Latest page update - Tuesday 21st February 2017

 

 CLEARING THE BLUEBELL RAILWAY EXTENSION CUTTING

FIFTH PAGE OF PICTURES SHOWING WORK DURING EARLY 2012
 AT IMBERHORNE FARM, EAST GRINSTEAD.

PLEASE SET YOUR BOOKMARKS!

As much as I would love to vary the pictures that I show here there is very limited public access in the tip area. Two public bridges cross the work, one to the north, one to the south. Each side is private land to which access is absolutely forbidden as the owners do not want hordes of train spotters on their private land - which is fair enough!

I do have special permission to look at the works from two specified fixed sites for which I am extremely grateful, as far as I know nobody else has permission, but I am not allowed to publish pictures from these locations - for the present at least!

I therefore do the best that I can - you see what anyone else who visits the area, and who keeps to the rules, would see. The idea is you look at the differences as the work proceeds day by day.

If you see pictures from the side (unless taken from the railway with permission) they will have been taken by people who are trespassing on private land.

Obviously the railway are the people in the best position to give many varied views of the work, from the sides and even from on high, but for their own reasons they chose to not do so. That is why my site is here!

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 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 with an expensive 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 2012 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.
 

As you can see if you intend to visit the area you should be extremely careful where you park!

I can't walk far and have a special arrangement with a local landowner so that I can get near - you probably don't!

What a difference a year makes - please click here to see what it was like just under a year ago.
 

It's the middle of January 2012 and we can see that little has changed at the tip. The old loading ramp has been covered over though.
Straight on we can see that the embankment has been covered over and looks to be in good condition but there have been some minor falls elsewhere. Nothing much though.

There is a lot of stuff still to move and of course just over two months left before the tax takes effect!

Closer still we can see that where the embankment has been covered with cloth it looks to have weathered well.
Now at the other end it all looks nice but still a lot of waste to move elsewhere.
The rocks that are seen in old pictures of the area are clearly defined. Perhaps someone could compare and get an idea of the depth still needed to be removed.

 

A couple of pictures showing the remains of a snowfall in early February.
The mountain of capping looks as though it might serve as a temporary ski slope! It will soon be moved south to Horsted Keynes where much of the clay will go to make a long needed turning triangle as well as the approaches to the new bridge on the Ardingly extension.

Seems your correspondent will soon be photographing ground works on a different part of the railway!

A sunny early March day, in fact the 8th day, and looking south from Imberhorne bridge little has changed over the winter.
When we look the other way however we can see that a fairly large blob of clay has fallen back into the cutting. Nothing too difficult and I am sure that a digger can make short work of the problem but this does show that the cutting will need stabilising as soon as possible.

I was able to take a look from one of my vantage points and there have been several falls along the line.

A slightly wider shot of the same area. As usual it is impossible to give scale to this area but the amount of fallen clay must equate to several wagons full. there are further falls out or sight round the bend.

On 19th March 2012 work recommenced (probably for the last time) to complete the re-contouring of the tip. It is intended to raise the level to give a clearance of 6 metres at Imberhorne bridge. I have no idea how much slope this will make.

Apparently heavy machinery is to be delivered later in the week which will include a compactor as the main requirement is to make a new firm base for the new line.

The new level is to start here and from then on it's uphill all the way!

A short video of the area today can be seen here...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnUqgB1tuTc

A day later and work has started in earnest. In case you can't see the embankment beside the access gates has been opened up, possibly for a drainage pipe?
And parked just beside Imberhorne bridge we can see that the special ground compactor has arrived. I wonder how they got it down there? No doubt we will be seeing a lot more of this machine at work later!

I put a measuring tape over the side of the bridge and if there is to be 6 metres clearance to the centre underside it looks like about a third of the currently exposed structure will be reburied.

That would make the new line very roughly level with the cab of the compactor on the left of this picture.

If you can't see from my pictures that is not a railway line behind the far digger it's a pathway made by the machines themselves. The railway track has now been removed right up to the end of the new embankment that you can see going to ground behind the trees. This make me think there is now going to be quite a rise in this area. It will also make the journey through the cutting far less claustrophobic.

