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.

Monday 5 November 2018

PWay work and mainline observations - 3rd & 4th November 2018

Saturday's PWay saw Mike, John, Roger, Martin, Ian and Georgie doing more Measured Shovel Packing near the "Strap Rails" at Kinchurdy - John did take some photos but deemed them "not great really" - as more work is intended at this location, I am sure we will get a further opportunity to explain with photos sometime. Thankfully the weather was very mild and benign - not the forecasted downpour, for which everyone I am sure was glad and they even had time/energy to prep tools etc for
Sunday saw a continuation of changing fishplates towards Milton Level Crossing (above)  Angus getting to grips with the new battery power wrench, tightening up the nuts on the new stronger fishplates, with Andy giving them the final tightening to the correct torque - once described to me as "a big man with wee spanner or a wee man with a big spanner" - Andy is 81.5 years young so we concede him a big spanner! In the distance Andrew is undoing the nuts and as we had "possession" of the line Georgie was able to deliver the new fishplates in the JCB and leave for us to fill the front bucket with the old ones, as she had to attend to things at Aviemore.

At about lunch time, Georgie phoned to say if we wished we could pack up and head to Aviemore to view rare daylight PWay work on the mainline - this we jumped at as we were somewhat fatigued. Above looking North from our Tele handler
And looking South from the Davie Dow inspired location.
360 machine would unload from train in siding to it's trailer and haul it to rail end, then load onto tracked truck
then a wee 180 degree pirouette to a second 360 machine
with banksman assisting lining up
and the pièce de résistance - machine automatically spaces them out.
glad to report final adjustments - still require men on bars and a bit string!
then rather less energetically lifting in the new rail, by which point we were getting cold with all the observing that we were doing - we all appreciated Georgie giving us a half day.