RAIL bosses are insisting they will be able to cope as thousands of train passengers are forced to switch to replacement buses as vital works get under way. A major £20m project to improve the track will see Southampton Central station closed for two months on weekends. But with Saints games taking place on March 15 and 29 and April 12 and 26, against Norwich, Newcastle, Cardiff and Everton, as well as a St George’s Day Parade and Easter fair, the pressure will be on South West Trains to deliver an effective replacement bus service. The buses can fit 50 people, but a normal South West Trains carriage which can fit 300 people. Should a five-carriage train be up to capacity, then 30 replacement buses would be needed to cater for them. South West Trains insist that they will have a fleet of buses ready to be used during those times. A spokesperson said: “We have detailed numbers and forecasts for the numbers of people travelling on each weekend of the works, and the replacement bus service will cater for the number of people expected to travel. “We are sorry for the inevitable disruption this will cause, however we are committed to providing the best possible service for our passengers whilst work is carried out.” Passenger group Rail Future Wessex has called for buses to accommodate luggage, bikes, wheelchairs and prams. To find out exactly how the closures will affect you, go to dailyecho.co.uk.
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