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Extension spoil trains to resume in January
As part of the clearance work in the cutting at Imberhorne on the Bluebell's extension to East Grinstead, there is a further quantity of inert spoil material on the north side of Imberhorne Lane Bridge which we are able to move ourselves. The material will be used for civil engineering purposes at other sites on the Railway. As with the material removed from south of Imberhorne Lane Bridge a couple of years ago, this is principally soil and sandstone, which, whilst adjacent to the main rubbish tip, is not part of it as such.
This excavation, funded from part of the proceeds of the Bluebell's 2008 share issue, will take place over the coming months, conveniently coinciding with the time of year when we are running very few other trains. With the railway's hired Class 08 diesel locomotive temporarily out of service, another locomotive has been taken on short-term hire to perform this duty. No.73136 'Perseverance' is owned by the Class 73 Locomotive Preservation Co Ltd, and will be on hire for two months starting in mid-January. Its greater performance compared with the 08 will enable it to run more round-trips each day, making better use of the other plant and manpower, and also ensure that the work can be completed within the required timescale.
We have already removed about a tenth of the tip successfully, and this next phase of spoil removal gives us the opportunity to further shrink the obstacle. This has all been made possible by the share issue (for which money has continued to pour in over the last few days, in the run-up to the deadline at 3pm tomorrow). The removal of the remainder of the tip will also continue next year provided the planned fund-raising initiatives are well supported by Bluebell members and the wider public.
Trial dig completed
Report from Nigel Longdon of the successful completion of the trial phase of the digging out the former rubbish tip on the extension route.
On Tuesday the final loads for the trial excavation left site. During the fourteen day trial 524 loads left site amounting to 10,386 tonnes of waste.
This trial has provided valuable information relating to the state of the waste, speed of excavation, transportation logistics and partnership working between Land & Water and Bluebell volunteers. The capping clay has been reinstated and the site will now be mothballed. Phase 1 is now complete and funding will now be reviewed for Phase 2.
The photographs (from John Sisley, left, and Andrew Strongitharm, right) show the progress that has been made in this relatively short time.
Report from Nigel Longdon from the third week of digging out the former rubbish tip on the extension route.
This week we had twelve lorries in use. On Monday we achieved 45 loads, Tuesday 49, Wednesday 52, Thursday 47 and Friday 36. We are still using the Sevenoaks tip but also another near Henfield; the lorries being split between the two.
On Wednesday an additional excavator started moving spoil from under, and the trackbed north of, Hill Place bridge to within reach of the big excavator. The two photographs are from the south of the bridge (Patrick Plane) and from the north (Michael Wilson) - a view that has not be seen for many years.
A video showing the excavation work on the tip is available on YouTube from Martin Lawrence.
Another report and photos from Nigel Longdon, from Friday.
Today we achieved 28 loads; Fridays will usually be less as the drivers return home and are limited to their tachograph hours. This still represents 3 loads per lorry apart from two. We have now reached trackbed level, although currently it is covered with water.
Reports from this week from Nigel Longdon.
After a slow start last week the removal of waste from the tip is now in full swing and the daily number of loads is increasing - 34 on Monday 1st December and 38 on Tuesday. Ideally we'd like to move four loads each day per lorry. Towards the end of the day some loaded lorries leave site but unload the next morning: this is because the receiving site is open 07:00 - 16:00 and we have to operate 08:00 - 17:30. The excavators are working along the centre line of the tip from the north and the first part of the original cutting has been exposed.
The photographs (taken by Patrick Plane) show the exposed Hill Place bridge and the original profile of the cutting plus the excavators hard at work.
On Wednesday we used twelve lorries and achieved 46 loads - it would have been 48 but two lorries had punctures. Today's photographs below (by Michael Wilson) show further exposure of the cutting sides.
It is planned to split the loads between Sevenoaks and Lewes on Friday.
Thursday's two photographs (by Patrick Plane) show the hole slowly growing.
Nigel Longdon reports:
Yesterday was a landmark in Bluebell's history: Excavation of the cutting at Imberhorne started and invited guests witnessed Virginia Waddingham the Mayor of East Grinstead and Nicholas Owen each add a bucket of rubbish to one of the lorries.
The photographs show the early morning queue of lorries (the drivers were undergoing an induction) and the first bucket load of waste being loaded. After being loaded the lorries pass through a wheel wash and complete the necessary paperwork (a task managed by Bluebell volunteers) then it's time for the first load to leave site destined for a site near Sevenoaks.
