Watercress Line

Sat 26th Jan Blog

A report and photos by Adam Kitchen

Continuing on from the prior week's sleeper changing, another large gang (augmented by the recent addition Andy) headed down to Alresford to ensure the changed sleepers were correctly aligned, and to correct a dip in the track that had been identified next to the sleeper change site.

The ballast was dug out to allow access to the underside of the sleepers to allow the stone blower to work it's magic. This is where the P-Way gang brought themselves into the 20th Century, using Abtus boards to accurately check that the rails are level along a length. A board was placed at either end of the dip at a fixed height, and a third board was moved along the depression allowing for an accurate assessment of the dip in the line.

The first rail was jacked up to the level as indicated by the boards, and the stone blower was used to fill under the sleepers with chippings. The jack was then dropped and the level confirmed.

Once the first rail was done, a track gauge with a spirit level built in was used to make sure the camber on the line was appropriate for the camber and speed of the bend coming out of Alresford.

These sleepers are likely to settle after a few hundred tonnes of train has run over them a few times, so the beds were left open to facilitate correction next week as necessary. Further bags of waste were removed from the cattle docks again, every little bit helps the railway stay presentable!

Lunch was taken back at the mess at Medstead, before the gang split into two, with half the gang heading back down towards Ropley to pack a couple of rail joints, one at the change from flat bottomed to bull head rail, and one opposite the new siding.

Meanwhile, the other half, including your reporter for this week, headed into the Shrave cutting over the Alps from Medstead to finish replacing the worn R.N.B. fastenings on the flat bottomed track in that section of the line. 20 plus had had been changed previously of the 53 identified as requiring attention. Today, the rest of those identified (and one that had been missed!) as requiring attention were replaced. 26 replaced in their entirety and 5 or so that had cracked plates. This section of the line will see an intensive schedule of works over the coming 6 months with the line out of use.

Photo gallery