Passengers urged to plan ahead this Easter as Network Rail carries out essential railway improvements between West London, Berkshire and Hampshire: Engineering work Late May

Thursday 23 Mar 2023

Passengers urged to plan ahead this Easter as Network Rail carries out essential railway improvements between West London, Berkshire and Hampshire

Region & Route:
| Southern: Wessex

From Friday 7 to Monday 10 April passengers are being asked to check before they travel as buses replace trains across part of Network Rail’s Wessex route which serves the towns and communities in part or all of the counties of Surrey, Berkshire, Hampshire, Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire.

This Easter, Network Rail’s engineers will be installing new, additional signals – the railway’s traffic light system – on the Windsor lines between Hounslow to Windsor & Eton Riverside and Virginia Water, to bring the signalling system up to modern standards.

This work is part of the £116m Feltham and Wokingham re-signalling programme which, by August, will have seen 116 new signals installed, 11km of new cabling laid, and seven level crossings renewed. The existing equipment on this stretch of railway dates back to 1974 making it harder to maintain and is more unreliable. Once complete, this programme of work, which will run through to mid-2024, will help improve train performance and bring more reliable journeys to passengers travelling on this key commuter line.

In Basingstoke, engineers will also be carrying out track improvement work at Great Western Junction including renewing switches and crossings (the moveable sections of track that guide trains from one track to another), laying new track, earthworks, and tamping, which is the process of compacting the ballast (the stones that support the track). This is achieved by a machine travelling along the railway and inserting vibrating metal rods into the ballast to compact it so that it effectively supports the track while lifting the track so that it is level.

During this time, buses will replace South Western Railway (SWR) train services on the following routes:

  • Hounslow to Windsor & Eton Riverside and Virginia Water
  • Guildford to Andover
  • Winchester to Basingstoke
  • Basingstoke to Woking
  • Reading to Basingstoke (Great Western Railway service).

Over the Easter weekend work will also be taking place at Clapham Junction station where the staircase on platforms 13 and 14 is being removed and replaced using a hydraulic 700-tonne crane. The new staircase will be wider, improving capacity and reducing overall congestion in the station, providing a more comfortable experience for passengers travelling through the station.

While this work is being completed, platforms 12 to 17 will be closed to allow for the work to be safely carried out and extra station staff will be on hand to support passengers who require step-free access during the platform closures.

Mark Killick, Network Rail’s Wessex route director, said: “I’d like to thank customers for their patience while we carry out these important improvement works over the Easter period. I recognise there is never a good time to close the railway, so we are completing these works while customer numbers are lower at Easter which minimises the number of customers who will be affected.

“The majority of the network will be open as usual for people to take a short break or visit loved ones, but some services may be affected so I’d ask our customers to please plan ahead and check journeys in advance.”

Peter Williams, Customer & Commercial Director at South Western Railway, said: “Closing the railway when many people are planning leisure trips is of course frustrating, but the Easter bank holidays are typically a quieter time on our network and we need to make sure engineering works impact as few customers as possible.

“Where works are taking place, rail replacement buses will be running to keep people moving and the vast majority of our network will be unaffected. I’d like to thank customers for their patience and understanding whilst these essential works are carried out.”

Contact information

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

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

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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