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Track Component Competiton now CLOSED

The current COVID-19 virus has brough a halt to the Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway (C&PRR), operating trains for the first time in a quarter of a century.

The C&PRR, operated 100% by volunteers, is one of the newer heritage railways and celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2019 with its best ever year, recording 63,000 passenger journeys. The line’s passenger services ended in 1957 but the line remained open for coal and cement traffic to Chinnor cement works until January 1990. It received the minimum amount of maintenance by British Railways before it was purchased by the C&PRR. Sections of the 3½ mile line have been totally renewed over the last few years by volunteers.  

How many components do you need for each traditional 60’ track panel?

In April we looked at how to relay a section of track which included Horsenden level crossing. But just how many bits and pieces do you need to lay a traditional 60’ (19 metre) track panel?

Our Permanent Way team were showing Network Rail Graduates precisely this in March until the lockdown paused their training schemes - but these will resume when we are allowed.

The component counting only starts once the trackbed is ready to accept track - something most passengers will not consider in detail. They will enjoy the traditional clickety-clack of the wheels on the rails but what else is required to allow trains to pass safely?

There are sleepers, which the rails are bolted to using bolts and associated ferrules, ensuring gauge and track stability are maintained.

The rails have to be bolted to the sleepers using railchairs - and it’s 24 sleepers to a traditional track length. Before this though, pads are placed in the railchairs to prevent the metal on metal grinding interaction and associated noise.

Oh, and the rails are also secured laterally by clips and the rails are joined by fishplates bolted to the end of the rails, which also use washers.

Some track sections are track circuited and these have two wires at each end attached to the rails to ensure the electrical current flows between rails. Additionally, in between track circuit areas, insulated block joints are used. 


How many components does it take to lay a safe section of 60’ track circuited track?


The Competiton closed at 23.59 on Sunday 24th May 2020. The answer will be posted here shortly.

We will randomly select 10 correct entries and email the successful entrants a travel voucher for 2 people, valid until 31st October 2021 (excluding Santa specials in December). We will accept answers within a 5% range of the number our experts have counted.  Winners will be notified by 1 June 2020.


Because of Covid-19, the now preserved line is now under preventative maintenance and inspection regimes by volunteers working to Government guidelines of remaining the required two metres apart from each other while we are unable to operate passenger trains. Engineering trains are still operating so please do not trespass on the line. 

The Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway really needs your financial support in these challenging and uncertain times. The Railway costs £6000 a month irrespective of running trains or not. No matter how large or small, every donation will be welcomed and it’s easy to contribute on our donations page - not only will it help us maintain the railway, but to reopen it as soon as we are allowed and the safety checks have been completed. 

Thank you.