April WebNews – from the meeting on 28th March
Earlier we reported that there would be a delay of a couple of weeks while Thames Water thought about whether they might need an area in the South Field through which we hope to run the railway. Later we were told a decision might take two years (which some of us thought might mean never). However, it seems we have friends in TW who want to see the railway go ahead. They are redrafting the lease to allow them to remove the railway with compensation to us if it is necessary. Hopefully that also means we can deviate around the obstruction if it ever happens
The visit by an inspector from the Office or Rail & Road went ahead as planned. He appeared satisfied with the track but commented that the “breakout” point would need a locking lever once we
started to run passenger trains over the extension; we already knew this. He made several suggestions (not must) about written exams and medicals for operating staff. We don’t think other similar railways all do this but are checking. The inspector will return in August.
If you want to go trackside whilst trains are running you need to get approval from the driver. In general we want to keep the number of people who are trackside to a minimum. It might encourage visitors to feel they are free to do the same.
You will need a good excuse to be given permission and you need to wear orange hi-vis.
The information about ear defenders has changed slightly; four pairs will be available on the PW works truck. Use them if you need to be near a loud noise otherwise keep away! Disposable ear plugs are available from the office. Goggles will be issued to everyone so make sure you use them when necessary. It is thought TW rules require them to be used in the South Field and maybe elsewhere. In general with safety, look out for each other.
A new rule book has been issued. If you are a working volunteer you must have a copy. Take one from the office and sign for it.
KGE are getting a defibrillator. It can be used without any training but some training is being arranged.
Running days. The first weekend, although apparently busy was not as good as last year was a slight improvement. It is interesting to note that for 2015 and 2016, volunteer input (from the signing-in book) was almost identical at around 13,000 hours.
KGE are looking in to being rebranded. We might be included in that but it might not be a good idea as it could result in us having to pay VAT on train tickets.
It should be noted that Betsy Edwards has resigned as Secretary – we are looking for someone to replace her.
It was announced that Darent would have a steam test “next week” but it was in fact steamed later that day. However, it won’t be hauling passengers until 9th April at the earliest as the inspector is not coming until 3rd April.
We have commissioned the “breakout” point but placed a 2mph speed limit on it until we see how it performs. It needed some grinding of a check rail to give a smooth ride and may need more or even a replacement check rail.
The small Devon coach is back in service after fitting new brake blocks.
The siding by the Running Shed is finished and the siding by the station is being extended and will be finished soon. The two sidings will allow all the remaining rolling stock to be removed from the gravel area by the SG embankment.
Once the major track work is finished, the preparing of the extension trackbed will not occupy many volunteers. Eventually they will be needed to lay the track. In between times a few other jobs are planned such as the erection of a proper gate at the end of the loading siding. The base for one gatepost is in place and a hole for the second was dug some years back. However, the hole may not be in the right place as ideas have changed.
The station siding extension is now complete apart from a bit of packing and some ballasting.
Don’t forget the Society AGM at 10am on Saturday April 8th at the Nigel Clark Suite, Kempton Park Racecourse.
Finally the Good News – Darent has passed its boiler test and will be running on Sunday April 9th