HIGHWAY chiefs are being urged to solve a century-old problem by building a bridge over the railway line that splits Totton in two.

Ward councillor David Harrison said it was time to replace the Junction Road level crossing, which is closed to vehicles for a total of 20 minutes every hour.

The number of trains using the line will increase if the old Totton to Hythe branch line is reopened.

Rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris visited the line last month and said there was a "very strong case" for passenger services to be revived.

Any increase in activity at Marchwood Military Port, now being run by commercial operator Solent Gateway, could also result in extra rail traffic in the area.

Cllr Harrison said a bridge over the railway at Junction Road would solve the problem.

Referring to ancient town council minutes he said: "One of the big issues - over 100 years ago - was concern about the train gates closing. Nothing has changed - isn't it about time something was sorted?

"The line is going to get a lot busier with very long trains and carriages pulling freight.

"It's fairly clear that Solent Gateway is going to make good use of the railway. Further on we may see Dibden Bay developed, which will almost certainly mean more use of the same line."

Cllr Harrison said the impact of a new passenger service would be relatively small compared with delays likely to be caused by long freight trains.

He added: "I simply don't believe a bridge cannot be constructed as a means of properly linking the two halves of Totton. The money could be available from developers and business interests. It's a price they should be prepared to pay.

"In any case, it is high time some serious money was invested in Totton.

"When you look at all other towns in the area, you see much higher quality street furniture, paving and other features.

"We have been left behind and that is so wrong given that we pay more in taxes than anywhere else in the district."