22 March and work is well underway. They are removing the clay piles at the side of the track and piling the clay on top the track path to raise the level, and the height seems to be more than I had previously thought in fact you can see the level from the lorry height..
Nearer Imberhorne bridge and my camera they were at work laying the new levels.
A digger, lorry and that compactor at work today.
The end of the line (for now). I have no idea how far it is away but the starting point seems to have moved. Here you can just about see the slope as the front is about a metre higher than the back.
A general view of the work.

A 6 minute video taken today is now available here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Di7LhJh7ONYl . Sorry for the shaking but I was filming on extreme close up from more than a quarter mile away!

Just a day later Friday 23rd and my last visit for the week shows amazing progress. It's all foreshortened in these pictures of course but they must have progressed several tens of metres in the last 24 hours alone. It does indeed seem that the new line will be considerably higher than before.
In fact the new level is way over the height of this mile post which looked (although I am sure will not actually) be about to be buried! No idea if the lines on the bank will be reused or whether they will take the opportunity to relay the entire section with new rail.
Here is 24 hours progress! Just look at the height compared with say the dozer body.
And one more picture to give some scale. Apologies for the pictures which had to be photographed directly into the sun so required some intervention to make them clearer.

At this rate they will be working under the bridge by the middle of next week! I'd imagine that a great deal of compacting will be needed before the ballast can be laid.

There's a new video taken today on YouTube here
watch-v=SVpQvx0FQuI .
 

A beautiful Monday lunchtime 26th. March, and progress can only be described as astonishing! They have already reached the bridge with the first layer of soil and are rapidly building up the slope. You probably can't see but there is a level marker in the middle of one of the tracks at the side so that will presumably be where they stop but apparently they are often placed above the final level..A general view of the action. The excellent dry weather has obviously helped.
This is the compactor hard at work running up and down, down and up all day. Every so often the add an extra layer of earth and gradually build up the slope.

A new video taken today is available here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewFNSbGaFoY

Revealed on Imberhorne bridge.

Wednesday morning 28th March, and the level of the work is increasing all the time. Although the change is not as dramatic as before the progress is visible.
And one more picture showing the work further down the line.
And while we are here a look under the bridge where some work has started with...... a ditch being dug presumably to release some ground water?
The trench from side on.

 

Due to the possible fuel situation I shall visit next later in the week. However if something important needs picturing please let me know..

 

End of the second week and if you compare this picture to the ones above you can see progress. But how much deeper are they going?
Well if you look here you will see a board that might tell you, or it might not as apparently they are placed above the intended final level.
The board is just visible in the centre of this more general view.
Looking the other side of Imberhorne bridge we can see that the level has risen considerably. Again take a look at my earlier pictures.

BT were working on the bridge and the men said that they had no idea that they were above the Bluebell Railway (hint)! They even stopped the single file traffic for a minute so that I could take this quick snap.

Welcome new viewers and yes anything written here are my thoughts entirely both good and bad; I say it as I see it. I have been wrong, but sometimes hit the nail on the head! Enjoy the pictures anyway - they are totally unretouched so show what I see.

Tuesday 3rd April and to be honest work appears on the surface to have slowed down. It's probably an illusion but after the amazing progress of the last few day I suppose I expect to see a steam loco every time I look over the bridge abutments!

 

Looking at the extreme range of my lens probably half a mile distant we just about see work progressing. the man is standing beside the accommodation crossing and they are working at double that distance half way towards (but not yet round) the bend.

Much nearer the camera a drain is being installed near the slope down from Imberhorne bridge. A hole was also being dug in the centre of the track area, whether the two are connected I have no idea!
The embankment on the south eastern side has now been tidied up, perhaps for eventual grassing over. It would make a splendid bluebell copse under the trees.

I took a video and it's now available here. Sorry about the quality it looks fine at my end but after video editing, compressing for upload and YouTube get at it it ends up a bit fuzzy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svo7P46tOi8

A bitterly cold Maundy Thursday and work continues at the extreme end of the site. I had sort of hoped that some rails might be laid over Easter but this seems unlikely as they seem to be putting in some sot of drain near the accommodation crossing.
Just slightly further away. If you were going to visit the site this weekend then there really seems that (on the surface) little has changed since last week.
To complete the pictures for this week what you would see peering over the bridge on Thursday afternoon.

