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.
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.
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.
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.
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.