Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Digging out the platform roads

A few more photographs were possible today, when yours truly on the dumper supported Steve in the mini digger while digging out the platform roads.

Readers may or may not know that the PWay plan at Winchcombe is to completely replace the sleepers and ballast on platform 2, and for about a quarter of platform 1, the rest having already been completed a few years ago. It was certainly clear which part of the platform 1 road was rebuilt, and which part wasn't - the untreated bit was all full of weeds and earth!

In this picture, taken in the morning,  Steve is working his way down the platform 1 road from right to left. He made a start on this on Monday. The spent ballast is being loaded into the 6 ton dumper, a tight fit in between the platform edge and the centre drains, with an awkward turn in and out of the foot crossing by the signal box. But we got there. The spoil is being collected in the PWay yard in a big pile; some was also spread out at the far northern end of the yard to fill in a clay-ridden hole.

Here's a close up of the platform 1 extension works. The method of construction is different from that at CRC2. At Winchcombe, the bulk of the wall is made up of concrete blocks, with only the facing wall in actual brickwork. Once finished, the effect will be similar (all stretchers at Winchcombe, whereas at CRC2 the rows alternated with headers). Given that the RH end will form a slope, the B&S gang have done pretty well already, with probably something over half the blocks already laid. A small length of the finished blockwork was also back filled by Steve with the mini digger in spent ballast, where that was possible.

The weather was cold and damp, with threatening clouds skidding across the sky. After a couple of hours high up on the exposed and windy seat of the dumper, yours truly expressed a wish for warmth and tea. Steve knew exactly where to find that! We made a bee line to the C&W canteen, where we were made very welcome by Dave Clark with not only tea, coffee and good company, but with a box of Roses choccies as well. No wonder they get so many volunteers !

After tea, we addressed the platform 2 road, starting near the southern loop points. About 12ins of spent ballast is scraped off, down to a layer of fine chippings which protect the trackbed from the underlying clay. One dumper load gives you approximately 2 yds of cleared trackbed, so you can imagine that progress is steady rather than breathtaking. Each load has to be reversed back up the platform road to the foot crossing, then along an undulating cart track zig-zagging to the PWay yard, then back again.

Near the end of daylight we had reached a point near the footbridge, with about 70yds dug out. Some of the spent ballast tipped into the platform extension can be seen on the right. The target for the day was a centre track drain, and we reached that, with a little more for good measure. Steve was very happy with that.

The ballast removal will continue on Wednesday, concentrating on the platform 1 road, so that it can be relaid as soon as possible. The platform 2 road will then follow. A large quantity of new ballast is already in store opposite the signal box.

We should be able to give an update on the platform extension works, and the ballasting, on Thursday.

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