Last of the detailed track inspection and some very interesting figures

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Today was the last of the track walk, between Winters Flat Bridge and Castlemaine. Nothing unexpected or disastrous, however a few things we will tend to early in the new year before they get any worse.

We even did a very detailed track patrol over the whole length, replacing 3 broken bolts, tightening others and tending to general odd jobs.

The retaining wall at Castlemaine had its bracing removed (now the concrete’s starting to set) ready for finishing (hopefully) on Thursday.

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We even had our friendly Arborist in to remove a large dead tree at Maldon, it was starting to drop limbs and presented quite a risk. All the messy heads have been chipped and we’ve been left with the timber to use as light up wood for the locos.

On the theme of inspections and reducing risk, we have recently compiled the past few years of data in terms of sleeper insertions and re-railing.

Given our largely Volunteer Gangs, average age (over 60) and sometimes less than ideal working conditions (the hot summer days, wind, dust and general hard labour) the figures and graphs below paint an extremely pleasant picture of our tremendous track gang and all those who support them.

Sleeper Totals by Type
Concrete Steel Timber
2019 1932 0 127
2018 367 51 134
2017 (June to Dec Only) 0 0 217
Total Jun 17 to Dec 19 2299 51 478

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Re-railing of 60lb/yard Rail with 80lb/yard Rail
metres
2019 2793
2018 4159.5
2017 (June to Dec Only) 2009.5
Total Jun 17 to Dec 19 8962

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These figures are only since June 2017 (When the simple self calculating electronic records were started) and there are some equally significant figure from years gone past that shouldn’t be forgotten.

The figures really just speak for themselves, we will be happy to provide any explanation if asked in the comments section, but basically, we have made an enormous leap forward in the past 2.5 years in future proofing our little railway.

We now have in excess of 16km (lineal) of 80lb rail in place of the old 60lb, we have over 2300 less timber sleepers (now concrete) to worry about replacing every 20 or so years and most importantly we’ve achieved it all with a massive smile on our face.

We know that forever thanking everyone doesn’t make for the most exciting reading, but it is worth noting that it is a massive team of people that have made this possible, from our front line warriors out there week after week, to the behind the scenes meetings securing these valuable materials to the continued financial support from those who think our cause is worthy enough and to the management who have plenty of long days pulling out their hair trying to make it all come together.

We thank you all.

 

Some context in regards to the significant of these figures:

We have around 22000 sleepers in our 18km of track. Having 2300 concrete sleepers which have a life span of 50+ years (probably much longer on our line) means over 10% of our sleepers are “Durable” or long lasting sleepers. We can never expect more than 20 years from a timber sleeper and the continual replacement with timber is a very labour intensive task, requiring vast cost often at the cost of actual improvement (in the case of small business like ours).

10% might not seem a lot, but when you consider that just over 9% of that was just in this year alone… it shows if we can get the materials, we can make a bigger difference, fast. Assuming a steady supply of appropriate concrete sleepers and suitable conditions we could achieve a fully durable running line within the next 12 years.

We have 36 lineal km or rail (or there abouts) on our line, approximately 23 – 25km (exact figure not at hand when writing this) have already been re-railed or were already a heavier rail. So we are now well over half way. We only have around 13km of rail to replace to have the whole line completed, which we know can be done at a rate of around 4km/year, meaning we could have it all completed within 3.5 years.

We actually expect that the re-railing still required will happen at a much faster rater, given the number of concrete sleepers we’ve now installed, but we will wait to prove that before setting any timelines.

Given all the commitments of maintaining a safe railway, these time-frames will increase it’s inevitable, but if we can keep up the current momentum and productivity, we will not only improve our track very quickly, we will be making a lasting track, one which we can be proud and sure of for years to come.

We could always use more support – finanical, physical, logistical, administrative etc.. etc… We know it’s a big ask, but without the support the railway’s permanent way can very quickly become the whole railway’s Achilles heel.

If we can use our recently found success to get us over the line with your support, we will welcome it with open arms! Please contact us via email at civil@vgr.com.au or ganger@vgr.com.au

 

 

 

 

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