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Operation Undercover Phase 4
at Horsted Keynes


latest Latest News.


Operation Undercover is our big push to get as much as we can of our locomotive and carriage fleets undercover.

The Bluebell is renowned for its diverse collection of historic carriages and wagons. However, one of the major issues facing the Railway is the rapid weather-induced deterioration of much of its running fleet, as well as the vehicles stored outside awaiting restoration to their former glory, simply for the want of adequate covered storage accommodation.

As 'Heritage Railway' magazine observed in the April 2008 edition: "... For decades the standard of carriage restoration at the Bluebell has been a benchmark for the movement; it seems incredible that the magnificent carriage fleet has by necessity been left to stand out of doors..."

Sketch of proposed carriage shed extension - Matthew Cousins - 2014 Quite simply, if more of our priceless fleet could be stored under cover, the carriages and wagons would survive much longer between repaints or renovation, thus freeing up capacity to restore more of our rare or unique vehicles to running condition. The new Sheffield Park Carriage Shed (built as Operation Undercover phase 3) greatly assists in this regard, but there is still an urgent need for more weather-proof storage facilities.

With this challenge in mind, back in 2008 a group of volunteers at the C&W Dept. drew up some plans for a new parts storage shed and a large extension to the existing C&W works, with the main objective of providing much-needed additional covered storage for approximately 20 carriages.

Matthew Cousins' sketch shows the design of the main shed, with 4 tracks in the storage part to the right, and just one road (the maintenance/pit road) in the other part of the extension. The two sections on the left are the existing carriage shed/works.



News from Operation Undercover Phase 4:

latest latest

You can keep good track of progress though Dave Clarke's photo album of the project. Derek Hayward also provides coverage as part of his C&W Department Gallery.

Stock in F and G-roads of OP4, and new buffer stop - Barry Luck - 11 May 2018 May 2018
Barry Luck's photo shows LBSCR No.60 and LBSCR No.676 (under a tarpaulin) at the north end of F and G-roads in the OP4 shed. The Buffer stops in F-road are required, since it's envisaged that the southern end of this road will be shunted quite regularly once the shed is permanently connected to track in the yard, a couple of the spaces being used for short-term rather than long term storage. A report by Barry, the OP4 Project Manager, on the current position with respect to this project follows below.

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.

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.

7 more vehicles under cover
On 29 March, the temporary connection was slewed across to G-road, and further vehicles were shunted into the shed. The vehicles currently stored in the new shed are:
       - No.33, SER/Pullman kitchen car "Constance"
       - No.60, LBSCR Directors' Saloon
       - No.320, LSWR Lavatory 3rd
       - No.494, LSWR Corridor 3rd
       - No.676, LBSC 4-wheel Brake 3rd
       - No.1050, SER/SR Composite
       - No.1061, SECR Birdcage Brake 2nd/3rd
       - No.2515, SR Bulleid Saloon Brake 3rd
       - No.2773, LSWR Van
       - No.4279, SR Bulleid Saloon Brake 3rd
       - No.5498, LSWR Ventilated Luggage Van
       - No.6575, SR Maunsell Corridor Brake Composite

The final disposition of vehicles in the new shed may change later, once the shed and its access roads are completed.

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

With the work on the embankment progressing well, it is anticipated that excavation 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.

Trackwork

H-road laid in OP4 - Bruce Healey - 28 March 2018 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).

This project is entirely funded by donations, and a further £150,000 is required to complete the brickwork and cladding of the northern and eastern wall, which will provide additional weather proofing for the carriages and provide extra security, screening the vehicles from the road. If you can support this much-needed project, please visit the "Cash for Cover" donation page.

Bruce Healey's photo on the left above shows the almost complete track laid into H-road, taken the day before stock was shunted into G-road.


First carriages into OP4 shed - Martin Lawrence - 30 November 2017 December 2017
First carriages moved into OP4
On 30 November, in front of the project teams from the Infrastructure department and the C&W, and some of the major donors who have made the project possible, the first three carriages (the LBSCR Directors' Saloon, Maunsell Brake No.6575 and Bulleid Brake No.4279) were propelled into the new storage shed at Horsted Keynes to mark a significant milesone in the project. It also marked the retirement of Roger Kelly as our Funding Director, who has done so much to aid the development of the Railway over the last decade.

A press release is also available for the first carriages to go into the new Operation Undercover Phase 4 storage shed at Horsted Keynes. Mike Hopps photo below records the moment the Brighton Directors' Saloon broke the ceremonial ribbon.
Breaking the ribbon - OP4 Storage Shed - Mike Hopps - 30 November 2017

Martin Lawrence's November gallery includes coverage of the OP4.

