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2019 Archive

18 September 2019:  Horsted Keynes Down Yard trackwork

A report from Bruce Healey on the completion of the pointwork and relaying of the track leading up to it, which will enable the original headshunt, now completely relaid and now to be used as a siding, to come back into use.

Pointwork in Horsted Keynes yard - Bruce Healey - 18 September 2019 Bruce's first photo shows the OP4 headshunt/Down Yard siding point being worked on. In the foreground, S&T are installing the point stretcher bars while behind Matt Crawford's team are completing the screwing down of the point. To the left can be seen the Balfour Beatty tamper which has travelled over the new point. Balfour Beatty were running a training course tamping some of the yard in return for which we received half of the ballast we needed for the yard. The other half is as yet unfunded.

Bruce's next photo below, looking north from the new point, shows the approach to the Down Yard. Note that there is a bit of a wiggle in the track. This will be rectified when A road point (the next point along) is moved to the left. As this point is at the end of its life, this will only be done when the point is replaced - another item which is as yet unfunded. The Balfour Beatty tamper is just passing.

Bruce's third photo shows the new point looking south. The new siding is to the right while the C&W Works/OP4 headshunt is off to the left.

The final photo, from Peter Edwards, shows the Balfour Beatty tamper in platform 2 at Horsted Keynes the same day.

Pointwork in Horsted Keynes yard - Bruce Healey - 18 September 2019 Pointwork in Horsted Keynes yard - Bruce Healey - 18 September 2019 Balfour Beatty tamper at Horsted Keynes - Peter Edwards - 18 September 2019

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
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