THE RAIL line between Eastleigh and Fareham is scheduled for a week long closure later this month.

Rail chiefs have urged passengers who need to travel, to ensure that they plan around the closure, which will see engineers install almost a mile of new track between Eastleigh and Fareham.

Between Saturday May 23 and Friday May 29, engineers will install 1400 metres of new track on a section of the line and by using modern components designed to last up to 60 years, it will help to improve both the railway’s reliability and train performance.

Part of the new track will be installed at Tapnage tunnel between Fareham and Botley, requiring the use of a specialist, ‘New Track Construction’ train which uses a continuous, automated process to quickly lay sleepers, align and secure rails into place.

Mark Killick, Network Rail Wessex Route Director has apologised for the inconvenience but says the improvement works are "vital".

He said: "We apologise to those affected during these essential upgrades. To support critical workers and freight services and ensure the ongoing reliability and safe running of the railway, it is vital that we deliver these improvement works between Fareham and Eastleigh.

“Please continue to follow Government advice and avoid public transport where possible. If you do need to use the railway, follow the guidance on social distancing, allow more time for your journey, and where there is engineering work taking place check in advance if your journey is affected.”

To minimise disruption and complete the work as quickly as possible, engineers will work in shifts around the clock for approximately 10,000 hours, which is much more efficient than closing the railway for at least six full weekends, as well as being less disruptive to local residents.

While the work is carried out, there will be no trains between Fareham and Eastleigh and buses will replace South Western Railway (SWR) trains calling at Eastleigh, Hedge End, Botley and Fareham.

Great Western Railway services between Portsmouth Harbour and Cardiff Central will be diverted via Netley, while Southern services will be diverted via Swanwick.

There will also be limited car parking at Fareham station, so passengers are advised to use alternative local car parks and passengers who do need to travel are advised to plan their journeys and check before travelling with the train operator or National Rail Enquiries.

Alan Penlington, Customer Experience Director at South Western Railway, said: “We know these works will be disruptive for those passengers who still rely on our services, but it is vital they go ahead to make our railway more reliable.

“We are committed to keeping key workers moving during this difficult, and will be running replacement buses to ensure those that need to travel, can.”