DRIVERS are set to face traffic chaos as buses will replace train services from and to Southampton this weekend, when part of the M27 will also be closed.

As previously reported, the M27 will be closed from junction 3 to 5 from tonight to allow work to rebuild Romsey Road bridge.

Traffic will be diverted as the motorway will be closed until 5am on Monday.

Residents were urged to use public transport and plan their journey ahead.

But train operating companies have now announced that train services between Southampton, Eastleigh, Portsmouth and Romsey will be replaced by buses to allow work on the lines to Southampton Docks.

The decision has been described as unwise.

Caroline Nokes, MP for Romsey and Southampton North, said: “I would have hoped that various transport authorities would have worked together in order to avoid simultaneous disruption. The addition of rail replacement buses could significantly increase disruption in the area at a time when roads are already likely to be under greater pressure.”

In a statement South Western Railway said stopping services between Salisbury and Southampton will be altered to run between Salisbury and Eastleigh via Romsey and bus services will run between Southampton Central and Romsey via Millbrook and Redbridge.

Network Rail, who is responsible for the work, was unable to confirm the nature of the work and provide a comment before the Romsey Advertiser went to press.

But a South Western Railway spokesperson said: “Due to Network Rail’s track maintenance works this weekend, we will need to close platforms 3 and 4 at Southampton Central station late on Saturday evening and all day on Sunday. Whilst the station will still be open, we will need to operate a revised train service. Rail replacement bus services will be in place on some routes to help passengers get to where they want to be.”

Highways England said Network Rail was aware of the roadworks and the closure of the M27 this weekend.

John Henderson, Highways England route sponsor, said: “They already know what we are doing and there is nothing further we can do. We reappraised our plans to see if there is anything we can do but our plans are so complicated that it is not possible to make any change. I don’t know the number of buses they are putting out. Usually there is not many replacement buses so it should not have a big impact.”

Mr Henderson is also urging residents to follow the diversion routes.

He said: “We would advise people to keep to the diversion routes because they are designed to keep the traffic flow in the region. As long as people keep on the diversion routes we are not anticipating major disruptions.”

Highways England has also confirmed that there are special arrangements in place with the emergency services.

After the first weekend of work this year, the M27 will be closed again next year, April 26 to 29 and between October 18 and 21.