Our main focus has been to complete the Esk Valley relay ready for half term running starting this coming weekend. Of course, as is usual what rolling stock that is at Pickering is wanted at Grosmont and vice versa so there will be some empty coaching stock moves this Friday ready for normal running on Saturday.

The weather has been less than kind with it taking some hours to get to, or more particularly from, Esk Valley up the big hill. With the welding finished the ballast was brought into the MPD at Grosmont and loaded by the shed staff using their telehandler. Needless to say the deliveries by road were erratic ranging from one lorry arriving at Grosmont station car park before 7 am with the driver saying that the post code he had been given was wrong. I told him on the phone it was correct after I had quickly checked it and he then went back up to Egton and to the shed. I suspect he just followed the sign at Egton to the NYMR which I suppose shows it works!

The deliveries took some days due, it appears to the availability of lorries making two deliveries a day from the quarry in Middleton in Teesdale as the quarry manager was trying for each one to have a short and long trip each day. With the remoteness of the quarry I think they were all long ones! Anyway the final ones for now will be with us this morning.

Tamping had to be delayed until Tuesday when Gerry came back up to civilisation in Yorkshire from his new home in Shropshire. Fortunately he has a motor home. The other tamper operator was Peter who unfortunately is leaving the NYMR to work full time for North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue in York. He leaves today and starts in York on Friday.  We wish him well and thank him for his years of service, he will be very much missed. The ballast regulator was worked by Nick with James helping as he is interested in working on the track machines. 

Photo A shows the track after the ballast had been roughly levelled by the Shark across Esk Valley Viaduct with B further towards overbridge 36 and the new Up cess drain laid to help take the water out of the cutting.

Alongside this view we found a couple of short buried timbers in what would have been the Down cess in double track days (photo C).

Being nosey we moved them aside and found a pipe that looks to be leading across the track to the Up side. This will have to be investigated later as when they built the railway they would have had some form of drainage in the short cutting and also to take the water coming off the hillside alongside bridge 36 as seen in photo D.

We had already cut an outlet for the Up side cess drain as seen in E. Isn’t it fun playing in the water and mud!

When Bryan carried out the survey and design for this relay he also measured the clearances to the arch overbridge 36 as shown in F.

To maintain the clearances we have to limit the track lift and to have a tampable depth of new ballast the depth of dig necessary is then determined. Don’t worry he doesn’t have very long arms, it measured using lasers!

Photos G, H and I show the tamping in progress which took until 10 that night.

More ballast has now been tipped and the relay is being signed off for passenger train running later this morning. A big thank you to all who have worked very hard to carry this out. After half term running there is the second section to renew further down the hill so it will be easier to get at. And then both sections need joining together and stressing.

All for now, more after half term.


Nigel Trotter
NYMR Civil Engineer

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