Reinstating a railway line …

THE YARRA GLEN TO HEALESVILLE RAILWAY PROGRAM

Our guest-blogger this issue is railway enthusiast, Barry Sheffield who writes:

I became involved with the railway 25-4-2016 guard duty thel asbury_6528_nin 2012 and was part of the Way & Works crew working on sleeper replacement, ballast spreading & the bridge re-building project until I had a few issues with my aging body that made me realise that I couldn’t handle the heavy work any longer.
So having completed the Safeworking training course, I now carry out the roles of Track
Patroller, Guard, Conductor, Signalman & Shunter.
While rebuilding the bridges was immensely satisfying, being Guard on the train on running days is even more satisfying as you are helping
passengers to have a wonderful time.

 

To reinstate the railway line from Healesville to Yarra Glen, Yarra Valley Railway needed to re-build 14 timber bridges. All of the timber bridges had been attacked by termites and had rotting timbers while two had been burnt by fire, so it was decided to re-build them using concrete and steel. This would ensure a much longer life span than the timber bridges and they would require far less maintenance over that lifespan.

Two of the bridges (11 and 14) had been re-built in concrete and steel by the Victorian Railways prior to the lines closure, in 1980, and only required some minor work on the bridge decking. One design was used for all but two of the bridges with just slight variations for each site. The design is a far more attractive design than those re-built by the Victorian Railways, as they closely resemble the timber trestle bridges that were there previously.

The process for re-building the bridges was to demolish each bridge to ground level. This had already been done for two of the bridges as they had been destroyed by the Black Saturday fires. Each of the timber piles was excavated below ground level to where they were solid timber and had not been attacked by termites. The pile was then capped with a reinforced concrete pile cap up to ground level and each pair of pile caps was encased in a reinforced concrete footing. Steel uprights with crossheads were then attached to the footings and used rail from the Melbourne suburban network was then attached to the crossheads to form the decking.

pouring pile caps - footings br 23Pouring pile caps at left and footings at right – bridge 23 with Elm Cottage at Tarrawarra Abbey in the background

Funding for the project was provided by a grant from Regional Development Australia, with the exception of bridge 12, which was funded by the Shire of Yarra Ranges. All of this work has been carried out by volunteers with the only paid staff involved in the project being the concrete truck drivers and the crane operators. Work commenced on bridge 12 in January 2013 and the final bridge to be completed, bridge 17, was completed in July 2017.

The 14 bridges re-built comprised a total of 95 spans and the project has used a total 875 cubic metres of concrete to construct 107 concrete footings and abutments, on which 150 steel uprights and 103 steel crossheads have been installed. One pre-cast concrete vehicle culvert and 181 concrete platform panels have also been installed and all of this was only possible through the contribution of many thousands of volunteer hours.

Now that the bridges are finished, the next part of the project is to prepare the road base for re-laying the sleepers, rail and final ballasting.

