Once again, activity could be seen down the trackbed from Broadway today, and a quick tour of inspection after completing a job on the SB tunnel roof showed that a 360 equipped with a flail was busy on the Cotswold side embankment just north of Pry Lane bridge.
Yours truly once helped to clear a modest 5m stretch of this embankment to reveal a culvert below, and can testify to the difficulty of standing on a 45 degree slope of rolling ballast, and dragging prickly bits of Hawthorn back to the top. This machine is a Godsend.
On seeing us approach with great caution, the driver of the machine paused to let us nearer, and stopped briefly to tell us a bit more about the job.
This flail attachment is a very modern piece of kit, with an up to the minute piece of design. The teeth are tipped in tungsten steel, but nonetheless a couple have already lost the battle with tough pieces of ancient Brunel bridge rail hidden in the undergrowth.
Telegraph pole guy rope holders left in the ground after the demolition train were initially also an enemy of the flail, but the learning curve has been steep and the operator now knows where to expect them every 50 yards, even if invisible in the bramble.
The teeth are of course replaceable, being bolted on. But not cheap.
On the extension side welding of rail lengths recently laid is due to take place next week, while at Skew Bridge at Gotherington a further pile of 400 sleepers is being extracted, sorted and stacked, ready for loading and transport to Little Buckland.