Infrastructure Upgrade 2020 – Exercise Turnout 20

With Covid-19 having essentially prevented the Railway from running any services over the summer we have been working on a number of tasks including completing the refurbishment of Leeming Bar Station House, renovating rolling stock and generally taking stock of where we are and where we need to be.

The Station House is now complete, several items of rolling stock have been refurbished and our attention has now moved to our infrastructure. With over 20 miles of track between Northallerton and Redmire we are one of the longest heritage railways in the country, and we need to keep all of that track in a safe working condition, even if we arent running trains. Recently a complete survey of the entire line was carried out, and it identified some areas that needed attention before they became a threat to the overall operation. These included a long section of track near Harmby, Wensley Station crossing, Swale bridge and a number of lesser sites where rectification would soon be needed. With the Railway closed for Covid it was decided to tackle all of these issues in one major project while we have the opportunity.

The plan is to relay over 500 yards of track at Harmby with flat bottom rail on concrete sleepers. The recovered good rail will the be cascaded to other sites for re-use. The road crossing at Wensley Station will be upgraded to have a compliant deck and the track slewed to permit possible future installation of a passing loop. Smiths User Worked crossing will also be upgraded. The timber baulks on Swale bridge will be replaced with new timbers and the walkways replaced. There are also a number of smaller tasks to remove old sleepers or replace the track bed along the entire route which will also recieve attention.

We are pleased to announce that we are getting assistance in the project by The Army, in the shape of 507 Specialist Team Royal Engineers (STRE). They are an Army Reserve unit that specialises in the repair and construction of railway infrastructure, and are using our infrastructure upgrade as a large training exercice ‘Turnout 20’.

Commencement of tasks on the line have started and we hope to complete all the work in time for Polar Express in November.

Please be aware that the line west of Finghall Lane and east of Leeming Bar are now worksites, with large amounts of heavy plant in use, and are not acessable to anybody who is not involved in the exercise. This includes volunteers, Trust members and even PLC Board directors. The only people permitted already know who they are, so if your havent been told, you should not just turn up…. PRS or no PRS ! There may be opportunities to get involved later, so keep an eye on the website or social media.

As the project progresses we will keep you informed via Social Media and with details on the website, so come back often and see how we are getting on. To help cover the costs of this project we have set up a small appeal, if you can make a donation please do, big or small every donation will help us.

Turnout 20 – Day 12

Turnout 20 – Day 12

Exercise Turnout 20 is now drawing to a close, with some fantastic benefits for the railway being achieved. Wensley crossing has been replaced, the track relay at Harmby has been completed and Swale bridge has been retimbered. The Army also carried out a number of...

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Turnout 20 – Day 10

Turnout 20 – Day 10

The new crossing at Wensley is now complete. The Tarmac margins have been laid and the crossing re-opened to road traffic. There are still a few minor tasks to be completed, but these are not time critical so can be done at our leisure. The first train ran over the...

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Turnout 20 – Day 9

Turnout 20 – Day 9

More progres at Wensley with the tidying up of the areas around the crossing and compacting the crushed stone that will be  under the new tarmac. Tarmac to be laid tomorrow and will see this job finished. Elsewhere the track re-lay at Harmby is progressing, hopefully...

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Turnout 20 – Day 8

Turnout 20 – Day 8

First major project is now nearly complete, with the deck at Wensley crossing in, leveled and secured. Just need to replace the tarmac edges and then re-paint the road markings.    

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Turnout 20 – Day 7

Turnout 20 – Day 7

Upgrading the railway is a 7 day a week job. The installation of the new road deck at Wensley has been the focus for today, and hopefully by now the deck is installed and fixed down. Next staep wil  be to replace the tarmac on either side.      Wensley...

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Turnout 20 – Day 6

Turnout 20 – Day 6

the weekend is already apon us and progress so far has been good. The rail has arrived for Harmby, the crossing at Wensley has been dug out, new track laid and the decking supports are in. Swale bridge is being re-timbered, with all the timber we require having been...

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Turnout 20 – Day 5

Turnout 20 – Day 5

Focus today has been back with Wensley crossing where the track has been replaced and now the new road deck is being installed. This is requireing concrete shouldsers to be created as supports for the edge beams that will then support the deck panels. The position and...

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Turnout 20 – Day 4

Turnout 20 – Day 4

In addition to the 3 major projects at Harmby, Wensley and Swale bridge, the Army are also helpig out with some smaller projects to both practice their skills and benefit the railway. One of these is to carry out geotechnical surveys of a number of strecthes of the...

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Turnout 20 – Day 3

Turnout 20 – Day 3

The third major project in Exercise Turnout 20 is the re-timbering of Swale bridge. This requires the wooden beans under the sleepers and rails to be replaced with new timbers. While this is happening we are also goign to repair some of the handrails and walking...

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Turnout 20 – Day 2

Turnout 20 – Day 2

With the rail for the Harmby Relay project now deposited at Leyburn, we can turn our focus to the renewal of the crossing deck at Wensley.  To date the Railway has upgraded nearly all of our road crossings to use modern decking components, with Wensley left as one of...

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Turnout 20 – Day 1

Turnout 20 – Day 1

Exercise Turnout 20 is now in progress, with work due to take place at Harmby, Wensley and Swale Bridge amongst other locations. The Harmby portion is to relay 500 yards of track with flat bottom rail on concrete sleepers, and to achieve that we needed a source of...

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Turnout 20 Day -1

Turnout 20 Day -1

Excercise Turnout 20 is really starting to gain momentum now. More heavy equipment has been deliverd to the main railhead and the first works train has been assemebed for use by the Army.  Monday will be the first official day of the exercise, with the arrival to the...

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Exercise Turnout 20

Exercise Turnout 20

We are pleased to announce that the Wensleydale Railway are getting some assistance in the major infrasturcure upgrade project. The British Army, in the shape of 507 Specialist Team Royal Engineers (STRE). They have been helping us plan the project for aome months...

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First Works Train

First Works Train

The first train to run over the railway ran on the 23rd September, taking materials to one of our works sites in preparation for the Infrastructure Upgrade. The class 03 took a number of wagons, including the recently refurbished Shark ballast plough from Leeming to...

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Sleepers Arrive

Sleepers Arrive

With the recovery of the required sleepers for the Harmby re-lay part of the project complete, they have now been transported to our infrastructure railhead. This was no mean task with over 750 sleepers needing to be moved and made ready for re-use. We are now in the...

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Sleeper Recovery

Sleeper Recovery

The first major task of the Infrastructure Upgrade project was to obtain suitable concrete sleepers to be used on the track relay at Harmby. A search for the 'Goldilocks' sleepers was carried out. They needed to be in good condition, not too far away, not too dificult...

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