NORTH WALES COAST RAILWAY:NOTICE BOARD
Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd
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08 January 2018
On yet another day of Northern Railway strikes, 8 January, 150 119 departs from Altrincham for Chester. Picture by Greg Mape. The Stockport - Altrincham section of the route was served by a bus; the performance will be repeated on 10 and 12 January, and more to come no doubt, as the RMT Union insists that proposed reduction in the role of conductors is unsafe, and the Government insists that Arriva North carries out their wishes. (The ice is from the nearby ice rink.)
Saturday WAG (and locos galore in Cardiff) - report by Richard Putley
On Saturday 6 January 2018 Arriva Trains Wales decided to use their loco-hauled train set which normally only runs on Mondays – Fridays between Holyhead and Cardiff. (They receive subsidy from the Welsh Government )originally known as the Welsh Assembly Government for running it, hence its nickname of the 'WAG Express”). They do occasionally use it on a Saturday if there is a major sporting event in Cardiff, such as Six Nations Rugby Match, but on this occasion they decided to advertise it as an opportunity for a weekend shopping trip to Cardiff. Unfortunately, the advertising was rather sparse, and the train did not appear on booking web sites until Thursday.
As the WAG Express was due to arrive at Newport, Gwent, at 10:22 I realised I would need to get the 08:11 from Chippenham in order connect in at Bath with the 08:36 from there to Cardiff to enable me to get ot Newport by then.
In the event I was up in time to catch the 07:46 from Chippenham to Bristol Temple Meads. A punctual arrival there at 08:15 enable me to reach Newport on the 08:23 departure. The 08:23 was formed by former Thames Valley “Turbo” DMU 166 216, the first time I have seen one of these units in South Wales.
GWR seem to be short of units as a Cardiff – Portsmouth train I saw at Newport was formed by original prototype 'Sprinter' 150 002. Its 70mph top speed would be a handicap compared with the 90mph speed of the class 158 DMUs normally used on these services. Until recently the two prototype Sprinters, 150 001/2 were confined to the Thames Valley branch lines due to their smaller fuel tanks but they seem to be turning up all over the West at the moment.
The WAG Express arrived Right Time with Driving Van Trailer 82306 leading and former Chiltern 67 014 on the rear. The train was almost empty and the Train Manager apologised for the lack of catering. He assured us it would be provided on its return run to Holyhead on Sunday Evening.
On arrival at Cardiff I crossed to the Up Platforms 1 and 2 so I could watch the WAG run empty to Canton Depot. No sooner had it done so than Up Steel arrived with 60 100 hauling it.
Then a Down Steel train appeared headed by 66 155. No sooner had this departed than a QUINTET of 66s running light appeared on the Up Main.
66 168 was leading, it and the next two were in EWS Maroon while the remaining two, 66 031 and ...
... 66 192 were in DB Red. So quite a catch - eight locos in half an hour. I spent the rest of my day seeing the sights that Cardiff offers.
Although at the time of writing (8 January) there is no evidence of the fact when viewing the front page of their website, Arriva Trains Wales's 'Club 55' offer of cheap tickets for people over 55 has restarted on Sunday 7 January, until Saturday 3 March. According to leaflets which have been made available, the price is £27 return with £1 off for railcard holders. The add-on fare for Northern is £2.50. The usual conditions apply: not before 09:30 on Monday to Friday and no restrictions at weekends except that travel is not permitted to or from Cardiff on Saturday 3 February due to a major sporting event. Return travel must be within 8 days: an oddity which is easy to miss.. All return travel must be completed by 10 March 2018. The ticket can be purchased on the day of travel and break of journey is allowed.
There's a link on the leaflet to a booking page which appears to be the ordinary booking page with ATWCLUB pre-inserted into the 'Promo Code' field.
The project to re-open to passengers the line from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Trawsfyndd appears to have run into stormy waters. Members of the Blaenau Ffestiniog & Trawsfynydd Railway Society have been busy clearing the route of vegetation, under the terms of a licence issued by Network Rail to the Trawsfynydd Railway Company, represented by Colin Dale, the 'Essex businessman' who now has an address in Maentwrog; his name has been associated with attempts to re-open the line since 2009 (see our 31 October 2016 issue).
The latest episode in the story is that Network Rail have revoked the Licence, reportedly citing damage to a bridge. a runaway trolley damaging a level crossing gate, and use of a 10-tonne digger when the Licence stipulated a maximum of five tonnes.
A Network Rail spokesman told the Daily Post:
We have revoked the Trawsfynydd Railway Company’s licence agreement after an investigation highlighted serious breaches to health, safety and environmental legislation and the terms and conditions of the licence. We have written to the relevant parties to confirm this and outline the key outcomes of our investigation. Community rail projects can make a fantastic contribution in the areas they serve and we continue to support groups and volunteers across Wales and Borders.Arguments are now raging on rival Facebook groups about what to do next and how to proceed, while people who contributed funds are wondering if it was wise. Recently there has been a plan to purchase passenger stock, in the shape of a former Southern Region 2-HAP electric unit, available because the Electric Railway Museum in Coventry is being forced to closed down. This would be used as hauled stock, with a diesel shunter they hope to obtain.
