The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway Fence2Fence Team were in action over the weekend of 25th & 26th January. The work area was between Tanllan and Mill Curves – a stretch of line of about half a mile. If you are old enough to have thought this post might be about Hammy Hamster then I am sorry to disappoint you.
After the November Fence2 Fence session, Willy, our long standing Team Leader stood down. In the photo above he is giving his farewell speech at the team’s annual dinner. Dave and Peter have volunteered to be the new leaders and organise the vegetation management sessions.
Saturday morning and Dave and Chris tackle a small patch of bracken opposite ‘The Lawn’. Due to the shape of the lineside bank the railway’s flail couldn’t get to grips with this. The following day we raked up best part of a cubic metre of debris from this short stretch of lineside. So a summer fire risk has been removed.
There was no heavy work scheduled for the weekend; just plenty of work with loppers trimming back coppice stools and stray saplings so as to maintain a good view of the River Banwy. In December 2017 we took down five large trees at this location. This was a pre-emptive move as they were too large for the soil they were in and they were at risk of toppling either into the river or onto the railway – either way we would have had to pay a significant sum to tidy up the mess.
Regular readers of this Blog may remember the poem A Lament For Five Brothers that appeared way back in December 2017. Verse five goes :
This band of brothers has fallen
But we will rise, not as five, but fifty!
Come Easter and new shoots
Will spring from our stumps
Well spring forth they did and we must have trimmed back more than five times fifty fifty shoots. Ae the same time we had the opportunity to inspect the state of the bank – which just here is protected by gabions that were installed in the 1980s.
Gabions are wire cages that are put in place and then filled with rocks. The ones in the river seem to have survived quite well.
The vegetation at the entrance to the sidings at Tanllan had started to encroach on the lineside and was restricting visibility during shunting operations. It is a safety requirement that the Shunter and at least one of the Loco Crew can see each other at all times. The Fence2Fence team had been tasked with trimming it back to ‘improve sighting’.
This was how we left it on 1st December; much better, but look closely and you can see that once the leaves are back on the trees it won’t be quite so good.
The same picture again:
The purple line identifies vegetation that will be covered in leaves in the summer. The tree inside the red line is dead and leaning towards the railway.
Dealing with most of the growth inside the purple line was relatively easy. The dead tree took a lot of thinking about before a strategy for eliminating the risk of it falling on the railway was worked out.
Rather than remove the tree at stump level it was decided to remove the branches just above the lowest fork. The branches were roped and then tensioned to control which way they fell and cut using a pole saw. The careful planning paid dividends and the task went well and yielded some useful lighting up wood.
A Diesel Driver’s view of the entrance to the sidings.
The brambles along the fence line have been cleared using a combination of a ‘slasher’ to get them out of the wire and then mashed down using a petrol powered brush cutter.
Sunday 26th January and some of the team are taking a well earned rest from working in the rain.
The very last job of the weekend was to clean out the wagon.
More pictures here
And if you really would like to catch up with Hammy Hampster, Roderick Rat and GP then you will find them over on Youtube