Phase IV Track Laying

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This page endeavours to list and illustrate with photos where appropriate, the sequence of laying track on Phase IV of the Welsh Highland Project. It ought to contain a set of photographs taken at the same location showing the same track laying gang undetaking the operations sequentially but doesn't yet. Has any contributor got a set they could post here, or know someone who would be willing to let them be used?

The sequence goes something like this:


1 Place sleepers where track is to be laid

2. Lay out sleepers (600mm centres except ?mm at end near joint) A marked up length of rope can be used to do this task.

3. Place plastic pads/shims in sleepers.

4. Place two Pandrol clips either side of each sleeper.


The photo also gives a clearer idea of the shape of the pads, and how they locate on the sleepers.

5. Place rollers at strategic intervals on sleepers on existing track and newly laid sleepers.

6. Fetch two rails suspended from RRMs to end of existing track (usually propelled by Dolgarrog from where the rails have been left by rail delivery train).

7. Bring up Dolgarrog with two rails so end rails are at end of existing track.

8. Lower one end of rails onto rollers on existing track.

9. On command, get eight track layers (four each side) with callipers to lift end of rail whilst Dolgarrog gently propels rails onto rollers on newly laid sleepers until first RRM is at end of existing track.

10. Lower rail on RRM nearest Dolgarrog onto rollers near end of existing track.

11. On command, get the eight track layers (still four each side) with callipers to heave last metre or so of rail clear of existing rail so that new rail rests on rollers on new sleepers.

12. The eight track layers (still four each side) with callipers heave in turn each end of the new rail off the rollers into position on the red pads so end of new rails are adjacent end of the last laid rail.

13. The ends of the existing and new rail where the fishplate is to be placed and the fishplate edges where fishplate abuts rail are greased. Hence Black Hand Gang.

14. Next jacks are placed on the existing track, about 5 sleepers in from the end, to adjust the heights of the new and existing rail so they are level with each other.

15. With one track layer with a crow bar at the end of the new rail, the gap between existing & new rail is set using a �thickness gauge� and the track layer with a crowbar. The gap is dependent of the temperature of the rail which has a thermometer placed upon it. On a hot sunny summer day 2mm. On overcast, damp summer�s day this was 3mm. Great skill is required by the track layer wielding the crow bar at the end of the rail to make the gap the correct thickness.


16. Bolt each fish plate (two per rail per join) with a bolt and two washers.

17. The joining of new to old rail is on the critical path and is crucial to the whole procedure.

18. Once the joint is complete, the Pandrol clips can be inserted; outside first. This is a two person operation; the inside is held tight up against the outer by using the tool with the blue end called pan setter while the clip is inserted on the other side of the rail with the tool called a panpuller (for more details of this interesting pieceof equipment, see this sheet from the manufacturer )

19. Whilst the Pandrol clips are being inserted, rollers should be laid on the exisiting completed track, prior to Dolgarrog bringing up the next two rails to be laid.

20. Once all outside Pandrol clips are inserted, the inners can be inserted. To really speed things up, these can be placed in position by another person prior to inserting the Pandrol using the special tool.

21. By the time all the Pandrol clips are inserted, Dolgarrog should have brought up the next two rails ready for laying.

22. Place sleepers where where track is to be laid.

23. Cycle now repeats


The picture above shows a complete rail fastening, with one of the pads.

See also[edit]