Latest page update - Tuesday 21st February 2017

 

 

 FINISHING THE BLUEBELL RAILWAY NORTHERN EXTENSION - FROM JANUARY 2013

With the main rubbish extraction phase concluded the Bluebell Railway still hopes to achieve its aim of reopening the connection to the main line at East Grinstead by spring 2013. Money is available but the weather has been attrocious and some of the delays of last year did not help either but if you can help please do still consider making a donation. For details www.bluebell-railway.co.uk . In the mean time we hope to continue to publish pictures of the work as it progresses. Please bookmark this page and look back frequently. There is a new YouTube appeal video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oBp6g5fI04

The first proper visit of a new year looking south in 2013, hopefully the year that the extension opens. On Friday 4th January little seems to have changed, but on closer inspection ...
... the signal is working! We waited but no train appeared. ;-)

p.s. The camera is skew whiff, the signal vertical.

 

Looking north from Imberhorne Lane bridge lots is happening. They appear to be widening the cutting (we always said it was a tight squeeze)!

In fact it was so interesting we took a video which is available on YouTube http://youtu.be/C7S0vjSOslk . Take a look!

 

The digger is, as previously suggested, having to work over the edge.
This is a new access road that has been laid in the past couple of days.
Here we can see how much they are cutting away - this shows better on the video. I think it only fair to ask if minor falls are going to be a common sight on this stretch of line for the next few years? Rather like the early years of the London - Brighton. They fixed that problem by building a half mile long wall that still exists to this day!
So where is the extra rubbish going? It is being transported in the blue lorry to the pile beside the entrance.
On Monday 7th January we start at East Grinstead Bluebell Station looking at the foundations for the new water tank.
Breeze blocks have been delivered and the sides filled in with earth and ballast. It looks like work is about to start.
Several hundred Metres of rail are also ready to be laid, but...
.. is the ground stable enough to accept the new rails?

Last week we were getting all optimistic but in the cold hard light of this new week with drizzle all around it is beginning to look difficult to finish the job in just over two months time.

We agree that the Bluebell can't yet state whether the line will open in March..

Take a look at the quagmire below..

.. where the side of the cutting was scraped away just a few days ago.
Indeed look even closer and this photo shows piles of sticky wet clay, there was a drain under there last week!

If it stops raining - and that was the forecast for today - then the air is still far too wet to allow the clay to dry.

Ask your wife if the washing is drying at present!

On the southern side of Imberhorne bridge there are signs of progress as work starts to lay the line right up to Imberhorne Lane bridge. Leaving just a 200 Metre gap.

Let's all hope for dry and windy weather to help dry out the whole area.

On Tuesday 8th we start in a different location, the old station site at West Hoathly.
Here they are working to load from their even diminishing stock of ballast ready to transport it north. There is a video of the activity on YouTube http://youtu.be/TTo8AxeL8NE .
Now after our diversion we are at the old Imberhorne bridge where the ballast will soon be delivered.
This is where the side was tidied up last week, it is now being covered in plastic membrane..
But there is still a mighty lot of mud to work around. This mini-digger looks very lonely here!
The earth bridge seems to be getting a bit smaller. I would expect this to be removed soon.
Once work is completed transporting the "stuff" back to the other side of the cutting.

A second video from Tuesday is available at http://youtu.be/0orHz_MSFFQ .

Wednesday 9th January. The drain now extends to just under Imberhorne Lane Bridge. Although not photographed there has been a delivery of ballast to the West Hoathly site.
The drain now extends right up to the bridge. The cable ducts are yet to be installed however.
The ballast arrives by train and is then distributed by digger and lorry.
Now looking the other way the biggest advance is that the earth bridge is on its way down. People don't like speculation so I shall.

I reckon that the earth bridge will be removed just in time to clear the way and allow delivery of the pre-made rail sections from the northern end without needing to take them off railway property.

Installation will then start from the south.

The earth bridge that stands in the way of access from the north.
The only problem 100 Metres of sticky gooey mud!
Which is being removed. A long video on YouTube at http://youtu.be/7KuazciHJl0 .
See what we mean about mud?
Quite literally surrounded by clay and mud!
We start Thursday's visit with a visit to another new location to take a look at the work to demolish the old East Grinstead BR station.
But Bluebell members will be more interested in this, the new parh that will eventually connect the two stations. The path will turn to the left here to go behind the crash barrier and continue along to connect with the Bluebell Railway station.
A quick look at the new water tower which has had concrete lintels put in and breeze blocks sandwiched between them.
Now to Imberhorne where work continues apace.
The very old rails have been removed and new length are being made up on site.
Just one more look today. There is a video on YouTube at http://youtu.be/DTVVrAEH0LI .
On Friday 11th Jan the road rail crane works to deposit soil and ballast at the north.
Collecting it from here beside the accommodation bridge.
At the south they deposit more ballast from West Hoathly onto the new track.
If you look at the earth bridge it might appear that the line will soon be clear...
... but a look from the other end shows the large triangular pile of waste still needing to be removed. The pile is quite deep, perhaps 30 or 40 metres from front to back with the earth bridge just visible in the distance. Picture taken into today's sun so lacking contrast, sorry.
Neither rain nor snow... and on a freezing Monday 14th January work continues installing pipes after which the rails can be laid.
as soon as they can be delivered from the north.
Work also continues removing the final blockage to enable this to happen.
Look closely and you will see that some things are being done with ropes...
,,, like a couple of marionettes from Thunderbirds our intrepid volunteers work to tie down the covering on the northern side of Imberhorne Lane bridge..
Here on Wednesday January 16th it's even colder. We can see that the way is still very much blocked by waste that needs to be removed although the size of the pile has reduced.
The new line has been laid out - or are those poles for the cable ducts? The ground plastic by the way seems to be a very temporary roadway to help reduce water damage to the under soil.
Under Imberhorne Lane bridge they continue to work to excavate for the various pipes.
Looking south all is ready for rails to be laid but no extra line has been put down yet.
Here we can see the sleepers ready for the lines which we are thinking will have to come from the north as soon as the way is clear and the last of the waste removed.
Finally a look at the old BR East Grinstead station site on Wednesday lunchtime which shows that it is no longer there! Quick work, but I guess a prefabricated building is a bit like a house of cards! There is even a chap sweeping the bits away!
After a break because of the snow we are once again able to show our readers what is happening at the cutting. These pictures were taken on Saturday 19th January, 2013.

