A Chandler's Ford railway bridge has collapsed, putting lives in danger just months after Railtrack said it was safe.

The bridge over Monks Brook Stream in Chandler's Ford fell down following recent torrential rainfall.

Thousands of commuters will be using the line currently used for goods when the Chandler's Ford station opens in May.

Serious cracks were spotted last June by Eastleigh borough councillor Ernie Pullen who warned Railtrack and put forward a motion that repair work should be carried out immediately.

But in a letter Railtrack, now called Network Rail, said: "The bridge has a visual inspection annually and is examined in intense detail every six years. No work is currently required or planned."

Now councillor Pullen is demanding that the company makes the bridge safe before regular passenger services start.

Councillor Pullen said: "I am amazed at what has happened. At a local area committee meeting last June, I produced photographs of cracks in the structure and asked that Railtrack undertake a thorough inspection of the apparent damage to the railway bridge and, if necessary, make it structurally sound as a matter of urgency.

"Now the bridge has collapsed. It is just fortunate that no trains were on the track at the time and, as a result, there were no casualties.

"I shall be calling on a full report to be presented to the local area committee. We must be assured that this line is absolutely safe before the passenger service from the new Chandler's Ford rail station opens for business in May this year.

"Although the railway line is now operational again, it will take another three to four months before Railtrack have designed and built a new rail arch."

Network Rail engineers have now erected a temporary bridge and cordoned off the area.

A spokeswoman said: "Safety is our main priority and the tracks are frequently inspected by staff."

She added that repair work will begin in the next few months.