05:15PM, Thursday 20 January 2022
Commuters are being warned ahead of a planned seven day closure between Windsor & Eton Riverside and Staines at the end of February.
Network Rail will be the closing the line as engineers will continue work on a £380 million upgrade of the 1970s signalling infrastructure, which are the traffic lights of the railway.
The line will be closed from Monday, February 21, until Sunday, February.
Instead of back-to-back weekend closures, engineers will work round the clock for seven consecutive days in a new ‘blockade’ approach that will deliver reliability benefits for passengers much sooner, while causing less disruption.
Buses will replace South Western Railway (SWR) services between Windsor & Eton Riverside and Staines throughout the closure, then also between Hounslow and Windsor & Eton Riverside on Sunday, February 27.
Network Rail’s Wessex route director, Mark Killick, said: “We’re really grateful for the patience of our customers as we continue these vital improvements.
“Our new signalling system will replace the 1970s technology still in use today and make the line much more reliable.
“By doing the work in bigger chunks called ‘blockades’, we can avoid a long series of weekend or bank holiday closures over a number of years. It means we can deliver the benefits for passengers much quicker, and it’s also more efficient.”
As well as the signalling work, engineers will also carry out track, third rail power supply and bridge maintenance, plus litter and graffiti clearance to provide a more welcoming and reliable railway.
New signals, using the latest digital technology, will be installed on the line over the next 12 months before being switched on in 2023.
The work is part of the £380m Feltham-Wokingham Resignalling Programme (FWRP), which is replacing 50-year-old signalling on SWR’s lines in South West London, Surrey and Berkshire.
Christian Neill, SWR’s Customer Experience Director, said: “There’s never a good time to close the railway and, of course, such a long closure will inconvenience our customers.
“Unfortunately, it’s not possible to complete the planned amount of work with trains still running, but I’d like to reassure customers that these works will provide long term reliability to our services as well as an opportunity to clear litter and graffiti from the line.
“I appreciate it’s hard for people who rely on the railway and we’re very grateful for their patience whilst these works take place. I’d like to advise anyone planning to travel to check if their journey will be affected as buses will replace trains and some journeys will take longer than usual.”
Maidenhead and Slough travellers have long been waiting for the arrival of Crossrail to whisk them quickly into central London.