It also seems that suggestions have been made that the line would be extended in the future beyond Trawsfynydd to the village of Arenig, on the original trackbed which once continued to Bala. Unfortunately much, or all of the trackbed has long ago been sold to neighbouring farmers.
Tyn-y-Morfa crossing - report by Aaron Proctor
Last issue's piece about the Tyn-y-Morfa crossing being converted to Cardiff-based CCTV operation, and traffic attempting to use the crossing to access the Presthaven holiday park, prompted me to take these photos.
As can be seen there is a plethora of signs (granted, some more official looking than others) ...
... warning drivers that there is no access and yet still people drive down there!
The barriers are now in place and all that remains is for the CCTV camera to be attached to the newly installed pole. Note the green cabin for use by the Network Rail attendant.
Goodbye to Express Motors
A second North Wales bus operator in as many weeks has ceased to trade. Express Motors of Penygroes, near Caernarfon, closed its doors at the end of 2017 having lost its license to operate following various irregularities and an accusation of fraud against the company management. Arriva have taken on some of their routes, while we understand some of the buses have been offered for sale on eBay.
Rhyl sidings collection - pictures by Roly High
The engineer's sidings at Rhyl were in full use on 4 January, with two tampers and a rail grinding unit present, as 175 002 passed with the 11.21 Cardiff Central - Holyhead.
Matisa tamper 75406 Eric Machell. Tamper DR 75406 was named "Eric Machell" on 4 October 2012, celebrating his considerable contribution to Seco & Colas Rail.
Sister machine 75407 after arrival from Gloucester.
The Speno RPS 32-2 Rail Grinder unit comprises DR 79226 - 79225 - 79223 - 79222. These machines grind the head of the rail to remove small cracks which can lead to failure, and also reduce noise. This Speno machines, built in Switzerland around 1990, is reaching the end of its career; Network Rail has recently bought three new units.
New cruise ferry for Holyhead - Dublin (Press release)
Irish Continental Group plc ("ICG") has entered into an agreement, with the German company Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesselschaft & Co.KG ("FSG"), whereby FSG has agreed to build a cruise ferry for ICG at a contract price of €165.2 million. Upon completion, it will be the largest cruise ferry in the world in terms of vehicle capacity.
The cruise ferry will accommodate 1,800 passengers and crew, with capacity for 5,610 freight lane metres, which provides the capability to carry 330 freight units per sailing. Overall, it will effectively be a 50% increase in peak freight capacity compared to the MV Ulysses.
The Agreement between ICG and FSG provides that the cruise ferry is scheduled for delivery before Mid-2020. Twenty percent of the contract price will be paid in instalments during the construction period. The balance of 80% will be paid on delivery. ICG intend to utilise credit facilities to finance the cruise ferry. The pre-delivery instalment payments to FSG will be protected by means of bank guarantees.
This cruise ferry will be designed and built to the highest standards of cruise shipping, and equipped with efficiency, comfort and capacity in mind. Emissions scrubber technology (included in the above price) and ballast water systems will meet current and known future environmental regulations and will deliver optimal fuel consumption while minimising related costs. The cruise ferry will be powered by four main engines delivering 33,600 KW of power which will ensure a high degree of service reliability equal to the MV Ulysses which is currently the most reliable ship to ever operate on the Irish Sea.
The cruise ferry is being built specifically for Irish Ferries Dublin - Holyhead services. It is expected to replace the schedule of the MV Ulysses, which in turn will replace the currently chartered vessel MV Epsilon in the fleet. This will allow for the deployment of the W.B. Yeats (arriving Mid 2018) full-time on the direct Ireland - France route alongside the MV Oscar Wilde. The cruise ferry will also adhere to Ice Class specification which allows for a wide geographic area of operation.
Freight capacity will be provided over five decks. Uniquely, the vessel has been designed for three tier freight bow loading to allow for efficient loading/unloading and quick turnaround times. Passenger facilities will be spread over three decks. In addition to a superb choice of bars, restaurants (to include both á la carte and self-service options), special provision has been made for premium Club Class passengers, with a dedicated lounge featuring private access direct from the vehicle decks. A choice of state-of-the art entertainment options and cinemas, dedicated facilities for freight drivers, as well as many retail outlets will ensure that all passengers will be comfortable and engaged throughout their journey.
This new cruise ferry provides Irish Ferries with a significant increase in both its freight & tourism carrying capacity on the fast-growing Dublin - Holyhead route.
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