News and Items of Interest



The project to provide an 800+m track extension commenced in 1990 and after a five year construction period the new length of track was opened for public passenger traffic in 1995. The new track was carried on reinforced concrete beams supported on concrete pedestals, all being cast ‘on site’ by the members. The immediate area beneath the track and a little wider each side, was shallowly excavated and filled with small aggregate to eliminate the requirement for frequent grass cutting operations under the track and around the pedestals.
However in 2010, as a result of a decade and a half’s gradual build up humus in the aggregate and nature’s encroachment, the presence of the original ballast was virtually un-noticeable and it had become necessary to carry out routine and time consuming  grass maintenance operations with a power strimmer and cylinder mower. Consequently, during the late summer, it was decided that this practice could not be sustained and a different approach was required which culminated in the decision to completely replace the ballast on a 100m section of the ‘up’ line from the tunnel traverser, along the double track section to terminate at the golf course traverser, the latter being provided in order to give access to the adjacent golf course for the local authority maintenance equipment.

Initially therefore, two spacers were attached to each of a pair of 6ft long, 6” wide boards, which when laid on the ground at each side of the track, provided an area 3” wider on each side than the width of the track beam. This strip was then sprayed with herbicide to kill off the vegetation in readiness for the excavation of the contaminated ballast and its replacement with new aggregate, this process taking place during the weeks following closure of the track to passenger traffic. The appearance of the track was totally transformed and during the summer of 2011 it was only necessary on two occasions for the edging shears to be brought into use in order to prevent occupation of the new ballast by the sideways spread of the adjacent verdant cover, the general opinion of the members declaring the project to have been a resounding success.

When the project leader suggested similar treatment should be applied to the adjacent ‘down’ line  after closure of the track in 2011, there was no dissent from the members for the allocation of funding to support phase 2 and perhaps a little surprisingly, no shortage of volunteers to form a track maintenance working party that would tackle the job on Sunday mornings commencing of the 8th January, irrespective of weather conditions, as according to the project leader “There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing”!
By the 29th and only four weekends and 85m later, the job was done, but during this period members of the working  party had to bravely endure the full spectrum of weather conditions  which ranged from rain sodden or frozen ground to bitterly cold easterly winds and conversely on one occasion, almost balmy, well, spring like sunshine!
During both phases of the project, the opportunity was taken to provide 900 replacement Creoseal pre-treated hardwood sleepers; adjust the height of several pedestals to correct fifteen years of settlement; give appropriate attention to all rail alignment and the lubrication of the expansion joints with 11tons of 20mm ballast being utilised on phase 1 and 10tons in 2012.
Another unmitigated success and thanks are extended to the crew for their application and determination to get the job completed in record time, but no doubt putting their names at the top of the list for phase three!



2011 News Archive