One month to go: Work set to continue next month  to improve the reliability of a key commuter line between London Waterloo and Portsmouth: Portsmouth Direct Upgrade picture of engineering train

Thursday 21 Sep 2023

One month to go: Work set to continue next month to improve the reliability of a key commuter line between London Waterloo and Portsmouth

Region & Route:
| Southern: Wessex

From Saturday 21 to Saturday 28 October, the railway between Guildford and Petersfield will be closed, extending to Havant on Sunday 29 October only, with buses replacing trains.

From Saturday 21 to Sunday 29 October, Network Rail engineers will begin  around-the-clock-working to update the 1970s signalling equipment between Farncombe and Petersfield, as part of the wider Portsmouth Direct Upgrade programme.

Once complete, in October 2024, the Portsmouth Direct Upgrade will see signalling (the railway’s traffic lights), track and level crossings on the line from Woking to Portsmouth Harbour upgraded. This will help improve reliability and safer level crossings, reduce journey times, and open up the potential for more train services in the future.

During next month’s line closure, Network Rail’s engineers will be completing a range of work including installing signal piles (foundations for the signals), new signal posts, new signal gantries either end of Haslemere station, laying power cables at Princess Bridge, constructing a signalling equipment building, as well as upgrades to level crossings between Farncombe East and Liss.

To utilise the time that the line is closed, engineers will also be taking the opportunity to complete other vital work to support the continued safe and smooth running of the railway. This includes stabilising the cuttings at Haslemere and Wormley to reduce the risk of vegetation debris falling onto the track, track maintenance work in Haslemere, refreshing the station canopies at Farncombe station, brickwork repairs in Guildford tunnel and vegetation management along the line.

Mark Killick, Network Rail’s Wessex route director, said: “Next month our engineers will continue key upgrades to track, signalling and level crossings between Farncombe and Petersfield,  as part of our wider Portsmouth Direct Upgrade.

“This work is crucial to improving the reliability of the railway for customers travelling between Portsmouth and London Waterloo and will help reduce journey times as well as provide the opportunity to increase the number of service in the future.

“There is never a good time to close the railway but our engineers will be making use of every minute to complete a wide range of work and we’re grateful to customers for their patience and understanding during this time.”

Peter Williams, South Western Railway's customer and commercial director, commented: “Customers should please check before travelling and allow extra time for journeys, as buses are replacing trains between Guildford and Petersfield for nine days from Saturday 21 to Sunday 29 October, extending to Rowlands Castle and Havant on Sunday 29 October.

“Making the decision to close parts of the network is really difficult because we know how inconvenient it can be for customers, but giving Network Rail this access will allow them to make significant progress upgrading the line and help avoid future day-to-day disruption.

“We thank customers for their patience as these essential upgrades are carried out, which when complete will boost reliability for many years to come."

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Tala Ghannam
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Network Rail
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