New-Track-Construction-train-in-action-at-Chetnole, via Network Rail

Vital track maintenance along the Heart of Wessex Line

The track route between Maiden Newton and Chetnole in Cattistock on the Heart of Wessex line will see around one mile worth of track replacement, seeing the works conducted this September via a team of Network Rail engineers. This will see closures to the railway from Saturday 24 until Friday 30 September

The old, 1950’s-style line will require essential maintenance works to supply smoother journeys for passengers. The dated infrastructure has an old-style jointed track which needs special care in hot conditions, as it can lead to speed restrictions being implemented when temperatures rise, notable especially during the recent heatwaves. The scheduled upgrade works will signify greater reliability amongst passenger travel, greatly reducing the need for speed restrictions.

Whilst track replacement is the key aim of the projected works, signalling maintenance will also be conducted at Yeovil Pen Mill signal box, platform resurfacing at Yetminster station and steelwork repairs at Damers Road bridge at Dorchester West station.

Mark Killick, Network Rail’s Wessex route director, said:

“I’m really pleased our upgrade of the Heart of Wessex line is continuing and although we are taking a full week to do the work, it will result in much less disruption for passengers overall. That’s not just because doing the work this way means we’re avoiding having to close the railway over many more weekends, but because the new track will be much more reliable too. 

“The old-style track isn’t good at coping with high temperatures as it expands so much in the heat and it means we have to put severe speed restrictions in place, delaying passengers. 

“The new track is part of an upgrade that will allow us to continue serving passengers on this line during hot weather conditions. Further work is due for completion in February and March next year, ready for the summer.”

These works come as the latest project in a series of improvement works to the Heart of Wessex line, connecting Weymouth with Bristol Temple Meads on the Great Western Railway network. Further works are due to be conducted early into 2023, supplanting old track in the Thornford area.

During these works, trains will continue running as normal between Weymouth to Dorchester South and beyond.

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