THE railway line between Salisbury and Romsey, which was closed after a landslip, is set to reopen three days ahead of schedule.

The line is due to reopen on Saturday (March 28) ready to support key workers needing to travel and freight deliveries

The section of line just outside of Salisbury was forced to close on Tuesday, February 18 following an extended period of above average rainfall and flooding. The embankment slipped, leaving the track unsupported over around 20 metres causing the track to dip.

Mark Killick, the route director for Network Rail’s Wessex route, said: “I’d like to thank passengers and local residents for their patience while we’ve been working hard to get this vital link reopened. Many people’s journeys over the last few weeks will have been longer than expected and for that I can only apologise. Our priority was to make the railway safe and get the line open for passengers and freight as soon as possible.

"I’m pleased to say that we are on target to reopen three days ahead of schedule which will support key workers needing to travel and keep critical freight deliveries on schedule.”

Network Rail says engineers have worked 24/7 to secure the line and prepare it to reopen.

Works to complete the full repair required the installation of up to 250 metres of 13 metre deep steel sheets into the embankment to prevent future landslips.

Once the railway is reopened, engineers will stay on site to deliver the remaining works.

Alastair Hutton, the project manager for Great Western Railway, said: "Our focus is to run services that can be relied on at this time of uncertainty, providing essential transport for key workers to get to and from work.

“We’re pleased Network Rail has been able to reopen the line between Salisbury and Romsey, allowing us to provide these vital services once more."

Passengers are advised to check the website of their train operator before travelling as the timetable of planned services may not be up to date in all industry systems.

GWR services on Saturday (March 28) are planned to run hourly and, as a response to the Prime Minister’s request to carry out only essential travel due to COVID-19, from Sunday (March 29) services are planned to run two hourly.

SWR services on the line are expected to start on Monday (March 30).