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Trains deliver the goods


TRAIN-HAULED BALLAST saved a lot of time during repairs to a Kent Network Rail South East line in March.

An embankment failure had closed 40m of track between Pluckley and Ashford on a route that carries about 200 trains a day in both directions.

The failure initially resulted in a 8km/h temporary speed restriction.

However, manual packing of the track after each train passed proved unsuccessful and after monitoring of the rails showed movement was increasing, the line was closed.

Structures framework contractor for the area, Edmund Nuttall, began remediation by clearing vegetation to allow 20t diggers into the site. A flooded culvert that required unblocking further complicated access.

The second day after the failure saw the arrival of the first of four stone trains carrying a total of 2,500t of ballast. Network Rail territory earthworks and drainage engineer Derek Butcher said: 'What made a real difference was the use of the railway to bring in the stone fill. Had this been done by lorry, the works would have taken considerable time and involved a delay in the laying of a haul road.' The ballast was used to fill counterfort drains at 5m centres and to construct a berm to support the reprofiled embankment. The drains and mid-height berm will drain the elevated water levels in the clay embankment and provide support to the side slopes.

Work finished with tamping the affected line and the replacement of trackside cabling. The tracks reopened to traffi c one week from the start of the repairs.

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