Friday, 18 December 2009
Last Day in Scunthorpe
Today was my final day at Scunthorpe after four months on P-Way within the works.
I have enjoyed my time immensely! It has been a very satisfying time for me; a time which really re-enthused me after a few months stuck in an office fulfilling no real purpose. I have met some wonderful people at the works and have enjoyed working those who were around me. I think I’ve provided the odd comical moment too – tightening a rail joint, slipping and banging yourself on your helmet with a fish spanner and knocking yourself over and ending up lying, laughing, on your back in the four foot is undoubtedly amusing to all around! Oh, yeah... And I locked my keys in my car too one day!
Industrial systems, as I’ve found, are a world away from the mainline railway…
Recently we have been working in one area to renew a siding through the ‘Slab Bay’ where freshly produced slabs are loaded on to either internal wagons to go for finishing within the works or onto EWS/DBS wagons for delivery to other sites round the UK. The loading process means that the sidings receive a fair bit of hammer as the ground either side is subjected to heavy machinery and this can affect the track too. We have renewed one turnout over the last week or so too. The conditions here are quite unlike the mainline; mud and sludge are right up to the level of the rail heads and even just checking during routine maintenance can be hard work. One of the photos, believe it or not, actually shows a level crossing! The weather affected us too; on Thursday and Friday the mud was frozen solid and as a result one siding couldn’t be used in case the mud caused a derailment.
Renewals projects such as these have been very satisfying; nice self-contained jobs where you can easily see the whole thing through from start to finish. This is quite a contrast to some of the large contracts which VolkerRail have elsewhere. Although this is a small contract, it undoubtedly works very well indeed. Some of the staff with VolkerRail who are based on this contract have been working on permanent way within the works for over thirty years and have a wealth of knowledge and it has been an honour and a real pleasure to be able to tap into this during my time working with them.
I have spent every day for the last few months out side in all weathers – a change from our usual project work which sees a mix of office and site work. It was quite a liberating to not be chained to either a desk or a laptop! It was a real education to learn how to ‘arrange’ track manually without the use of sophisticated machines. I’ll be left with memories of centre cab industrial shunters in Corus’ red, white and yellow livery fighting with their loose coupled rakes of wagons as they make their way around the works. I’ll also be left many wonderful memories of those who work there – they have made it a wonderful experience!
The last months have been incredibly satisfying and rewarding; the time I spent working on the railway within the steelworks will be a period which I will treasure for a very long time.