NORTH WALES COAST RAILWAY:NOTICE BOARD
Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd
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16 May 2022
67 010 awaiting departure at Holyhead, 13 May. Picture by Stuart Broome.
Cambrian Coast Express
The Cambrian Coast line saw the first of several loco-hauled specials due to run this year (but don't hold your breath - the next one on Friday 20 May may be the last!) on Friday 13 May. This was Pathfinder's 'Cambrian Coast Express' from Oxford to Pwllheli and return, with the Shrewsbury-Pwllheli legs hauled by class 97s.
66 050 brought the service from Oxford, passengers alighting at Shrewsbury before the train proceeded to Coton Hill sidings where the 97s took over, the 66 spending the day in Abbey Foregate sidings. Graham Breakwell captured the train passing Meole Brace, south of Shrewsbury. 97 302 and 97 303 with the 10 coach train, the nine Mark 1s in chocolate and cream livery matching that of the original 'Cambrian Coast Express ' .
Passing Morfa Mawddach station (Kate Jones). A relic of the former line to Dolgellau and Ruabon, now the Mawddach Trail, is visible; the station was originally known as Barmouth Junction.
Passing the works compound for the refurbishment of the bridge. (Kate Jones). Kate notes: 'I have noticed that the engineers are looking closely at the metal part of the bridge these days, no doubt trying to sort out the logistics for its replacement this autumn; it will be very interesting!'
Crossing Barmouth bridge (Greg Mape).
Approaching Barmouth station (Greg Mape).
Arriving at Minffordd, the second 'drop-off' stop on the journey - Barmouth and Porthmadog being the others (Ken Robinson).
Soon after arrival at Pwllheli (Ken Robinson).
Crossing Barmouth bridge on the return run (Kate Jones).
Some thoughts on this operation, with help from Graham Breakwell.
Readers might wonder why it was necessary for the 'Cambrian Coast Express' train to be shunted into the sidings at Shrewsbury, as Network Rail's regulations do not allow passengers to remain aboard in the in such circumstances. An hour was allowed for passengers to explore the delights of Shrewsbury, although this was not obvious in Pathfinder Tours' publicity.
After all, until a few years ago through trains would simply have their loco uncoupled and a suitable one attached at the rear, since a reversal is always required for trains from the Birmingham direction. In steam days, the train from Paddington would perhaps arrive behind a 'Castle' 4-6-0 and depart behind a 'Manor', the heaviest class allowed on the Cambrian's infrastructure.
The reason for this seems to be the increased frequency of service trains, with Aberystwyth now having an hourly service, complicated by problems of platform availability. Passengers wishing to travel on the 20 May train from Bristol Temple Meads to Pwllheli, joining at Bristol, will find they must present themselves at the station for 04:24, in order to arrive at Shrewsbury at 08:31 and finally depart for Pwllheli at 10:17.
One might think it better to advertise the train as starting at Shrewsbury, passengers making their own way there. But perhaps that would not suit the 'Premier Dining' sector. Are we missing something here?
It was on the Cambrian Coast Express in 1962 that the BR Western Region, having defied the bosses in London by painting some coaches in Great Western chocolate and cream, experimented with refreshments by self-service vending machine. One coach (W25189) was fitted with such a machine, called it the 'Auto-buffet' and let loose on the Cambrian. It's not hard to see that such an idea would be problematic, and the coach was returned to a normal format. As far as we know the idea has not been tried again in the UK.
Interestingly, the coach still exists, on the North Norfolk Railway, and there's a blog post with pictures. You could even buy cigarettes!
News - and no news
Another Aberystwth log train trial will take place this week, with the empties at 02:05 and arriving at Aberystwyth run round loop at 05:06, and departing loaded at 15:55 (Real Time Trains detail).
The national timetable changed on 15 May; can someone giveis an idea what major changes there are? TfW has not undated its news page since January. To nobody's surprise, the good old Class 150s are still plying their trade on Wrexham - Bidston line, despite promises that the Class 230s would finally enter service.
Two points from the last issue: (a) the unit we called 230 004 was 230 006. 230 004 is a London Midland unit. (b) The K1 Garratt does not have overall gauging issues at Caernarfon, but we are told that it cannot arrive at the head of a train because of the shape of the platform at the station building end . It worked a number of trains out of there during the 2021 "Superpower" weekend. An image of it on a freight approaching Dinas is reproduced in our 11 October issue.
Working the 'Bubble Car' - remembered by Andrew Royle
I was interested to see David Pool's picture of 960 011 (last issue). I worked on this 'bubble car' for two years (from 2000 to 2002) and spent much of my time sat in the front seat beside the driver, making sure we went where we were supposed to go and keeping the windows spotlessly clean.
It was a joint venture between Railtrack, Balfour Beatty and Omnicom Engineering with the aim of creating a complete video record of the national network; we got close but never quite managed to record each running line of every route! Sidings and platform lines were just a bonus.
Cameras were positioned inside the cabs (behind the central window) to record straight ahead and cess views, with the three outside to record the 'four foot' and both railheads. The spot lamps created consistent lighting for the track images (regardless of the weather) whereas the cameras inside needed some manual adjustment by the crew when ambient light was poor.
