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Winter Works 2018

Page updated on: 21/03/18

March 21st 2018

In late February, work started on Wribbenhall Viaduct as part of an ongoing programme of investment on this important structure. The focus of this tranche of work is the long wing wall that runs out from the Kidderminster Road arch towards the town centre and supports the embankment above. Although not in any danger of imminent collapse, the effects of erosion on the sandstone and the poor condition of some of the pointing required attention in order to keep the integrity of the wall at an acceptable level.  The contractors (Walsh Construction Ltd) are using the same Cumbrian sandstone from St Bees quarry that we have used elsewhere on the viaduct to effect repairs. The eroded sandstone is chased back to go stone and the new facing blocks fixed into place with stainless steel pins.

This replacement is especially important just under the north side of the road arch where lumps of stone have spalled off a string course (a horizontal band of stone) onto the footpath. This has been netted up to prevent further falls up until now when it will have fresh stone inserted as part of the contract.

The wing walls’ coping stones will also receive attention by being lifted and reset onto fresh lime mortar. At the same time, the vegetation will be cleared to around 600mm behind the coping stones and the long disappeared post and wire fence will be reinstated which is visible in old photographs taken from the road. The work is expected to take six weeks.

Chris Bond Infrastructure Manager 

March 2nd 2018

I am pleased to report that the efforts of the full time staff and volunteers during the shutdown were completed in time for the half term running week. A flurry of ballast trains using our recently acquired “Sea Cow” hoppers and a four day visit from the tamper ensured all was ready for the half term trains. The track at County Boundary has been returned to line speed and improved riding along the line in general has been reported. The plain line in Kidderminster Yard is now much improved.

In the non-running weeks after Half Term, we are carrying out further works to make use of the time available. Up in the cutting by Bewdley Tunnel, contractors assisted by volunteers are clearing the more difficult to reach vegetation that has grown up since last cleared a number of years ago. This will be supplemented by clearance by volunteers on top of the cutting in due course. At Bewdley North crossover, the central section of the assembly that includes the crossing blocks has been dismantled. This job was programmed for several years’ time but due to its rapidly worsening condition, the opportunity to tackle the job this year has been taken. Around 20 badly rotted timbers have been replaced and a some new ironwork inserted. The job is taking place over two weeks with the mainline being restored for the intervening weekend. This will mean the down main through platform 1 will be out of use but the Operations teams have ensured we can still cross trains using the island platform.

The Bridgnorth gang will also be using the time to bring in a mini digger to sort out some badly dipped joints just to the north of Country Park Halt. By excavating well down and filling the resultant hole with fresh ballast, this will provide a more solid foundation to pack the joints level and for them to stay that way.

Six images added: the cutting pics are courtesy of Keith Brown, all others Leigh King

Chris Bond Infrastructure Manager 

February 8th 2018

At County Boundary, the work to dig out the trackbed has proceeded very well. The disposal of the existing fill and replacing with some 240 tonnes of fresh stone material has been carried out with no major problems and I am pleased to report that the track has been relayed back over the area and top ballasted. Tamping will take place the week before half term running.

The work on the Kidderminster side of Bewdley Tunnel has not gone quite so well due to a serious fault on the roadrailer which made it unserviceable. About a week and a half has been lost whilst specialist fitters were summoned to repair the machine. This has meant that the job has stalled but will be resumed in the remaining couple of weeks before half term running. Due to the loss of time, we will not achieve the full job we were hoping to have done on this problem area but the worst parts will have been treated.

On the Bewdley side of the tunnel, contractors have completed the riddling of the existing ballast shoulders which are to dressed with fresh stone during the remaining weeks.

In Kidderminster Yard, the Bewdley PW gang have made rapid progress with fettling up the track work. Much effort has gone into clearing out under the joints, laying fresh stone ballast and replacing rotten sleepers. This should rectify the worst of the pumping joints which have afflicted the yard for many years.

On Highley Bank, the Bridgnorth gang carried out some excellent work with sleeper replacement assisted by some of the full time staff on a weekend. The area has been ballasted and will be tamped as part of the tamping sessions that will take place in the days before half term.

Chris Bond Infrastructure Manager 

January 19th 2018

At Waterworks straight there is still a 15mph speed restriction in place imposed in June 2016, and was a contributing factor to last year's late running and was the subject of Winter Works 2017. The area should be returning to line speed for the running season as the welding has been completed to a position that will allow this. There is some further work required but this will be done later in 2018 and consists of a final few welds and mechanical stressing on the section.

