Despite the threatened, and occasionally delivered rainfall, tracklaying continues apace at the ever sunny Apedale in sub-tropical North Staffordshire. As you’ll see in the photo, the main line (the track on the right) is now reaching ever onwards in its quest to reach the target of Phase One of the MRT’s Apedale Project, which is a station at Apedale Road (so called because it’s a road, and you can probably guess the rest). The current tracklaying record seems to be four 18′ panels in a day. This has allegedly been beaten by our P-way engineer and his son, but they were using steel sleepers, so it doesn’t really count.
We are currently using rail which was recovered from Woodhead tunnel in the high pennines between Sheffield and Manchester. In case you’re now looking at the pictures and wondering how pairs of Class 76 locos and MGR wagons managed to wear down the rails THAT much, it’s actually the next door Woodhead tunnel I’m referring to. This was the old “steam era” tunnels. In 1954, when BR moved into their all-electric shiny new bores, the CEGB took over the old tunnels and put the electricity grid transmission cables into them. To facilitate maintenance over the three mile length, they laid a 2’0″ gauge railway. A few years ago, this railway was re-laid by Alan Keef Ltd, and the MRT managed to obtain the old rail. It’s still in pretty good order.
The CEGB used to have a battery electric loco. This is shown in the second picture, courtesy of John Lucas, taken on a visit to Woodhead many years ago. The loco is Clayton 5843 of 1971. This loco is also now in the care of the MRT, and is currently in store. However, it is hoped that in a few months, it will be at Apedale and will be unleashed to run on its original metals once again.