Sleeper Plates

On what can only be described as one of the most exhilarating days we’ve had in a long time…. we spent the whole day distributing and then installing sleeper plates. Quite literally thousands of the things!

Without having to head back to the Muckleford stockpiles, we had exactly 3 plates left over from the various collections we had nearby, pretty good luck really.

All of the recently re-railed track now has sleeper plates, with a good portion of the first curve now drilled, with a few dog spikes stood ready for Thursday.

Meeting Maldon 7.45am or Brown Street Ped Crossing from 8.15am on Thursday.


27 failed timber sleepers were replaced with concrete today. There’s around that again to do in the section re-railed this week before we go through and fasten all the timber down.

This was the little digger’s first proper go on this re-railing job, with everything up to now being the domain of the big fella.

These replacements are having the effect of bringing the number of concrete sleepers up to better than an average of 1 in 3, with quite a few 1 in 2 concretes now in the track.

We’ve even put up the speed restriction boards, just visible right at the end of the bridge.

Lots of tamping took place this afternoon, with all the new sleepers packed, any significant dips corrected and any timber sleepers not supporting the rail squeezed up to offer some load bearing.

Next week we’ll be back here, replacing the remaining sleepers, installing sleeper plates and starting to fasten them down. Meeting on Tuesday, Maldon at 7.45am or from 8.30am near Brown St. Pedestrian Xing.


Today’s effort was again a great success, albeit somewhat chilly at the start with a light frost, reminding us its still winter.

As we hadn’t undertaken any preparation this side of the bridge, a lot of today was spent getting the old rail free. This is the worst part of the job unfortunately, but it’s just got to be done.

In no time though we’d reached the end of the curve, the rails has been swapped and clipping up was full steam ahead.

We’d initially planned to get to the end of the curve, to match where the 80lb ran out on the high leg, but we decided that given we’d achieved that well before lunch, we could probably manage another few lengths.

To give us a joint stagger between legs (these rails aren’t all exactly the same length, so trying to get them square would be a power of work, with no real gain) a 14m rail was installed, but that resulted in the next rail having a joint exactly in the pedestrian crossing! So, two 14m rails were installed, giving us the equivalent of the same desired stagger, without the nuisance of a joint in the crossing.

Here we’re bolting up the first length on the down leg past the curve, we’d re-railed the down leg of the curve some years back in 80lb to strengthen it, so it was nice to be able to bolt straight to it.

As we were feeling ambitious, we extended our re-railing to take us through the pedestrian crossing, which inevitably meant digging it out.

Thankfully a very quiet crossing, so we didn’t inconvenience too many people for the hour or so the crossing was open.

By day’s end we’d clipped up all the concrete sleepers and cut the closure rails into the 60lb, one was easy and one of fell exactly 2 inches on the wrong side of a 60lb joint, so a half length of 60lb was cut in to give a good closure.

Today saw a further 315m of rail installed, bringing the weekly total up to 1064m (we did a calculation on site from memory but we underestimated, so gang we did even better!). That’s a massive effort for only one week! Only many thousand metres to go now!

Tomorrow, we’ve got a good list of jobs to complete before we’re ready to allow trains over at the weekend, lots of sleepers need changing and a good amount of tamping is required. Meeting at the Brown St. Pedestrian Xing from 8.15am.


As promised, further progress has been made, despite the wet afternoon.

We’ve re-railed the low leg over Pyrenees Hwy, which given all the harness and anchoring gear used to do it safely, was much slower than regular re-railing, however we still managed it in good time.

Here John and Will are looking very pleased as they survey the morning’s work. We’ve got some nifty gadgets that secure onto the head of the rail, to which the harness is anchored to.

We’ve installed a single 55m rail over the bridge, removing all joints on the bridge, which will be a massive bonus in years to come, not just for the sake of the bridge but for future joint maintenance.

We’ve got another 55m rail on site to do the other leg at some stage, at the moment that’s not a seriously high priority, given it’s already 80lb, but once we’ve completed the rest of the track we’ll come back to it.

We did slightly better than just the bridge, also installing another 41m of rail.

Tomorrow should see us complete to the end of the curve. Meeting around Brown Street Pedestrian xing around 8.15am. (Or Maldon at 7.45am)