Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

01 July 2019


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Forthcoming events

July 2019

Sunday 21 July  Steam on the Coast: West Coast Railways. Liverpool-Holyhead.   45690: Liverpool - Chester - Llandudno Jn - Holyhead - Chester

Tuesday 23 July:  Steam on the Coast: West Coast Railways, Welsh Mountaineer: Preston-Blaenau Ffestiniog  48151 or 45600: Preston-Manchester-Chester-Llandudno Jn-Blaenau and return Cancelled?

August 2019

Saturday 3 August Steam on the Coast: UK Railtours, 'The Irish Mail' London Euston - Holyhead
34046, 46100 or 70000 Crewe - Holyhead and return

80072's last day in steam on the Llangollen Railway, 30 June. Picture by George Jones; more information below.

Lizzie on the Coast: The Rolex Express

The 'Rolex Express' on 30 June was an unadvertised private charter from Crewe to Holyhead, run by West Coast Railways and hauled by pacific 6201 Princess Elizabeth, which has recently returned to traffic after an overhaul.  The previous day, diesel 57 314 had hauled the empty coaching stock and 6201 from Carnforth to Crewe, where 6201 was detached and moved onto Crewe Heritage Centre for servicing and preparation ready for the trip to Holyhead the following day, when Robert Meredith photographed the train near Beeston Castle.

Rhyl (Roly High).

57 314 on the rear at Rhyl (Roly High).

Bangor (Jim Johnson).

57 314 on the rear at Bangor, passing the smart-looking signalbox (Jim Johnson). The rolling stock was that used on the 'Northern Belle, which is now operated by West Coast Railways.

The return working was hauled by the diesel, as seen at Bangor (Jim Johnson).

The steam loco had been detached at Holyhead with its support coach, turned on the triangle at Valley, and headed for Carnforth as a separate train. Picture by Jim Johnson: the only other enthusast on the platform by that time was veteran North Wales photographer Norman Kneale, whose two volume work North Wales Steam was published in the 1980s. Prints of many of his photographs are available from The Transport Treasury.

Am unscheduled pause to  set down a British Transport Police officer - were they expecting trouble from trespassers? ...

... and off towards Llandudno Junction for a water stop. The return to Carnforth was via Warrington Bank Quay, avoiding Crewe, where another reversal would have been required had the loco remained with the main train (Jim Johnson).

Cement works open day - report by Chris Coxon

The Open Day at Heidelberg Cement Group's Padeswood Cement Works, on 29 June presented John Cowlishaw, and I, with the opportunity to see for ourselves whether the reported enhancement of the on site rail related infrastructure, and associated handling facilities, to
accommodate an increase in rail traffic, were a reality.  Above,  the Plant Control Room showing the Remote 24/7/365 Monitoring and Process Control of Bulk Cement Production by two Supervisors.

Our questioning of staff, and Inspection of the Site revealed that a new siding (above) has been completed, and is awaiting approval, following the running of a test train, probably to run in July.

Full services are anticipated to commence well before the end of 2019.  Inspection of the Real Time Trains website shows a number of paths for both incoming Coal and outgoing Bulk Cement.
TWThO 14:26 Small Heath to Penyffordd
WSSuX 17:08 Penyffordd to Bescot
16:56 Penyffordd to Doncaster Down Decoy (path of the previous coal empties)
These services are shown as running as required throughout the Timetable.   Should the Small Heath run as scheduled then there will be the possibility of three freight trains through Wrexham in an hour, with the  loaded steel coils to Dee Marsh and the loaded timber to Chirk.

The remains of the former run-round loop with the rails crossing the Site main roadway, opposite the new Buffer Stop.

An wall-mounted view from 1950 on display shows the Cement Works and its surrounding railways looking south-east. The railway in the top right is the former Mold branch with Hope Junction signal box just visible on the Chord round to Penyffordd station (off shot to the top). The line on the top left is the current Wrexham Bidston line, with the Cement Works connection curving right to the Exchange Sidings; the layout persisting to this day.

The increase in rail traffic in this area is very welcome and it would appear to offer an interesting few months for observers of the rail scene.  The assistance of the staff in collecting information was greatly appreciated.

Abandoned loco near Mold

Sam Davidson sends these images and notes: 'While out walking near Rhydymwyn recently I happened across this abandoned shunting locomotive on a short stretch of overgrown track on the old Mold to Denbigh line.  Does anyone know  more about why this has been left in the countryside, and if there have been any efforts regarding preservation.'

