Easter rail upgrade for Southampton main line

A major programme of improvement work is due to take place on the railway between Southampton and Farnborough over the Easter weekend (Friday 2 to Monday 5 April) resulting in changes to the South West Trains timetable.

The work will focus primarily around two projects:

Basingstoke Signalling Upgrade
The third and final phase of a scheme to bring the signalling in the Basingstoke area into the 21st century is being carried out.  This will see equipment which was originally installed in the 1960s taken out and replaced with modern technology.  The upgrade will reduce the risk of problems occurring with the signalling, making train services more reliable for passengers.  This phase of the scheme covers the area between Basingstoke and Farnborough.

Freight Upgrade
As part of a £71m project designed to remove up to 50,000 lorries a year from the region’s roads and provide a cheaper, quicker and more practical way of transporting goods around the country, Network Rail is rebuilding three road bridges over the railway in the Winchester area.

Work has been taking place since 4 January 2010 to build a new bridge deck above the existing one at St Cross (B3335).  With the new part of the bridge nearing completion and the road due to reopen on 31 March, the old deck will be demolished over the Easter weekend.  The new, larger bridge will allow bigger 9’ 6” or high-cube containers to be transported efficiently by rail from Associated British Ports’ (ABP) Port of Southampton.

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The tracks through two tunnels at Popham, Hampshire, will also be lowered at the same time as part of the scheme.

Both these major schemes can only be carried out when there are no trains running.  The work is being carried out at the same time over the Easter weekend in order to keep the amount of time that the line needs to be closed to the shortest time possible. 

Richard O’Brien, Network Rail’s route director for Wessex said: “Rail demand on this busy commuter route is significantly less at weekends and on public holidays than during the week, so the Easter weekend provides the best window to carry out this work so we can minimise disruption to passengers.  We thank the public for their patience while we carry out this important work.”

Craig Josey, Area Manager for South West Trains added: “We are working closely with Network Rail to keep disruption to a minimum and have plans in place to ensure that people can still travel over the Easter weekend.  We will keep our website updated with full information whilst work on these improvement schemes is being carried out”.