• The line between Eastleigh and Fareham and will close for improvement works between 23-29 May
  • Engineers will install almost a mile of new track between Fareham and Botley
  • Passengers will benefit from a more reliable railway and better performing train journeys

Network Rail is reminding passengers to only travel by rail if they have to during the closure of the Botley line in Hampshire for a week as it carries out important upgrades to help improve the railway’s reliability and train performance.

Between Saturday 23 and Friday 29 May engineers will install 1400 metres of new track on a section of the line from Fareham to Eastleigh. Using modern components designed to last up to 60 years, it will help to improve both the railway’s reliability and train performance.

Part of the new track will be installed at Tapnage tunnel between Fareham and Botley, requiring the use of a specialist, ‘New Track Construction’ train which uses a continuous, automated process to quickly lay sleepers, align and secure rails into place.

To minimise disruption and complete the work as quickly as possible, engineers will work in shifts around the clock for approximately 10,000 hours. This is much more efficient than closing the railway for at least six full weekends, as well as being less disruptive to local residents.

While the work is carried out, there will be no trains between Fareham and Eastleigh. Buses will replace South Western Railway (SWR) trains calling at Eastleigh, Hedge End, Botley and Fareham.

Great Western Railway services between Portsmouth Harbour and Cardiff Central will be diverted via Netley. Southern services will be diverted via Swanwick.

There will also be limited car parking at Fareham station, so passengers are advised to use alternative local car parks. Passengers who do need to travel are advised to plan their journeys and check before travelling with the train operator or National Rail Enquiries.

Mark Killick, Network Rail Wessex route director, said: “We apologise to those affected during these essential upgrades. To support critical workers and freight services and ensure the ongoing reliability and safe running of the railway, it is vital that we deliver these improvement works between Fareham and Eastleigh.

“Please continue to follow Government advice and avoid public transport where possible. If you do need to use the railway, follow the guidance on social distancing, allow more time for your journey, and where there is engineering work taking place check in advance if your journey is affected.”

Alan Penlington, Customer Experience Director at South Western Railway, said: “We know these works will be disruptive for those passengers who still rely on our services, but it is vital they go ahead to make our railway more reliable.

“We are committed to keeping key workers moving during this difficult, and will be running replacement buses to ensure those that need to travel, can.”