Recently we have been busy relaying a 300 yard stretch of track between Launceston and Hunts Crossing â€“ for those a little more familiar with the railway it is the section between the first cattle creep and â€˜The Long Straightâ€™. This stretch of track was laid in the early 1980s as the railway was gradually extended, and although subject to occasional maintenance and sleeper replacement since, has not had any major work since it was first laid. After thirty years in use the time had come for a complete rebuild of this section.
Work commenced in December organising the several hundred sleepers required. Â Each sleeper was drilled and fixed with a base plate to hold the rail. Fortunately, considering how damp a lot of the winter was, this first piece of work could be largely undertaken inside!
Fitting baseplates to new sleepers
Some of the many piles of sleepers which appeared before Christmas, ready for relaying
After Christmas work started in earnest. Â New rail was moved from the rail pile in our car park to the stretch of track. Â The old trackwork was then dismantled and removed – the old rail will be sold on for further use, whilst any sleepers which are good enough to reuse will be used to replace odd sleepers at Newmills.
Removing new rail from our rail store
New rail starts its journey up the line
Old trackwork still in place, with new rail laid alongside
Offloading new rail
Removing fishplates, ready for the old track to be lifted
Once the old track had been cleared, our Fordson tractor levelled the ballast ready for the new sleepers to be laid out. Â For this we built a ballast plough which fitted onto the back of the tractor, inspired by our friends at the Bala Lake Railway who had recently built something similar!
Tractor ballast plough under construction
Tractor fitted with its new ballast plough
With a level bed, the new sleepers and rail were laid out over the course of several weeks in February – usually only on nice, dry days!
Moving a new section of rail into place on new sleepers
Some of the new track work awaiting final ballasting
The work was finished by early March, the last job being to fully ballast and pack the track.