The railway line between Guildford and Petersfield has reopened after a five-day closure to improve reliability.

The line closure saw Network Rail teams working around the clock from Monday to Friday last week.

During this time, engineers completed an ambitious 15 projects at multiple work sites along the line.

Between Farncombe and Petersfield teams continued work to replace the 1970s signals with new, state-of-the-art digital signalling technology in preparation for the system going live in 2024. 

New power cables were installed, as well as specialised structures for the new technology to be stored in.  

Teams took advantage of the extended line closure to complete other essential works to keep services running reliably and to maintain safety on the railway.  

The work included stabilising the cuttings at Haslemere and Wormley which saw on-track machines with drilling attachments drill 138 eight-metre-long steel nails into the cutting slope. 

This process strengthened and reinforced the soil reducing the likelihood of landslips.

Engineers also completed the renewal of the Haslemere switches and crossings – which allow trains to cross and change over tracks – and refurbished the track by Liss station to improve reliability for customers. 

During the closure engineers also: 

  • Upgraded Sheet level crossing which involved the decommissioning of old barriers and installing new ones.
  • Installed new piles (foundations) which the new signals will be built on.
  • Installed anti-trespass fencing at Farncombe East.
  • Renewed 106 sleepers, more than 400 metres of track and replaced ballast (track stones) at Princes Bridge by Liss station.
  • Painted canopies and the footbridge at Haslemere station.
  • Managed vegetation along the line to prevent obstructions to the railway.
  • Completed routine track maintenance and rail testing.

Tom McNamee, Network Rail’s Wessex infrastructure director, said: I'm delighted that we’ve successfully completed another phase of work that is part of the Portsmouth Direct Upgrade programme. Our teams have completed an amazing amount of engineering work during a 5-day period, which will improve reliability on the railway for thousands of customers.

“I’d like to thank customers for their continued patience while we carry out these upgrades and modernise the signalling system. Once complete the upgrade will provide a long-term benefit and hopefully will mean less disruption to journeys in the future.”

Peter Williams, South Western Railway's customer and commercial director, said: “I’d like to thank our customers for their patience while Network Rail carried out this important work, which will soon deliver an improved and more reliable railway on the busy route between Woking and Portsmouth Harbour.”

The next line closure is scheduled for October 21 to 29 , where the railway will be closed between Guildford and Petersfield, extending to Havant on October 29 only. Network Rail says this will allow it to continue work to modernise the railway so that it is more reliable for customers.