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News reports on Infrastructure projects
across the Railway

Archive of Infrastucture News: 2013-14 - 2015-16 - 2017
Archive Reports: Northern Extension Project - Permanent Way and Lineside News (2007-2011) - P-Way News (2002-4)

18 August 2019:  OP4 - Heritage Skills Centre

Progress with walls for the HSC - Barry Luck - 16 August 2019


OP4 update 18 August 2019 (PDF)


OP4 update with thanks again to Barry Luck, covering work on the walls for the Heritage Skills Centre, and further trackwork in the yard.

3 July 2019:  OP4 - Horsted Keynes Carriage Shed extension

OP4 update 3 July 2019 (PDF) A progress report is available thanks to Barry Luck, our OP4 Project Manager (Infrastructure), for the end of June for our OP4 - Horsted Keynes Carriage Shed extension . The photos below, showing the brickwork on the wall to the north of the Heritage Skills Centre, and the new pointwork in the yard at Horsted Keynes, are taken from that report.

Shed wall adjacent to HSC - Barry Luck - 27 June 2019 Pointwork in Horsted Keynes yard - Barry Luck - 25 June 2019

25 June 2019:  D road reconnected at Horsted Keynes

The photos below, by Stuart Moon, show the new track in place into D road of the carriage works, enabling the paint shop to be shunted, and the point which will give access to B-road in the old shed. This follows on from last week's report which includes track plans of the layout of the down yard at Horsted Keynes.

New track laid into the paint shop at Horsted Keynes - Stuart Moon - 25 June 2019 New pointwork laid for B- and D-roads at Horsted Keynes - Stuart Moon - 25 June 2019

21 June 2019:  OP4 trackwork, including a three way point
Track layout for OP4


Infrastructure update 21 June 2019 (PDF)


Infrastructure News update with thanks to Jon Goff, covering work in the late May and the first half of June on laying in the 3-way point in the down yard at Horsted Keynes, which is part of the project to relay the yard, and at the same time give access to the new OP4 carriage maintenance and storage shed.

The photos below show the trackbeds into D and E roads (the main works road and the maintenance road) having been dug out, prepared, ballasted and levelled, and a couple of weeks later, the 3-way (tandem) point laid and the maintenance road again connected to the station (now via the new headshunt), on time, avoiding any delay to our carriage maintenance schedule. The report includes track plans of the old and new layouts and aerial photos.

HK yard trackbed leveled into E-road - Jon Goff - 31 May 2019 HK yard track laid into E-road - Jon Goff - 14 June 2019

31 May 2019:  OP4 - Horsted Keynes Carriage Shed extension

OP4 News, with an update of work on the carriage shed extension at Horsted Keynes, where the walls are now being prepared for cladding, following the successful fundraising appeal last Autumn.

OP4 update 31 May 2019 (PDF)

22 May 2019:  OP4 - Horsted Keynes Carriage Shed extension

Completion of dwarf wall, West side of OP4 - Barry Luck - 7 May 2019 The Infrastructure team are making good progress building the dwarf brick wall around the base of the carriage shed, having completed the western (photo right), southern and eastern faces. They are now working on the dwarf wall around the HSC, and preparations for casting the floor slab of the HSC (currently programmed for late June).

The contract for the cladding of the shed has been let to Robin Stevenson LLP, and work has started on the western wall of the maintenance road. The final appearance of the shed will match the yellow/green reverse profile sheeting of the existing C&W works. Reverse profile insulated cladding is not available, so the cladding will necessarily be in two layers - firstly the insulated cladding sheets, and secondly a cosmetic face to match the appearance of the existing shed.

The Infrastructure team will shortly be moving onto tracklaying, relaying the connection from the running line into the yard. This is a major piece of work expected to take about three weeks to complete, and represents a significant step forward, providing full connectivity to roads C, E, F and G (and eventually roads B, H & J).

       Barry Luck OP4 Project Manager (Infrastructure)

Stub wall being constructed around the Heritage Skills Centre - Barry Luck - 16 May 2019 Heritage Skills Centre ready for construction of the floor slab - Barry Luck - 16 May 2019

Above: the start of the dwarf wall around the Heritage Skills Centre, and the preparations for the casting of the HSC ground floor slab.
Below: the support rails for the cladding on the west side of the new shed.

