Whilst the Railway is closed for extensive track improvement works let’s gaze to the future: 2017 promises to be one of adventure and challenge! But first, a quick review of the achievements of 2016, a momentous year in which after two decades of trying, we finally ran our first trains into Princes Risborough. If you're interested in what we've been doing and what we aim to do, please read on...
It happened in 2016:
In February, we signed an interim lease for Princes Risborough North signal box, fenced the path to it, and with that gained a formal right of access for the first time. Then we concluded a rail industry regulated Connection Agreement with Network Rail which allowed us to remove the buffer stops and reconnect our track to theirs at Thame Junction, and we did so.
April saw successful completion of an industry consultation process Network Change’, enabling the future changes at Risborough, and finalisation of an agreed (between CPRR & NR) Method of Working for our trains going there. We ‘took control’ to exercise that MoW (and our legs!) over NR’s Thame branch siding for the first time in May; we also agreed Heads of Terms for a lease of the land we need (though the lease itself is yet to escape the legal mire – hopefully this January), and learned that we had been successful in bidding for a Department for Transport grant contributing towards the platform and loop construction costs.
In June with the approval of the Office of Rail and Road (ORR, formerly the office of Rail Regulation) we signed a Track Access Agreement with NR, resolved rolling stock acceptance issues, and our first train parted the undergrowth into Risborough. Passenger workings started in July, and we were later able to make some initial inroads into cutting back the vegetation (limited imposed by the nesting season).
Legal work on the lease
continued, but recognising the delays Network Rail granted us an interim
licence in November to start some of the groundworks on site. We also concluded
an access licence with Chiltern Railways so we can get our staff and passengers
over their footbridge to our platform, and with NR went through a ‘Station
Change’ consultation and process so the access is maintained past franchise
We’ve started work removing vegetation, spoil and scrap and recovering materials such as bricks, point rodding and the occasional snake found in the rubble.
2017 and a year of adventure and challenge for the Railway:
The Risborough End
We started as we mean to finish: our service trains on 1 January 2017 ran into Princes Risborough. This was the first opportunity for many to see the work we’ve done so far in clearing huge amounts of vegetation and many tonnes of rubble and spoil. The old platform face, last used for Chinnor trains in 1957 and Oxford via Thame trains in 1963, can now clearly be seen.
On 02 March 2017 the lease was finally signed!
Parts of the platform wall need to be taken down and rebuilt, and there’s a section (where the old building was) which needs building up from footings. The corbelling and coping stones are gone so need replacing, and we will need to raise the platform (to meet modern standards and to match Chiltern Railway’s adjoining one) and resurface (after laying services). A section of retaining wall will be needed, along with fencing changes, gates, signage etc.
Then, of course, we need to lay track to the renewed platform face, and install points at both ends. Siding 1 (South of the station) has to be recovered during a closure of the main line, then Network Rail’s contractors will put in a fence to separate the two railways.
Lots to do... before we have a useable station!
The Chinnor Effect
But of course, we are in the winter ‘closed’ season, when all our infrastructure teams are at their busiest with maintenance and track improvement works on our existing line. January started with the lifting and relaying of a point, track and the crossing at Chinnor station. This will be followed by a period of rebuilding in the area affected. Then this year’s major single line relaying project in the Perry Lane area starts, and continues until just before our services re-launch in late March.
Obviously, our work at Risborough will be limited during this time, as our resources (volunteers and plant) must be focussed on these other jobs. However, we hope to do some work at Risborough and should be able to gear up on the building works (footings, blockwork, brickwork and pointing etc), if we have the people available. We should also be able to prepare the point-work ready for later installation.
Be Part of it!
What we can do, when, and how much it will cost, depends entirely on the degree to which our members and hopefully new members and volunteers, step up to do it! We’d particularly like to hear at present from people with abilities (either at professional or DIY level) in the areas mentioned: bricks and blocks etc. But of course, we also need general help to support those activities; materials don’t move around any site on their own!
Everyone working at Princes Risborough needs to be a member and to attend our PTS (Personal Track Safety) course and have a thorough site briefing. There are rigorous processes to follow before safely working on any operating railway! If you can help with the 'Risborough works, or with anything else on the Railway, please contact our Volunteer Training Manager John Page in the first instance, email firstname.lastname@example.org Please get your name down as soon as possible, so we know who we have and can get you through the courses.
Let’s hope that we can make
the most of the opportunities ahead of us in 2017. We very much look forward to seeing you
at the Railway - as visitor, member, and/or volunteer, and thank you for your