Network Rail is thanking customers and local residents for their patience and understanding following a five-day closure of the Heart of Wessex line between Yeovil Pen Mill and Weymouth while engineers completed key upgrades to bring smoother and more reliable journeys for customers.
The line was closed last week from Monday, 16 to Friday, 20 October, and reopened as planned on Saturday morning, During the closure, Great Western Railway (GWR) trains were replaced by buses.
While the line was closed, engineers worked around the clock to replace 758 metres of 70-year-old track between Maiden Newton and Chetnole in Cattistock that was affected by warmer weather and required the imposition of speed restrictions.
The line closure also gave Network Rail to carry out other work, including:
- erecting scaffolding at Evershot tunnel so that the brickwork can be repaired and repointed;
- renewing over 1,800 metres of track through Thornford station, which included replacing wooden sleepers with more durable concrete ones;
- repairing the canopies at Maiden Newton station and repainting the station building;
- installing new tactile paving at Yeovil Pen Mill station;
- clearing overgrown vegetation and maintaining key pieces of railway infrastructure at various places along the line.
Earlier this year, the line between Castle Cary/Yeovil Pen Mill and Weymouth was closed for two successive five-day periods so that engineers could carry out similar upgrade work, and last September similar work was also carried out on another stretch of line between Maiden Newton and Chetnole in Cattistock.
Oliver Frost, Network Rail project director, said: “I'd like to thank customers and local residents for their patience and understanding last week while we closed the railway between Yeovil Pen Mill and Weymouth to allow our engineers to complete a range of key upgrades to the Heart of Wessex line.
“We know how important this stretch of railway is and last week's upgrades are the latest efforts in a three-year period in which we've invested a significant amount to bring smoother and more reliable journeys for our customers travelling between Somerset and Dorset
“We recognise many customers will have been disrupted during last week's extended closure for which we re sorry. However, these slightly longer closures enable us to really maximise the opportunity to complete a wide range of upgrades in a more cost-effective way while reducing the need for the need for regular, smaller closures of the railway which would be more disruptive to customers.”