Support rails for the cladding going on the west wall of thge new shed - Barry Luck - 16 May 2019 Support rails for the cladding going on the west wall of thge new shed - Barry Luck - 16 May 2019

21 May 2019:  260 yards of track replaced in one day!

Infrastructure News update with thanks to Jon Goff, covering the relaying of 260 yards of track on Freshfield Bank in 24 hours.

Infrastructure update 21 May 2019 (PDF)

12 May 2019:  New locomotive maintenance shed at Sheffield Park

30541 in the new maintenance shed at Sheffield Park - Jon Elphick - 12 May 2019



Jon Elphic's photo shows the Q-class over the washout pit within the new locomotive maintenance shed at Sheffield Park, built thanks to funding from the NLHF as part of our ASH (Accessible Steam Heritage) project. The staff are already feeling the benefit of the cover for washouts, this being the third undertaken in the shell of the building.

4 April 2019:  OP4 update on the Shed Extension at Horsted Keynes

Two photos below from OP4 Project Manager Barry Luck show the dwarf wall on the western side of the shed at Horsted Keynes almost complete, and the start of work on the access steps on the eastern side, this work being done by our infrastructure volunteers.

The contractors are returning to site soon to clad the main parts of the walls around the western, eastern and northern sides of the shed and the Heritage Skills Centre, the money for which was raised thanks to our well-supported Double Donations Dash fundraising appeal last Autumn.

Stub wall on western side of OP4 shed - Barry Luck - 4 April 2019 Start of work on steps on eastern side of OP4 shed - Barry Luck - 4 April 2019

20 March 2019:  OP4 (Horsted Keynes) and points at East Grinstead

New hanging baskets - Bruce Healey - 20 March 2019

Infrastructure update 20 March 2019 (PDF)
Infrastructure update, with news of work on the carriage shed extension at Horsted Keynes (OP4), work on a set of points at East Grinstead, and a great example of "upcycling" evident outside the infrastructure lobby at Horsted Keynes, as also shown in Bruce Healey's photo on the right.

14 March 2019:  Rails into the new loco maintenance shed

The infrastructure team have been laying yet more track, but this time only a very short section into the new loco maintenance shed at Sheffield Park. The frame of the shed is complete and the cladding now in place on both the east and west walls. The request to infrastructure turned out to be a little premature as not all of the track bed was ready for track although the team did manage to get about 2/3 of the required track laid last Friday. It will be finished ASAP though so that the contractor can concrete the track in place.

Unfortunately, due to the position and alignment of the west wall, the new track position will not enable reconnection to the tram road leading out to the top carpark without breaking out a lot of concrete and relaying the curve from a long way back. This is too big a job and expensive for now.

The photos below from Jon Goff show the new track progressing through the new loco maintenance shed, yet to be finally aligned.

Track being laid into new loco maintenance shed - Jon Goff - 8 March 2019 Track being laid into new loco maintenance shed - Jon Goff - 8 March 2019

8 March 2019:  7B points at Sheffield Park - Part 2

Track laid back on new crossing timbers - Jon Goff - 6 March 2019

7B points at Sheffield Park - Part 2 (PDF)
In November, due to time restrictions, only the centre section of 7B points had its timbers replaced as seen on the Infrastructure News reports for 24 & 29 November 2018.

The timbers under the crossing nose were also life-expired, so this was corrected before the full weekday running season began. In addition the adjacent track panel from road 1 which has been slowly sinking into the mud was lifted and drainage put in.

You can read more in Jon Goff's report, here. His photo on the right shows everything connected up, with the new crossing timbers (and unseen beneath, new drainage and waterproof layer), but as of then still to be fully ballasted.

