Station footfall on the Cambrian grew by 9.2% in 2009-2010
The station forecourt has now been acquired by the County Council from J D Wetherspoon. However
the refurbishment will not start until after tenders for the work are returned this autumn. [Cambrian
News, 25th July 2013]
The work will include a new forecourt, an
improved taxi rank system, a new accessibility ramp for disabled people, new electronic ticket machines,
new automated screens, a new CCTV system and better lighting.
Meanwhile, Ceredigion MP Mark Williams made a demand for direct services to be restored to London from
Aberystwyth. He declared that
Aberystwyth was one of few towns of its size without a direct service to the capital. The member for
Ceredigion did not mention (and is maybe unaware) that with a population of just under 16,000 at the last census
there are plenty of larger towns than Aber in the UK that don't even have a railway station - such as
the 32,000 souls in Coalville, Leics, the 68,000 in Gosport, Hants, or the 19,000 in Gorseinion, nr
Swansea. 46,000 live in Cwmbran but they don't have a direct train to London either. In fact, this applies to nearly
20 conurbations in Wales alone which are larger than Aberystwyth.
Montgomeryshire MP Glyn Davies in the same debate on cross border links made the usual calls
for bypasses around Pant/Llanymynech and Wollaston to Buttington. Where the £150 million to build
them would come from, and why these schemes should be national priorities Mr Davies couldn't say.
The Welsh Affairs' Select Committee has recommended the introduction of the hourly service, as
"a matter of urgency", in its report into Cross Border Transport issues. This has been welcomed by
Mark Williams. [Cambrian News, 28th March 2013]
Vale of Rheidol Railway
Trains have been very heavily loaded. On a number of occasions eight coaches have been used. As
this train is too long for the engine to run round at Devil's Bridge, diesel No.10 has been added as a
pilot, to enable shunting.
Photograph below by Denis Bates. .
The station reopening proposal apparently has a better cost benefit ratio than the Welsh Government's
favourite pet project, the dualling of the A465 Head of the Valleys road.
Saturday, 6th July saw a Gala Day at Borth station to mark the 150th anniversary of the opening of
the line from Machynlleth (the line on to Aberystwyth opened in 1864). The events were organised by
the the volunteers, led by George Romary, who have transformed the old parcel and ticket offices into
the Borth Station Museum. The events were opened by Mark Williams, MP for Ceredigion; they
included stalls, miniature steam train rides, specially composed music, a barbeque and a laser and
firework display. Borth's own choir, Chocolate, a juggler and other performers added to the fun with
visitors and volunteers appearing in period costume. [Cambrian News, 11th July.]
A long overdue refurbishment of the station roof and canopy has begun. The station railway
museum was used for the filming of a welsh language TV detective series.
If you feel you want to contribute to the running of Borth Station Museum, or have anything
to donate or loan to the collection, or wish to join the Friends of the Museum, or think you
can help in any other way, please contact George Romary on 01970871850.
An untarred track has, until now, provided vehicle access to Dovey Junction station. However, it has
now been padlocked by Network Rail. They state that "the road access is privately owned by Network
Rail and is only of authorised users, including railway staff, to get to the track site to carry out
emergency or maintenance work. However, owing to reports of several incidents of trespass, we have
decided to close this private road for safety reasons." [Cambrian News, 11th July.]
Trespassing and the Ospreys
This year the ospreys have nested again at Dovey Junction. Monty, the male, has a new
partner, Glesni, after his partner of the past few years, Nora, did not appear. It is presumed that she
died during the winter, probably in Africa.
On the 7th June the nest was approached by two trespassers on the railway. The event was
recorded by the Dyfi Osprey Project's Facebook site
They posted the following account:
Every year we vigorously guard against the two main threats to osprey eggs - egg thieves and nest
disturbance. Both have deadly consequences for protected Schedule 1 birds of prey like the osprey
and can carry the same maximum penalty by law - six months in prison.
