South Hill track relay

On Wednesday March 14, work started on the relay of 67m of track in mass concrete starting from ‘Depot Junction’ and running up the grade to pole 28. It is expect that this work will take 12 weeks to complete, but this is dependent on both weather and funds to purchase concrete.

The rail to be used for this work was recovered from Anzac Parade, Kensington and was donated by the contractor working on that section of the new CESLR works.

P1497 ran the final trip to the National Park for the time being on the afternoon of the 14th of March.

Scope of Works

  • New track drain to be installed 10 metres South of the boundary gate to help capture and remove any excess water over flowing from Sydney Trains railway easement.
  • Concrete encase the track and track drains South from the existing concreted Depot points through to pole 28
  • Build a sandstone retaining wall from the South boundary gate to Pole 28 along the western boundary
  • Certify track for operational use.
  • Reinstate grass and tidy up area.

Saturday 16th of March 2019

Rails freed up – tie bars unbolted and all spikes pulled out along both sides of the worksite. Much rain slows work.

Wednesday 20th of March 2019

Saturday 23rd of March 2019

The work area was excavated by our regular earth moving contractor. Now the ex Kensington rails will be moved in, aligned and leveled. At lot of the spoil was taken to TAFE crossing and used to build up the ground alongside the new concrete track there.

Saturday 30th of March 2019

The weather has already conspired to delay work on this project. On this day the perway crew should have been dragging rails into position and starting with gauging and leveling, instead rain the day before and on Saturday itself made the entire site one large muddy hole. Run off from the railway scoured out the excavation along the upper part and filled the lower part of the excavation with what amounted to quicksand.

The flooded work site.

Saturday 6th of April 2019

The rain stopped and the site dried out, so the more work was able to be done. ‘Tidy up’ work with the excavator and the rails laid out for the next step.

Wednesday 10th of April 2019

Track construction finally started – the rain stayed away allowing rail welding to start

‘new’ rails welded onto existing track. Soon the steel sleepers will start to be welded on.

Saturday 13th of April 2019

The welding of ‘sleepers’ started along with initial leveling.

Wednesday 22nd of May 2019

After many weeks of work welding, aligning, levelling and generally getting every thing as perfect as we can, the first concrete arrives. The concrete, a small amount of surplus was used to ‘lock in’ the first 3 metres of track by concreting in the ‘cess’ on each side. The cess is done first as it will allow the truck to back further up the line to place the next load – and also allows the form-work to be moved along at the earliest opportunity.

Photos by Martin Pinches

Saturday 25th of May 2019

A load of purchased concrete. Another 3 metres of track ‘locked in’ and 3 metres finished off.

Photos by Matthew Geier

4 thoughts on “South Hill track relay”

  1. Great photos. When is rail considered worn out and what faults appear? What do you do with it? It’s interesting that rail last used in Feb 1961, is the “new” rail.

    1. When is rail ‘worn out’ is a ‘how long is a piece of string’ question. For grooved rail this is often considered to be when the head has worn down to the point the trams run on their flanges in the groove, but you also consider the pattern of wear on the ‘gauge face’ and how thick the head is, etc, etc. Rail considered too worn for the ‘mainline’ may still be good for a depot siding.
      When rail is deemed unusable to run on at Loftus it gets recycled into being sleepers and track drain components.
      In the next stage of the South Hill rebuild they will start using old worn out rail as ‘sleepers’ to hold the track in gauge for concreting.
      Some of the rails we have recovered over the years have been unusable because it was found the web had corroded too far and was no longer strong enough to connect the head to the foot anymore, despite the head looking to be in good condition.So there is no simple answer to ‘when is rail worn out’.
      The Kensington rails we are using for this project were relatively new when the system closed in 1961, so have little wear. Some of the other rails dug up in the eastern suburbs were too worn to reuse.

  2. Great job but weather must be frustrating. Where does the track crew go next after this (other than a well deserved holiday!)? Following Michael’s question, I have heard of rail becoming brittle, how does that happen? Really enjoy this website.

    1. There is always track works that need doing somewhere along the line – sleeper replacement, tree clearing (the things keep growing back!), etc, etc. There is more than enough ongoing maintenance work for the small trackwork gang.

      Rail that continually flexes can become fatigued and ‘age harden’ depending on the alloy. Although the main reason I’ve heard for brittle rail is simply low temperatures.

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