Article & Photos supplied by Graham Peacock.

Check rails form an important part of the permanent way, ensuring the safe passage of the train’s wheels through the points by guiding them over the crossing area without taking the wrong route (or striking the crossing nose) and derailing. To perform properly, the track needs to be to the correct gauge, and the check rails need to be the correct distance from the running rail on the opposite side of the track. The check rails also need to have the correct flangeway gap between the check rail and the adjoining running rail, and to avoid the end being struck by a wheel, they need to have a splayed end, with a minimum entry gap. The check rails are normally fixed in special chairs that hold both the check rail and the adjoining rail together with the correct flangeway gap, and the splayed ends are secured in right and left handed chairs at either end.

The track gauge and fittings needs to be properly maintained to keep all the required tolerances, and even then the check rail can wear out to the point where tolerances are exceeded. At Pitsford Sidings, we had some maintenance issues to deal with. There are three points there, with one on the running line, and this meant a total of 6 check rails. It turns out that the check rails there which were second hand from Northampton power station sidings were industrial style rather than main line style check rails and had quite a sharp splayed end. This prevented them from being secured in standard left and right hand check rail chairs. Not too big a problem in itself, but our routine track inspections had identified that the check rails themselves were also becoming worn. Because the side of the head of the check rail had been worn down over the years, it was unable to maintain the correct flangeway gap and therefore the correct distance from the opposite side running rail. We therefore decided it was time to renew the check rails, in the process fitting some of the correct style, with the correct left and right hand check rail chairs. The task therefore, to make 6 new check rails.