Friday, 18 March 2016

Away at the races

It's only 3.5 degrees, to cold for any block laying. There's an icy wind blowing from the north.

But hey, there are Race Trains !

Smoke curling from the signal box stove pipe, and a distant whistle, had yours truly racing for platform 2. The first had already gone, but the second was right behind.

Dinmore Manor coasted into the station, slowing to pick up the new token from the signalman.

With the token safely on board, time to open the regulator again. They're not stopping here, it's a special.

This gives us the unusual view of a train under power accelerating through Winchcombe.

This shot was almost spoiled by a phenomenon well known to the railway photographer. You set up your shot, no one's about, it's a perfect scene. Nothing can go wrong now. Then, at the very last minute, the unpredictable arrives - a man with a lawnmower emerges on the opposite platform! Argggggghhhhh!

Lawnmowerman is safely hidden behind the loco...

... which powers away towards Greet tunnel. A fantastic moment, shared with a large number of happy race goers in a packed train. Nearly every table had a bottle of champagne on it, well done those roving Champagne sellers!

No news on the Hayles Abbey front this week. We are waiting for the site container to be delivered. The track has been tamped, so we are ready to start.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Tarmac at Winchcombe

The platform extension was finished on Saturday with a nice top coat of Tarmac. An attempt planned for Wednesday had to be abandoned due to a technical problem, and the very cold weather.

GWR 5542 was in operation today, and we took the opportunity to show off the new platform surface together with the train returning from Cheltenham. What a lovely scene in the sunshine, cold but bright!

The new platform extension was immediately in use, as a passenger wandered up, and then down it! At the end he found the reinstated GWR trespass notice attached to a length of rail. Still left to do are the completion of the block wall to retain the lawned slope up the back of the old stationmaster's house, and the planting of one more lamp post. This is on order, as part of the larger order to the foundry from Broadway.

As today was a mixed traction day, we will not withhold from you another view of the newly tarmaced platform, this time with the 3 car DMU just heading off for CRC. It fits in very nicely.

At the other end of the station the barrow crossing was also finished yesterday, thanks to help from Andy and Stuart from lineside drainage gang. A picture of that work appears on their Flickr site:

Next week the B&S gang will be starting on repairing the footbridge surfaces. Some reorganisation of the C&W yard is also taking place. The picture below shows the progress already made.

Accumulated debris has been cleared from in front of the stock in the three isolated sidings visible in the middle top of the picture, and the pile of CRC2 slabs by the gate will also be relocated, some of which to Hayles Abbey Halt for use on the new platform there. This yard will look a lot roomier and neater soon.

Further work at Hayles Abbey has been suspended for a short while. The platform will be built off the levels of the track, and with the tamper due in the area very shortly, the team preferred to wait until the track was definitely in the right place and at the right height, before any block laying starts. The tamper has now been, the track is correct, so work should start within the next week or so.

A water tank has been brought to the site, and a site container has been found and is also due to arrive as soon as transport can be arranged.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Winchcombe platform progress

A visit to Winchcombe today to chat to C&W about ticket hatches, and FoWS about GWR lamp posts, also allowed a quick look over the fence to see how the new platform extension was getting on.

It's looking pretty good ! All the brickwork and infill is done and compacted. Looks finished then? Not quite.

Another layer of fines is due on top, as a surface on which to lay the final topcoat of tarmac. A conduit also needs to laid along the rear to service a new lamp post, which will be positioned where the slope starts. FoWS have decided to join Broadway in their order of replica GWR posts for this last one. That's great collaboration.

Here's an overall view of the almost finished platform extension. Doesn't it look neat! It's even received a new white line, painted during a brief spell when there was no rain. The slope behind the rear blocks still needs a little infill, to meet up with the top of the blocks.

 Just when you think you're in the low season without any traffic, there a toot, and a train comes along. In this case it's the hired in tamper, back out after lunch to continue where it left off at 13m 53ch. It's nice and warm in that tamper (it was bitterly cold outside today, with temperatures just above freezing, and a strong wind) and the cosy cabs were filled with PWay volunteers ready to follow the tamper's progress and fill the holes left by the tines with ballast. This is relentless, back breaking work, which can stretch for a whole mile in a day if it makes good progress.

The work on the Winchcombe relay is also nearing the end. Today the tamper handled the track between the platforms, and the second PWay gang is filling in irregularities and voids by bringing in fresh ballast on a trolley. This is also back breaking work. At least the trolley is filled with the forklift, and shovelling the stuff in means that you are warm. They replenished their energies in the PWay mess coach on a meal of hot faggots. Well, you've got to look after yourself, haven't you?

Chatting to FoWS produced a peek into the weighbridge house, where this item was discovered. It is a coal scuttle, stamped GWR ! They really put their house style on everything. It was offered for the Broadway signal box, if we want it. We shall confer, it would be a lovely historical item with provenance too. You can just make out a 'G' under the front lip.