THE EMERGENCY landslip repairs between Salisbury and Romsey are on target to be completed three days ahead of schedule.

After original estimates said that the repairs would take until the end of March, the line is now on target to reopen on Saturday March 28 which will support key workers needing to travel and freight deliveries.

This comes after the section of line just outside of Salisbury was forced to close on Tuesday February 18 following an extended period of above average rainfall and flooding, which caused the embankment to slip, leaving the track unsupported over approximately 20 metres.

Rail chiefs say engineers have worked 24/7 to secure the line and prepare it to reopen and repair work has been complicated by the fact that a field next to the site, and the only access to the area, has been significantly flooded.

To tackle this, teams have constructed a road through the metre deep water to enable heavy machinery to work close to the affected embankment.

Mark Killick, route director for Network Rail’s Wessex route, said: “I’d like to thank passengers and local residents for their patience while we’ve been working hard to get this vital link reopened. Many people’s journeys over the last few weeks will have been longer than expected and for that I can only apologise.

"Our priority was to make the railway safe and get the line open for passengers and freight as soon as possible. I’m pleased to say that we are on target to reopen three days ahead of schedule which will support key workers needing to travel and keep critical freight deliveries on schedule.”

Works to complete the full repair requires the installation of up to 250 metres of 13 metre deep steel sheets into the embankment to prevent future landslips but once the railway is reopened, engineers will stay on site to deliver the remaining works.

Passengers are advised to check the website of their train operator before travelling as the timetable of planned services may not be up to date in all industry systems.

GWR services on Saturday March 28 are planned to run hourly and, as a response to the Prime Minister’s request to carry out only essential travel due to COVID-19, from Sunday March 29, services are planned to run two hourly.

SWR services on the line are expected to commence on Monday March 30.​