Alongside the larger scale PW projects there are some smaller but no less important works being undertaken by our volunteer gangs. This year the projects are:

  • Bridgnorth PW gang. This year there is a focus at Highley where there is a quantity of spot re-sleepering taking place within the station area. Another job being undertaken is on Highley bank where over a period of time the rails “creep” downhill and require re-setting. This involves removing keys and barring the rails back to the correct position before re-fixing. This ensure all the expansion gaps are correct.

  • Bewdley PW gang. The volunteers are having a big sort out in the carriage shed yard at Kidderminster in order to improve what is now very tired track. Considering the volume and importance of shunting moves in the yard this is essential maintenance. Joints are being dug out and sleepers replaced where necessary to improve the general state of the track. Later this year at least two of the points in the yard are to be replaced as part of upgrading this vital operational facility.

Chris Bond Infrastructure Manager 

January 16th 2018 (video added)

This winter sees several smaller projects taking place at various locations rather than the large track relay we saw in 2017 at Waterworks. The current round of winter projects include:-


  • A 500m section of bullhead track from Bewdley Tunnel to the Stourport Road bridge is being cleaned of badly contaminated ballast using a special shaped excavator bucket. The spoil is being removed to an area of the former sugar beet sidings for disposal. The length of track will then be re-ballasted and tamped. It is also intended to weld together the rails to create a length of bullhead CWR which will require the insertion of a pair of breather or expansion switches at the Stourport Road bridge end. At some point in early 2018 we hope to get a Colas rail grinding train to re-profile the railhead to remove the corrugations that cause poor riding.

  • On the Bewdley side of the tunnel, contractors are using a mini-digger to remove the ballast shoulders using a riddle bucket to remove contamination. The clean ballast is then being placed in between the rails in preparation for fresh ballast to be dropped and the track tamped. The shoulders will then be reformed. This work will provide fresh ballast for the tamper to improve the ride and help to remove wet spots that have forming on that section.

  • At County Boundary, the last part of the work is being carried out so that the line can be returned to line speed at that location. This involves the removal of 70 meters of track and the excavation of the ground below the normal ballast level. This is composed mostly of ash and the resultant spoil is being shifted to location at the former Kinlet Colliery sidings. The lower part of the excavation will then have a plastic “geomesh” laid and imported fresh stone material deposited to a depth of 300mm. This will be overlaid with another layer of geomesh followed by ballast to a depth of 450mm. The track will then be re-laid, ballasted and finally tamped. This work (recommended by the SVR’s consulting engineer) will ensure that we do not suffer future settlement problems as a result of the slip and subsequent remedial works. It has of course resulted in diversion of resources from some of our other planned relaying work but will hopefully negate further visits to the site to repack.

  • A project funded by the Friends of Eardington Station is also underway during the shutdown involving the partial rebuilding of the platform face. Although the station does not currently feature in our daily operations, a dedicated team lead by Steve Downs, look after and maintain this wayside gem. The rebuilding of the platform will improve greatly the appearance of the station and allow consideration to its possible use on gala events at some point in the future. Some 8000 engineering bricks recovered from the London – Bristol  mainline and donated by Kier Construction will be used. These have been cleaned up by Steve’s team over a period of time and will provide a genuine connection to the GWR. The rebuild is being undertaken by JSR Construction who are based less than a mile away from the station thus keeping the work local.

  • At Kidderminster, preparations are underway for the lining of the loco water tank similar to that carried out at both Bridgnorth and Bewdley. This work will require the draining down and drying of the tank interior followed by shot blasting. This provides a strong key to the GRP lining system that is then applied to the bottom and sides of the tank interior finishing off with a gel coat. This work is proactive maintenance of the tank and will greatly extend its life for a relatively modest cost. It is being carried out by Project Linings Ltd who have done the other tanks on the SVR to a very high standard.

  • The Kidderminster water column adjacent platform 1 runround is being swapped out from a fixed column to a standard GWR swing arm type similar to that on platform two side. This project has been a long time in the making having being on the cards since the 1980’s. Although the current fixed column is an original Kidderminster GWR item (having been cast at Wolverhampton) the swing arm replacement will be better suited to the variety of engines the SVR sees. The replacement has been restored and new components fabricated under the watchful eye of retired civil engineer Brian Jones who was heavily involved with the installation of the existing loco watering facilities back in the 1980’s. The original fixed column will for now be retired to the custody of Kidderminster Railway Museum for possible display.

Chris Bond Infrastructure Manager 

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