2009 Winter PWay Works programme gets into full swing.
With a shortish section of 288 sleepers relaid near Hood Bridge in November as a warm-up effort, the South Devon Railway's PW gang are now tackling the length from Buckfastleigh Station throat to Nursery Pool bridge, a length of just under 1000 sleepers.
This particular section is being replaced using brand new wooden sleepers, unlike the rest of the branch which has been largely relaid in second-hand bullhead concrete sleepers since the Trust took over the running of the branch in 1991
Wooden sleepers are the preferred option along this section which includes the small overbridge close to the station under which it is essential to maintain the necessary clearance. Concrete sleepers are 1" thicker than wooden sleepers and the additional space cannot be spared. Unusually the line at this point has been laid over the Buckfastleigh main sewer pipe which was placed directly under the track many years ago. Manhole covers and inspection chambers do not allow any chance of lowering the track to give more clearance. This relay will eliminate the last large section of old wooden sleepers that have existed from BR days. Over the intervening years the patch has been heavily spot resleepered, but even so some 50% had chairs date from 1958, just before the line closed to BR passenger trains. Apart from this section the only wooden sleepers on the branch will now be in the three stations.
The PW gang will then move on to deal with changing point timbers around the station yard at Buckfastleigh after the current job is completed.
Volunteers are always welcome to join in. The usual winter gang consists of four paid members of staff - including the Cafe manager! Up to thirteen members were at work last weekend preparing for the main relay.
The Midland Railway Centre tamper is being contracted to deal with the winter's new works after these have been spread with new ballast from Stoneycombe Quarry - the quarry from which vast quantities of the Western Region used to receive their supplies. Now the main line railway uses harder material from the likes of Meldon Quarry however the material from Stoneycombe is quite suitable for a 25mph branch and benefits from being 'just up the road'. A pity its not still rail connected and we could send our own 38XX loco up Dainton to collect a few Dogfish loads!!
|The original track under Hood Bridge||Track with rails removed - note inclement conditions!|
|Removing old sleepers||Renewing drainage culverts|
|Relaid track nearing completion||Rekeying the rails|
|Relaid track before ballasting||DDS 04 on Pway Train|
|SDR Tamper doing initial tamp over a bridge rebuilt in 2005||London Group Bernard Wickham in action|
|Tidying up the ballast Photo Andy Mathews||The Permanent Way Gang|
|All photographs © Matt Tarrant 2008 unless stated|
1000 Sleeper Relay
|Towards Buckfastleigh from Nursery Pool Bridge||From Buckfastleigh through Papermill Bridge to Totnes|
|Photographs © Richard Elliott 2009 unless stated|