CONTROVERSIAL plans to remove Weymouth's historic harbour railway line are on track to start this autumn.

Drivers are being warned of disruption as roads will need to be closed when the project gets underway in October.

Numerous accidents have been caused by the disused metal railway tracks, which run from Commercial Road to Custom House Quay as they become slippery in wet weather as well as posing a hazard to cyclists and motorcyclists.

Dorset Council engineers will start taking up the tracks at King Street, continuing along Commercial Road.

The council also vowed to make any necessary drainage repairs and resurfacing during the project, and said the removal 'will reduce the number of incidents along this significant stretch of busy road.'

Last month an accident on the tracjs a retired teacher was reduced to eating through a straw following a particularly nasty cycling accident further down the line at Custom House Quay.

However many residents and local history enthusiasts were dismayed when Dorset Council signalled the end of the line for the tracks earlier this year, when it was announced that the removal project would go ahead, funded by central Government money.

The project follows a successful joint funding bid by Dorset Council and Network Rail to the Department for Transport (DfT) to dismantle and remove the rails.

Cllr Ray Bryan, Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, said: “There is no getting away from the fact that this scheme will cause disruption due to its location and the scale of the works. We hope to minimise inconvenience by keeping open as much access as possible into the town to ensure businesses can continue to operate.

“The route will be closed a section at a time, between junctions wherever possible, and move in a ‘rolling’ fashion so that one section of road is reopened as another is closed.

“As the rails are in the middle of the road, the only way to remove them safely is with a road closure in place. Where needed, we’ll put in supporting temporary traffic measures on nearby roads for re-routed vehicles.”

The second phase of work will start in early 2021 and remove the rails along Custom House Quay.

Cllr Bryan added: “The project team are also working with conservation officers to develop ideas of how best to preserve some historic elements of the Weymouth Branch Line.

“This could involve preserving a section of the track in a suitable area or some way of showing where the branch line used to be, along with information displays for visitors and residents about the history of the harbour and how it contributed to the development of the town.”

The project to remove the old Weymouth Branch Line tracks was awarded £1.137m by the Department for Transport.