After two very successful working weekends, members of the track gang were back on site on Sunday and with no slackening of pace were able to lay another three track panels - approximately 180 feet of track on the Sunday.
Building on the excellent preparation work from the previous weekend when the majority of the F27 concrete sleepers had been laid out, correctly spaced and aligned, the 10-12 members on site were able to position the rail, cut and drill where required and clip into place three more panels. A dry but slightly chilly day provided excellent working conditions. The estimate now is that another three panels should bring the line very close to the wooden electricity pole in the photograph and then another five panels will bring the extension within feet of the infill fence.
The track gang will be continuing laying rail throughout December with the target of having all the rail in place by late December / early January. A great deal of work will then be required to level and ballast the running line and install fencing with an Easter opening as the planned target opening day for the extension.
Good progress over the last few months with the track laying together with some tree clearance has resulted in an opening out of the formation and there are now fabulous views over the Somerset countryside which in a few months time passengers will be able to enjoy from the train.
There is still a great deal to do to prepare the extension for an Easter opening. A third working weekend is being proposed for January with the focus on jacking and packing the line to ensure its suitable for the operation of passenger trains. A date and further details will be posted on the website once a date is confirmed. If you'd like to get involved and return another small part of this iconic line to operational use, please watch for an update and further details in the coming weeks.
From an operating perspective, the Board and Trust are still discussing various proposals for the operations of trains up to the infill. A number of options including a run round loop and a small halt allowing passengers to alight have been suggested. However at this time no final decision has been made.