Our Ground Level Railway

The double track ground level railway is 5 inch gauge only. The track is of fully jig welded panel construction using 25mm by 10mm bar. Plastic sleepers are replacing timber hardwood sleepers 300mm long which are screwed to each steel sleeper to give a good bed to the track in the ballast. New sleepers are of recycled plastic for longer life. The minimum radius is 30 ft with a small amount of gauge widening on the sharp curves. The track is laid on weed matting or geotech fabric to give a separation from the earth formation and track to improve drainage and reduce weed growth and eliminate ballast contamination with dirt. The formation beneath the fabric is levelled and formed with road base where necessary to give a stable formation with the correct inclination and superelevation. Expansion joints in the track are provided where necessary. These have the rails slotted and do not have any gaps for the wheels to fall into. Points are of various radii with the smallest being 1 in 6 in the sidings.

The inner track crosses a small gully by means of a impressive Pratt truss bridge based on the Hawkesbury River bridge.

The maximum grade is 1 in 60 and this gives the locomotives something to get worked up about!

Trains are usually of 6 carriages hauled by one or two locomotives. A guard is in charge at the rear of each train. All trains are fitted with a simple vacuum braking system controlled from the locomotive.

The ground level railway is controlled from an elevated signal box of 48 levers which operate the motor worked points electrically. The box is based on a typical NSWGR structure. The levers are based on Westinghouse miniature power frame levers with all interlocking being performed by an electric interlocking machine based on telephone type relays. Signals are one quarter scale New South Wales Railway single light type (without the marker light) and are fully interlocked with the points. Electrical detection on the points ensure that the signal will not clear unless the points are correctly in position. Additionally track locking is provided on the main line points to prevent them operating while a train is moving across them. Main line signals return to stop automatically as the train passes unless the closing lever has been operated. Some full size glass enclosed banner signals (one operated electro-pneumatically) are also provided. Non interlocked points are operated from throwover levers adjacent.

The ground level locomotive depot is provided with compressed air (with AALS standard Ryco 900 series fittings), 12v dc and 240v ac (residual current device protected) for steaming up.

Main entry to the grounds is by bridge over all the running lines which can be negotiated by wheel chairs and strollers. Access to the Park Avenue end of the grounds is by a footbridge (with steps) over the ground level railway station area.

A busy scene at the ground level station.
In this scene we see one of the society's historic locos still in operation attacking the rising grades on the outer main with picnicing groups in the background.

Technical Details

The maximum width of ground level rolling stock is 600mm (24 inches). All vehicles to be a minimum of 9.5mm (3/8 inch) above rail level. SLSLS wheel standards (equivalent to AALS 5 inch gauge coarse profile) apply. In general these require the following critical dimensions: Back to Back 4 9/16 inch; Flange Depth 3/16 inch (maximum); Flange Width 5/32 inch; Wheel Width 5/8 inch.

More information

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