From Saturday 19 August to Friday 1 September, buses will replace South Western Railway (SWR) trains during a three-part closure of the railway between Barnes and Virginia Water, Windsor & Eton Riverside and Hounslow, to allow the newly installed signals to be switched on.
Starting Saturday 19 August, Network Rail’s team of engineers will work around the clock for 14 consecutive days to switch on the 116 new state of the art digital signals – the railway’s traffic light system – installed across parts of the railway in south west London and Berkshire and finish upgrading seven level crossings during this multistage closure.
The existing system is controlled by the Feltham Area Signalling Centre and the current signals and track circuits – which tell signallers where trains are on the network – date back to 1974 and need upgrading as they have become less reliable and harder to maintain.
Following the switching on of the newly installed signals, passengers will benefit from more reliable journeys and fewer delays on the Windsor Lines which are a key route for commuters in and out of London.
Control of this part of the railway will be moved to the Basingstoke Rail Operating Centre, a purpose-built rail hub that is shared with SWR.
A four-year upgrade to improve reliability
Over the past four years, as part of the wider Feltham and Wokingham re-signalling programme, Network Rail’s engineers have installed 116 digital signals, 11km of new cabling housed in 14km of refurbished cable ducts, 27 new under-track cable routes to support the new technology, and upgraded seven level crossings.
The Feltham and Wokingham re-signalling programme will be concluded in early 2024 with the completion of upgrades to key signalling equipment controlled by the Feltham Area Signalling Centre and Wokingham Signal Box, which jointly cover 80 miles of railway and 500 separate pieces of signalling equipment. A total of 13 level crossings will also have been renewed or upgraded, all with the aim of improving train performance and ensuring passengers enjoy more reliable journeys.
Changes to train services
The work this August is being undertaken in three parts with the following stretches of the railway closed:
- Saturday 19 to Sunday 20 August inclusive – Staines to Virginia Water
- Monday 21 to Saturday 26 August inclusive – Staines to Windsor & Eton Riverside
- Sunday 27 August to Friday 1 September inclusive – Barnes to Virginia Water/ Windsor & Eton Riverside and Hounslow
Passengers are advised to check before they travel using journey planners, which are now up to date.
Mark Killick, Network Rail’s Wessex route director, said: “At the end of this month we will reach a significant milestone of our wider Feltham and Wokingham resignalling programme with the switching on of the new signals on the Windsor Lines.
“Our engineers will be working tirelessly over this forthcoming 14-day period to commission the new signals, which we know will help improve reliability and reduce the likelihood of delays on this important stretch of railway.
“I’d like to say sorry in advance to any customers impacted by this work and thank them for their patience and understanding during this time.”
Peter Williams, Network Rail’s Customer and Commercial director, said: “We strongly advise our customers to check journey planners carefully before travelling, as there are three stages to this closure involving different sections of the line, and journeys using rail replacement bus and amended train services may take longer than usual.
“I’d like to thank customers for their continued patience as Network Rail carries out this important programme of upgrades on a very busy part of our network.”
Photo credit: Network Rail