A successful project at Guildford

The Guildford blockade, as we have come to know it, reached a successful conclusion yesterday morning as all lines re-opened on schedule.

John Halsall, Network Rail Southern Director, was delighted to report yesterday morning

“the railway was handed back on time this morning after the biggest rail investment in almost four decades in the Guildford area. In partnership with SWR and GWR our teams have been working closely to keep stakeholders updated on the project.

Guildford junction was last upgraded almost 40 years ago since when passenger demand has rsien exponentially.

Work took place around the clock from Friday, 10 April until Monday, 20 April 2020 with teams delivering the following upgrades:

  • Upgraded 41 track circuits around Guildford station
  • Regraded the embankment and strengthened the rockface around St. Catherine’s Tunnel, the scene of two landslips in 2019
  • Renewed 1,500 metres of track on the lines between Guildford and Wanborough, plus Guildford and Worplesdon
  • Installed 1,200 metres of conductor rail between Guildford and Clandon
  • Renewed rails and the supporting wheeltimbers on the bridge crossing the River Wey between Farncombe and Godalming
  • Carried out tamping in the Witley area
  • Painted the footbridge at Guildford station and installed anti-slip tiles

The embankment and rockface regrading work at St. Catherine’s tunnel, between Guildford and Shalford, also allowed engineers to remove a speed restriction, imposed following two landslips during extreme weather in late 2019 which will result in more reliable journeys for passengers.

The project was carefully planned over the course of two years to ensure that disruption was kept to a minimum and opportunities to improve the railway were taken wherever possible. A total of 20,000 hours were worked by teams during the project, demonstrating the sheer scale of the operation (18 engineering trains, two Kirow cranes, two tampers and two road rail vehicles were used in the switches and crosses renewal alone).

The completed work will provide a more reliable railway for trains between London and Guildford, Woking and Portsmouth, Reading and Redhill, and Guildford and Alton. There will be some follow-up weekends of work as follows:

  • 25 & 26 April 2020
  • 16 & 17 May 2020
  • 05 July 2020
  • 02 August 2020

We’d like to thank all the stakeholders for their patience during this major project, we can’t achieve what we do without your support”


April 20th,back to normal

shoring up the embankment at St Margaret’s tunnel



Update from the Guildford Blockade

Work commences on Good Friday

It was announced many months ago but the Guildford Blockade of Easter 2020 is now nearing its close. Our partners in Network Rail are “grateful for the inclusion of essential rail workers in the government’s definition of key workers because it enables us to contribute to the national efforts in keeping the country running. Please rest assured that our people come first and we are committed to safe working environments for them.  We recognise our important role in supporting the economy and society through this incredibly challenging period. While you may see a lot of workers on site throughout the duration of the project, we have adopted all best practice measures on protective equipment, health advice and working practices. ”

Over the Easter weekend Guildford station was closed and buses replaced train services, SWR services to Haslemere and Aldershot are replaced by buses from April 10-19 and the North Downs Line has a bus replacement service all the way from North Camp to Gatwick. Our intrepid reporter, Guildford resident Mick Stone, was able to report that a limited rail service was running yesterday from Guildford to London Waterloo via Cobham & Stoke D’Abernon (see picture of 14.22)

Network Rail have done a great job in very trying times, let’s hope they finish successfully because this work is not before time – as the Project Director says….. https://twitter.com/NetworkRailWssx/status/1249636666362429440    

Guildford Track and Signalling upgrades Easter 2020

North Downs Line passengers will have to become accustomed to using rail replacement buses over the next few weekends and the Easter break.

Network Rail has preparatory work to do at Guildford before a major possession at the station over Easter, commencing on Good Friday and continuing for 10 days until April 19th. Signalling and points systems are being upgraded, over 1 mile of track is being replaced.

During the period April 10 -19 GWR will be running a rail replacement bus service between North Camp and Gatwick Airport but using a revised timetable, please see the following :-


Services will also be affected at weekends pre and post the Easter possession, the above link also provides all the information you need.


Jessie’s Seat on Leap Day !

We have a Leap day every 4 years, it falls on a Saturday once in 28 so before we’re all too old let’s commemorate a past Leap Day event from 1892 !

Railwayman Henry Wicks, a guard on a goods train, was unfortunately killed in an accident on February 29th 1892 between Gomshall and Chilworth stations on the North Downs Line. His daughter-in-law, Jessie, planted a yew tree in his memory very close to the spot where he died and since then the tree has been shaped into a pheasant sitting on a seat. Hence Jessie’s Seat was created and named. https://www.networkrail.co.uk/stories/people-and-the-railway-jessies-seat/

In commemoration of the event, GWR is running a special train this Leap Day so that people can learn more about the incident, linger by Jessie’s Seat rather than passing at speed and enjoy the Surrey Hills.

Tickets are limited so contact david@sussexcrp.org as soon as possible if you’d like to join us.

Blackwater Valley Rail to Trail

Sussex Community Rail Partnership (North Downs Line) has been working closely with the Blackwater Valley Countryside Trust to create a series of maps for display at North Camp, Farnborough North, Blackwater and Sandhurst stations. The maps show local places of interest within easy reach of the particular station and routes to the Blackwater Valley Path, a 23 mile trail which follows the river and runs close to the North Downs Line.

The maps will be officially ‘unveiled’ during a 9 mile walk from North Camp to Sandhurst via the other 2 stations enroute. We emphasise that this is a ‘Rail & Trail’ initiative and offer free return travel to North Camp for those booked on the walk. Please follow the link for more information and a booking form http://www.bvct.org.uk/rail-to-trail/ 

Guildford bridge work affecting GWR services this Christmas

London Christmas map 2019


From Friday December 27th to Tuesday December 31st, coaches will replace rail services between North Camp, Guildford, Redhill and Gatwick Airport. For more information about services please visit https://www.gwr.com/travel-updates/planned-engineering/christmas

A few hardy souls walking during Blackwater River Festival

Colin Wilson (centre) led the walk from North Camp station to Crowthorne via the Blackwater Valley Path, sadly the inclement weather reduced our numbers but it proved a great way to see the ‘green corridor’ of the Blackwater Valley.

David Daniels brought the group back by train from Crowthorne, courtesy of a GWR group pass.

Sussex CRP at the GWR Community Rail Conference

On June 14/15 Great Western Railway (GWR) held its annual Community Rail Conference at the ‘STEAM’ museum in Swindon, a splendid event attended by over 100 people from GWR and Community Rail.

Sussex Community Rail Partnership (SCRP) sent several delegates to showcase the North Downs Line which runs from Reading to Gatwick Airport, manning our own stand in the marketplace. It was a great opportunity to see and hear GWR’s Managing Director, Mark Hopwood, demonstrating his huge support for Community Rail and to hear Kulvinder Bassi of the Department for Transport talking about his department’s recognition of the value of Community Rail. We were also treated to presentations by ‘Okerail’ in North Devon, which is a heritage line looking to extend its links to connect to main line services, and on Cornish transport integration between trains and buses.  SCRP delegates were able to network with other CRPs and GWR, adding great kudos to a superbly organised occasion.

Mark Hopwood, CEO of GWR, addresses the conference at the STEAM museum

Scenic Rail Britain in Surrey

The North Downs Line  is now featured on the Scenic Rail Britain website www.scenicrailbritain.com/lines/north-downs-line 

Come and visit some of the most beautiful countryside in the South of England

In partnership with

Southern Rail GWR Acorp dft