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Overnight track relaying, and OP4
Report with thanks to Jon Goff.
A third line to Ardingly? Or preparation for something else?
Following the frenetic track laying season through winter accomplishing more track relaying/renewing in one winter than ever before with Leamland points and its approaches, 1/3 mile at Waterworks and Horsted platforms 2 and 3 with their technical problems, the next job was another 200 yards (plus 35mm!) on Freshfield bank at the end of the Temporary Speed Limit. IN ONE NIGHT!!!
Yes, in one night, so trains were not interrupted at any time! Never attempted on Bluebell before and probably never attempted on any heritage railway before!
Immediately south of the new track laid three years ago on Freshfield bank was a section of old bullhead track on old BR concrete sleepers in very poor condition with railhead burns and where the concrete sleeper fixings are coming loose. This defined the end of the 10mph temporary speed limit and urgently needed correction.
After initial inspection, a plan was hatched between infrastructure director Chris White and infrastructure manager Matt Crawford where it was decided that six 60 foot panels were required but when surveying and planning for that it was decided to extend the job to 10 panels after finding a particularly bad joint between panels 9 and 10.
The first plan was to use the short rails seen beside the digger in the picture above to build up short panels which would have all the sleepers put onto them at the correct intervals for when the 60 foot rails when they would be swapped over later. This is because the roadrailer could manage to lift panels up to 12 sleepers in length but certainly not a 60 foot panel with 28 sleepers weighing 9 tons. This would have required a lot of trimming and drilling of the rails to make up the short panels. Which would have been built on top of the old track laid out to look like a third road to Ardingly.
It was then decided that if we hired in two large Colmar roadrailers, one day for transporting the finished panels to site from Horsted and one night for the changeover, then we could build the 60 foot panels directly thus saving a lot of work on the short panels, and an army of volunteers on and extra nights' work to change over the short rails to the proper ones. That would have required 52 pairs of fishplates to be removed, 22 replaced, 1120 track clips removed and replaced as well as the handling of 50 short rails and 20 long rails.
In addition we would not have to get the cut of 182.915m exactly right first time as we could cut in the last panel in as it was laid as a closure panel. This was a worry as tape measure calibration was showing to be an issue where 3 different tape measures measured three different lengths and would have given us a potential gap of just over 2 inches!
Consequently the idea of making the long final panels was quickly adopted. The ground was bulldozed smooth and the "third track to Ardingly" was laid with old short panels (from Leamland) up to 100 yards in length, enough to lay out five new panels on top at once. The old short panels acted as a very good base to build new track on and will be used again to build the points for OP4. The sleepers can be moved to the correct position of 653mm centres and put into a straight line much more easily than on the ground.
Thanks to Matt Crawford and his deals through his plethora of useful contacts, we had built up a good stock of insulators, clips, rubber pads, fishplates, bolts, nuts, washers and just enough good condition second hand concrete sleepers to make up the 10 panels. Much of it having been donated. 20 new rails were bought and 600 tons of ballast but that was all that had to be purchased.
Each panel was built by laying out 28 sleepers at approximately the correct centres and the rails dropped into place on top, all lifted into place by the "resident" road railer. Each rail was measured precisely and marked up with each sleeper centre. The sleepers were then pushed into their exact positions by men with iron bars, all squared up and then clipped up. The fish plate holes were then drilled in the ends of the rails to complete the panel. All ten were built up in a stack of two on top of the old bullhead panels.
OP4 progress - May:
Meanwhile, OP4 (Operation Undercover Phase 4, the Horsted Keynes Carriage Shed Extension) has also been quietly progressing in the background. There were just enough people to split the gang between building the new track panels and progressing drainage and ground work in the OP4 shed.
Below is a photo of the north end of the shed, "borrowed" from John Sandys' flickr.com site. It shows second grade track ballast used to bring up the floor level closer to the required level suitable for the shed track work. This was recovered from the Waterworks track relay earlier this year and is the darker material in the picture.
In addition, many of the gutter outlets have been drilled and spigots fitted together with the down pipes and are now carrying the rainwater away through the drains laid mainly last year. This will continue as a background project until all down pipes are connected and functional. We are carrying out this work as it will save a lot of contractor cost.
