Network Rail has announced that they have brought an overgrown railway siding at Eastbourne back into use.
They have done this by recycling track removed during the successful Three Bridges to Brighton blockade in February.
The blockade was part of the Thameslink Resilience Programme and involved remodelling the track layout at Balcombe Tunnel junction and the removal and replacement of track.
Usually, as part of Network Rail’s sustainability policy, materials that come out of upgrade sites are returned to a recycling centre at Whitemoor, Westbury, Cambridgeshire.
While delivering the upgrade work, the engineering team noticed that although they weren’t able to be used there, it was high enough quality to be potentially used somewhere else.
Limited access to stabling points for On Track Machines (OTMs) in the Sussex coastal area has been a challenger for Network Rail, however, Eastbourne provides an ideal location for stabling points across the south coast.
The track was deemed as suitable for use on sidings which removed the need to transport it to Westbury.
Andrew Wood, Network Rail’s senior commercial scheme sponsor, South East Route said:
“When renewing the switches and crossings, we usually need to renew the plain line leading to those switches, but when we surveyed the plain line track at Balcombe Tunnel Junction we realised it was in sufficiently good enough condition to re-use elsewhere in a siding rather than recycle.”
Andrew Ripley, senior project operations manager (Southern and Anglia) said:
“This is a great win-win for us, from an operational perspective, not only do we reduce the fuel costs for the OTMs by storing them in Eastbourne, but we also increase the potential working time window for work in the future by having better machine availability.”
“Environmentally speaking, less fuel used means lower carbon emissions and reusing the Balcombe track saves on the cost of procuring new track for the Eastbourne stable. It wasn’t of the standard required for a mainline, but it was fine for sidings where trains travel at low speed. The Balcombe track is probably good for another 50 years.”