SOUTH Western Railway (SWR) has introduced a temporary reduced timetable on the West of England line until at least October.

This is due to Network Rail’s ‘emergency speed restriction’ between Gillingham in Dorset and Tisbury in Wiltshire.

The recent hot and dry weather caused the clay embankments to dry out and shrink, leaving the track on top uneven and trains unable to travel at full speed.

Train services were subsequently amended as the line is single track - which means trains cannot pass each other outside of passing loops - and trains are taking approximately twice the normal length of time to run between Gillingham and Tisbury.

SWR’s managing director Claire Mann apologised to train travellers.

She said: “After two weeks of delays and short-notice changes to our services, this decision to introduce a revised timetable will allow us to run a resilient service and at least provide certainty to our customers in the West of England.”

SWR says it is likely the timetable will remain in operation until at least October, as engineers must wait for the soil to stop shrinking and regain some of its moisture before repairs can be made and the speed restriction lifted.

Network Rail’s Wessex route director, Mark Killick, said: “We hope the amended timetable can give our customers confidence, but we do recognise the reduced number of services and longer journey times will be disruptive.

“As soon as it is safe to remove the speed restriction, we will do so, but this may not be until October when we hope conditions will improve.”

The new timetable for this week is now available in online journey planners and at, and shows that services will generally run hourly between Waterloo and Yeovil Junction, every two hours between Waterloo and Exeter St Davids, and that journey times will be amended and/or extended across most services on the route.

Journey planners beyond September 12 will be updated in due course.