Seen at the railway


An informal diary of recent interesting news and activity at the railway:

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Ballasting


GBRf class 66 66784 'Keighley & Worth Valley Railway' arrived overnight on July 20th with a train of autoballasters. After unloading it proceeded to Meldon to run round, then idled at Okehampton before heading back to Westbury late in the afternoon, via a second runround at Exeter Riverside.
Photographer: Tony Hill
Date taken: 21/07/2021



Another view of 66784 with the train of autoballasters at Okehampton Station
Photographer: Dave Ellis
Date taken: 21/07/2021



The Colas ballast tamper DR 73924 at Okehampton Station on July 7th. Thanks to Dave Ellis for the photos, and Tony Hill for the commentary.

Colas Rail's Plasser and Theurer ballast tamper DR 73924
Photographer: Dave Ellis
Date taken: 07/07/2021



A busy scene at Okehampton the tamper stabled on the former down platform line and a train of 20 'Falcon' bogie opens, with a Colas class 70 loco each end, being loaded with scrap sleepers for the NR Westbury materials recovery depot. In the distance can be seen stacks of more scrap track that has been ferried by road rail vehicles with trailers, back to Okehampton from along the 11 miles of track that has been renewed with concrete sleepers and continuous welded rail, currently in the process of receiving its final ballasting and tamping.
Photographer: Dave Ellis
Date taken: 07/07/2021



The tamper standing on the down platform siding extension, being refuelled from a road vehicle positioned in the Youth Hostel yard.
Photographer: Dave Ellis
Date taken: 07/07/2021



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Polar postscript




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Scrap track removal


In recent weeks, heavy lorries have been used to remove the old track which was replaced during the relaying, much to the concern of local residents. However, on Wednesday June 23rd the first scrap track was despatched by rail from Okehampton to the NR materials recovery depot at Westbury. Some pictures below.

70811 awaiting departure
Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 30/06/2021



Scrap rail materials being loaded at Okehampton. Colas class 70 70812.
Photographer: Dave Ellis
Date taken: 23/06/2021



View from the Okehampton Station footbridge of the train partially loaded with old sleepers
Photographer: Alan Peters
Date taken: 23/06/2021



Colas class 70 70817 on the Exeter end of the train
Photographer: Alan Peters
Date taken: 23/06/2021



Roadrailers unloading scrap track panels at the site of the former military sidings.
Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 24/05/2021



More scrap panels being unloaded, with the de-vegged Bridge 610 (Tors Road) in the background.
Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 24/05/2021



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Unusual Traction


Kawasaki Mule in Okehampton Station
Photographer: Sue Baxter
Date taken: 29/05/2021



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Track renewal


Track renewal has started in earnest. We are grateful to Paul Vodden at Crediton Station, Dick Henrywood at Bow Station, Ron Kirby and Dave Ellis at Okehampton Station, Tony Hill out and about, and driver Alan Peters, for the following photos which give a flavour of the extent of the works.

Dick commented:- "Lots of passing activity at Bow Station in preparation for the arrival of two deliveries, the first hauled by Colas Rail 56302 with more sleepers but also the Balfour Beatty NTC track laying machine. It was followed by 70808 with yet more sleepers. The two were assembled at Okehampton and then passed again on the way back to their work site to the East of Bow. This was the first recorded Class 56 to visit the line for at least a decade". Dick also reminds us of the Bow Station information on his own website www.reynardine.co.uk/BowStation/BowStation.html.

Tony explained what was happening in his first 2 images:- "First job - sever and remove to lineside the old track with road rail vehicles and prepare the new trackbed, including surveying and marking out the centre etc. Spread some new bottom ballast (from lineside stockpile) if needed in readiness for when the relaying train starts at the east end of the existing CWR (continuous welded rail) at Bow, then working to just beyond Landsend level crossing and meet the existing CWR at milepost 186."

There's a Balfour Beatty video of the track construction machine at work here, and you can see footage of the BB equipment in use on April 19th east of Bow here.


A few more pictures of the track work, thanks to Dave Ellis:

Photographer: Dave Ellis
Date taken: 13/05/2021



Photographer: Dave Ellis
Date taken: 13/05/2021



Photographer: Dave Ellis
Date taken: 13/05/2021



Photographer: Dave Ellis
Date taken: 13/05/2021



Photographer: Dave Ellis
Date taken: 13/05/2021



After DRCIC closed for business at the end of 2019, much consternation was caused by the discovery of a damaged section of rail in the points at the Meldon end of Okehampton Station. NR took the repair in their stride,
Photographer: Dave Ellis
Date taken: 09/01/2021



Another view of the repaired point.
Photographer: Dave Ellis
Date taken: 09/01/2021




Tamper at Bow Station:

The Colas tamper, seen from the Bow Stationmaster’s bedroom window!
Photographer: Dick Henrywood
Date taken: 09/05/2021