Later in the morning the guests arrived, Bernard was interviewed, then Virginia Waddingham and Nicholas Owen each loaded a bucket of waste into a waiting lorry. The final picture shows the tip face. The plan is for the trial dig to continue, possibly for three weeks, then the face of the tip will be re-capped until further funds are available.
(Photos from Nigel Longdon)
Today work commenced on the next phase of the Bluebell Railway's project to reconnect the Railway with East Grinstead. Blocking the route are thousands of tonnes of domestic waste, which were dumped in the Imberhorne Cutting in the 1960's and which must now be dug out at some considerable cost.
The Mayor of East Grinstead, Councilor Ginnie Waddingham and Television Presenter Nicholas Owen, in the presence of local councilors and officers of the Railway will set the giant excavator to work on clearing the cutting, which is 500 metres long and 10-12 metres deep. The contractor, Land & Water Services will be operating their 25m-metre long reach excavator, a predecessor of which it used for work on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.
Photo right: The Mayor of East Grinstead, Councilor Ginnie Waddingham, at the controls of Land & Water Services long reach excavator (Jon Bowers)
Initially, the clearance will only take place for a couple of weeks, as a trial to establish the needs when work commences in full next year.
Infrastructure Director, Chris White said "This is a very exciting moment for us. It has taken many years of careful negotiation and preparation to get to this stage. We have carried out a lot of test drilling to see what material is there and putting together a methodology for its safe removal. At present the estimated cost is just that an estimate. This pilot run will enable us to make a more accurate prediction of exactly how much waste on a daily basis can be removed to landfill or sent for recycling, what it costs per day and how long absolute clearance is likely to take".
"This really does mark the beginning of visible proof of just how serious the Bluebell Railway's intent to achieve its goal is, and that it will encourage even more people to support us", said Roy Watts, Chairman of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society. "We are particularly hoping for support from the residents and businesses of East Grinstead as we believe that when the Railway terminates there it will bring economic benefit to the town".
East Grinstead Town Mayor, Ginnie Waddingham said "East Grinstead Town Council are proud to support the Northern Extension project and know members have worked tirelessly to bring the Bluebell Railway home to East Grinstead. We are delighted that we have the opportunity to be here today to see clearance begin of this final hurdle and we wait in excited anticipation for the first steam train to return to our Town. The Town Council and the people of East Grinstead are very excited about the start of the excavation works".
The pilot is being funded directly as a result of the Bluebell Railway's share offer which was launched this summer and which has raised almost £500,000. The Share Offer remains open until the 31st December. Anyone who wishes to receive a prospectus can obtain one by ringing 01825 720800 or by completing this on-line request form. A copy may also be collected from East Grinstead Museum.
Photo left: The long reach excavator loading the "official" lorry. To give you some idea of how much rubbish there is to be removed, the brick structure behind the excavator is Hill Place bridge (at the northern end of the tip) which Bluebell metals will eventually pass underneath and from where Chris White was interviewed for the BBC news item. (Jon Bowers)
David Chappell's photos above show that Imberhorne is not the only work location at present. Our future station site at East Grinstead is being prepared for track laying; the second photo also shows that the viaduct remains secured by our security gates.
Also our volunteer P-way gang were at the railway for an early morning delivery of 70 lengths of rail one Sunday recently, as we prepare for constructing the final phases of the extension.
Work for the preparation of the site prior to excavation of the tip is continuing. The access roads (Nigel Longdon's picture above shows the exit road), site compound and car park are complete and a wheel wash installed (Nigel's second picture above). A metal roadway across the tip remains to be installed.
David Chappell's photos below, taken two weeks before, show the sub base for the access roads that have been constructed into our temporary compound at Imberhorne.
Please note that the site remains accessible to authorised persons only, and people should not attempt to stop on the nearby road to attempt to view progress since this may harm our relations with our neighbours by obstructing the road.
The following note reports on the Progress with the Share Issue, and the planned launch of the excavation later this month.
The Share Offer has now raised £419,000.
The site compound at the Imberhorne Bridge is under construction. A major press publicity event is being organised to mark to the start of the actual excavation. It is planned that TV Presenter Nicholas Owen and Councillor Virginia Waddington, the Mayor of East Grinstead will formally set the giant excavator into action.
