Thursday 23 Feb 2012


Region & Route:
| Eastern: Anglia
| Eastern

A three-month project to replace the bridge in Romsey which carries the A27 (Southampton Road) over the railway to enable larger freight containers to be transported by rail is scheduled to start on Saturday 31 March 2012.

The work, which will require the road to be closed, was originally scheduled to start in December 2011, but after concerns were raised by the council, MPs and businesses about the impact this would have on the busy Christmas trading period, Network Rail agreed to defer the work until the Spring.

Richard O’Brien, Network Rail’s route managing director for Wessex, said: “Ashfield bridge in Romsey is one a number of structures we’re upgrading to provide an alternative route for freight containers out of Southampton docks for those occasions when we carry out improvement works to the main line. With thousands of businesses around the country relying on the railway to receive deliveries of food, clothing, electronics and other consumer products to stock their shelves, it is vital we provide the infrastructure to allow the quick, reliable, green and cost efficient movement of these goods.

“There is never a good time to carry out such a significant piece of work on a bridge which carries one of the main roads between Romsey and Southampton. We have worked with the councils, police, emergency services and community representatives to put in place a plan which will keep disruption to a minimum and thank people in advance for their patience while we carry out this work which will ultimately benefit the local economy.”

Councillor Mel Kendal, executive member for environment and transport at Hampshire County Council, said; “Any road closure will, unfortunately, cause a certain amount of disruption, but I would like to reassure Romsey’s residents that we’ve been working closely with Network Rail, Test Valley Borough Council, Southampton City Council and the Highways Agency to find the most suitable diversion route while Network Rail carry out their works to Ashfield Bridge to accommodate larger freight vehicles. We have also managed to arrange for other works being carried out by Test Valley Borough Council and the Broadlands Estate to take place at the same time, saving a number of weeks’ disruption which would have been the case had these been done separately.”

Network Rail has worked with Hampshire County Council to devise a diversionary route. Temporary road signs will be installed from 22 February to provide as much notice of the work as possible for members of the public. Diversion routes will be put in place using the M27 between junctions 2 and 3, and for vehicles not permitted to use the motorway, the diversion will be on the A3090 from Romsey to Ower, the A36 to Totton and the A3057 back to Ashfield. For full details about the diversionary route, please visit http://www3.hants.gov.uk/roads/hampshire-roadworks/network-rail-roadworks.htm .

Test Valley Borough Council is carrying out a separate scheme at the Lee Lane junction to provide a central pedestrian refuge and widen footpaths which will improve the safety of pedestrians crossing the A27. The Broadlands Estate is also undertaking essential maintenance works to its boundary wall. These projects would have required separate road closures of the A27 and by taking advantage of the closure for the bridge replacement will minimise disruption for motorists.

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.

Following the upgrade of the mainline to accommodate larger freight containers (http://www.networkrailmediacentre.co.uk/Press-Releases/COMPLETED-RAIL-FREIGHT-UPGRADE-BOOST-FOR-BRITAIN-1708/SearchCategoryID-8.aspx ), it is estimated that the number of containers which arrive into Southampton and are transported onwards by rail has increased from approximately 28% to 35%, versus other forms of transport, helping keep thousands of lorries off the roads.

Notes to editors


Vehicles off the road
Each freight train takes about 60 lorries off the roads and without the railway, the anticipated growth in freight traffic over the next 30 years would mean an extra 1.5 million lorry journeys on Britain’s roads each year. Transporting more containers by rail will help reduce carbon emissions and ease traffic congestion on the road network.

Rail is also one of the most environmentally friendly forms of transport. Road freight generates six times more carbon dioxide than rail freight for each tonne moved, so the greater transfer of freight from road to rail as a result of this scheme will lead to a significant reduction of carbon emissions.

High cube containers are larger than standard containers, and therefore more items can be transported within them, making them a more efficient means of distributing goods. Rail can be a cheaper, quicker and a more practical way for businesses to transport their goods around the country and beyond. At present high cube containers are too big to be carried on standard height platform wagons on much of the rail network. Therefore the only way to carry them by rail is on special low wagons. However, this reduces efficiency and capacity by up to 33%, making rail a less competitive form of transport for freight.

· Rail transports over 100m tonnes of goods worth around £30bn every year
· The British economy is boosted annually from £870m by the rail freight industry, which also further indirectly supports an economic output of £5.9bn, over six times its direct turnover.
· The freight sector is supporting employment 14 times the number employed directly in the industry (4.7k compared to 66.6k)
· In total the UK freight sector contributes £299m in profits and wages to the UK economy
· Rail freight generates £185k worth of output per employee almost double the national average (£89k)
· The societal benefits from a shift from road to rail equate to £376m (2007/8) and up to £903m if it grows by 140% (2031). This would be a lot higher if the loss of revenue from vehicle excise duty was not taken into account
· Rail freight demand is predicted to grow by 30% over the next decade and up to 140% over 30 years
· The current freight container market is seeing a significant growth in the percentage of high cube containers. The usage of 9’ 6” containers currently stands at over 40%. This is expected to rise to between 50% and 70% by 2019.

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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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