Latest page update - Tuesday 21st February 2017

 

 

 CLEARING THE BLUEBELL RAILWAY EXTENSION CUTTING - THIRD PART 2011

With the main rubbish extraction phase concluded the Bluebell Railway can achieve its aim of reattaching itself to the main line at East Grinstead by 2013 if they get enough money! They only need about $500,000 now so if you can help please do consider making a donation. For details www.bluebell-railway.co.uk . In the mean time I hope to continue to publish pictures of the work as it progresses. There is an appeal video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oBp6g5fI04

This page contains recent pictures of the work to date and newer pictures - the old page can now be seen by clicking here

This page records my pictures of the Bluebell Railway's attempt to reconnect the 9 mile long existing line with the main railway at East Grinstead in Sussex. If you are not familiar with the Bluebell area then it's a little complicated so here is my (very simplified) explanation. When the Bluebell decided to try to reconnect it was faced with a virtually clear but heavily overgrown track from its existing terminus at Kingscote to the main line at East Grinstead - just two miles away. The problem was that more than 30 years ago as a young man I watched as one cutting was filled up with over 100 thousand tonnes of domestic waste. This was accomplished by waste wagons backing up to the edge of the old cutting and then simply opening up the back and dropping their waste over the side. Other waste arrived by road and was very basically sorted then pushed over the edge by a sort of pump device. I am aware that some people give other descriptions of the way it was done but I was there and together with my late father we watched the work being done! They did not even bother to remove the ballast from the old track - indeed some old sleepers were left behind and buried under the first tippings.

After much provocation and delay after a trial by road, the Bluebell decided to remove this waste by rail which meant that they first had to build a line south from the main line railway at East Grinstead to the tip face. Next they transported trains of wagons to the tip face, filled them with a digger and transport it all away to another dump. So there are really at present two Bluebell Railways - one is the original track running to the south of the blockage and a second line over half a mile long running south from East Grinstead to the north of the tip located near Imberhorne Farm. The Bluebell passenger station at East Grinstead was rebuilt and opened last year - this has confused some people as it was not really made clear that the new station did not serve any others! We hope the two lines will be rejoined soon with a new golden spike as used by the early American railway pioneers. This page records work removing the waste by rail during the later part of 2011 which is a very important time as the work must be progressed for the railway to ever get back. To see the pictures in more detail just right click and save the small views below.
 

THIRD SET OF PICTURES FROM THE SECOND HALF OF 2011
 SHOWING EXTRACTION WORK AT IMBERHORNE FARM, EAST GRINSTEAD.

THIS PAGE IS NO LONGER UPDATED - PLEASE SEE MY OTHER PAGES FOR LATEST NEWS

ALL MY PICTURES ARE SIMPLY RESIZED AND PUT ON LINE THE SAME DAY. WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT WAS THERE AT THE TIME!
IF THIS IS NOT WHAT YOU EXPECT TO SEE THEN THIS IS PRECISELY WHY THIS SITE IS HERE.

26th September, general view before any extraction. The digger in the very distance is important - read on. In reality there is not a large arrow on its roof.
This is the pile of metal waiting a visit to the fiery furnace!
 Right at the Southern end on the 27th September we see one of two dump trucks attempting to reach the moon! The digger on the right is the one visible in the photo above and is filling the trucks with capping clay. Yes we can almost see from one end to the other!
Close up of the same digger, taken on 27th September.
Now looking to the very South off Imberhorne bridge with a long lens, again 27th September.
OK, back to the North on the 27th, this is the result of 1000 Tonnes of rubbish being removed on the 26th. The newly exposed rubbish is darker as it is damp, which shows what has been exposed. There was quite a smell in the air I expect locals will be happier when it has all gone.
Same place, same day, different angle.
Finally for now a closer view showing a general view looking South from the Northern bridge on the 27th September 2011. The capping pile on the right is very interesting as it obviously can't stay there for ever. Wonder what it's there for?

 

A sweltering hot late September afternoon and the train is repaired and back in action. 28th September.
This rubbish has been transported from further into the cutting.
10 wagons in this half load
You gets what you pays for I suppose and the 1 a tonne saving seems to be coming back to haunt the railway - this is supposed to be an empty wagon. I suppose the same waste could make many round trips!
It's not just one wagon either, many had rubbish left in them, some with quite a considerable amount. I saw an interesting prog from the USA where the couplings rotate so they can turn each wagon upside down without uncoupling. That was for coal but the same idea would work here It appears they are being emptied by digger here. Perhaps a quiet word is needed, but I expect it's the turn round time that is the problem. They could also change a flattened wheel set in 4 minutes. Darn clever these Yanks!

Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnO_wMt22X8

Pictures taken on Sunday afternoon the 2nd October 2011.
It is extremely difficult to record progress on a day to day basis so I will delay my next visit until later in the week.
Third picture showing progress after one week.

. It's the 6th of October, another few days have passed and from my non-vantage point I can see little change. Work obviously has progressed elsewhere and this seems to consist of taking off the top off a large section and then working over and down. What puzzles me is that the spoil is being transported so far each time (see video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2U1nRIx124).

Surely one pile of rubbish is the same as another, so why are they taking from the middle instead of from the end nearest the wagons? There obviously is a good answer and work does seem to be progressing at last. By the way from my "secret side view" mentioned below it seems that about 1 metre has been removed off a largish area.

Obviously this only is my guestimate, so if exact figures were published this would be appreciated!

If you ask why I don't go elsewhere to photograph here is the answer! there really isn't anywhere that is public and that shows anything! There is one place which I can access but it is with special permission of the landowner and I have given a firm undertaking to not take nor certainly publish pictures from there. It does give me an overview that others do not get so the restriction is probably worth it. Here is a picture from another public place near the garden centre and looking straight across the cutting, see what I mean, not much to see from here!
Just a little further over the blue lorries can be seen on the other views, might give a little scale to the whole thing. As you can see I have to somewhat "run the gauntlet" to take from this side but the garden centre owner is most helpful in many ways that I won't reveal here!
And just to prove my point about visibility of the work, another picture from the other public side of the work! Perhaps when more leaves drop....
So back to the old bridge and another view showing both tractor units and a digger.
Another load transported from deeper into the cutting. The dust is interesting as the rubbish in the middle seems a bit dryer than the nearer stuff. Photo taken into the sun, sorry.
Finally I have uploaded a very large copy of this picture which give a fairly clear overview of the current state of the work.

Please click the picture on the left to download in large size but be aware it's a very large file. I chose this picture because of the light and you can see details in the larger picture that are not otherwise visible.

 

 

A longer video of work today is also available on YouTube at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2U1nRIx124 .

Monday 10th October and work progresses at the tip...
With the capping removed we can now see the curve of the cutting as it gently moves to the right.
What's this? Yes not a nice empty train but all of the first rake filled with ballast. In all we estimate there were between 5 and 6 wagon loads spread between the first 10. The front 3 have been partially emptied just round the corner.
Filling work commences immediately some spoil being loaded on top of the remaining ballast.
As you can see there was quite a lot of ballast left. No idea what it is worth as a freebie, but each wagon costs 1250 to fill with waste.
Meanwhile the three wagons are separated whilst being filled and the rest taken North to be emptied by the spare digger.
Here they are on their journey back North where they are parked just out of sight. I think that all the spectators on the bridge would be interested to know how much rubbish actually went off to the landfill today.

 

17th October and a general view.
Work continues apace on the other side of the cutting where a new refuse disposal site is being constructed. As you can see the pre fabricated building is being rapidly erected.
This might not be too clear but this dump truck is resting on the level of the ground that has been removed behind the big bump that makes viewing so difficult. This would seem to imply that the long trench that has been dug is now getting on for 3 metres deep. That is rather less than half way down although being a trapezoid the bottom half must be smaller than the top.
This dark pile of rubbish represents about one full train of 20 wagons.
What's this? Two lengths of rail have been delivered! For an extension perhaps?

Really good news on a visit today, 19th October. With the removal of a bank it is now possible to see the curve where the trench has been started. Although not clear from this picture it is possible to discern that a large amount of rubbish has gone.

If you can possibly get to the area park your car and take a look, it will bring a smile to your eyes!

Looking south from the other side of Imberhorne bridge we can see where the clay capping has been deposited....
... and properly contoured to make a reasonable looking embankment. Bet that will stay there for a long time! Just need some ballast and the rails now.
So back up north we can see work progressing awaiting the arrival of the train which was today on time. Reports suggest that it was late for the last two days and perhaps the full quantity of spoil did not go.
As you can see here the loading ramp is now much shorter down to rail level and the pile of metal has grown considerably. It looks likely that the rails may be moved over during the next break in the trains.
Finally, there has been a suggestion that the railway may decide to transfer some of the spoil to the side of the cutting where the present loading line is located. This would not only make the entire rail length between the bridges symmetrical but would also save a considerable amount of spoil from having to be transported by rail. Remembering that each train costs the best part of 25,000 it does make sense, does it not?

Let's see next year, but this is my very amateurish attempt to give an idea of how it might look..

Arriving at lunchtime on 21st October here is a general view.

