Cooma Monaro Railway

Track Maintenance


Track Work

CMR's track maintenance crew has been doing a tremendous job in upgrading the line to meet the latest branch line track standards. During a working bee on Saturday 12th April 2014, a team of nine managed to fit 54 new sleepers on the main line in Cooma yard.

The CMR has an excellent crew of volunteers that maintain our track. Regular working bees are scheduled to make any required replacements or undertake preventative maintenace as set down by our track managers. One such occasion took place early in August 2012.

What a great Saturday with 60 sleepers being replaced into Cooma yard, by volunteers from Canberra, Sydney and Cooma. With all operations of the CPHs being cancelled on the day, this left the yard free for the working bee in our sleeper replacement program to commence.

Before work started, Alan Ward, (CMR's Track Forman and Track-Machine Supervisor), held an on-site safety briefing with all volunteers explaining what equipment was being used, what safety issues to be aware of, and places not to be when larger plant was in use (like the Sleeper inserter and ballast regulator). Our Operations Manager John Wynes kept an eye on all movements through the day to make sure everything went smoothly. Thank you to Peter Lawrence, (CMR's Track Manager), for bringing his compressor and to Tracey Lawrence for cooking the BBQ. Saturday night was also enjoyable, with young Luke bringing his guitar along and entertaining some of the volunteers at the barracks. What a great weekend by all, which the included pictures will illustrate. CMR thanks all volunteers for their great effort in the work that they did and for the safe way with which they did it all.

Another Example

We are pleased to report that our track work weekend (March 2010) was so successful that the second day was not required. Thank you to Alan Ward and Graeme Linkenbagh for organising it.

The Sleeper Inserter used in the last couple of track work days has remained in Cooma, on loan from Australian Rail Historical Society in the ACT.

It has now been joined by a Ballast Regulator and Hopper, also on loan from Canberra.  


Both of these units needed some restoration and Alan (their accredited operator) undertook the work that month. With both of these units functioning, CMR is able to schedule track work immediately the need arises, enhancing our already good record of track maintenance.


And Another....

Thanks to the assistance of members of Canberra and Thirlmere in June '09, most of our larger line kinks have gone. The boys did a top job of straightening them out. The only real hitch throughout the weekend was the unnamed president who forgot the tongs and matches for the BBQ lunch on Bunyan platform (note use of ordinary knife to turn sausages in photo below).


I've been Workin' on the Railroad...

Track work: it's a fact of life for a heritage railway (or any other railway for that matter). A few like doing it, but many think it's a necessary chore. Certainly it is made a lot easier with some mechanised help.

Some ten years after train operations commenced, the CMR committee decided that a comprehensive examination of the track should be carried out during winter 2008. While ongoing track maintenance has been carried out by Peter McFarlane and his track crew it had become apparent that at some locations the hard labor required was beyond the capacity of our volunteer members.

The ARHS ACT agreed to allow us the loan of three track vehicles for a period of three months at no charge for which we are grateful. Alan Ward, who is a member of the ARHS ACT Division, generously offered his assistance as he has qualifications in track maintenance and as an operator of track vehicles.

Lindsay McLachlan organized for the Track Vehicles to be transported to Cooma. Phil Rye of Berridale donated the use of a low loader and Damon McLachlan donated his time as the driver. Fellas, an enormous thank you from all of us at CMR.

In the first photo below, the largest of the three machines is being unloaded from its low loader transport. It is a Ballast Regulator, which has blades that pull up the ballast, pack the sleepers and plough the excess ballast off the track.

The next machine is a 'track jack'.  It grabs the line with its jaws, then lifts it a little so that the whole lot is
able to be moved to the left or right to remove kinks.

The third machine pulls out the old sleepers and inserts new ones.


Here is the CMR 'work train', with the CPH pushing an L truck carrying the sleepers and other supplies.

Having all this machinery doesn't mean that manual workers are not required. There are still such tasks as removing and tightening of bolts to contend with!

And when the kinks are straightened and the sleepers replaced, then it's over to the sound and the fury of the Ballast Regulator to ensure that everything stays right where it is supposed to. 

Our sincere thanks go to Alan, who does a great job with the machines.  



So when visitors to the CMR often ask us 'Who looks after the track'?, well, the answer is 'We do'!  And here are some more photos to prove it.

We had a great time in mid December 2006 when the whole decking of the big culvert near Chakola was replaced using a digger and a local operator (which made the work very easy).

Whilst this job was a little bigger than normal, it is typical of the tasks performed on a regular basis by our track maintenance team.


Our thanks to the boys for a job well done. Without them the railway would soon cease to operate.


A Year Round Task

The reduction in services during winter gives volunteer crews a little time off, but also allows more time for track maintenance work, which at times is difficult to fit in when the regular timetable is maintained. 

On this occasion, a wooden culvert under the line opposite the Cooma race course at Snowy Junction came in for some attention. A heavy corrugated  plastic pipe replaced the old wooden box culvert. The backhoe made it all so easy. A culvert at Cooma East, just north of the Bailey Bridge, had timber boards replaced and more ballast added. 






But Wait There's More...

On one particular Saturday, a team was engaged in replacing sleepers at Cooma East. The newly acquired L truck was put to good use to cart the sleepers and tools.


We have suffered a culvert fire again. This one was in the culvert at the northern end of the Cooma Station Yard, which is where CMR services leave the precinct for the trip to Chakola or Bunyan.

Nearly the entire structure has been affected with either fire or water damage. Verticals, soil structure support and joists, beams and many sleepers as well as decking, ballast and waste resulting from putting out the fire are all now a big mess.


Many people, when they heard the news of the recent culvert fire (reported on this page) thought CMR would be out of action for at least a couple of months. Then, barely over a week later, an email appeared from VP John Gibson that said 'Good news. The culvert repairs are going along very well thanks to our No.1 repair crew. As you can see by the picture, the steel beams are in place and the new sleepers fitted.'

It turned out that within a couple of days of the fire a number of the committee met and pooled their abilities in a brainstorming session to get the line operational again quickly (in time for the local horse race meeting anyway). A couple of intensive working bee days followed and the fix was in place. The following picture shows No.6 test loading the culvert. Thus the line was ready for race day and other trips. It was a brilliant job by the boys and they deserve our hearty congratulations.

Our thanks to CMR member John Gibson who supplied all of the photos on this page.



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