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Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd
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04 September 2017
Saturday 2 September saw 67 016 working train 1V90, 11:00 Holyhead - Cardiff extra for the Wales v Austria football game, using the 'Premier Express' carriages. Larry Davies photographed it alongside the North Wales Coast cycleway at St Gwynans, Penmaenmawr.)
Friday 1 September
Train 1D34, 9:50 Manchester Piccadilly to Holyhead at Dwygyfylchi on 1 September. Picture by Gary Thomas.
Apart from the regular Sunday morning Central Rivers to Holyhead, daytime Virgin empty coaching stock workings are not common through Bangor. On 1 September 221 143 Auguste Picard (above) speeds through Bangor at 14:41 ...
...as 5K43 14:15 Holyhead-Crewe Carriage Sidings. Pictures by Jim Johnson.
150 237 formed unsuitable stock for 1V97 14:32 Holyhead - Newport, arriving at Bangor...
... where expectant passengers hurried along the platform (Jim Johnson). Newport - Cardiff was closed for planned engineering works.
68 029 and 68 034 pass Bangor with the 6K41 Valley to Crewe flasks on 1 September 2017 (Rowan Crawshaw).
Dwygyfylchi (Gary Thomas). Interesting there are two available paths for this train westbound in the morning, but only one back in the afternoon, but that doesn't stop it running very early on occasions.
Llandudno Junction (Peter Lloyd).
Seen from Queens Road bridge, Llandudno Junction (Larry Davies). 68 034, the last of the current order for Class 68s, has been turned out in full DRS livery, rather than the simplified temporary livery applied to locos expected to be used by TransPennine Express, exemplified by 68 029.
67 018 at Deganwy on 1D31, 16:50 Manchester Piccadilly to Llandudno.
67 018 Keith Heller catches the last of the evening sunshine at Llandudno Junction while propelling train 1K96 19:34 Llandudno - Crewe (Peter Lloyd).
The single-coach working pictured in the last update was on the way to Cardiff after attention at Arriva Traincare's Crewe facility, not from Holyhead as erroneously written in the first version of the page. Thanks to the early risers who kindly write to point this out.
Arriva helps Arriva
During the 1 and 4 September strikes by guards - part of an interminable series it seems - on Arriva's Northern franchise, Arriva Trains Wales decided (under pressure from whom?) to introduce additional calls between Wilmslow and Manchester by Manchester - South Wales trains at Alderley Edge, Holmes Chapel and Sandbach, requiring trains to depart eight minutes earlier than normal from Manchester, Piccadilly, Stockport and Wilmslow. Unlike the calls at Patricroft by North Wales trains which don't affect timings, this change is not likely to have been popular with Arriva's passengers who may well have had reservations quoting the original time.
Dinner on the Premier Express - report by Brian Smith
I was able to take a trip on the Arriva Premier service from Cardiff to Shrewsbury in August. As I write restaurant reviews in Spain I thought I'd write something on my train trip. However, it doesn't really fit a site dedicated to eating in Madrid so I thought it might appeal to your readers.
I was travelling on a First Class Britrail pass and thought it as well to contact ATW in advance to check it was valid on what is promoted, at least online, as 'Premier' rather than First Class. After about six weeks I got a reply - yes, it's valid. In any event it seemed as well to make a reservation. A quick stop in York the week before gave me the chance to visit the travel centre where a nice lady booked me seat 6B ('It's the best I can do!') which turned out to be a window seat in a bay of four.
On Tuesday 15 August, after a few days in West Wales and the essential trip to Wally's delicatessen in Cardiff, I was on platform 2 waiting for the train by 5pm. A few minutes before departure 67 016 rolled in. The first class carriage is at the other end next to the DVT so a quick shuffle along the platform was in order.
On board things looked much like the (good) old days of BR first class. 'This is a bit posh for us!' was the genuine comment from a harassed mum shepherding her kids through toward standard class. The staff knew each reservation specifically. 6B Shrewsbury, yes?. Tables were laid up. A selection of wines were on one. They were quite happy that I asked to move to one of the smaller tables rather than the 4 seater I'd been reserved. I didn't need that much space. There were no more than ten travellers, and the staff brooked no interlopers. Various railway contractors/staff were obviously travelling on board, but no-one who tried - and several did - got a free upgrade. All were politely but firmly moved on. Everyone on the train referred to it very specifically as 'First, not premier class.
