It is full steam ahead at the Mid Norfolk Railway as the volunteers have returned to work on several projects at the railway following the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions.
Currently the railway remains closed to the public with no passenger trains running because of CV-19. The railway itself however has never closed to traffic, with regular movements by Greater Anglia amongst others, as they have used the MNR to stable part of their new fleet of trains and also as an initial storage location for old stock as it is withdrawn.
As the Government has relaxed the Covid-19 restrictions, in addition to the essential workers needed to operate the railway, volunteers have now been able to return to work. First on the agenda was a bridge refurbishment and the commissioning of another signalling box by the Permanent Way and Signalling teams respectively. The carriage and wagon team have also restated work on restoring and refurbishing railway coaches.
During routine inspection last year, the railway identified that refurbishment work was needed on bridge number 1683 just north of Hardingham station. The work was planned for this summer and has now been completed.
The issue that had been identified was that, what are known as the “Waybeams” needed replacing. These large wooden beams sit in metal toughs and are used to carry the rails across the bridge and the inspection had revealed that the beams were approaching the end of their working life.
To replace the beams is therefore a significant task, as they weigh 2.5 Tonnes each, and this would require careful planning. Starting on the 10 July the railway’s Permanent Way team plus volunteers from the railway’s other teams, first removed the rails and ballast before then removing the old beams.
Once the beams were out, the exposed metal work of the bridge was inspected and the ironwork treated. The new beams were then installed set in a special preservative resin, and new rails re-laid. The second part of the project required specialist plant and was carried out by Sonic Rail Services, a regular contractor for heavy infrastructure work on the railway.
“This has been a very important project for the railway, our volunteers and Sonic Rail Services have made an excellent job of the refurbishment work. On behalf of the railway I would also like to thank Sonic Rail Services for their support in making this project happen.” George Saville, MNR General Manager
As the work was progressing on the bridge, a small team of volunteers from the Signalling team has been working on the railway’s Dereham North signal box. The structure of the box has stood at the end of Platform 1 at Dereham station since 2007, where it was erected following its recovery from Lowestoft
Now the Signalling team have installed the signalling frame and associated infrastructure ready to commission the signal box as a working box.
"This is another important step along the road to our eventual aim of reopening the line to County School Station.” Charlie Robinson, MNR Chairman
The MNR’s main running line currently reaches the level crossing at North Elmham, and this work will allow the railway to begin the process of restoring the signalling on the line north from Dereham.