Rye residents living near the railway line will be used to the occasional rumble of a late night goods train making use of the line in the early hours when passenger trains are not running.
However, last Saturday morning saw a difference, when a train load of ballast stopped just short of the station. By early light it became apparent that a major operation was under way – the station had been closed, the car park was occupied by temporary sheds, and a large gang of Network Rail operatives were at work on the line.
It transpired that the ballast in the area of the station was in poor shape and needed replacing and reshaping. To do this, the rails and then the sleepers had to be removed, allowing new ballast to be transferred from the waiting trucks to the track before replacing sleepers and then the rails.
A Network Rail spokesman said that the work was scheduled to be complete by the end of Sunday afternoon, with the crew working round the clock until then. In the meantime, the usual replacement bus services were in place.
He went on to say that had it been a busy main line route, normal practice would have been to work only at night and spread the job over several weekends. In this instance, however, with relatively few trains running, it was decided to complete the work in one non-stop operation – more efficient from the point of view of the contractors and less disruption to local residents.
In fact, the deadline was missed by a few hours, with the operation continuing into Sunday night. However, by Monday morning Rye station was back to normal, the line looking pristine (or as pristine as any railway line is likely to look) and trains back to normal.
Image Credits: John Minter .