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No Trains Today

Friday 21 December

Track Pack - March 2017

April Working Weekend - Saturday 1st & Sunday 2nd

No service trains are operating on the Saturday, or is this an early April Fools prank by the Operating Department?, so the opportunity can be taken to change some of the more awkwardly sited sleepers along the line.

There are one or two in the cutting on the Smallbrook side of Long Arch where temporarily removing one of the rails will ease the job considerably. Another is in the Rowlands Bridge area where the same method can be used. The plan is to start at the Long Arch site and work steadily back towards Rowlands, making the sleeper there the final job of the day.

Sunday will see more of the same, but without the rail removal part of the job (!), changing the defective sleepers that were found during the rail running work in February. 
Looking forward to seeing everyone at the Weekend.  A bit after 8.30am being the departure time for the rail trip on Saturday.

What's Been Going On?

March’s Working Weekend saw the usual session of fishplate and joint inspection/lubrication. How many years does it take for something to become a tradition ?

A start was made at the Single Line point at Smallbrook, working in a westerly direction. Everyone soon got in to rhythm, and Calloways Crossing was reached after an hour where a break for refreshments was taken. Bypassing the already greased 200 yard section at the back of Ashey Road Garage, a good run saw Ashey Station reached in time to use the benches and shelter there for a dinner break.
The first tea break of the day at Calloways Crossing.
Starting again at 1.10pm reinforcements arrived from the West at ten to two. Handing over the ceremonial fishing spanner and spray can enabled a Wickham run back to Smallbrook to boil up some water for a hot, rather than tepid, cuppa at three.

The value of the joint respacing last month was shown as the gang almost flew down the bank from the break in Rowlands Woods. In the past there has always been a bit of fiddling about here to get fishplates on or off, but not this time. Five o’clock saw the arrival of the last member of the gang at the east end of Havenstreet Station.
Robin Tagart, Ian Wilcox and Tony Barry prepare the fishplate oil trolley for action.
Sunday proved the wisdom of the old weather saying, rain at seven, fine by eleven; even if there was a heavy shower at ten.

Freshly stocked with oil, the slightly smaller gang got started at ten to nine and managed to get to the Forest Crossing in time for a cup of something hot just after 10. Following the shower of rain during the break, everyone set to and excellent progress saw the Single Line point at Wootton reached by dinnertime.
Iain Whitlam, Ian Corney and Graham Deegan clean the old grease off of the fishplates and inspect for defects.  Robin Tagart is waiting to follow up and apply the fresh lubrication.
A break for lunch was taken in the platform shelter before tackling the usual trip round the loop. Despite a ‘light engine’ trip by the Wickham to collect the Iron Man coupling, everyone was back at Havenstreet by 3.15pm. This gave time to work on the Down Loop joints, a celebratory refreshment stop being taken on completion at the Wootton end.

Many thanks to all those who turned out over the weekend.
Julia and Pete Snashall tightening up the fishplate bolts after the lubricant has been applied.
Fishplate oiling is completed using a well established procedure.  Furthest from the camera are the bolt looseners, followed up by the fishplate cleaners/examiners.  The trolley with the oil dispensers comes next and finally the bolt tightening team.

What Else Has Been Going On?

As mentioned in the last report, contractors have completed repairs to Bridge 2, close to Whitefield Farm Crossing.  This picture shows the excellent job Olly and Bob have done in repairing the eastern side wing walls.
With the new Operating Season looming most time has been spent lifting and packing various areas along the line.  The signalling installations have also received their routine sessions of inspection and lubrication.

By way of a change, the drain extending from the Havenstreet station yard to the coal stage received some attention during March. After the relaying of the yard surface it seemed wise to ensure the water run off got away as easily as possible. Unfortunately the drain is routed directly beneath the rodding that operates 7B points, which had to be removed and then reinstated after the drain works. Happily all was reconnected for the start of passenger trains on the 19th.

With the lineside undergrowth still on the launch pad the Friday Gang continue to demonstrate their phyroperative skills. The felled materials in Briddlesford Copse are being dealt with at present.

That’s the lot for now,

All the best,

Phil, Ian and Pete.
The fishplate oiling gang ready to take their Saturday afternoon tea break in Rowlands Wood.

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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22 December 2018


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