It's the time of year again where we hear from our Civil Engineer, Nigel Trotter on how he and his workforce are maintaining the railway infrastructure for all to enjoy.

Mid-November 2018.

It’s that time of year when I inflict on you all what is happening on our railway this winter.

When we had to stop relaying track in March so we could run trains for our passengers, Martyn and our small P-Way gang of full time and volunteer staff had relaid nearly one and quarter miles of track (yes that is 1.25 miles!). As is normal, we let the relaid track settle down under traffic before final ballasting and tamping and then lifting the Temporary Speed Restriction (TSR) during the early summer. You may recall that the weather was particularly good and hot - as were the rails. Now it is very restricted when you can lift and tamp track in hot weather, especially when it is stressed into Continuous Welded Rail (CWR), as you don’t want to disturb the track support as that can lead to a buckle. This is not an NYMR restriction, it applies to the big railway too. As the rail temperatures were not reducing even in the evenings and nights we just had to leave the TSR’s on.

The Northdale reverse curves relay isn’t stressed but it needs more stone ballast adding as we intend to raise the speed to 25mph as at Kingthorpe reveres curves relaid in 2015. When checking Northdale in mid-October you can see in photo A how good the curves are but it needs a little more stone to help ensure the track stay where it is supposed to.

As part of checking the track we also watch how trains run with view B showing the Q6 going well around the curve.

The flange lubricator, also seen in B, which was previously bought by the Foundation in 2013 had to be removed and refitted as the rails were changed from bullhead to new flatbottom rails.

The relay in deepest darkest Newtondale between bridges 12 and 13 was stressed in CWR but it needed a further tamp after being run over at Line Speed. This was also caught up in the hot weather and will also have some ballast added and tamped this winter, the 15mph TSR can then be lifted.

The relay at Trout Farm, south of New Bridge, was plagued by severe icy weather just before Tornado came to visit, so it had to be finished quickly, but with the normal very slow speeds here, this wasn’t a problem. As soon as the passenger train running season was over, an initial tip of ballast was made, it was then regulated with Nick and Bryan driving the regulator seen in the distance in photo C with Duncan and Peter working the tamper, assisted by Ed.

The finished result from Trout Farm level crossing to the North is shown in view D with the tamper doing a proving run to confirm that the geometry is OK.

Gone are the days of old when we had to use a track gauge, pencil and paper to collect the numbers and then crunch them to confirm whether the result was acceptable or not. A run through with the tamper and a computer printout is the way to do it now!

The P-Way focus is now moving Northwards with ballast being tipped at Fen Bog ready for tamping. This is the area in the bog were I think George Stephenson didn’t finish off the job properly, as the “join” between the solid area of the bog Southwards from Lyke Wake Walk crossing and the floating area next to it causes track faults to develop at regular intervals. We have to tip more stone and tamp at least twice a year to avoid twist faults reaching too great a value.

In the meantime Martyn and the rest of the P-Way gang will be preparing the section of track from bridge 31 to Beckhole curve for some “life extension” works. This section is bullhead rail that has about 5 or 6 years life left in it before complete renewal. Before relaying this, we need to waterproof bridges 31 and 32 together with some parapet and spandrel strengthening. More on these works next time and the next jobs as we progress North towards Deviation and Grosmont.

Nigel Trotter, NYMR Civil Engineer