Network Rail completes railway reliability improvements between Yeovil Pen Mill and Weymouth: Reliability upgrades on the Heart of Wessex line Oct 2023

Monday 23 Oct 2023

Network Rail completes railway reliability improvements between Yeovil Pen Mill and Weymouth

Region & Route:
| Southern: Wessex

Network Rail is thanking customers and local residents for their patience and understanding following a five-day closure of the Heart of Wessex line between Yeovil Pen Mill and Weymouth while engineers completed key upgrades to bring smoother and more reliable journeys for customers.

The railway reopened as planned on Saturday morning following the line being closed from Monday 16 to Friday 20 October, during which buses replaced Great Western Railway (GWR) trains.

During the five days the railway was closed, Network Rail’s team of engineers worked around the clock to replace 758 metres of outdated 1950s track between Maiden Newton and Chetnole in Cattistock. The old-style track needed to be renewed and brought up to modern standards to help reduce the number of speed restrictions that are put in place during warmer weather, helping ensure customers enjoy smoother and more reliable journeys in the future.

Network Rail took advantage of the extended line closure to maximise the amount of work that could be achieved, completing a number of other improvements to the railway including erecting scaffolding at Evershot tunnel to repair and repoint the brickwork.

This latest work follows two back-to-back five-day closures earlier this year in February and March between Castle Cary/Yeovil Pen Mill and Weymouth during which a range of work was completed, including:

  • Renewing over 1,800 metres of track through Thornford station and replacing old wooden sleepers with new, more durable concrete sleepers.
  • Refurbishing Maiden Newton station including repairing the canopies and giving the station building a fresh lick of paint.
  • Installing new tactile paving at Yeovil Pen Mill station.
  • Clearing overgrown vegetation and completing maintenance on key pieces of railway infrastructure along the line.

Oliver Frost, Network Rail project director, said: “I’d like to thank customers and local residents for their patience and understanding last week while we closed the railway between Yeovil Pen Mill and Weymouth to allow our engineers to complete a range of key upgrades to the Heart of Wessex line.

“We know how important this stretch of railway is and last week’s upgrades are the latest efforts in a three-year period in which we’ve invested a significant amount to bring smoother and more reliable journeys for our customers travelling between Somerset and Dorset

“We recognise many customers will have been disrupted during last week’s extended closure for which we’re sorry. However, these slightly longer closures enable us to really maximise the opportunity to complete a wide range of upgrades in a more cost-effective way while reducing the need for the need for regular, smaller closures of the railway which would be more disruptive to customers.”

Contact information

Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41

Latest travel advice
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Rob Breckon
Senior Communications Manager - Southern
Network Rail
07395 390759

About Network Rail

We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

Usually, there are almost five million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.

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