The following series of photographs consist mainly of ‘before & after’ shots of the work already accomplished.           A digital map at the end of this blog may help identify the sites more precisely:
KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERABridge 11 – re-built in concrete and steel by the Victorian Railways prior to the lines closure with only minor re-alignment of the decking required.
Bridge 12 – opposite Armstrong Grove – was a 9 span x 11’ longitudinal deck timber trestle on a slight curve. Re-built as a 9 span x 11’ longitudinal deck concrete and steel bridge. This bridge was not part of the RDA (Regional Development Australia) funded project.
Bridge 13 – opposite Yarra Glen racecourse – was a 7 span x 11’ longitudinal deck timber trestle. Re-built as a 7 span x 11’ longitudinal deck concrete and steel bridge.
Bridge 14 – crosses Steels Creek – re-built in concrete and steel by the Victorian Railways prior to the lines closure
Bridge 15 – between Steels Creek and the bypass roundabout – was a 7 span x 11’ longitudinal deck timber trestle. Re-built as a 7 span x 11’ longitudinal deck concrete and steel bridge.
Bridge 16 – between Steels Creek and the bypass roundabout – was a 7 span x 11’ longitudinal deck timber trestle. Re-built as a 7 span x 11’ longitudinal deck concrete and steel bridge
Bridge 17 – Lubra Bend – was a 5 span x 11’ longitudinal deck timber trestle. Re-built as a single span pre-cast concrete culvert as it will be used for vehicle access.
Bridge 18 – Yarra Glen side of Tarrawarra Rd – was a 7 span x 11’ longitudinal deck timber trestle – one of the 2 bridges destroyed by fire on Black Saturday. Re-built as a 7 span x 11’ longitudinal deck concrete and steel bridge.
Bridge 19 – Yarra Glen side of Tarrawarra Rd – was a 9 span x 11’ longitudinal deck timber trestle – the second bridge destroyed on Black Saturday. Re-built as a 9 span x 11’ longitudinal deck concrete and steel bridge.
Bridge 20 – was an 11 span x 11’ longitudinal curved deck timber trestle – crosses Pauls Creek. Re-built as an 11 span x 11’ longitudinal deck concrete and steel bridge. There are two elements to this bridge with the low flood plain sections on either side of the creek and the taller section above the creek. This bridge differed from the common design with double height concrete footings on either side of the creek and the 2 in the creek bed being double length with a double height centre section, which required 3 times the quantity of concrete as the standard footing. The longitudinal bracing is offset to avoid catching debris floating down the creek.
Bridge 21 – was a 5 span x 11’ longitudinal deck timber trestle. Re-built as a 5 span x 11’ longitudinal deck concrete and steel bridge. The first bridge along Tarrawarra straight and within the Tarrawarra Abbey property.
Bridge 22 – was an 11 span x 11’ longitudinal deck timber trestle. Re-built as an 11 span x 11’ longitudinal deck concrete and steel bridge.
Bridge 23 – was a 7 span x 11’ longitudinal deck timber trestle. Re-built as a 7 span x 11’ longitudinal deck concrete and steel bridge.
Bridge 24 – was a 3 span x 11’ longitudinal deck timber trestle. Re-built as a 3 span x 11’ longitudinal deck concrete and steel bridge.
Bridge 25 – was a 5 span x 15’ longitudinal beam timber trestle. Re-built as a 5 span x 15’ longitudinal beam bridge using beam sections which are from the Victorian Railways Broken River bridge at Shepparton. The final bridge along Tarrawarra straight and within the Abbey property, is used for access to the river flats by Tarrawarra Abbey farm vehicles.
Bridge 26 – was a 4 span x 20’ longitudinal beam timber trestle – crosses Long Gully Creek. Was destroyed by fire in 1962 and almost brought about the closing of the line. It was re-built as a shorter bridge without a deck so was known as Skeleton bridge. This has now been re-built with 6 spans x 15’ and using beams from the Victorian Railways Broken River bridge at Shepparton.
The platform at Tarrawarra, which had been shortened by the Victorian Railways when railmotors were operating, has been re-built to its original length so that it will accommodate steam hauled multi-carriage trains …
… and Yarra Glen platform has also been re-built to its original length with the van goods shed also being re-built.
Yarra Glen station building has virtually had a complete re-build, as well as the construction of new modern toilets
.

AND ALL THIS WORK HAS BEEN CARRIED OUT BY VOLUNTEERS!

I have included this link to an online map produced by railway volunteer Will Farr:
If you would like more details about joining/supporting Yarra Valley Railway click this link:
If you wish to comment on this blog, please use the ‘Comments Box’ provided below.
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5 Responses to Reinstating a railway line …

  1. Bob Rogers says:

    A wonderful record of the work carried out. Well done. I think the timber bridges looked terrific, but, as shown, not much good in fires. However, I do think the new bridges will quickly gain their own unique patina with time. The YVR group is to be congratulated. Living in Brisbane I look forward to coming down to travel the full length of the line. One day, Lilydale?

    Like

  2. Glenn Raven says:

    As l was President of South Gippsland Tourist Railway for 7 years or so until my work commitments made it impossible to devote the time required to run a tourist railway l have always admired just what volunteers are capable of. Well done to all your volunteers for the endeavour and posistance to get the job done. Look forward to seeing your achievements as you move forward with your trackwork.

    Like

  3. Thelma Asbury says:

    What a great blog Barry!! Your gang has done a wonderful job restoring the RM and other rolling stock as well as repairing and replacing the bridges. Keep up the good work!

    Like

  4. Lindsay Richmond says:

    Wonderful work!

    Like

  5. Jennifer Russell (VHS) says:

    Very interesting. Will have to come to Healesville one weekend and have a trip on the train.

    Like

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