4 March 2019:  Winter 2019 track relaying - full report

Track being relaid - Jon Goff - 8 January 2019

Winter Track Replacement Report 2019 (PDF)
Jon Goff provides a detailed report on this winter's track relaying projects (available to view/download as a PDF). The photo was taken at close of play on Tuesday 8 January, and shows a bit of all the activities. Sleepers in stacks (on old wooden sleepers) at the correct intervals within reach of the jib of the digger used to lift them, rails also ready to be lifted into position, the digger parked up for the evening, jokingly renamed "Norman" after one of the team, the smooth track bed with the line marked, the last group of four sleepers laid with the spacing former in position, the old track panels lifted out to the side, the white reference posts, the old occupation bridge at the half way point and most important of all, the blue mobile mess room where Barbara makes tea and bacon butties and to where the team are heading.

Jon's report also lists all the recent track relaying undertaken so far, on the roughly 4.5 miles between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes, where the formation, under-track drainage, and even some rails, date back over 100 years, and were therefore due for renewal. This table repeats that information.

Total amount of new track laid between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes:

Year No of panels Where Yards
2011 13 Top of Freshfield Bank 260
2014 22 Freshfield Bank 440
2015 11 River slip 220
2015 3 Freshfield Bank 60
2017 29 Holywell / Waterworks 580
2017 10 Overnight on Freshfield Bank 200
2017 6 Poleay Bridge / points at north end of SP 120
2018 11 Keysford Lane / Caseford Bridge 220
2018 55 Rock Cutting / Tremains 1100
2019 44.5 Monteswood Lane to Sloop Bridge 890
2019 13 North of Caseford Bridge 260
Total 217.5 4350
Total Miles Re-laid 2.47

28 February 2019:  Tremains foot crossing

A small update, with photos below, thanks to Bruce Healey and Matt Crawford. Infrastructure have been working on the west side of Tremains crossing this week. At close of play yesterday the work is nearly complete with only a few more fence wires to put in which was expected to happen today. There will have to be a later visit to retension the fence wires.

Tremains crossing work - Bruce Healey - 27 February 2019 Tremains crossing work - Bruce Healey - 27 February 2019

20 February 2019:  Lineside management - the Wednesday Gang

847 heads south past the lineside gang - Brian Kidman - 20 February 2019 For a number of years the Wednesday Gang has been split into 2 teams.

WG(South) is currently working in the Lindfield Wood area, while, in recent weeks, WG(North) has been working between Black Hut and the south entrance to the tunnel.

Brian Kidman's photo shows the 12.30 train from East Grinstead passing the gang as it exits the tunnel.

7 February 2019:  Track relaying: North of Caseford Bridge

Bruce Healey and Jon Goff provide the three photos below, taken yesterday, showing the additional section of relaying which we have been able to undertake, started on Monday morning, thanks both to the main winter relaying having been finished in good time, and it having come in under budget, allowing the funding (from The Bluebell Railway Trust) to stretch further too.

Ready for a day's work - Bruce Healey - 6 February 2019 Not quite finished for the day - Bruce Healey - 6 February 2019
Andy Palmer cutting the old rail to length - Jon Goff - 6 February 2019

The first photo above shows the state of play on Wednesday 6 February before 9am in the early morning gloom. The second was taken at about 4.30pm, in the failing light, and shows the line nearly joined up again.

Jon Goff's photo on the right shows Andy Palmer cutting in the closing section of old bullhead rail, as it was starting to get dark. After the last photos were taken, and in near darkness, the track was joined.

So in all, over just three days, the old track had been removed, plastic and Terram laid in the cutting section, ballast dozed even and wacked down smooth, all 13 panels of new flat bottom rail laid and a closing half panel of bullhead cut in. Despite the last joint being only fly-plated, and there still being some clipping up to do, the diesel, the ballast train, and the tamper can now run over the job, and ballasting will start on Thursday morning (i.e. today). This renewed section extends northwards from the Waterworks section which was laid in the snow last winter.

