Network Rail is reminding customers of a number of planned engineering upgrades which will result in changes to some services during between Christmas and New Year.
While the vast majority of the country’s rail network will be open for ‘business as usual’ over the Christmas and New Year period, across Network Rail’s Wessex route – which includes south west London, Surrey, Berkshire, Hampshire, Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire – there are a number of key upgrades taking place.
Signalling maintenance and renewals – Southampton area
From Sunday 24 December to Friday 29 December, engineers will be working around the clock to complete signal – the railway’s traffic light system – maintenance and renewal work in the Southampton area which means the line between Southampton Airport Parkway and Brockenhurst, and between St Denys and Fareham will be closed. As part of this work, over 12,000 metres of life-expired cable will be replaced with modern multicore cables which will extend the life of the signalling equipment for the next 50 years.
During this time replacement buses will operate between Eastleigh, Southampton Airport Parkway and Bournemouth, and between Southampton Central and Fareham, on Sunday 24 and from Wednesday 27 to Friday 29 December
Landslip stabilisation – Woking and Brookwood
Between Christmas and New Year on 27, 28 and 29 December, Network Rail’s engineers will be continuing work to stabilise the recent landslip between Woking and Brookwood by installing further piles (foundations) to strengthen the cutting.
During this time, South Western Railway (SWR) services between Woking and Basingstoke will be severely reduced and customers whose trains run through Woking and Basingstoke should only travel if absolutely necessary. Customers who must travel are advised to check their entire journey carefully using a journey planner which should be up to date by Saturday 23 December.
Signalling upgrades – Guildford to Petersfield
From Saturday 30 December to Monday 1 January, the line between Guildford and Petersfield will be closed while engineers continue upgrading the signalling system as part of the wider Portsmouth Direct Upgrade programme. The work will include installing signal structures and piles between Farncombe and Haslemere stations, installing Relocatable Equipment Buildings (REB) at Liphook and Liss, improving safety at level crossings along the route, as well as boosting drainage at Wormley cutting. The work will help improve reliability, make level crossings safer, reduce journey times, and open up the potential for more train services in the future.
During this time replacement buses will be in operation between Guildford and Petersfield via Haslemere.
Matt Pocock, Network Rail’s Wessex route director, said: “Our passengers want and deserve a safe and reliable railway, which is why thousands of our engineers will be working during the Christmas and New Year break to complete these important upgrades for the benefit of our customers.
“Significantly fewer people travel over Christmas, which is why we do this scale of work at this time of year. However, more than 96% of the rail network will be open over the festive period but for those customers who plan to travel by train, please check with your train operator or through the National Rail enquiries website before you travel.”
A South Western Railway spokesperson, said: “With essential maintenance and improvement work taking place on parts of our network, it is important that customers check before they travel over the Christmas period. While repairs continue at the landslip near Woking, our advice to customers whose trains travel between Woking and Basingstoke, between Wednesday 27 and Friday 29 December, is to only travel if absolutely necessary. We’d like to thank our customers for their continued patience and we look forward to seeing them travel with us in the new year.”
Image credit: Network Rail