Major improvements to the railway line between Weymouth, Dorchester, and Yeovil will cause disruption to train services in the area for 16 days beginning today, Thursday, 18 November.
For the duration of the works, buses will replace Great Western Railway (GWR) services throughout the Heart of Wessex line between Weymouth and Bristol Temple Meads, with some journeys taking significantly longer than usual.
On Monday, 22 November, South Western Railway (SWR) services from Weymouth to Wool will be replaced by buses.
From Tuesday 23 to Friday 26 November, buses will replace train services from Weymouth to Dorchester South.
Work will be carried out across eight sites on over 30 different jobs, with the main work being between Maiden Newton and Yetminster, where more than four miles of track will be replaced.
Between Weymouth, Dorchester South, and Wool, work will take place for days to prevent speed restrictions being imposed and to keep trains on time through Upwey.
In Dorchester, Damer’s Road bridge will be repaired, and both Weymouth and Upwey stations will be repainted, cleaned, and improved paving will be installed.
Mark Killick, Network Rail’s Wessex route director, said: “We’re making major improvements to the railway between Weymouth, Yeovil Pen Mill, and Wool to provide our passengers with better, more reliable journeys.
“Sixteen days is a long time to close the railway, but it is the best way to ensure all of our work between Weymouth and Yeovil Pen Mill is completed during one closure, rather than across multiple weekends while causing the least amount of disruption possible.
“Within those sixteen days, we’re also closing the line from Weymouth to Dorchester South for five days when we’ll be carrying out important work to keep trains on time and reduce delays.
“We recommend that our passengers should plan ahead and check the latest journey information as some replacement bus journeys may take significantly longer.”
James Wilcox, GWR Station Manager for Westbury, Wiltshire, and Dorset, said: “We will continue to keep people moving, but I would encourage those who travel to check beforehand as departure times may be different to normal and journey times extended.
“This work is important to ensure we can continue to provide services between Somerset and Dorset that people can rely on and we thank customers for their patience during this time.
“We are also grateful that Network Rail agreed to move this planned engineering work from earlier in the year to a quieter period to help minimise any disruption to passengers.”
Christian Neill, SWR’s Customer Experience Director, said: “The work Network Rail is carrying out will mean big improvements for our customers. Not just a more reliable and resilient service, but visible improvements which include repainting at two of our stations.
“Closing the railway for such a long time is never a decision taken lightly and I realise this will mean significant disruption for our customers. I’d like to remind anyone who’s traveling to plan ahead to see if their journey is affected as replacement buses will be in operation and journeys will take longer. I’d like to thank customers for their patience and understanding whilst these essential works are carried out.”
Summary of service changes:
- the line from Weymouth to Yeovil Pen Mill will close between Thursday 18 November and Friday 3 December;
- the line from Weymouth to Wool will be closed on Monday 22 November;
- the line from Weymouth to Dorchester South will close between Tuesday 23 and Friday 26 November;
- GWR buses calling at Dorchester West only are expected to take 1 hour and 2 minutes;
- GWR buses calling at all stations are expected to take 1 hour and 47 minutes;
- SWR buses between Weymouth and Wool are expected to take 1 hour and 10 minutes;
- SWR buses between Dorchester South and Weymouth are expected to take 20 minutes.
The new track between Weymouth and Yeovil Pen Mill is the latest in a series of improvements for the Heart of Wessex Line.
A new bridge was installed at Yetminster in February 2019 and track maintenance was carried out at Yeovil Pen Mill station in March 2021.