RAIL chiefs have confirmed the Salisbury to Romsey line will reopen by the end of the month following a landslide.

On February 18, a landslip caused the railway line from Romsey to Salisbury to close and commuters were warned to expect "months of delays".

Now, Network Rail has announced an interim fix that will enable the railway to reopen to passenger trains by the end of March.

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.

Mark Killick, route director for Network Rail Wessex, said: “This landslip is a serious challenge and has been complicated by significant flooding of the field next to the embankment.

"Our absolute priority is to safely reopen the line for passengers and I can now confirm that engineers have devised an interim solution that will see the line re-opened by the end of March.

"I’d like to thank passengers for their continued patience while the line is closed."

Christian Neill, Deputy Director of Customer Experience at South Western Railway, said: “We’re pleased Network Rail are making progress repairing the embankment, and are working closely with them to ensure services return back to normal as quickly as possible.

“We thank passengers for their patience, and are sorry for the continued disruption to their journeys.”

Mr Neill said that in the meantime, Network Rail are operating train services from Romsey to Southampton via Chandlers Ford and Millbrook, which connect with bus replacement services between Romsey and Salisbury via Mottisfont and Dunbridge and Dean, until the lines fully reopen.

Network Rail has confirmed once the flood water has subsided and the embankment is accessible through the field, the full repair will be delivered.

A spokesperson for Network Rail said: "The task has been made more challenging by significant flooding of the field at the foot of the embankment meaning heavy machinery is unable to reach the landslip to carry out the long-term fix.

"Engineers have come up with an interim solution.

"They will use specialist equipment to install 160 metres of 13 metre deep steel sheets which will be driven into each side of the embankment.

"Teams will then drill under the track and tie both sides together with steel rods to support the embankment."