2010-2012 Extension Works Update
The Railway at Bentley has been around half a mile in length running from Bentley Central to Glyndebourne Wood Station before returning through a cutting and tunnel since 1995.
The extension project, for which construction started in 2010, takes this existing line from Bentley Central to Glyndebourne Wood but turns left immediately before entering Glyndebourne Wood Station and runs approximately 1/4 mile to a new station at the entrance to the park's wildfowl reserve. This will require construction of 3 bridges to cross the 2 ditches, construction of the new station and an additional footbridge to gain access to the station from the Wildfowl reserve. The project is being constructed in 3 phases, phase 1 to be completed during 2011 with phase 3 due for completion during the 2012 summer season.
We are now a year on from the first trains running over our extension, well ahead of schedule, and as part of WoodFair 2012 are preparing to welcome Plumpton College' students back to see the result of their efforts building Plumpton College Bank almost 18 months ago. There is still much work to do whilst everything is consolidated, not least of which is the extended Signalling and Telgraph works which will allow us to run greater densities of trains in the future coupled with construction of a third platform at Glyndebourne Wood to allow for a Glyndebourne Wood - Bentley East shuttle service and a station shelter at Bentley East for days when the weather is less clement than it has been this summer. Having said the above, the track has run better than anyone had dared to hope and our passengers love the fact that the miniature railway has grown up from being a fun ride into a practical means of transport between these important parts of the site. Congratulations and thanks are extended to everyone who has been involved in this project, if you're reading this and haven't yet seen it yourself I'd encourage you to do so.
March 2012 - update 2
The double-tracking is now complete ahead of schedule and ready for our Easter operation. Thanks to our team for one final big push and some good weather the point providing the single line crossover has now been moved to its permanent location in the Bentley East station platform 2, as can be seen below.
What a difference a week makes. The two below photo sets demonstrate the progress that our hard-working team of volunteers have made in just 1 week, the main straight on the double-track section is now laid in-situ and connected from the southern end ready for ballasting ahead of the removal of the Bentley East cross-over.
Another milestone has been achieved - the groundworks & track edging timbers for the double-track section have been completed. Also the track bed for all-but the final 75m of the straight have been laid as can be seen from the attached pics.
We have been making the most of the unusually favourable weather in January this year, the groundworks for the dual-tracking of the main line are progressing well and we expect to be laying ballast and more track in the next few weeks. The below photos show the first few panels of track which have been laid in on the straight (central photo), the digging and edging works which have now been completed for the entire length looking both north (left hand photo) and south (right hand photo).
We have been working to tidy up around the extension site, this includes construction of a siding at Bentley East and accompanying station staff cabin. Meanwhile, our track works team have now started to double track the extension (the track-work is now anticipated for completion during 2012). The photos below show the track lengths from the cross-over to Royal Oak Bridge which have now been laid.
We have now completed the track laying of the dumbell at Bentley East and are on course to open the track to the public during the half-term week in late October provided our Signalling & Telegraph (S&T) department are able to complete the point motorisation in time.
WoodFair over the weekend of the 16th-18th September saw fairly intensive operation of the new extension with much interest shown and also demonstrated the need to progress work to complete the loop at Bentley East and eventually double-track the main straight. Since then the trackbed on the remaining section of the loop, which was excavated early in September, has been marked and laid. It is hoped that during October this section of track can be completed.
The first non-service passenger trains have now reached Bentley East station, as can be seen in the below photographs taken over the first weekend of August 2011. At present there is no platform at Bentley East and still a lot of track ballasting required however a large delivery of road planings and ballast should resolve this shortly. We can now therefore announce that August bank-holiday (28-29th) will see the first public passenger services from Bentley Central to Bentley East via Glyndebourne Wood .
July 2011 - Update 3
21st July, a historic day, the first two loco's (Class 31 31-271, Stratford 1840-2001 and Class 12 15234) arrived at Bentley East by rail today
The railway is still some weeks (at-least) away from opening to the public as further line stabilisation and safety clearance must be undertaken along with completing construction of the new station before the first passenger train can run. Watch this space for further updates.
July 2011 - Update 2
The track has now reached the bottom of the main straight as can be seen in the photo to the left of the below montage showing a works train arriving at the point where the track will eventually diverge for the two sides of Bentley East loop. Much ballasting and bedding-in is still required before service trains can safely run here it should be noted. Meanwhile, the track working back from the forthcoming Bentley East station can be seen just a tantalising distance from the aforementioned straight.
The trackbed is now taking shape fairly quickly with track panels following shortly behind. The decision has been taken to slightly change the route into Bentley East for the initial opening, access will now be via the Bentley East loop rather than the direct line nearest the Wildfowl reserve, this is due to the amount of soil movement still required in the latter part of the field.
Plumpton College have now completed their work and "Plumpton Bank" as it has become known is now looking good. Track edging is now starting to be installed on "the bank" ready for back-filling with planings and the track alignment has now been marked the whole length of "the bank" with between 1/200 - 1/300 incline being confirmed. Meanwhile the platform area at Bentley East is starting to take shape with the embankment in that area and approach both making rapid progress.
May 2011 - Update 2
May has been an exceptionally busy month with not only our own members but also the valued assistance from Plumpton Agricultural College students which has enabled us to move and profile several hundred tons of soil. The photo montage below was taken over a 7 day period. In order from top-left these show: The first water feature which has been expanded at the top of field 2; the piles of soil moved from the water feature awaiting levelling; the digger and dumper truck at the scene of the second water feature showing the semi-levelled soil; the levelling work continuing with what is starting to look like a track bed being formed; looking down into the third water feature; the embankment which will form Bentley East platform with drainage starting to go in.
