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Friday, December 8, 2023

Week of engineering work means brand-new track and better journeys on the way to the Heart of Wessex Line between Yeovil Pen Mill and Weymouth

This September, Network Rail engineers will be working around the clock to replace around one mile of old 1950s-style track between Maiden Newton and Chetnole in Cattistock on the Heart of Wessex line. 

Part of the railway will be closed from Saturday 24 until Friday 30 September to carry out the essential work, which will provide smoother journeys for passengers. Trains will continue running as normal between Weymouth to Dorchester South and beyond.

The old-style jointed track needs special care in hot conditions and can result in speed restrictions when temperatures rise, so an upgrade to modern standards will mean greater reliability because in time these speed restrictions will reduce.

Work will also be carried out to maintain signalling at Yeovil Pen Mill signal box, resurface the platform at Yetminster station, as well as carry out repairs to steelwork at Damers Road bridge at Dorchester West station. 

Mark Killick, Network Rail’s Wessex route director, said: “I’m really pleased our upgrade of the Heart of Wessex line is continuing and although we are taking a full week to do the work, it will result in much less disruption for passengers overall. That’s not just because doing the work this way means we’re avoiding having to close the railway over many more weekends, but because the new track will be much more reliable too.  

“The old-style track isn’t good at coping with high temperatures as it expands so much in the heat and it means we have to put severe speed restrictions in place, delaying passengers. 

“The new track is part of an upgrade that will allow us to continue serving passengers on this line during hot weather conditions. Further work is due for completion in February and March next year, ready for the summer.” 

This is the latest in a series of improvements to the Heart of Wessex line (which connects Weymouth with Bristol Temple Meads on the Great Western Railway network), that previously saw over four miles of track replaced between November and December last year.  

Further work on the line is due to be carried out early next year to replace the old track in the Thornford area.  

Passengers are being reminded to check before they travel and should note that 24-hours after this closure ends, there is another closure between Yeovil Pen Mill to Castle Cary where engineers will be working continuously around the clock to replace a bridge on the River Tone from Friday 30 September until Wednesday 12 October.  

Travel information:   

  • Buses replace GWR services between Yeovil Pen Mill and Weymouth  

Photo credit: Network Rail

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