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Portsmouth Direct Line to Close for 9 Days to Allow Major Upgrade

Published on: 10 Feb, 2022
Updated on: 12 Feb, 2022

The Portsmouth line will shut for nine consecutive days between Guildford and Petersfield this weekend for a major upgrade that will tackle delays currently suffered by South Western Railway passengers.

Buses will replace trains between Guildford and Petersfield from Saturday 12 to Sunday 20 February as engineers work round the clock on critical track maintenance, and upgrades to signalling, level crossings and stations.

The work is part of a £94 million programme of improvements between Farncombe and Petersfield that will eventually replace the 1970s signalling with a state-of-the-art system controlled from Basingstoke Rail Operating Centre.

Mark Killick, Network Rail’s Wessex route director, said: “When the resignalling is finished in 2024, passengers travelling between London Waterloo and Portsmouth will enjoy a much more reliable railway, with fewer delays.

“There’s never a good time to close such a busy part of the network, but doing the work over nine consecutive days means we can minimise disruption for passengers, the people who live by the railway and the wider economy.

“We’re working closely with South Western Railway to make sure people can still travel, but I would encourage passengers to plan ahead and check before you travel.”

Network Rail’s Wessex Route successfully carried out two extended line closures last year, delivering major improvements much quicker than the traditional approach of a series of weekend closures over many years.

Christian Neill, SWR’s customer experience director, said: “The work taking place on the Portsmouth line marks the start of a huge investment in railway infrastructure which will improve customer journeys for years to come.

“I’d encourage anyone travelling with us to check to see if their journey will be affected. I’d also like to thank our customers for their patience whilst these essential works are carried out.”

During the closure, engineers will carry out much of the preparation work for the resignalling programme, including laying new cables at Farncombe East, Milford, Haslemere, Princes Bridge and Petersfield level crossings.

When the whole programme is complete in 2024, 12 level crossings on the route will be upgraded to make them safer for drivers and pedestrians.

Engineers will also carry out critical track maintenance work, including drainage improvements to reduce flood-related delays, as well as replacing the wheel timbers – the heavy wooden blocks which support the track – on a bridge over the River Wey.

Engineers will also be resurfacing Liss level crossing, resurfacing both platforms at Witley station, as well as installing tactile paving for blind and partially sighted people carrying out some repainting.

The resignalling scheme, combined with new and improved switches and crossings – which allow trains to move from one track to another – at Petersfield and Haslemere, will increase the speed at which trains can travel on the line.

SWT expects the work to allow more frequent, reliable and faster train services with more capacity when work is complete in 2024.

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