Bracknell train passengers face rail replacement services

Network Rail, the British State-owned company responsible for the nation’s railway infrastructure, is set to begin railway reliability upgrades between the Reading, Bracknell and Gatwick Airport stations.

This week-long upgrade, taking place over the February half term from February 10 to February 18, will lead to the closure of these railway sections.

As a result, replacement bus services are planned to accommodate the change.

The improvements entail re-signalling and level-crossing upgrade work, all designed to enhance the reliability of rail services.

However, the changes will require temporary closures of level crossings at Wokingham station and Easthampstead Road (Star Lane), hence diversions will remain in place for road users until February 19.

Buses will replace trains serviced by South Western Railway (SWR) and Great Western Railway (GWR) in the affected areas.

The replacement will extend to Ascot and Aldershot on some weekends.

The SWR and the GWR have encouraged passengers to check their websites for more detailed travel information.

The upgrade will involve two key activities.

One is the reform of the signalling system in the Wokingham area with the installation of 43 new signals, akin to traffic lights for the railway.

The other involved upgrading four level crossings at the Wokingham station and Easthampstead Road (Star Lane).

Network Rail’s Wessex route infrastructure director, Tom McNamee, said: "These works are critical to us being able to deliver a safe, modern and reliable service for customers travelling on our network between Reading, Bracknell and Guildford.

"There’s never a good time to close the railway.

"However, delivering the bulk of these works during the half term break, when fewer people travel by rail and the schools are closed, helps us minimise the disruption to our customers who rely on this important stretch of railway.

"We’re grateful to customers and local residents living alongside the railway for their patience and understanding while we continue upgrading the railway."

Andrew Gallaugher, Great Western Railway station manager for the North Downs line, said: "As we continue to invest in the railway, this work is really important to ensure we can maintain and improve resilience.

"Buses will replace trains between Reading and Gatwick Airport between Saturday 10 and Sunday 18 February; journeys will take slightly longer, and we urge those travelling to check their journey beforehand."

These upgrades and improvements are part of Network Rail’s £116m Feltham and Wokingham re-signalling programme, a four-year project aimed at enhancing key signalling equipment and level crossings.

The fruition of these works will result in a modern digitised signalling system, with an outlook for improved train performance, increase in future capacity, fewer delays and safer level crossings.