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Reliability improvements set to begin this October on the railway between Yeovil Pen Mill and Weymouth

From Monday 16 to Friday 20 October, buses will replace Great Western Railway (GWR) trains between Yeovil Pen Mill and Weymouth while Network Rail engineers carry out work to bring smoother and more reliable journeys on the Heart of Wessex line.

Network Rail’s team of engineers will be working around the clock during a five-day closure of the railway to replace around 758 metres of outdated 1950s track between Maiden Newton and Chetnole in Cattistock.

The old-style track needs to be renewed and brought up to modern standards to help reduce the number of speed restrictions that are put in place during warmer weather, helping ensure customers enjoy smoother and more reliable journeys in the future.


Alongside this, engineers will also be erecting scaffolding at Evershot tunnel to repair and repoint the brickwork.

This latest work follows upgrades completed earlier this year between February and March in which engineers successfully complete two back-to-back five-day closures between Castle Cary/Yeovil Pen Mill and Weymouth.

During this time, Network Rail took advantage of the extended line closure to complete multiple improvements, including: 

  • Renewing over 1,800 metres of track through Thornford station and replacing old wooden sleepers with new, more durable concrete sleepers.
  • Refurbishing Maiden Newton station including repairing the canopies and giving the station building a fresh lick of paint.
  • Installing new tactile paving at Yeovil Pen Mill station.
  • Clearing overgrown vegetation and completing maintenance on key pieces of railway infrastructure along the line.

Oliver Frost, Network Rail Project Director, said: “We’re looking forward to continuing our programme of work to improve the reliability of the Heart of Wessex line next month.

“This is an important stretch of railway and over the last three years we’ve invested a significant amount to bring smoother and more reliable journeys for our customers travelling between Somerset and Dorset

“We’re always finding ways to be more cost effective and reduce the level of disruption to train services during our upgrade work. These slightly longer line closures enable us to carry out a wider range of work simultaneously which prevents the need for regular, smaller closures of the railway which would be more disruptive to customers.

“I’d like to thank customers and nearby residents in advance for their patience and understanding while we complete this work.”

Jordan Welsby, Great Western Railway’s Station Manager for Westbury, Wiltshire and Dorset area, said: “This forms part of an ongoing programme of improvements that will enable us to maintain services for our customers travelling between Somerset and Dorset for years to come.

“We will provide alternative road transport between Yeovil Pen Mill, Dorchester West and Weymouth from Monday 16 to Friday 20 October.

 “In addition, we have also agreed ticket acceptance on South Western Railway (SWR) services to ensure customers can still complete their journeys during this time.”

Photo credit: Network Rail

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