SAK Rebuilt - Progress Report 23
First SAK 'Train' Through Alloa?
By Thursday 1st February 2007 I had visited Alloa to see and film the SAK tracklaying 4 days out of the previous 5, including all my lunchtimes so far that week, and you might think I was due a lunchtime off. Not so! As reported in my last progress report (22), the work remaining on the tracklaying through Alloa was reduced to the completion of work on the partly assembled stretch of track on the through line opposite the new station platform, plus the track in the platform siding itself, the laying of which hadn't yet started..
Of course there were a couple of other 'loose ends' of tracklaying that I hadn't seen and filmed yet, like gaps I had previously seen in the middle and at one end of the loop east of Alloa, and also the short piece of track across the new Helensfield bridge, but as I spent my early years living in Alloa the tracklaying through town was definitely a milestone in the project from my point of view, and I wanted to film it as soon as possible after completion. So on the Thursday lunchtime I set out once more...
1. Typically, my first point of call was unscheduled, as I caught up with
the tamper I had seen twice already this week, but this time at work on
the track near to Alloa West Junction.
2. Zooming in reveals the 'tools' or 'arms' (don't know what to call
them!) that reach down into the ballast and under the sleepers to lift,
pack, and align the track. A profusion of hydraulic hoses are visible
leading downward - hope they don't burst a hose!
3. Not too obvious in the pictures of the tamper in previous progress
reports is that it has been named - meet 'James Watt'! It's number
is 'DR 7380 4' for anyone who wants to know that too.
4. After the brief stop to see the tamper, I got to Alloa and walked
up onto the Waggonway bridge. Looking west there was nothing new to
see as no work had been done to lay the platform siding track. Worth
pointing out is that the road down to what was the old cattle dock on
the left of the picture is still being used for access - I don't know
when the the short siding into the dock was removed, but it was
gone by about 1970. (As I said above - I lived in Alloa as a kid!)
5. Looking east shows it's 'Job Done' for the through line, and 'Job
Not Started Yet' for the platform siding! just visible on the right
is the edge of the work to form a car park.
6. Zooming out shows a bit of a dip where the track laid since yesterday
meets the track previously laid into Alloa from the east - I commented on
a bit of a mis-match in levels here in a previous progress report, and
this is obviously the result. Generous ballasting and a few passes by a
tamper like the one shown above will be needed to sort this out!
7. I turned my attention (i.e. the camcorder!) to the work on the car park
and as you can see, the site is not completely filled next
to the new platform...
8. ...but the rest just about is and it's getting flatter by the minute!
9. Of course every worksite has to have a junkpile in a corner somewhere
and this one is no exception! Oddly enough, when this site was a brewery
and I was a kid in Alloa, I remember looking down on this corner and
seeing some sort of (brewery-type) junk there then! Alas, it's long-time
career as a junk-filled corner will surely end when the station site is
10. I mentioned above that I hadn't yet seen (in daylight and good weather
anyway!) track over the Helensfield bridge and that the loop lines east of
the Hilton Road level-crossing were unfinished on previous visits. Since filming
in the middle of Alloa hadn't taken long I had some time to spare to try
and rectify that, and this picture is my best (only) effort at the first
of these. The problem with the Helensfield bridge is that being high up, it
isn't overlooked by any useful vantage point so seeing track going onto the
bridge from the side, as in this picture, is the all I could manage without
going where I shouldn't.
11. Just down the enbankment towards Alloa I saw a road-rail machine -
I'm not sure why though as it wasn't moving, although perhaps it was
waiting for something to be done by hand on the track ahead of it.
Could it be that tracklaying on the section over the Helensfield bridge
is just being finished?
12. For the rest of my lunchtime, I travelled back the short distance to
the loop east of Alloa, parked my car near the Alloa end of it, and walked
up the pavement to get a look at it. This first view is of a machine at work
near Alloa Hilton Road level-crossing. It could be working to close the gap in
the track I had previously seen there, but since one loop road is much more
heavily ballasted than the other I suspect the connection has already been made
and that the SAK ballast train has rolled on though.
13. Swinging round shows that the tracks now go right under the bridge, and so does
the heavy ballasting on the nearest track...
14. ...and looking right under the bridge reveals at least two Seacow
ballast wagons on that track! These wagons are therefore the first 'proper'
railway vehicles to travel on rails right through Alloa in roughly
a quarter of a century - and they have been put to good use once they got
here! I like it, but it's an event that probably won't go down in history,
even with my help!
15. I walked round the edge of the new roundabout to get a better view of
the wagons and found that, like the day before, that there were only two
being used. Oddly enough one is filled with ballast and the other isn't
- perhaps lunchtime came when they were half-way through re-loading. Note
also the piles of concrete sleepers and rails behind the Seacows - since
almost the only tracklaying left is the platform siding, these must
presumably be intended for that.
16. Swinging the camcorder round shows that the loop is nearly completed,
although there is a temporary access still in place where there used to
be an occupation crossing - the plan was always to replace it by a private
road through what is currently the worksite on the opposite side of the line
connecting to new SAK link road, but until that is open the original route
obviously cannot be removed.
17. This last picture shows the new SAK link road. It isn't open yet, but
construction is well-advanced with the surface tarmaced and lamposts
Another worthwile trip! Track from one end of Alloa to the other, the track on the Helensfield bridge (probably) completed, with the loop between Alloa an Helensfield and the SAK link road nearly complete as well. With so much completed, would there be anything much to see in the near future? Since there was no evidence of work starting on the siding into the new station platform I thought not, and hence it was a week later that I next had a look. Find out what I saw then in the next progress report!
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