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"More reliable journeys" for passengers: Guildford rail works upgrade update

3 minute read
"More reliable journeys" for passengers: Guildford rail works upgrade update

Published at 12:34pm 16th April 2020. (Updated at 1:15pm 16th April 2020)

People using train services through Guildford are being promised "more reliable journeys" by Network Rail following a major upgrade which started last week.

The works are described as "the biggest rail investment in nearly four decades for the Guildford area".

Since the 10 day project got underway at the start of the Easter bank holiday weekend, the following has been achieved:

  • Renewed 1,200 metres of conductor rail on the Guildford to Clandon lines designed to be operational for up to 100 years
  • Renewed 1,500 metres of track on the lines from Guildford to Wanborough (North Downs line) and Worplesdon (Portsmouth direct line)
  • Upgraded 41 track circuits to improve the signalling system for Guildford station

Network Rail says the upgrades "will provide more reliable journeys for passengers who travel between London Waterloo and Guildford, Woking and Portsmouth, Reading and Redhill, and Guildford and Aldershot." 

These improvements should also help to enable the removal of two existing speed restrictions.

The project team has also worked on strengthening the embankment at St Catherine’s tunnel between Guildford and Godalming following a landslip back in December.

Nearly 800 tonnes of sand was removed to strengthen the rock surface and provide reinforcement using rock dowels (long steel rods to provide structural support). 

Guildford station upgrade
The St Catherine's Tunnel embankment has been reinforced.

Other upgrades include anti-slip tiles fitted to Guildford overbridge and a paint refresh.

During the remainder of the works, the team will install new wheeltimbers (which form the surface for track to sit on when it crosses older bridges), reconnect signalling equipment, and ensure the track is level and aligned (using tamping machinery) to provide smoother journeys and more reliable track infrastructure.

Guildford station upgrade
The Guildford overbridge has been painted.

The work delivered so far has enabled a limited service to London Waterloo which started on 14 April with buses continuing to replace trains on most other routes through the Guildford area. 

Services on all lines start again on Monday 20 April - however rail operators are operating limited services during the coronavirus lockdown.

Mark Killick, Route Director for Network Rail Wessex, said the works so far will provide a more reliable railway:

"We are at the midpoint of the project to deliver the biggest rail improvement programme in the last 40 years in the Guildford area and I’d like to thank those making essential journeys for their patience while we carry out these works.

"Teams have worked incredibly hard and have made good progress; we have passed several significant milestones in the project that will deliver a more reliable railway now and for generations to come."