John Sandys provides both a video of some of the speeches and a photo gallery.

Nick Dearden's video complements John's, with shots of the carriages being shunted into the shed, and Camelot (a late substitution for the H-class) with the Observation Car which conveyed those travelling up from Sheffield Park.


November 2017
Infrastructure Update: New tracks to OP4! - with thanks to Jon Goff.

The new headshunt and the points that lead off it towards the new shed have been completed. The pointwork, assembled alongside the Ardingly Spur, is now in the process of being moved over into its final position. The points were broken down into three main sections and the long rails taken off. These were then lifted onto the road railer trailers and slowly taken into the yard next to where they will be sited. The out of gauge load cleared the rain water down pipe at the corner of the carriage shed by only 3/4 inch!

Two of the three sections of the points are now approximately in the correct position as seen below. E-road will be temporally disconnected to allow connection to the running in road. The turnout path will curve round though the pile of soil/clay/masonry waste into the shed in line with G-road, which is the second road from the left in the shed. Work to clear the path needs to be done very soon so that we can get the track into the shed in time for its grand opening at the end of November.

More details on the Infrastructure News page.

OP4 access point going into position - Jon Goff - 24 October 2017 These points are now in position and lined up although the crossover section is not yet in position. The new headshunt and engineering sidings are now in their final positions and awaiting ballast. Also the route into the new shed has been cleared ready to connect up for the head opening at the end of November.


New Headshunt and engineers' siding - Jon Goff - 3 November 2017 Route to OP4 F-road - Jon Goff - 3 November 2017

New Headshunt and engineers' siding
Route to OP4 F-road


September 2017
Lots of progress on the OP4 shed at Horsted Keynes over the last month is reported in several Infrastructure News updates, thanks to Jon Goff and Bruce Healey. See also photos below

Tramroad nearing completion - Bruce Healey - 23 August 2017 Tracklaying in H-road - Bruce Healey - 23 August 2017
The almost completed tramroad in the maintenance area of the new shed
Tracklaying in progress in H-road, with F & G-roads almost complete

14 August 2017 with thanks to Jon Goff.
Following excavation and levelling last week, work on the tramway being installed adjacent to the maintenance road in OP4 moved on today with the laying out of the track. It was also coupled up and straightened out. The first picture below shows a lot of jacks in place to bring it up to the correct height and to get it level.

The remainder of this week will be spent getting it exactly level and packing under the sleepers so that the jacks can be removed. A lot of shuttering has to be made up to produce a three inch flangeway inside the running edge, putting in drainage from the flangeway to the installed drainage system as any water used for cleaning will invariably end up in the flangeway. It will then all be concreted in. Notice the low blockwork wall to the right which will act as the east side shuttering and also form a good base for the curtain wall when it is installed.

The rails used came from the pile of second hand flat bottom short sections used for temporary short panels through the cutting when laying the extension. They are too short and in too poor a condition for use on our running line, but fine for track to accommodate bogies etc during maintenance. The sleepers (47 of them) are just about our entire stock of thin concrete sleepers, old and second hand and a good way of using up the odds and ends without spending money. As the rails were odd sizes that were going to be cut down (but didn't get cut) we ended up with a final length of 31.296 m or 102' 8". Hopefully the tramway will be useable next week.

Maintenance tram-track in OP4 shed - Jon Goff - 14 August 2017 South ends of F & G roads in OP4 shed - Jon Goff - 14 August 2017
Tram track in maintenance area F and G roads in OP4

In the background of the tram-track photo are the North ends of F and G road within the shed. In the second photo the South ends of F road can be seen to need about 40' of track and G road about 50' to reach the end of the shed. Since the last report the rails in these two roads have been drilled and fish-plated up. It will probably be after the next track relaying on our main line before further track-laying happens in the shed. The aim however remains to get carriages under cover for this winter.


8 August 2017
F and G roads going in to OP4 shed - Bruce Healey - 8 August 2017 Today the first track was laid in the Horsted Keynes OP4 carriage shed. Using some of track recovered from Freshfield Bank in June, a start has been made on F and G roads. The panels are not yet drilled and fishplated and there is of course ballasting to be done for roads H and J. As we have not used all of the recovered track, more will be laid in OP4 this week.

Work on the points to connect to OP4 continues alongside the Ardingly spur although we are still awaiting delivery of some parts.

