NORTH WALES COAST RAILWAY :NOTICE BOARD
Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd
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05 December 2022
Even more freight traffic: on 5 December 66 796 The Green Progressor arrived at Llandudno Junction from Hexthorpe Yard near Doncaster hauling a rake of box wagons which we believe are to be loaded with limestone from Llanddulas quarry and taken to Bescot yard near Birmingham. This appears to be a one-off trial run. Picture by Gary Thomas.
Borderlands half-hourly service
The Office of Rail and Road have finally reached a conclusion about whether Transport for Wales can increase the Wrexham - Bidston service from one to two services per hour, a plan which has been objected to by GB Railfreight who operate the cement trains along the line. You can read a copy of the full report (21 pages) on our server; an interesting section is paragraph 60, which we quote below:
Accessing the Padeswood Cement Works site consumes significant capacity. Freight trains arriving must wait for the previous northbound passenger train to clear the signal at Dee Marsh (around five miles away), resulting in a wait of around 15 minutes. To enter the sidings, adjacent to the main line, the freight train must first shunt back the whole train into the first reception siding. It is then split, usually into nine and four wagons, with the front portion drawn forward and then shunted back into the second reception siding. This process means that freight trains occupy the main line for around 35 minutes. On departure, freight trains must repeat the above in reverse order, and therefore occupy the line for approximately another 30 minutes. In total, the accumulated time for arrival and departure of one freight train occupying the line between Penyffordd and Buckley is 74 minutes.We also read that Penyfford signalbox is not manned at night, and a crossover there which would have helped has been removed. 'Loaded trains that return from Dee Marsh (where the trains must travel for the loco to run round) towards Avonmouth encounter the steepest gradients on the route, which severely limit trailing loads and efficiency ... and due to the steep gradients on parts of the line, freight trains run at 12mph, and as low as 6mph in bad weather.'
Class 37/4 notes
37 405 at Coleham depot, as seen by Graham Breakwell on 2 December. A run on the RHTT would have have weathered its shiny new livery! This loco was bought by Harry Needle in their recent clearance sale. Needle owned two 37s - 415 and 428 - for a while but both were scrapped in 2013.
We hear that 405 is to be used in tandem on the Cambrian line engineering works, but has a fault which it is hoped can be fixed at Coleham.
37 418 An Comunn Gaidhealach made a surprise appearance at Stockport on 30 November, running light to the East Lancashire Railway at Bury. Could it be that it would be hauling passengers again there, as it did when first preserved? Sadly, no, it was collecting some Network Rail MPVs to take to Crewe. (See item below.) Picture by Peter Cross.
Bury, January 2010 (Charlie Hulme).
Class 230 news
Well, actually there isn't much news. Vivarail did go into Administration, by Grant Thornton LLP, on 1 December, so we wait to see if any organisation will buy the operation. Meanwhile the London North Western have suspended the Bletchley - Bedford service, apparently because maintenance had been carried out by Vivarail staff, whilst the Isle of Wight service, where Vivarail Class 484s took over is still operating. A South Western Railway spokesperson said: 'We are monitoring developments at Vivarail and ... and would work closely with them to ensure the continued smooth running of our trains on the Island Line.'
Transport for Wales say: 'Testing and training is currently on hold ... We’ll be in a position to provide an updated statement in the coming days, but our focus remains to bring our Class 230 units into service on our network. We’re currently planning for this to take place during 2023.'
The end of autumn - pictures by Gary Thomas
In anticipation of the Rail Head Treatment Train season coming to an end I thought I'd get out as much as I could, especially as 97 302 was still on the circuit. Above, on 30 November 56 049 and 97 302 head east past Conwy Castle.
60 076 Dunbar passes Dwygyfylchi on 1 December with stone from Penmenmawr for Tuebrook Sidings.
197 101 and 197 007 pass Rhyl Marine Lake with a training run on 1 December.
56 049 Spirit of Templecombe leading 97 302 past the Marine Lake on 1 December ...
... with a very dirty 97 302 on the rear.
Also approaching the Marine Lake on 1 December, a measurement train led by 43 299 ...
... and 43 290 on the rear.
Pensarn, 2 December.
On 3 December, 56 090, possibly for the first time this season, replaced 56 049.
I had expected the last RHTT to be on Saturday 3 December, running only to Llandudno Junction but this did not prove to be the case and it continued to Holyhead. The RHTT has not appeared on 4 or 5 December, so it does appear that the season is over.
North Wales passed over again - comment by Barrie Hughes
North Wales users of TfW services must be concerned about the favourable bias shown to South Wales by the Welsh Government with the release of the new timetables for the forthcoming timetable revision. There is effectively no change on the Holyhead / Cardiff loco hauled route and no sign of reinstatement of Holyhead / Llandudno - Manchester / Birmingham route loco hauled trains. Instead, the recently purchased Mk4 Class 67 loco hauled trains will be operating seven trains a day on the Swansea / Cardiff / Shrewsbury / Crewe/Manchester services with restaurant cars for First Class and Business Class. Four of the new trains even run on Saturdays when no Holyhead loco hauled trains operate!
Trains run at two hourly intervals and one of the trains even runs to/from Swansea. These trains call at Newport /stations to Shrewsbury then Crewe, Wilmslow and Stockport before arriving at Manchester Piccadilly. It is coming to something when the Welsh Marches get a better service (19 loco hauled trains including the Holyhead services) than what is clearly becoming the Cinderella Line, the North Wales Coast.
