RAIL engineers have lifted the lid on a programme of works on the Petersfield to Guildford line.
The 23-mile section through east Hampshire and south west Surrey will be closed for nine days from this Saturday.
Most of the work will be concentrated around Petersfield and Haslemere with new signalling, power cables and level crossing barriers being installed.
Replacement bus services will be in operation with the route from Guildford to Petersfield reopening on Saturday, October 30. The section between Petersfield and Havant will be closed next Sunday (October 29) for one day.
Representatives from Network Rail gave a presentation to Petersfield Town Council about the forthcoming closure and the greater project to upgrade the line.
Bob Cunningham, senior construction manager, told councillors the existing signalling on the Farncombe to Petersfield (F2P) line has “expired” as the analogue system was installed in the 1970s.
The system is being upgraded to digital with data being fed back through fibreoptic cables to Basingstoke Control Centre.
The move has also led to the decommissioning of the Petersfield, Haslemere and Farncombe signalling boxes with the latter being demolished and replaced with a CCTV block.
Talks are ongoing about the future of the Haslemere box while Petersfield’s, which was previously earmarked for demolition, will be kept and converted into a future training facility because of its iconic status.
Replacement power cables and signal posts will be laid along the route and new signal gantries will also be installed at Haslemere station.
A new prefabricated signalling equipment building will also be erected in the area and essential earthwork to stabilise the Haslemere, Wormley and Hammer Lane cuttings will continue.
Some 96 signals will be altogether replaced while nine level crossings will also be upgraded with four alone in the Petersfield and Liss area.
The Kingsfernsden Lane crossing in Sheet and the Princes Bridge, Liss Station Road and Forest Road (Liss Common) crossings will be upgraded with barriers being extended to cover the width of the road.
Optical detection will also be installed although the downside is that waiting times for motorists will increase at the minor crossings from 45 to 210 seconds when work is completed.
“These crossings will have optical dedication which will sweep around the vicinity to make sure the crossing is clear,” added Mr Cunningham
“If the crossing is not clear – maybe if a car is stuck on it or someone has fallen over – then the system lifts the barriers back up.
“It obviously stops the train before it comes along and improves safety by stopping cars from coming along and swerving around and people jumping out in front of trains.”
Further details about bus replacement timetables will be released shortly.
For more details about the F2P project look for Portsmouth Direct Upgrade at www.networkrail.co.uk