A couple of photos from Ron Kirby taken on May 10th when relaying work started at Okehampton Station:

Photographer: Ron Kirby
Date taken: 10/05/2021



Photographer: Ron Kirby
Date taken: 10/05/2021



Thanks to Alan Peters for the next 4 photos, showing the scene at Meldon on the afternoon of Friday May 7th:

Photographer: Alan Peters
Date taken: 07/05/2021



Photographer: Alan Peters
Date taken: 07/05/2021



Photographer: Alan Peters
Date taken: 07/05/2021



Photographer: Alan Peters
Date taken: 07/05/2021




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Looking east from Sampford Courtenay main road overbridge
Photographer: Tony Hill
Date taken: 04/05/2021



Looking west from Sampford Courtenay main road overbridge with roadrailers regrading the trackbed etc for 55mph running.
Photographer: Tony Hill
Date taken: 04/05/2021



A view from the western end of the former goods yard at North Tawton
Photographer: Tony Hill
Date taken: 27/04/2021



The Balfour Beatty New Track Construction train
Photographer: Tony Hill
Date taken: 27/04/2021



The Balfour Beatty New Track Construction train approaching North Tawton, with Dartmoor in the background.
Photographer: Tony Hill
Date taken: 27/04/2021



One of the NR signs responsibly erected; it is meant to refer to road traffic!
Photographer: Tony Hill
Date taken: 19/04/2021



From Nymet Bridge (583) looking west towards Bow.
Photographer: Tony Hill
Date taken: 19/04/2021



View from overbridge 583 near Nymet Tracey near Bow, looking east.
Photographer: Tony Hill
Date taken: 19/04/2021



The scene at Okehampton the morning after
Photographer: Ron Kirby
Date taken: 19/04/2021



70808 arriving at Okehampton with more sleepers
Photographer: Dave Ellis
Date taken: 18/04/2021



The Balfour Beatty track laying equipment on the rear of 56302's train, with 70808 behind.
Photographer: Dave Ellis
Date taken: 18/04/2021



The track construction train arriving at Okehampton
Photographer: Dave Ellis
Date taken: 18/04/2021



56302 arriving at Okehampton
Photographer: Dave Ellis
Date taken: 18/04/2021



56302 arriving at Okehampton
Photographer: Dave Ellis
Date taken: 18/04/2021



The track laying kit passing through Bow
Photographer: Dick Henrywood
Date taken: 18/04/2021



56302 at Bow Station
Photographer: Dick Henrywood
Date taken: 18/04/2021



Balfour Beatty track laying equipment departing Crediton
Photographer: Paul Vodden
Date taken: 18/04/2021



Balfour Beatty track laying equipment
Photographer: Paul Vodden
Date taken: 18/04/2021



56302's Devon connection
Photographer: Paul Vodden
Date taken: 18/04/2021



Colas class 56 56302
Photographer: Paul Vodden
Date taken: 18/04/2021



56302 with the engineering train passing 158950 at Crediton
Photographer: Paul Vodden
Date taken: 18/04/2021



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Nice touch from Network Rail


We were pleased to see this notice near Greenslade Bridge, whereby which Network Rail enjoins its staff and subcontractors to keep Devon tidy.
Photographer: Tony Hill
Date taken: 17/04/2021



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Track work preparations


Signs of preparation work at Buttisland level crossing (188m 03c) near Butterlands Park farm. This User Worked LC is to be upgraded and have miniature red/green warning lights installed for users.


Looking east towards Bow Station, the 60' rails are marked for 'cropping' by a snipping attachment on a Road Rail vehicle into short lengths for scrap.
Photographer: Tony Hill
Date taken: 15/04/2021



Looking west, the track here was laid in 1959 and alongside lies the new continuously welded rail (made at Scunthorpe steelworks) together with some ballast that came by rail from Cliffe Quarry in Leicestershire, via Westbury; one of the last remaining Freight and Engineering train marshalling yards on the former BR WR. Lineside generators power the temporary electric lighting erected along the line for several miles for night working.
Photographer: Tony Hill
Date taken: 15/04/2021


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Stock Move


March 22nd saw the much-anticipated move of DRCIC's rolling stock from Okehampton to Meldon, prior to its onward removal to the lucky purchasers.

