Christmas upgrades: spotlight on Wessex

One of our busiest routes is set to benefit from a huge investment in the railway this Christmas.

The improvements on the Wessex route, which will take place near multiple stations, form part of a programme of more than £148m of upgrades across Britain. A 25,000-strong workforce will carry out the works amid our £50bn five-year Railway Upgrade Plan.

The railway will remain open for ‘business as usual’ as most of the network will be unaffected by upgrade work.

However, we remind all passengers to check before they travel because there will be significant changes to services on some routes.

London Waterloo station

What’s the Wessex route?

It covers the major commuter area of south-west London as well as from London Waterloo to the south and south-west of England. Its main railway line is the South West Mainline from London Waterloo to Weymouth.

It’s one of the busiest on the rail network, taking in all or part of the counties of Surrey, Berkshire, Hampshire, Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire.

Peak-time capacity is Wessex’s main challenge, specifically with on-train crowding for passengers to and from London. Passenger numbers on the route have more than doubled in the last 20 years, with over half a million people using it every day.

There are more than 230 million passenger journeys on Wessex route each year, including almost 100 million to or from London Waterloo.

The Wessex route also supports high levels of passenger traffic to and from many other important regional centres, such as Bournemouth, Southampton, Portsmouth, Guildford and Basingstoke.

Track renewal at Guildford station in 2017

How are we improving the route this Christmas?

We’re working to provide a better and more reliable network for passengers.

At London Waterloo station we’re replacing old switches and crossings, the movable sections of track that guide trains from one track to another, from 23 December to 28 December.

At Vauxhall station we’re strengthening and improving the Upper Kennington Lane bridge between 23 December and 27 December.

At Guildford station between 25 December and 30 December we’re repairing brick and preparing for the refurbishment of the railway bridge on Farnham Road.

Jason Bridges, chief operating officer for Network Rail’s Wessex route, said: “Our engineers will be working around the clock throughout the festive period, delivering vital work to provide a better, more reliable railway for our passengers.

“The network is around 50% less busy over the festive period, so while there’s never a good time to cause disruption, this means fewer people will have their journeys affected.

“We’re working closely with South Western Railway to make sure passengers can get to where they need to be over the festive period, but it’s important to check if your journey is affected before you travel.”

Station information for passengers

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