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News reports on Infrastructure projects
across the Railway

Mid February to Early April 2017:
Replacement of track in Horsted Keynes Platforms 2 and 3

S15 and track-work at Horsted Keynes - Stewart Moon - 18 February 2017
Completing the track replacement at Holywell early was a bonus because it allowed us to start the time critical replacement of the formation in Horsted Platforms 2 and 3. Platform 3 was tackled first. This was to prove a bonus as the work turned out to be more difficult than expected. Unlike the Holywell work, there were a number of 'unknowns' such as the water supply for the water columns at the north end of the platforms and a number of cross drains. However, by far the biggest unknown was the pedestrian underpass - as it was intended to reduce the height of the track by 4 inches in platform 3 and 8 inches in platform 2, it was suspected that the underpass would cause problems - as turned out to be the case. The reduction in track height was needed to bring the track down to the correct level for comfortable access to carriages. The first job was to strip out the formation on platform 3 and see what we had.

Stewart Moon's photo taken on 18th February shows track lifted in No.3 road as the S15 departs in stormy conditions from platform 4/5. By Wednesday evening, the track base for Horsted Platform 3 had been lowered by the required 4 inches with only a small amount of spoil yet to be removed. As the feed pipe for the water columns at the north end of the station and the original drain occupied the space between Nos.2 and 3 roads, a new centre drain was not an option. Instead, a smaller drain will run under the track of both platforms 2 and 3.

Much of the feed pipe for the water columns has been uncovered and so far looks in good condition. The feed is far from level as it wends its way over the underpass and round 3 catch pits.

The drain under 3 road has been started with the very northern end having the terram/polythene/terram sandwich laid, the drain pipe in and (so far unlevelled) ballast down.

The opportunity has been taken to renew the wooden walkways on the platform 1/2 up starting signal, with Matt "Tarzan" Crawford doing the difficult bits. The walkways on the up signal on platform 3/4 will be similarly renewed in the next few weeks.

The photos below, from Bruce Healey, show some of the sleepers recovered from the Holywell track renewal, and Matt Crawford renewing timbers on the bracket signal.

Recovered sleepers from Holywell - Bruce Healey - 22 February 2017 Matt Crawford working on the platform 1/2 up starter - Bruce Healey - 22 February 2017
The next photo below, from Stewart Moon, shows the chalk infill covering the drain. Further along it also covers the water column feed pipes. The feed crosses 3 road at right angles which can just be seen in this photo.

Whilst most of the digging has been done by mechanical means, that along the platform edge, around catch pits and the water-crane pipe has been done by hand, as seen in Bruce Healey's next photo. His final photo shows the platform 3 drain going under the feed pipe for the platform 3/4 water column.

3-road dug out - Stewart Moon - 22 February 2017 Hand digging around catch pit and water-crane pipe - Bruce Healey - 22 February 2017 The platform 3 drain going under the feed to the platform 3/4 water column - Bruce Healey - 22 February 2017

Small laser-guided bulldozer in action - Bruce Healey - 1 March 2017

By 1st March the ballast for Platform 3 has been levelled and compacted. The very south end of the platform and over the subway are still to be ballasted. This photo shows the small laser 'dozer levelling the ballast. The 'dozer we usually use was too large for the platform area.

The solution for laying the lowered tacks over the subway is to have 3 steel plates over the apex of the subway to spread the load. These have been concreted in place, as seen in the photos below. The next tasks will be to put down plastic over the whole area to waterproof it, cast 2 reinforced concrete beams at either side and make a reinforced concrete raft over the subway. The track chairs will be bolted directly into the concrete. Platform 2 road will be identically treated.

Two of the three catch pits have been removed as they were not required. The drain for the south end of platform 3 road was connected to the drain put in when 22 point was changed in 2015. There is provision for platform 2 road drain to be similarly connected.

The photos below, from Bruce Healey, show the feed pipe for the water columns at the north end of platform 2 and 3/4 rising over the subway at Horsted Keynes, and the steel plates being concreted in place over the crown of the subway. Note that the eyes on the steel plates are temporary and will be taken off with an angle grinder.

Water pipe rises over subway - Bruce Healey - 1 March 2017 Concreting the top of the subway - Bruce Healey - 1 March 2017
The final photo below shows the finishing touches being applied. The compactor can be seen in the background. The shuttering round the area shows the extent of the side concrete beams and the raft over the top of the subway. All of this will be on top of a waterproof layer.
Concreting the top of the subway - Bruce Healey - 1 March 2017

Track laid in platform 3 - Barbara Watkins - 2 March 2017

Barbara Watkins photos show the progress with the work in platform 3 at Horsted Keynes, as of 2nd March.

As seen on the right, track laying has started in platform 3 road. This track is being laid 4 inches lower than previously, and that in platform 2 will be 8 inches lower than at present. This will bring both roads down to the same level, and significantly reduce the step down from the carriages to the platforms, which may see us making greater use of platform 2.

The first photo below shows the top of the subway with the waterproof membrane in place.
Next we see the reinforcing being constructed for one of the side beams next to the subway.
Barbara's final photo shows the shuttering adjacent to the water-crane supply pipe, as it rises over the subway.

Waterproofing in place over subway - Barbara Watkins - 2 March 2017 Building reinforcing for beam adjacent to subway - Barbara Watkins - 2 March 2017 Water supply pipe over subway - Barbara Watkins - 2 March 2017

Jon Goff's photo below shows the reinforcing in place for the concrete raft over the subway in 3-road at Horsted Keynes. Brian Lacey's photo shows the track now laid (but awaiting final ballasting and tamping) in the northern part of that platform road.

Reinforcing in place - Jon Goff - 3 March 2017 Track laid in platform 3 - Brian Lacey - 4 March 2017

By Monday 6th March, we had laid the track over the subway and clipped the chairs to the track, as seen in the final photo below. It is necessary to do this before the concrete is laid for 2 reasons. Firstly, it allows us to pour the concrete to the correct level (note that the track is deliberately one inch higher than necessary, this will be adjusted when the concrete is fully set). Secondly, the studs for the chairs must be clear of any reinforcing rods (which requires some angle grinding) and the studs need to be bolted to the reinforcing. By close of play on Monday, about 50% of the work to locate the studs was complete. This should be finished and the concrete poured on Tuesday. We should also complete the track laying by Tuesday; as of the end of play on Monday about a third of the remaining sleepers had already been laid.

