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Permanent Way News Archive : July - September 2004

Permanent Way work in the last few months has seen us working south of the platforms at Sheffield Park, north of the platforms at Kingscote, and at quite a few places in between! In addition, routine maintenance, including jacking and packing, replacement of sleepers (include those damaged by fire during the recent hot spells), and replacement of broken and damaged chairs on the mainline has all been undertaken.

Additionally, we have continued to help load supply trains for the Northern Extension – a special thanks should go to Mark Hailes (photo right), who has spent many hours loading the ballast hoppers for the new track, an awkward and monotonous job.

Loading ballast 11/07/04

In July, two evening sessions were arranged in order to give Sharpthorne tunnel its annual maintenance sessions. The first evening was spent jacking and packing the worst of the joints, while the second evening concentrated on removing rusted fishplate bolts and the replacement of worn keys. This work is important due to the constantly damp nature of the tunnel reducing the life expectancy of the track materials, although the gale force winds and driving rain that characterised the first of the two evenings made working in the tunnel itself seem relatively dry!

tunnel 20/07/04
Peter King cuts away a rusted fishplate bolt in the tunnel - one of several that were unable to be removed by hand.

At Sheffield Park, a few days were spent working in the Pumphouse siding (photo below left). This had not received any serious attention for many years, and as a result many of the sleepers and chairs were well overdue for replacement. Although the general condition of the siding is now much better, there is still some work to be done.

Pumphouse 04/07/04 Working at the Park 180704
Working at Sheffield Park on the 4th (left) and 18th (right) of July.

While we were at Sheffield Park, the opportunity was also taken to work with the S&T department to try and overcome the continuing problem of the track at the south-end of the platforms sinking onto and hence affecting the working of the point mechanism. This involved lifting up the entire foot-crossing at the south-end of the platform, work seen in progress in the photo above right.

Loading supplies 22/08/04

Towards the end of August, thoughts started turning towards the extension of the Ardingly siding, necessary for receiving train loads of spoil material from the southern end of the Imberhorne tip. It is planned to use this material to fill-in the ‘missing embankment’ between the end of the current spur and the missing viaduct over Station Approach road. So a few days were spent gathering supplies out of the undergrowth in the salt-yard and loading them onto wagons for transport the short distance to the triangle at Horsted Keynes (photo left).

The actual track-laying was started over the late August Bank Holiday weekend, with the first job on the Saturday being sleeper replacement towards the end of the existing siding. Two new 60ft panels were laid on each of the bank holiday working days, and the progress made is clear in the photos below. A full photo-feature on the track-laying is available on this page. This takes the track well past the open section of the triangle, and hence it is planned to lay most of the remainder down to the end of the embankment with flat-bottomed rail. Since this requires concrete sleepers to be used, we are limited in what we can do until our contractor, John Millham, returns from holiday.

Ardingly siding 28/08/04 Ardingly siding 01/09/04
Before and after: The view away from Horsted Keynes triangle on the 28th August (Nick Beck), and on the 1st September. More photos from the weekend are available here.

In the meantime however, we will be able catch-up with some of the maintenance of the main-line, with a few joints on Freshfield Bank and in the Black Hut area due to be examined in the coming weeks. Additionally, point timbers have been sourced and laid out on the concrete surround in the salt yard so that the new point to be installed north of Horsted Keynes this Autumn can be assembled prior to the engineering weeks. Volunteers will be required for this work, and as soon as the dates are known, they will be published here.


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Last updated 20th October 2004 by Jon Bowers.
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