1 February 2019:  Update on the current track renewal work

Following the completion of the track replacement between Sloop Bridge and Monteswood Lane Bridge we were fortunate to have the use of a big main line tamper (photop below, Jon Goff) while the tamper we normally use was undergoing maintenance. Balfour Beatty occasionally carries out operator training at the Bluebell, and in return we get some tamping done for free; a good arrangement for both parties. The tamper has on board computers which calculate the best position for the rails after measuring their existing positions and then lifts, push sideways, cants and tamps them accordingly. There is a tiny bit left to finish on the south side of Sloop Bridge, but all the rest of the half-mile stretch relayed over the last month is completely finished.

The next job, starting immediately, is 13 panels north of Caseford Bridge which almost gets us on to the straight up to Three Arch Bridge. It is pegged and has materials positioned ready and waiting, as seen in Jon's second photo below.

Balfour Beatty Tamper at Horsted Keynes - Jon Goff - 1 February 2019 Next section to be relaid, north from Caseford Bridge - Jon Goff - 25 January 2019

23 January 2019:  Track relaying - so close

Less than 30 feet to go - Jon Goff - 18 January 2019 Jon Goff's photo shows the position at the end of play on Friday 18 January, when there was less than 30 feet to go to connect the newly relayed track to that relaid a year ago at Monteswood Bridge. The sun was getting too low in the sky to get the last pair of rails in before the weekend. The last pair of rails always take a little extra time and fiddle to get right with precise measurements and cutting of the rails, and there is always a bit of extra fiddling with the ballast as the last few feet can't be bulldozed and wacked like the rest. However the clear up has started with some of the plant already transported back to Horsted.

We had two 30-foot rails left over from the Waterworks relay last year which mean we didn't have to cut into new 60 foot rails. This completes half a mile, which was laid in approximately 80 hours with an average of 8-9 people each day. Much of it has been funded from bequests left to The Bluebell Railway Trust by generous late members.

10 January 2019:  Track relaying: Sloop Bridge to Monteswood Lane Bridge

During the January closedown, our infrastructure team are relaying roughly half a mile of track between Sloop Bridge and Monteswood Lane Bridge. Around 44 sixty-foot track panels are being replaced. By close of play on Wednesday 9 January, the new track reached the half way point. We have been greatly helped by the young volunteers of our 9F Club and Network Rail people on "away days". Ballasting and tamping will take place when all of the new track is in place. The unseasonally warm weather and lack of rain have made our task a little easier.

The three photos, all taken yesterday, show:
1) the scrap track panels, cut into 30 foot lengths ready for transfer to Horsted Keynes, moved to the trackside. They will be dismantled there when the track relaying has been completed; this reduces the workload during the closedown period.
2) early in the day, the day's work area with new track can be seen looking south. The long-demolished Town House Farm occupation bridge is just behind the camera position.
3) later in the day, this is a similar shot with the abutment of the former bridge in view and the day's progress is evident.

Trackbed cleared - Bruce Healey - 9 January 2019 Sleepers laid - Bruce Healey - 9 January 2019 Rails in place - Bruce Healey - 9 January 2019

7 December 2018:  Siemens Signalling Award for Sheffield Park
Mark Carne, who was Chief Executive of Network Rail between 2014-2018, presented the 2018 National Railway Heritage Awards at a ceremony held in London on 5 December. Having won the Siemens Signalling Award for the last two years, for the Westinghouse signalling installation at Kingscote, and the resignalling of Horsted Keynes, we were delighted to be presented with the same award this year of the signalling work recently undertaken on the LB&SCR signals at Sheffield Park Station. The Award was presented by Mark Carne and Aiden Stell of Siemens Mobility to Gordon Callander, Andy Swain & Alistair Bruce of our S&T Department, as seen in the photo below.
Q-class signalled in to Sheffield Park at the recently rebuilt inner home signal
Presentation of Siemens Award - 5 December 2018
Siemens Award - 5 December 2018

29 November 2018:  No 7B Point, Sheffield Park

Trackwork repairs completed at Sheffield Park - John Sandys - 29 November 2018 John Sandys' photo taken this morning shows the completed work on No.7 point at the South end of Sheffield Park station.

