Network Rail has completed the first part of 21-day upgrade to improve reliability on the West of England line and is continuing with the second phase between Salisbury and Yeovil Junction.
Network Rail performed reliability improvements on the West of England line between Yeovil Junction and Axminster and the second phase is due to begin on 25 November.
Network Rail engineers worked around the clock, completing key upgrades at four different worksites as part of a wider half a million-pound investment to improve reliability and performance along the West of England line.
The five-day closure involved engineers working at Crewkerne tunnel, where they continued efforts to stabilise the cutting following a landslip in October 2021, as well as install specialist six-metre-long soil nails into the earth just outside the tunnel entrance, alongside new drainage to help reduce the impact of heavy rainfall.
Other work included replacing the barriers at Broom and Axe level crossing, painting Weycroft River Bridge with a protective, anti-corrosion paint, and removing wet beds – areas of waterlogged track stones that cause rough rides for trains – at Crewkerne level crossing.
The second, longer, 16-day closure between Salisbury and Yeovil Junction will take place from 25 November to 10 December.
Around 1280m of track between around Tisbury and Sherborne and 457m of track running through Gillingham station platform one will be replaced and then recycled. Engineers will also be clearing vegetation between Tisbury and Gillingham, completing level crossing maintenance at Wyley and Castleton level crossing and stabilising earthworks by Gillingham tunnel.
“Over the past three years, we’ve worked really hard to improve the resilience of the line by strengthening the cuttings and renewing old worn-out sections of track. This closure will enable our engineers to continue these important upgrades as part of our continued programme of investment on this line,” Mark Killick, Network Rail’s Wessex route director, said.
In 2022, along the West of England line, Network Rail renewed the railway running over Perretts Bridge, by Tisbury station, replacing 1226 yards of track, installing 4500 tonnes of new ballast and 1720 concrete sleepers, renewed track at Axminster station, refurbished the Sherborne and Feniton level crossings, installed new tactile paving at Gillingham and Sherbourne stations. The British rail infrastructure manager also invested GBP 5 million (EUR 5.74 million) to strengthen the cutting at Honiton tunnel which saw the installation of both a 35 and 15-yard King Post Wall, as well as improving the drainage from the many natural springs in the area.