It's the 11th April 2012 and Easter has passed. To my uneducated eyes work in the area to the south of Imberhorne bridge looks finished and ready for the track laying gang.
Another view round the bend and further down the track.
Looking on a long lens we can see that the work at the accommodation bridge has been finished.
Viewed from the other side we can see where all the tree work has been done and very neat and tidy it look too! The greenery partly blocking the view in the foreground is going to become a pain as spring turns into summer.
I took a video camera but there was no movement at all to record! Not sure what they are waiting for but the continuous heavy showers can only make the ground worse rather than better.
We have not looked north for some time so a couple of views also taken on 11th April again show little change.
But the rain has settled on the solid clay ground.

It's the end of Easter week Friday 13th April and nothing at all seems to have happened this week. Hopefully only temporary as the work in the last few weeks has been amazing.

So it's to the northern end and all that is visible are some rusty rails and a little more ground cover than last year.
The other way, south of the northern bridge shows rather a mess waiting the final clearance.
And finally a general view of the northern Imberhorne cutting area.

Monday 16th April 2012.

As exclusively predicted by this site work has today recommenced on the tip proper after the winter lay off. They are attacking the huge "mountain" of earth at the southern extremity of the site and appear (and I know it's early days, but appear) to be putting the clay into the cutting itself!

This may of course be a temporary measure prior to disposal elsewhere. Sure though that things are moving along.

 

As you can see I am using a totally different vantage point courtesy of a local land owner who has now given me permission to reproduce pictures taken from here. It's even out of the wind!
The clay is being loaded onto a lorry and transported down the slope onto...
... the tip itself where a second machine is levelling it all out. But what happens next? Time will tell and it has been very sensibly suggested they may be building a temporary bridge to get the clay spoil over to the other side of the track.

A video which quite honestly shows far more of what is happening is now available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=La1EsKcRA_E .

Just one day later on Tuesday 17th. we can see that it was a bridge all the time and by lunchtime works had started filling up the eastern side of the cutting.
The new bridge in action, which required a considerable quantity of clay to be put back into the cutting. It does mean that it will need removing once the job is finished.
The first digger across the bridge smoothes the ground as it goes.
Which is dumped right at the end of the cutting onto some tyres.
The digger then goes all over the ground pushing it all together.

A video is now available on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhGSsDP_hmU

A small crowd had gathered to watch proceedings, some of whom were local residents. They expressed relief that the huge pile of clay that had been placed outside their homes was now being removed. Seems they had received no official notification of what was going on and seeing the cutting being apparently refilled yesterday had wondered if the whole project was being abandoned!

I hope that I managed to reassure them that it was in fact progressing towards completion, but I am not of course privy to any private information!

Some tyres await the next load of clay which will cover them over for ever more, and have apparently been put there to help stabilise the area. No doubt some deep rooted rye grass will help complete the job.

The area will look really nice once finished and will no doubt attract photographers being the only public bridge over the entire railway. In that respect I earnestly recommend wearing some sort of reflective jacket as I was nearly hit by a lorry mirror this morning.

An extremely wet (what hose pipe ban?) Wednesday the 18th. April and just to give an idea of scale we can see the start of the "mountain" of clay that is presently being removed behind the car - the mountain actually goes higher but I could not fit it into the picture.

Then the roof of one of the nearest houses (there are 4 together) can be seen with the very nearest house to the railway and the beginning of Imberhorne bridge shown in the insert. You can see the same green square bush with the dustbins under in both pictures.

Hope this gives an idea of geography and how close the nearest house is to the railway cutting (it's garden is right on the edge); the car is leaving the new Council depot / garden centre.

