SAK Rebuilt - Progress Report 22
The Ends (Nearly) Meet!
In the last two progress reports (19 and 20) I reported on the progress made on the final phase of the SAK tracklaying in the middle of Alloa on two consecutive days at the end of January 2007. However the tracklaying wasn't finished for the week, and hence on Wednesday 31/1/07 I again set out at lunchtime to catch up with progress.
1. Despite not having a lot of time to spare, I decided to start by making a
short detour on the way to Alloa, as my route took me past Cambus, and hence
this first picture is looking westwards at the Cambus level-crossing.
Although materials are still stacked at the trackside and on the adjacent
worksite, there wasn't much going on here.
2. Looking the other way doesn't at first seem any more interesting....
3. ...until I zoomed out to see what the light in the distance belonged
to - the tamper I had seen a couple of days before (or another like it?)
is sitting in the Cambus loop, with at least one Seacow ballast wagon
in the background for good measure!
4. Having got an end-on view of the tamper, I drove slowly towards Alloa
and found somewhere to stop the car for a different viewing angle. The
tamper seems to be parked, perhaps for a some routine maintenence or
maybe for it's operators to have lunch!
5. I moved down the road an was able to stop safely a little further down
to get a third view of the tamper. If you are wondering about why it is
parked in the Cambus loop rather than somewhere else, that is no mystery -
the main site offices of the SAK reconstruction are on part of the old
Alloa New Yard site and are just through the trees from where the tamper
6. Having stopped off in three places without even having reached Alloa,
I compounded matters further by stopping off for a look at the track
in the deep cutting in the west of Alloa that I had seen tracklaying
in the previous weekend, and was delighted to find that after a mere
four days (one of them a Sunday!) the new track has received generous
amounts of ballast in preparation for being aligned and tamped.
7. Looking towards the middle of Alloa reveals an even more generous
coating of ballast all the way through to the old station site.
8. Another detour - another bridge! But worth it as I got this
interesting view of ballasted track right up to the Alloa Station
bridge, and the two seacows that will have dropped it for good
9. I went back to the car and finally completed my journey! From where
I was choosing to park these lunchtimes, it was a short walk to the
Waggonway bridge and thus this next picture is a zoom view of a road-
rail machine attached to the two Secow ballast wagons.
10. But what of the tracklaying? (The original purpose of the trip
after all!) Pulling back the zoom a bit reveals that concrete
sleepers have been used to form a section of plain track onwards from the
straight arm of what is now a complete point...
11. ...but pulling back the zoom further and panning downwards reveals
that the concrete sleepers don't go all that far. As with the transition
to concrete sleepers on the other side of the Station bridge, there is a
short section of four wooden sleepers after which 'normal service'
(sleel sleepers) resumes!
12. Looking the other way reveals that track was now laid right under the
Waggonway bridge, but that the track opposite where the platform track
would be laid is still being worked on.
13. Naturally I zoomed in to see more detail, and it turned out that one
rail has been moved into place on the remaining unfinished section, and
that another is being dragged down to go on the other side. Incidentally
this view makes it clear for the first time in these progress reports
that there will be no connection to the new station platform track from
the east, something I hadn't been completely sure of before.
14. Swinging the camera round a bit...
15. ...and then a bit more shows that work on the new station car park
is progressing well.
16. Despite now being a bit short of time, I walked quickly round to the
Station bridge to film the completed point from the other side. The
straight route looks fine for through trains, but the divergence will
have to have a relatively sharp reverse curve for the track to get under
the Waggonway bridge, and will presumably have a low speed limit. Mind
you, with a dead end coming up soon trains shouldn't be going fast
entering the platform anyway!
17. Since I was there, I naturally filmed the road-rail machine and the
SAK ballast train! And a picture is included here because...ummm... I
18. I now had to head back to the car, but since that meant going back over
the Waggonway bridge, I checked the progress made there in the last 5
minutes or so - the second rail is now in place...
19. ...but zooming in reveals that it wasn't quite long enough! Doubtless the
machine is about to drag the piece of rail just beyond up a bit to be measured
and cut to fit the gap. Alas, I didn't have the time to wait and see.
20. Of course, being short of time inevitably meant that I would think up another
reason for a detour on the way back! This time, it was to the relatively new
road bridge between Alloa West Junction and the Cambus loop to try and get
another view of the tamper. I started however, with a view of the completed track
curving towards Alloa, which I hadn't filmed from this location since it had been
laid. No skimping on the ballasting here!
21. In the other direction the view of the track is just as impressive,
but zooming in...
22. ... shows the reverse view of the Seacow and the Tamper. Not as good
a view as I would like, but this straight section is quite long and the
tamper was even further from where I was standing than it was from the
Time was definitely up for this trip, but no complaints - I had got good views of the tamper, the Seacow wagons, the new point in Alloa completely assembled and to top all of that seen the ends of the eastward and westward tracklaying (nearly) meet in Alloa!
Since I had never [at the time of filming the pictures in this progress report that is] seen any trackplan of what was to be laid on the SAK in the middle of Alloa I hadn't known for certain that the new platform was to be a siding facing Stirling - it would have been possible for it to be on a loop or for the platform to be on plain track with a turnback siding beyond. Obviously some way of allowing a freight train to go through while a passenger train is in Alloa is desirable since it adds to the line capacity but the siding due to be put in is only useful for the planned SAK passenger service - changes to track and signalling would be needed should the service ever be extended east to Dunfermline and beyond.
Anyway it looked fairly certain that the track would be finished through Alloa within a working day, leaving very little trackwork still to be laid. Was it worth visiting on the Thursday lunchtime? Well I couldn't resist the temptation! But that's in the next progress report...
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