Measuring Track

Regular readers might be disappointed if they didn’t get a bit of railway here, every now and again so here’s a railway image that is just a bit different. There’s no train or loco in sight.

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This photo was taken on 10th October 1998 and I was using my first digital camera at the time. It was basic and on high quality took pictures which measure 640 by 480 pixels – still an ideal size for blogs.

The location is Salisbury Station which used to be open and, on this occasion I was meeting my son off a train. These days the station is a fortress, barred to non-passengers. On one occasion, I had to really argue to be allowed on to a platform to carry bags for my pregnant daughter. That seems a shame to me. I always enjoyed those platform greetings and even the departures were OK as well.

The chap standing on the track is using a gauge to make sure the two rails are four feet eight and a half inches apart. If not, trains could de-rail. I think he is also measuring the camber. We can see there is a slight curve through the station and the outer rail should be a little higher than the inner one. I’ll assume all was OK, for not long afterwards my son arrived.

Track enthusiasts will notice that the near track is composed of flat bottomed rail mounted on wooden sleepers whilst the other track is of the older (much older) bull head type with chairs, keys and fishplates. Some enthusiasts will be horrified at the weed growth through the ballast – and that certainly looks in need of a clean-up.

I wonder what it is like now. Sadly, I rarely use the train because, quite simply, the car is cheaper. My children tend to arrive by car these days and, if I do meet anyone at Salisbury I’m not allowed on the platform. So I may never know if the old rail has been replaced, if the ballast looks better and whether weeds have been removed.

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