Civil Matters – Civil Week September 2017

When leaves were still on the trees and the temperature was somewhat higher than it is now as Winter approaches and the Santa Steam Special season is only a week away, the Civil Engineering Department held their annual working week when major engineering work is undertaken that necessitates the closure of the line.

In another of his excellent reports, James Barlow gives an in depth report of the superb work that the “gang” undertook in September 2017. Following on from the major relaying of Oakworth level crossing in 2016, work was once again concentrated on the area around Oakworth and the bridge 17 to the south. Here is James’ report.

Oakworth Continued…

While S&T week was very different to previous years, Civil “Week” was very much as you were, although this year we had two weeks due to the works at Bridge 17 requiring a 12 day closure.

A significant amount of effort has gone into the maintenance, repair, and renewal of the infrastructure around Oakworth over recent years. In my time at the railway (seven years this October, how time flies!) we have undertaken:

  • Three bridge refurbishments along Mytholmes Curve.
    • Bridge 18 & 19 waterproofed and masonry/brickworks repairs.
    • Bridge 17 waterproofed, abutment masonry/brickwork repairs and painting.
  • Renewed the level crossing deck.
  • Installed drainage along part of the track.
  • Repaired a collapsed culvert running beneath Oakworth Yard.
  • Construction of an embankment toe retaining wall with gabion baskets on Mytholmes Curve.
  • Repointed two retaining walls.
  • Renewed the turnout into the yard.
  • Cleared spoil from the Mytholmes Tunnel landslip site.

The turnout renewal (the points allowing entry to Oakworth Yard – Ed) and Bridge 17 waterproofing were completed during this year’s Civil Week along with some drainage also started.

The renewal of the turnout into the yard has been on the cards for a number of years. A temporary repair was undertaken a good while ago but the time had come. The old turnout was removed on the Monday of Civil Week and slowly replaced over the next four days, with a new ash and ballast layer going in beneath. The turnout is now operational with a speed restriction awaiting removal after a ballast drop and lift of the track.

Bridge 17 was another major job undertaken this year. The bridge had already received some attention in previous years to paint the metalwork and repair the masonry abutments. The final job was to waterproof the bridge deck to prolong its life. To do this on the Sunday night before Civil Week (after trains were finished for the day) the track was removed and the ballast started to be dug away. This was completed the following day with the deck cleared. The deck ends were exposed to allow for the installation of deck end drainage to ensure water got away from the waterproofing layers. This took time due to the depth required, and contributed to the two weeks required for the closure at this location. In the second week the bridge was waterproofed with external contractors undertaking this specialist work. This left us with Wednesday to Friday to reinstate the track. Again the reinstated track will have a speed restriction, at least until a follow up tamp can be undertaken. Hopefully a tamper will be visiting the line in November.

During the second week the opportunity was undertaken to do some other smaller works while some volunteers were available. The shutters at Damems Junction were completed, with some minor internal wiring to finish the job off I think we can count that project as complete as far as the appearance of the box to members of the public goes!

In addition the drainage of the level crossing had further work undertaken. The water runoff from the level crossing is the main cause of the track issues within Oakworth Station Platform. You will notice if you look down it is mud with some ballast and track in it, as opposed to some ballast with a bit of mud in it. This makes the track very difficult to maintain. A drain is being constructed to take water away from the level crossing during heavy rainfall. This will allow us to renew the track. The drainage is likely to be completed over the winter and spring.


A very successful two weeks was had by the department and the end is in site for our presence at Oakworth. Further works are planned in the area over the next 12 months. The gates are going to need some work after one of them had a disagreement with a car recently. They are also getting quite old. We have resisted the temptation to install automatic half barriers of course and the replacement will be like for like. In addition, the track over the level crossing has been renewed, the turnout has been renewed, so that just leaves the track in between. Which now the majority of the drainage is complete can be renewed.

I would like to personally thank anyone and everyone who helped in any way with the two week spectacular. While the usual suspects were in attendance we also had help from the loco department and various other volunteers crewing works trains and a massive helping hand from catering who helped us feed the 5,000 during the first week. Thanks to those who organised social events throughout the week which were enjoyed by all and designing the yearly ‘Civils T-Shirt’ which you may see around the railway.

… and a well deserved rest

As ever I finish with a plea for volunteers, we are always happy to welcome anyone into the department. If you are interested please contact the railways volunteer liaison officer.

Till’ the next time.

James Barlow – Civil and S&T Maintenance Department Engineer

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