A further camera recorded a sideways view from behind the driver's position. A bank of VCRs recorded the video onto high definition cassette tapes. We got through hundreds of them and 'mercy dashes' were sometimes needed to get boxes of new cassettes to the train if supplies ever ran low. Arranging recording runs needed all kinds of things to come good on the day, so running out of tape was an unacceptable excuse for lost recording!
GPS data was recorded at the same time and this was matched with the footage back at Omnicom's HQ in York, creating a database of video that could be inspected on a desktop PC. The software allowed measurements to be taken off the screen, thus reducing the need for staff to go to site to carry out initial surveys or asset logging exercises.
The unit carried numbers 960011 on the front and 977859 on the side. The twin exhausts at the one end had to be modified so that the camera view wasn't obstructed. I would guess the unit probably achieved its greatest annual mileages during its last few years of service on this duty.
A visit to Holyhead - by Stuart Broome
Taking advantage of the sunshine on Anglesey I visited Holyhead on 13 May, where 67010 was waiting to take 1V96 11:33 to Cardiff Central.
The DVT was 82126.
The station is still encased in scaffolding as work continues. The afternoon working to Cardiff was 153 922 + 153 312 instead of a class 67!
Caroline on Tour, and others - report by Stephen Dennett
I spent a short time at Crewe on Wednesday 11 May and managed to see the Inspection Saloon Caroline with 37 418 on the charity charter from Derby operated jointly by Loram, Network Rail and Revolution Trains, the model manufacturer.
This was marking the creation of “Caroline” in model form. It was great to see a large logo Class 37 as well. They were due to stop at Crewe for about 15 mins but trundled through Platform 5 with a very brief halt, causing enthusiasts to race down to the other end before they left!
I caught 2 more Class 197’s on their trial runs south from Crewe, including 197 003 (above). There were also some new West Midlands Trains Class 730’s about as well.
Finally a different loco on the Penyffordd cement taken from a location new to me. GBRf Class 66/7, 66 717 Good Old Boy comes past Fellows Lane bridge, Caergwrle with 6M42 Avonmouth Hanson to Penyffordd Cement. Taken at Caergwrle on 13/05/22.
150 257 waits at Caergwrle station with a service from Wrexham Central to Bidston. Taken at Caergwrle with my zoom on. Will they be around for much longer?
Incidentally, GBRf 66 732 has been on the Margam/Llanwern - Dee Marsh steel all week, so I assume they have now taken over this flow from DB Cargo again.
Narrow Gauge scenes
A ride on the Talyllyn Railway by Jim Ikin on Saturday 7 May, a beautiful day. Above, 1921-built ex-Corris railway loco Edward Thomas at Tywyn Wharf Station.
Running round the at Nant Gwernol terminus. The signalman hold the token to the driver, acting as permission to depart back towards Tywyn.
Bluebells on the line. Pictures by Jim Ikin who notes: 'We were lucky to be the only occupants of coach 21, with its end windows, on the return journey'.
Greg Mape visited the Fairbourne Railway on 15 May. Above, the station cat patrols the loco shed. The locos Russell (left) and Yeo (Right) are half-size replicas of locos from 2-foot gauge lines: Russell from the Welsh Highland Railway and Yeo from the Lynton and Barnstaple.
The Fairbourne railway was once a 15-inch gauge line, converted to 12¼ inch in 1986, although some of the track at Fairbourne station appears to be dual-gauge. The little Hunslet diesel is Gwril, which has an interesting life before arriving at Fairbourne, related in the Miniature Railway World website.
Martin Evans writes: 'I was travelling through Chirk (above) on 24 April and called to have a look at the progress of the Glyn Valley Tramway Trust and their aspirations to run a 2ft 6inch gauge line I, believe to Pontfaen on the former trackbed from the original station in Chirk. Progress is being made as can be seen from the pictures attached with certain lengths of rail on site. The original platform edgings can be seen.'
The trust's website explains: The Glyn Valley Tramway was a narrow gauge railway that operated between 1873 and 1935 in the Glyn Valley near Chirk. Initially horse powered, the line originally terminated at a wharf on the Llangollen Canal near to the Poachers Pocket restaurant between Chirk Bank and Gledrid, the remains of which can still be seen today.
In 1886-1888, the line was converted to steam and diverted to terminate at Chirk railway station, where it continued to run until its final closure on the 6th July 1935. The line was worked by 'Tram Engines', small steam locos with their wheels and motion covered; sadly scrapped many years ago. The gauge of the original tramway was a unique 2 feet 4½ inches, unique in the country and maybe the world. The rebuild, we understand, will be 2 feet 6 inches, as used by the Welshpool and Llanfair line and various other lines. See the Trust's website for much more information and also this BBC Report.
37 418 An Comunn Gaidhealach and inspection saloon 'Caroline 'at Sandbach station (on the Crewe to Manchester line) on 11 May. This was part of the "Sweet Caroline" tour (see also item above) running from Derby via Stafford, Crewe, Northwich, the Hope Valley line and back to Derby.
