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Track Pack - November 2014

December 2014 Working Weekend - Saturday 6th & Sunday 7th

With Havenstreet Station being decked out in bunting, this month’s activities are to be carried out against the backdrop of the annual Santa Specials. The plan is to spend the weekend exchanging the rails in one of the original Griffin’s sidings.

As some of you may know the rails in question were brought into the railway a number of years ago to enable Phase One of the Griffins Sidings to be completed. At that time the railway didn’t have enough rail in stock for the project, but since then various replacement programmes have produced a large quantity of rail suitable for sidings. The rails currently in the siding are of sufficient quality to be used elsewhere on the railway, so the idea is to exchange them for some of the siding quality material.

There are currently six, sixty foot long panels in the siding so all things being equal that should mean eight, 45 footers will replace them. That’ll produce enough key removal and replacement activity to keep anybody happy. 
Hope to see you all at the usual time at the P.Way Depot, 8.30am both days.

What's been going on?

A dry, mild Saturday greeted the running of the day’s scheduled ballast trains. The train of four hoppers were already loaded which enabled an early trip to Swanpond on the Smallbrook section.

After unloading there, and a cuppa, further quantities were spread at various spots on the way back to Havenstreet. Here the train was split, so that once the first two wagons had been loaded these could be out again to be emptied, whilst the second pair were being refilled by the digger in the yard. This short run was carried out on the Smallbrook section, returning to Havenstreet in time for an early lunch.

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Saturday morning, the Working Weekend Gang are ready for action!
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The view from the Shark as the ballast train approaches Ashey Station.
The afternoon started with a short trip up to Bridge 7 to deposit some stone to allow the beds to be fettled up at a future date. The remainder was taken to the Wootton section and distributed along the big bank between Bridge 12 and the Forest Crossing.

The majority of the gang disembarked here to spread and fettle the ballast whilst the train returned to Havenstreet for reloading. A welcome tea break followed the full train’s arrival back in the Forest Crossing area. A further couple of hopper loads at the Wootton end of the section completed the day’s efforts with the train back at Havenstreet by 4.30.

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A ballast drop in progress near Ashey Station.
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Afternoon tea at the Milepost 6 piling work site.
Sunday dawned very wet and windy but undeterred a smaller gang set off with the final two hoppers of ballast. One was dropped at the Single Line end of Wootton run round loop, the other in the section between Bridge 15 and Woodhouse Crossing. A slightly more clement afternoon saw the gang cutting, burning and tidying the bankside towards Rowlands Lane Bridge.

As well as thanking everyone for their efforts on hopper wheels and shovels, gratitude is also due to the Loco, C&W and Operations Depts for their assistance in providing crews and vehicles for the weekend.

What else has been going on?

The new crossing that was held in stock for the Single Line point at Wootton was installed during the week after the Remembrance Sunday services. It went together fairly well in place of the old one, only a small amount of timber adjustment was required to enable it to be secured.

 At the time of writing, the piling works at Milepost Six have almost been completed. Unfortunately a few issues with the piling rig caused an unscheduled pause in proceedings. The ingenuity and perseverance of the contractors saw the end to most of these; the grateful assistance of the Loco and Operations enabled the running of the extra works trains necessary to complete the pile insertion part of the job. 

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The piling work site with the ballast train in attendance.
During odd bits of time and wet weather (so quite often then) work has continued on the post for the proposed Down Advanced Starting signal. The physical construction of it started a few years ago now, and then paused due to other work. Painting and fitting out, prior to erection, are the tasks now in hand.

With the arrival of Autumn the Friday Gang have made a return to the Wootton section, working eastwards from Packsfield Crossing. Having already got to the end of the Long Curve they plan to arrive at Havenstreet within the twelve days of Christmas.

The project to replace the lineside telegraph pole runs is now underway.  Over the weekend of 15th and 16th November a works train was operated in the Wootton section to move poles and plant into position and a start was made in planting the poles.  More details of the project can be seen here.

All the best,

Ian, Phil and Pete.