The reinforcing in place at the start of the day - Bruce Healey - 6 March 2017 Track and chairs in place - Bruce Healey - 6 March 2017

By 8th March, the concrete raft over the subway was setting, we have now laid out the sleepers (except either side of the subway) and some of the remaining rails for Platform 3; some of the replacement sleepers are awaiting their chairs.

The rail across the subway will have to be taken up to remove the shuttering around the concrete and to put pads under the rail chairs which bolt down on the concrete. The concrete will be allowed to harden until the end of the month before trains pass over it. Bearing in mind that the track over the subway has still to be lowered by an inch, the difference between the new level of the rail in platform 3 to the current level in platform 2 can be clearly seen.

The load bearing concrete over the subway at platform 3 - Bruce Healey - 8 March 2017 Sleepers in place - Bruce Healey - 8 March 2017

The first photo from Bruce Healey shows the situation in platforms 2 and 3 at Horsted Keynes at the start of play on Wednesday 15 March, with the track taken up over the Platform 2 underpass and enough old concrete removed to allow the metal spreader plates to be located (as on 3-road). Looking now at platform 3 road, the rail over the subway has been taken up to allow the trackbed either side to be lowered (it had been deliberately left too high to allow the concrete to be poured).

During the course of Wednesday, the track bed through platform 3 was lowered either side of the subway, and the remaining sleepers laid. The shuttering from Platform 3 was usable for Platform 2 with only slight modification - this is now in place as is the waterproof membrane (see photo below). We still have a lot to do before concrete can be poured, including completing the reinforcing structure and lay track over the subway (again one inch too high to clear the concrete), attach the chairs, locate the chair studs and bolt them to the reinforcing etc.

The second photo below shows the stripping and levelling of the trackbed at the south end of Platform 2. We also did some fettling of the track on Platform 3. When joining used track, we often find the track at different levels at the join owing to different wear. To overcome this, we use special fishplates with a step in them. We have a stock with differing steps in sixteenths of an inch increments. To get down to a thirty-second of an inch difference, specially made shims are used. Two pairs of track joints needed these step plates. This is standard railway practise.

2-road subway waterproofing membrane - Bruce Healey - 15 March 2017 Digging out 2-road - Bruce Healey - 15 March 2017

By Friday 17th evening, the reinforcing cage over the subway on the platform 2 side had been completed, as seen in the photo below taken from the cab of the road-railer. The south end of Platform 2 has had the centre drain dug, the terram (fibreglass) - polythene - terram sandwich laid, the drain pipe put in place and the section ballasted and compacted as seen in the second photo, prior to track laying. Both these photos were taken by Barbara Watkins.

2-road subway reinforcing and shuttering - Barbara Watkins - 17 March 2017 Ballasted 2-road - Barbara Watkins - 17 March 2017

Jon Goff now brings us up to date as of the end of last week.

The concrete over the subway for road 3 is still being allowed to continue to harden before any major weight is put on it. However it has already reached a very hard state due to being a very strong mix and being well vibrated into place, so the final levelling compound can be put in place. As we want to get the rails levelled very accurately, a 5-10mm depression has been gunned into the concrete surface around the area where the rail chairs will sit and a screw plugged into the centre of each of the chair positions. Using the laser level set up at the reference datum point on the platform, each screw has been adjusted to exactly the same height to within less than 1mm! These then form a local datum for the levelling compound, pored and trowelled in place. The process is seen in Jon's two photos below. This should all be completed for all 16 chair positions on Monday.

Depression cut into concrete surface, with datum screw fitted - Jon Goff - 17 March 2017 Levelling compound to provide accurate height - Jon Goff - 17 March 2017

There will be a rubber pad placed on top of the (fast-setting) compound and the rail chair placed on top of that.

All the original rails from 3-road have had the end 650mm cut off, re-drilled and replaced as the rails were in basically good condition with good heads and running on them. Similarly the majority of the hardwood sleepers were in good condition so they have been put back with only 40 replacements needed to be found and drilled. They are all in position with all the rail replaced and roughly aligned ready for the tamper, except for 4 sleepers by the north end drainage pit and the rail over the subway. Full connection right through and the ability to pass traffic through under caution should be possible by the end of next week. Additionally the approach into road 3 has been realigned to give a much smoother curve between the points and the platform.

Start of relaying Platform 2 road - Jon Goff - 17 March 2017 Turning to 2-road in earnest, the first action was to remove the pair of rails over the subway and start to repeat the work as carried out on 3-road, as described above. In three days as much work has been completed here as in the previous three weeks on 3-road as the job in hand is now well defined. The excavation is complete, the metal plates are bedded down in place, shuttering complete and most of the reinforcement in place, as in the 3-road reports on 2nd, 3rd and 6th March. The concrete should be poured around the middle of this week.

While the work around the subway was being done, the rest of the south end of 2-road was lifted, fully dug out, drainage installed, waterproof membrane installed (Terram - plastic - Terram sandwich) ballasted and the first panel relayed. This panel is critical as it is required to regain access to the Ardingly siding and the ballast pile.

Completion of the bottom half of 3-road this week has enabled the road-railer access to work on 2-road. Jon's photo above/left shows 3-road reconnected and 2-road being relayed 8 inches lower than before.
Muddy P-way yard - Jon Goff - 17 March 2017 Other work continues to clear up the yard after the Holywell relay. Many chairs have been removed from the life expired sleepers and the sleepers disposed of with the worst of them being burnt. Scrap has been collected together with some being exchanged for more good sleepers. Matt Crawford has arranged many such deals which has save the railway many thousands of pounds over time.

Finally some security lighting is been put in over the new access gate and infrastructure lobby although that is not yet complete. Some time is required to put our own infrastructure area in order after the road 2 and 3 project is finished as this is the current state of our "office"! It is not a pretty sight from the train and the team have to walk right through it carrying tools several times every day.

Despite the atrocious weather on Monday, 3-Road had all the levelling compound poured in place for each of the rail chairs on the east rail. Scared of it being washed away, the west rail levelling was left until Tuesday and work moved over to 2-Road. The rails had their ends trimmed and drilled at the south end and the first rails to the north of the subway removed. The subway reinforcement was finished and is now waiting for the rails to be supported over the top so that the stainless steel studding can be hung in place, all of which has now been cut and made ready.

The first photo shows the state of play at the end of Monday 20th March, and the second shows a rail being trimmed to length. The cutter clips onto the rail and pivots down to cut the end square.

Progress as at end of Monday - Jon Goff - 20 March 2017 Trimming rail-ends in 2-road - Jon Goff - 21 March 2017

The next photo below shows the application of levelling compound completed for the west rail in 3-Road and, with the east rail compound set, rubber pads were cut out and put in place and the chairs fitted ready for the rail to be inserted. Some final tightening of the nuts and a bit of juggling with some of the ferrules is all that is required.

