Successful emergency work to secure a landslip hit section of the rail line between Salisbury and Romsey will see the line reopen on Saturday, 28 March for key workers and freights.

The successful operation will see the line on target to reopen three days ahead of schedule.

The section of line was forced to close on Tuesday, February 18 for an extended period due to above-average rainfall and flooding.

Mark Killick, 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.”

The embankment slipped, leaving the track unsupported for around 20 meters causing the track to dip.

Engineers worked around the clock to secure the line and prepare it to reopen. Work which was complicated by the fact that a field used to access the site had been significantly flooded.

To tackle this, teams constructed a road through the meter-deep water to enable heavy machinery to work close to tracks.

Work required the installation of 250 meters of 13-meter-deep steel sheets into the embankment to prevent future landslips.

Once the line has reopened workers will stay on-site to deliver the remaining works.

Alastair Hutton, 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, 28 March 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, 29 March services are planned to run two hourly.

The South Western Rail services on the line are expected to commence on Monday, 30 March.​