Permanent Way (Track Maintenance and Vegetation)
Brief Job Role: The Permanent Way is everything to do with the track; the track bed, the rails, the sleepers and associated fixtures that makes up operational running lines, plus the drainage that ensures the ground is stable to support operations. It is avital part of the railway that ensures the safe passage of all who travel on our trains.
The work is varied, mostly focussed on maintenance, but with our ongoing expansions there has been a number of "new work” projects such as the extension of the railway and installation of new pointwork (Switches & Crossings). The department also assist other departments where numbers are required with bridge maintenance and vegetation clearance.
When it comes to maintenance tasks, the P-Way department undertakes a weekly inspection with teams regularly meeting on Wednesdays and Sundays (with some Thursdays in the summer) These inspections identify any broken chairs or fishplates, (training provided on the terminology provided!), replacement of track keys that may have moved, with further condition monitoring of crossings over the railway line, lineside signage and the rail sleepers. Switches & Crossings are also regularly gauged and measured to check for wear, whilst also ensuring they are well greased as poor lubrication can increase wear which will make the points dangerous to operate trains over.
Depending upon numbers & what is noted during inspections can vary the level of work carried out, as its I not unknown to break up into teams so that one team completes the initial inspection whilst a follow up team completes repairs that can be completed immediately. Bigger jobs are pre-planned as required, with the use of in-house plant we have available onsite. If you love the outdoors, and like to keep fit, then this is certainly the department for you!
Despite the Churnet Valley Railway only being of moderate size compared to many heritage railways in the UK, there are extensive plans that if all come to fruition will see it become the largest heritage rail network in the UK with over 30-miles of railway to maintain and operate along. Some of the extension work will be completed by contractors where timescales are critical, but volunteers are always encouraged to support - as was the case with the re-opening of the Cauldon Branch in 2010 where CVR volunteers assisted the Moorlands & City contractors in re-opening this 8.5-mile branch inside 9 months.
Past Projects: Jobs like reinstating the line towards Cauldon Lowe have seen a great deal of work carried out so that steam locomotives could return to Ipstones Station. The ongoing project is to maintain the railway to as high a standard as possible to allow trains to run for years to come.