Weymouth Branch Line track removal
In October 2020, Dorset Highways started work to remove the disused railway tracks along Weymouth harbourside.
Earlier this year, the Department for Transport (DfT) announced that we were successful in our joint bid with Network Rail for funding to dismantle and remove the rails, which pose difficulties for all road-users.
The redundant railway line runs along the northern side of the harbour from the peninsula area along Custom House Quay and Commercial Road to King Street. They are fully decommissioned and cannot be repurposed for other uses.
Previous trials to infill between the rails in heavily trafficked areas had limited effectiveness – showing that a material infill would only last for a short time and would have significant maintenance requirements, causing frequent disruption and being an inefficient use of funds. It also did not resolve the issue of the slippery surface of the tracks when wet.
Removing the lines
The first phase of work to remove the rails along Commercial Road between King Street and Lower St Alban Street is now finished and the area has been resurfaced.
Work to remove the rails along most of Custom House Quay is now complete.
Works ongoing or scheduled include track removal in the following phases, with the corresponding section of road closed:
- Commercial Road from Cosens Quay Car park to St Nicholas Street, there will be no access from Lower St Edmund Street onto Commercial Road but St Nicholas Street will remain open
- Commercial Road from St Nicholas Street to St Mary Street, there will be no access under Town Bridge during this work but St Mary Street will remain open
Following these phases of work, the highways team will be staying in the Weymouth harbour area to remove a section of track on the peninsula near the old Condor building and sections of track in the overgrown area near B&Q in preparation for a potential future project.
There will also be final drainage, kerbing and surfacing works along the harbourside between Lower St Alban Street and St Mary Street.
Further finishing works will be carried out in the areas where sections of the old rails are being left in place, this includes improving the cul-de-sac area of Commercial Road, near King Street, by installing drainage and kerbing, resurfacing the area and marking out formal parking bays and paving repairs in ‘The Loop’ near Cosens Quay Car Park.
Drainage, kerbing and surfacing works on Custom House Quay between St Mary Street and The Pavilion will be carried out between March and May, following the results of the current public realm enhancements survey, which closes on 24 February.
The project team are working with conservation officers to develop ideas of how best to preserve some historic elements of the Weymouth Branch Line tracks.
Where possible, sections of track are being kept in place to preserve some historic element of the Weymouth Branch Line – with a 30m section at the start of the line in Commercial Road and ‘The Loop’ near Cosens Quay Car Park being left in place.
A key part of the project is how to retain the visual impression of the rails in the historic harbourside setting – options are being considered of how best to represent the lines in a visual way along the route.
Engineers are working closely with the conservation team to find a solution that does justice to the tracks historic worth.
This scheme is working alongside the Weymouth Gateway (Station) and heritage park and Weymouth Harbour Regeneration projects.
Thirty-two successful councils were awarded a share of £93.4m to repair roads and bridges as part of the latest push by the Government to improve connectivity, by helping councils fix key infrastructure, tackling congestion and improving journeys to make a real difference to road users.
The project to remove the old Weymouth Branch Line tracks was awarded £1.137m by the DfT.