winter works, smaller projects

We’re in the middle of the engineering-works six-week closure when projects can be tackled that require no trains to be running.

Infrastructure Manager Chris Bond reports that this winter sees several smaller projects taking place at various locations rather than the large track relay we saw in 2017 at Waterworks.

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 A 500m section of bullhead track from Bewdley Tunnel to the Stourport Road bridge is being cleaned of badly contaminated ballast using a special shaped excavator bucket. The spoil is being removed to an area of the former sugar beet sidings for disposal. The length of track will then be re-ballasted and tamped. It is also intended to weld together the rails to create a length of bullhead CWR which will require the insertion of a pair of breather or expansion switches at the Stourport Road bridge end. At some point in early 2018 we hope to get a Colas rail grinding train to re-profile the railhead to remove the corrugations that cause poor riding.

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On the Bewdley side of the tunnel, contractors are using a mini-digger to remove the ballast shoulders using a riddle bucket to remove contamination. The clean ballast is then being placed in between the rails in preparation for fresh ballast to be dropped and the track tamped. The shoulders will then be reformed. This work will provide fresh ballast for the tamper to improve the ride and help to remove wet spots that have forming on that section.

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At County Boundary, the last part of the work is being carried out so that the line can be returned to line speed at that location. This involves the removal of 70 meters of track and the excavation of the ground below the normal ballast level. This is composed mostly of ash and the resultant spoil is being shifted to location at the former Kinlet Colliery sidings. The lower part of the excavation will then have a plastic geomesh laid and imported fresh stone material deposited to a depth of 300mm. This will be overlaid with another layer of geomesh followed by ballast to a depth of 450mm. The track will then be re-laid, ballasted and finally tamped. This work (recommended by the SVR’s consulting engineer) will ensure that we do not suffer future settlement problems as a result of the slip and subsequent remedial works. It has of course resulted in diversion of resources from some of our other planned relaying work but will hopefully negate further visits to the site to repack.

eardington

A project funded by the Friends of Eardington Station is also underway during the shutdown involving the partial rebuilding of the platform face. Although the station does not currently feature in our daily operations, a dedicated team lead looks after and maintains this wayside gem. The rebuilding of the platform will improve greatly the appearance of the station and allow consideration to its possible use on gala events at some point in the future. Some 8000 engineering bricks recovered from the London – Bristol mainline and donated by Kier Construction will be used. These have been cleaned up by the team over a period of time and will provide a genuine connection to the GWR. The rebuild is being undertaken by JSR Construction who are based less than a mile away from the station thus keeping the work local.

At Kidderminster, preparations are underway for the lining of the loco water tank similar to that carried out at both Bridgnorth and Bewdley. This work will require the draining down and drying of the tank interior followed by shot blasting. This provides a strong key to the GRP lining system that is then applied to the bottom and sides of the tank interior finishing off with a gel coat. This work is proactive maintenance of the tank and will greatly extend its life for a relatively modest cost. It is being carried out by Project Linings Ltd who have done the other tanks on the SVR to a very high standard.

The Kidderminster water column adjacent platform 1 runround is being swapped out from a fixed column to a standard GWR swing arm type similar to that on platform two side. This project has been a long time in the making having being on the cards since the 1980s. Although the current fixed column is an original Kidderminster GWR item (having been cast at Wolverhampton) the swing arm replacement will be better suited to the variety of engines the SVR sees. The replacement has been restored and new components fabricated and the original fixed column will for now be retired to the custody of Kidderminster Railway Museum for possible display.

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WWCC Tue 16 Jan

Both the lamps were removed from the footbridge as part of the rewiring and refurbishment of this important item of infrastructure. They were then taken to the workshop, where a new temporary draw wire was pulled through the length of each fitting.  Attention was also given to seriously rusted sections, which were cleaned back to bare metal and coated in red oxide metal primer. The remainder of the fittings were washed down using white spirit ready for a light rub down prior to having new undercoat applied.

In the tent, the three remaining handrails had their previously applied dark undercoat sections coated in gloss black. We are intending, weather permitting to fit these on Saturday, after which a further top coat of black gloss will be applied when conditions are more conducive.

WWCC Sat 13 Jan

Another good turnout this weekend, our immediate attention was focussed on the new handrails for the footbridge. After slight modifications all three remaining handrails have now been trial fitted, and once the final top coat of black gloss has dried will be ready for final fixing.

The workshop is still in a state of flux as the final positioning of the rearranged facilities is still being organised. Some housekeeping was done outside around our compound and the skip area.  Inside, the floor was swept and the debris removed.  We have locally purchased a metal clad double switched socket, which will be hard wired in to replace an inadequate extension lead supplying the radiator.

IMG_6121Further paint treatments were applied to the Booking Office doors out on to the platform.

Reassurance

David Postle leads the Railway’s Conservation and Heritage Committee, and is therefore in charge of the Bridgnorth Redevelopment project, and the new building being constructed at the south end of the station. He issued this public response on Friday:

It has been drawn to my attention that there has been some discussion on the forum of late concerning two major elements of the Bridgnorth new building – firstly the slow progress being made to complete the project, and secondly the exposure of the roof timbers to the elements for some period of time. As Derby 4 quoted me as saying some time ago, I am disappointed with the rate of progress, and I will now add a personal concern that the roof timbers have been left exposed for some time.

What I would like to reassure all the people who are discussing this on the forum is that I and the team are working very hard behind the scenes to resolve both these issues. We have been looking closely at the cause of delays. As you will all recall,the building was supposed to be handed over in October but we have asked for a realistic date for when that handover might now take place. As I am sure you will realise, there are now serious implications for us in the timetable whereby we had hoped to move the bar and complete the works to the listed building by Easter. The bar relocation can clearly not happen now until after the main running season is over due to the disruption and loss of income it would cause. This is also partly tied up with the situation over the roof trusses as we are currently assessing the implications of them having taken on so much moisture in the last few weeks. We are having to look closely now at a restructuring of the whole project timetable.

Bear in mind that the Bridgnorth project also includes the refurbishment of the listed building, provision of car park and access road, the installation of the turntable and the improvement of the public realm.

By looking again at the timetable, it may be we do things from now in a slightly different order, but rest assured, we will still be doing some work on the Bridgnorth project throughout the 2018 season, and trying to tie it in with the needs of the operational season and the activities at Bridgnorth station.

What I would like to reassure all of you is that we are not just sitting back and watch it happen. What we are working on has reached a critical and sensitive stage, but we are mindful of two main aspects – firstly that we have a responsibility to the generosity of people who kindly bought shares in the project in good faith and to make sure that their generosity is not used wastefully; and secondly that the end product is one we are proud of and is built to the highest standards to last as a legacy for our successors.

I am away in another part of the country at the moment, but just wanted to re-assure you all that these matters are not just being ignored.

What I am proposing that on my return next week, as soon as there is anything definite that I can report, then I will do so in an NBI for the wider circulation and you are welcome to respond to that if you should so wish.

Many thanks for reading, and I hope to report more positive news in the very near future about the very issues that you express concern about.

David Postle