Peter Basterfield's week
RHTT near Llanfair PG, 30 November with 97 302 on the rear.
60 076 Dunbar at Penmaenmawr loading point, 1 December.
There was talk of Harry Needle's orange 37 405 for the RHTT on Friday 2 December, but it never happened ... which is why I went to Ty Croes - to get the semaphore signal in the picture (above).
Then to Holyhead for some station shots of 97 302, but it left as I arrived ! I chased it to Llanfair PG just in time, but Pringles' car park was jammed up so I just managed a snap shot as as I went through the gate! It worked out better than I expected - C'est la vie!
Delays and an oddity - recounted by Eli Jones
On 2 December I had a friend coming up from the south-west. After some chaos on the marches due to 5-car 175 bound for Chester losing power in one unit, resulting in a 60+ minute delay, and an even higher delay to the two
Manchester trains behind.
Both were terminated at Crewe and I noticed on Real Time Trains half of the 153 pairing on the furthest back set (1W70) was to be coupled to the initial late arrival (1W66 - 34 late) to form a 175+153 combo. Of course such a pairing is not possible as the two types have different couplers; the RTT entry was later amended, and 153 333 and 153 921 set off back to the south, arriving at Cardiff 26 minures late.
On the road with 37 418 - by Colas driver Jim Scott
On 30 November I was asked to move 37 418 light-loco from Crewe to Derby after it had worked the train of MPVs from the ELR, I was booked to meet it at Basford Hall all but I met it in Crewe PAD (above) where I shunted a couple of the MPVs ...
... before taking two of them to Basford Hall yard.
Derby Rail Technical Centre.
From Dave Sallery's archive
The glory days of the Class 33s. Above, 33 029 on a down service at Prestatyn, 24 June 1985.
33 035 on a Bangor to Cardiff service passing Ffynnongroew, 22 October 1985.
33 053 about to pass under the Wrexham - Bidston line at Shotton, 30 July 1985.
Hastings gauge 33 205 exiting Prestatyn on a Crewe service, 28 May 1986.
Looking back: Diesels 2010 part 2 - by David Pool
6C19, the empty log train from Chirk to Carlisle, was being hauled by Colas 66 843 on 11 March 2010, passing through Chester.
It is always difficult to get an adequately lit shot at Ince and Elton, but the appearance of Metronet 66 719 on 4C77, the 12:30 Fiddlers Ferry to Newbiggin, made the attempt worthwhile on 16 March 2010. It has run round at Ellesmere Port, and is heading back towards Helsby.
On 25 March, 6C19 at Chester featured 57 012, a DRS locomotive which was soon to be used on a rather unusual working.
In November 2009 there had been torrential rain in Cumbria, much of which went into the River Derwent, causing several bridges to be damaged or even to collapse, as happened to the bridge which carried the main road North out of Workington. This was totally destroyed, necessitating a long inland detour for traffic, and no means for pedestrians to reach the town from the North bank of the river. Fortunately the railway bridge survived without damage, enabling trains on the Cumbrian coast line to continue through Workington and onwards to Carlisle. It was decided that there should be a local shuttle service on the railway North from Workington, since the normal through services were relatively sparse. In addition, there would be a temporary station on the North bank of the river, since the next station Flimby was three miles away. Siddick Junction station would have been nearer, but closed in 1934. Workington North was constructed in record time (the plan had been to construct it within a week), and a shuttle service was provided by Direct Rail Services locomotives and coaches between the two Workington stations and Maryport.
The weather forecast was very good for 14 April 2010, and with Tornado due to work a Cumbrian Coast Express I was tempted to travel North and also see the DRS shuttle. Heading first to Maryport, I discovered that the shuttle was being worked by none other than 57 012 at one end and a couple of 47s at the other. I decided to try some shots at Flimby as the shuttle returned to Workington, and waited there for 60163 Tornado.
I was disappointed that Tornado had shut off as it approached, and shooting into the sun made things more difficult, coupled with the need to avoid the forest of Wind Turbines on the landward side. Not one of my successes! I then made my way to the new Workington North, where a combination of 153 352 and 153 360 formed the 13:05 Workington to Carlisle.
My next shot was a few hundred yards nearer to Workington, the shuttle being the 13:35 to Maryport with 57 012. The branch serving Workington Docks comes in on the right.
I returned to Maryport, where the track layout was interesting, as it had been modified to give access to the single remaining platform, but with a short passing loop plus an avoiding line on the other side of the box. 47 832 Solway Princess and 47 501 Craftsman were leading on the 1400 shuttle to Workington.
In 2004 47 832 had been in Great Western green livery, with Fragonset branding, when it worked on the North Wales coast. It was passing Mold Junction on 7 September with the 10:00 Manchester to Holyhead.
47 501 has similarly frequented the North Wales coast, but in 2009 it was in East Anglia on the “drags” of the trains between Norwich and Great Yarmouth which had been hauled by Class 90 Electrics from Liverpool Street. These usually ran via Acle, but some went via Reedham. On 13 June 2009 47 501 was dragging DVT 82 102 with 90 009 on the rear of the 10:08 to Norwich, seen at at Reedham Junction. The line to Lowestoft shows a 20mph restriction for the nearby Swing Bridge.
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