A damaged rail on the track near Micheldever has caused widespread disruption today after the line was taken out of service.

Network Rail engineers found a badly damaged rail this morning near Micheldever, on the South Western Main Line between London and Southampton. The cause is believed to have been electricity arcing from the live rail to the track, cutting away at the rail itself.

A spokesperson for Network Rail Wessex said: “We're not sure what caused the incident yet, and our focus is on planning our repairs and keeping trains moving. The damaged rail is on the London-bound line so we are aiming to run as many trains as we can safely on the coast-bound line.

“Trying to keep things moving on one track means we won't be able to run the usual intensity of service so we encourage everyone to check before they travel today, particularly on the London-Southampton route.”

Network Rail intends to replace the damaged rail overnight to prevent blockage to the single running line and keep trains moving where possible. As a result, disruption will continue until the end of the day.

The damage means that trains run by South Western Railways and CrossCountry are experiencing delays and cancellations, as well as diversions by other routes.

South Western trains are being diverted via Havant and Guildford where necessary, while CrossCountry services may be diverted via Romsey and Chandler’s Ford. Rail replacement buses are running between Eastleigh and Fareham and Southampton Central and Basingstoke.

Tickets are also being accepted on other services operated by GWR Southern Railway and Chiltern Railways, depending on the intended destination of travel.

Network Rail is advising that anyone intending to travel should check their journey to see if their train is still running, and what options are available to them to make an alternative journey.