Wednesday 5 November 2014

Welcome to the new Extension Blog!

Your scribe, a volunteer at Broadway but a PWay man at heart, thought it would be interesting to chart the course of the new extension from Laverton to Broadway. It's still a bit early - track laying is actually expected to start in Q2 2015 - but the giant is starting to stir himself already, and there is news to report. So down to Toddington, where an arrival was eagerly expected:

Whoa - what's this, we didn't expect 2807! How is this expected to mix in with our expected arrival?
Entirely powered by gravity, GWR heavy freight 2-8-0 rolls down the slope under its own 'steam'.

Too fast for some. Whoa, there, no closer, we are expecting an arrival.
Your scribe was detached to the main gate to work the numbers and let the visitors in.

Our visitors came from Scunthorpe, but were based at Cockermouth. They were hungry, it was a long trip. Any chance of a snack around here? The Flag & Whistle had a light on, and inside - bacon butties, and a choice of cakes ! Heaven. Nice guys, at the GWSR!

And what did our visitors from Scunthorpe bring? 40 tons of new 113lb FB rail for the extension! It's the first of two shipments of new rail for the extension, and the 'starting gun' for this blog. We're not going to lay the rail straight away, there's a lot of preparation to do first, but as you can see, we are getting ourselves into gear. The new rail is being off loaded on to a long bogie flat, to be taken up to the railhead.

It's a happy day for those closely involved for the job. Rob, John, Nigel and Lee enjoy the moment. How can we afford this, you may well ask? Well, as announced during last Saturday's volunteer meeting, we met our share issue target, and our generous shareholders even contributed a 10% surplus. Brilliant! Just what we needed to kick off the rail purchase. We have the sleepers, so we are go!
In the background you can see a second delivery lorry, and a third was on its way. And that was only half the shipment. The other half - 40 more rails - is expected in a fortnight. In total 80 rails, enough to take us 800m from the current railhead right up to the first of the five bridges to Broadway - Bridge 5, Little Buckland. It's just about ready too. Lack of funds precludes us from buying the whole lot in one go, but patience is a virtue and little by little we will get there. Keep buying those shares - the EIS scheme may have finished, but it doesn't stop you buying normal shares.
Here we can see the rail being unloaded with a HIAB on to our own bogie flat. The rail is so new, it isn't even rusty yet.

So what's the plan? Ideally, we would like to work on the extension, once the running season has started again. That way, we can concentrate on running line maintenance in the off season, and move on to the Broadway extension, once trains have started to run again. Makes sense? In the meantime, we can prepare the extension machine - sorting out the rolling stock for the PWay, purchase of an initial stock of rails, clearing the trackbed. Lineside clearance dept. is doing the embankment sides, while the PWay and a contractor are clearing the trackbed on top of the embankment. This means clearing the greenery, and scraping off the contaminated (by soil) ballast. A membrane will then go down, and fresh ballast placed on top, to a sufficient depth to receive the concrete sleepers.
The first stretch to be addressed will be from the current railhead - a few 100m beyond the end of Laverton loop - up to Bridge 5, about 800m in all. Once at Little Buckland, the Laverton headshunt - initially laid in a rudimentary fashion to stable PWay material not currently in use - will be upgraded.
The intention is to lay the whole of the Broadway extension in CWR once it is complete.
At Broadway, current intentions are for double track all the way from Childswickham Road bridge to Springfield Lane bridge. In this way, when you stand on the platform at Broadway, you will see double track all the way... it will of course revert to single track for the actual running line from Broadway to Toddington.
The double track at Broadway will take the form of two loops, laid end to end.
We are the only GWR double track main line in the country! A USP by definition.

I hope to update this new blog whenever news comes in. Initially this will be from time to time, but once track laying starts, the frequency should increase. I'm relying on the PWay gang to keep me supplied with news and pictures, so keep them coming, guys!

Thank you for watching this - we can't do it without you ! 500k raised - you are brilliant :-)


  1. Very exciting news! Can't wait for the track laying to begin! :D


  2. Ditto!

    One minor request/suggestion - can we link to this from the other blogs (the way they all contain links to each other, in their headers - or on the side, in the case of the Boardroom blog)? Makes it easy to navigate...


    1. Done ! Thanks for the suggestion, I had forgotten it.

  3. I don't Twitter or tweet on know what a #tag is for but I do love the various blogs kindly maintained by the different special areas of the GWR. It makes the followers, volunteers on the railway the best informed of any railway society in the country. A big thank you.
    Ian H.

  4. You're going to get writers cramp. lol. Keep it going Jo.

  5. Have you guys considered the possibility of double track from Toddington to Broadway? You would need to purchase more track and possibly more signals, but the costs of the bridges and earthworks will remain the same. This would give you operational flexibility as well as a near-unique selling point of steam trains passing at speed (the Great Central Railway does this, but they are the only preserved railway operators to do so).

  6. Could you have a diagrammatic map on this blog of the line from Laverton through to Broadway highlighting where the rail extension has actually reached. When track laying starts next year you could indicate it on the map - may be clearer to people rather than saying 5 panels laid 300 yards past Laverton Bridge
    If you are interested I already have a diagram showing number of rail panels required, bridges, distances, etc. which I have been highlighting myself

    1. I did look for a map, but there are copyright issues for the O/S map. They do allow a link though, which is what I have given. If you can point to a map that I can use (and amend) legally, that would be helpful.
      It's true that as the extension is going to be built in bits, a progress map would have been interesting.
      I will explain a bit more about the first bit in the next post.

    2. OpenStreetMap might be a possibility

    3. Copyright only applies for 50 years therefore I believe you can use a OS map printed/published prior to 1963

  7. There are some good photos of rail delivery to the extension head of steel and associated clearance work on the Permanent Way Photostream site


  8. Re double track...
    1 Km of rail costs +/- £75k. Add the cost of sleepers, and ballast. Say £125k in total. Toddington - Broadway is 8km, so the extra trackwork alone is £1.000.000 at a very rough guess. That is approximately the same as the line's annual turnover.
    I don't think double track would ever pay its way. But it would be fun. Perhaps if we get a legacy? It's not unheard of.

    1. I admit that a double track line would be good for several reasons (hence the suggestion) - not least of which would be the 'novelty' value of trains passing each other at speed. This might bring more people onto your trains which would increase revenue - no bad thing!

      I didn't think the track would cost that much though. Perhaps your P-Way staff should build one track to allow for services to run, allowing for space for the second track, which could then be constructed a piece at a time (when you have some extra cash)?

    2. Here's a thought - could you buy rail in a bulk order for a discount, then use second hand sleepers from Network Rail (providing they are in a good condition)?

  9. I can see double track in maybe that section in the long term future, but not likely fir a while yet! I hope we do at some point though, would be great! Would give the signal people something to think about as well...

  10. Thanks for posting . Double track would be good. It's interesting.