AN UPGRADED rail route between Fareham and Eastleigh has re-opened after a week of "vital" works.

Network Rail engineers have successfully completed the upgrade of the railway between Fareham and Eastleigh to provide a "more reliable" train service for passengers

Between Saturday 23 and Saturday 30 May, engineers replaced just under a mile of single-line track on the line which forms part of the route from London to Portsmouth via Basingstoke.

The team also took advantage of the closure by carrying out some general maintenance work to the points and rails, and the line reopened to South Western Railway passengers on the morning of Saturday 30 May.

Engineers worked for 10,000 hours in shifts to fit new track, concrete sleepers and to lay ballast – that supports the track – and conductor rail which carries power to the trains.

A "New Track Construction" train which uses a continuous, automated process was used to quickly lay sleepers (up to 10 per minute), align them and secure rails into place was used on the section of track near the Tapnage tunnel between Fareham and Botley.

By using much more durable materials, the track will last longer and require less maintenance in the future.

Mark Killick, Network Rail Wessex route director said: “We’ve now completed the rail upgrade on the Eastleigh to Fareham line which will provide a more reliable railway and better journeys for passengers.

“I’d like to thank those unable to work from home for their patience during the works and also praise our railway heroes who adopted new practices and worked tirelessly to hand back the railway on time.”