Sunday, 23 August 2020

Progress Sunday 23rd August 2020

Dear all,

Another day, another fully booked timetable! Most pleasing. Today's trains were handled by Class 14 D9537 and had on board Luxury Ploughman's Lunches and passengers enjoying picnic boxes, as well as regular riders. It was the first time the picnic boxes have been done and seemed to go down quite well. The tortillas etc were prepared on site so all nice and fresh. Thank you to today's team who cleaned and sanitised the train as well as distributed the picnic boxes to their compartment before boarding the passengers, all with efficiency and a smile (behind the face mask).

Down the yard, work continued on EVRA's SK corridor end rebuild and the preparations for returning the Class 31 to service. A cracked oil pipe on the engine has been discovered on the latter so that required repair/replacement. A broken air tap on one of the Class 08s was also replaced.

Saturday, 15 August 2020

Progress Saturday 15th August 2020

Dear all,

Passenger numbers have been very pleasing since we opened but today capped it as the busiest as were officially fully booked on every train. Not bad considering this is after another coach has been added! There were various things going on aboard too, with the Catering Dept in full flow firstly doing our first ever Savoury Sharer platters for a coach party who came on a heritage bus. The platters were officially supposed to be on Tuesdays but can't take place as we haven't reopened on Tuesdays after lockdown but the coach company had specially arranged these. It seemed to go down well! In addition, on the following train, there were our Luxury Afternoon Teas. These are always popular and we have added some extra capacity next Saturday by doing two "sittings", the usual one at 15:15 and an earlier one at 11:15 too. These are available to book online. In addition to all of these, an events company client was running a fish and chip special on board too!

A few people were down the yard but I have been so engrossed in the running of the the reasons I must admit the exact details of their activities have passed me by.


Friday, 14 August 2020

Progress Friday 14th August 2020

Dear all,

A cooler day than of late, much to the relief of many trying to progress their various projects. The new staff toilet and shower room has progressed well this week with the new ceiling being installed, made of plastic wet room panels. The new LED lights have also gone up, PIR activated too.

Today, the BSK Kitchen Car has been added to the rake of coaches for the weekend as our on train dining offerings begin in earnest following the closure tomorrow. Compartment availability for regular passengers is very limited indeed for tomorrow, making it possibly the busiest day so far since reopening.

Elsewhere, a meeting took place at Shottle to discuss signal sightings to further the project there and further work was carried on EVRA's SK which had a totally rebuilt end over the last few months. The Derby Lightweight project also continued and the steam shed has had some replacement panels installed to replace old ones.



Sunday, 19 July 2020

Progress Saturday 18th July 2020

Dear all,

Another day of 'ghost trains' training and refresher sessions prior to the reopening. Today we also had a few 'ghost passengers' from the nearby Heritage Centre who could cast an external eye on our processes and procedures to offer some useful suggestions prior to next week. They were very complementary and there were only a few minor comments made which was pleasing. The Class 33 did the honours today.

Various items were looked at down in the yard, including further work on the forklift truck and Faraday.


Friday, 17 July 2020

Progress Tue 14 - Thu 16 July 2020

Dear all,

A summary of the last few days for you. It has been a fairly busy time as we hurtle towards the reopening weekend. I don't know if I'll remember everything!

Starting in the yard, an unsung yet vital task has been quietly taking place in the form of coach examinations. The final coach is on exam now for the reopening weekend. We will initially be starting with three coaches to control congregation on the station.

Speaking of the station, it has been all go to try and prepare Wirksworth Station for the arrival of the first passengers once again. The blasting of the old office/ladies building has been completed and it looks excellent. Attention is needed on the barge boards at some point and it will receive a new door to the old ladies room during it's conversion to the staff shower and toilet facility. This project has been progressing well with the electrics being put into position this week. Platform 1 received a thorough clean to remove any residue and also remove over a wheelbarrow full of mud which had congregated from a deluge of rain which had occurred at some point during the closure period. It must have ran down the road and car park and overwhelmed the drainage at the front of the station to come onto the platform.

