Rail Recovered!

The view as it greeted us this morning. Less than two lengths of rail to be sledded and a manageable number to be cut and dragged up to our track.

One of the neighbours came out to mark the occasion, leaving a message on the end of the rail which has been used in a video and placed on Youtube – https://youtu.be/bE81t-MNqpI

Being railway preservationists, we would rather this line still be in active use. However given it has sat idle for almost 20 years, with very minimal use before that and no likely chance of resurrection, we feel very honoured that we’ve been able to save (from scrap) a significant portion of the material to help maintain our line and keep some of the line’s history only a few miles away on our own railway.

A lot of rail cutting, unbolting and jewellery collection was also achieved today, with a good turnout to help us celebrate what ended up being a day of kicking lots of goals.

Once all the loose rail had been towed through, only the final two sets of fishplates stood in the way of the final sledding – they also by coincidence proved to be the hardest two of the whole job! A quick cut with the grinder and the whole job had been separated into rail lengths.

Once the loose rails had been towed over the sled for the final time, it was down to the final length.

The final on track part of the sledding, something we’ll probably never do or see again.

Followed by the last few metres, which needed to be done off the track for fairly obvious reasons. We’re very thankful to the sled’s owner for allowing us to borrow it, we’d still be out there with hammers and spike pullers without it!

Thankfully the big digger is the perfect machine for moving it around, it’s now stacked over by our track ready to be loaded onto a truck and sent home.

The final rail, with only bare sleepers in the distance.

In the theme of posing for pics, Will and John are smiling very gladly to see the final rail ready to be cut. It’s also the last time for the forseeable future that we’ll hire this machine, but we’re glad we did, the hire cost would have easily been far less than the cost of abrasive cutting discs and only took about a third of the time!

No sooner had the final rail been loosened and the, now very well practised gang, swooped in to start collecting what was the final short length of loose jewellery, having collected the last of the loose stuff near Fryers Rd earlier in the day.

The final pile of fastenings being placed into the bucket for stockpiling.

We even managed to locate some nice gravel to fix up the pedestrian crossings now that no more rail will pass over.

And at days end a very tired but extremely happy gang were very proud of their many months long achievements. This pic doesn’t quite do the sheer amount of rail stockpiled in the background justice, but it is significant!

Today was a landmark day on the project for a number of reasons

  • The final sledding and rail lifting was completed
  • All the recovered rail has been unbolted and stacked in logical piles awaiting loading
  • All jewellery from Guildford to the Junction has been collected, all by hand into a bucket, and stockpiled strategically for loading into trucks.
  • All the rail has been cut into their final lengths

The project is by no means complete, but… it’s now a very different beast. We’ve still got a mountain of rail to move, hopefully we’ll get most of it out tomorrow and Monday. Just under half of the sleepers still need to be lifted and the roadbed roughly levelled, we’ve got a few gates to put back up and a fair amount of general tidy up to do, but the end is in sight, still a few weeks work but mainly machine work now.

Thank you to everyone who has helped us out along the way!

Tomorrow, we’ll try and get at least two trains worth of rail dropped out while the gang makes a start on working along the dropped out rail drilling holes where required (where we’ve cut). Meeting Maldon Junction from 8am.

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