The event is by special arrangement with the contractors. The site is not open to visitors at anytime and the excavation will not be visible from the road.
Some of the remaining copies of the Share Prospectus are being delivered directly to homes in East Grinstead. There are plenty of copies available in the shop and the booking offices, for visitors to take away, or a copy may be requested through this on-line form.
The length of time the excavation is continues in the New Year depends entirely on how many applications for shares are received in the next few weeks.
The share offer closes at 3pm on New Year's Eve.
7 November 2008
It is some time since I provided an update regarding progress on the Northern Extension Project; much has been happening.
At East Grinstead further preparation is under way for the eventual construction of the platform and track layout. Initial service ducts have been laid below the planned link with Network Rail track and manholes are being built. A start has been made marking out the trackwork alignment.
At Imberhorne the site earmarked for the access roads, site compound and car park required by the contractors removing the tip was cleared of vegetation in September.
This week work commenced in grading the area ready for the construction of the access roads and other facilities (as seen in this photo). It remains a goal to have two week's trial excavation of the tip before the end of this year, subject to adequate finance and suitable weather. This site remains off-limits to all except those involved in the works. Sightseers are specifically asked to keep away as we are obliged not to obstruct access to the adjacent amenity site.
At the north end of the tip the south parapet wall of Hill Place bridge is being cleared of vegetation and soil to below the corbelling prior to the tip excavation being started and to enable the state of the brickwork to be inspected.
South of Imberhorne Lane bridge the vegetation is being cut back again, working towards Kingscote. We hope to keep this in check as the opening of the line to East Grinstead approaches.
As always we welcome new volunteers to the Saturday gang and there are
opportunities for volunteers to undertake some roles during the excavation
of the tip. If you are interested in either please contact me by e-mail.
The press release, which explains what is planned in more detail is available here.
If any volunteers are interested in helping man the site compound there are
a number of roles Bluebell can undertake thus saving considerable manning
costs. These activities are being co-ordinated by Nigel Longdon (e-mail
or 'phone: 020-8679 3732) & Ian Aitken
so please contact them in the first instance for more information.
The press release is available here.
On Monday 19th May work started to clear the whole site as far as the viaduct and level the ground in preparation for marking out the station and track formation. The photographs illustrate (left) the site as taken over - 16th May, and (right) the progress made by 24th May.
The photo of the extent of the tip, after chipping was complete, is by Patrick Plane. That showing the larger of the chippers used, was taken on 20th March by Nigel Longdon.
Chipping of the brash is now under way and should be completed by 20th
All this would not have been possible without the tremendous volunteer support that we have received and the favourable weather - just one overcast working day during the whole period.
The photo on the right by Steve Fairweather shows clearance work in progress on 1st March.
Please note that the site remains off-limits to all except
The terrain on top of the tip is quite wet and challenging in places. This is primarily the domain for the strimmer operators and Wellingtons are a necessity.
Photos: Before (30 January) by Jon Bowers and After (9 February) by Steve Fairweather.
A pattern of working has developed concentrating on Wednesdays and Saturdays
with an average of about fifteen volunteers each day. Further assistance
will be welcome - contact Nigel Longdon (by e-mail
or 'phone: 020-8679 3732). Please remember this site continues
to be restricted to those participating in the official working parties.
Chris White, Bluebell Railway Infrastructure Director, is pleased to announce that West Sussex County Council will shortly issue a licence authorising the clearance of vegetation and trees on the tip between Imberhorne Lane and Hill Place Farm occupation bridge in preparation for the eventual excavation of the cutting. The licence will cover the period 28th January until 6th April 2008 and is subject to strict conditions. For this reason there will be no unauthorised work on or access to the tip. All work will be supervised by the two Team Leaders, Ian Aitken and Nigel Longdon. It is planned that regular working parties will be held on Wednesdays and Saturdays plus two other weekdays. If you are interested in assisting with this project please contact Nigel Longdon (by e-mail or 'phone: 020-8679 3732). Volunteers must be members of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society.
The latest Extension Progress page is here.
Archive 10 (2011).
Archive 9 (2010).
Archive 8 (2009).
Archive 7 (2008).
Archive 6 (2006-7).
Archive 5 (2004-5).
Archive 4 (2003).
Archive 3 (2002).
Archive 2 (April - Dec 2001).
Archive 1 (October 2000 - February 2001).
An eariler report on progress (April 2000) from Jim Turtle is in the News Archive.
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