By the end of Tuesday, all the track panels up to a few feet from the subway in 2-Road had been completed giving access to the Ardingly siding again. The next two panels north of the subway have been removed, dug out and levelled, as seen in the last of Jon's photos below, ready for the drainage ditch to be dug under the middle of the four foot.

Grouting of chair bases complete in 3-road - Jon Goff - 21 March 2017 Progress as at end of Tuesday - Jon Goff - 21 March 2017

More atrocious weather demonstrated the need (first photo below, on Wednesday 22nd March) to install the drainage under the tracks when everybody just wanted to go home and dry out. So lunch break was forfeited in order to reach the day's target and go home early. However the afternoon brightened up and we ended up staying later than normal, achieving reconnection of road 3 (second photo below) and putting in the drainage under road 2 north of the subway and ballasting it ready for the next panel to go back.

Clay sub-bed and rain - Jon Goff - 22 March 2017 Platform 3 reconnected - Jon Goff - 22 March 2017

Work then concentrated on the shuttering and the reinforcement for the concrete over the subway. This proved to be quite intense but with help from "the little people" this was completed on Thursday together with dropping all the studs (316 stainless) to be set into the concrete for the rail chairs. To do this the rails were supported slightly higher than the finished height so that an extra nut could be fixed under the chair to stop the studs wobbling around during the concrete pour.

Help from the little people - Jon Goff - 23 March 2017 Detail of studs and reinforcing - Jon Goff - 23 March 2017

Matt Crawford and Mark giving the final float finish - Jon Goff - 24 March 2017
While this was going on further digging out, levelling, drainage and ballasting on a waterproof membrane was carried out on road 2 with two-thirds now done.

Friday was the critical day as the concrete had to be laid then to give it a long enough hardening time before trains can use it over Easter. After some final gauge and position checks (to the millimetre) the concrete was poured and allowed to settle before being given a final float finish by Matt and Mark in the evening, as seen in Jon's photo on the right.

The foot crossing at the platform end was also reinstated as it was required for wheelchair access the following day. It has been redesigned so that it can now be removed easily for tamping and other track maintenance.

Platform 2 roads drainage at Horsted Keynes - Bruce Healey - 29 March 2017

Following from Jon Goff's last report, a big vote of thanks to the Infrastructure volunteers who turned up in large numbers to ensure that the deadline of pouring the concrete over the Platform 2's subway was completed at the end of last week. Friday is usually a quiet day for volunteers but their dedication ensured that the concrete had the weekend to cure thus not losing us several days against our schedule.

On Wednesday 29th March, the remaining 2-road trackbed was scraped, the drainage trench, terram/polythene/terram, drainpipe and the ballast base completed. We almost finished grading and compacting the ballast.

Platform 3 has been tamped again and passed back to operational use.

Bruce's first photo shows, in the background, the digger cutting the central ditch, while in the foreground all the other operations can be seen. Note the crossing drain up near the digger.

The photos below show more detail, firstly rolling out the Terram in 2-road. Where track has already been laid, S&T need to ensure that track circuits operate and that cable operated signal are still functional. Here, the bond wires across a track joint are being fitted on 3-road.

Rolling out the Terram in 2-road - Bruce Healey - 29 March 2017 Track circuit bonding work in 3-road - Bruce Healey - 29 March 2017

The track chairs over the subway in 2-road are being readied. The concrete pads have been cast. Rubber pads are located between the chairs and the concrete. This task was completed by the end of the day.

Next we see a close-up of the tamper in operation on Platform 3 road. Note the track lifter to the right and the pair of tines either side of the rail. The ballast is only compacted under the rails.

Preparing for fitting chairs over subway in 2-road - Bruce Healey - 29 March 2017 Tamping in progress in 3-road - Bruce Healey - 29 March 2017

The ballast is levelled using a laser and receiver on a staff. The new track in 2-road will be 8 inches lower than the old and the difference needs to be graded in. The laser has a gradient function simplifying this task.

Platform 3 has been released to traffic. The final photo shows the first use of it, as it is gauged for the three visiting locomotives.

Grading ballast in 2-road - Bruce Healey - 29 March 2017 3-road released for traffic - Bruce Healey - 29 March 2017

By 31st March, Platform 2 Road had been reconnected. After a very busy week and a good turn out from the infrastructure team, and with a big help from the Thursday gang, road 2 was connected right through on Friday evening at about 6:30 pm.

Wednesday had seen road 3 tamped level but it has not had its finally tamp as the final straight line was not tamped due to a small problem with the tamper (the line broke). However it was finished sufficiently to be safely released back to traffic as reported by Bruce on Wednesday. This is good as most trains in the diesel gala ran over the new formation, which has handily helped settle it before the final tamp this week.

Thursday saw the two rails put back over the subway and three more 56 foot panels were put in by the Thursday gang which is a tremendous effort for bullhead rail as it takes a lot longer to lay than flat bottom rail.

Finished subway covers and exposed water tower pipe - Jon Goff - 31 March 2017 Last two rails to close the gap - Jon Goff - 31 March 2017

Friday saw three more panels go in including the closing rails which had to be cut to a precise length in order to connect up with the existing track. Work was heavily inhibited but almost continuous use of road 3 for the diesel gala. The road-railer had to use road 3 for very short periods then disappear quickly before the next train was due.

It is seen above delivering the last two rails which are second hand rails from our small collection of spare rail.

Nearly there but too many trains in the way - Jon Goff - 31 March 2017 Connection right through, ready for ballast and tamping - Jon Goff - 31 March 2017

The final photo above shows the whole length of road 2 connected and tidied up for the weekend. It was then ballasted and ploughed on Saturday and will be tamped straight next week. There are still some details to be finished off on both roads over the subway. Road 2 is not yet fully screwed down and both roads still require the plastic membrane sealed against the sides of the concrete pads with a silicon sealant below the ballast level. The foot crossings at either end of the platforms still need to be reinstated.

Further pictures below from Barbara Watkins on Saturday show our very good L&W contract driver working on Saturday, having ballasted and ploughed road 2 and removing the digger used to dig out the track bed and drainage ditches and place the sleepers. Note the stop board showing the road is not in normal use. Darren had to finish this off on Saturday as he is taking his family on holiday on Sunday for two weeks. We wish him a good break after the extensive very good quality work he has done over the last six months - as well as working on network rail at night!

Further pictures of Darren carrying out the work were taken by John Sandys on Saturday and are shown on his Flickr site.

