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Heart of Wessex line upgrades

In November and December 2021 we carried out track renewals and maintenance on the line from Weymouth to Yeovil Pen Mill. 

On Thursday 18 November engineers began replacing more than four miles of track between Maiden Newton and Yetminster on the ‘Heart of Wessex’ line which connects Weymouth with Bristol Temple Meads. 

Brand new track was installed in three areas to replace rails and sleepers that in some locations dated back to 1958. At two other locations new rails were also installed to improve track quality. 

At Chetnole engineers used a New Track Construction train, which lays sleepers and installs rails as it travels, to complete a challenging track renewal through the Dorset countryside. 

The scale of the track renewal and re-railing meant that engineers needed a 16-day closure on the line. Making the most of the uninterrupted access to the railway, a wide range of preventative maintenance was also completed. 

At Upwey engineers used the country’s only Railvac, a specialist train that removes large quantities of ballast, to correct the level of the track through the station. This has allowed trains to continue at normal line speed through the area, keeping South Western Railway and Great Western Railway services on time. 

Also during the closure, we: 

  • Carried out steelwork repairs on Damer’s Lane road bridge at Dorchester West 
  • Installed new tactile paving at Weymouth and Upwey 
  • Re-painted Weymouth station and removed litter 
  • Replaced sleepers in Bincombe Tunnel, between Weymouth and Upwey 
  • Removed wet beds, areas of the track that have become saturated with water, at Upwey 
  • Renewed electrical equipment near Weymouth 
  • Renewed components on a set of points at Dorchester Junction 

In total, engineers completed more than 30 jobs during the 16-day closure to improve reliability and provide passengers with better journeys. 

It followed the installation of a new bridge at Yetminster in February 2020 and track and cutting maintenance at Yeovil Pen Mill in March 2021. 

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