Rail services west of Poole are likely to remain unchanged for some time  – Dorset Council has been told.

The cost of putting in two lines on the current single-track section between Moreton and Dorchester South, or improving the power supply west of Poole, is likely to remain prohibitive.

Dorset cabinet brief holder for transport Cllr Ray Bryan says that while the council is lobbying for structural improvements it is unlikely that all of the measures will be agreed because of the cost and that any decision was subject to a review not expected to even start until 2020.

He says the other issue which the council would like to see tackled is the so-called “Weymouth throat” – the narrow restriction on the track leading into the town’s station.

In response to a question about improving rail services to the area from Portland councillor Paul Kimber a full council meeting, Cllr Bryan also warned that whatever improvements were finally agreed by Network Rail they were likely to expect match funding.

Cllr Bryan said the council needed to decide its priorities for the rail lines to the west of the county: “We need to be clear what are we hoping to achieve by dual tracking, and should this be a priority over power supply issues west of Poole or the expansion of the Weymouth Throat which would benefit the Heart of Wessex line also? The answer may be yes, but there is still some work to do,” he said.

Cllr Bryan said that talks with the train operating companies and Network Rail has resulted in Dorset being a priority for the next round of Network Rail’s Continuous Modular Service Plan (CMSP) in 2020 - the process for producing strategies for specific routes and areas.

“It is anticipated that this work will answer our queries regarding what infrastructure improvements are most achievable and give the most benefit.

“It also means that schemes identified can be submitted to the DfT’s Rail Network Enhancement Programme to secure funding. Some form of match funding is likely to be required,” said Cllr Bryan.

He also told councillors that the electrification of the Bristol to Weymouth line had been ruled out: “There are no further plans for electrification of the network after the government paused the programme due to cost overruns and delays, and on 8 November 2016 the government announced that several elements of the Great Western Main Line electrification programme would be indefinitely deferred.”

In response to issues raised at the meeting, Jaime Rockhill, Senior Strategic Planner, Network Rail said: “Network Rail is committed to improving rail connectivity in Dorset and this is a priority as we develop our long term plans. We are working with local stakeholders to help shape these plans. We want to improve Dorset’s connections to the wider region in order to improve the rail service for local people and also boost economic development.”