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Two Large Infrastructure Projects Completed on Time in Appalling Weather

Wymondham Abbey Platform--a new deck required

During the Summer of 2012 we noticed that the surface of Wymondham Abbey Platform was deteriorating to the point where we would either have to replace it or close the MNR in 2013.

Being plywood sheeting on top of a scaffold, retained by c.1600 countersunk screws, was bad enough, but being given a 5 week window in the New Year with potential for snow made it an awful prospect.

By electing to do the re-decking “in house” allowed us to “steal a march” on the timescale, by locating the screw heads under the anti-slip grit and then cutting them off using angle grinders before Christmas.

Project Organiser Leslie Dale said
“Citizen Robespierre would have been envious at so many heads removed so swiftly!

With help from the Probation Service’s Community Payback Team the old boards were quickly lifted, immediately in the New Year.

Meanwhile Tufts of Bradenham brought forward their delivery of the new water proof and slip proof plastic coated plywood boarding by one week.

Just over one week later the new deck was in place and all bare ply edges and screw holes copiously coated with waterproofing bitumen.

Almost immediately afterwards down came the snow.

We ran a “gauging” test train at the end of January and on the second weekend in February the weather allowed the MNR’s “Stratford Diesel Gala” to go ahead unimpeded.

Dereham Station’s Bay Platform Point--new timbers and metalwork required.

Immediately following on from February’s “Stratford Diesel Gala”, the Permanent Way Team got out their big rail crane and started removing the rails and point metalwork and then the old ballast.

Help from Dereham’s JCB digger expert David Woodhouse gained us some time by clearing under the old formation to a lower depth. Geotextile was laid to help prevent future ballast contamination by earthy material from the ground below the new ballast layer.

The new hardwood timbers for the replacement point were then laid out and a start made upon the lining up the metal work of the new point, for a flowing curve between the two ends of track exposed. This intricate work is the domain of our Senior P. Way Manager, Owen Stratford and his Deputy, Trevor Brackpool.

Whilst the our track laying experts were lining, gauging, drilling screw holes and tightening up fishplates, another team of people was hurling the old dirty ballast at a wire mesh screen to remove the majority of the mud stuck around it. “Our “high output” ballast screen cost one old pallet, an old wire grid, 10 screws and 10 hoop staples; Network Rail’s equivalent costs how much?” asked press ganged Building Team Volunteer, Ian Winters.

The mainline’s metalwork was reconnected on Saturday 16th March and on Saturday afternoon 23rd March we had completed the ballasting, jacking and packing.

Class 47 “James Nightall GC” locomotive No. 47579 was then called upon to undertake the test run over the newly restored line into Dereham’s “down platform”.

On behalf of the MNR’s Trust Council Board of Directors, Director Leslie Dale said
“ I should like to thank all the Volunteers who participated, in keeping these 2 projects on the rails timescale wise and also the immense amount of money they have saved the MNR, by avoiding the need to call in Contractors.

We have achieved these outcomes on the costs of the materials alone!

Now there is just the old Kings Lynn bay platform to reconnect--no pressure!”
Further details of the MNR may be found on our website

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