Well we did it, at 4pm today, the roadway was reopened to cars, with the track ready at about 3.30pm.
It was a big job, we’ve learnt a lot.
The following is a brief photo diary of the works over the past two days:
The all important road closure, thankfully the detour route was some distance away so it mean we pretty much had the whole area to ourselves.
Ripping up the first bits of asphalt, to allow track removal.
While the machinery was doing it’s thing, the finishing touches were placed on the junction rails installed on Tuesday.
Two big machines made pretty light work of removing the old track panel, it was far quicker to pull the panel apart away from the site, allowing the excavation to get underway.
An appropriate trench was then dug to allow removal of the old material, interestingly, not as fouled and degraded as we expected it may have been, the water had obviously been draining fairly well.
A quick roll to really firm up the ground, this was pretty well virgin ground level, so was already pretty hard.
A good layer of road base was rolled in to help cap the clay layer (not that we found much clay).
Drainage and geofabric were installed, we had intended installing more drainage but we achieved a very desirable slope over the trench and given the water is obviously not hanging around, one good drain on the north side will be quite sufficient.
Ballast was spread over the fabric to give a solid bed for track construction.
And around the drainage to ensure good water egress.
This was also rolled to a very hard finish, in hind sight, we should have added another few inches of ballast after this roll and re-rolled as we did end up jacking and tamping more than we’d hoped.
Then the all important sleepers were laid out. Once in the trench, string lines and spacing marks were used to locate them accurately.
We had meal breaks with this horse… Who tried to steal our food and pinch our hats!
The big digger proved invaluable in dragging in the new rail.
And by knock off on Thursday (around 5pm), the new track was bolted onto the UP end rails and fully clipped by to the down side of the roadway.
Thankfully the road closure included the nights, so we were able to leave a pile of ballast right in the middle of the road.
Job one today was clipping up the last of the sleepers and cutting in some closure rails.
A good bit of tweaking the alignment to make sure we didn’t get a repeat of the previous rebuild here.
Then it was hell for leather to get some rock on.
Lots of jacking, tamping and more rock finally saw us reach the final height through the roadway. We felt a bit pressured at this point as we really only had time to have a bite for lunch as the asphalt was arriving at 1pm and it was looking like we wouldn’t be ready.
However by 1pm we had completed the ballasting and tamping and we just had to remove the outer strips of old asphalt. The new asphalt started going down at 1.15, so a pretty good result really.
A very welcome sight.
We made use of the following half hour to have a good and extremely well earned break.
After lunch the short closure lengths were clipped up, ballasted and the final lifting and tamping of the crossing approaches was completed.
It was a bit of a non event, the asphalt going down, mainly because it just looked normal again!
We’ve still got a lot of tidying up of the ballast, materials and rubbish to do next week, but we’ve pretty well got the track completed, certainly completed enough to use.
Looking pretty good.
Now… We can only assume John was checking the road surface, but he looks quite comfortable lying on the road like that.
We’re pretty happy with the result. The best part of two weeks preparations and two very intense days, has seen another massive milestone achieved in upgrading our railway.
For those not in the know, all this work at the crossing is part of something bigger. This crossing has been funded by the Department of Transport for upgrading to active protection (flashing lights and bells). This is part one of that upgrade, hence why we’ve gone to so much trouble installing longer rails with no joints through the crossing area and nice long approach rails. It’s expected the lights will go in towards the end of June into July, at which point our most dangerous level crossing will become significantly safer.
A massive thankyou to everyone who has helped out not only over the past two days but in the weeks leading up, we really appreciate it.
Next week, weather permitting, Tuesday we’ll meet at Maldon 8am to begin the big cleanup.