Ballasting and Track Laying
The bottom ballast had been completed by the end of Wednesday 25th January and the second soakaway at the Kidderminster end of the tunnel was nearing completion.
Track laying is continuing from Bewdley end of the tunnel and by the end of Saturday 28th we had reached the halfway point within the tunnel. We can now literally see the light at the far end of the tunnel. The new track is now ready for top ballast and tamping, but this will not be done until all the track is in place (the dropping of ballast would delay completion of the track relaying as everything has to be fed in from the Bewdley end until the track is reconnected).
Being a single bore tunnel we cannot simply follow the work through the tunnel with a wagon load of materials and unload them by turning a crane or road rail arm around within the tunnel. So, everything has be moved from the storage area to the Bewdley end of the tunnel, unloaded and then picked up by the road/rail machine which can then turn, and with the load suspended from the arm, carry the necessary materials forward to the work face.
The new sleepers are fed to the workface by the road/rail machine and a smaller machine is then used to position them at the correct spacing (26 per panel). Once sufficient sleepers are in place they are aligned by eye and the rail is then lifted into place using the two machines. The working area face then advances by one track panel length. Initially only sufficient rail clips are fitted (approx. 1 in 6) to enable the work to proceed, and a second gang then follows up behind the main relay gang doing the clipping up.
Logistical and handling problems are now coming into play in that the further we get through the tunnel with the track relaying the longer it takes to feed the materials to the workface.