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Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd
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06 February 2023
Old (508 131) and New (777 049) at Kirkdale, 31 January. Picture by Greg Mape.
TfW at Manchester - with Charlie Hulme
As I hoped, on a visit to Manchester on 2 February, 197 009 turned up on 10:43 Llandudno - Manchester Airport, departing Manchester Piccadilly at 12:55. The new platform surface has millions of black and yellow studs.
My first ride on a 197 was a chance to compare the interior with the Northern 195s from the same manufacturer. The most obvious difference, of course, are the bi-lingual announcements. Each set of 'slides' alternates all Welsh and all English, and automatic recites all its information in Welsh first and then all English afterwards.
The seats, said to be an improved version, are decently spaced, and when subjected to the full weight of a 15-stone passenger did 'give' about a centimetre - the Northern seats don't move at all.
Arrived at the Airport. The turnround time is advertised as 10 minutes, just enough time to but a coffee from the buffet on the platform.
The bike space is small but reasonable, Infinitely better than hanging your bike on a butcher's hook as seen the new 800-series of other companies. But the space will be taken over by the huge suitcases favoured by many passengers.
I alighted at East Didsbury (Dwyrain Didsbury) and walked to the Metrolink station, and changing trams at St Peters Square arrived at Piccadilly in time for the 14:30 to Cardiff which I hoped would be a loco-worked set.
East Didsbury, like Mauldeth Road and Gatley, is having its platforms extended.
At Piccadilly I found the 'black' loco, 67 020, on the 14:30 Cardiff; it seems the plan for the loco to be at the far end of the the train at Piccadilly have not yet been achieved. Aboard the train, the standard class seats were well filled. Some people, who didn't realise the significance of the golden door, were ushered out of the first class section. I was pleased to hear that the Chef was serving meals on the service, although the 8-minute trip to Stockport was too short to explore this.
A selfie with the 'Big T' .
The 6M76 Margam to Dee Marsh passing Buckley, running 2½ hours late on 31 January (Stephen Dennett).
While Gary Thomas was waiting for a train at Wrexham General on 2 February, GBRf's one of recent acquisitions, 66 303 arrived with the return working, 6V75 09:31 Dee Marsh to Margam.
66 733 (ex-66401) was an hour late at Flint on 1 February, having arrived at Penmaenmawr well behind time in the morning (Stephen Dennett).
With the majority of GBRF Class 66s named, one of the small number of unnamed examples appeared on the 6Z58 Doncaster decoy yard to Llandudno Junction limestone empties yesterday, Monday 30 January. 66 762 is seen here entering Llandudno Junction station at 14:53 ...
... and reversing into the yard (Garry Stroud).
While Garry was recording 66 762 in the yard, 67 013 turned up on the 1W93 11:25 Cardiff to Holyhead.
From Dave Sallery's Archive
37 026 near Mostyn with a loaded ballast train, 23 June 1994.
37 077, in Mainline livery, passes Holywell Jct with ballast empties, 19 March 1998. This loco worked one day 15 May 1999 on the North Wales passenger services. Soon afterwards it was chosen to be sent to France for engineering work there. It spent two periods there before being sold for scrap in 2009.
Looking in the opposite direction is 37 080 with more ballast, 4 October 1994.
Smartly turned out in 'Dutch' livery is 37 211 passing under the Wrexham - Bidston line at Shotton, 30 April 1997. 37 211, with 37 509, worked the 'Slate and Narrow' railtour to Blaenau Ffestiniog on 20 September 1997, which did not run entirely smoothly, according to the Six Bells Junction website. Like the other three locos in this item, it no longer exists.
Looking back: Staffordshire branches part 2 - by David Pool
You can imagine the sound of this “Growler” as 37 429 Eisteddfod Genedlaethol leaves Chester on 25 September 1993 with the 1330 Holyhead to Manchester.
A few months later I saw it again working the Branch Line Society’s “The Caldon Peak” Railtour 1T30 from Crewe on 16 April 1994. The leading locomotive was 37 407 Loch Long in Intercity Mainline livery. I photographed the train after it had left Glebe Street Junction in Stoke on Trent, and was on the freight line to Leek Brook Junction.
The line was showing signs of disuse as the train approached the overbridge at Park Lane, Endon, but the train was on time and kept close to the booked time throughout the day.
Since it was heading for the Caldon Low line, it did not have to reverse at Leek Brook Junction, and it would have been a memorable sound as the gradient was tackled to Bradnop. I had taken the road to Ipstones, and met the train at what is today the end of the Churnet Valley Railway’s operations.
The train continued to Caldon Low, and I photographed it returning at Winkhill. Unfortunately the track between Ipstones and Caldon Low was later lifted with the intention of relaying new track. The scheme for reopening the quarry and using rail freight was then not pursued, and with the priority of extending the line to Leek it is unlikely that trains will return to Caldon Low any time soon. My final photograph on the line was between Endon and Stoke, with 37 429 now leading. I had recorded this as being at Milton, but I have been unable to identify the precise location on Google Maps today. The Fairey Insulator Division in the image seems to have ceased trading, and this area has changed significantly.
Participants on the Railtour then headed for Manchester Piccadilly, from where the two 37s took the line to Hazel Grove and Buxton, the destination being Hindlow Quarry in Derbyshire. It was easy for me to get to Buxton from Stoke via Leek, and I photographed 37 407 leading again at Harpur Hill.
My final shot of the Railtour was at Hindlow, where 37 429 had come through the tunnel from the Quarry and was passing the lime kilns of RMC Industrial Minerals. This business was sold to the Lhoist group of Belgium in December 2000, and is now Lhoist UK.
A year later 37 407 had been renamed Blackpool Tower, and was in Transrail livery. The coaches on the 1425 Crewe to Holyhead on 13 April 1995 were still in Regional Railways colours. This shot shows the sidings at Llandudno Junction which have recently been brought back into use. 37 407 eventually became part of the DRS fleet, and in 2022 it was being offered for sale with a leaseback scheme.
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