The annual Civil Maintenance Department ‘Civil Week’ was held in September. This is our annual possession where anyone and everyone comes together to deliver more major civil engineering works under the watchful eye of the railway’s engineers.
This year we were at Ingrow Station renewing the track and drainage between the tunnel and the turnout into the yard. The ballast in particular had reached the end of its useful life, with maintenance becoming increasingly difficult. In addition, the drainage was regularly blocked with roots, so the decision was made to renew both together.
While preparatory works were ongoing for weeks before with material delivery, design and survey work, the main works started as soon as the last steam engine left Ingrow on Sunday the 18th of September, with the rails being unkeyed and disconnected before being dragged into the tunnel. This let us get the best start on Monday morning with the excavator lifting the sleepers onto the platform for them to be stripped and sorted. Once the sleepers were out, we started excavating the track bed. The excavated material was taken by dumper to the car park for storage before being loaded on the train and tipped out of the mermaid wagon along Great Northern straight, a repetitive task that went on for most of the week. At the same time as excavating the track formation, the existing drainage was removed while pumps worked to keep us dry.
The drainage was slowly installed as the week went on, with Geotextile laid and ash used to bed the pipes. Using ash is great for drainage projects; it is significantly cheaper (free) and works nearly as well; fortunately, we produce a lot of the stuff! Catch pits were installed every 30m or where we encountered incoming drainage. We didn’t get as far with the track drainage as we would have liked, with unexpected ground conditions and problems with the outfall limiting progress.
Alongside the track drainage, the formation ballast was tipped and levelled by an excavator, ready for sleepers to be laid out. Once the ballast levels were checked and the ballast was compacted, sleepers were lifted onto the formation and spacing set. We had already chaired the sleepers prior to civil week for faster installation. And then just like that, we were ready for the rails to be dragged back out of the tunnel and lifted into position. Late on Friday evening, we had the first train through, with some small adjustments needed on Saturday morning before dropping ballast and handing back the possession just in time for the 09:16 DMU off Haworth to Keighley. The ten mph speed restriction will be in place for a few weeks until the track is lifted and packed into its final position.
The drainage excavation still needs backfilling with ash and the garden edging stone reinstalling; this will be done over the next few weeks in and amongst our other essential maintenance. Hopefully, the station garden opposite the platform will return to its former glory in no time.
That was a whistlestop tour of this year’s work; keep an eye on the website for a timelapse video of the week’s work!
If you want to see more of what the department gets up to, please see the KWVR Pway and S&T Facebook page, which is updated regularly with the gang’s activities as ever; if you are interested in joining us, get in touch!