Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

10 February 2020


Contributions and comments are encouraged: see the Contributions Page

Forthcoming events

(see our Calendar page for venues)

February 2020

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)

Transport for wales have, as promised, begun all-year Sunday service on the Conwy Valley line.   153 333 departs Llandudno Junction working train 2D11, 11:45  Blaenau Ffestiniog to Llandudno on Sunday 2 February. Picture by Sean Thomas.

Conwy Valley - Network Rail announcement

Storm Ciara, which bought 90mph winds, extreme rainfall, and flooding across Wales, has caused extensive damage on the Conwy Valley Line, north of Llanrwst. Network Rail engineers inspecting the line today have identified several sites where the ballast supporting the track has been washed away by floodwater. The storm has also damaged fencing and level crossings at several locations.

Further assessments will be carried out once the floodwater has receded, but early indications suggest that the damage is not as extensive as that caused by Storm Gareth in March last year, when the line was closed for four months. While the line remains closed, Transport for Wales will continue to operate a rail replacement bus service to keep passengers moving and passengers are urged to check before they travel.

After the Storm - by John Cowlishaw

Due to the reported flooding between Shrewsbury and Gobowen on 10 February the 1322 Cardiff
Central to Holyhead was diverted via Crewe. (Sadly 175 109 stopped under the footbridge to reduce its photogenic properties.)

In the former parcels bay at Chester station on the same day was Avanti's 221 110 with no duties.  Given the absence of through North Wales/Chester services to Euston the sight of this doing nothing may convey something of the importance the new operator holds to the area's
custom.  This was compounded by the prevention of using the impossible-to-use Sunday tickets until 12:00, which was the most onerous restriction of any operator, again does not show a high regard for customer service. However my wife used the 14:40 departure from Euston to Manchester and was actually home in about three  hours including getting a service bus to Wrexham.  Not bad when you think in those terms.

Newsreel - images by Sean Thomas

Above, 67 008 passes through Llandudno Junction on 31 January with the second set of ex-East Coast Mk4 coaches being transferred to Transport for Wales. ...

... and seen the next day, 1 February stabled at Holyhead ...

... Driving Van Trailer 82226 at the other end. Three sets to be allocated to TfW. The coaches have power-operated doors and other 'Persons of Restricted Movement' features and are to work the Holyhead - Cardiff premier express in place of the present Mk3 coaches with their 'slam' doors.

On the same day, an unusual combination of  153 362 and 150 237 call at Llandudno Junction with 1D11 07:09 Birmingham International to Holyhead.

45231 arriving at Llandudno Junction,  where it would take on water, with a Saphos Trains excursion from Leicester to Holyhead.

Arriving at Holyhead.

45231  and rear-end loco  D1924 Crewe Diesel Depot at Holyhead. As reported in the last issue, The steam loco headed as usual to Valley where it would turn on the triangle of track there to face east for the return journey.

However, it was found that the points at Valley connecting to the triangle could not be worked, so D1924 hauled the train on its return journey.

D1924 at Bangor in failing light.

Sunday 2 February: 175 009 and 175 106 leaving Llandudno Junction with 1K03 Holyhead to Crewe.

175 004 and 175 114 at Bangor with 1V90 Holyhead to Hereford (Engineering works under further south.

An interesting Sunday move:  158 828 + 153 333 + 150 250 at Llandudno Junction at 09:36  with 1D11 Crewe to Holyhead.  153 333 and 150 250 were detached at Llandudno Junction: 153 333 went on to work the Conwy Valley Service, 150 250 to work the Llandudno Junction - Llandudno Shuttles which now run from 10:30 on Sundays, while 158 828 continued onto Holyhead.

153 333 at Llandudno Junction with 2D11 Blaenau Ffestiniog to Llandudno.

153 333 at Blaenau Ffestiniog with 2D13 to Llandudno.  Five 153s - 325,  329, 333, 361, and 369 - have moved from Great Western to TfW; of these, 325 and 333 had previously worked for London Midland, as was revealed when their GWR promotional livery was peeled off.  Before the the 'Parry People Movers' arrived,  the very short Stourbridge branch was worked by a 153, very different from the Conwy Valley.

Chester Parcels platform

We've had a query from someone who creates timetables for a  train simulator game. Apparently another users has stated that on 22 August 2017 , he photographed a (real life)  timetabled passenger train - allegedly 1K11 (ex 1D57) departing from the parcels platform adjacent to platform 1 at Chester. Our opinion is that this is not permitted and that line is only used for stabling units (except 175s)  between working; currently a Northern unit is scheduled to spend the night there.

What do readers think - was there some special reason for this in 2017 or did he just see a shunt move?  A picture is offered as evidence which shows an ATW 150 with all doors closed, and nobody on the platform.

Train replaces bus

Readers will recall that 'due to the requirement to run faster services between South and North
Wales' one of the services in the December 2019 timetable was planned (without any consultation) to run non-stop through stations that had previously been served at that time, and a bus service would run weekdays from Shrewsbury (09:25) to Ruabon calling at Gobowen and Chirk and another from Gobowen (09:15) to Chirk, Ruabon, Wrexham and Chester. The press is now reporting that this decision has been reversed and trains will call in future, although it is not clear when this change will occur and whether both buses are involved.  Clarification would be welcome.

And what about the stops on the Coast that are being missed?

