·  LMS  ·  GWR  ·  LNER  ·  Misc  ·  Stations  ·  What's New  ·  Video  ·  Guestbook  ·  About

GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton

Leamington South Junction: gwrls3947

A Great Western Railway Permanent Way Length Gang at Leamington South Junction

A Great Western Railway Permanent Way Length Gang at Leamington South Junction. The Signal Box behind controlled this junction as well as controlling access to the locomotive depot. The junction was opened on 10th July 1908 to provide a connection to the LNWR lines (These can be seen in the distance on the left). The railway line on the right is the Great Western Railway's mainline to Oxford and London.

A Length Ganger was responsible for their assigned length of track, typically about seven miles of single track, plus any sidings. The Ganger was required to inspect his length daily and regularly test the; alignment, level and gauge of the tracks, expansion spaces between the rails, and super-elevation (cant) of curves. The Ganger would have a Sub-Ganger and a small team of platelayers to carry out general maintenance and rectify any track imperfections. General maintenance work included; clearing drainage, maintaining boundaries (fences, walls and hedges) and vegetation management (to prevent fire risks, infringement of clearances or encroachment by weeds, etc.). Regular track work included; ‘slacking’ which consists of lifting the rails with jacks and packing ballast under the sleepers of any part of the line which has become depressed, improving any bad alignment by sluing the track with bars, adjusting the super-elevation (or cant) by lifting either the high or low rail so as to bring it to the specified level (see Eng Dept Inst image 'misc_equip247'), cleaning and oiling switches and points, driving in loose keys, tightening chair bolts or fishplate bolts, or in hot weather easing and oiling the latter to allow rails to expand more freely.

In addition to their, shovels, crowbars and key hammers, some of the length gang's more specialist tools can be seen, including; a rail-jack, and (in the foreground) part of a nelson, used to bend rail. The Ganger is holding a gauge, which was used to confirm that the railway tracks were the correct distance apart and any difference in elevation.

Robert Ferris

Mel Gardner wrote on our Facebook Page, 'The speed restriction and check rail suggests a tight radius, but it could also be because the straights between the left and right curves are too short or even non existent. It’s difficult to determine this from the photograph. We therefore provided Mel with a link to the BR survey plan from 1952 showing the link line. On this plan we thought the curve doesn't appear that tight, but asked Mel whether he thought there is sufficient straight section between the two junctions?. Mel responded, 'it’s difficult to see on these plans where each curve begins and ends. Sharp reverse curves are always a pain, hence the short straight to con the train that it’s not negotiating reverse curves. There is a down side to a slow speed restriction. There's not enough kinetic energy to overcome the friction between the flange of the wheels and the inner face of the outer rail, resulting in the flange climbing the rail and dropping in the cess. That's why so many derailments occur in depots where curves are sharp and speeds low. Rusty rails like we see in the photograph add to this problem. The check rails will of course keep the outer flanges clear of the rail and eliminate the climbing risk'.