Two further photos, below, were taken earlier in the day by OP4 Project Manager Barry Luck.

Track Laying in OP4 shed - Barry Luck - 8 August 2017 Track Laying in OP4 shed - Barry Luck - 8 August 2017


10 May 2017
The two photos below from Bruce Healey show work underway on Operation Undercover Phase 4, where the gap around the raised section of roof has been being filled in, and second-hand ballast laid. There are more photos on the Infrastructure News page.

Roof_sides being installed - Bruce Healey - 10 May 2017 Second hand ballast levelled in OP4 shed - Bruce Healey - 10 May 2017

OP4 drainage work - Derek Hayward - 13 August 2016 23 August 2016
Phase 1 of the project is now virtually complete, thanks to the generousity of so many people. We have the money to complete that work, and some to start the next phase, but are still urgently seeking funds to enable us to push on with work to make the maintenance area fit for purpose.

Derek Hayward's photo shows drainage work in progress as of 13 August; work which is being carried out by volunteers.

August 2016 News Bulletin issued by the Project Steering Group is intended to keep all interested parties up to date with project progress. It is provided as a pdf - you may need to download the file to disk and open outside your browser.

Click for Acrobat Reader To read the PDF you need Acrobat Reader. If you don't already have it installed you can download it free of charge from Adobe.


Structure and roof over E-road, from the North end - Dave Clarke - 3 April 2016 April 2016
After a slow start to the foundations due to the appalling weather earlier in the year, we now have the steel structure up and roof over the maintenance pit and jacks. The first section of steel structure was also erected at the North end of the 4-road storage shed, just in time to be viewed by public and shareholders alike, as part of tours of the C&W during the Shareholders' Weekend. It is hoped that the next month or two (weather permitting) will see the completion of stage 1 of the project, for which funds were received from huge numbers of very generous donors in response to the 'Cash for Cover' fundraising campaign, after which second-hand track can start to be laid into the building to get the first carriages under cover.

The Rolling Stock Sub-committee is considering what carriages can be accommodated, and how to evaluate criteria to select the few which can't be accommodated. It will probably be possible to fit 22 or 23 carriages in the storage shed, so it looks as though only 4 or 5 pre-nationalisation carriages will be left outside under tarpaulins; they could be ones which are already so far gone that further deterioration will make little difference, or ones in very good condition, which will deteriorate very little under a tarpaulin, since there is no rot present.

Dave Clarke's three photos here show progress as of 3 April 2016. The section constructed so far is the roof over the maintenance road ("E-road"). The photos below show the junction between the two different roof heights - the higher section over the pit and lifting jacks, already constructed, and the section remaining to be built, with a lower roof, which will extend a further 100 feet southwards.

The project is now known around the railway under the contracted title "OP4". The next stage of the project, for which funds are currently being raised, is to add some of the walls around the maintenance area, including firewalls to separate it from the storage area, and to finish the Heritage Skills Centre, the two-storey range of buildings along the eastern edge of the shed, which will include a training room, meeting room, varnish shop and trim shop, as well as toilets, showers, an office and storage for moquette and vehicle records. The roof and steel frame for the skills centre is included in the part already funded and under construction.


Structure and roof over E-road, South end - Dave Clarke - 3 April 2016 Structure and roof over E-road, South end - Dave Clarke - 3 April 2016

24 January 2015
This project is now formally underway thanks to the generousity of so many people last year.

News Bulletin No.1 - the first in a series of News Bulletins, which will be issued by the Project Steering Group to keep all interested parties up to date with project progress, is now available as a pdf - you may need to download the file to disk and open outside your browser.


December 2014
See report on the Infrastructure News pages.


October 2014
Cash for Cover Appeal Video The Bluebell Railway is justifiably renowned for its fantastic collection of vintage carriages. We still have over 20 pre-nationalisation carriages stored in the open - to conserve them for the future it is vital to get them under cover as soon as possible.

The project is explained in Nicholas Owen's Video for Cash for Cover.

The Cash For Cover Appeal is to raise money to make a substantial start on the Horsted Keynes Carriage Shed Extension, by constructing the shell and roof of the building. The overall project is known as Operation Undercover Phase 4.

Some generous benefactors have promised matching funding for the first £125,000 donated to this project, but only if the donations are made by mid-November so the Double Donations Dash DDD125 will run until this date. Thus donations of £100, if eligible for Gift Aid, will be worth £225 to the project!
 