A Northern Rail  Day Ranger – by John Cowlishaw

Having finally obtained the necessary tokens from the Manchester Evening News, in the absence of any in the Liverpool Echo despite advertising to the contrary, a 'Northern Only Day ranger' was purchased on Saturday 1 February from a friendly booking clerk at Chester station for £10.  The journey started with the 08:21 from Chester to Leeds with 195 004, sadly Chester City were visiting York City and the train was full of beer drinking supporters loudly making their way east, destroying the ambience and causing a lot of older folk to stand.

Leeds was reached just over two hours later after reversal at Bradford Interchange and the 10:59 with a cascaded Scotrail unit 170 459 was taken from platform 1, part of the old Midland Leeds Wellington (soon to be replaced as platform 0 is constructed), to Harrogate where a wander led to a quiet fish and chip shop outside the tourist throng for lunch. 

Harrogate (above) is now the starting point for six 'Azuma' services per day and the juxtaposition of these modern units and a North Eastern Railway  signal gantry looking most odd.  The 13.23 with 158 851 was caught to York for a short break, looking at the new Azumas, the new TPE Nova 2 on the Edinburgh – Liverpool service and a walk to take a picture of a humble Pacer.

195 118 was used on the 14:23 to Blackpool North, which was taken as far as Burnley Manchester Road (above) , where a half hour break allowed a swift pint in the adjacent pub ...

.. before taking the 16:36 service to Manchester with 150 131 on a Wigan service from Blackburn. 

An uncomfortable half hour was spent at Manchester Victoria with noisy football supporters again and a Gents toilet with large puddles on the floor from an overflowing urinal with unconcerned workers (not Northern staff, but employed by a contract cleaning company) looking on. 

A break was made to the refurbished Co-operative Wholesale Society building close by to determine the occupiers of the premises.  Discussions with the staff revealed no information but a discreet horizontal orange logo on the reception desk indicated the presence of Amazon.  Picture by Chris Coxon.

The final journey was in  195 120 from Victoria (above) to Chester,  just short of 11 hours after we started.  Great value for money and an excellent offer for a total of £12 (including the cost of the newspapers). The acceleration of the 195s was impressive compared with even the 170s and the takeover of the East Coast Main Line by Azumas was obvious.

Rolling Back Beeching at Llangollen - report by George Jones

My title seems to be the flavour of the month in places, but our local MP came face to face with reality on Saturday 1 February. The recently elected member for Clywd South, Simon Baynes MP, was invited to view progress with the volunteer lead project at Corwen.

To start his site visit he stood on the newly laid Bomag pedestrian crossing which accesses the mess room where two tracks - mainline and siding - now exist. Here site tour guide Phil Rogers explained - this was once a gap and the track has just been put back 50 years since the line was lifted after the route to Barmouth was closed in 1965. It took the volunteers 44 years to return the track here since the start of the Llangollen Railway project  in 1975, so he now has some idea of what it takes to Roll Back Beeching, unless government backed millions are available.

After a tour of the station site Simon Baynes said,

“I am very impressed with the development of the Corwen project and the enthusiastic volunteer workforce. I am a big fan of steam railways and look forward to the opening of the new station and the benefit for tourism it will bring.”

During the course of the tour on the island platform, he saw the newly installed replica lampposts and columns (seen above, modelled by Peter Neve)  for the running-in board and a visual demonstration of volunteer effort to dig out the foundation trench for the final set of canopy columns which calls for a hefty load of concrete after shuttering  reinforcing bars are inserted. The final Easi-blocks for the platform 1 wall had just been inserted to close off the vehicular access and now have their top block work and platform edging in place.

At the subway stairway the third pair of the canopy columns is in place and the extra bracing for them to with stand the winds is now connected up. Work is proceeding apace in preparation for the laying of the long promised pavers on the top surface which also require the laying of the tactile strip to meet modern standards as a new build station.

The final layer of Easi-blocs on platform 1 at the excavation trench.

Members of the team went off to Birmingham on Saturday 8 February to attend the HRA 200 Awards ceremony when the Corwen trackwork achievement was judged along with four other projects in the Large Group category. They came away with a runners-up certificate, the Award having gone to the Volks Electric Railway.

Picture by Liz McGuiness: Peter Neve, Paul Reynolds, Richard Dixon-Gough,and  LR Vice-President Gordon Heddon after presentation with the framed certificate.


Closure of Fiddlers Ferry power station is imminent: Paul Shannon's picture shows one of the last empty limestone workings from Fiddlers to Tunstead, which ran on Monday 3 February. emerging from the power station sidings. The line here is now used mainly by light engine movements between Warrington Arpley and Halewood/Ditton.

70 014 passing Mobberley on 4 February with  a Runcorn - Northenden empty waste train, normally a Class 66  working (Greg Mape).

A Class 175 on Manchester Airport - Llandudno service makes its way through Castlefield, Manchester, 3 February as yet another tower block rises behind the old Congredtional Church (Greg Mape).

West Midlands 170 517 waits to depart Shrewsbury at 12:41 with a Birmingham New Street service on 7 February (Martin Evans).

Colas Tamper DR 79306 Panther drifts into Crewe on 7 February (Martin Evans).

The view from a hill - pictures by Greg Mape

Seen from Helsby Hill on 5 February, a Northern 195/1 on the Chester - Leeds service .

A Class 66 on empty sand hoppers from the Encirc plant.

The wider view.

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