Darren the L&W driver - Barbara Watkins - 1 April 2017 Removing the digger - Barbara Watkins - 1 April 2017 Ready for Tamping - Barbara Watkins - 1 April 2017

S15 arrives at Horsted Keynes to cross the H-class - Brian Lacey - 3 April 2017

Brian Lacey's photo from Monday 3rd April shows the S15 arriving at Horsted Keynes to cross the pre-war Southern set behind the SECR H-class in platform 3. The newly laid track in platform 2 had been ballasted but not tamped at that stage.

2 and 3 roads completed - Bruce Healey - 5 April 2017

The final tamp of platform 3 road was completed on Wednesday 3rd April and platform 2 has now also been released back into service (as seen in the photo on the right). However, this is some way from the end of the job, as there are still the inevitable tidying up and odd jobs to do.

Bruce's photos below show the H-class in Platform 3 and 'Camelot' on a test run in Platform 2, having just returned to service after winter boiler maintenance and the re-tyring of its tender wheels.

The H-class in Platform 3 - Bruce Healey - 5 April 2017 Camelot on a test run in Platform 2 - Bruce Healey - 5 April 2017

The triangle at Horsted Keynes has been used as a dumping ground during the work. With 4 inches of material removed from 3-road and 8 inches from 2-road, a large amount of spoil has been added to the triangle. This has now been graded to improve the appearance (as seen below).

Some lengths of rail and other oddments have been moved over to the Salt Yard. Just as soon as the area is being cleared, more is added. With the large dead tree at south end of the triangle felled and a lot more timber from felling work north of Horsted, a stockpile of logs is growing which needs to be dealt with, and Bruce's next photo shows timber being transported to the triangle. A number of such runs were made on Wednesday with many more still needed.

The graded spoil heap in the triangle - Bruce Healey - 5 April 2017 Transporting timber - Bruce Healey - 5 April 2017

Now the tamping has been completed, the crossings between platform 2 and 3 need reinstating. The reinstatement of the one at the north end was well under way by the end of Wednesday.

The first photo below shows a Panlock clip. This chair will be inaccessible under one of the foot crossings and rather than using 'normal' clips which can come loose, these lock in place and don't need maintenance. These clips do not grip the track quite as well as the 'normal' clips which is why they are not used everywhere.

The barrow crossing (below) seen being reinstated, obscuring the chair in the previous photo. The anti-slip material will be used right across. The far section is not yet in place, for which a structure is needed to support the boards whilst not interfering with the signal wires.

Panlock clip and chair - Bruce Healey - 5 April 2017 North end barrow crossing reinstatement - Bruce Healey - 5 April 2017

73082 'Camelot' is seen below at the north end of Platform 1 dropping off some wagons and vans. The locomotive also shunted a wagon into the Ardingly spur.

Barbara Watkins' photo from Tuesday shows the boards on the signal at the south end of platform 3/4 which are being replaced. Two more signals need to be similarly repaired.

Camelot shunting - Bruce Healey - 5 April 2017 Signal boards - Barbara Watkins - 4 April 2017

With 2-road connected at the end of March for the diesel gala, all that was required to get platform 2 usable was some horizontal alignment and tamping the track up to the correct level. It was purposely laid slightly low because tampers can lift track but they cannot lower it. Ballast can get kicked up or dragged up slightly during the sleeper laying and rail insertion processes so it is bulldozed, levelled with the aid of a laser and vibrated 50mm low to allow for this.

The tamper ran through three times, first with a partial lift mainly to fill the voids under the sleepers, secondly to bring it all up to the correct level and thirdly to remove any final dips and to add an extra 10mm to allow for settlement when traffic starts running over it. Brian Lacey's photo on the right from Saturday shows the nicely finished work, taken from the passing train.

Prior to the tamper operation there had been a "manual alignment" when the rail was literally pushed horizontally until it was in the correct position by the roadrailer sitting on 3-road. The jib pushed or pulled with a small lift action while one person stood astride the rail directing the driver and checking for the correct measurements from the platform edge. Platform 3 has a quite straight edge but platform 2 varies nearly 100mm over its length with the southern end curved back very slightly. Presumably this is because the road 2 formation primarily went to Ardingly originally. Therefore a slight "by eye" curve was put in starting before the platform end so that the rail face stayed within the correct tolerances. (730mm, plus 15, minus 0) This is not yet perfect and some slight adjustments was intended to be made on Monday earlier this week, right from the existing track at the points at the north end through to the Ardingly points at the south end.

The alignment and tamping was completed sufficiently on Tuesday evening to open the road for traffic again. Road 3 received another tamp on Wednesday but the last tamp to give the final correct line could not be carried out as the lining wire has not yet been replaced on the tamper. This will be done after Easter when the track has settled.

The picture below taken from the centre of 3-road shows how good the alignment can be made by just pushing it around with the roadrailer and also show road 2 before being tamped with the hump over the subway being obvious. It shows the difference even an old tamper can make.

Comparison between the tamped 3-road and 2-road before tamping - Jon Goff - 4 April 2017 Camelot on a test run in Platform 2 - Bruce Healey - 5 April 2017
Reinstated north end foot crossing - Barbara Watkins - 7 April 2017
The photo on the right by Barbara Watkins shows the reinstated foot crossing at the north end of the platforms completed last Friday. This can easily be lifted and replaced for maintenance unlike the previous one. It also now sports a very good glass fibre/resin/grit anti-slip surface, with which we intend to cover all wooden walkways as wood can be very slippery when wet.

Since the wires to the signal gantry at the south end of platforms 3 and 4 were reconnected there has been a slight problem with their operation. This was found to be due to the poor state of the timber platform to which the pulley wheels were attached. All the signals at Horsted are in a program to have their planking replaced but not many have yet received the new woodwork. The photo below shows Matt Crawford suitably adorned with the appropriate harness, hard hat, etc. on the gantry with one plank removed and on his phone (there is always someone trying to phone him) "trying to get a good signal!"

The middle photo is of one person very well known around the railway, being a driver and part of the infrastructure gang: John Padgham. He has a cold and nurse Barbara Watkins has given him inhalant in a bowl of hot water and a towel. A caption is still required for this picture...

The final photo shows the signalman's crossing at the south end, partially re-instated as of Monday, which should be completed by now.

Matt trying to get a good signal - Jon Goff - 7 April 2017 Caption required! - Jon Goff - 7 April 2017 Work in progress on Signalman's crossing - Jon Goff - 10 April 2017

January to mid February 2017: Replacement of Track at Holywell

Relaid track near Holywell - Mike Hopps - 10 January 2017
The month-plus line closure in early 2017 was to enable the relaying of about 1/3 mile of life-expired track near Holywell, to the south of Horsted Keynes.

