SAK Rebuilt - Progress Report 11

Tracklaying At Last!

Having seen, as shown in my last progress report, the SAK rail welding activity having switched in the second half of August 2006 to the east of the SAK, I fell into the trap of not keeping an eye out for work at the west end of the project. And you ignore the SAK project at your peril! Sometime in late August or early September of 2006 (I think!!!) tracklaying started from the Stirling end of the line, and it took me a while to notice. In fact it took me until the evening of 13/9/06...

I apologise in advance that these pictures are a little gloomy. But then, the light level really was bad that night as the evenings draw in fast in mid-September!

1. I started where the SAK runs alongside the Causewayhead Road in the Stirling area. The track is clearly freshly laid as it is just sitting on the bed of ballast. It is also not particularily straight or well-aligned, which isn't at all surprising as the first stage of tracklaying is obviously just to fasten rails to sleepers in the right place.


2. A zoom view confirms the unfinished nature of the new track. While I suspect that a locomotive could creep along it without serious risk of derailment, a lot of ballasting, aligning, packing, and consoldating will be needed before it gets added to the national rail network!


3. Zooming in a bit more shows very clearly that the S&D trackbed was originally double track as there is more than enough space for another track here. I didn't know when I filmed this [this caption is being typed at a later date!] that plans for the SAK included double track from here into Stirling station and the second track simply hadn't been laid yet!


4. Zooming right out shows that there were more sleepers and welded rail as yet unused. Hindsight is wonderful, but on the night I totally missed the significance of that!


5. Looking the other way in the twilight shows the track from this point as being more or less in the middle of the trackbed. As the right-angle curve that starts at this point was supposedly tight enough to cause some operating restrictions back in steam days, the full width of the trackbed is obviously being utilised to provide the best single-track alignment possible during the SAK rebuild.


6. Moving round to the Ladysneuk Road LC (on the road to Cambuskenneth), here is a view of the new track from the Stirling direction. The lack of fresh ballast on the trackbed in the forground is noticeable, but as will be seen in the next picture, there was a reason for this.


7. At first glance this isn't too exciting a picture, but appearances are deceptive. The temorary rail join here is actually the SAK connected to the S&D! To avoid having to disrupt the tracklaying by rebuilding the level crossings at the stage, the contractor has settled for fastening the new track on the SAK to the old S&D rails through the level-crossings.


8. Looking the other way shows the other end of the S&D rails on the other fastened to the new track at the very place I first saw welded rail as part of the SAK rebuild. The new track here could well include that rail, in fact!


9. A better view of the new track eastwards from Ladysneuk Road LC. It curves (albeit a little unevenly) right out of sight. In fact, I was beginning to wonder if I would find the end before it got dark, which was clearly going to happen soon!


10. In fact I just beat the light, as I found the extent of the tracklaying nearly half a mile further on, at the old level-crossing that used to take the road to Cambuskenneth over the S&D. However it seemed obvious that the new track would soon be connected up to the the old S&D rails at the bottom of the picture, and that the tracklaying wasn't over. Especially when I swung the camera round...


11. ...and filmed the already well-prepared trackbed on the other side, complete with rail down each side ready to be lifted onto sleepers once they have been laid.


Despite having missed the start of actual tracklaying on the SAK, and being very busy at work (September is my busiest month there), I was greatly cheered by what I saw on the evening of the 13th. The railways of Clackmannanshire were truly on the way back - or would be, once the tracklaying got out of Stirlingshire and into the Wee County!


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