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Network Rail: Wessex route update

21st April 2020

Our teams have adapted well to their new working environments. Many of our office-based staff are currently working from home as their role allows it. However, as well as frontline roles, many business-critical activities cannot be done remotely; for example, our signalling staff and teams in our rail operating centres who keep trains moving and our track workers who can only maintain the railway on site. Because of the nature of some of our work, it will not always be possible for colleagues to maintain a two-metre distance from each other as recommended for social distancing. Please rest assured we are doing our very best to minimise these circumstances, adapt our work practices and where there are no other options we are working to provide the best possible protection we can.

Guildford Line Closure

We are delighted to confirm the railway was handed back on time this morning after the biggest rail investment in almost four decades in the Guildford area. In partnership with SWR and GWR, our teams have been working closely to keep stakeholders updated on the project. Guildford junction was last upgraded almost 40 years ago. Since then, passenger demand has risen exponentially.

Work took place around the clock from Friday, 10 April until Monday, 20 April 2020 with teams delivering the following upgrades:

  • Upgraded 41 track circuits around Guildford station
  • Regraded the embankment and strengthened the rockface around St. Catherine’s Tunnel, the scene of two landslips in 2019
  • Renewed 1,500 metres of track on the lines between Guildford and Wanborough, plus Guildford and Worplesdon
  • Installed 1,200 metres of conductor rail between Guildford and Clandon
  • Renewed rails and the supporting wheeltimbers on the bridge crossing the River Wey between Farncombe and Godalming
  • Carried out tamping in the Witley area
  • Painted the footbridge at Guildford station and installed anti-slip tiles

The embankment and rockface regrading work at St. Catherine’s tunnel, between Guildford and Shalford, also allowed engineers to remove a speed restriction, imposed following two landslips during extreme weather in late 2019 which will result in more reliable journeys for passengers.

The project was carefully planned over the course of two years to ensure that disruption was kept to a minimum and opportunities to improve the railway were taken wherever possible. A total of 20,000 hours were worked by teams during the project, demonstrating the sheer scale of the operation (18 engineering trains, two Kirow cranes, two tampers and two road-rail vehicles were used in the switches and crosses renewal alone).

The completed work will provide a more reliable railway for trains between London and Guildford, Woking and Portsmouth, Reading and Redhill, and Guildford and Alton. There will be some follow-up weekends of work as follows:

  • 25 & 26 April 2020
  • 16 & 17 May 2020
  • 05 July 2020
  • 02 August 2020

Coronavirus and Network Rail

The railway is working hard to keep vital goods moving and train services running for essential workers.

Like in all sectors, the coronavirus outbreak has put great pressure on the railway but colleagues across the country have worked tirelessly to keep vital services moving.

It means key workers can continue their essential journeys and urgently needed goods can get from ports to the supermarket shelves and to the National Health Service. Read more here


Wool Level Crossing

As some of you will know, trains have been running at a speed of 50mph at Wool Level Crossing since August 2013. In recent weeks, our teams were on site and commissioned an Overlay Miniature Stop Light (OMSL) system at Wool Level Crossing. This means that we have been able to remove the 50mph speed restriction on the down line and trains can once again run at 85mph.  This will improve service for passengers as trains can once again run at full speed along this part of the line.


Southern region stakeholder team

We are delighted to welcome Jonathan Nesbitt to the stakeholder team.  Jonny has joined the team from KPMG and brings with him a wealth of experience around stakeholder engagement, public affairs and customer service.  The full stakeholder and public affairs team are:

The team are available to meet with you and address any concerns or queries you have.