Wednesday 19 December 2018

Pipe and Signal Works - 19th December 2018

 Just North of Milton No 1 Crossing - below, 
numerous strange construction vehicles are visible from the train. This is the start of duct drilling below the track for undergrounded high voltage cables from Tom Nan Clach Windfarm some distance further North on Cawdor Estate land.
The Developer agreed a wayleave with Strathspey Railway Co. starting in early 2017 and since then there have been many documents to review and approve including pre-start rail head surveys.Track walkers will have noted survey marks on the sleepers in the vicinity used by an independent surveyor in monitoring the rail head level to record if any settlement occurs.
First of four ducts to be drilled (above) from just outside our fence which head steeply down so as to be approximately 6 metres below the track. The ducts then carry on deeper and run below the the River Spey to emerge north of their destination at the Sub Station on the Nethybridge Road. The Cairngorm National Park Authority (CNPA) dictated these cables had to go underground.We are advised that existing overhead HV wires in the vicinity (just visible top right) are likely to be undergrounded to satisfy CNPA requirements. We look forward to more income but not to the paper trail that will be part of it!

Of a similar nature to this work, a considerable length of pipe is being laid in the "four foot" (between the running rails) for testing purposes, necessitating the removal of one of the wooden planks of a number of level crossings, above today's squad (left to right - Martin, Roddy, Mike & Roger) admire their handy work at Croftnahaven No 1.

And the way the pipe is got there! - notice no tail lamp on "Shark" Brake Van as train not quite complete! 
A bit further up the line a large "Christmas tree" had been blown over in recent gales and we were detailed to cut it back further, to clear the cess (it had previously completely blocked the line) 
After considerable huffing and puffing - job done.
Thanks to all that assisted today and Mike for most of the info and I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and look forward to keeping you updated in 2019.

And from our Signalling & Telecoms (S&T) colleagues -

To accommodate the correct signal arm bracketry and also through routes for cables entering the post and running underground in ductwork, the signal as repurposed at Aviemore (South), required accurate marking and drilling of the original signal post (measure 3 times and do it once – although drill bits were easily blunted by the hard steel post).  The signal features volt-free electrical contacts as tellback to NR systems.
Stephen burns the midnight oil (below) early last week. 

 Friday the 14th December saw the installation of a new signal in Aviemore Station which will manage the interface between the new Network Rail Signalling controlled from Inverness and Strathspey Railway managed Infrastructure in Platform 3.

The excavation work was carried out by Andrew Muirhead (above) and signal post preparation and painting was carried out by David Dow (below in High Viz)

The S&T installation team were ably assisted by Nathan Lightowler and the Telehandler machine from Aviemore Shed.
Thanks to Stephen Muirhead and Colin Stirling for this rare S&T update.


Thursday 13 December 2018

Unloading Track panels at Boat of Garten - 12th December 2018

On Wednesday a midweek squad of Andrew, Martin, Roger & Mike headed to Boat of Garten, expecting to be out on the track towards Broomhill, to be helping with the Raptor oil pipe laying (more info in a future Blog) or preparing the farm crossings for them.
The pipes were delayed until Friday so it was a retasking job which was coped with easily.

Some of the track panels had been off loaded earlier by the Raptor oil Hiab lorry so we started un clipping until the lorry driver returned ..& succeeded on those accessible

Andrew knocking out Pandrol clips above
and likewise Martin but with a backstroke
..the Mills clips proved troublesome but with a few grunts came out.

Then the bulk of the other panels were offloaded & this would have been finished had a hydraulic hose not failed. A wagon cleared of panels was taken to Broomhill in readiness for the pipes arrival.
Also above the site of the Boat storage shed ( Project Undercover ) is cleared of rolling stock & once the loading bank is taken away it's foundations will be progressed.
Thanks again to Mike Tough for all info/photos

Monday 10 December 2018

An extra PWay day squeezed in - 7th December 2018

Saturday 1st of December saw a small squad - Roger, Mike & Georgie started digging out beds to the North of the Bothy (near the "Summit") where we finished marathon re-sleepering earlier this year - 42 done 83 still to do......
Saturday 7th (an extra day designed to get away from the Christmas preparations) ... Roger again, Mike again and Andrew went to Croftnahaven North where cess drainage works had been done recently and where we were bothered about silt blockages in pipes (as above)-inspection pit should have been half full of water.
The entire length of pipe was cleared & rodded with some new drain rods & four new rodding access points were dug & set up ..see photo of one & Andrew.. the pipes are clear & running & although they have limited gradient water will get away to a newly dug out offlet at the north.
After finishing early afternoon, Mike went to help clean the second (fully booked) Santa train & took photos of reasonable ballast left by Network Rail 
maybe 600 tonnes in total ....some will be used to create the road track at the new running shed ..we may screen the rest for reuse.
Thanks to Mike for photos and info.

