SAK Rebuilt - Progress Report 20
Concrete Sleepers And A Tamper
In my last SAK progress report (19), I showed not only the tracklaying and trackbed preparation in Alloa done by Saturday 27/1/07, but also the considerable progress made on that day during which the last of the trackbed through Alloa had ballast spread on it and would obviously soon see track laid on it.
This gave me a bit of a problem however. It wasn't very likely that anything would be done on the Sunday, and if I wanted to keep up with progress on the last of the tracklaying in Alloa I would need to visit in daylight for several days, despite being at work and unable to get leave on such short notice. There was only one answer - go at lunchtime! So on Monday 29/1/07 I did just that, driving the 7 miles or so to Alloa to see what had been done that morning. On the way there I saw something interesting at Blackgrange which I stopped and filmed on the way back (see the last picture of this report below), but as I started filming when I got to Alloa, we'll start there!
1. This first picture is of the new station and the by now-thoroughly
ballasted and flattened trackbed. Someone has been using a small roller
to flatten extra material on the platform, but with little work actually
being done here it looked like it was also lunchtime for the people
working on the station!
2. Swinging round a bit shows a few people about, but all the plant that
had been so busy two days previously is currently sitting idle. However
there is even less ballast in the heap than when we had left on the
Saturday, so they (and their drivers) deserve a break!
3. Zooming in on the end of the track laid into Alloa from the east shows
a few workers doing something at the end of the laid track. However the
ballasting seems to have been a bit generous as the level in the foreground
seems to be right up to the top of the rails!
4. However the more interesting view was in the other direction where I saw
two road-rail machines sitting just this side of the Station Bridge, and they
didn't look like they were sitting on ballast! So I zoomed in at once and this
view shows that they aren't - some concrete sleepered track has
appeared under the Alloa station bridge. The actions of the machines
aren't done to make interesting poses for photographers, but this
odd-looking view could almost be entered in a photography competition!
5. Swinging round a bit shows that concrete sleepers have been arranged to
the side of the trackbed here, with some of them longer than usual and
with four sets of rail fastenings which means they must belong to a point.
This would be the right place for the toe of a point too as the two tracks
coming from the head of it will need to have more or less fully diverged by
the time they go under the Waggonway bridge (which is of course where I was
standing) to be parallel at the new platform end and the points installed
elsewhere on the SAK are quite long (and not as long as many now used on
main lines, either!).
6. Pulling back the zoom gives a similar view of more of the concrete sleepers
including some very long ones that will be positioned this side of the point
frog, but the ordinary concrete sleepers at the bottom of the picture
suggest that the tracklaying might not revert immediately to using steel
sleepers at this end of the point.
7. Having seen what I could from the Waggonway bridge, I moved round to the
Station bridge to get a closer look at what was going on (or would be after
lunch!), but as you can see, the view was almost too good! The machines have
clearly been moving rail around as well as concrete sleepers, and the rails
for one side of a point switch are visible on the right of the picture.
8. Panning up shows the Waggonway bridge in the background. The bed of ballast
doesn't look at first glance like it is wide enough for a single track to
diverge into two tracks, but the foreshortening of the picture is deceptive -
the waggonway bridge originally spanned two tracks, and the ballast bed is
the full width of the span well before it gets there.
9. I naturally had a look from the other side of the Station bridge, and
found that the section of concrete sleepered track the machines were sitting
on (difficult to see in previous pictures I admit!) didn't join directly to
the steel sleepered track previously laid - there were wooden sleepers in
between! I'm not sure why (Height difference? Minimising movement due to
vibration?), but there is doubtless a good reason.
10. A more general view westward from the Station bridge shows, for the first
time in my progress reports, the alignment of the new track as seen from
here. Near the camera the new track is more or less where the original track was
but further away it is cutting across where the outer end of the old station
platform was to achieve a smoother reverse curve that can be traversed at
higher speeds. It's an odd place to park a trolley, unless it has just been
left behind by the new tracklaying work today!
11. Zooming right out gives an excellent view right through most of the cutting
between here and Alloa West Junction, with the track curving gently out of sight
on the other side of the three road bridges over the line that I have filmed
many of the pictures used in previous progress reports from. Once trains start
running this will be an excellent place to see trains approaching from a
distance, at least from the Stirling direction
12. The final picture in this set was filmed from a distance as I headed back
to work - a large and most impressive tamping machine was parked near
Blackgrange level-crossing. As mentioned in the introduction to this report
above, I had seen this while driving to Alloa, but with traffic right behind
me I couldn't stop to film it and settled for making a mental note of where
to do so on the way back! A large sophisticated (and doubtless quite expensive)
tamper like this can do an excellent job of leveling and aligning the new track,
although this one wasn't doing anything when I saw it...
Not bad progress for a Monday morning! I definitely wanted to return the next day to see what progress might be made by then, and of course I did. See what had been done by Tuesday lunchtime in the next progress report!
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