24 November 2018:  No 7B Point, Sheffield Park

Trackwork repairs at Sheffield Park - John Sandys - 22 November 2018 John Sandys' photo shows the work taking place on No.7 point at the South end of Sheffield Park station, as of Thursday morning, and below, as of today. Some of the timbers under the point, the most critical turnout in the layout at the South end of Sheffield Park, required replacement, and so, as in now standard, the ballast has been excavated to renew the drainage beneath the formation. The original metal-work of the point is going back now the new timbers have been installed, just leaving a huge number of screw holes to be drilled in the new timbers to enable the chairs to be fixed to complete the job in time for the start of Santa services next weekend.

Track maintenance north of Kingscote
In addition, the engineering team have cut a 100-yard-long hole in the track at a location north of Kingscote where engine drivers have complained about a "wobble" in the track. We've put in extra drainage to try and get rid of the excess water under the track bed which has been causing the instability.

24 September 2018:  Work on OP4 continues - onward, and upward
Barry Luck, OP4 Project Manager (Infrastructure)

Stevenson's have now completed the Heritage Skills Centre framework, and as shown in photo below the roof is now on. There is a little bit of tidying up to be done, but apart from that, this phase of the work is now complete. We are continuing to raise funds for the next stage, which will enable us to complete the walls around the Skill Centre and this side of the shed.

In the meantime, the Infrastructure team have been working in the yard, laying trackwork into the shed. Two roads, F and G are complete as seen below, and work has started at the southern end of the salt yard on the next turnout which will lead into roads H and J. Nature is also helping out, with the beginnings plant life showing on the embankment face.

Framework and roof for Heritage Skills Centre, OP4 - Barry Luck - 21 September 2018 Track for F & G roads, OP4 - Barry Luck - 17 September 2018

20 September 2018:  OP4 update

Bruce Healey provides the photos below, which show F and G roads of the new carriage storage shed at Horsted Keynes (OP4) now permanently connected to the new headshunt. The old sidings on the left of the photo are life expired and will be replaced. The second photo is taken from the additional headshunt for H and J roads. The point connects to the F and G road headshunt on the left and the straight-on line will divide again near OP4 for H and J roads.

Track for F & G roads, OP4 - Bruce Healey - 19 September 2018 Points for H & J roads, OP4 - Bruce Healey - 19 September 2018

25 August 2018:  OP4 update
(Barry Luck, Project Manager)

The Infrastructure team have been working hard on the Horsted Keynes carriage shed extension over the past few weeks. The first photo shows the trackwork leading towards the shed - the right-hand to road F, and the left to G. Roads H and J will be served by a parallel road to the left, and road E (the maintenance road) will connect to the pointwork in the middle distance on the right.

The dwarf wall on the eastern side of the shed seen in the next photo is complete as far as we can go for the present, until the Skills Centre framework is complete. The wall above the brickwork will be clad in the same cream and green style as the main existing building.

OP4 trackwork - Barry Luck - 23 August 2018 OP4 brickwork - Barry Luck - 13 August 2018

Stevenson's started work on 30 July on the Skills Centre framework. The final concrete pour at the southern end of the ring-beam was completed on 22 August as seen in the next photo, whilst erection of the steelwork started at the northern end a couple of days earlier on 20 August. The final photo shows progress as at 3pm on 23 August with four sections in place. Just one and a half hours later seven columns and roof joists had been erected.

As soon as the framework is finished, the infrastructure team will move in to reduce the ground level inside the building to its final level. We will then be able to start work on the ground floor, and continue with the dwarf wall around the building.

In the meantime we are continuing to raise funds for cladding along the eastern/northern side of the shed and around the Skill Centre.

OP4 skills centre foundations - Barry Luck - 23 August 2018 OP4 skills centre framework - Barry Luck - 23 August 2018

31 July 2018:  OP4 update
(Barry Luck, Project Manager)

Taking advantage of the continuing dry weather last week we have now been able to start work on the dwarf wall around the eastern side of the shed. We are very fortunate in having skilled and willing bricklayers in our midst. The first photo below shows the early preparatory work, and the first block in place. The second shows the work a few days later, with good progress on the first two panels. The walls here will match the rest of the carriage works - SR green and cream cladding, with a dwarf wall below, and windows comparable with the existing shed.

