SAK Rebuilt - Progress Report 9

An August Evening Out!

After having seen some progress toward tracklaying on the SAK on the evening of 26/7/06, I kept looking for progress in the succeeding weeks. However there was very little new to see at first, and the weather having turned wet in August after a good June & July meant that any time I went near the SAK it generally wasn't possible to get my camcorder out without soaking it!

However after about month of this I was able to get out and about on the evening on 23/8/06, and was favoured not just with dry weather, but some nice evening sunshine!

1. I started out at Helensfield near Clackmannan at the point where the former Kincardine branch is supposed to go over the main road east out of Alloa. However one of the early casualties of the SAK project was the bridge over the road here being removed. While passing by in mid-August (in a heavy shower of rain naturally!) I noticed that one of the old bridge abutments was almost completely gone, and by the evening of the 23rd they had finished removing it and had started on laying the foundations of a replacement, as seen here.


2. Another angle on the new foundations shows the profusion of metal rods that will help to strengthen the concrete abutment when it is completed. And I'm sure that many more will be added as the height of the abutment increases!


3. Swinging the camera right shows that some of the approach embankment on the Alloa side has been removed. Not only was this necessary to allow the demolition of the old abutment, but the new foundations were noticeably further from the road than the old abutment had been, thus adding to the removal work.


4. Looking the other way shows that the southern abutment was still intact, and given the efficiency in removing the other one this suggested that this will be retained and used for the new bridge. Replacing the other one is therefore likely to be to allow road widening, the road here being a bit narrow due to the spacing of the original abutments.


5. Since the rail welding seemed to have all been done west of Cambus, I then went looking to see if the welding machine had switched to the east of the SAK (the bit between not being nearly ready for tracklaying at this time). As it turned out I didn't have to go far as I found the welder and associated plant in the outskirts of Clackmannan.


6. Zooming in a bit shows that rail welding many just have started here - not only is there only one piece of welded rail visible on the trackbed, but there is a lot of rail stacked waiting to be welded.


7. At first glance there would appear to be a piece of plant missing in the previous two pictures, but zooming out I was able to get a clear view in the evening sunshine of the digger used to haul the long lengths of welded rail down the trackbed which was parked at the next worksite down the trackbed. it's not obvious why it was there, but one possibility was that it has already hauled a length of welded rail some distance down, since access for the welder is much more difficult on this stretch of trackbed which was built as a single-track branch line and doesn't have good road access for long stretches.


8. Having found and filmed the welding machine I then backtracked to the east of Alloa as I wanted to film the rapid progress on the new road junction and bridge, which I had driven past without being able to stop on the way out! The reason why I couldn't stop is very clear in this picture - cones, cones, and more cones! In four weeks the new junction roadworks have advanced so much that traffic re-routing over temporary tarmac is now necessary to allow parts of the original road to be covered by the new approach road for the raised junction.


9. Now for a closer view, showing more clearly than in the last picture that the concrete support beams for the new road bridge have now been lifted into place across the new abutments. No sign of the the crawler crane (pictured in a previous progress report) here now, suggesting that it wasn't needed after the beams were lifted in.


10. Now for a couple of pictures of the site of the new Alloa station, which I visited next. Not much change from my last visit though.


11. A view of the future station car park shows minor changes, but not as many as in the worksite for the new supermarket, which is clearly nearing completion!


12. The sun was getting low in the sky by now which caused a bit of a problem when I tried to film in the other direction from the Waggonway bridge. However it is still possible to see in this picture that the extensive drainage work at the old station site is still underway.


13. I moved over to the Alloa station bridge and flmed in the other direction, so here is the reverse view, although given the shadows I'm not sure it is much clearer!


14. Another view affected by the low sun, but included here to show that drainage work on the SAK trackbed here was also being carried out near the west end of the old station site. And there must be quite lot still to do if they plan to use up all those large pieces of concrete pipe.


15. Zooming in go me a clearer view, but not too rewarding except to reveal yet more concrete pipe sections!


16. Typically (for this outing anyway), I went all the way out to Cambus next, before going back to visit Alloa West Junction LC! Alas no new track, or even a bed of ballast to put it on, although I did get a better picture of the trench the ballast would go in...


17. However looking back towards Alloa I was able to film a stack of metal objects at the side of the trackbed. Don't ask me what they are though!


18. A zoom view right down the trackbed in the Alloa direction reveals what might be a trench dug down into what I presume is the ballast for the old track, given that the new ballast heaps I have seen are all pink and this is grey stone. The depth of ballast on the old line would probably be deepest here as this section was relaid with concrete sleepers and welded rail just before or just after it went out of use.


19. My last destination on the SAK on the night of 23/8/06 was Alloa West Junction LC. Except that it wasn't a level-crossing any more! The signs in this picture reveal that the road over the level-crossing was closed permanently in August 2006.


20. However a pedestrian route had to be maintained over the level -crossing until the new footbridge was put in, as the legislation authorising the SAK reconstruction only authorised it's closure for road traffic, and this allowed me a good look at the new footbridge foundation works. These holes in the ground haven't changed much...


21. ...but a large new hole with concrete at the bottom has now appeared in the middle of the approach road to the LC. I'll never drive this road again, even if the signs were to be stolen!


As usual when I go out to look at the SAK on a weekday evening after work, I ran out of time when the light failed. However I had gone everywhere I wanted to this time, and was very happy with what I had found. Clearly I couldn't afford to leave things for another month before checking again! And I didn't...


Click Here To Go To 'SAK Progress Report 10'


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