The food service kicked in after Newport. As well as the included mineral water, I allowed myself a small bottle of red wine and ordered Taffy cawl, rib-eye steak and cheese and biscuits. Unsurprisingly, the food was significantly better than any dinner I've had on trains in the UK since I was last able to try Pullman Dining on FGW (as was) about ten years ago. I'd say it was just below a Virgin West Coast breakfast, overall.
The cawl (upper picture) came in a a big pot with some slightly dry bread rolls. Very filling, although not quite a seasonal dish!
The steak was the weaker part of the main course, perhaps because the equipment on the train couldn't cook to the temperature needed to do it justice. It came with excellent sauce and vegetables.
The cheeseboard was terrific, five different cheeses, various trimmings and lots of crackers. A terrific conclusion which fully justified my second mini bottle of wine. Other dishes I saw looked similarly impressive, with some spectacular desserts. Total cost to me: GBP 16. Total cost to taxpayer: no idea.
Sadly I had no time for coffee as we were already approaching Shrewsbury. My first trip all the way up the Marches line to Shrewsbury, it's an underrated scenic route, certainly on a sunny summer evening. A very civilised way to pass a couple of hours, up to and including watching the chef dancing in the kitchen with another member of staff!
[Sample menus are available on the Arriva website]
67 018 awaits departure at Rhyl with the 09:50 Manchester - Holyhead, 30 August. Picture by Eurwyn McMahon.
On 31 August, the 13.05 Holyhead to Manchester Piccadilly is propelled by 67 018 across the Stanley Embankment, with the chimney of the disused aluminium works on the skyline. (Eurwyn McMahon).
67 016 brings the 2 September Cardiff - Holyhead football special through Rhyl on 2 September (Roly High). Wales won 1-0.
Two 'orange army' members contemplate replacing the speed restriction sign for the platform line at Rhyl on 2 September (Roly High).
150 236 calls at Tal-y-Cafn, 29 August (Greg Mape). The sign and plants are the work of the Llandudno and Conwy Valley Railway Society, station adopters. The level crossing at the station is manually worked by a Network Rail signaller, as the road is a busy route to the river bridge.
The morning 'Down' Crewe - Valley flask train near Abergele, 30 August (Greg Mape).
Network Rail Multi-Purpose Vehicle DR 98962 + 98912 at Llandudno on 22 August, presumable in vegetation control mode (Greg Mape).
Crewe scenes, 31 August - by Martin Evans
On 31 December Freightliner loco 66 550 waits while 66 415 runs around to couple up to take this loco to EMD's facility at Longport for repairs; note the red chocks under one of the wheels while waiting.
Freightliner 66 415 - still in the blue of former operator DRS - sets back to couple up before moving 66 550 to Longport.
57 311 lives up to its name Thunderbird as it waits to deal with any train failures at Crewe. The retractable coupler allows it to couple to a Virgin Pendolino if necessary.
A walk on Snowdon - with Gary Thomas
A walk up Snowdon on sunny Saturday 2 September. Above, Hunslet 0-4-0DH no.10 Yeti heads down Snowdon having previously hauled clean water and staff to the summit.
The view is about as clear as it gets.
Hunslet 0-4-0DH no.9 Ninian approaches the summit of Snowdon.
1896 built veteran 0-4-2RT steam locomotive no. 5 Moel Siabod waits for a descending service to pass at Clogwyn. Down below is Llyn Padarn, with the route of the Llanberis Lake Railway.
1895-built veteran 0-4-2RT steam locomotive no. 2 Enid ascending Snowdon having just passed Halfway House.
Back down at Llanberis station, Hunslet 0-4-0DH no.9 Ninian departs with with a service to the top of Snowdon.
The 565 Special
The Branch Line Society '565 special' charter in partnership with 565 Railtours ran from Carnforth to Carmarthen (via various goods loop and rare pieces of track) and back, travelling over the Central Wales line on the return. The Carnforth to Crewe leg of the tour was hauled by two West Coast Railway Company Class 37 locomotives 37 669 (appropriately renumbered as 37 565 for the day) and 37 668, seen entering Crewe Station towards platform 12. Picture by Robert Meredith.
The train was hauled by two Colas Rail Class 37/0 locomotives after Crewe (which, of course, are rare on passenger duties). Above, 37 175 and 37 254 Cardiff Canton move forward through Crewe station in preparation to back onto the stock and depart with the second leg of the tour to pick up passengers at Chester, Wrexham and Gobowen, and onwards to Carmarthen via the Welsh Marches route (Robert Meredith).