Preparations for bricklaying - Barry Luck - 24 July 2018 Bricklaying in progress on the South-east corner of OP4 - Barry Luck - 27 July 2018

The pointwork is also being progressed as and when time and materials are available. The photos below show the next set of switch blades being positioned, leading towards the new shed. The trackwork to the left of the second photo, leading towards the station, will all be relayed in due course.

The erection of the steel framework and roof of the Skills Centre is planned to have commenced yesterday.

Trackwork progress looking South - Barry Luck - 24 July 2018 Trackwork progress looking North - Barry Luck - 24 July 2018

19 July 2018:  OP4 update
(Barry Luck, Project Manager)

Point which will give access to OP4 installed - Barry Luck - 13 July 2018 Now that the earthworks to complete the embankment around the edge of the new shed are all but complete, we can turn our minds to the next task - relaying the down yard. The first photo shows one of the turnouts in its final position.

The next photo, below, shows another turnout laid out in the Ardingly triangle. This will be broken down into several component parts before being moved across the line to its final place. Relaying the downyard will cause a degree of disruption to the workings of the C&W maintenance routine, so will require careful planning between C&W and Infrastructure.

The last photo shows the Ardingly triangle being tidied and levelled after the removal of the spoil heap, which has been used to fill the embankment.

Point pre-assembled next to Ardingly Spur - Barry Luck - 13 July 2018 Lowered spoil in Ardingly triangle - Barry Luck - 13 July 2018

5 July 2018:  OP4 update

Barry Luck, the project manager, provides three more photos of the OP4 earthworks.

Levelled excavation for Heritage Skills Centre - Barry Luck - 28 June 2018 On the right we see the east side of the carriage shed with the pile tops partly exposed, where the Heritage Skills Centre will be constructed. The dimples in the soil in the foreground are made by the heavy "sheep's foot" roller used to compact the soil.

The next stage here is to excavate a trench along the line of the piles, and to cast the ring-beam around the perimeter of the Skills Centre, ready for the steel framework to be erected.

The reconstruction and stabilisation of the embankment east of the carriage shed into so-called 'Dingley Dell' is now complete, bar a little bit of tidying up, and filling and re-grading of the top few inches, which will use excavated material from the Skills Centre footings.

The first photo below shows the area immediately south of the carriage shed levelled and compacted ready for track laying into the eastern two roads, H & J. The second photo shows the view from the south.

Levelled and extended shed throat - Barry Luck - 28 June 2018 Embankment stabilisation completed - Barry Luck - 28 June 2018

21 June 2018:  OP4 - Horsted Keynes Shed Extension report
(from Barry Luck, Project Manager)

The embankment stabilisation work for OP4 continues apace. The first two photos show the works on 8th June, and then the same view just 10 days later on 19th June - fantastic progress by Matt and his Infrastructure team.

Embankment stabilisation work - Barry Luck - 8 June 2018 Embankment stabilisation work - Barry Luck - 19 June 2018

Excavation for Heritage Skills Centre - Barry Luck - 19 June 2018

Barry's third photo, on the left, shows the beginning of the excavation in preparation for the erection of the Heritage Skills Centre. The ground here has been lowered by approximately one metre, which gives sufficient height to roof level to accommodate a two-storey structure. The erection of the steelwork is due to start in mid-July.

27 May 2018:  OP4 - Horsted Keynes Shed Extension report

A couple of photos from OP4 Project Manager, Barry Luck, from earlier this week, showing progress on the earthworks at Horsted Keynes. We have dug out the loose uncompacted material in the embankment down to the original ground level, and we are now rebuilding the embankment layer by layer, interleaved with geo-tech mesh, compacting each layer before placing the next.

Building up embankment for OP4 - Barry Luck - 26 May 2018 Building up embankment for OP4 - Barry Luck - 26 May 2018

15 May 2018:  OP4 - associated embankment stabilisation

After an extremely wet spring we have at last had a period of (mostly) dry weather that has dried out the ground and enabled Matt Crawford and his hard-working team to make significant progress on stabilising the embankment to the east of the new OP4 carriage shed at Horsted Keynes.