Mike Hopps provides these four photos showing fantastic progress in just the first week. The Infrastructure gang had been out in force and at close of play on Tuesday 10 January, 10 new panels had been laid, as seen on the right.

The job was going well so far and was on target time-wise. The photos below show the old track being lifted out, new sleepers laid on the re-graded trackbed, and rails being installed.

Old track being lifted out near Holywell - Mike Hopps - 10 January 2017 Sleepers laid near Holywell - Mike Hopps - 10 January 2017 New rails being fitted near Holywell - Mike Hopps - 10 January 2017

Preparing for embankment stabilisation - Bruce Healey - 24 January 2017 At close of play on 25th January the new rail was almost all in. Of the 29 track panels, 28 were in and the last one, the transition panel was half in. The transition panel consists of a half panel of flat bottomed rail laid on 11 concrete sleepers and 3 wooden ones which connects to a half panel of bullhead all laid on wooden sleepers.

This last northern part of the relaying has always suffered from the embankment bellying out on the west side. The side of the embankment has been excavated and successive layers of plastic mesh and compacted soil put down to stabilise the formation.

While it might have looked like the work was almost complete, there was still a lot more to do. The track needed slewing to its final position and about a third needed clipping up. The whole section would then be ballasted and tamped. Then there was the breaking down and removal of the old track panels, clearing the site and finally scraping out the existing ditch on the east side. We were well ahead of schedule and confident of an early completion.

We would like to thank the Saturday and Sunday gangs for their help and in particular the 9F club who energetically and competently assist in clipping up the track.

The photos from Bruce Healey show:

  • Above right: The mesh for the embankment stabilisation being cut while the digger collects soil ready for compacting.
  • Below: New unballasted track with the orange insulators and pandrol clips which locate the track on the sleepers laid out ready.
  • Sleepers being moved into position. Some of the replaced bullhead track can be seen in the background. The yellow marks indicate the correct positions for the sleeper ends.
  • The end of the flat bottomed part of the transition panel is in the foreground and sleepers are being laid for the bullhead part. The track in the background under the digger is not being replaced.

New track laid - Bruce Healey - 24 January 2017 Sleepers being moved - Bruce Healey - 24 January 2017 Transition panel - Bruce Healey - 24 January 2017

New formation at Holywell, looking south - Bruce Healey - 8 February 2017 On 2nd February, the new track was being tamped. There have been 10 ballast drops already and another 2 will be required.

If the relaying of a third of a mile of track does not sound a lot, the following items were used:

  • 29 track panels each 60 feet in length
  • 795 concrete sleepers
  • 17 wooden sleepers
  • 1590 insulating pads
  • 3180 'biscuits' (which go between a pandrol clip and a concrete sleeper)
  • 3200 pandrols clips
  • 240 holes drilled for fishplate bolts
  • 62 fishplates sets
  • 248 bolts
  • 28 bullhead keys

New formation at Holywell, looking north - Bruce Healey - 8 February 2017

By the beginning of the final week of work, the new track at Holywell had been aligned, ballasted and tamped. The track now has the correct cant for 25mph operation. The week was occupied with removing the replaced track panels and completing clearance of the site. The photos above and left show the restored track, looking in either direction, as of 8 February. Work was also started that week on lifting the track for re-laying in 3-road at Horsted Keynes, but that's another story.

November 2016: Replacement of No.5 Point north of Horsted Keynes

Q-class and the new point - Stuart Pay - 3 November 2016
Stuart Pay's photo shows the Q-class shunting ballast wagons at Horsted Keynes on 3 November, alongside the new "No.5" point which was pre-assembled adjacent to the Ardingly Spur. During the course of two weeks of engineering work, this was installed at the north end of Horsted Keynes, beyond Leamland Bridge, at what is known colloquially as "Leamland Junction".

Nine days later, the Sunday Permanent Way gang worked on the relaid trackwork on the Saturday, clipping up the new rails and the S&T were to be found working, in slightly better weather conditions, on the Sunday on the new point. As of Sunday 13 November, as seen in David Chappell's photos below, there were still some track panels to lay to reconnected the line, ballast to drop, and lots of other little jobs just to finish. Note the signal wire running though the base of the relocated S&T location cabinets.

Point motor commissioned - David Chappell - 13 November 2016 Relocated cabinets - David Chappell - 13 November 2016
Point, looking north, Brian & Andy - David Chappell - 13 November 2016 Track awaiting ballast, looking north - David Chappell - 13 November 2016

Sentinel performs a ballast drop - Stuart Pay - 16 November 2016 Stuart Pay's photo on the left shows the Sentinel shunter with the ballast hoppers during a ballast drop on the relaid trackwork to the north of Horsted Keynes.

Our workforce engaged on replacing the Leamland point received some additional help. Through Community Investment work with the Princes Trust, the Charity which assists getting un-employed 18-25 year olds into paid work, Costain have been helping 5 candidates work towards attaining PTS accreditation for use on the National Rail Network.

What better way to help in this undertaking than giving some hands on experience at the Bluebell when they, together with 2 Costain Engineers, visited the railway on Friday 11 November. A confidence boost for the candidates, and an opportunity to improve social skills and provide a constructive contribution to another volunteer led organisation. Ben Coughlan's photo below shows them at Horsted Keynes.

Princes Trust Community Investment - Ben Coughlan - 11 November 2016

13 February 2015: Elimination of "River Slip" plus work on Freshfield Bank
Work on slip completed - Mike Hopps - 3 February 2015

After a possession lasting three weeks (two weekends), we rather hope that River Slip isn't slipping any more, after propping up the embankment with sixteen deep piles and about seventy tons of reinforced concrete.

Mike Hopps' photo on the right shows the completed capping and regraded embankment side/formation.

Quite what we will call it now that it is no longer on the move remains to be seen - perhaps Lindfield Bank is appropriate. Cue for a competition perhaps? Hats off to Matt and his team for a job really well done in the face of the sort of unhelpful weather that we have come to expect when doing jobs like this.

Track laying went according to plan with eleven panels laid, and the tamper finished off the job in time for the line to be reopened to traffic for full working the following Saturday, as seen in Mike's two photos below.

Tamper in Lindfield Wood - Mike Hopps - 3 February 2015 Work at River Slip completed - Mike Hopps - 3 February 2015
Re-ballasting formation on Freshfield Bank - Mike Hopps - 10 February 2015

The next week saw the remainder of the cables connected up by the S&T Department as well as general tidying up, concreting around cable duct chambers, landscaping and some final ballasting near Holywell Bridge.

