SAK Rebuilt - Progress Report 36

Go East!

On Friday 1st June 2007, the same week as my visit to the east of Alloa (see Progress Report 35), I was tempted by good weather to go and take a good look at the SAK west of Alloa. I hadn't see most of it for some time, and in particular wanted to check for the presence of signals, as I had already see new signals in the center and east of Alloa. However I didn't want to go all the way into Causewayhead or Stirling, and thus chose to start at the A91 overbridge east of Causewayhead and work steadily towards Alloa, to fully catch up with the progress on this section.

1. My first picture from the A91 overbridge shows the line curving westwards into Causewayhead, with a new signal visible in the middle distance.


2. Zooming in shows that the signal controls eastbound trains, and has the customary lineside cabinet for it's control equipment.


3. Looking eastwards from here reveals the SAK track stretching on into the distance. Time to zoom...


4. ...and zoom...


5. ...and zoom...


6. ...and ZOOM! It took all the zoom I had, but here is a passable view of a signal facing the other way near to where the Manor Powis signal box used to be! There is also a vague suggestion of another signal to control eastbound trains in the background, but it's just too far (although it ought to be easily seen when the time comes to switch it on!).


7. To try and get a better view, I moved round to the Blackgrange level-crossing. The first view (with no zoom) doesn't show much (especially as I am facing the evening sunshine)...


8. But zooming in shows there is indeed a second signal. It isn't actually all that close to Blackgrange, but one of it's purposes will doubtless be to protect the level-crossing and it can't be too close if it is to do that properly since a train passing it at danger will stop automatically, but not instantly!


9. Looking the other way shows that the signal wiring, and the troughing it goes into for that matter, is far from complete yet. However in the background...


10. ...there is another signal to control westbound trains. Actually I should be talking about trains in the up and down directions, but although that is shorter, I would then have to explain fairly often that 'up' trains are westbound/headed for Stirling, and that 'down' trains are eastbound/headed for Alloa - which would make the captions longer! (I can't win!)


11. Pulling back the zoom, I then filmed a concrete base that has been built next to the line. Obviously the signals and track-circuiting will need to wired back to somewhere, and it's too far to wire them all the way to Stirling directly, so this is obviously the base for a relay room. The location is obviously convienient for controlling the level-crossing locally which may need to be done occasionally.


12. Swinging the camera round a bit shows spare concrete troughing and what looks like parts of another signal. Since there doesn't seem to be any need for another signal near here I can only assume it is for elsewhere on the SAK.


13. My last picture from Blackgrange shows part of the worksite. Clearly it is still in use, and the care with which the corner nearest to the level-crossing has been prepared suggests that part of it will be in permanent use. What for is a lot less clear, since it is likely that the local relay room is to be put on the other side (see above), so either another structure is planned, or something mundane like a small car park. Time will tell!


14. My next stop, unsurprisingly, was Cambus, and the first thing I noticed was a road-rail machine complete with attached trolly wagon parked for the day.


15. However the second thing I noticed was that another concrete base has been laid here. It seems a little close to Blackgrange for another relay room, but again with another level-crossing comes the probable need for local control at some point. And there will be a lot of signal and points wiring associated with the nearby Cambus loop which is likely to be led back here also. More plant can be seen parked for the weekend on the local worksite.


16. Zooming out past the parked machine shows another two new signals. The one further away is quite near to the location of the former Cambus signal box and the now-disconnected Alva Railway (or Menstrie branch if you like). The closest signal, at a rough guess, is about where the west end of the Cambus station platform once was, although there was nothing left of the station now.


17. Looking eastwards, and zooming, shows that this end of the Cambus loop has aquired at least one signal, probably the only one that will be needed at this end given that the track it is on is for trains that have to be stopped and the other line is for trains that will go through non-stop.


18. Since I couldn't see clearly from Cambus if there were any signals at the Alloa end of the Cambus loop, it was time to move angain, so I drove to the next overbridge down to see if that helped. This is a relatively new bridge (although it pre-dates the SAK project by a few years) with fairly high parapets and, since the road over it was built as an extension to Smithfield Loan in Alloa, perhaps should be called the 'Smithfield Loan Bridge'. Doesn't sound right to me though!


19. Anyway whatever it is called, a zoom view from this bridge shows that the junction signal for the Cambus loop has been installed, but there doesn't seem to be an exit signal on the right-hand loop track as yet - perhaps the parts I saw at Blackgrange are for a signal here.


20. In the other direction the trackbed is pristine and although at first glance there are no signals to be seen...


21. ...zooming in reveals one. In fact this is the signal at the site of the former Alloa West Junction that I filmed from there a week before (see Progress Report 34).


22. I finished my evening trip by visiting the Alloa West Junction footbridge again, and here is the view westwards. Obviously nothing much has changed in a week, but the view is none the worse for that!


23. Looking the other way of course shows the track stretching away into Alloa. Zooming in...


24. ...shows that there is a signal controlling westbound trains visible in the cutting. I'm sure it would have been there a week before, but I seem to have missed it's presence completely when filming from the footbridge! Oh well, I've filmed it now and hope to film it many times more!


But not right away! I was happy with what I had filmed that night, particularily having (probably) tracked down all the new signals (excepting one missing at the Cambus loop) between Causewayhead and Alloa. It might seem overkill to have some many signal sections along a single line track, but this allows an (eastbound) freight train to follow a passenger train sufficiently closely to pass it when the passenger train is stopped at Alloa. Also, a second freight could follow the first one quite closely and be looped at Cambus to pass the passenger on the way back. In the other direction freight trains can also follow a passenger train fairly closely as well. Even if all the paths this allows aren't used normally, such flexibility is helpful when the timetable is disrupted elsewhere.

Having oscillated from one end of Alloa to the other and back in the last few progress reports it ocurred to me after this trip that I was neglecting to keep up with the construction of the new station in the center of Alloa, but I it was rather more than a week before I had both the time and good enough weather to do so. To see the details of that however, you'll have to move on to my next progress report!


Click Here To Go To 'SAK Progress Report 37'


Click Here To Return To Jeff's SAK Pages - SAK Rebuilt!


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