Tuesday 12 Jul 2011


Region & Route:
| Eastern: Anglia
| Eastern

A three-month project to replace the bridge which carries the A27 (Southampton Road) over the railway to enable larger freight containers to be transported by rail has been rescheduled to take place in spring 2012.

The decision was taken following a series of meetings between Network Rail and councils, MPs and traders in Romsey at which concern was raised about the greater impact the work would have if carried out as originally planned in the lead up to Christmas 2011.

Richard O’Brien, Network Rail’s route managing director for Wessex, said: “Wherever 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 people in 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. We appreciate the constructive dialogue we have had with all the groups and individuals with an interest in this project.”

Councillor Mel Kendal, executive member for environment and transport at Hampshire County Council, said: “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. This change avoids conflict with other planned roadworks in the area and creates an opportunity for everyone to work together to minimise disruption. The county council also welcomes Network Rail’s commitment to improve the railway infrastructure which will remove a significant amount of heavy freight from the roads.”

The bridge replacement at Romsey is part of a project to upgrade the route from Southampton to Basingstoke via Romsey and Andover, in addition to the Eastleigh to Romsey line, to transport larger, 9’6” high-cube freight containers by train more efficiently. The works require 17 bridges to be knocked down and rebuilt; the track to be altered at 11 locations and station canopies at Andover, Romsey and Whitchurch to be adjusted. Two redundant bridges will be demolished without being replaced and three further bridges will be modified without having to rebuild them.

Upgrading the rail routes out of Southampton allows freight trains to move goods, including food, clothing, electronics and other consumer products, around Britain in a quicker, cheaper, greener and more practical way, and help remove thousands of lorries off the roads.

Notes to editors

Network Rail has to consider and align many factors in order to reschedule a pre-planned project, including:

- Availability of engineers and specialist equipment – With hundreds of upgrades going on across the country at any time, resources are not always available and need to be allocated months or years in advance.
- Opportunity to close the railway – If closures are required for certain sections of the work, these need to be agreed and coordinated with the train operators.
- Availability of utility companies – many bridges have electric, gas or telephone which pass through them. When a bridge is rebuilt, the individual utility companies need to carry out work to redirect these services.
- Coordination with other road closures – The highways authority needs to coordinate the bridge replacement with other road works in the immediate area and along the diversionary route.
- Project timescales / value for money – Network Rail is required to deliver projects within specific timescales and to get best value for money. Rescheduling work can sometimes make this unachievable.

If these activities cannot be coordinated, it would not be possible to reschedule the work.

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We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

Usually, there are almost five million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.

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