The tamper was in action again on the following Tuesday, working south from Holywell and on the Wednesday it was busy north of Horsted Keynes.

This week the Infrastructure gang moved to Freshfield Bank where the plan was to relay three sixty-foot panels, connecting up with the sections previously relaid.

Our usual method of formation improvement with a terram / polythene sandwich is applied before ballasting (re-using existing ballast - seen in the photo on the right), levelling and compacting, laying the new panels (photos below) and the tamper was on hand to finish the job afterwards. There has been a speed restriction there, so drivers will be very pleased to see this lifted now we have completed this work.

Sleepers laid out - Mike Hopps - 10 February 2015 Rails ready to go in - Mike Hopps - 10 February 2015

20 January 2015: Work on the "River Slip" in Lindfield Wood

General view of worksite - Mike Hopps - 16 January 2015 This month's engineering work during our 3 week (2 weekends) closure is focussed on rebuilding the formation at "River Slip" in Lindfield Wood, just south of Waterworks/Holywell Bridge. This has always been a problematic area and was pressure grouted in the 1980s, which went some way to arrest the problem, but did not effect a long-term cure. Work had been undertaken nearby, earlier in January, including improved drainage and work on a culvert. Now the line is closed the formation is being dug out, to undertake the work described below. All the photos here are by Mike Hopps, taken last week (as always, click on a photo for an enlargement). That on the right shows the work site; there is plenty of ballast available, since additional ballast had been added over the years to maintain the correct alignment and level as the formation gradually moved.

The slip is being stabilised by layering with plastic grid netting like that which we used on unstable areas of Imberhorne tip. This is being done to the slip depth of about 1.5 metres, now that we have found the slip plane. Rather than digging out the bank completely, the decision has been made to pile the foot of the slip and cast a retaining wall to link all the piles together. Sixteen 500mm diameter piles, 4.5 metres deep and each reinforced with an old rail, are spaced about 2 metres apart. Another old rail is set in front of the rails in the piling and the whole arrangement is encased in concrete using the same shuttering that we recently used for the culvert headwall near Holywell.

The sequence of photos below shows the first eight piles, being linked together, then the process will be repeated for the next eight to complete the job before the ground behind is compacted ready for relaying to take place. Other topside drains have also been cleared and new drainage will be linked to those as soon as the polythene/ terram sandwich is laid. Finally, new S&T ducting will be laid to replace the old concrete troughs which are in a poor state of repair.

First eight piles - Mike Hopps - 16 January 2015 Piles linked and shuttering constructed - Mike Hopps - 16 January 2015

December 2014: Operation Undercover Phase 4

Proposed shed - with roof only - Matthew Cousins Following the highly successful Cash for Cover appeal, focus is now on planning the carriage shed construction. Initial work will be directed at clearing the site, a mammoth task in itself. Existing sheds, offices and storage all have to be relocated and some temporary facilities provided. Important though the new shed is, it's equally important the day to day business of repairing and maintaining our carriage fleet is able to carry on unhindered.

All this is likely to take some months meaning it will be well into 2015 before the construction phase gets under way. Meantime there is much to do behind the scenes to award contracts and mobilise internal resources to carry out enabling work. The timely effort to commence foundation work this Autumn has given the project a useful kick start when some early knowledge of ground conditions were captured and will help the tendering process.

In case any readers wonder why we are not ready to start construction now, it was in fact a conscious decision of the September steering group meeting to wait the funding appeal outcome before attempting to plan the project any further. Sufficient funds needed to be in the bank to justify mobilisation against a plan that would deliver something tangible, as it happens the results were all that we could wish for and a shed will emerge in due course to match the appeal objective.

A fuller report will appear in the next Bluebell News.

Chris White, Infrastructure Director
4 December 2014

16 October 2014: Opening of the first part of the "Above Workshop Facility"

New Loco Lobby - Mike Hopps - 16 October 2014 View of Loco workshop - Mike Hopps - 16 October 2014

View of Loco yard - Mike Hopps - 16 October 2014 Mike Hopps' photos illustrate the opening of the new loco lobby which took place on Thursday 16 October. The structure of the "Above Workshop Facility" had been completed as the final part of the HLF-funded Operation Undercover Phase 3 project at Sheffield Park, but the fit-out had to await the availability of funding.

The first phase of the fit-out has included the loco department facilities; toilets, showers and the new lobby. It also provides these views, one over the locomotive workshop, where the boiler of the Maunsell Q-class is seen, along with the SECR H-class which is currently receiving a few new stays and its annual boiler exam, and a fine view over the loco yard. The second phase will eventually cover the fit-out of offices and a classroom.

The photo below shows the assembled members of the department, with Chairmen Roy Watts MBE and Dick Fearn, and special guest Chris Green.

Opening of the new Loco Lobby - Mike Hopps - 16 October 2014

22 March 2014: New No.23 points at Horsted Keynes

The new points and re-aligned approach to platforms at Horsted Keynes - Brian Lacey - 22 March 2014

Brian Lacey's photo on the right shows the completed work, with the new points and the re-aligned and improved approach to platforms 2 and 4 at Horsted Keynes.

On Sunday 2 March the final work was done by the Alf Brown Gang to complete the replacement Horsted Keynes Down Advance Starter, as seen in Robert Hayward's photo below. The work to replace the No.23B points at Horsted Keynes is also seen, as of Wednesday evening, 5 March (photo from Alan Dengate). The following weekend, whilst trains ran over the new point, it was clipped and padlocked, and as a consequence trains passed through platforms 2 and 3 at Horsted Keynes.

Finally we see the U-class No.1638 with the first service to run over the new No.23B points at Horsted Keynes on 8 March (Richard Salmon). The new point was fully commissioned over the next week.

Click on any photo for an enlargement.

Horsted Down Advance Starter - Robert Hayward 2 March 2014, and No.23B points - Alan Dengate 5 March 2014 U-class with the first service over the new No.23B points at Horsted Keynes - Richard Salmon - 8 March 2014

24 February 2014: Freshfield Bank relaying and new points at Horsted Keynes

Tracklaying on Freshfield Bank - Pat Plane - 22 January 2014 Ballast wagons on trackwork - Mike Hopps - 31 January 2014

Work preparing the new points, as the H-class departs from Horsted Keynes - Patrick Plane - 17 February 2014 The first big job of the year, relaying a quarter of a mile of plain line on Freshfield Bank, was successfully completed on time and handed back to the operators ready for the February half term service. This has used all-new (bought-in) rail and stone, along with concrete sleepers from stock, and has enabled this long running temporary speed restriction to be lifted. Like so many line side tasks these days, the weather once again did its best to make for 'mission impossible' but it goes without saying that deadlines still had to be met and with the usual perseverance from Matt and his team, all went to plan.

