When the original Keith and Dufftown Railway laid its line in the 1860s all the sleepers on the permanent way would have been timber.
While the Great North of Scotland Railway operated the line they would have replaced original timber sleepers with timber.
The London North Eastern Railway took over the line in 1922 and continued replacing timber with timber but did install some experimental concrete sleepers on several sections of the line. These experimental concrete sleepers have served the line well as they are still in use today!
British Railways took over the line in 1948 and in the main continued to use and replace timber sleepers but BR also installed concrete sleepers on some sections of the line.
Timber sleepers have a limited life span varying from 10 to perhaps 40 years, some will last longer and some much shorter periods but all timber sleepers will have to be replaced eventually. Concrete sleepers on the other hand last almost indefinitely, indeed some of the LNER concrete sleepers on our line have already lasted more than 70 years and are still as good as new. There are many thousands of sleepers on our line, the majority timber and it is a constant battle replacing timber sleepers as they wear out.
The KDR has now started replacing some timber sleepers with concrete and the following photos, by Phin Sloan, show a stack of concrete sleepers waiting to be used.
The KDR first used concrete sleepers on the track beside the walled garden at Drummuir and is currently replacing life expired timber sleepers with concrete sleepers northwards towards Keith Town from Drummuir station.
The continued maintenance of the Permanent Way is a vital aspect of our operation for if we do not maintain the track we will have no railway. Volunteers are always needed for Permanent Way maintenance and you do not need any experience as full training will be given.