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.
Work to remove the rails along Custom House Quay from St Mary Street to South Parade is also now complete, this work was brought forward to take advantage of quieter roads during the November coronavirus lockdown. This area has a temporary surface in place.
Workers will return to Custom House Quay in the New Year, starting at South Parade on Monday 4 January and working towards the Pavilion Car Park. Roads in the area will be closed in sections:
- Custom House Quay closed from South Parade to The Pavilion Car park, South Parade will become two-way with parking suspended so that the fish loading bay can be accessed
- Commercial Road closed from ‘The Loop’ at 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 closed 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
Drainage work, including the repair and renewal of harbour tidal flaps, will be carried out between February and March, with surfacing currently programmed for night work at the end of March.
Dorset Highways will be returning to the cul-de-sac area of Commercial Road and ‘The Loop’ in Cosens Quay Car Park in spring 2021. This work includes filling in the gaps between the rails in these low traffic areas.
On Commercial Road, the existing railway bollards will be refurbished, the pavement reshaped and the road resurfaced. The parking bays in this area will also be rearranged to improve access for residents, with the number of available spaces staying the same.
In ‘The Loop’ areas of block-paving will also be repaired.
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.