• Nine days of major engineering work, which started on 13 June, completed on time
  • Passengers will benefit from a more reliable railway with 400 metres of new track laid at Gillingham
  • New roof and improvements at Sherborne station, ahead of new cycle racks due to be installed shortly
  • Templecombe station given a facelift with new paintwork
  • Speed restriction removed in the Templecombe area where there was a landslip in 2019

Network Rail engineers have successfully completed major repairs and upgrades to the railway around Templecombe, Gillingham and Sherborne.

Between Saturday 13 June and Sunday 21 June, teams worked around the clock to secure and stabilise the railway cutting, improve track and upgrade stations.

Working at locations across Somerset and Dorset, teams from Network Rail and its contractor Osborne:

  • Inserted a series of four-metre steel nails into the slope at Templecombe to stabilise the cutting to prevent further landslips
  • Built a 40 metre gabion wall – wire baskets filled with stone – at the bottom of the cutting for extra protection
  • Replaced the slate roof at Sherborne station, and well as repainting the platforms and canopies. New cycle racks on platform 2 are set to be installed in the coming weeks.
  • Installed 400 metres of new track in the Gillingham area for more reliable journeys
  • Upgraded the footpath level crossing at Bedmill which is between Yeovil Junction and Sherborne

A speed restriction imposed late last year following the landslip, will be removed shortly and will allow trains to travel at 85mph through Templecombe, further reducing the risk of delays in the area. Work is scheduled to continue at the top of the cutting slope until September, but it won't affect train services.

Mark Killick, route director for Network Rail Wessex, said: “We’ve now completed our work on the West of England line, which will help to improve reliability for passengers and to protect the line from further landslips.

“We’ve taken advantage of the lower number of passengers travelling to carry out more work than planned and I would like to thank those who needed to travel for their patience while the work took place.

“The entire team and contractors have worked tirelessly to deliver a more reliable railway now and for years to come.”

Mike Houghton, Chief Operating Officer at South Western Railway, said: “Nine days of engineering works has seen the removal of a speed restriction which has been affecting customers’ journeys since the landslip in December. It’s great that trains can now run at the correct speed which will help improve performance and reliability for our customers.

Whilst the railway was closed, it was also possible to carry out additional works on our stations which will further improve the customer experience on this section of the line.”

Jas Rupra, Package Manager (Geotech Portfolio) for Osborne said: “It has been a tremendous collaboration between all the parties involved to plan and improve this route for passengers in the long term. It has been particularly rewarding to see how our project has helped the local economy in these extremely difficult times.

“Our key workers have been safely accommodated at the Yeovil Court and Lanes Hotels, providing a lifeline to those businesses and the many SME’s and individuals providing food and services to them”      

In addition to the work already completed on the line, new cycle racks are going to be installed on Platform 2 at Sherborne, thanks to an application from Dorset County Council to SWR’s Customer and Communities Improvement Fund.

Cllr Ray Bryan, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment at Dorset County Council, said: “Dorset Council welcome the improvements that South Western Railway and Network Rail have made to Sherborne Station which includes repainting the canopy, repairs to the station building roof and vegetation clearance along with much needed engineering works on the West of England Line.

“These will significantly improve the customer experience for rail passengers and we look forward to working with both organisations on providing additional cycle parking which has been an aspiration of local cycling groups and the Blackmore Vale Line Community Rail Partnership for a while”.