Friday 30 November 2018

Network Rail Donations - 27th November 2018

The Highland Mainline (HML) was closed for engineering work in various places last weekend, including Aviemore where the 78 hour Possession of the line was put to good use for Strathspey Railways benefit.
Centre of the above picture in distance shows the plain-lining of the HML 
and as per the last Blog entry where the switches and associated shunting signals landed up. 
We also gained by donation from Network Rail a good number of short track panels, this transference did not commence until 0400 on Monday, goodness knows when it finshed! 

as you can see there are quite a few of them, as well as loose concrete sleepers, also a buffer end
and a whole heavy train load strapped up waiting to be hauled to Boat of Garten today.
Thanks to Georgie and Fergus staying up for a very long nightshift and Rob Law for taking the day after photos.


Saturday 24 November 2018

Daytime tranquility - Night time action - 24th November 2018

Who needs a drone! When we have Rob Law from our S&T (Signalling & Telegraph) Department, who obviously has a head for heights, as the following photos taken from atop of signal number 20, yesterday.  

Grand wide angle view looking North 
Left centre shows the new switch from previous Blog entry and how much closer mainline trains will be to our boundary fence.
And looking South, furthest away set of switches destined to waltz over our fence
and at some unearthly hour this morning, one of the Kirow 25 tonne rail cranes duly arrived in platform 3
The other remained on the mainline and I guess lifted sections of Switches and Crossing (S&C) onto our single line -where we were to dismantle at our leisure but our own Santa services were due to start in a few hours time!
So BAM kindly arranged the second crane to pick them up again and put them in a free area off our car park.
  Thanks to Colin Stirling for all the night time shots (who has redeemed himself, from his previous photographic efforts!) and of course Rob Law for the vertigo inducing ones and Mike Tough for the day after photo - showing one bullhead and one flatbottom rail switch.
Georgie and Fergus will no doubt update me in due course, as they offered to do the Nightshift PWay! 



Monday 19 November 2018

Strathspey Railway Association AGM and a World First!- 17/18 November 2018

The Strathspey Railway Association AGM yet again clashed with a PWay work Weekend but Georgie put us to good use for a couple of hours prior to it - Winterising the switches at Aviemore, with special anti-freeze slidechair lubricant. Angus, Iain, Roddy and myself did as many as we could in the short time allotted. Stevie and Georgie hindered us a bit by preparing a train to take away the mound of firebox ash that accumulates by the Engine Shed.

 Mike and John sawed to size many batons and made framing (above) for the anticipated short panels of track, hopefully heading our way from the Aviemore works of "Highland Mainline Enhancement Project"
which was the very interesting post AGM talk given by Stephen Muirhead, thereafter a few beers were had...….
On the Sunday Martin reports -  "Angus & I spent a couple of hours winterising points at south end of Boat of Garten this morning then once Stevie brought train through we unloaded 2 wagons full (around 8 tons) of ash into down cess for around 200 yards around Mile Post 91. Not bad considering there were only 3 of us shovelling" 

and this taken from Network Rail Twitterfeed yesterday - "This is a crossing track section installed today at Aviemore. It was designed & developed specifically for Highland Main Line and this is first ever installation of its kind- certainly in UK - but probably worldwide. For techies, it's a Highdrive with an F switch" in 56kg/m rail section fitted with S/O hydraulic back drives manufactured by Alstom in Italy.
No slidechair lubrication required but who'll know how to fix it when it fails!..... 

Sunday 11 November 2018

Over the fence goings on at Aviemore - 11th November 2018

Busy times over the fence at Aviemore again today

even attracted a Channel 4 film crew (blue helmets) who are making a year long documentary similar to the current Channel 5 Paddington one.

Engineers siding lifted on left, ballast train poised and when I zoomed in,
  I noticed that the Signals & Telecommunications team (S&T) had moved their signal temporarily over to the "Down" side of the line as the new loop line would have gone through it - likely to be roughly where the scrap short panels of track are, which we hope to acquire sometime this week.....
facilitated by one of our Association Members, some scrap packing timbers were thrown over the fence at our invitation and

Georgie soon after assisted by Steve, got our train on site, to use them as packing for when we get the afore mentioned short track panels.
Just beyond our South boundary gates (left) looks like a concrete pore, presumably connected with S&T works (base of a new signal from our line maybe?), with a Switches & Crossings (S&C) Tamper -"Thomas Telford"  poised
for action, once the panels are lifted in and ballasted
all paused at 11am for two minutes armistice silence (possibly due to Channel 4 maybe!)
and as the sun went down...…



Wednesday 7 November 2018

Midweek drainage scheme at Croftnahaven - 7th November 2018

Feeling a bit guilty about my half day jolly on Sunday, I managed to organise a midweek day for willing PWay Volunteers. Myself, Mike, Roddy, Martin and Roger met Georgie at Boat of Garten and proceeded by road to Croftnahaven No2 Level Crossing (finding a new access road in the process) where
Steve was already waiting with the 08 Diesel loco and two loaded "Grampus" wagons.
Our task was to finish off the drainage scheme
started some years ago, which is evident behind Roger who is fitting the geo-textile below the inflow of one of the inspection sumps.
Martin and Roger keeping it down with the plastic soak-away piping
then it was a case of burying it all with nearly 40 tons of pea shingle by hand!
We convinced Georgie to ease our back ache by letting gravity assist with the process, with limited success above but we got better at it with experience.
No completion photo as it was too dark, I suspect that nearly all of us will find muscles we didn't know we had tomorrow!
Thanks to all that assisted.