Also visible in John's picture is the infill between the old carriage work roof and the higher new roof. This will stop the rain and showering the pit in "E" road and the maintenance staff.
The last of the containers in the storage section of the shed have been relocated to their new sites out of the shed and the last bit of ground that they were on has been levelled, where the nearer machine, the loadall, is sitting. More detail is available in Bruce Healey's April/May report below.
Freshfield Bank - Wednesday 24 May, 5am:
The ten track panels were moved from the Ardingly siding down to Freshfield Bank and placed beside the positions where they were going to be fitted. A small team with two large Colmar roadrailers arrived at Horsted by 5am ready to start the move. The reason for the early start was so that the move could be completed and the line cleared before the first train of the day was due. The photo on the right shows the first panel being loaded at 5.21am.
Over the next week equipment was taken down to site, including the laser guided bulldozer, the 22 ton tracked digger, all the fishplates etc. and many hand tools. On the preceding Sunday, Jon Bowers' Sunday gang dug out several beds of ballast at the bottom end of the job ready to give the bulldozer a starting level and to facilitate some re-alignment of sleepers on the existing track.
The photos below show panels being delivered in the early morning mist, the last three panels loaded and ready to leave Horsted Keynes, and "steerage class" travel for the staff at the back of the ensemble.
Monday 5th June, 4pm - the track changeover:
The team assembled at around 4 pm on the Monday which included several contractors from L & W to drive all the required plant. Three of us caught the last train down and were dropped of early to get the laser set up and to check and mark out the exact cutting position on the existing rail.
As soon as the last train had cleared the section, a track possession was taken and a convoy of roadrailers etc. made their way down to the work site.
At this point the rain started and continued through to about 5 am. Unfortunately it got into my camera and so I failed to get any more pictures after these three from the top of the distance signal post. Those below show the laser bulldozer waiting, looking north, and with rain bonnets on, the roadrailer gets ready to lift out the first track panel.
Andy Palmer, Matt Crawford's right hand man, set up a time lapse camera which produced some good film which he is currently processing and hope it will be available shortly. Another two man film crew were there for the first part of the job and we hope their film will also be available soon.
The first cut into the old rail was made one sleeper back from the measured distance to give a safe overlap in case of measurement error which did eventually prove unnecessary but was done all the same. All the 60 foot panels over the whole 200 yards of the job were cut in half, unbolted and lifted out and taken up north of the job, out of the way.
As each of the half panels were removed, the laser bulldozer dozed the existing ballast to the correct depth, pushing the excess off to one side. Fortunately this area of the line does not have a drainage or a clay pumping problem as it is on top of an embankment and so did not require a membrane under the ballast. This saved time and cost.
Andy Palmer's photo shows all the track removal completed, the bulldozing finishing off, the triple vibrating whacker just behind smoothing out the ballast and the 22 ton digger coming up ready to start lifting the new panels in. All this was done just as it was starting to get dark.
At the top (north end of the job) the joint to the existing good rail was re-cut square and the holes re-drilled to make a good fresh joint. The first of the 10 new panels was lifted into place by one Colmar road railer on the rails to the north and the 22 ton digger on the ballast to the south and then bolted on. This was continued down for all ten panels ensuring that the gaps were the correct size and square.
Before the last panel was connected the track was aligned by eye by two people standing astride the track shouting instructions to the driver of the 22 ton digger. This stood to the side of the track and simply pushed or pulled the track around with its arm until it was straight. The last panel was laid in overlapping the old rail so it could be measured off and cut in exactly the right place. This was then drilled and the fish plates fitted, thus re-joining the line sometime after midnight. The diesel, towing the tree ballast hoppers, which had been waiting a little way to the south of the job then pulled up and dropped the ballast onto the sleeper ends to stabilize the new formation enough to run trains over the next day. We packed up and started back to Horsted just on first light. After putting away tools etc. everyone had left by about 5:15 am in a very wet state - just as the rain finished!
Below are several photos taken by Dave Wilson (of London Underground and 9F club fame) taken during the night: Track alignment using the 22 ton digger, crafty ballasting, the 09 with the ballast train, and the soggy Track Gang.
