Rail Trains

Well after literally months of recovery works, we’ve finally got the rail train in full swing, with an enormous amount of rail loaded up and dropped on the track today.

We have perfected the loading method now, being able to load 32 rails in about an hour, which is a lot of rail. The train in theory takes 36, but the reality of stacking 36 perfectly just wasn’t worth the extra 4 rails.

The refined method consists of the big digger lifting a rail end high enough to clear the wagons.

The train is then moved back under the elevated rail. We have the little digger on hand on the track to help guide the rail if needed and to ensure the rail isn’t able to bounce around, it’s main purpose is to get the next rail ready for the big digger. The best bit here is the rail doesn’t move so the diggers can maintain absolute control of where it goes, while the train is just eased back at crawling speed should it need to be stopped for any reason.

The method worked extremely well and most importantly there isn’t anyone at any point required to get in any danger zone. All operators and lookouts are safely located in diggers and loco cabs, in constant radio contact. It was poetry in motion, the precision and ease with which we managed to load the train, something we were very proud of.

A few more pics of things in action, just cause we can.

But more importantly we managed to discharge around 1200m of rail on our track, amazing when compared with the 300m we were typically achieving with the shorter length rails in the Maldon – Muck section.

We began discharging on the UP side of Winters Flat Bridge (skipped the bridge itself, we’ll stack them nearby lineside until were ready to do that section), and after two trains and a group of very hot and sweaty gang members gave up for today about 300 on the down side of Rifle Range Bridge – a lot of rail!

The big digger is perfectly at home discharge these long rails from the wagon end, the machine has just that bit more power than the little one, enabling perfect placement of the rail straight off the train. Interestingly, discharging takes about the same time as loading, as the travelling and stopping and tweaking and repeating soon adds up, but still no time at all compared with the rest of the project!

It was a successful day and tomorrow we’ll do it all again. Meeting at Maldon Junction from 8.30am.

Rail Train

Well today was our first attempt at a rail train…. It’s not going to go down in history as our greatest success, but we’re confident we’ll have an efficient system very shortly, but fundamentally it did work and we’re going to be able to get all these rails to where they’re needed without too much hassle.

Using both diggers, the rails were placed beside the track ready for lifting up.

And the lifting on, using the diggers in tandem, it worked okay but a third digger would help even more for this method, we have another method in mind however, more on that next week.

A keen eye will note we’ve drafted in a 4 wheeled wagon (HZL wheel transport wagon) to help us move the 55m lengths, ideal length train for our needs.

It took us about 2 hours to load the 18 94lb rails, greatly slowed by the number of joints. We are hoping we can greatly speed up that process with the remaining rail, as we’re fairly joint free from here on in thankfully.

Beside loading a train, a lot more rail was cut and dragged up ready for loading, we’re making good headway now.

All this is now ready for loading and dropping out next week!

Our grass cutting contractors have also been busy and wow what a difference it makes! There’s still a bit to go, and a second cut in places is likely, but overall it’s now quite presentable.

Next Tuesday will be more rail cutting at Maldon Junction from 8.15am.

Rail Recovery

After another very busy day of preparing rails for loading, we’ve now got rail everywhere!

It’s all over the place and with any luck we’ll run a train tomorrow to run the first load away to it’s new home.

We also managed to know over a small bolt replacement job in our track beside V/Line which has been on the to do list for a while, thanks go to V/Line for assisting in getting us on site during their shutdown.

We’ll be back into rail cutting and dragging tomorrow, meeting at Maldon Junction from 8.15am.

Rail Recovery

Today we began moving rails onto VGR land, with approximately 30 brought over onto our track ready for loading onto trains.

For various reasons, we have elected to not attempt to use 82m rails in our track, rather we’ve drawn the limit at 55m, with all rails longer being docked in half. Given our lines very very narrow ballast shoulder (due to narrow embankments) we expect we may have issues maintaining lateral stability of the longer rails in the hotter weather – the donor line has very large ballast shoulders and even on it movement is evident. Our available train length also runs out at 55m so a happy coincidence.

In the pic above, Will is using a hired band saw to cut the rail, normally we use abrasive rail saws but given the high fire danger and location of cutting, we decided we’d try the band saw for a week to reduce the fire risk and see if they’re any good – and we had to finish early today because of heavy rain…..

So far so good, it’s probably fractionally quicker than a circular saw and completely spark free but a lot heavier.

Tomorrow will be more of the same, meeting from near Maldon Junction from 8.15am, we hoping to get a few train loads prepared so the more the merrier.