The former long-term contents of the platform 1 siding en route to Meldon behind Aggregate Industry's 08937. RMS's 31452 was on the rear for emergency braking.
Photographer: Tony Hill
Date taken: 22/03/2021



The scene at Meldon the day after.
Photographer: Geoff Horner
Date taken: 23/03/2021



The bay siding, having been vacated by the attractive collection of vans and sleepers which occupied it for so long.
Photographer: Paul Vodden
Date taken: 23/03/2021



Work begins on clearing the vacated bay siding. A DRSA volunteer approaching a hazardous part of the DRCIC sleeper plumbing.
Photographer: Paul Vodden
Date taken: 23/03/2021



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Ballast train



Cowley Bridge Junction Wednesday 10/03/2021. Colas loco 70812 heading the 1255 Crediton to Westbury via Exeter Riverside Yard, with 15 empty bogie wagons, mostly Falcons, with 70810 dead on the rear, having delivered the first trainload of ballast to a site on the Okehampton line.
Photographer: Mark Fishlock
Date taken: 10/03/2021



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Another sleeper train


Another load of Doncaster-made concrete sleepers arrived on the February 25th 1946 Westbury to Okehampton, topped and tailed by Colas class 70s. The train is shown below unloading the following morning, before returning the wagons empty to Westbury, and thence to Doncaster.

Colas class 70 70811 at Okehampton with sleeper train
Photographer: Dave Ellis
Date taken: 26/02/2021



Some of the new concrete sleepers being delivered to Okehampton
Photographer: Dave Ellis
Date taken: 26/02/2021



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Sleeper train at Bow


Class 66 66723 'Chinook' paused briefly at Bow Station on January 28th, having delivered 2,520 concrete sleepers to Okehampton. The train was tailed by DB Cargo classmate 66039, its planned companion having failed before leaving Westbury the previous day. Unusual to see Freightliner and DB Cargo locos on the same working.
Photographer: Dick Henrywood
Date taken: 28/01/2021



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Interesting rails


Transition rails have been delivered to Okehampton. They are 95lb/yd bullhead at one end transitioning to flat bottom at the other, made by the Austrian rail manufacturer, Voestalpine. Pictures below. I'm sure Hornby used to make something similar.

Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 07/01/2021



Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 09/01/2021




Another sleeper train at Okehampton


2 GBRf Class 66s powered the sleeper train on January 22nd. They were 66723 'Chinook' and 66748 'West Burton 50'. The train's 15 Salmon wagons carried another batch of about 2500 Doncaster made concrete sleepers.

Photographer: Tony Hill
Date taken: 22/01/2021


Photographer: Tony Hill
Date taken: 22/01/2021


Photographer: Dave Ellis
Date taken: 22/01/2021


Photographer: Dave Ellis
Date taken: 22/08/2020




Sleeper train at Okehampton


After a distinct lack of activity for the last twelve months, the visit of a trainload of sleepers to Okehampton attracted a lot of attention, and we have been pleasantly inundated with pictures. A selection is shown below, with grateful thanks to all the photographers.

The train, topped and tailed by 70809 and 70815, originated at Westbury, and comprised 15 bogie 'Salmon' wagons with a total of 2,520 concrete sleepers.

It was the first time a class 70 diesel had been seen at Okehampton. Clearly a capable machine, just lacking input from Dugald Drummond with the styling.


Photographer: Alan Peters
Date taken: 14/01/2021


En route, at Crediton
Photographer: Alan Peters
Date taken: 13/01/2021


Photographer: Alan Peters
Date taken: 14/01/2021


Photographer: Alan Peters
Date taken: 14/01/2021


DRSA team prepares to meet the intruder
Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 14/01/2021


Nose end detail
Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 14/01/2021


Photographer: Sue Baxter
Date taken: 14/01/2021


Loaded wagon - 8 stacks of 21 slprs = 168 per wagon
Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 14/01/2021


Signs of spring at Okehampton
Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 14/01/2021


Photographer: Dave Ellis
Date taken: 14/01/2021


Photographer: Dave Ellis
Date taken: 14/01/2021


Photographer: Dave Ellis
Date taken: 14/01/2021


Photographer: Dave Ellis
Date taken: 14/01/2021



Unloading:

Photographer: Alan Peters
Date taken: 14/01/2021


Unlashing the last wagon
Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 14/01/2021


2 roadrailers grab 14 sleepers each to move from train to stack in the car park
Photographer: Sue Baxter
Date taken: 14/01/2021


The crane retracted
Photographer: Sue Baxter
Date taken: 09/01/2021


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Network Rail Track Testing Train


On Tuesday Jan 12th the 0950 special from Derby to Exeter Riverside transit move of a NR Track Testing Train worked by Colas locos 37099 and 37254 is seen passing through Highbridge station. This train was scheduled to do two track testing and recording runs, in connection with the Okehampton reinstatement, from Exeter to Okehampton and back very early on the morning of Wednesday Jan 13th, before returning to Derby.

Photographer: Chris Redwood
Date taken: 12/01/2021



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Working Platforms


Two almost new road rail MEWPs (Mobile Elevated Working Platforms) have recently arrived at Okehampton Station for use on inspections of bridges and structures between Coleford and Meldon.
Photographer: Tony Hill
Date taken: 19/12/2020



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Update 30/11/20


Some recent developments at the railway:

Specialist engineers have been much in evidence, surveying the track alignment, drainage, and bridge structures, to identify the remedial work which is required to bring the railway up to scratch.

