A POPULAR Hampshire tourist railway route has been cut short until the summer due to a large scale highway improvement scheme.

The Watercress Line will not run any steam trains to and from the Alton station until the end of July 2019.

Homes England will be working on the Whitedown Lane Bridge to prepare for two new housing sites in Alton that have been brought forward for development.

General manager at The Watercress Line, Jason Houlders, said: "The main aim for our volunteers is to maintain the steam service.

"I don't think there will be a massive impact on visitor numbers, simply because we have put lots of planning into the works and I'm confident that it will all run smoothly.

"Our major events, like the Thomas the Tank Engine days, will still run and attract the guests, even if they have to come that little bit further."

Until completion, trains are only able to travel between Alresford and Medstead.

There will instead be a free bus service for passengers travelling from the out-of-action station.

Jason continued: "People from Alton will be able to get to the next stop still. The busses we have organised will help just that little bit more to make sure everything works out."

For live updates on progress made at Whitedown Lane Bridge, visit buttsbridgeroadworks.co.uk.