Following a collision between two trains, it has been announced that the route through Salisbury will reopen on Tuesday 16 November.
The accident, between a SWR train and a GWR train, occurred on Sunday 31 October. It blocked the line just outside the Fisherton Tunnel, where routes from London and Southampton merge on their way into Salisbury.
Consequently, the line between Salisbury and Andover has been blocked, with SWR and GWR providing alternative travel arrangements through diversions or rail replacement services.
Work will be finished on the Monday after two weeks of the line being closed. During that day, Network Rail will use its rail head treatment trains to jet wash the tracks free of any debris or leaf mulch. A series of test trains will also run on the new infrastructure to make sure it is operating correctly before passenger services begin on Tuesday morning.
Mark Killick, Network Rail’s route director for Wessex, said: “I really appreciate how patient everyone has been with us over the past week and a half, from customers who have had their journeys disrupted, to our neighbours who have had cranes outside their houses, London Road closed for a period, and people working 24 hours a day to repair the railway right in the middle of their neighbourhood.
“That work is going to continue until Monday, as we finish replacing damaged equipment and making sure the railway is fit for action again.
“Our railway is one of the safest in the world and when a rare incident like this happens, we have to find out exactly what went wrong. That’s why we’re working closely with the Rail Accident Investigation Branch, British Transport Police and Office of Rail and Road on their investigations and we will be transparent and open with everyone when we know more about exactly what caused this.”
Mark Hopwood, Managing Director of Great Western Railway, said: “Our staff have been overwhelmed by the support shown by customers and the community over the past ten days. The incident last Sunday was challenging for everyone involved, and we are grateful for everyone’s support and patience in the days and weeks since.
“The rail industry has put every effort into reopening the railway as soon as possible, and we’re looking forward to customers returning from 16 November.”
To date, five damaged train carriages have been craned out from the accident site, which is in a cutting below the level of the surrounding area near London Road, in the Fisherton area of Salisbury. Almost 1,500 sleepers are being replaced, along with three sets of points, that allow trains to move from one track to another. In addition, 1,000 yards of new track is being laid in the tunnel.
Signalling equipment including track circuits are also being repaired, replaced and tested before the line reopens.