It's been a long time since the sound of wheels trundling along the track of the old branch line that runs from Poulton to Fleetwood, but soon, subject to Network Rail's approval there will once again be motorised activity on the line.
Sadly, not a train just a motorised maintenance trolley. The PWRS, a group of dedicated individuals that have for the last eleven years been restoring the disused track back into a usable line, have recently purchased a Geismar motorised trolley which when refurbished will become a great help in transporting working parties, their tools and equipment to where they are needed.
The Geismar trolley, purchased from Network Rail has a Honda model GX120 5.5 horsepower petrol engine, and has the capacity to transport four workers to whichever part of the line that they are working on.
The trolley will undergo a full refurbishment before we allow it on the track. Alan Hargreaves Engineering, the railway equipment servicing company based at Red Marsh, has kindly offered to service the engine and provide advice on the restoration which will be carried out by a team at our base at NPL Hill house Business Park.
The trolley was bought at auction with donations kindly given by volunteer members of the society. Two volunteer members, Sid Best and Ian Hunt, took on the task of collecting our new addition to the growing collection of rolling stock and made their way down to March in Cambridgeshire to collect the Geismar from the Network Rail Whitemoor recycling depot. It was a long trip with an early start and a late finish. They finally drove into our depot at NPL.
Trying to hire a flatbed truck to collect the new acquisition proved difficult with two local hire companies letting us down, but luckily one of our friends and supporters, Mr Anthony Elwood, owner and managing director of AE Engineering, came to our aid once more with the loan of one of their flatbed trailers. Sid Best used his own vehicle to pull the trailer to collect the trolley and we owe him and Ian our thanks for their efforts.
Research suggests that the Geismar trolley was used at Crewe before being taken to Whitemoor where it appears it was never used.
Once refurbished and subject to Network Rail's approval with motorised transport available, we will be able to transport our working parties to the more remote areas of the line that need attention. The trolley looks in good condition with no broken or damaged parts. However, we have attained a workshop manual for the trolley and one for the Honda engine.
We are now waiting for a wiring diagram for the electrics. The battery needs replacing and a new ignition switch as the key is missing. It is our intention to put together a plan for the restoration and the required funding.
Once the restoration is complete we will arrange training for the relevant volunteers to be trained in driving and operating the trolley. We are always aware that accidents can happen and we have always ensured that at least one operative carries a small first aid kit. Now as we bring motorised transport into play we are aware that an accident some distance from our base becomes a possibility, with a motorised vehicle at our disposal, should an accident occur we will be able to transport the injured person to the medical facilities available near to our base at NPL without delay.
The trolley can carry four persons, one will be the driver another will be one of our trained first aiders and two other persons.
This item of rolling stock takes our inventory to three, A Fowler diesel shunter, the class 108 DMU and now the Geismar motorised maintenance trolley. We have encountered many setbacks along the way, but the team see this as yet another step to achieving their goal of one day reopening the line.