The biggest rail investment in nearly four decades for the Guildford area has passed the half-way point as Network Rail engineers worked throughout the Easter holiday period to deliver vital passenger improvements.
At the midpoint of the project, teams have already:
- Renewed 1,200 metres of conductor rail on the Guildford to Clandon lines designed to be operational for up to 100 years.
- Renewed 1,500 metres of track on the lines from Guildford to Wanborough (North Downs line) and Worplesdon (Portsmouth direct line)
- Upgraded 41 track circuits to improve the signalling system for Guildford station
Guildford junction was last upgraded almost 40 years ago. Since then, passenger demand has risen significantly. The upgrades to track and signalling will provide more reliable journeys for passengers who travel between London Waterloo and Guildford, Woking and Portsmouth, Reading and Redhill, and Guildford and Aldershot. These improvements should also help to enable the removal of two existing speed restrictions which is positive news for passengers.
As well as the track and signalling work, engineers have undertaken an impressive operation to regrade the embankment at St. Catherine’s tunnel. This will help to prevent landslips on this part of the railway – as happened at the end of last year – and avoid future delays to train services. The team removed nearly 800 tonnes of sand to strengthen the rock surface and provide reinforcement using rock dowels (long steel rods to provide structural support). Other benefits for passengers include anti-slip tiles fitted to Guildford overbridge and a paint refresh.
During the remainder of the works, the team will install new wheeltimbers (which form the surface for track to sit on when it crosses older bridges), reconnect signalling equipment, and ensure the track is level and aligned (using tamping machinery) to provide smoother journeys and more reliable track infrastructure.
The work delivered so far enabled a limited service to London Waterloo to resume on Tuesday 14 April with buses continuing to replace trains on most other routes through the Guildford area. Services on all lines recommence on Monday 20 April.
Mark Killick, Route Director for Network Rail Wessex, said: “We are at the midpoint of the project to deliver the biggest rail improvement programme in the last 40 years in the Guildford area and I’d like to thank those making essential journeys for their patience while we carry out these works.
“Teams have worked incredibly hard and have made good progress; we have passed several significant milestones in the project that will deliver a more reliable railway now and for generations to come.”
The work delivered so far has enabled a limited South Western Railway service to London Waterloo to restart while the remainder of the works are delivered. Services on all lines restart on Monday 20 April.