Network Rail invest extra £2.2 million to keep passengers moving in Wessex this autumn

Network Rail and South Western Railway are working together to keep passengers on the move around the Wessex route this autumn, delivering a joint plan to provide better performance.

An additional £2.2 million is being invested to manage trees and vegetation around the railway, reducing the number of leaves that fall and allowing vegetation to grow back and leaving a clearer area around the railway for years ahead. The Wessex route is working towards the recommendations of the Varley report, as part of its commitment to long term improvements to the lineside environment.

Between October and early December a fleet of cleaning trains will work in 12 areas every day, conducting more than 800 runs around the route in total to maintain smooth running conditions. Ice and snow treatment trains, usually reserved for winter operations, are also on standby.

SWR will be adjusting for autumn with extra training for drivers, an amended timetable and also improving the on-train sander functionality so that each unit – not just the front leading one – lays sand to provide wheels with extra grip.

The amended timetable operates from 6 October to 14 December and reflects the longer running times that drivers sometimes need to apply brakes. It will be in place on four routes into London Waterloo – from Dorking and Chessington, Guildford via Effingham Junction, Reading and Ascot, plus Windsor and Feltham.

Charlie Usher, Wessex route Head of Maintenance for Network Rail, said: “Our specialist track cleaning trains and extra vegetation work is part of a wide-ranging plan that we have developed with South Western Railway, helping trains run smoothly and keeping passengers moving when the weather changes.”

Andy Mellors, Managing Director for South Western Railway, said: “In the autumn months, rail conditions can be difficult, and our drivers require more time to safely apply brakes over longer periods of time. We will do everything we can with our colleagues at Network Rail to keep customers moving, as quickly and safely as possible, but we would like to encourage customers to check our website as some timetables will change for the duration of the autumn period.”