First of all, a Happy New Year to all although it now seems a long time since Christmas and New Year.

After the Pullman coaches were taken to Pickering work started on the next track renewal at milepost 14 over bridges 16 and 17.  This is just over ½ mile north of Yorfalls level crossing.  So on Tuesday afternoon I duly walked up from the crossing seen in the distance in A and round the corner in B only to be overtaken by the P Way gang unreasonably driving up to the site seen in C.  My comments to them when they went past me are not for publication!  This site is a sharply curved reverse curve with Pickering Beck contained by a stone retaining wall alongside the railway and the river bed paved in stone blocks where the channel is narrowest.  Don’t think about doing anything like in today’s world, dread to think what it would cost!  The view in D looking back towards Levisham shows where the Wombles have been cutting back the trees and vegetation.


So why are we relaying this section? The first right hand curve has SHC clips holding the 98lb flat bottom rails, as seen in E. This system was invented by the Western Region of British Railways as the rest of the UK were out of step.  It is a good system but unfortunately some of the sleepers are breaking up and the clips are no longer holding the rails down as seen in F.  The 98lb flat bottom rails are also life expired with both kinked and dipped joints so we are replacing these also.  As I have said in previous diaries, the logic of having a less strong rail for heavy axle freight trains rather escapes me but that was in the days when Mr Treasury dictated keeping costs down.  They were a national standard so no further comments about the Western, until later.

The northern left hand curve has AD concrete sleepers at 26 per 60ft length with plenty of ballast under them so we are keeping them and just rerailing to replace the 98lb rails. Photo G looking back from the bullhead clearly shows where they start.  In photo H, Mike, Laddie and Jim are seen removing the SHC clips.  You need to lift the clip off the outer hoop with one bar, then use sometimes two more bars to prise the clip off the rail foot.  After that it is easy, but unless you have three arms, it needs at least two and generally three people.  Don’t know how the Western did it as they had miles of SHC’s, perhaps Bernard or somebody will tell me!


On Wednesday work continued with Peter seen in I regrading the side formation ready for the existing ballast to be graded onto it.  There is a slope to encourage the water to flow across into the ditch that Pete has recut. Martyn is seen in J trying not to fall into the water while we were working out how to support the ballast and also not fall into the river.  As part of the replacement of the rails, we will have to refit the flange lubricator with new applicators for CEN56 rails as the ones seen removed in K are for 98lb rails.


Next week’s diary will show all the SHC’s out and the new concrete sleepers being laid in from where they are laid on the side.  The plan is to finish the relaying of the SHC’s and rerailing of the AD’s in the next couple of weeks  before the ballast comes, but more of that anon.  Let’s hope the weather says OK, at least Barbara didn’t come to get us!


All for now, back to preparing for work on the Goathland bridges.



Nigel Trotter