These two decided to walk several hundreds of metres down part of the main Aberystwyth to
Birmingham International railway track this morning passing the osprey nest. They also had two dogs
with them, black collies and neither of them on a lead. The trains pass this part of the track at 60 mph
- it's also on a bend. As they turned the bend one of them got a smart phone out and took photographs
of the ospreys, both of which were in the air, alarm calling.
Thanks to our 24 hour volunteer workers, we spotted them straight away and the police were called
immediately and a set procedure activated and put in place. The two osprey eggs were left unattended
for seven minutes in total while Glesni and Monty were circling overhead. Two things could have
happened during these seven minutes, the eggs could have been taken by the many crows that nest
nearby, or they could have got cooked in the heat. This happened before 9am so fingers crossed the
temperature wasn't hot enough then - time will tell.
A big thanks to Dyfed-Powys Police and British Transport Police for their extremely quick response
and also to Chris and Morwenna our protection volunteers - you were brilliant. We're sure these two
people did not mean any malice to the ospreys but their actions today put their lives at risk, their dogs,
the ospreys and passengers on any passing train.
The stupidity of this behaviour cannot be overstated. Both continued down the track after taking
photographs of the ospreys and then crossed the live track again before climbing workmen's stairs to
Dyfi Junction platform and boarded a train shortly afterwards. The matter is now in Police hands.
Please guys - we know who you are and if you ever want a ride to Dyfi Junction, please let us know.
We will gladly give you a lift.
The ospreys can be observed, using live cameras, at the Dyfi Osprey Centre. It is on the A487, between
Glandyfi and Derwenlas, open daily from 10 am to 6 pm. There is also a website
with information on the project, and a live webcam.
The sceheme to construct a lift to assist disabled access between the platforms cntinues to make progress. The Department for Transport announced under its "Access for All" scheme funding of
£1 million to construct a lift and footbridge between the 2 platforms. Further monies will be
contributed by Welsh Government to complete the scheme. When completed, the scheme will alow much more than access for disabled people.
The part of the station building formerly used as offices is up for sale for £125,000. The low price
reflects the small size of the rooms and the work needed to convert the building back into living
accommodation. The station building like all the other ex Newtown and Machynlleth Railways station
buildings was constructed using stone cut from Talerddig cutting during the construction of the line.
The revived station adoption group formed from members of the local Community Council have won an award for their fantastic garden display. Volunteers from Caersws spent hundreds of hours giving the unstaffed station a new lease of life. Their efforts have been recognised by Keep Wales Tidy and it has been named Wales' best kept unstaffed station.
The volunteers said they planned to keep on improving the station.
Volunteer and Caersws community council member Linda Yapp said: "It's nice for the people walking off the train to see and they really appreciate it."
Mrs Yapp said the work started after Arriva Trains Wales emailed the council and asked if it was interested in "adopting" the unstaffed station.
Hundreds of dahlias, geraniums and bedding flowers were planted, walls were cleaned and painted, and the picture-perfect country railway station was revealed.
|The floral display planted by the station adoption team at Caersws
The track in the old Mid Wales bay on the Down side at Newtown was lifted on 18th February, just over 50 years after the line which it served closed. The Engineers siding is still there slightly re-aligned but stopping short of the bay platforms, the space between which has been filled with ballast.
UP trains (i.e. towards Shrewsbury) are reported as arriving as much as 6 minutes early, but do await
correct time before departing. The section times since the introduction of ERTMS and associated
infrastructure work have shaved minutes of the old schedules, yet there is still no sign of any timetable
change to reflect this. Many are making the obvious link and are wondering whether an earlier arrival
time in Shrewsbury will facilitate connections with the Wrexham line.
A hairdresser is the latest tenant at the Caersws end of the building. They will need to cut a lot of hair to pay the rent that Network Rail charges!
Footfall has now passed 100,000, compared to 60,538 in 2002/2003.
