NETWORK Rail has postponed its controversial scheme to rebuild Ashfield Bridge near Romsey.

Traders had complained bitterly about the rail company’s decision to carry out the work – which included closing the A27 into Romsey for several months – leading up the Christmas shopping period.

Now Network Rail has announced the work, which was originally scheduled to start in October, has been put off until next spring, following representations from traders, councillors and Romsey’s MP Caroline Nokes.

The company’s Wessex route managing director, Richard O’Brien, said: “Whenever possible we do what we can to keep the impact of important railway upgrade projects to a minimum for passengers, communities and businesses.

“We have listened to the concerns of the people of Romsey and found an opportunity to reschedule the work for spring next year, which was their preferred alternative, in a way which does not delay the overall project, cause extra disruption for passengers or increase the costs to the taxpayer.”

Hampshire Couty Council’s Cabinet member for the environment Mel Kendal added: “We welcome this decision by Network Rail. The county and borough councils were concerned about the traffic impact of works during the busy Christmas season.”