Oddly, this have never been mentioned on here previously, but we have established it is a Motor Rail 'Simplex Loco',  built by the Motor Rail Company (works no. 1944) and sold to the Flint Paper Mill, Oakenholt in December 1919 with a 40 hp petrol engine had been replaced in 1959 with a 40 hp diesel.

In 1965 it was sold to the Synthite company, to shunt the sidings of their Alyn Works at Rhydymwyn - a former tinplate works - which was rail-served after the rest of the line was abandoned,   Rail traffic ceased in 1983 and the line was lifted soon afterwards (see our 29 February 2016 issue). An interesting sideline is that this loco replaced at Synthite a similar loco (works no. 2033) which had been Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway no.3.

The loco was sold by 1986  to Mr Ian  Jolly of Mold, who seems to be a collector of locos, mostly two-foot narrow-gauge, which he runs (or ran) a small private railway. What its future may hold, we can't say, but it looks bleak.

Information from various websites and the Industrial Railway Society's book Industrial Locomotives of North Wales.

Llangollen report - by George Jones

To continue the Corwen news from the edition of 27 May,  the eastern end of platform 1 wall is now complete with a ramp access for the signalman in progress. The infill between both platform walls awaits levelling once drainage and cabling is run, but the priority now is to prepare the subway stair case for installation of the chairlift for the mobility impaired which is scheduled for week commencing 8 July. Above:  the area of platform infill as layered and rolled looking west.

Some of the volunteers pause in building the staff access ramp at the east end of platform 1 - an add-on to the original design.

The top view of the subway staircase as it awaits contractors to install the chairlift for the mobility impaired.

With wheeled access to the site now blocked off at the former infilled gap, transportation of materials within the platform area is dependent on the use of the Road-Railer vehicle No.4206 moving around the terminal loop. As seen on 1 June, the RRV runs off the head shunt onto the Up line in a presentation of how a locomotive might appear when running round the train which has terminated in the Down side.

The temporary Booking office at the subway is now complete and will be available for inspection during Classic Transport weekend, 6/7 July, when a vintage bus service will operate from Glyndyfrdwy to Corwen. A compete transformation from its previous use as a previous mobile classroom.

Sunday 30 June was the last day in steam for 80072, an occasion of sadness marked with admiration for ten years service following its epic restoration project between 1995 and 2009 at Llangollen.

The popular BR 4MT tank provided the B timetable steam service on the day and hauled its last train with the 15:45  from Llangollen to Carrog with suitable decoration, for a 1700 return.
With the boiler certificate expired, the locomotive is now retired to face a major overhaul with the boiler to be lifted and the engine dismantled. Aside from the boiler and mechanical overhaul, the known condition of the original bunker and side tanks call for their renewal at an estimated cost of 85K for fabricated replacements.

The owners 80072 Steam Locomotive Co Ltd, aided by the registered charity, Llangollen Standard 4 Trust, looks for support to ensure a sooner, rather than later, return to service. Donations towards the costs of the renewals will be welcome c/o Llangollen Station, LL20 8SN.
Otherwise the 80072 sales coach remains open at Carrog where Alan Field will welcome donations and sale of goods to help fund the overhaul.

Northern's new trains  - pictures by Greg Mape

Northern's new class 195 diesel railcars finally entered passenger service on 1 July,  with nine units available for seven diagrams on the Manchester Airport - Barrow/Windermere via Wigan North Western and Manchester Airport - Liverpool via Warrington Central services. These views are at Gatley on the Piccadilly - Airport line. Above, 195 102 passes heading for Liverpool.

195 121 on  a Barrow service. Although intended for longer-distance semi-fast services, the 195s have one third / two thirds door spacing, like the stock on order for Transport for Wales. They do have 2 +2 seating, however. Much lauded by Northern as 'replacing the Pacers' they are really replacements for the Class 156 units, which then will (hopefully!) act as the Pacer replacements on routes like Manchester - Sheffield and Manchester - Buxton..

By contrast a pair of 175s on a Manchester Airport to Llandudno Junction duty, featuring new-colours 175 107, still running without its fire-damaged centre car. When built, around 2000, these were First North Western stock, and as well as North Wales trains they ran on some of the routes now to be allocated to 195s.  Remarkably, they are likely to suffer early retirement after only about 25 years in service.

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