Attention has now turned to the final preparation for renewal of Horsted Keynes 23 points in early March. This piece of fairly complex point-work has been prefabricated complete with signalling attachments and will be lifted into place in 3 sections with minimum disruption to traffic. It has been possible to use materials left over from the NEP project which has shaved some £15,000 off the cost of this work, although these are flat bottom and not usually deployed within station limits they are out of sight of the platform ends and so in the circumstances dispensation was granted for their use. Once completed all temporary speed restrictions will have been removed from the single line and Infrastructure will have done its bit towards the 2014 time keeping initiative.

With these two big track work jobs out of the way, a period of more routine tasks will follow before the winter possessions in November.

Chris White, Infrastructure Director

The first photo above was taken on 22 January and shows the amount of plant etc. needed for the quarter of a mile of track-relaying on Freshfield Bank. Before this photo was taken, the old track was removed, the formation completely excavated down to bare earth, geo-textile fabric laid, and the whole formation sub-ballasted and levelled. A pre-assembled 30-foot track panel is seen been brought down to the site ready for laying once the track alignment has been checked. After the photo was taken, all the temporary 30 foot rails were removed and replaced by brand new 60 foot rail and the two ends of the railway rejoined. (Pat Plane)

The second photo above shows the 09 with the ballast wagons being loaded from the track-side stockpile, on 31 January. With the top-ballasting done, the track was tamped the following week, whilst the volunteers, staff and contractors moved to Horsted Keynes to work on No.23 points, which are the ones right at the South end of the station. (Mike Hopps)

Patrick Plane's photo to the right, taken on 17 February, illustrates the work which is well advanced in pre-assembling the new points at Horsted Keynes, as the H-class departs for Sheffield Park.

Yoshi Hashida's photo below shows the visiting LMS Black 5 No.45231 with its train climbing the newly re-laid section of Freshfield Bank on Sunday 16 February.

Black 5 No.45231 with its train climbing Freshfield Bank - Yoshi Hashida - 16 February 2014

12 January 2014: Weather, Trees and Slips

Slip near tunnel - 31 December 2013 Not surprisingly the main focus of attention through December and into this year has been weather related. Numerous trees have come down all over the line, several losses of power supply impacting on signalling, roofs damaged, and flooding all of which have resulted in resources moving from one crisis to another. Notably the big show stopper, literally, has been the two slips just south of the tunnel which closed the line between Horsted and East Grinstead just before Christmas.

This could not have happened at a more inconvenient time, not only did it impact on the train service but disrupted preparatory work for the forthcoming Freshfield Bank relaying programme. This resulted in some rapid rescheduling and diversion of resources to address the slips and reopen the line to traffic as No.1 priority whilst still maintaining the relaying programme.

Slip site - Pat Plane - 3 January 2014 A first look at these slips is likely to prompt a "what's all the fuss about" reaction, the volumes of material involved are not great and can be dealt with reasonably easily. A closer inspection will however reveal a number of more worrying concerns, the slips are in fact secondary slips which have occurred along a much bigger slip which in turn follows the downside boundary fence and clearly occurred many years ago. There are different soil strata present and water is flowing off the adjacent fields between these exposed strata causing movement. Consider this slip area as a whole which extends some 100m along the cutting side, which is covered with very tall weak rooted trees, and the continuous volumes of surface water flowing down the cutting face and we have a very high risk of further slips occurring, not to mention the risk to those working on the site or passing trains.

The approach has therefore been twofold, first to stabilise the area making it safe for the passage of trains and secondly to buy time so a design solution can be prepared and finances put in place to effect a permanent repair. The stabilisation work has included large scale felling of trees that were at risk of collapse from further surface water or embankment movement.

Meantime the relaying of Freshfield Bank remains on schedule to commence Monday 13 January, crucial deliveries of stone and rail have been delivered and pre-assembled rail panels are in the process of being ferried to site ready placing in position once the old formation is made good with new drainage and stone.

Chris White, Infrastructure Director

The photos below show:

  • Preparations, which started back in October for the changing of No.23 points at the south end of Horsted Keynes, have included moving the S&T location cabinet to prepare for a small re-alignment of the track, and new drainage put in place (David Chappell).
  • GBRF's No.66737 'Lesia', brought 20 full wagons of ballast in for the forthcoming engineering work, both for the Horsted Keynes pointwork and renewal of track on Freshfield Bank, and is seen leaving with its empty train at Horsted Keynes, photographed by Andrew Strongitharm, early in the morning on 22nd December.

Work at No.23 points - David Chappell - 12 Oct 2013 66737 at Horsted Keynes - Andrew Strongitharm - 22 Dec 2013

19 November 2013: Sheffield Park platforms - Horsted Keynes Signalbox - Friends of HK
Works on the North end of the platform at Sheffield Park - Martin Lawrence - 15 Nov 2013 It has been a period of changing priorities over the last few weeks. Relaying 23 points at Horsted Keynes has been moved to January for operating reasons resulting in a shift of resources to Sheffield Park platform repairs. In reality these repairs have turned into something more significant. Excavation work revealed lots of "quick fixes" that have required more serious long term attention. The opportunity has also been taken to incorporate canopy and platform drainage pipes, new gas pipes, services duct routes through the platform and ducts which enable the Golden Arrow shore line cables to be hidden under the surface. All in all a general tidy up and much needed passenger safety improvements. (Photo from Martin Lawrence)

Meantime the fairly major repairs to the structure of Horsted Keynes signal box are nearing completion. This is another of those "simple" jobs that has turned out to be something rather more serious and taken a lot longer than planned but the results are looking good. Completion of the roof repairs which involves the acquisition of matching tiles followed by completion of painting will leave the structure well prepared for the winter and indeed years to come. And yes, before I receive any more emails reminding me, we do know this is a listed structure and all the repairs have been undertaken with this in mind using appropriate materials.

Finally talking of Horsted Keynes I would be interested in hearing from anyone who is interested in being part of a Friends of Hossted Keynes group. FOHK does not roll off the tongue but no doubt someone will come up with an acronym that does. Basically we have successful "friends" organisations at Sheffield Park and Kingscote who help with Infrastructure jobs but we could do with one at HK. The idea is the group would undertake general repairs, maintenance and decorating tasks within their comfort zone and help give the station some TLC. Anyone interested please contact me.