Since March last year some work has actually been done on resurfacing the station footbridge. However, the technology being used does not appear to be acceptable and comments have been made. Essentially the work seems to involve coating the surface of the bridge with an epoxy resin and laying on panels with a gritty upper surface to provide grip for footwear. Unfortunately, the panels don't always stick down properly with the result that they have started to curl at the edges already and there are distinct areas where air has been trapped underneath. The station adopters have been in correspondence with Arriva about this.
Progress on the bus front seems to have stagnated, with the problem of actually having a bus service which stops at the railway station being something of a challenge to the local council, comparable to putting a man on the Moon. One of the station adoption team reports that it is now SEVEN YEARS since he first approached Powys County Council with regard to bringing this about. (The bus serving tha railway station that is, as opposed to going to the Moon).
Buttington Crossing Incident.
On Tuesday 16th July the 1127 from Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth was in collision with a tractor and
trailer on an occupation crossing (Buttington Hall Farm Crossing) just East of Buttington Level Crossing.
No one was hurt and though the train was not derailed, it stopped and passengers were evacuated.
The train was seen passing Trewern School at approx 1655 returning to Shrewsbury at low speed.
Presumably the ERTMS kit at the front end had taken a hammering. See the photograph below.
One of our members was on the train. He said there was a tractor and trailer on the crossing and
fortunately, the train hit the trailer. There was damage to the gangway door on the unit. An outside
window pane of one saloon was broken. He told us the driver was trapped as the damaged door
prevented him from getting out of the cab.
A short distance away, the main A458 was blocked by the barriers to the level crossing on that
road remaining in the lowered position. They had been activated by the approaching train, which
Ironically, the incident occurred on the same day as the Parliamentary Transport Committee
announced an inquiry into safety at level crossings.
One suspects that the collision may have been caused by a failure to use the lineside telephone
provided to ascertain the whereabouts of any rail traffic. This would seem a slightly daft thing to do,
rather on the same lines as overtaking on a blind bend with double white lines or driving the wrong
way down a dual carriageway. If this is indeed the case, a willingness to obey the rules would simply
have saved a large number of people a great deal of irritation and inconvenience. It probably means
that Arriva may have difficulty in strengthening the formation of trains over the busy summer months,
as they now have one Cambrian Line unit out of commission.
The driver of the tractor has been arrested on suspicion of endangering safety.
This crossing was the site of an earlier, almost identical, incident on the 20th January 1970. Again
the train was approaching from Shrewsbury, and a tractor was being driven across. The driver of the
tractor was uninjured, but shaken. He said that he'd looked along the line, but could see nothing coming.
He had "just about got the front wheels on to the lines when I heard a hoot and the train hit the front
of the tractor. It tore away a 56 lb weight on the front of the tractor, then stopped further down the line
and three chaps came back to see what had happened. It was hazy and there is a little hut alongside
the line which tended to camouflage the dark green engine. This was a passenger train but the coaches
were not lighted, and there was only a small 'lantern' on the front. They should have headlights.'
Clearly sighting at the crossing is difficult. The crossing is approached from the Shrewsbury
direction round a right-hand bend. Looking at the line on Google Earth, there does not appear to be
a hut in the vicinity. The train was presumably locomotive hauled, with a green livery, which would
blend in with the scenery; and we were in the era of oil lamps. Did one lamp mean it was a stopping
The damaged unit at Buttington before returning to Shrewsbury
Planning permission has been sought for alterations to the station. Essentially this involves swapping over the Customer Services building and the waiting room at the top of the stairs betwen platforms 4 & 7. You can access the complete proposal here The £200,000 station refurbishment has drawn much criticism as the
materials it will be using would not be in keeping with the station fabric and more critically that the
work will do nothing to expand capacity for waiting passengers.
Contractors seen at work in the old Bay platforms 1 & 2 are working on pipes that are carried
underneath the bridge over the River Severn.
