Monday, 17 May 2010

Mountsorrel Railway P-Way Working Week

I spent last week in Leicester and, despite having a horrible end to the week, found it a rather satisfying week.

I visited the project earlier this year when as part of a visit with VolkerRail and told the project leader, Steve Cramp, that I hoped to be back at some point to assist in some way. It was the Mountsorrel Railway's first P-Way working week and the intention was to lay the junction turnout (where the branch meets the Great Central Railway's mainline) a panel then a catch point and a further two panels beyond that. Doesn't sound like much but the Mountsorrel volunteers had to overcome a rather steep learning curve in the process. However they did have the guidance of Andy Higginson, the GCR P-Way Supervisor, and the permanent P-Way staff on the on the GCR. The GC staff were excellent and great lads too!

The junction turnout was the first item to go in - due to the geometry it was a specially fabricated 'Y' B7 turnout. This had been prefabricated by Balfour Beatty. This is located at the northern end of the up loop at Swithland Sidings.

One of the works trains which we had for the week.
This was in by the end of Tuesday with the closure rails in place on the loop line. From this point it began to resemble the beginning of a junction! The design was obviously well thought out, very credible for a heritage project, as the geometry of every thing went together perfectly.

Following this installation work on the branch itself could continue with one panel followed by a set of traps - these are very important on this line as the branch is rather steep! Any runaways will be swiftly dealt with here, assuming, of course, they make it round the curve just before the junction! This is just 225m in radius. There was a slight confusion earlier on in the week as initially it went in at 250m. However, it was clear something was up when the sleeper ends were hanging off the ballast shoulder! So the two panels beyond the traps were manually realigned as you can see - and it also proves that technical staff such as me do indeed know how to use tools!

All that was required after this was to line and level the start of the branch - this was actually completed on the Saturday but I'd left by then. The extent of the works can be seen in this view, complete with me contemplating all we'd done from the far end.

And late on of Friday afternoon one of the works trains was stabled in the up loop and one the points were clamped to protect the mains it did look like all was set for 37 255 to take the first train up the branch!

We did have the first movement of a rail mounted vehicle though when an RRV from Morgan Est brought the signal post to be lifted in place ready to form the signal which will allow traffic to come off the branch.

So a week which achieved a huge amount - in terms of a p-way job it wasn't such a major task but for the Mountsorrel Project it marked a huge milestone and provided long term volunteers with vital experience for future works. The GCR staff were excellent and worked hard throughout the week and were very patient with some new volunteers for whom p-way work was completely new! I think all those who were involved can be pleased and proud of what has been achieved.

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