SAK Rebuilt - Progress Report 1
First Look At The Kincardine-Alloa Rebuild
Having missed the actual start of work on the SAK trackbed I was quite keen to see what had been achieved so far when I heard about it in the second week of April 2006, and having a day off on Friday 14th April, I went with a friend to have my first good look at the progress of the the rebuild. Two days later, on Sunday 16th, I stopped off at Kincardine as I had omitted to film the developments that had taken place in the rail yard of the former power station site on the Friday. Here are stills from the camcorder footage of these two outings, as usual presented geographically. On that occasion we started at Kincardine and headed west, which I have found to be marginally easier as coming out of the various side roads and accesses usually involves left turns rather than right turns in the car!
1. This first picture taken on 14/4/06 shows
where the rounding loop used by trains arriving to load at the site of the former
Kincardine Power Station used to be! The track at this location must have been
deemed unsuitable for running through trains as it is clearly all being replaced.
2. Next up we have the first of the pictures of Kincardine taken on 16/4/06 showing the view out of the former power station connection, with the track remaining intact up to where it used to join the run round loop.
3. Pulling back the zoom somewhat shows just how far away the loop was from the power station rail access gates which are behind where I am standing.
4. Naturally the next thing I did was turn around so here is an overall view of the former power station connection and rail yard.
5. In the last picture it will have been fairly obvious that work has been done on the track inside the power station site, and as can be seem from this closer view, a new siding had recently been added specifically for the SAK cre-construction work.
6. It's a matter of opinion whether the new siding at Kincardine counts as the first tracklaying of the new SAK. I'm sure the contractors think so, given that they did the work of putting it in, but I disagree as no through trains will ever use it! This zoom view shows it to be very straight and level though!
7. My final picture from 16/4/06 shows a zoom view of a digger inside the former Kincardine Power Station site, with a HUGE heap of pink ballast behind it that it doubtless helped heap up! Enough for the whole SAK? I'm not sure - having done track maintenance in railway preservation I know how fast heaps of ballast can get used up! Note the steel sleepers stacked near the digger and behind the used wooden sleepers that are doubtless the remains of the old loop outside the gate.
8. Back to pictures from 14/4/06 and here is a view of the first piece of SAK trackbed 'west' of Kincardine which is between road bridges just outside the power station site. Installation of drainage seems to have been started here.
9. Looking west of the road bridges at Kincardine shows a worksite in an adjacent field, and evidence of heavy machinery running up the trackbed but not too much work actually in progress.
10. A mile or more up the line we found more signs of activity. Some underbridges on that section could be seen from a distance as being worked on as my friend and I drover up to Kilbagie, and looking back east from the overbridge there shows that work on drainage is definitely in progress!
11. Looking the other way at Kilbagie the SAK runs through a moderately deep cutting. Some drainage work seesm to have been done on the left side of the cutting as we view it.
12. A closer view of the bridge shown in the last picture shows it to be quite substantial for what I think is just a bridge to allow the local farmer access across the line. I certainly isn't on a public road! The highest point on the Kincardine branch, and almost certainly of the whole of the SAK, will be the summit of this cutting.
13. We moved on to an overbridge near Kennet, where looking back toward Kincardine the bridge that once carried the main road from Alloa to Kincardine goes over the line. The difference in bridge style may be due to it having been rebuilt at some point, possibly to widen the road or something. Again drainage work can be seen to have been done as a manhole cover is obvious near the bottom of the picture.
14. Looking the other way at Kennet shows the route of the line curving downhill to run west towards Clackmannan.
15. Since I had a friend with me who, despite being a fellow railway enthusiast didn't want to visit every last overbridge and vantage point (for which we didn't have time anyway), this next picture jumps westward somewhat to show the trackbed inside Alloa from the footbridge behind the former Alexanders Midland bus garage. It doesn't look to me like even the drainage has been done here yet, but it would be asking a bit much for the contractors to do that everywhere simultaneously!
16. Looking the other way from the same footbridge doesn't show very much progress either, although it gives me the chance to point out that one of the first things that the contractors have done on the SAK where the trackbed is in a town is to put up new metal fencing to stop trespassers. It probably won't make them popular with some of the locals, but once the trains are running it might save lives!
17. In the middle of Alloa now and what a contrast with some of my older pictures. I will always think of this as the part of the line east of the station, but in fact you are (supposedly) looking at the site of the new station platform. Oh well, it'll be much better than weeds! The worksite to the left is, I believe, the first user of the site of Alloa engine shed since it was demolished in the 1960s!
18. Looking the other way from the Waggonway bridge shows again that although the track has been lifted and the trackbed has been fully cleared in the process, not too much work has been done in the middle of Alloa. Since the SAK trackbed in Alloa is sandwiched between two level-crossings that are both due to close at a later date, it isn't surprising that most of the rapid process is being made elsewhere! An exception however, which is I admit somewhat difficult to see on this picture, is that the bridge that the trackbed goes under has recently had some girder replacement done on it, which I know for certain as I saw the old girders after they had come out but didn't have a camera handy at the time!
19. The last stop my friend & I made on the 14/4/06 was at Alloa West Junction level-crossing, from which I took this zoom view looking eastwards up the adjacent cutting. The bridges seen hare are all good vantage points for filming that I have used over the years (and will of course use on other occasions). If anyone is interested in finding them on a map, they are the 'Claremont' (nearest), 'Ludgate' (middle), and 'Mar Place' overbridges.
20. Pulling back the zoom shows the actual view you would see at this location, including a signal post that was certainly there when I was about 7 years old. I'd like to think that it might have a place in the new signalling of the line, but the chances of that are slim and the best I can hope for is that it might be 'retired' to somewhere like Bo'ness or Aviemore! Since the level-crossing will be shut and replaced by a footbridge here (with road traffic going a different route) this exact ground-level view might not be possible (without tresspassing) in future, although with a footbridge available I won't mind too much.
21. Looking westwards at Alloa West Junction, this view appears at a first glance to be much the same story as the rest of Alloa, but hang on a minute...
22. ...a zoom view shows bundles of steel sleepers dumped at intervals at the side of the trackbed! No point in doing that if they weren't going to be used fairly soon you would think?
From the last picture above it is obviously that work on the SAK must have been proceeding fairly quickly to the west of Alloa by the 14/4/06, but we had run out of time that day and I didn't have the time to check progress on the SAK properly until well into May. Cue the next progress report!
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