RAIL chiefs have revealed the Romsey to Salisbury line is due reopen three days ahead of schedule following a landslide.

On February 18, a landslip caused the railway line to close and commuters were warned to expect delays until the end of March.

Now the line is on target to reopen tomorrow, which will support key workers needing to travel and freight deliveries.

Railway bosses claim engineers have worked 24/7 to secure the line and prepare it to reopen, however repair work has been complicated by a field next to the site, and the only access to the area, being significantly flooded.

Now Network Rail has announced train services should be back on track by tomorrow.

An update on Network Rail’s website reads: “On that day a normal Great Western Railway service will operate with the following exceptions:

“The 06:08 and 07:23 Portsmouth Harbour to Cardiff Central trains will start from Southampton Central.”

Community leaders have expressed their joy for the line reopening after commuters faced weeks of travel disruption.

Councillor Nick Adams-King, who represents Blackwater on the borough council, said: “It is really good that it is open and it’s clearly a lifeline for some people to get into towns, but there should not be much passenger traffic until the coronavirus has ended.

“I have noticed there have been some freight trains travelling on the line already, so the distribution network is key at the moment.”

Romsey town centre manager, Mark Edgerley, said: “I was down by the railway on Tuesday morning and one of the freight trains came through, so they are still using one of the lines.

“It will be good to get the line back again as it will help people who work in Salisbury and go up from Romsey, as well as the villages.”

Councillor for Dorothy Baverstock, who represents Romsey Cupernham, Dorothy Baverstock, said: “Network Rail have worked really hard to get this in place and people should be very pleased this has happened.

“But, we must remember what was said by the Prime Minister on Monday that we all have to be very careful about our travel arrangements.

“Once we get over the coronavirus then we know the line is there and we have got our perfect way of travelling from Southampton to Romsey and Salisbury back in place.”

As previously reported in the Romsey Advertiser, following an extended period of above average rainfall and significant flooding of the adjacent field, the railway embankment slipped, leaving the track unsupported over approximately 20 metres.

This caused the track to dip and it has not been possible to run services.

Route director for Network Rail’s Wessex route, Mark Killick, 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.”

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 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.

South Western Railway (SWR) services on the line are expected to commence on Monday March 30.​

South Western Railway was contacted for comment.