The prison next to the station closed down in February as part of a Ministry for Justice
modernisation/cost cutting exercise. The old goal dates back to the 1790's, and there has been a
suggestion it could be turned into a hotel. Its history as a place of execution has been highlighted with
the last hanging taking place in 1961. It's understood that the bodies of most of the executed prisoners
still lie within the grounds. Executions were carried out in public until 1868 with considerable crowds
attracted to watch the spectacle, and were a source of considerable excursion traffic for the early
We have learned that the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) has decided at this stage not to grant access for additional services to Blackpool and Shrewsbury on the West Coast Main Line (WCML).
Extensive analysis of Virgin Trains' recent application for new passenger services on the WCML has shown that there is not currently sufficient space on the line to run all of the additional services. The proposals would have also caused further deterioration in punctuality by adding traffic to what is already a very busy route, on which Network Rail is currently not meeting the punctuality targets it has been funded to deliver. The proposals would have a detrimental impact on the journeys of millions of passengers travelling on the route. (From the ORR website)
|Severn Bridge Junction Signal Box, seen here in May 2006, with some serious motive power using the triangle to turn. The box has since been repainted in the full LNWR livery of buff and brown.
Birmingham New Street
Passengers using Birmingham New Street saw the first
major changes to the station in over 40 years when the huge project to
redevelop the station reached the half way point this April and we are pleased to report that the contractors are running ahead of schedule on this complicated work.
We understand that there are also proposals for a moving "travelator" which will operate between New St and Moor St stations.
You can find out more about the project by visiting www.newstreetnewstart.co.uk
Network Rail have kindly allowed us to use the pictures below, which give an artists impression of the rebuilt station. The webmaster rather feels that the striking atrium feature would be further enhanced by some large plant life. An opportunity for Birmingham Botanical Gardens perhaps?
|The station will feature a large atrium over the ticket hall and concourse. A great improvement.
% Increase since
|Flashback to 2010. Former LMS Class 5 locomotive, No 44871 shunts stock at Machynlleth on 25th August. This engine was one of four involved in hauling the last steam train on British Rail on 11th August 1968.
As many good folk will know, the steam service which operated on the Cambrian during the summer
was felled by the introduction of ERTMS in 2011. No steam locomotive in this country has yet been
fitted with the necessary on-board equipment to operate with this signalling system. As we understand
it, Network Rail believe that the problem is just too expensive. We have heard of seven figure sums
being bandied around.
In some circles, steam traction is seen as a nuisance, though we would counter this by saying
that whenever a steam locomotive has come to the Cambrian, it has pulled trains and made money
and therefore deserves more support. Indeed, the provision of steam traction on some selected
services seems quite a good way to persuade people to pay a premium to travel by train!
We have discovered that in Switzerland, the engineering company DLM have fitted a steam
engine with a version of ERTMS which is used there. The locomotive concerned is No. 52.8055, a
rebuilt German "Kriegslok" and which is now oil fired. The equipment comprises Balise readers and
computers housed in the tender. A driver's display is mounted in the cab. The cost of fitting was
around £45,000 GBP equivalent.
One of our members has advised us that the Swiss system is not full ERTMS and that their
network will be migrated to this by the end of the decade. At that point, 52 8055 will have to be
upgraded, though we note that there is a long way between £45,000 and a seven figure sum!
In the meantime, we have been in touch with an organisation called 5AT (http://www.5at.co.uk)
who have indicated that they would be willing to project manage the design and build of a brand new
machine, primarily for operation on the Cambrian. Enhanced technology would provide greater
reliability and range, with reduced maintenance and running costs. ERTMS would be fitted from new.
These images are reproduced by kind permission of DLM and show, from top; the modified Class 52 locomotive, 3 photos of the on-board equipment and a cab view of the locomotive in action. The computer display panel can be clearly seen in this latter picture.
At the eastern end of the Cambrian line, steam traction will appear on 23rd November when A1 Pacific No 60163 will arrive with a special from Bristol
Full details of all steam traction on the main line can be found at http://www.uksteam.info/tours/trs13.htm