It was with a bit of sadness today that we moved the last remaining traverser at Eastleigh Works for its final journey. At one stage there were at least three on site, one at the London end (perversely labelled no 2, although referred to as number 1) and two more at the Southampton end of the site.
These last two were chopped up during Alstom's scorched earth policy when they were retreating from site in 2006, but the last one soldiered on to live under KRS operations. Despite a hiccup when a demolition lorry managed to bring down the catenary stanchions, it remained in working order, albeit little used in recent years.
Well, for moving large volumes of single vehicles, a traverser is a jolly useful bit of kit to have around. The problem is that most of our trains are now either in fixed car formations or only need to cross over the traverser to the opposite line. In this case it becomes a hindrance to shunting, somehow always managing to be in the wrong position.
The writing was on the wall when we laid a turnout into Bay 4 to allow longer trains to access a road that previously could only be reached by the traverser. This meant that it now couldn't reach the other two roads so we plain tracked them as well.
The discovery of tin worm in the deck supports in 2008 didn't help. Although the main structure was still sound, the cost of re-decking a piece of kit that we didn't need meant that it just sat in position on the road into Bay 5 ( the former C1 road)
What has finally killed it is the winning of a contract to maintain tube trains on site. The traverser has a series of idler rollers between the rails that are high enough to foul the centre shoe of these trains, and as the new storage sidings for them are on the line served by the traverser, it had to go.
We've seen it off in dignified style though. This morning at 7.30 we connected it up and drove it to the end of the lines to a position where it will be cut up. It worked perfectly, despite not having moved since Eastleigh 100 in May 2009. A small audience of us watched it happen and solemnly agreed that they knew how to build things in England in the past.
It's not all doom and gloom though. Within 12 hours the space where the traverser was sitting has been fitted with new shiny concrete sleepers (with Gucci Pandrol Fastclip fixings for those who know or care about such things).
We have used the down-time created by the civil engineering necessary to install the new sidings, to sort this whole section of track out in one fell swoop.
When its all finished in a couple of weeks we will have two newly built turnouts and over 200 metres of covered road, in what was once a derelict space.
The approach tracks will be smooth and level and quite up to the job of repeated shunting of underground cars
So sadness of the loss of an old bit of Works history, but combined with new installation and growth in our business. If it had to go, that's a pretty good reason.