A number of visitors to the Moseley Railway Trust’s open days at Apedale (September & November last year) observed that it is more conventional for railway track to be IN the ballast, rather than ON the ballast. To which we kept replying that thank you, we know that, the railway isn’t finished yet. Yesterday 28/2/09 we took a small, but significant, step towards finishing the railway. We have been loaned a rather fine ballast hopper wagon by our friends at the Golden Valley Light Railway, who are located on the Midland Railway Centre site in Derbyshire. The wagon has had some modifications at Apedale to improve ballast discharge into the area between the rails. Forming the ballast shoulders outside of the rails was more of an issue, but we discovered that with careful selection of the wagons, and equally careful loading, standard side-tipping skip wagons would deposit their load into more-or-less the right place. And thus was born the Apedale Valley Light Railway’s ballasting train, powered by fleet no. 65, Ruston 223667. This 20DL loco is ideal for this job, as it is very controllable at low speeds and will creep along quite happily as the hopper discharges its load. Loading is accomplished using a member’s Fordson Super Major tractor, which has shown that it is more than equal to the job despite its advancing years. A bit like some of the MRT’s working members, really.
Of course, most railway people will know that ballast hoppers and the like are traditionally given codenames which are based on marine life. It is proposed that the hopper is known as the Great Crested Newt, after a certain breed of amphibians which have given us some local difficulties. If you have a better idea, or fancy coming along and leaning a hand, then get in touch here. Meanwhile, both of our regular readers will be pleased to learn that the writer may have resolved his Freddy Mercury obsession.