 

Just down the road on the left of the above picture a very wet cutting with two diggers lying at rest in a lot of mud. I now understand that the 1 in 60 incline will continue right under Imberhorne bridge and into the tip itself. I presume this height adjustment will require work at the northern end as well but the siding was always going to need removal anyway.
Closer view shows more tyres awaiting interment under more wet clay. The tyres somehow combine with the clay to hold it all in place.
This is actually impressive on the ground as they only started yesterday and have already removed probably a quarter of the "mountain". I took several pictures of the area but without anything to give scale it is hard to show the sizes. Perhaps this old picture (insert) from last year showing a large lorry in the foreground and taken from the other end of the site gives some idea of the size of the clay heaps. The one on the right is the one presently being attacked.  I know I tend to call them spoil heaps and Richard tells me off for this but everything being moved at present is clay. I have though been told that a largish quantity of waste is to start being moved to elsewhere on the site soon.

Given that it is so wet I believe the men may well give up early today so I next intend to visit on Friday.

Please look back then, and remember all the old pictures are still available via the link www.philpot.me/bluebellindex.html .

 

The end of the week Friday 20th April afternoon and it is obvious that the workmen have given up for today because of the extreme wet and mud. It's rather lucky that there is no real deadline now as there would be if there was more waste to go north. For that I think the Bluebell can count itself  very lucky and thank the rain gods!

There is absolutely no visible change from my earlier pictures in the cutting area itself.

Monday 30th April, and despite a forecast of "a month's rain in one night" for tomorrow evening work has resumed.

This is water that has flowed down from the centre of the cutting towards Imberhorne bridge. It would normally continue down the slope towards Kingscote but they are at present recontouring the area

 

Looking over the bridge to the south nothing has moved. It's worth mentioning that the sun and wind together are very drying and roads that were impassable seem to clear very quickly at this time of year. You can see that nearer the camera out from under the trees the ground is drying and is a lighter colour.
However looking the other way shows work has already restarted. The diggers have started moving rubbish which is being buried on the cutting side. This saves a crossing of the cutting itself. I hope to photograph the other end of the work on Wednesday when I have quite literally brought some waders as the clay track at that end is impossibly and impassably muddy!!. ;-).
After delivery it is smoothed out.

A video taken on the 30th April which shows the wet and the job much better is here: http://youtu.be/5pQXMidmwSs (The dot in the middle of youtu.be IS correct !!!)

 

A day later and an unexpectedly sunny 1st of May and work continues at the northern end where a mixture of clay and rubbish are being taken down by lorry to the southern end of the site. The tip area itself does not seen as wet as one might expect. The "swimming pool" in the centre has been drained and the is sun quite warm so dries up quickly.

As you can see the blanket that protected the area over winter has worked very well, but no grass growth yet.

 

It's Tuesday lunchtime and the three man crew cross the lunar landscape to take refreshments. I don't know why but this reminds me of the Dr.Who location that they keep using for alien planets!

A YouTube video is available at: http://youtu.be/Q_OJDFhDBYg (Once again the youtu.be domain IS correct!)

 

It's Thursday the 3rd of May and too wet for the machinery to work. Progress of the last couple of days can be clearly seen however with the darker fill easily seen against the background. Yes they moved all that in a couple of days!

When you look closely however you can see a new addition to the view. At first I though they were arrows giving directions, but my camera zoom lens shows differently!

 

This is intriguing. When you look closely you can see that the signs are in fact 10 metre measuring boards. I was a bit shaky on my feet today so not able to venture to the northern end to see how long the cutting actually is!

I wonder who printed all these signs out?

 

The 8th May and work progresses despite the appallingly wet weather. When you think that just three men do all this the progress is encouraging.

The usual two diggers and a lorry work to remove rubbish, clay and other detritus from the line of the railway and transport it the short way to build up the eastern side of the cutting.

I do not know how deep will be the new cutting but it is possible that the area in the front will be the final base. Or not of course!

 

A 15 minute video with descriptive commentary taken today is now available on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHN949MuErQ

It is all beginning to make sense to your observer, this is what I think is happening.

First they are working as quickly as possible to make a pathway through the cutting. The spoil, as mentioned above, is being moved to the side.

Then I think they will lay a temporary line through the cutting which will enable a hired in train to get to the south without the costs of road transport.

Next the temporary line can be used to start to move what's not needed and in particular the clay heaps, shown below, to the south and Horsted Keynes.

Finally tidy it all up and leave a proper permanent way.

Easy! That's my guess anyway!

