Civil Department Winter Report

In what we hope will be a regular feature during the year, we are delighted to receive James Barlow’s report on the Civil Maintenance matters around the Railway.

A Wet Winter for Civils

Well it’s not been the best winter we have ever had that is for sure! Whilst our midweek ‘Thursday Gang’ have been cracking on with several jobs every week the weekend gang has been hit by weather and insufficient staff, possible attributed to the weather, so I will just stick to blaming that.

December ended with us rectifying some of the problems encountered during the Boxing Day Floods, I am sure by now you have all seen the photos! From the Civil Maintenance Department’s perspective we got off relatively lightly. The majority of the problems were simply ballast scouring around bridge abutments and in Haworth platform. All were rectified satisfactorily by 11am on Sunday the 27th December. I think we justifiably gave ourselves a pat on the back for that particular achievement. Since then we have continued to work on Fridays with the works train removing the build-up of sedimentation on the downstream end of Bridge 27 (Bridge over the Beck outside Haworth Yard). Hopefully this should increase the capacity enough to prevent any flooding in the short term, as long as we don’t get any record breaking rainfall again!

Outstanding work from last year’s Civil Week has continued with the plain line track brought up to the final alignment from the Oxenhope Loop North Turnout into Oxenhope Platform. The work to bring the actual turnout up to final alignment has continually been delayed due to firstly frozen ballast, followed by torrential rain both working weekends during February. Although the early March snow did its best to halt proceedings once again it was finally completed before the Easter Weekend. This involved Kangoing (vibrating) stone underneath the sleepers to firm up the ballast bed. It also allowed us to make the first use of our new Seacow Ballast wagon. Work will now move onto finishing Haworth Loop South Turnout, which has remained in progress since Civil Week 2014. With the impending visit of a main line tamper focussing attention to finishing the job so it can be tamped at the end of April. Fingers Crossed!


Civil Gang take a well earned rest in the background, with the Oxenhope turnout looking very smart in the foreground.


Dropping ballast using the ‘new’ Seacow ballast wagon, on a rare sunny day.

As further evidence that Civil Week is pretty much a Civil Year, we are already planning and preparing ourselves for this year’s Civil Week which will focus around Oakworth. Various jobs will be undertaken but as some involve outside parties nothing is set in stone. Hopefully the level crossing will be renewed along with the removal of the speed restriction alongside the yard imposed following the appearance of a rather unwelcome sink hole. The majority of the man power will be located at Ebor Lane, renewing the pads on the flat bottom rail there. Hopefully work to the level crossing will result in a reduction in the flooding problems encountered and the impact it has on the track at Oakworth. There will be more information to follow in the Spring update. We also have our S&T Week fast approaching during May, the main focus as always will be progressing Keighley signalling. Again more information in the Spring update.

Our ever steady ‘Thursday Gang’ has been having a productive few months with work on welding rail joints, repairing our boundary walls, clearing vegetation and investigating drains around Oakworth. They have also assisted the weekend gang with work on Oxenhope Loop North Turnout allowing us to finish that job quicker and move onto Haworth Loop South Points during April. They certainly have a completed job list much longer than the weekend gang’s, and credit where it is due.

‘Till the next time.

James Barlow – Civil Maintenance Department Secretary

There is a constant and substantial amount of work required to our infrastructure to keep the trains running safely, and, as James points out in his report, extra hands are always needed to complete the tasks. If you can spare time to help either the ‘Thursday Gang’ or at the weekend, please contact Operations Officer, Richard Jones on 01535 645214 or

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