Things are definitely stirring now on the Broadway extension.
The Laverton loop has been completely removed, and both turnouts replaced, with the northern one still waiting for the replacement rail. Now attention is being focused on the old headshunt, and indeed also on extending the track beyond the current railhead. Things are really moving again now.
The half mile journey with 6T of dusty ballast takes us over Little Buckland Bridge (bridge 5, the subject of radical repairs a while back).
What strikes the eye straight away is that the line of concrete sleepers has been advanced from the rail head near the bogie flats in the distance right up to Little Buckland bridge, about a 7 length zoom forward. This now awaits the new rail.
Here on the GWSR we are lucky in that we have a double trackbed, with only a single track on it, so we can drive down the other side. But it ain't half bumpy! The only way to travel is standing up. To see, to cushion the relentless blows from below (there is no suspension), and to look over the top of the numerous dust clouds that arise when the whole load gets shaken in the wind.
What we see here is the start of new rail laid earlier in the year, the trackbed of the temporary headshunt (in green), Steve clearing said greenery and levelling the bed, and a start in the distance with the new ballast.
In this close up, Steve is shifting piles of dirty ballast and levelling what is behind.
It took him all day, but Steve has now completed this job, and it's ready for the Terram.
Back at Little Buckland, fresh supplies are brought in by lorry, a whole fleet of them.
This is what your money is paying for, dear supporter. Thank you to those who have already helped, and 'please help' to those that are still thinking about it. We need a lot more fresh ballast like this, but you are getting a quality railway for it.
At one point during the morning, it was like Piccadilly Circus, with lorries coming and going and beeping, while the dumper was being loaded by the little 360 with crashes and clatters.
6T (one load) seem to go about 3yds, so you can work out a lot from that.
Way back you can see the DMU that has reached the stop board in its shuttle from Toddington.
On the return journey, you cross the bogie flats that are now empty of concrete sleepers.
The new line of sleepers, laid only a few days ago, now extends to the telegraph pole, which marks the position of Little Buckland bridge.
As you will have read, there are two shipments of new rail coming in, during the first fortnight of September. We need to avoid double handling these lengths.
The first shipment will be used to replace the headshunt track, so it's imperative that the ballasting is completed, and the sleepers, laid to one side, returned to their positions. The rail goes in, the track now extends back to just short of Little Buckland, and the bogie flats, now empty, can be recovered. These can then be filled with further concrete sleepers that we have in store.
Relaying the headshunt with fresh rail not only allows you to recover the two wagons for further loading, but you will then have used up most (all?) of the first shipment of new rail. This releases the two flats used for storing the rail for the second shipment, only 10 days later. They have to be available to stand on the unloading road in order to allow the lorries bringing the rail to unload. Hence the urgency also of the works outside Toddington shed.
From mid September, we would be in a position to commence track laying beyond Little Buckland. The Terram and ballast are already down for that portion, so it could go quite quickly. In the meantime there are various holidays, so if there's a gap, that's why!