Track upgrade announced for the Heart of Wessex Line between Yeovil Pen Mill and Weymouth

Network Rail have announced that the track between Maiden Newton and Chetnole will be replaced in order to provide passengers with smoother journeys.

New track construction train- n action at Chetnole

Credit: Network Rail

Network Rail engineers will be working around the clock to replace around one mile of old 1950s-style track between Maiden Newton and Chetnole in Cattistock on the Heart of Wessex line during September 2022.

Part of the railway will be closed to carry out the essential work, which will provide smoother journeys for passengers. The old-style jointed track needs special care in hot conditions and can result in speed restrictions when temperatures rise, so an upgrade to modern standards will mean greater reliability because in time these speed restrictions will reduce.

Work will also be carried out to maintain signalling at Yeovil Pen Mill signal box, resurface the platform at Yetminster station, as well as repairs to steelwork at Damers Road bridge at Dorchester West station.

“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,” Mark Killick, Wessex Route Director for Network Rail, said. “The new track will be much more reliable. 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.”

This is the latest in a series of improvements to the Heart of Wessex line (which connects Weymouth with Bristol Temple Meads on the Great Western Railway network), that previously saw over four miles of track replaced between November and December 2021. Further work on the line is due to be carried out early next year to replace the old track in the Thornford area.