Further signage has been put up for customer information, along with the signs that were taken off the building during it's refurb. The signage also includes compartment numbers on the train too. It is surprising how time consuming laminating is!

Finishing touches to interior paintwork and final cleaning of the new toilet block took place and it is now ready for opening. It is a significant improvement to our previous offering. Once the former ladies conversion has been completed, attention will be turned to removing the former gents portacabin which will finally see the end of all the portable buildings on the station. End of an era there!

The Permanent Way team have had a varied week with attention returning to the area that has seen lots of work previously just north of Shottle. Whilst the track formation is remarkably clear considering the lack of use, some of the drainage they had been working on at the side was now hidden under something not dissimilar to green Axminster. On Thursday, they turned attention to Duffield and applied an antislip coating to the wooden platform extension. An important task carried out during a rare day of dry weather.

The Steam Team have split between Mondays and Thursdays now to aid with social distancing so a few of them were in on Thursday but I didn't catch up with them to find out what had been going on. I assume working on No.3's rebuild.



Saturday, 11 July 2020

Progress Saturday 11th July 2020

Dear all,

It was a nice to see trains running the valley once again today as the Class 14 hauled two staff training runs dubbed as "ghost trains". These trips were an opportunity to refresh staff on their roles and also introduce to them the arrangements put in place to maintain social distancing and keep covid secure. The training went well and it was good to see many familiar faces after quite a few months!

Down the yard, the maintenance team were out in force, firstly completing an exam on 33103 before turning their attention to an issue with 08704. Attention was also turned to giving the engine in the teletruk a good service too.

I popped in to the Derby Lightweight trailer car mentioned yesterday to see it for myself. The wall panels and lino have literally transformed it!

The Miniature railway and narrow gauge railway both had attention too.


Friday, 10 July 2020

Progress Friday 10th July 2020

Dear all,

My first report since returning to site after the lockdown period and it was quite a busy day in it's own little way!

There was activity on the station as we prepare to welcome back our first visitors since March in a couple of weeks time. Safety signage has been put up, areas tidied and social distancing markers have been sprayed onto the platform. I must admit I wasn't too sure about painting the platform surface but it is a necessary process to allow us to reopen. To be fair, it doesn't look too bad and it is done in marker paint that naturally erases over the period of a few months. We'll see if it needs redoing at some point!

The new toilet block had a clearout of various left over materials from the build job and these will be ready for opening following a deep clean. They'll welcome their first customers on the 25th when we open. Work has now moved on to converting the former ladies toilet in the back of the MD's office to a staff toilet and shower room. The interior has been totally stripped and the internal brick wall which formed the toilet cubicle has been demolished. The bricks were recycled and used to brick up a window aperture that had some wooden board over it. The internal walls have now had battens installed ready to take the modern wet-room panelling that is being used rather than tiles. Opportunity is being taken to get the electrics inside this cavity space too. The exterior of the building is being blasted back to brick, having had several layers of paint applied over the years. I believe it was originally painted not long after we started due to graffiti it sustained whilst the line was mothballed in the 90s but this process has removed all that and we now have nice brick. It looks much better and is more in keeping with the new building behind. Only once this conversion project is complete will attention be turned to removing the former gents portacabin.

The station gardeners were in beautifying the station approach ready for our guests. They were seen to be mowing the new lawn laid in the winter.

Down the yard, examinations on the coaching stock continued ahead of opening day and the D9537 Locomotive Group were in completing snagging tasks that had cropped up following the winter work and examination. They were most pleased to be back at the railway, with the prospect of a Wirksworth Special Kebab the only thing that kept them going through lockdown! Apparently kebabs in Bury aren't the same.

It is great to see on social media the progress on the Derby Lightweight trailer car in recent weeks. The first class carpet looks excellent, overshoes at the ready! Speaking of social media, there has also been photographs of the steps being installed on to Shottle Signalbox (most handy for gaining access I suppose) which look great and the announcement of the visit of mainline-certified Pannier 9466 for the 2021 season yesterday was viewed by nearly 10,000 people and received many nice comments from supporters.