Guildford is set for a large programme of railway improvements this Easter, putting the finishing touches to the biggest improvements to the area in 40 years.
Between Friday 2 and Monday 5 April, work will take place in Guildford, Godalming, Gomshall and Shalford to improve the railway’s reliability and improve train services. As a result all lines through Guildford will close, affecting South Western Railway (SWR), Great Western Railway (GWR), CrossCountry and Southern services.
At Guildford station, engineers will complete a long-term programme of work that began in May 2020. This Easter, engineers will now replace four sets of switches and crossings, which allow trains to move between tracks, renew a further 365 metres of track and 500 metres of conductor rail, as well as upgrade 12 signals.
Meanwhile, at Shere Heath near Gomshall, a new footbridge will be installed for pedestrians to cross the North Downs Line that runs between Reading and Redhill.
Set to open in mid-April it will eventually replace one of the higher risk level crossings on Network Rail’s Wessex route. As well as improving pedestrian safety, it will mark a key milestone in a wider, long-term project to allow more frequent GWR services on the line.
In line with Government guidance, passengers are urged to minimise travel over the Easter bank holiday. Those who do need to travel by rail over this period are urged to plan ahead and check whether their route is affected by the upgrade works taking place.
Mark Killick, Network Rail’s Wessex route director, said:
“We have a large programme of work planned for the Guildford area this Easter, affecting many different lines, so we are encouraging passengers to check before they travel.
“Our improvements will provide more reliable track and signalling at one of the busiest parts of our route, while the enhancements at Shere Heath near Gomshall will help realise our ambition of providing more services on the Reading to Gatwick route.
“I’d like to thank both our passengers and also those living close to the railway for their patience during this work.”
Alan Penlington, South Western Railway’s customer experience director, said:
“We know that closing the railway will be inconvenient for those making essential journeys, however, the works being carried out by Network Rail this Easter are vital to ensure the future reliability of the network.
“We’re doing all we can to help keep our customers moving and customers can still complete their journeys via replacement bus services and alternative rail routes. We urge anyone who needs to travel over the Easter period to check in advance, as journeys may take longer than usual.”
Steven Hawker, Great Western Railway’s regional station manager, said:
“Last year we provided a third hourly service at off-peak times on weekdays on the route between Reading and Gatwick Airport, as well as throughout the day on Saturdays. This work will help us to achieve long-held plans to provide three trains an hour every day, throughout the week.”
“For those who do need to travel, buses will replace trains between North Camp and Gatwick Airport while Network Rail carry out these improvements, and we would encourage passengers to check their journey beforehand.”
Completing a packed Easter of work, engineers will also renew more than 100 sleepers and replenish 125 tonnes of ballast on track in the Shalford area, then replace rail supports on bridges crossing the River Wey in both Shalford and Godalming.
Buses will replace SWR and GWR services through Guildford, while CrossCountry and Southern services will be altered. Passengers should plan ahead by visiting National Rail.
Photo credit: Network Rail