SAK Rebuilt - Progress Report 6

SAK Pointwork!

In the last couple of progress reports (nos 4 & 5) I reported on the rapid progress being made towards putting the track down on the SAK. Little did I realise that the first completed new track I would see would not be plain track at all...

Having spent four weeks checking up the progress on the SAK route (generally by stopping off at any part of the SAK that I happened to be going near) without seeing much more than run-of-the-mill drainage work and mining stabilisation work, I wasn't really expecting to see my first assembled track at Cambus when I went round there on the afternoon of Friday 7/7/06, but the SAK project is not to be underestimated as the contractors have now assembled two points on the worksite adjacent to the Cambus level-crossing.

1. The first picture shows a left hand point sitting at the edge of the trackbed. This point (and the other one I saw for that matter) is sitting up off the ground on a frame made of old sleepers and rails which will have made it much easier to assemble.


2. As can be seen in the last picture the fencing was getting in the way of the camcorder, so I lifted it up and this is the result. Although the concrete sleepers and the fact that it is not buried in ballast make it look quite impressive, this is actually only a medium-sized point by current 'main-line' standards, although quite large by 'Wee County' standards!


3. Zooming in a bit shows the point even better. Having gone to the trouble of assembling it at Cambus it is obviously going to be used here, although lifting it into place will call for a very large crane as it will need to lift the whole weight of all that steel and concrete and probably end-on at that!


4. The first three pictures in this progress report were taken standing more or less on the Cambus level crossing (which still has the BR rails across it!), but stepping sideways I moved on film the other new point. The odd thing about this one is that it has been assembled at a right-angle to the SAK trackbed. I don't suppose that matters too much when it will have to be lifted by a crane, but it's an odd sight right now!


5. A (slightly) better view of the second point. It's hard to tell from these side views, but this is actually a right-hand point of the same size as the left-hand one seen above.


6. My last picture is from camcorder footage of the second point obtained by standing on a convenient wall. Truthfully it isn't any better than the last two pictures, but since I had the picture handy I put it into this progress report anyway! Also of interest in this picture is the large heap of pink ballast that has been piled up here ready for the start of tracklaying.


Since I have no inside information about the detailed design of the SAK I have the fun(?) of trying to guess what the contractors are up to at each stage. Usually that is pretty obvious and in this case I am obviously wondering if tracklaying might begin at Cambus, since these points are obviously nearly ready to be moved into their final locations.

However this pointwork also represents something of a mystery to me as I am having trouble working out what the left-hand point will be used for. To re-connect the 'Alva Railway' (aka the Menstrie branch) would need (at a minimum) a right-hand point and a left-hand catch-point, as would re-connecting the adjacent Cambus distillery site owned by Diago. So why build up a left-hand point? Actually I can think of several viable possibilities (a passing or rounding loop being top of the list) but have no immediate way of eliminating any of them! Time will tell...

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