We laid an amazing amout of sleepers today, and made a great leap forwards towards the Childswickham Road bridge. Because the next load of rail will only be delivered on Monday, the whole gang concentrated on laying sleepers, and at the end of the day we had laid a superb 260 of them, well over half of the newly arrived supply train. Only 84 sleepers now remain aboard.
The stacks waiting to be used were quite high - this is how high they are on the wagons.
Sleeper laying went on apace, starting from 2 panels (50 sleepers) short of Pry Lane bridge.
We had a surprisingly large turnout today, so while a gang busied itself with slinging the loads and dropping them along the track - using a new blue alignment rope to replace the one stolen - another went back to the anchor point to finish clipping up the fifth panel that the Wednesday gang didn't manage to do.
Sadly it was too late to take a group photograph on the bridge, as they team was increasingly far away from it. Some of us did manage to look over the parapet though, to muse on the goings on beneath, and what were our neighbours up to.
Eventually the laying gang got through all the piles within easy reach, and while Nigel was still far away getting more, Steve went off in the JCB to pick up some in the forks that were too far away to get in the slings. Here's another 4, guys!
After lunch sleeper laying was briefly interupted while the laying gang attended to a panel by the former PWay hut site that needed some work. In the meantime, the rest of the gang laid out the pads, plastics and clips on the stretch north of the breather, which will be normal track with fishplates (and alternate welds). You can see a vast row of pads receding into the distance here. This stretch is ready for laying in the rail now.
From Pry lane onwards, the single track we are laying slowly begins to switch sides, ready for entry into Broadway on the down side (Cotswolds side). You can see what happens in the picture, where the space on the right gets smaller and smaller. So how do you drive up the track with sleepers from here on? Somehow, you have to switch sides.
From this point you can also see now where we have parked, on a rough strip of land that belongs to the railway. The Childwickham road on which we exit is in the row of trees on the horizon.
That pile in the foreground is a huge knot of old fencing material.
Looking the other way, back south, you can see the graceful sweep of sleepers laid today, all 260 of them. We think that is a record. Pry Lane is just a memory already, it was so quick, your blogger missed it!
In the picture, Steve has brought the first 4 sleepers up to the bridge, and then fetched another 4, the last ones we had at the end of the sleepers laid.
So this is a pretty momentous photograph: Sleeper laying has reached the Childswickham Road bridge ! Well, only if you forget about the gap in between, with another 190 still to go. But what an occasion. It's been a long haul up those long straights, all the way from Laverton loop. Three kilometres and more.
The service road is now on the left, or up side.
The same occasion, looking the other way. In our next session, we will be laying back towards Toddington from here.
Ivor and Steve savour the moment, after a long, hard and sweaty, humid day.
The end of the sleepers laid is approximately where the Landie can be seen in the picture.
A stone's throw? Yes, just about !
You can just about make out the 8 sleepers laid at the end of the day, with the still empty ballast bed behind. The soil nailing goes up to the big tree on the right.
How are those soil nailers doing?
Well, as you can see here, they are almost at the end. The rain recently has slowed them down a bit, but that's only temporary. It has caused the bottom to be badly churned up though.
The big tree in the previous picture can now be seen on the top of the embankment.
Looking straight up, the very small stretch still left to be done is apparent. It looks like about 30 nails still to be driven in, just 1 - 2 days work. After that the caps have still to be placed, and the wire mesh put out on top. This is followed by some site reinstatement works, but the end is definitely in sight here.
Finally, a curiosity found on YouTube, where you can see what can happen to CWR on a very hot day in a hot climate, in this case Australia (we don't have a hot climate in the UK!)
Hold on to your chairs...