Monday, October 23, 2006

I've been working on the railroad...

Last week was a tiring week. My lab reports were supposed to be written and we were given a week do get it done. As my year is divided into groups, we take turns to use the labs. I happen to be in the first group to get to use the labs so I couldn't refer to what others have done. On top of that, I over estimated my capabilities and I took longer than I expected to get it done. Nevertheless, I'm glad that its over and I can rest for a few weeks till the next one comes along.

"The train that ferried us to and fro from the track-laying site"

Did I say that I spent the weekend in wales? I am a member of the Imperial College Railway Society and last weekend we went to wales to help lay some railway tracks on the Welsh Highland Railway. Most of the time we were working from early morn right up to sunset, so I didn't get to wonder around much to take photographs.

It was quite an interesting trip I must say. The team comprised of about 20+ peoplle: 5 Imperial College students, 3 fresh grads form Imperial, a few member of staff and the rest were from everywhere else. I was the only fresher and the rest were 3rd year and 4th year students. Despite being the youngest and the newest of the lot, I enjoyed myself just as much ( I think.. )

"Slippers laid in advance to give a rough estimate of the centreline of the rail"

It rained quite a bit and was extremely cold. The track-laying process itself was a very slow and tiring process. There were slippers (the piece of metal in the pitcure) that had to be carried along the balast (the gravel on the road) by hand, and we had to do it in pairs as the slippers were a little too heavy to be carried alone. After the slippers have been laid, the rails will be brought in and then the clipping will start (fastening of the rails to the slippers).

In 2 days we could only finish about 100m+ of track laid. Its a really, really slow process. The project has been going for over 9 years now and its in the last phase already. They aim to finish by 2009. What's most interesting is that the railway is built fully by volunteers (which explains why its taking so long to get done) and that there are people who are actually wiling to spend time to help build the track for free. The people seem to be extremely passionate about trains and railway tracks here in the UK.

Somehow I can't seem to post the picture of the finished rail at the moment but I'll post it in my next post. I'd like to end with a american folk song entitled "I've been working on the railroad"

I've been workin' on the railroad,
All the live long day.
I've been workin' on the railroad,
Just to pass the time away.
Don't you hear the whistle blowing?
Rise up so early in the morn.
Don't you hear the captain shouting
"Dinah, blow your horn"?

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