Monday was a historic day: on 6th June 2005 the Bluebell Railway started the excavation (Photo right - Nigel Longdon) of inert matter (mainly sandstone and earth) on the southern section of the tip blocking the route of the extension to East Grinstead. The material is being moved off site by train.
The first day involved hired Ivatt tank No.41312 with just two wagons on a single train, to establish working patterns and procedures for the coming weeks. Yesterday the train, extended to 4 wagons, ran two trips from the tip down to Horsted Keynes, where the excavated material is being unloaded and used to rebuild the embankment on the line towards Ardingly.
Photo reports are accessible via the extension page.
Jon Bowers' report goes into considerable detail with many photos, and also includes three videos.
Chris Dadson, in addition to photos from Monday, has further ones from Tuesday.
Photo left: 41312 with the first spoil train at Kingscote - Jon Bowers).
The spoil trains are set to continue on weekdays only for the next few months, and of course all are steam hauled, with a variety of motive power rostered. Our normal passenger trains also continue to run daily during this time.
Photo right: Ivatt Class 2MT No.41312 arrives at Kingscote with the first extension spoil train of the day on 7th June 2005 - Chris Dadson.
The extra grampus wagons we had been aiming to purchase for this work have been moved by mistake to a scrapyard, so we have had to revise our plans, running shorter trains consisting of our own vacuum fitted grampus wagons, our two BR Medfits, and a bogie wagon on loan from our friends at Isfield.
The Ivatt tank, normally based on the Mid Hants Railway, is due to remain on the Bluebell until November, and will be used both on spoil trains and on scheduled passenger services. SECR O1 0-6-0 No.65 (of 1896) and LBSCR E4 0-6-2T No.32473 (of 1898) will share the spoil train duties with 41312.
Trains can now be signalled over the Loop as well as the Main route, in either direction and with all points controlled from the Signalbox. This brings the so-called "Leamland Junction" (where the Loop and Main join north of Leamland Bridge) into full use for the first time. For the first time since the resignalling project started, it is possible to signal trains to and from platform 2 at the north end. The final bracket signal, to be positioned at the end of platform 1/2, is presently under construction.
Full details and photos are on the Horsted Keynes re-signalling pages
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Just before the 6pm departure of the 'Thomas' Bedtime Story train on Friday evening, a bolt of lightning is thought to have hit one of the buildings, used by Oak Transport, in the Business Park on the old Woodpax site adjacent to Sheffield Park Station. The resulting fire destroyed the building and several vehicles in it, but fortunately there were no injuries amongst the staff working in the building at the time. The blaze was attended by 6 fire tenders and was brought under control in two hours, and damped down by 9pm.
These two photos, from Howard Strongitharm, show the blaze burning fiercely, and left, almost extinguished. The direction of the wind carried the smoke southwards, and no Bluebell Railway property was affected.
For Oak Transport it is a second major blow in 5 years, having relocated to Sheffield Park after their premises in Lewes were flooded in 2001.
Whilst Ivatt 2-6-2 tank No.41312 was the mainstay of the spoil trains over the first two weeks, last week the two daily return journeys between Imberhorne cutting and the Ardingly Spur have been operated by the SECR O1-class 0-6-0 No.65.
This photo from Dave Clarke, taken last week, shows the magnitude of the task just to reach Imberhorne Lane bridge, which is expected to take 3 months.
This photo by Jon Bowers shows Manning Wardle No.4 "Sharpthorn" of 1877, one of the original contractor's locomotives used to build the Bluebell line, apparently in steam, as part of the last two weekend's special events.
Southern Railway USA-class 0-6-0 tank "WD 1959" is seen here, in this photo by Chris Ward, representing the Bluebell Railway on our stand at the South of England Show at Ardingly showground a couple of weeks ago.
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