A nine-day closure of the Portsmouth to London Waterloo railway line through Petersfield, Liphook, Haslemere and Witley will begin this Saturday (February 11).

The line will be closed for nine consecutive days between Guildford and Petersfield until February 19 for engineering work, with buses replacing trains on the route.

During the closure, engineers will install a new and improved set of switches and crossings in Haslemere, an essential part of the Portsmouth Direct Upgrade that will allow the line speed to be increased in 2024.

The Portsmouth Direct Upgrade is a large program of work to improve the railway infrastructure on the line between Woking and Portsmouth Harbour.

The project includes a major resignalling project, upgrades to level crossings, and the renewal of sections of track, switches and crossings. The goal of the upgrade is to improve reliability, journey times and potential capacity for train services, as well as making level crossings safer.

The majority of the work will be delivered through the Farncombe to Petersfield Resignalling Scheme (F2P), which will replace the existing signalling system with a modern digital system, controlled by a Rail Operating Centre in Basingstoke.

Network Rail says this will make the line more reliable and increase the potential capacity for train services in the future.

As part of the F2P scheme, 12 level crossings along the route will also be either renewed or upgraded, in: Hammer, Liss, Liss Common, Peasmarsh, Petersfield, Farncombe East, Farncombe West, Milford, Sheet, Shutters, Princes Bridge and Kingsfernsden.

They will either be changed to a different type of crossing or have new lights installed to make it safer for people to cross.

The work is planned to be carried out on weekends, and in some cases during weekday line closures – as is the case with the works at Haslemere this month.

The project is expected to be completed in late 2024, after which passengers can expect faster journeys, the potential for more train services, fewer delays, and safer level crossings, says Network Rail.