In November Amec-Spie is programmed to start laying CTRL Section One track from Beechbrook Farm near Ashford towards Fawkham Junction.
The temporary railhead at Beechbrook will have14.5km of sidings where 20 or 30 trains a day will be in transit with ballast, sleepers or long lengths of rail.
But at the end of May there was little clue to all this.
Beechbrook was teeming with dozers, shovels and rollers shifting and compacting soil in a frantic hurry to get a firm and level platform established ready for the 30,000t of ballast needed to create the track foundation for the yard itself. Months of rain had left much of the site a soggy mess but the few hot weeks in May pulled it round to being workable.
The depot has to be ready in time because once tracklaying starts it will be a rapid and highly mechanised operation the like of which has never been seen before on a UK railway. Materials for 600m of track on each line will be transported out of Beechbrook every day. By April 2002 both tracks have to be complete to Fawkham and trains will switch out in the other direction to complete the tracks to the east, right through to the Channel Tunnel Terminal by June.
To achieve that, the main civils contractors will have to get all the track formation and subballast in place and complete track drainage. System wide contractor CCA will then be able to plough in the cable trenches, and place the undertrack crossings. Amec-Spie will cast bases for the overhead catenary masts.
First of these operations is set to begin in contract area 330 in August.
The tracklaying operation will begin with short lengths of temporary track, placed initially on the sub-ballast then lifted with the first ballast and leapfrogged forwards as the permanent sleepers and rails are placed by hybrid tracklaying machines.
Ballast will be granite from Glensanda in Scotland supplied by Foster Yeoman to SNCF French Railways' standard grading and hardness. There is 180,000t of it stockpiled already at the Isle of Grain. In all 700,000t will be needed. Track will be raised and levelled in seven separate ballasting and tamping operations.
Sleepers are standard SNCF twin concrete block design.
They are being made by StantonBonna in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, and at a plant in central France.
Lorries will carry them to Beechbrook for transfer to rail wagons.
Rails are now to come from Thyssen-Krupp in Germany. In all 20,000t will be imported via the Channel Tunnel as 108m lengths to be flash butt welded together to form 324m sections at Beechbrook.
Once in place on the sleepers they will be Thermit welded to form very long continuous lengths.