The remains of the bridge are just visible. Sorry for the small number of pictures but the camera gave up because of the cold. (More about this later.)

This is the newly laid side covering. It's interesting to see how the snow clings to the side, let's hope that earth and seeds will do the same and changes the black to green soon.
Now a couple of views the other way taken before the cold affected the camera. You may see that some lose rails are there are beside the line of the railway waiting to be laid when the weather improves.
A video "Imberhorne in the snow" is now available as the video camera has thawed out. Take a look at this cold, windy and wintry scene.

Heavy snow is forecast for the area on Sunday.

YouTube link for the video http://youtu.be/dxpb-SBdp-c .

 

A new week Monday 21st January and diggers are working clearing the last of the rubbish.
Closer.
A quick look south shows no change here.
Finally, as an idea of how much the wind blew we thought you might like to see the bridge near Kingscote station. The bricks are normally a brick colour, not white!

Video on line later at YouTube showing more activity in a snow covered cutting..  http://youtu.be/7eX1yLkI7LI 

 

Wednesday 23rd January: we made two visits today but no activity seen on either so this will be a shorter report.
Still some rubbish blocking the way.
So for a change a look from the side. The snow helps show the moved material.
One last look across the fields from the eastern side of the works.
Friday 25th January and work is going on at the northern end.
There is not too much rubbish left, I'd give it a few days to a week if the weather holds. If.
Up on the embankment it's sort out time.
They are also working to extend the line past the buffer stops. Laying further drainage pipes..
One quick view from the south shows how it's with the thaw it's all turning to mud again.

I have a fairly different video taken today on line. The snow may even look white this time YouTube link - Heigh Ho: http://youtu.be/JE8MUL5LdYo

 

A new week and the snow has rapidly melted. These pictures were taken at lunchtime on Monday 28th January. It was cold with a biting strong wind.

Not sure why the sleepers are covered with ballast, perhaps we are going back to the 1800s. There certainly does not seem to be any ballast shortage!

 

Looking south the way is almost clear of rubbish, just a few days hard work to clear the way completely, is my guess.
In the distance the water and fuel bowser.
The bridge parapet requires attention as there are some large and moving cracks (shown elsewhere on this site) - hence the scaffolding. There are half a dozen men working behind the parapet!
Here they are! Hidden behind the bridge parapet and working away quietly are Bluebell people repairing and re-pointing the bridge side. You can just see one of the cracks in the foreground.
Now to the south and we can indeed see that there is not that much more rubbish to move. Unfortunately the ground is extremely boggy.
Finally for now a quick look to the south of Imberhorne Lane bridge.
Wednesday 30th January. Despite reports otherwise there has been no new track laid at the southern end.
This is the problem! The mud is thick, non-porous and very sticky! It makes an ideal swimming pool liner and has been used to line village ponds for hundreds of years.
Up north some real progress with two new lengths of rail laid, well done.
General scene of the north, as you can see the track is now well into the narrow section.
A close up view shows just how much plant is on site at present.
Opposite the new signal post beside the accommodation bridge we can see the new base for a relay cabinet positioned on top of the ducting run.
Rails waiting to be laid but the area is very wet.
All that remains to block the way. Someone on the bridge suggested it might have been left there deliberately so that there can be a grand "break through" press event.

Video at YouTube: http://youtu.be/GSYAfz62GUo

 

Thursday 31st January taken later in the day and they are really getting on with it!
To the south of Imberhorne Lane bridge rails are going in one by one.
The old line on the right was stubborn to move, see the video for more.
This seems to be a newer and much larger rail mounted crane. Whilst progress is much batter than previously we must ask if the job can be completed in just 6 weeks time?

Looking objectively after these rails are laid onto the previously prepared bed which should be a reasonably quick operation there would seem to be about 150 Meters of barren ground still to be prepared for rail laying.

The line has now reached the curve into the bridge. When looking along the newly laid line you can make out the change in level here. It's about where the flat truck of the crane is situated in the accompanying photo.
There will be a lengthy video on line later today showing the track at the side moved over on YouTube: http://youtu.be/mefRYEU4Iqs
NOW ON TO THE NEXT PAGE OF THE STORY...

 

 

 

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