Sir Nigel Gresley arrived at Chester on 16 May, one of a series of test runs before returning to railtour action under the wing of Locomotive Services Limited.
70 816 heads 6J37 Carlisle - Chirk logs over the Settle-Carlisle near Crosby Garrett on Saturday 14 May 2022 (Ian Pilkington).
34 067 Tangmere heads the Carlisle - Hellifield - Preston leg of "The Northern Belle" away from Helm Tunnel on Saturday 14 May (Ian Pilkington).
66 759 Chippy powers through Stafford with stone from Hindlow to Small Heath on 10 May.
DRS 88 003 passes Stafford with a Daventry - Mossend service on 10 May.
Class 730 Bombadier Aventra 730 008 just arrived at Crewe after a crew training / test working on 10 May. These 3-car electric sets are to replace the West Midlands Class 323 units, some or all of which will be passed to Northern to join their fleet; this should be happening already, but it's yet another new-train delay.
60 076 Dunbar at Llandudno Juction with the Penmaenmawr - Tuebrook Sidings on 16 May ...
... also offering a view of the new slate waste terminal (Ryan Lloyd).
On the Llangollen Railway near Berwyn on 13 May, Class 108 56223 leads a Class 104 (Greg Mape).
On 9 May, One half of No. 175 008, specifically the Driving Motor Second Lavatory DMSL(B) half (TOPS 79708), isolated in the eastmost corner of the sidings beside Chester Station ...
... and nearby, a line-up of three generations of diesel multiple unit in the sidings beside Chester Station. Right to left: BREL Express Sprinter 158 834, Alstom Coradia 1000 175 005, and CAF Civity 197 102 (Roger Smith). The 197s are to planned to replace the other two classes, once they actually enter service.
Graham Breakwell writes: ' Engineering work on the Shrewsbury to Crewe line at the weekend brought four trains from Westbury yard to Prees, three in the early hours but I managed to catch the last one, pictures attached. The train started out from Bath Goods Loop at 08:21 on Sunday where it had laid over for the night. With 66 508 on the front ...
... and an exceptionally long train of concrete sleepers and ballast, with 66 562 dead on the rear, the train lost time over the hilly Welsh Marches route reaching Prees 94 minutes late. The bright sunshine, the trees in full leaf and two Freightliner locos made for a very green scene.
Looking back: Electric and Diesels 2003 Part 5 - by David Pool
It was busy at Chester on 1 August 2003. First North Western unit 175 005 was arriving with the 15:07 Manchester Piccadilly to Llandudno, a single unit 153 310 was leaving with the 16:16 to Crewe, and the 6K40 Valley flasks had arrived with 37 218 and 37 059. Trying to compose a picture with two moving trains in shot was quite a challenge!
On 16 September 2003 the de-icing trains were running on Merseyrail, formed by pairs of Windhoff Multi Purpose Vehicles fitted with appropriate tanks and jetting arrangements. MPVs DR 98952 and 98902 were leaving West Kirby with the morning train. Unit 507 031 is in the platform. The road bridge from which the photo was taken is currently being rebuilt, and the road has now been closed for many months for road and pedestrian traffic, although the rail closure was for a much shorter period.
The Royal Train Class 47/7 locomotives were being used more frequently in 2003, and on 17 September at Mold Junction 47 799 Prince Henry was on the 10:21 Birmingham to Holyhead, formed with the usual rake of Great Western Mk 2 coaches. Class 67 locomotives took over the Royal Train duties in 2004.
More ex-Great Western stock could be seen at Chester on 27 September, when the 13:35 Holyhead to Euston was headed by 47 830, dragging DVT 82151 and Virgin coaches. A casual glance might have given the impression that it was just another blue Class 47, but fortunately the sunshine showed up the dark green livery.
47 830 had been built as D1645, then became 47 061 and later 47 649 when Electric Train Heating was fitted. On 4 June 1989 there were diversions between Liverpool and Crewe, and the 11:20 Lime Street to Euston was hauled by 47 649, then in the large logo blue livery. I hope the photographer on Earlestown platform managed to avoid getting the warning sign in his video.
I didn’t know what I had photographed at Winwick on 7 October 2003. It was a Railtrack working, with four MPVs in the train, DR 98002, DR 98007, DR 98005 and DR 98001. Thanks to Roger Butcher’s book “On-Track plant 2003”, I have now learned that it was a Piling Train, which was used to install masts for the overhead wiring.
On 15 October 2003 I was at Bidston photographing the de-icing train and a Wrexham Class 153 single unit, and got a nice record shot of 507 025 in the last all yellow Merseyrail livery (without the black stripes, and with white doors).
Just before this, a refurbished Class 508 had left for West Kirby, so I waited for it to return. 508 110 duly arrived, and the sun stayed out to give me my first photograph of its new livery. This had been applied at Eastleigh, using vinyls rather than the traditional paint, and 508 110 was the first refurbished unit to be done. The front end of this particular unit differs from subsequent units in that the black window surrounds do not cover the destination indicators, and there are other minor colour differences.
What happened to the Weedkiller train? (Tony Robinson)
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