Proposed shed - with roof only - Matthew Cousins The aim is to put up the supports and the roof over four proposed roads and the current maintenance road. You can see here an artist's impression (thanks to Matthew Cousins) of how it will look; the building to the left is the existing Carriage Works. If the target of £125,000 is raised by mid-November, with the match funding of £125,000 promised, we will have sufficient to put up the shed structure and half the roof, and cover 10 carriages. You can read more about the ten carriages which we'd prioritise below. Constuction work would commence in 2015.

If by the time construction starts we have raised an additional £100,000 (so reaching the £350,000 target) then we can complete the roof and thus provide cover for 20 carriages, meaning that virtually all of the pre-nationalisation coaches on the Bluebell can be placed under cover.

That will not complete the project, of course, since we eventually will need to build a component store, office, trim shop, add walls and roller-shutter doors to complete the project, but this will be a tremendous start. The drawing at the top of this page, also by Matthew Cousins, shows how the finished shed, for which we have already secured full planning permission, will look.

There is a long way to go to reach our target. Any donation, small or large, will be very welcome.

Please Donate to the appeal.


Priority carriages for first phase:
Priority in selecting the first ten carriages to benefit from covered accommodation is broadly given to those which:
      * are complete (as opposed to vehicles gutted internally for other uses)
      * are likely to deteriorate whilst stored under a tarpaulin
      * form part of a current project for enhancing current carriage sets
      * are favoured by the society membership
Vehicles due to be overhauled in the next few years are not included.

The list is, in no particular order of preference:

6575 (Maunsell brake/composite)
One of Bluebell's first carriages, and was operational until recently. It is planned to be overhauled in the medium term to provide a second brake vehicle for the Maunsell train.

5644 (Maunsell composite)
This carriage is also planned to be overhauled for the Maunsell train. Although this vehicle has much of its interior missing, it is an important part of the Maunsell train, and is suffering damage from open storage.

1481 (Bulleid open third)
This carriage is complete, and was in operation for many years. As a 64-seater it is commercially valuable for its carrying capacity in the Bulleid/BR sets.

4279 (Bulleid brake/third)
Only recently taken out of service, and hence a complete vehicle, this type is valuable for having 48 seats in a brake vehicle.

1050 (SECR/SR non-corridor composite)
This vehicle is complete, but has not run in service since the early 1970s, and has recently suffering damage owing to the loss of its tarpaulin during stormy weather. Of the non-corridor bogie vehicles waiting to be overhauled this one is in the best condition, so is planned to be the next of that type to be overhauled following 971.

1061 (SECR short Birdcage brake/third)
This ran in service until the mid 1970s, and is complete. Its overhaul with 1050 would allow a 3-car Birdcage set to be made up.

1170 (SECR long Birdcage brake/third)
Although this has not run in Bluebell service and is gutted internally, the vehicle structure is sound and, for a brake vehicle, has high seating capacity.

60 (LBSCR Directors' saloon)
The "Brighton Saloon" was operated for several years in the early Bluebell time, but has been stored for many years awaiting a suitable opportunity to undertake its overhaul. As a structurally good vehicle with a fancy interior it will benefit from proper undercover storage.

157 (Pullman brake/third "Car No 54")
This vehicle is structurally sound, but came to Bluebell in a dismantled state. It is a key part of the future development of the Pullman train.

172 (SER first saloon)
This vehicle will be a part of the SECR 4/6-wheelers train, as the only vehicle providing first class accommodation. As a first class vehicle it has interior decoration which is more susceptible to damage from open storage than third class vehicles.

And as 172 is a short vehicle we can add another short one:
25 (LSWR first saloon) - This needs undercover storage for the same reason as 172.

That this list does not include some of the Bluebell's other important carriages, such as Constance, 320 and 1365 is simply an indication of how important it is that we work to raise sufficient money to get a roof over 20 carriages, rather than just 10!


Preparations for foundation work on new carriage shed - John Sandys - 11 Sept 2014 September 2014
A start has been made clearing the site at the North end of the proposed main shed (photo on the right from John Sandys).

Derek Hayward's photos below show the start that has been made on the foundations for the building, with work also required on drainage and services for the existing building. This is being funded from earlier fund-raising within the Carriage & Wagon department, and secures the planning permission we obtained for the project 3 years ago.


Work on services and foundations in carriage yard - Derek Hayward - 5 October 2014 Work on foundations for carriage shed extension - Derek Hayward - 5 October 2014

November 2011
Outline of the plans for Phase 4, for which Planning Permission has now been granted.

Background information about covered accommodation for our rolling stock is available here.

splash


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