The Railway Square points project is both an ‘infill’ between the existing concrete slab track and depot junction concrete encased points and a new left hand turnout to the western track. This will form the southern end of the museum’s double track railway.
This new junction point has been fabricated beside the track over the last year or so – basically being fabricated from scratch using original Sydney drawings.
April 2012 – Point pit concreting
The sides for the pit are poured.
The Wednesday crew moved the prefabricated points over the pit. Much of the ‘workshop’ crew abandoned their normal indoor activities to get this job done.
June 2012 – Preparation of the rest of the sub-grade
2nd June 2012
By Saturday the 2nd, rails were in position between the new points and depot junction. In the middle of this section a track drain is still to be constructed – it will join a drain already under the Depot line.
Our usual excavations contractor was hired to excavate the rest of the construction site. It rained all day and it got very muddy. But Cannini’s machines kept going.
Two Franna cranes had been hired to clear the ‘South Shed’ site. While the cranes were on site a previously constructed track panel lifted into position for the eastern track. This day was supposed to be the day when we welded all the rails into position in preparation for lining and levelling only 4 loads of surplus concrete showed up and labour was diverted to TAFE crossover to use this concrete.
The prefabricated track panel was welded to the ends of the rails at the Railway Square end.
A Friday work day was organized and the ‘usual’ suspects plus some extras who took a day off work to help. All the rails were cut to the required length and the western rail welded, but the light faded before the eastern one could be done.
At the completion of the day, it was hoped to have the site concrete ready. Unfortunately due to the distraction of TAFE crossover, whilst we now have welded and gauged rail end to end, it’s not yet lined and levelled.
Work has continued on this section with the track being lined and levelled over the last few weeks and the track drain between the new points and depot junction being constructed. On Wednesday the 11th the first bit of concrete was placed in this section when our local suppliers turned up with a small amount of surplus concrete. At this time the concrete is only being placed to foot of rail height to ‘lock’ the track into position. (The ‘sleepers’ under the rail will be buried in concrete and hold every thing secure). Later another concrete pour will fill it to rail height and the surface properly finished.
Another small amount of surplus from our friendly local concrete supplier. Every little bit helps.
20th July – Largest continuous pour ever attempted by the trackwork team
On Friday the 20th of July, with O1111’s centenary event fast approaching, a special weekday work-a-thon was organized to get the ‘main line’ in condition to be used for this up coming event. Several regular members of the trackwork team took time off their ‘day jobs’ to take part – one even flying in from Singapore especially for it!
Unlike some previous big pours the weather for this one was perfect. Sunny, but not too hot, and no rain on the day or the previous few. (Depot Junction was probably the hottest on record, Depot Main the wettest!)
- 20 cubic metres of concrete poured.
- 4 separate truck loads (6 + 6 + 4 + 4)
- 57m linear metres of track concreted
Another 2m of concrete was ordered to ‘top off’ the last 10m of track.
Below is a time lapse video of the 2 days work done to concrete the eastern track:
The completion of this concrete pour means that the ‘mainline’ will be available for the 28th of July ‘trams after dark’ event, and for O1111’s centenary party on the 29th.
Now that a track is available to traffic again (from next weekend), the pace will back off some what. Current proposed plans are to work on Railway Square on Wednesdays, fabricating the the curve from the points to the western track and concrete that as much as possible with free surplus concrete from the local concrete plant. Saturdays will mostly dedicated to rehabilitating the Sutherland line past TAFE crossing. Of course all this could change at a moments notice.
Commissioning the new track.
Saturday morning, before our ‘Trams after Dark’ event the new track was ‘commissioned into service’, the first tram in the section being ballast motor 42s. This was driven by one of the track work stalwarts who had personally welded much of the point work and track panels. After 42s, Brisbane 548 did a pass – mostly to check the clearances and that the Depot Junction overhead frog was still in the right place for ‘mainline’ movements – as for months it had only seen ‘Depot Main’ traffic. 548’s pole tracked fine. Then scrubber car 134s had it’s scrubber blocks lowered and it ran back and forth 3 times rubbing the rust and cement from the rail head.
The line was declared fit for traffic and that afternoon carried many eager tram passengers on some trips to the National Park on some rarely used rolling stock.
Several videos have been uploaded of the day’s test runs:
The project continues as work on the western track curve begins. Rails for the curve have now been placed into position. A device called a ‘Jim Crow’ will be used to bend these rails into a gentle curve to meet the western track. The curve is being laid out so that the long wheel based J car can use this curve with ease.
A load of surplus concrete was received on the 8th which was used to concrete part of the ‘V’ formed between depot junction, the ‘depot main’ and the mainline. The area past the drain and the witch’s hat will be smoothed and grass planted.
The gentle curve out of the points are being constructed. The inner rail is done first and accurately measured and bent into the desired shape with the ‘jim crow’ and then secured by welding tie bars to the the other now finished track. Once the inner rail is in position, the outer rail is welded to tie bars after checking with a gauging tool.
The ‘six foot’ is now concreted. This effectively completes the ground portion of this project. The outer edging needs to be done still, but this portion of track, once this concrete cures, is available for both road and railed vehicles. However at this stage there is still no overhead wire above the curve.
Over several Saturdays the western wire has been moved to from being tied off over the depot main, to being tied off just past the new points on the mainline. The wire was first roughly put into position and then progressively ‘fine tuned’. However by the 23rd, the wire was ‘close enough’ to allow some tests to be carried out using various passenger trams to test the clearances. R1 2001 became the first passenger tram to try the new track. The key item missing is the ‘pan’ over the points that allows the trolley pole to end up over the correct track.
In order to get the track into operation quickly, instead of moving the Sydney fitting sideways, which involves a lot of messing about with the span wires, a Melbourne bracket has been attached to the span. This will support the trolley wire for the time being. At some point in the future when the final location of the trolley wire has been determined for sure, the span wires will be altered and the Sydney fitting bought back into use (the Melbourne brackets are FAR easier to adjust!).
Practical Completion! The overhead team installed the ‘frog’ above the junction and additional span wires to hold it in place.
By the end of the work day, the new curve was cleared for ‘standard’ cars. Other types of cars are still to be tested and cleared for operation. This effectively brings this project to a close. Minor adjustments will still be needed to the overhead as it ‘beds in’ and the track still needs it’s ‘cess’ concreted, but for operational purposes, it’s now complete.
2013 – Finishing touches
After a long period where little has been done in this area (the track has been in regular operation for nearly a year now), a gap in other jobs has seen the curve revisited with some surplus concrete used to nearly complete the western side ‘cess’ edging of the track. Only a small gap is left now. The eastern side along the ‘mainline’ still needs the same treatment, although the pipe trench has been filled for some time now.
After another long gap when concrete has gone to the eastern track past the Pitt Street crossover, attention has returned to the cess on the eastern side. This involved some conduits work and the building of a couple of underground services access pits. One of the CSO brickies who has been doing sterling work on the YMCA building, used his skills to build several services access pits.
(Note: If a photo isn’t credited, it’s probably by Matthew Geier.)