The May-day weekend saw the arrival of a 15ton digger which with the assistance of Plumpton Agricultural College students will be used to prepare the ground for the next phase of development, initially this will take the form of heavy duty landscaping as much of the field has been unused for some years and undulates considerably. This will also provide important soil quantities which will be used in the construction of the embankment which the line will run on top of across the areas which become most heavily waterlogged during the winter months. As you can see the students are quickly getting to grips with the digger under the watchful eyes of their tutors and our staff.
We can now reveal that at Easter 2011 we will be operating a shuttle service for a small fare supplement to allow visitors to ride from Bentley Central to the end of the line as things stand, approx 1/3rd of the way from Glyndebourne Wood to the forthcoming but tantlisingly close Bentley East station (just visible to the right of the main house in the below photo) and accompanying loop (see photos on previous reports for progress being made in this regard), before returning to Bentley Central. As a result of this our works gang have been shuttling many tons of road planings and soil up the line to bring this section of the track up to the necessary safety standards required to allow these services to operate. By comparing the photo below with those from the March reports it is easy to realise the amount of work which has been undertaken. We would encourage anyone interested to come and join us at Easter and be amongst the first to ride to this new section of line.
March 2011 - Update 3
With the outbound railhead reached as reported on the last entry, below, and no more rail to be laid until after Easter one would be forgiven for thinking our team would take some time off, far from it with several tons of soil and equal quantities of track bedding material having been moved into position. Meanwhile two new turnouts have been installed just east of Glyndebourn Wood junction and further track panels are under construction.
March 2011 - Update 2
The rail head on the outbound track has now reached the farthest point possible until we next have a digger on-site. Meanwhile the track edging on the return side is progressing well, it is hoped that both trackbeds can reach this interim stage in time for easter.
The rate of progress is continuing with the track edging having now turned the corner (or as you might say 'gone round the bend') of the Southern curve leading onto the muddy expanse which will become the main straight, at the time of writing approx. 100' of trackbed beyond 'Royal Oak' tree has now been prepared. As can be seen in the photos however a fair amount of infill is going to be required to bring the remaining track base up to the height required.
February 2011 - Update 2
The pace of work is such that although we are less than half way through February there have already been a substantial number of changes since the below photos were taken just 2 weeks ago. With the assistance of a mechanical digger and a lot of very muddy members, the track bed at both the top of field 2 and around the Bentley East station area are taking shape rapidly. Also outside of the photos, work on the drainage half way between these two points are being undertaken with a new pipe linking the current pond and stream.
Although as I write this we are only a few days into February, a lot of progress has already been made with thanks to a dedicated band of volunteers the track base has now been dug by hand approx 14 track lengths (which is 1/3rd of the way around the new Bentley East loop). The white post in the foreground of the photo being the marker for the start of the curve approaching the forthcoming station. Meanwhile, the new entry bridge is now complete and makes an excellent viewing platform for visitors.
Following a six week break due to Christmas and heavy snow fall work has now resumed on the extension with the footbridge to the new station, which it can now be revealed will be called "Bentley East". In the below photo (left) you can see that the bridge is now in place and has some of it's decking fitted and the access path dug and constructed, some larger scale groundworks on the other side will be required shortly to bring the ground level up to the bridge and eradicate the current surface water problems which can just be seen behind. In the second photo to the right you can see that the first 'sods' of the approach dumbell loop have now been cut by hand pending the arrival of larger scale machinery meanwhile, photo 3 shows a further week's handiwork on the trackbed by a small but determined team.
November 2010 (additional)
Bridge 3, mentioned on entry below, has now had it's sides lifted into situ along with the floor support.
Bridge 2, between fields 1 & 2 is now complete (per central photo below). Bridge 3, which will be the public entry from the Wildfowl Park is progressing well, with the groundworks and foundations nearly ready for the waiting superstructure to be lifted into position (per left photo). Meanwhile much of the marking-out on field 2 is now complete and you can start to see where the line will take passengers. Finally, field 1 now has the electric fence to keep the local Kune Kune pigs off the line installed and operational (per right photo below).
Bridge 2, between fields 1 & 2 is now nearing completion, now bearing the weight of the first train, headed by Rhian as photographed below - just a little more hard-core required to complete the second side
Late August 2010
We made it... August Bank holiday Sunday/Monday saw the first passenger carrying services traversing the first stretch of the new extension
Mid August 2010
Progress towards the next water feature is being made rapidly with the rail head now nearing the ditch. Will this be in and ballasted before the August Bank-Holiday?
Late July 2010
Inbound and Outbound tracks are now joined at the crossover point with outbound edging reaching the next bridge
Main line now connected with new point laid and crossover point refurbishment complete (foreground of centre photo). Meanwhile, excellent progress being made at track installation
All hands to the deck to lay sufficient track for the Silver Jubilee. The woodland walk crossing is nearing completion and the track bed has now been excavated with the first bridge also in place.
Track panel and point construction is progressing apace along with the new Signal Box for Glyndebourne Wood which is nearing completion.
New level crossing gates on old track installed and ready to be wired in, old gates undergoing refurbishment for re-use across woodland walk
Sufficient track panels now built to complete phase 1 of construction
Think it might be a damp ride next winter?
Track panel construction is progressing fast with around half the panels for phase 1 already complete
Floor of new signal box at Glyndebourne Wood is now dug out and and ductwork progressing. New bridges being constructed off-site (3 will be required).
Planning permission granted (subject to conditions) by Wealden District Council
Planning application delivered to Wealden District Council.
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