn 2004 before a regular service began, including a daily London - Llandudno and return working which lasted a couple of years.

September 2006:  Llandudno Junction. 57 313 Tracy Island  on Pendolino from London.

However, there was disquiet among some important regular passengers about the limited food service available from the 'galley' of the 221s,  and it was decided to run the services  at 'business' times with a 'Pendolino' unit which would be hauled between Crewe and Holyhead by a Class 57/3 'Thunderbird' loco.

57 316 FAB 1 at Holyhead, November 2008 (Ken Robinson).

The 57/3s were originally intended for occasional use in diversions or to rescue failed trains. In regular daily service it was necessary to have a driver in the Pendolino to work its on-board systems as well as the loco driver, and there were some problems with the coupling and uncoupling process at Crewe, but this procedure continued for several years - latterly Saturdays only - until December 2012.

Since then, all London services have been worked by Class 221 units, which apparently have been equipped with better food service; has anyone had experience of the Voyager breakfast?

Loco-hauled disappointment

From the 16 December,  Transport for Wales should have brought in to use their new (well, second-hand) Mk4 coaches, and in addition to the daily 'WAG express' another loco-hauled diagram, including an 07:02 Cardiff - Holyhead via Chester, controversially omitting stops at a number of stations (Gobowen Chirk, Ruabon, all stations west of Chester except Llandudno Junction, Bangor and Holyhead) apparently for 'pathing' reasons. Understandably, users are unhappy with this situation, especially since if it stopped at  Gobowen, Chirk and Ruabon it would be the first off-peak service.  As it stands, there is a two-hour gap in northbound service . TfW have, according to a press report, promised to introduce some replacement buses,  'one from Shrewsbury to Ruabon leaving at 9.25am and another from Gobowen to Chester leaving at 9.15am'.

Readers of our last update would have read that the introduction of the new stock has been delayed to 'early 2020' but the actual timetable went ahead as planned, with substitute stock. George Jones was at Wrexham General to photograph 158 839 (above) working the train on its first day...

... and John Cowlishaw was at Broad Oak Crossing, Rossett.  In the background 175 002, with the 08:30 Llandudno to Cardiff Central, can be seen starting as Rossett Junction signal had just cleared to green so it could occupy the single track section to Wrexham North just released by the 158.

Cambrian corner

Dafydd Roberts writes: 'The photo of Afon Wen station in the 9 December Noticeboard prompts me to get in touch with a personal reminiscence. When the National Eisteddfod was held in Criccieth in 1975, during the first week in August, one of the evening gigs was held in a large marquee on land near Afon Wen. Someone, somehow, had been able to arrange for all trains running between Porthmadog and Pwllheli that evening to stop at the former Afon Wen station. Although the station had by then been closed for several years, one platform remained usable, and the track formation had not been altered. My memory is that the weed infested platform was busy throughout that one evening. Can anyone else corroborate my recollection - and might there even be some photographs of this unexpected resurrection of the station?'

Mishaps at Criccieth level crossing occur from time to time, and it's not the motorist's fault every time: this picture from Dave Sallery's collection taken on 15 August 1987 shows 156 401  after colliding with the level crossing gates at the Esplanade crossing. The mangled crossing gates can be seen by the two figures.

Crewe and Chester 11 December - pictures by Martin Evans

DRS  88 002 Prometheus departs from Crewe at 14:02  after a crew change with the  Daventry to Mossend intermodal service.

Northern  CAF unit 195 115 departs Chester at 15:17 hours with the new Chester - Leeds service. 

Corwen Catchup - by George Jones

There's a need for a catch up with progress at Corwen now we have had a Golden fishplate moment. Work on setting out the two sets of points for eastern end of the station loop line commenced on 21 September (see our 23 September issue).

Over the next eight weeks the right-hand point from the mainline into platform 1 was set out, followed by connection with the left hand point from platform 1 into the siding. The design geometry of the layout on the ground eventually required some adjustment to ensure a smooth alignment of the curve into platform 1 before completion could be announced on 23 November.

This work saw the connection of the mainline through from the railhead at Corwen East and marked the completion of continuous rail all the way from Llangollen to the stop block at Green Lane, Corwen for the first time since the rails were lifted in 1968.

Time for a little celebration on Tuesday 10 December when project members and invitees came together on the track to join in a Golden Fishplate ceremony. With LRT President Bill Shakespeare MBE and Vice President Gordon Heddon on the big spanner, the bolts were tightened in the face of a passing gale.

The Road Rail Vehicle No.4206 moved through the point work to demonstrate completeness of the track layout, all this for the benefit of BBC Wales TV, an item that made the Wales Today evening news and featured in the on line BBC Wales.

Royal Scot in action - pictures by John Chant

On 11 December Locomotives Services ran a private charter from Crewe to Holyhead and return. John Chant was at Belgrano with his camera in the morning.

We understand the train was a Christmas outing the the company's staff.

Steam train photography, especially in the winter,  can be problematic.

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