Chris White, Infrastructure Director

The photos below show:

  • 2nd October - the arrival at Horsted Keynes of the replacement bridge spans for Sheriff Mill Viaduct (Martin Lawrence). These have been obtained now because they were available, and are very suitable for our long-term purposes, and not because we are in a position to go charging off Westwards immediately! There's a lot of other work to do, and fundrising for vital and urgent projects like Keep Up The Pressure, before we can think about raising the funds to start major work on the Ardingly Branch.
  • Horsted Keynes signalbox with scaffolding (Derek Hayward - 22 September).
  • Taken on the overnight shift, around midnight on 19th September: work in progress adding steel lining to part of the tunnel roof to prevent the build-up of icicles in the winter (Pat Plane).

Ex-M50 bridge sections arrive - Martin Lawrence - 2 Oct 2013 Horsted signalbox with scaffolding - Derek Hayward - 22 Sept 2013 Overnight work in the tunnel - Pat Plane - 19 Sept 2013

15 September 2013: Tunnel ice prevention - First incoming steam special - Planning at Kingscote
Work continues on the tunnel ice prevention project which is expected to complete this month. The recent noticeable drop in temperature means even worse conditions in the tunnel itself with cold winds making their presence felt which in turn increases the need for 'warm up' breaks. Because of the unusual nature of this task it is being recorded by the same film crew that produced the extension DVDs so look out for release of 'Inside the Tunnel'. Tornado on Bluebell metals at East Grinstead - John Sandys - 10 September 2013

The arrival on 10th Septmeber of the first steam hauled special from the main line with the famous Tornado in charge (photo by John Sandys, showing Tornado easing on Bluebell metals at East Grinstead) has of course been a further significant milestone for the Bluebell, following the opening of the extension back in March. What may be less obvious is the preparatory work that has progressed quietly in the background for some weeks to enable this to happen both on Network Rail and Bluebell. Special route clearance was required between South Croydon and East Grinstead with numerous speed restrictions to lessen the impact of its 22 ton axle loads on structures. Platform and bridge clearances had to be compared against the locomotives dimensions and our own Bridge Engineer had to undertake a special exercise to confirm that the loco could run on the Bluebell, and through which platforms etc. So the message is when a special like this runs it involves considerable preparatory work and liaison between departments to make sure everything runs smoothly and of course safely.

Meantime planning is also underway on another outstanding NEP action, resolution of the Kingscote issues following its end of use as a terminus. This is proving quite complicated to close out for a number of reasons but meantime it is recognised the situation facing our customers and staff is not acceptable long term as it is both confusing and difficult to administer. We still plan to finalise the crucial sale of tickets and refreshments along with use of the picnic area by the end of this year but this is heavily dependant on agreeing a way forward with all stakeholders.

Chris White, Infrastructure Director

29 August 2013: Work starts on ice shield in the Tunnel

As with all major projects, on the Northern Extension Project (NEP) it is taking time to close out the final actions, but the end is just about in sight now. The two big outstanding tasks, finishing off the cutting surface and getting the water column operational in time for Autumn Tints are looking good. Steelwork delivered for tunnel ice shield - David Chappell - 19 July 2013

Meanwhile a great deal of time and effort is focussed on fitting ice prevention measures in the tunnel to make sure any really cold weather does not in future prevent trains operating over the whole railway. Having opened the extended railway it would not look good if we cannot run trains in and out of East Grinstead. (David Chappell's photo shows the structural steelwork supports for the ice shield, which were delivered in July).

There are four main areas where heavy water penetration can cause ice build up on the rail head and tunnel fabric. To prevent this happening 5m sections of curved corrugated sheeting are being fitted to the roof in order to deflect water away from the track. Sounds simple but in order to ensure the solution is both safe and fit for purpose, the metalwork being used to support the sheeting is substantial to say the least. Each supporting bracket is secured by 4 stainless steel bolts that are grouted into the brickwork to a depth of 0.4m. and so far 40 brackets have been fitted.

The work commences each evening after the train service finishes and continues through the night until around 0500 each morning. Long tiring shifts in a cold, wet, hostile environment. The team is made up of 3 contract staff and 2 or 3 volunteers, led of course by Manager Matt Crawford, so it goes to prove the Infrastructure gang are not just good at building railways but will take on all sorts of challenges.

After that job is completed around the end of September we must get on with renewal of No.23 points at Hortsed Keyens before the Santa service commences, and after that, well the list goes on and on.

Chris White, Infrastructure Director

5 June 2013: Completing work on the extension
33103 passes the Wednesday gang near Ingwersons - Martin Lawrence - 26  June 2013 Work on closing outstanding NEP jobs continues with the recent dry weather helping us make good progress on clearing away the residual capping material from the cutting site. This is being achieved by means of a regular diesel hauled rake of wagons moving the spoil to other sites on the railway where embankment strengthening is required (as seen in Martin Lawrence's photo on the right). Once this is finished the remaining cutting surface can then be levelled off and grassed. What has proved to be the most challenging part of the whole extension project can then be considered finally complete.

At East Grinstead station the ticket office canopy is complete and the water tank is now safely planted on the newly completed brickwork (see John Sandys' photos below). It just remains for the water column and associated plumbing to be installed. New close board fencing is being installed between gates 1 and 2 which replaces the dilapidated chain link fence and also discourages onlookers from standing in Firbank Way to watch the trains and putting themselves at risk from road traffic in the process. This together with the new main gate 'Bluebell Railway' entrance sign and other finishing touches helps bring together the whole station appearance for approaching visitors.

There are lots more jobs to cross off the completion list but overall good progress is being made. Meantime focus is turning towards other jobs further south including ice prevention measures in the tunnel before winter returns and relaying No.23 points at Horsted Keynes. For those who may not be aware of the significance of these points, they control the south end throat to the station and currently have a 5mph speed restriction imposed over them pending renewal. Apart from being in a difficult place for drivers to recover from when travelling north, there is a impact on train timings which needs rectifying. Because of the critical role of these points, trains cannot arrive or depart from the station southwards without them, the planning process involves preassembly on site with a short possession to lift out the old fit the new without disruption to trains, a new approach for us and if successful then it will be developed for other similar renewals.

Chris White, Infrastructure Director

Water Tower externally completed - John Sandys - 31 August 2013 New canopy and gold painted lettering at the entrance to East Grinstead - John Sandys - 15 July 2013

Earlier reports on the Northern Extension Project
Earlier Permanent Way and Lineside News.

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