The objective – re-sleepering 7 lengths at the top end of the platform at Abergynolwyn.
Friday 7 February
10.5 people available for work.
The task got off to a flying start, by lunchtime the new sleepers were positioned, the rails, fixings and fishplates removed, the rails moved aside and the old sleepers loaded onto a wagon. To protect the platform surface 8 x 4ft boards were laid out on the platform because we were planning on putting some of the spent ballast there, its much easier to shovel off a smooth flat surface! Once the site was cleared the whole area was leaf blown along with further areas on the extension. During the afternoon they also carried out some tamping with the Robel tampers on the extension.
Saturday 8 February
11 people available for work.
On arrival at the work site we made some final arrangements for offloading the mini digger. As soon as the digger driver arrived he unloaded the machine and started work at the west end of the site to remove the old ballast from the formation. The cleaner material was placed on the platform and the dirtier material loaded onto wagons in the adjacent siding. Once the digging operations had moved east a few lengths we trimmed the bed and started to lay out the new sleepers for the 1st length and lifted the rails on. The west end fishplates were greased and fastened before the north rail was fixed down. The task then proceeded one length at a time until we had completed the task. The digger driver had completed the formation preparation before lunch. Once everything was connected up we adjusted the alignment with bars. The gathering darkness, the rising wind strength and a job progressing well were all good reasons to call it a day.
Sunday 9 February
10.5 people available for work.
Overnight Storm Ciara arrived and at breakfast things did not look too promising, however how wrong can you be. Yes it was windy but the rain stopped and the working conditions at Abergynolwyn were not too bad. Levelling the cross level was the 1st task. The heavy overnight rain had as we hoped washed the ballast on the platform and removed the fine dirt, so this ballast was used in the levelling up operation. While this work headed east, others started gauging of the south rail and fixing it down.
We abandoned the work site at 11.30 and went for an early lunch due to a very heavy rain shower. Fixing down the south rail was completed after the shower finished. The site was tidied up and all of the older ballast removed from the boards on the platform. Each ballast wagon in turn was pushed through the site and its contents dropped and spread. Once all the wagons were empty the ballast train was dispatched to Wharf. Using the jacks we started to obtain a finished alignment and shovel packed the result. While this was going on a start was made on creating a hole in “Mother Wales” as part of the Rolt Gate project. After a final tidy of the site we called it a day. The wind had almost abated and the sun was shining.
Monday 10 February
8 people available for work.
The previous evening the ballast train crew had had to be rescued due to tree felled by Storm Ciara blocking the line. So first thing a few of the gang set about clearing the line and filling the ballast train and returning wagons to Abergynolwyn to keep the tamping gang busy. Once the track was lined and levelled a start was made with the Robel tampers to tamp the re-sleepering site not quite halfway, they got as far as just east of the platform area. Some other tree and fallen branch issues were also dealt with in the Abergynolwyn Station area. The gang also had to contend with the continuing high winds and a heavy hail shower closely followed by lots of snow.
An excellent weekend which achieved its objective despite nature intervening and trying to spoil the fun. The good turnout certainly made life a lot easier. The weather was certainly not as bad as forecast we are used to the wind on the west coast.
Thank you very much to everyone who came along to help, we even had some very welcome new faces in the gang.
The next opportunity to come along and help your railway is Spring Outdoor Week 29 February – 8 March 2020 – you all are welcome.
If you have not been before and you need an induction please give us plenty of notice if you can, so can get some paperwork out to you before your visit. This will save a lot of time when you arrive in Tywyn. Advance notification of your availability to help is always greatly appreciated.
Article and photos by Keith Theobald