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Chinnor Independent Line - Relaying Progress

Image: With the first 4 track panels laid on 01 March 2024, the TRM prepares to withdraw. Photo by Barry Marsh.

The first 60ft track panels on the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway’s (CPRR) Independent Line into Princes Risborough have been laid, using the Railway’s track relaying machine (TRM), a twin-jibbed rail crane.

Since 2018 when it opened a rebuilt 4th platform alongside Princes Risborough’s Network Rail / Chiltern Railways station, CPRR trains have accessed the layout there via a half mile diversion over a NR siding; but only when it is not otherwise needed! Known as the Thame Branch Siding, it is part of the remains of the old line from Princes Risborough to Oxford via Thame. Adjacent to it were the remains of the former GWR branch to Chinnor and Watlington, but after final closure (on cessation of a daily coal train for Chinnor cement works) in 1989, the track had become derelict.

CPRR has now lifted most of the old track, removed the trees and flattened the base ready for new track to be laid. Some of the rail is re-useable, but most of the sleepers not. A few are 'siding quality'. Its volunteers are now pressing on with relaying. Last year the Princes Risborough to Aylesbury branch was closed for a period to allow it to be diverted onto new embankment and bridge over the HS2 trace, and NR kindly donated some of the concrete sleepers made redundant as a result. They are old bullhead types, so fit the recovered rail. (The rail off the Aylesbury branch was cut up to get it off the HS2 site quickly.)

60ft panels are being assembled in small batches on top of existing track nearby, which makes getting the sleeper spacing right straightforward, then the TRM carries each panel (at approximately 10 tonnes) to its final position. One rail is then de-keyed, allowing the panel to be curved to suit, then re-keyed. Obviously there’s more to it than that, with cutting and broaching to be done, but you get the idea.

Unfortunately it wasn’t possible to recover as many sleepers as hoped, so our Railway is still about 400m short of track to complete its 'Chinnor Independent Line'. It’s looking for another source and busy fund raising HERE, conscious also of the quantity of ballast it will need once the track is done!



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