SAK Rebuilt - Progress Report 45

Signals In The Mist...

Having been on an official tour of the SAK only a week before Christmas 2007 (pictures from which formed my previous progress report), I didn't expect to see anything new on the SAK until January 2008 at the earliest due to the holiday period, and I was right about that.

However on the evening of Friday 11th January 2008, I discovered when driving over the new SAK link road in the dark, that there was something worth seeing - red lights! However I couldn't do much about that in the dark, so I set out on the (freezing cold and foggy) morning of Saturday 12th January (armed with an 8 MPixel digital camera I got as a Christmas present which badly needed testing!), to see just how many signals in the Alloa area had been left switched on over the weekend!

1. My first stop was at the Mar Place Bridge, and this first view shows that the signal just west of the Station Bridge does seem to be at red...


2. ...which is confirmed by a zoomed view. My new camera doesn't have as much zoom capability as my camcorder, but it's enough for this sort of picture. Incidentally the slight fuzziness of the picture isn't due to the camera, but the fact that this was a bitterly cold morning with freezing fog about!


3. Looking the other way from this bridge doesn't show any signals, the next one facing westbound trains being just beyond the Ludgate and Clairmont bridges. Time to head west!


4. I moved west to the Clairmont bridge, and founf that the signal immediately west of there was also at red.


5. Zooming in makes a nice picture, but the signal is still at red! This is an new type of signal fitted with a single tri-colour LED lamp, as are all the other signals on the SAK, and is therefore the equivalent of a three-aspect signal.


6. I didn't have time to go further west, so my next move was to the vicinity of the new Alloa station as I had seen the platform starter signal lit up red the previous night. For this purpose I tried a new filming location - the car park of the next-door supermarket, but in daylight the signal just couldn't be seen clearly. However this angle gave me a new and interesting view of the station building and the steps leading up to it.


7. I moved along the temporary fence a bit and lifted the camera up above it to get a different view of the steps, lamposts and the station building, and also the odd-looking statue I have previously filmed from a distance.


8. I swung the camera round a bit, but the result, as you can see, was more than a bit cluttered! A good view from this angle may have to wait until the station is open for business!


9. I next wanted to try and get a view of the signal installed to protect the station platform siding point from trains approaching from the Kincardine direction, so I moved to the Bruce Street footbridge. At first I didn't think the signal was visible from here, but I moved right to one end and found that I could just see it at red through the branches of a nearby tree!


10. Looking the other way I had no such problems, although as you can see the freezing fog was beginning to thicken up!


11. Zooming in shows the junction signal for the loop. Red again! Incidentally even before I got close to typing up these captions someone liked this image so much they asked me for a high-res copy to use as a wallpaper on their computer. It's a nice enough image and I was happy to oblige of course, but is it that special? Hmmmm! (Hi-res copies available free on request!!! ;-)


12. My last stop was at the bridge that takes the new SAK link road over the SAK at Parkmill. I already knew that the signals visible from here were red, since they were the ones I had seen in the dark the previous night. However getting a picture was a race against time as the freezing fog was beginning to get quite dense! Since they aren't all that easy to see in this picture...


13. ...I zoomed in and got a picture of sorts!


14. Looking east I had the same problem...


15. ...and much the same result using the zoom.


I tried a few more pictures from the link road bridge, but the fog was still getting thicker and since my car computer had registered a temperature of -4C on every trip since I had left my house it was clearly time to give up! Since I had passed though Cambus the night before and taken a short detour to the level-crossing I knew that the signals near there were not switched on, so the pictures above probably show most of the signals that were on that weekend.

Of course there was no guarantee that any of these signals would stay switched on, since the S&T engineers might need to correct faults or need to do other installation work without risking electrocution, but I can put up with that, especially now that I have these pictures! And indeed some of the signals seen above were switched off during the following week, although curiously I have not seen any of the signals in Alloa that are intended to control westbound trains (specifically the platform starter signal and the ones in pictures 4 & 13) switched off since, suggesting that if they were switched off, it wasn't for long.

With not much over two months left before the SAK signalling was due to be connected in to make ithe line operational, I was hopeful of seeing further progress before long. The two major uncompleted parts of the project (visually at least) were the new Station building, which I had been told on 18th December would be ready within two months, and the three level-crossings at Ladysneuk Road, Blackgrange, and Cambus, which had to be finished and ready to use by Easter. And at the start of February 2008, there was indeed something worth filming, which you can see and read about in my next progress report.


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