29th January 2012

Well the major works on the crossing are now underway. Saturday started with everything frozen and very icy. The mini digger soon sorted that out and we commenced excavating the crossing, whilst another team was making the timber decking. The signal wires across the track outside the signal box were all disconnected to allow the track to be removed and the S&T department disconnected the last of the electric signalling cables. Later that day the rails on the up side came out, and it was time to shovel the rotten sleepers out of the way so the old ‘ballast’ could be excavated and removed.
Sunday dawned frosty so it was on with another layer of clothing and back out there. The area in front of the signal box was cleared level and new ballast was barrowed in from the grampus wagon in the platform before replacement sleepers were relaid.
At the other side of the crossing the sleepers, which need replacing with check rail chaired ones, have been lifted out and the bottom ballast re-levelled ready for the new sleepers. We have dug the new under track crossing across the up side and half way under the down side. This needed to be 5’ deep! The new turning chamber was dropped in and the new ducts laid. This latter activity was again done under floodlights.
The S&T have commenced reconnecting the electrical cables again, once we had relaid them through the existing undertrack crossing at the south end of the signal box. They have a fair bit more to reconnect once the tamper has been through on Thursday – tampers and S&T cables don’t seem to like each other!
The Tea Hut team have been down each day to keep us well supplied with tea and sandwiches. Thanks a lot it is really appreciated. They are also here all week to keep us going. Hilda and others have also been providing child care, so Beth can ‘play’ with the mini digger.
Tomorrow we have a lot of additional labour coming to help us, from Network Rail, to barrow the spoil from the crossing away and lay the new ballast. I’m not sure they know what they are letting themselves in for!
Elsewhere, one of our 12 foot platform benches has been repaired, ready for repainting and use in the new season, and a damaged wheel barrow has been welded up ready for use tomorrow along with the rest of our ‘fleet’.
Sunday ended with a bit of a snow shower which made the sub-surface clay a bit sticky to deal with and the staff a bit damp, but after finishing for the evening, a hot shower, a change of clothes, a lovely hot meal (provided by Beth), and some beer we all felt a lot better.

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