Network Rail teams worked throughout December in South West London, Hampshire, Surrey and Wiltshire to ensure a more reliable railway for passengers and freight users.
At one of the Wessex route’s busiest stations, Guildford, engineers worked a total of 150 hours between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve to repair, refurbish and strengthen Farnham Road Overbridge, which spans six tracks to the south of the station.
The £4.8 million project saw experts repair brick and steelwork, before installing steel plates to increase the bridge’s capacity from 7.5 tonnes to 40 tonnes, supporting rising levels of road traffic above.
Down at track level, engineers carried out inspections, maintenance and drainage works close to the station. The same area will also see significant track upgrades in Easter during a 10-day line closure between Friday 10 and Monday 20 April.
Essential bridge works also took place just outside Salisbury station between Christmas Eve and Saturday 28 December. Engineers restored the full capability of Fisherton Street bridge, ensuring that it continues to meet the needs of freight customers who run several trains through the station every day.
In Southampton, between Southampton Airport Parkway and Southampton Central stations, maintenance took place on switches and crossings – the moveable sections of track that guide trains from one track to another – to again improve reliability in the area. It followed on from track renewals at the same location in November, when 17 track panels were installed over a single weekend.
Finally, over in Wimbledon, engineers were on site at 3am on Christmas Day to test and commission two new signalling transformers.
The new transformers are part of a wider project to upgrade the power supply for the Wimbledon Area Signalling Centre, which controls signalling for more than 20 miles of track from London Waterloo to Effingham Junction. The full upgrade programme will take place at a later date.
Mark Killick, Network Rail Wessex route director, said:
“I’d like to thank passengers and those living close to the railway for their patience over the Christmas period while we carried out these important projects. Infrastructure maintenance and improvement works like these are vital to both keep our passengers and freight users moving and to improve our route’s performance.”
2020's improvment works are already underway. This week engineers have begun three weeks of embankment regrading in the Wimbledon area to improve safety and efficiency, while track renewals will be carried out at Motspur Park this weekend. Passengers are advised to check before they travel.