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Track Pack - February 2017

March Working Weekend - Saturday 4th & Sunday 5th

The arrival of Spring heralds the return of fishplate greasing to the list of jobs to be done.
After a couple of years of headstarts, the plan this time is to return to the traditional starting point of Smallbrook’s Single line point. Progress can then be made westwards with breaks taken at the relevant times. As a bit of a time saver, the length which had the rail ends cropped during January was lubricated as it was reassembled, so will not need doing this time. 

If things go as in the past, Rowlands Lane Bridge should be reached by the end of Saturday, leaving Sunday to complete the line to Wootton.

Look forward to seeing you all by the P.Way Hut, 8.30am, Saturday and Sunday, for a rail trip to the worksite.

What's Been Going On?

February’s Working Weekend was taken up with adjusting rail joints on the section of track between Havenstreet Station and Rowlands Lane Bridge.

With the line being on a gradient downhill towards the station the action of the trains passing gradually moves the rails that way. This causes the gaps to open up at the top of the hill and close up at the bottom.

Work started at Rowlands Lane Bridge on the South rail, each fishplate being loosened, or the bolts partly removed, and keys knocked out to allow the rails to be barred uphill.
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Preparing a rail for its move back up the hill.
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Pete Snashall, Ian Wilcox, Graham Deegan and Iain Whitlam stand ready to ease a rail into its correct position.
Progress was hampered slightly as after the first half dozen or so joints it became necessary to dig out and move the sleeper on the uphill side of the joint to make a gap for the fishplate to move into.

With a couple of people digging out and moving the sleepers, pace was kept up with the rail movers and by the end of Saturday the block joint adjacent to the Outer Home Signal was reached. The only snag being the 4 inch gap at the rail joint.
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With the sleeper bed clear of ballast, jacks are used to raise the rail and free the sleeper to move.
With a slightly smaller gang available on the Sunday, and the need to get the track back together to take contractors to Bridge Two (where they are repairing the wing walls) in the following week, a slight change of method was used.

The chair fouling the gap for the fishplate was unscrewed from the sleeper so it could be moved out of the way, the sleeper being repositioned at a later date. Good progress through the morning saw the joints respaced as far as Bridge 7 reached by morning tea break. 

Opening up the closed up joints at the bottom of the hill enabled the 4 inch gap from Saturday evening to “disappear” in the vicinity of the Advanced Starter, and meant the last key could be knocked in time for dinner at 12.15.

With the rails reconnected, the afternoon was used to make a start on refixing the chairs to the sleepers at the joints.

Many thanks to all those who turned out over the weekend.
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The size of the problem!

What Else Has Been Going On?

The week after the Working Weekend was used to complete the joint sleepers on the regapped section of track. With the line back together a Works Train was run to deliver the contractors plant and materials for the repair works at Bridge Two.

The following two weeks were spent attending to overhanging trees in the vicinity of the new line wire pole route to Wootton, as well as dealing with some that had reached the end of their natural life and others that were restricting loco crew and user visibility at public crossings. Some work was also carried out in the Smallbrook section.  Where possible the trees were felled to ground level.
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Ian Wilcox takes a tree down close to Woodhouse Crossing.
During the second week a cherry picker (hired in mainly for the Wootton line wire work) was used to access and remove branches overhanging from neighbouring land. The opportunity was also taken to attend to a few suspect trees on the Smallbrook Section.

Thanks are due to the Operating, Loco and C&W Departments for providing trains and crews over the second week.

The Friday Gang continue their efforts in the Ashey area, also showing their fire raising skills to dispose of the huge amount of brash produced from the tree work.  A large quantity of the brash had been moved to a safe disposal site at Ashey Grounds, resulting in a very impressive bonfire!
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Tree felling near Ashey Station.
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Loading the brash for removal to the disposal site, located at Ashey Grounds
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The 'Cherry Picker' accesses overhanging branches at Woodhouse Crossing.
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Ian Wilcox and Pete Corby deal with branches overhanging the overhead pole route.
The Civil Engineering Department is responsible for all of the railway's  track, signalling equipment and lineside fencing - It's all healthy outdoor work!  Monthly working parties are organised to tackle important tasks requiring a large team, regular weekly gangs tackle lineside clearance, fencing renewals and many other maintenance tasks. If you are interested in joining the team please contact the railway's Volunteer Coordinator for more details.






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