The Railway has over 16 miles of countryside to look after, much of it populated by trees and covered by undergrowth. It is a considerable challenge to keep the trackside clear so that passengers can enjoy the views of the Valley.
The full-time Permanent Way staff sometimes cut back vegetation, but there are several teams of volunteers also involved. There is a small mid-week team, a dedicated Sunday team, and the Sunday p-way volunteers get involved too.
Occasionally working parties from other departments will go out and clear specific areas, too.
Mostly, these teams clear undergrowth, fell trees and burn brash, leaving piles of logs (cut to a convenient size) by the side of the track for later collection.
Although many of these logs are collected by station teams (and others) for use at different locations, the most prominent way of collecting wood is the Bridgnorth log-collecting train. This train (which is usually formed with trucks and/or flat-bed wagons) is staffed by up to 30 volunteers and runs when the service permits and there is sufficient wood to collect. It has operated most years since 2006.
Last Sunday a small team took the Bridgnorth and a brake coach to Sterns where there was a fair amount of wood to collect. Chains were formed, and stackers in the brake van cage made sure that the wood was stowed correctly.
After a short break we returned to Bridgnorth where the wood was unloaded and the obligatory group photo taken.
So, what happens to this wood. That's easy - we burn it! The logs we collect have to be cut and split first - which is done by a few volunteers in the course of the year, then they are stored in large 'builders bags' to season.
When dry, they are used in the Railwayman's Arms, the Signalbox, and Platform 2 waiting room, for instance.
We usually publicise the details of the log train, and any member with sturdy boots and working clothes can join us for an energetic but fun day out. Why not join us next time for a day out on the railway with a difference!