I have been told that the problem at present is too much capping getting in the way of operations. I am told that this means that they are having to revise the route.

The yellow poles seem to indicate both the course and the angle of the new embankment.
I have been told by the men on the spot that this pile is just about a complete train of waste. It should go off this afternoon, never to be seen again!

Not completely obvious but the loading ramp has now almost completely disappeared and is mostly now at rail level. This would seem to back up my theory that they intend to move the line over to the other side after the end of the present phase of trains.

The pile of scrap metal given scale by the well used portable toilet. No going behind a bush for Bluebell men!
Now this is interesting. The small pile in front of this digger seems to be the only thing stopping me seeing onto the cutting proper and guess what? They are actively removing it! Look back next week and we may be able to see far more than now.

The yellow poles are seen again on the right hand side.

There was a train due but I had to leave for an appointment. Here the wagon weigh scales are being installed and checked.

An overview of work on Monday 24th October.
Work continues on the pile that is blocking observer's view into the cutting proper.
An extra length of rail has been put in on the north western side with another waiting room to be fitted. I find it interesting to see how long the vegetation takes to grow. Just imagine how the line looked when it was first constructed.
This lineside fencing seems to be in generally good condition even after more than a century.

The afternoon of the last Friday of the last complete week of this batch of trains 28th October and the train arrives.
As you can see we can now see right into the tip area and not shown is the fact that the level of the work is now really quite deep. As you can see the wagons are still not particularly clean when returned - in fact the foremost one today contained some Sainsbury's bags well filled with what looked like fresh household rubbish!
A couple of us waited there trying to work it out and we reckon that the Railway lost a total of perhaps a quarter to a third of one truck on this train. That would be 400 worth of space. Obviously the wagons are weighed in and then weighed out so perhaps the railway doesn't lose out in the long run!
The undulations in the distance are quite odd, some go little deeper than you can see but one goes a very long way down indeed. Well past half way in fact and I guess there is not more than 3 metres left to remove in one or two spots towards the centre of the tip. You have to remember that the width needs taking into consideration too so whilst there may be a "hole" in the middle this does not necessarily stretch right across yet.
I an guestimating here, but I would reckon that the pile in front of us including the loading ramp probably represents most of the next three trains full of rubbish. That would take them until the end of the present group of trains. Just to give some idea of the number of trains yet needed.
I have been told that to save the amount of rubbish going north the railway are taking the line as far over to the edge, the east, as they possibly can. It makes sense as just taking the line a yard or two "further over" will change some of it from expensive rubbish to soil and rocks which can be legally disposed of elsewhere on the railway and not be subject to tax. This might easily save several trains from going north. The trouble is moving it over on a curve actually lengthens the line. It's all to do with arcs of circles. You really should have paid better attention in maths classes - as should I! It will be a longer trip from East Grinstead to Sheffield Park than it was before closure - they'll have to put the fare up!

 

A couple of videos from today, quality not wonderful but nevertheless still give an idea of what's going on.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zthlmBzYVWw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xyMwWRX_RM

 

31st.October and as I have an important appointment tomorrow this will be my last report for a few days. You will find a long video on YouTube which will I hope give a better idea of how the work is progressing. The men on the ground are working as fast as they can but there is an awful lot more rubbish to dispose of! Sort of reminds me of painting he Forth Bridge - I know they have sorted that out now but you get the idea.
I was at last able to see from the southern bridge right onto the work and have as a result had to revise my level diagram. This shows that the southern half of the tip is roughly at a level of the arch of Imberhorne bridge. It is smooth and not undulating. I hope this is visible on this photograph as it does show clearly from the actual bridge. I recommend having a look if you pass this way. You will then be able to see the amount of spoil still to be removed.
Further away taken from Imberhorne bridge to give scale, the present surface can be seen just above the pipes which are on a slightly raised section.
A close up of the work still from the "other" Imberhorne end. The lorry is on the trackway that is just to the side of the digger. The surface here is about 2 or 3 metres down from the top.
My earlier picture of the lineside fencing caused interest, this part will require slight straightening however!

This will be the last set of photographs on this page as they show the state of work at the end of the present set of trains. Taken on 3rd November 2011. It's all very dank, wet and dare I say rather depressing!
Same day from just over a bit on the bridge.
A mid view of the "action zone".
With such poor public access, and in the absence of better pictures from the railway (although I believe there are some more to come soon), there is a dip in the middle of the bank (with a dark stain to the right) and here we can see the actual level of the "swimming pool" area. Now look at this area on the above pictures and gain for yourselves an idea of the work needed.

Further pictures of this area are on page cutting4. Thanks for your comments so far - both good and bad all are welcome - and for viewing.

   

 

 

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