The most obvious outcome is that the spoil heap south of the shed has now gone, and the embankment at the south end of so-called "Dingley Dell" has been rebuilt, extending the space available in the yard.

The ground south of the shed is "made ground"; that is to say, it is not virgin soil, but it has been built up over many decades by the tipping of loose material. This ground is therefore un-compacted and inherently unstable, slowly slipping into the valley. The removal of the spoil heap has reduced over-burden on the embankment, minimising the risk of further slippage.

To stabilise the embankment, material at the bottom has first to be dug out and then replaced in shallow compacted layers, with reinforced Geotech mesh placed between layers to provide additional stability. Before this work can proceed much further, some small-scale piling is required along the edge of the stream to secure the toe of the embankment. This job is likely to commence within the next week, given continued dry weather.

 Heritage Skills Centre

The materials for the framework of the Heritage Skills Centre (HSC), which is being built alongside the OP4 shed, have been on site since the erection of the main shed structure, but no progress has been possible until the ground in this area has been reduced to finished levels.

H-road laid in OP4 - Bruce Healey - 28 March 2018 With the work on the embankment progressing well, it is anticipated that excavation for the HSC can start before the end of the month, with the spoil being used in the embankment works. Discussions are underway about starting the erection of the framework during June.

The detailed design of the HSC is progressing well, and we are currently awaiting Building Regulations approval before proceeding further. Completion of the design will provide details of finished ground levels to the east of the building, and crucially enable the northern and eastern wall cladding to be specified and detailed.

 OP4 trackwork

Work to relay track in the down yard is not strictly part of OP4. Plans are being prepared and components assembled for a new layout that will provide significant improvements in the yard's operational efficiency and also facilitate the shunting of stock into the new shed.

However, until a significant proportion of the embankment work has been completed, and the ground stabilised, we can't shunt further carriages into the remaining two roads (H and J).

8 March 2018:  Trackwork update

With the long Tremains relay completed in early February, and with spare time before the weekday trains restart at Easter, the opportunity was taken for a further possession to do a bit more track replacement. The plan was to continue the track relay carried out at Holywell early in 2017, continuing further north over Keysford Bridge up to just beyond Caseford Bridge, in a 5-day window. As of yesterday evening, this relay of just over 1/8 mile was nearing completion, the plan having been modified by the weather. All panels of rail are in and connected up with ballasting and tamping due today and Friday, plus a lot of tidying up.

The clearance under Caseford Bridge was a bit tight. During this relay, we have been using the technique of putting new ballast over the old to give us an even firmer trackbed. As this would have compromised clearance even more, the opportunity was taken to lower the trackbed by 4 inches.

The work was due to finish last week but the 'Beast from the East' meant we had to stop where we were on the Tuesday and reconnect the track to ensure it was ready for the weekend service (which as it turned out was cancelled, also due to the weather). An attempt at ballasting on Thursday 1st had to be abandoned because the ballast was too frozen to lay. We started again on Monday 5th to complete the work.

The section now replaced had some particularly worn track, badly dipped joints, a life expired Insulated Block Joint and the alignment of the curved track south of Keysford Bridge was poor.

Laying track in the snow - Jon Goff - 27 February 2018 Caseford Bridge - Bruce Healey - 7 March 2018

1 February 2018:  Very old rail and relay update

Probably the oldest rail on the main line - Jon Goff - 30 January 2018

During the rail relay, the old rail to which we were going to connect at the north end of the job turned out to be so worn that we did not have a step plate big enough to lift the head of the rail up high enough to match up with the new rail. Therefore we had to remove it and replace it with a less worn rail and put a step plate either end to make up the step in two goes.

New Ballast plough bucket - Jon Goff - 30 January 2018

A step plate is a fish plate with a joggle in the middle so that it lifts one rail higher than the other so that the top surface of the two rails match up and there is no "clunk" when a wheel passes over it. They normally come in 1/16" steps up to about 3/8" although we don't have any that big (and you have not been able to buy them for 96-pound rail for many decades).

