The first thing I have to report this time is that the S&T found the item they were shown looking for at Hunting Bridge in photo H in my last diary.  Opinions seem to vary what it was and how much though!  My suggestion that it was a £50 note appears to be somewhat optimistic, perhaps a 500th of that may be more appropriate!

So having insulted them it is only right is start with our S&T staff and volunteers this time, as they are still very busy.  At Pickering Station they have put up the post and bracket for a banner repeater alongside platform 2.  This is help our drivers when they are approaching the signal just around the corner of the C&W building.  When complete this a circular screen will have a black bar in a white surround.  I will show you the pictures when it is working. Photo A shows it on the ground and B when lifted into place with Kieran driving the Coles crane.  Photo C has Ken, Alex and Gordon being pleased with their efforts, which they should be.  Craig didn’t let me have any photos of the others involved, so apologies if you are left out.


Last Wednesday DB Cargo, formerly known as DB Schenker and before that EWS, brought 480tonnes (ish) of ballast to our relay site just north of milepost 14.  You may recall that last year they brought the ballast in the Network Rail Autoballaster.  This was  dream to have as all we had to do is walk alongside it while their operators opened and closed the hopper doors remotely.  I have happy memories of us all ambling along with our hands in our pockets!  But, like everything Network Rail, it is very expensive to hire so this time they brought the stone in DB Cargo’s own Seacow ballast hoppers as they are much cheaper to us.  They are no longer required for use on the big railway as their hopper doors  are decidedly difficult to work, and that is the polite expression.  You may recall we have some of our own but only one is anywhere near ready to use after nearly 3 years of hard work by our volunteers  in New Bridge.


Photo D shows loco 66019 posing at bridge 17 while Martyn and the P Way gang of staff and volunteers try to get a door open.  The worst doors to open are the centre ones that drop stone in the track fourfoot; the outside ones are easier as they have recently been used elsewhere.  As ever when we have a ballast train, DB Cargo bring it to Grosmont then run round the train and pull it to where we need it.  We put a Class 37 on the other end to pull it back to Grosmont.  When it is ready to leave back to Battersby and the big world beyond, the Class 66 just backs the train out onto Network Rail (after we have taken our Class 37 off!) and off it goes.  Photo E has the Class 37 coming back North after the first drop of stone seen in the fourfoot.  Actually, the Class 66 was pushing!  Tipping ballast is an art as letting too much out causes  a big heap in places that can derail the train.  Class 66’s are fitted with very slow speed automatic controls so they can simply just move the train along at walking pace which makes life much easier.


You can see Laddie, Darren and Mike on the hoppers in photo F.  When all the stone was dropped and the hopper doors were confirmed as being fully closed, off the train went back to Grosmont as did the P Way gang seen in the distance in photo G!  Also seen in  photo G is the stone on the track and the drain pipes laid in the ditch alongside.  These pipes and the ditch will be filled on the next stone delivery.  Photo H is looking back with the stone and ditch seen plus our dumper sitting alongside.  As ever, it is a fact of life that when something breaks down it does so at the most inconvenient spot and in this case full of spoil!

On Thursday, the section had the ballast regulated and the track was tamped to its final position, although it needs more stone, which will now have to be after half term running.  When the track was confirmed as being in its correct alignment, the rail joints and their gaps were finished on Friday.  This involved moving up to 5 rails along, cutting up to 23mm off and then drilling and fishbolting those just clamped.  So this relay is now available for trains to use, but with a Temporary Speed Restriction (TSR) until it has more stone which due to be delivered in early March.

So on behalf of everybody, many thanks to all those working in often rotten weather to prepare our wonderful railway for use by our visitors including Royal Scot in March.


All for now.

Nigel Trotter