The following evening was spent firstly pulling back and reusing the spare ballast pushed over by the bulldozer the previous evening and dropping more ballast from the hoppers, ploughing it and the tamping the whole stretch of new line. The tamper also did the final alignment to get the new line completely straight. While this was going on, some more conversion fishplates were found in our stock for the interface between the old worn bullhead rail and the new flat bottom rail with the right amount of "lift". This corresponds to the amount of wear on the rail head. In addition shims were fitted to the top joint to eliminate the bang when wheels passed over that joint. A final run over the replaced stretch by the tamper at a test speed confirmed the smoothness of the new track.
Andy Palmer's photo shows the team riding back at the end of the night in the tamper.
The last job was to move the temporary speed limit signs from the top of the replacement job nearly 1/2 mile south to the bottom end of Freshfield Bank at the end of the straight, next to the 7 mile post. This removes a large section of the TSR which should help with the train timetable.
So what's next?
Build two sets of points, one to reconnect carriage shed "B" road and the other the connect OP4. The track panels brought back from Freshfield Bank will be reused in OP4. The old bullhead and wooden sleeper panels used as a base to build the new panels will be used outside the OP4 shed to connect up to the engineering side and used for "loading" the new shed with rolling stock when the floor is levelled.
April and May 2017:
Tidying up Horsted Keynes, OP4
Like so many jobs, the list of minor tasks to finish the Platforms 2 and 3 track re-laying seemed to be endless. The foot crossing at the south end of Horsted Station was almost finished by the middle of April, with just a couple more bits of anti slip material required. The nuts holding the track chairs down over the subway need regular checking until they have settled down with use.
One of the more surprising consequences of the recent work is the need to re-concrete a manhole on top of the spoil heap in the triangle at Horsted. A drain runs under the spoil heap and each time the spoil heap is added to (or subtracted from) in that area, the manhole needs to be adjusted to avoid being a hazard to anyone one on the spoil heap (usually digger drivers).
Of course, Infrastructure get involved in other activities and we have undertaken a few tasks for the Flying Scotsman visit. Some picnic tables were collected from Parkers near Kingscote Station and delivered to Sheffield Park, and some 'heras' fencing was erected at Leamland across the access point from the north end of Horsted car park.
The second photo below shows S&T replacing a signal wire which had a broken strand at the south end of Horsted Station.
Wednesday 3rd May:
With the completion of the track relaying in Horsted Keynes platforms, attention now switched to OP4 (Operation Undercover Phase 4, the Carriage Shed extension at Horsted Keynes). The next task to to erect the downpipes and connect to the gutters and the drainage system. While we are waiting for delivery of some parts, there is some groundwork to be completed. The gutters between the 2 road and 4 road sections will run down stanchions to cross drains which in turn connect to the main drain down the centre of the 4 road shed. The drains were completed today together with some other minor tasks.
The photo on the right shows the electrical supply conduit trench being back-filled.
The photos below show the two hired cherry pickers, ready to install the gutter downpipes, the used ballast recovered from the Holywell track relaying, which will be reused in OP4, and the stanchion next to the manhole which will have the gutter running down it. This connects in to the manhole from the right of the photo. The cross drain to the left of the photo already connects at a right angle to the main drain running down the centre of the 4 road shed. There is an extra connection to the manhole for future use.
Further photos from Bruce Healey, from 10 May 2017, show work continuing in OP4, on the groundwork and drainage.
The photo on the right shows the upper side panels being installed to prevent rain coming in around the raised section of roof, which is above the carriage lifting jacks.
The three photos below show:
The down pipes installed and connected to the drainage system. Some work remains to get them connected to the gutters.
Two C&W containers remained in OP4. One has now been moved outside onto a concrete base, the other relocated at the north end of the maintenance area pf OP4, for which four concrete pads have been cast as a base, as seen below.
Second-hand ballast from Holywell has now been spread and levelled using the laser 'dozer.
Mid February to Early April 2017:
Replacement of track in Horsted Keynes Platforms 2 and 3
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
January to mid February 2017:
Replacement of Track at Holywell
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.
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.
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
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.
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