Harsco RGH20C S&C rail grinder

During the summer of 2003 a new type of rail grinder was tested by Serco Railtest on behalf of Network Rail. This was the RGH20C switch and crossing grinder built by Harsco in the USA. The first machine was delivered to the Mid Hants Railway where driver/operator training was undertaken. Whilst the grinder was operating on the Mid-Hants the railway had most of its main line re-profiled  Judging by the state of some track on preserved railways I think they got themselves a good deal.

I remember visiting the railway one Sunday evening in the summer after the public service had ceased. The visit was for our traction inspector to approve the drivers and train crew for operation under Serco's  safety case on the main line. What a job but some body had to do it!

There were several loco-hauled transit moves undertaken by Serco between Hampshire and Derby prior to the machines being allowed to run self-propelled.

Altogether five RGH20C grinders were introduced into the UK.

Serco Railtest carried out all the statutory acceptance tests on the first machine Nos: DR79261 and DR79271 including runs to Carlisle via the S&C. We then assisted Harsco and Network Rail in operating the machines during the commissioning and equipment acceptance phase up until the end of March 2004.

Here are a few pictures of the machines in action and a couple of more recent pics.

Click on the image for the bigger picture - All photos are the author's unless otherwise credited

A Harsco RGH20C grinder on test in the USA

Harsco

Grinding at the GCR On test at the Great Central Railway (North) in the summer of 2003 - note the grinding buggies are down surrounded by protective curtains to prevent sparks from flying everywhere.

Andy Wheatley

Crewe with TC6 DR79261 and DR79271 at Crewe behind Test Car 6 when undergoing initial loco-hauled ride tests on 21st July 2003. The usual route was from Derby to Carnforth and back

Carl Watson

On the way to RTC On 24th September 2003 Class 47 loco No:47829 in 'Police' livery with Harsco machine No:2 in tow is pictured near Barrow on Soar on the Midland main line on its way from the Mid-Hants Railway to the RTC

Andy Wheatley

Hither Green Machine No: 1 waits to depart Hither Green depot for another shift on 17th January 2004. On 3rd rail systems, following an incident when the protective curtains shorted out on the live rail, they were usually not fitted until the unit was on site.
Blackfriars Later it is pictured at London's Blackfriars station where it stands in the platform prior to commencing work
Darlington On 20th January 2004 machine No:3 is pictured at Darlington where it was stabled during work in the area.
Hurst Green By 28th January 2004 machine No:1 was further a field and is pictured in the snow at Hurst Green station just south of Oxted.
Brrr! In the snow just south of Hurst Green on the line to East Grinstead
Victoria On 16th February 2004 the work was just outside Victoria station where the machine is pictured at some unearthly hour.
and again Another view on 16th February 2004
Chester We catch up with machine No:2 during its daily servicing at Chester on 17th August 2006.
Chester No:2 waiting for the night shift. Note that the protective curtains are fitted.

Serco also operated the Loram C2102 grinder which also had undergone acceptance testing during 2003/4 although the author was not involved. Here are a couple of shots on the main line and at the GC. Photos courtesy Andy Wheatley

Bound for Loughboro The Loram C2102 grinder is behind Test Car 6 leaving Derby hauled by a class 66 sometime in late 2003
GCR The Loram C2102 pictured on the GC (North) - note TC6 at the rear

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