Saturated, that's the only word to describe the area on Friday 11th May. There seems no way that rails could be laid in this mess so let's hope for a dry spell very soon!
The north side of Imberhorne bridge is also waterlogged at present.

There's a new video with commentary taking a quick look round the extension this morning at... http://youtu.be/K8GGoIx5IEw

 

Arriving on Monday 21st of May the weather has improved and the site is a hive of activity. Drainage pipes are being delivered beside Imberhorne bridge.

And quickly transferred to a digger to be taken to the site. If you look at the tracks however you will see how wet the area still is! Someone joked that this saved digging trenches for laying the pipes they could be put into the vehicle tracks!

After this 60 bags of cement are transported down to rail level.. Now all they need is water but they probably have enough of that already!
Looking the other way we can see surveyors at work. I hope this means that work will soon start here too.
It's a hot Wednesday 23rd of May and we can see a new access road being built north of Imberhorne bridge. A video will be available soon.
The digger is immensely powerful and the ground shakes as it easily moves the huge sandstone rocks from the building of the East Grinstead bypass road.
Looking the other way work is also progressing, you probably can't see but the level is almost a metre higher beside the centre digger so they perhaps need some more clay, hence the new road?

With a number of rails ready for laying. Can't wait!

New video showing construction of the access road http://youtu.be/_8AIX_rZRdA

I popped in on my return from hospital today as I will not be able to visit tomorrow.

It's Thursday 24th May and work progresses quickly. As you can see the rail level is even higher than before but given they are digging drains I reckon this will be the final level - given that some ballast will be required on top!

From a distance I reckon the rails will be about 2 metres higher than my  previous estimate. It's a good way of disposing of clay!

The rails on the right hand side have not moved so it is easy to compare levels on my other pictures taken previously. In fact if it continues as it is now it looks like the soil would just about half bury the lowest rail.on the extreme right.

I expect they will move it. <grin>

 

The ditch waste is piled in the centre of the line where it is incorporated in the new level, but the new haul road is already being used to bring more clay from the "store". I can't easily show it but this road must be inclined at 60 degrees; I wouldn't want to drive down it with a loaded truck behind me!
And one extra picture of the north of Imberhorne bridge with the new haul road curving away and up hill to the left,

It does seem a little ironic that to my estimate they have now dug out and then replaced earth in this area three times. There was of course no household waste here as it was too near the bridge; the tip has always been clay and soil around here.

We were driving past the work early on Sunday 27th morning so I asked if we could stop while I took a couple of quick snaps. This is the result of my unscheduled visit.

As you can see the drainage ditch already has water in it and looks finished unless they plan to put some sort of pipe in and bury it. This I doubt as there are no piles nearby to cover it over so it looks like an open ditch around here.

 

There are very strong rumours from my usually correct spies who tell me that preliminary work on rail laying is planned to start immediately after the bank holidays. That would be the 6th of June- D-Day! It is then hoped for laying to continue throughout the summer unless a major incident on the running lines makes this impossible.

Another "spy" however has just told  me that they intend to have a mini loading ramp at Imberhorne bridge and bring some of the clay down by lorry via the new haul road to be loaded onto the train. If this were the case after the first section was finished rail laying would be suspended for a few weeks to continue under the bridge and into the tip later in the summer. More coke and ice required to keep the men cool while working in mid summer!.

I tend to prefer the latter plan as you can't have a railway line and a haul road going under the bridge at the same time but you pays your money and takes your choice! ;-)

 

As you can see the surface is almost ready for the sheeting and ballast, almost all the way up to the bridge. I believe that the sump on the left in front of the bulldozer is now connected up so this must be off the line of the new railway. Another clue that you can't have road and rail in the same place!

For completeness a very quick look the other way where nothing has changed. The new haul road is on the left and enables spoil from the temporary mountain to be brought down to rail level.

My next report will hopefully be on Wednesday of this week when I expect the surface to be finished south of Imberhorne bridge then after the holidays work may enter an exciting phase.

 

   
   
   

MY VERY LATEST EXTENSION PICTURES CAN BE FOUND HERE

PLEASE SET YOUR BOOKMARKS

 

2016 RAILWAYTRAINS.UK
Terms of use of this website
info@railwaytrains.uk