The two step-plate solution resolved the problem very well and attention turned to the rail that we took out. It turns out that it was probably one of the original 96-pound rails put in when the line was re-railed from 70-pound to 96-pound near the beginning of the last century. The rail was made in 1903, 115 years ago! Is this the oldest we have still in use?

The picture above of the rail shows the age with the rolled notation of "DOWLAIS STEEL - IX-1903 LB&SCRy", which was also found elsewhere on the rail. It has now been used for some of the new fence posts (seen in the 30 January update) protecting the Tremains foot crossing just north of Rock Cutting, with the writing still visible.

The last of the ballast has now been dropped and ploughed ready for the tamper to start (hopefully yesterday). A very wide bucket with miniature rail wheels is a new form of plough that we have not used before and has proved to be a very quick way of smoothing out the ballast, as seen in Jon's second photo.

30 January 2018:  The big track relay project reconnected and first train through

With the reconnection of the track after the laying of 5/8 mile of new track through rock cutting, the first train through literally waited at the south end for the final screw to be put in of Thursday 25th January. It was the diesel shunter pulling the Dukedog and one carriage, taking them to Horsted Keynes and returning with the first ballast train.

Cutting in the last rail - Jon Goff - 24 January 2018 First train - Tim Crump - 29 January 2018

Something in the order of 1000 Tons of ballast needs to be dropped and ploughed into the new track before it can be tamped and with only 20 tons per hopper, that is a lot of train loads.

In addition, as part of the relaying task, the foot crossing at Tremains needs to be replaced and as part of the task, the path from the boundary to the crossing has to be fenced. This path is in a very poor state and so a new one is being cut into the embankment with much bigger and better steps.

First ballast hopper train - Jon Goff - 25 January 2018 New Tremains foot crossing fence - Jon Goff - 29 January 2018

17 January 2018:  Track relaying progress

Two photos below from Bruce Healey, showing progress relaying half a mile of track through Rock Cutting, roughly midway between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes. The first shows the view looking north towards Tremains. The tracklaying had reached there by the end of the day. Our youth group, the 9F Club, are helping with the clipping up.

The second photo shows the process of laying the sleepers. Specially constructed wooden spacers are used to ease the task of getting the sleepers in the correct position as they are lifted into place by the digger.

Sleepers laid out awaiting rails - Bruce Healey - 17 January 2018 Laying the sleepers out - Bruce Healey - 17 January 2018

By the end of Wednesday 17 January about half the remaining distance from Tremains to the end of the section had been cleared, levelled and "whacked" ready to have sleepers put down on Thursday. There's some drainage to lay, in the form of a French drain (stone filled invisible ditch) on one side through a small cutting, and then, once the rails are rejoined, hopefully this week, we have to drop lots of ballast, adjust the track alignment and tamp it smooth, carry out any snagging, relay the foot crossing and add some fencing and then clear up. Still lots to do but the project is pretty well on schedule.

13 January 2018:  Track relaying reaches Rock Cutting

Track relaying in Rock Cutting - Paul Booth - 13 January 2018

During the six-week closedown, until services resume on 10 February, we are re-laying half a mile of track on either side of Rock Cutting, as seen in Paul Booth's panoramic shot, segments of which are presented here.

The work is funded in part by donations through the Tr(ack) Action Appeal. Further donations are urgently required, since further funds raised will in practice enable more track-work to take place over the coming few months since it really does add to the finite pot of money currently available.

Track relaying in Rock Cutting - Paul Booth - 13 January 2018 Track relaying in Rock Cutting - Paul Booth - 13 January 2018

 Preparations for relaying track through Rock Cutting

The big January/February job, funded through the Tr(ack) Action Appeal and the November Track Trek, is the relaying of half a mile of track, from Monteswood Lane Bridge through Rock Cutting to beyond Tremains Foot Crossing (see location map). These two photos from Jon Goff show rails and sleepers being delivered to site one morning just before Christmas, in preparation for the forthcoming work.

Morning Sleepers - Jon Goff - December 2017 Offloading sleepers - Jon Goff - December 2017

Morning Sleepers - looking South towards Rock Cutting
Offloading sleepers

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