Bob Greenhalgh photographed the train at Balderton Crossing.
'565 railtours' was created for this event; the joint organiser's late father was a member of the Glamorgan Constabulary which then became the South Wales Police and his number through was '565' hence the significance. All profits from the charter, including an on train raffle, will be donated to Wales Air Ambulance, Wales Cancer Research and Severn Hospice, Shrewsbury.
Readers of a certain age who grew up pop music will no doubt appreciate the clever double meaning of tour name - no doubt it travelled 'over the points' many times during the long day from 05:25 and 23:08.
Corwen: end of the line - report by George Jones
Llangollen Railway volunteers marked the end of the western extension at Corwen on Saturday 2 September when the stop block was assembled at the end of the track bed on the embankment at Green Lane, as authorised by the Transport & Works Order 2010. The picture shows the assembled workforce rejoicing in the moment prior to the stop block getting a coat of paint. It had sat farther back amongst the bushes for the past several years as an original statement that the station project was underway.
Delayed by the spell of wet weather during August, the track bed extension beyond the fence line out onto the embankment was finally compacted within the retaining wall and ballast laid after the ground dried out. The stop block now sits atop a monumental retaining wall built of concrete porcupine blocks and is a further statement of intent to the Corwen townsfolk that the railway really is arriving in the centre of town. All that is left now is the laying of 90ft of track to form the head shunt which completes the western end of the terminal loop.
Above, the retaining wall as built to contain the extended track bed onto what is the eroded embankment. It has to be finished off with suitable lineside fencing and planting of appropriate bushes.
At the eastern end of the site the base of the signalbox was finally revealed on Tuesday 29 August when the shuttering was taken off - see the pic. The concrete base now needs a coat of damp proofing before the embankment is filled in around the front and sides to stabilise the ground in readiness for the completion of the platform and the point work for the loop. All such progress to be tackled during the forthcoming autumn with a start to be made on the concreting of the steps within the subway access.
Completion of the project with a link up to the railhead at Dwyrain Corwen East remains dependent up acquisition of resources - financial, material and manpower - and the Llangollen Railway Trust's Corwen Central Development Project remains open to donations with purchase of shares in Llangollen Railway PLC for the Corwen Big Push still available. Thanks are due to those who have already contributed to the success of this major engineering effort to provide the terminal station for Corwen.
Welshpool and Llanfair Gala - pictures by Ian Pilkington
Four images taken at the Welshpool and Llanfair Gala on Saturday 2 September. Above: 822 The Earl approaches Heniarth with the 10:15 Welshpool - Llanfair Caereinion.
Visiting from the Sittingbourne and Kemsley Railway, 0-6-2T Superb (Bagnall 1940) approaches Heniarth with a Cyfronydd - Llanfair demonstration freight.
823 Countess heads away from the Banwy Viaduct near Heniarth with the 11:30 Welshpool - Llanfair.
822 The Earl heads the 18:11 Welshpool - Llanfair past New Crossing on the 1-in 29 Golfa Bank.
More trains to Penyffordd
Recent press reports indicate that Hanson is also planning to invest in new rail loading facilities at the Padeswood cement works to allow cement to be delivered by train, reducing lorry movements.
At present the rail connection is used only for incoming coal supplies for the plant.
The project includes construction of new cement silos alongside the existing railway line to load trains for delivery. In future, three trains a week will, it is said, be despatched to 'Hanson depots in London, Bristol and Scotland – around 15 per cent of total cement production'. Bristol (Avonmouth) and the P.D. Stirling facility at Mossend yard east of Glasgow are already served by rail from the Clitheroe cement works, also part of the Hanson empire; presumably those are the locations referred to, unless there is an intent to open more depots.
It will be interesting to see how long this project takes to come to fruition; it has been public since May 2017 but makes the news now because of a public planning consultation.
Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland views - by Sean Thomas
Lyd and Vale of Ffestiniog arriving at Porthmadog with the 15:45 service from Caernarfon on 24 August.
Merddin Emrys at Tanygrisiau with the last 18:05 service of the year, 24 August.
Porthmadog at Night.
25 August: NGG16 143 at Porthmadog waiting to form the 12:55 service to Caernarfon while David Lloyd George is arriving at Porthmadog with the 11:35 service from Blaenau Ffestiniog.
Tamper at Rhyd Ddu
Earl of Merioneth and Vale of Ffestiniog at Porthmadog double-heading the 09:40 service to Caernarfon (NGG16 NO.138 took over at Caernarfon).
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