Rowe Street Rebuild

Well, all those weeks of preparation really paid off today, we’re leaps and bounds ahead of where we were at Bendigo Rd at the same time.

We cut the asphalt yesterday, to get ahead of the game.

As the track was already in the correct location, datum marks were placed well clear of the trench, by driving nails into the asphalt, the section which gets removed tomorrow.

Once the crossing had been excavated to sleeper level, the big digger lifted the track, while the backhoe knocked off the old sleepers, a pretty enormous time and back saver!

The old rails were dragged well clear, loose jewellery collected before the sleepers were loaded straight into a tipper for removal.

Then onto careful excavation, although a very thorough pre-check of all service locations was undertaken, there were potentially a couple of wildcards, however everything was exactly where we predicted it would be.

Lots of height checking, and location checking for the railway signalling cable saw us with a very tidy trench. We chose to not go any lower as it was becoming obvious we weren’t that far off getting to bottom of the compacted gravel layer, with our local plastic clay no doubt sitting just below. This does mean we sacrifice a thicker layer of ballast, however it’s still going to perfectly adequate for our trains and the road traffic.

Geofab and drainage installed, with a layer of ballast to only about 50-75mm of final height was rolled in before sleepers were dropped out.

Some precision rail cutting and drilling, as we really wanted to correct the fact that the old rails were really too short, having massive joint gaps, which was a disaster for the health of the insulated joint end posts.

A good amount of time was spent trying to locate the sleepers as accurately as possible, using the offset marks made earlier and an off cut of rail.

Once happy with the sleepers the big digger was called in to drag up the new rails, which we’ll note on record were the perfect length! Immediately it looked a stunning curve.

After some very minor tweaking, we managed to convince our rather large gang to hang around an hour longer than usual, which saw us clip up everything assosiated with these island rails. A few minutes of final lining in the morning and it’ll be a really nice curve once again.

We had a sensational gang today, 17 people, a massive thank you to everyone! These lights still fall under V/Line control, so a massive thankyou to them for disabling them this morning and assisting in making the job so much easier.

All that said, we’re still not quite ready to call in the asphalters, we need to ballast, lift and fully tamp the track. Cut in new closure rails either end of the new track section and get the lights re-comissioned.

We’ll be meeting on site from 7.30am tomorrow and hopefully it’ll all go as well as it did today and we might even get an early(ish) knock off!

Rowe Street

After a good few weeks of preparations we’re now ready and eager to rebuild Rowe St. Crossing on Thursday and Friday.

We’ll have a small crew meeting at Maldon station at 7am on Thursday, with the rest of the gang meeting us at Rowe St. from 7.30am – parking is likely to be a slight problem, so please park well out the way down on Adam Street.

We can always use extra hands, so please feel free to join us either day.

Curve 21

191 full depth concrete sleepers have been dropped out around Curve 21, with around that again need to complete the curve.

Any long fishplates preventing us using concrete have also been changed.

We spent the afternoon tidying up what had become a rather ridiculous mess on the well wagons, 5 pallets of stuff was collected off the wagons and removed to the storage yard!

Next week we’ll be rebuilding Rowe Street Level Crossing. The final preparations will take place on Tuesday and it’ll be all systems go from 7am on Thursday Morning at Maldon or on site at Rowe St. from 7.30am.

Rowe Street

Today saw us install the remaining concrete sleepers either side of Rowe St. to achieve 100% concrete, short of bringing in the final materials (fabrics and drainage etc…), we couldn’t be more ready for next week’s rebuild.

And it looks pretty snazzy too.

We started by lifting the low leg of the curve to match about the required height following the rebuild, mainly to save time on the day but also to make the final sleeper changes easier.

It’s a very well practised routine now, with the 32 concretes installed in no time.

While it might seem logical to just go through and replace all the sleepers at once, where there is lots of ballast like here, you end up just burying yourself and getting no where, this method doesn’t require a single shovel to be picked up at any stage of the game!

Although the gang still like to tidy things up manually in the quiet times.

It also means it can all be done under traffic, so if we get a failure on a digger, trains can still run.

A combination of the bucket and a lump of old sleeper, seem to get the ballast profile back into good shape.

We’ve bundled up all the timber sleepers we’re keeping (to be used in the Yards) and stacked them ready for taking away.

We’ve come a long way from the old days of manually stacking the sleepers ready for strapping, now the digger and the grabs do everything, exact apply the strap, which as you can see above always takes a few minutes to re-learn, but strangely satisfying when it works.

Once everything received a final tamp and a bit of ballast tidy up, it all came up looking very smart and should make next week’s rebuild job just that much easier and quicker. Next Thursday and Friday are our planned re-build days, essentially a copy of the recent work at Bendigo Rd.

Tomorrow however, a change of scene, we’ll be dropping out concrete sleepers along curve 21 (near Bendigo Rd – Maldon) and preparing for the next round of sleeper replacements along there. Meeting Maldon 8am or on site from 8.30am.