They get around the railway on a Quattro road rail vehicle. It has six road wheels with balloon tyres, and four rail wheels. A flat bed trailer is attached at one end, and a six seat trailer at the other. Unlike many of its Wickham ancestors, it doesn’t have any weather protection for the passengers. Those old gangers were wimps.

A representative of the Dartmoor National Park Authority has visited and is keen to improve the information display in the platform 2 carpark, and for the platform 3 booking office and/or shop to provide Moor visitors with travel advice for the Granite Way and north Moor.

With the assistance of the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership’s Richard Burningham, plans are being made for comprehensive new signage for the station and its environs, including appropriate replica heritage material for platform 2.

Officials have surveyed the station site’s accessibility for bus services, checking the layout and turning area.

It has emerged that the signal box is likely to be considered an integral part of the station estate, possibly creating further opportunities for DRSA.

Quattro road rail vehicle and passenger trailer.
Photographer: Sue Baxter
Date taken: 26/11/2020



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Rail delivery Nov 25th/26th


A ghostly 70813 departing Bow station at the back of an empty rail delivery train in the early morning of 26 November. Only the second known Class 70 to visit the line, 70805 having worked a similar delivery four days earlier.
Photographer: Dick Henrywood
Date taken: 26/11/2020



Rail delivery Nov 21st


The railway was visited by the 1724 Westbury to Okehampton LWR (long welded rail) train on the evening of November 21st. The train, hauled by Colas class 70 70805, with 66850 dead on the rear, unloaded 32 rails between Coleford and Bow. (Each rail is 216 m or 702 ft long, making a trainload just over 2 miles). Tony Hill saw it creeping along under the overbridge near Horwell Barton at 2245. The following morning the empty train departed Crediton for Westbury at 0900. We are grateful to Alan Peters and Guy Vincent for the photos below of the returning train.


66850 'David Maidment' with the returning LWR train at Crediton CN3 signal.
Photographer: Alan Peters
Date taken: 22/11/2020



70805 with the returning LWR train passing Berkley Marsh near Frome.
Photographer: Guy Vincent
Date taken: 22/11/2020


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Fallen tree


A couple of months ago, a tree fell, fouling the bay siding on the Meldon side of the Klondyke Road underbridge no. 610. At the time, it wasn't clear whose responsibility it was, but that seems to have been resolved, and recently it was cleared. Dave Ellis's photos (below) show the aftermath. Clearly there was some damage to the bridge guardrail.

As an aside, Dave's pictures provide an interesting view of the railway which will be unfamiliar to most folks except members of the Station Maintenance Team. GUV (General Utility Van) E86443 was the subject of a decent paintjob by the SMT in 2012. Now the BR Maroon is turning back to SR Green of its own accord. It was in use as the SMT workshop and store for many years, but this year all DRSA equipment has been removed from it, in preparation for its removal by the lucky purchaser. The last picture shows E86443 in better times, for comparison.

Photographer: Dave Ellis
Date taken: 21/11/2020



Photographer: Dave Ellis
Date taken: 21/11/2020



Photographer: Dave Ellis
Date taken: 21/11/2020



Photographer: Dave Ellis
Date taken: 21/11/2020



The freshly painted and lettered GUV in the bay platform at Okehampton
Photographer: John Caesar
Date taken: 24/03/2012


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Roadrailer


Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 11/11/2020



Photographer: Tom Baxter
Date taken: 11/11/2020



Above, the Quattro Roadrailer departed on a lowloader on November 11th. The observant will notice that the Christmas train is still here.

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Bridge work



Bridge No. 584 at 187m 42c, near Bow Station over the Bow to Spreyton road, having vegetation removed by a Groundforce Team from Paignton, prior to inspection of its condition by Network Rail.
Photographer: Tony Hill
Date taken: 28/10/2020




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Vegetation clearance on and around bridges between Coleford and Okehampton continues, prior to a full structural survey, with recent work at Bridge No.596 Fullaford 192 miles 35 chains (i.e. from Waterloo) and at Bridge No. 595 Greenslade 191m 55c:

Greenslade
Photographer: Tony Hill
Date taken: 21/10/2020



Fullaford
Photographer: Tony Hill
Date taken: 21/10/2020



Fullaford
Photographer: Tony Hill
Date taken: 21/10/2020




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At Okehampton Station


Roadrailer in the car park
Photographer: Sue Baxter
Date taken: 16/10/2020



Last of the first load of sleepers loaded
Photographer: Sue Baxter
Date taken: 13/10/2020



Delivery of sleepers in the car park.
Photographer: Dave Ellis
Date taken: 11/10/2020