Decision details

The removal of the redundant tram lines (Weymouth Harbour Branchline) and reinstatement of the carriageway to improve safety; specifically, for cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians and reduce the maintenance burden

Decision Maker: Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No


Reason for the Decision

The rails have been put permanently out of use by Network Rail.  This network change has been agreed by government.  The now redundant rails are an ongoing safety hazard and maintenance burden to Dorset Council.  Should the scheme not go ahead within the planned window, there is the risk that Dorset Council will have to return the grant.


Alternative Options considered and rejected

Dorset Council has been working with Network Rail to identify a satisfactory, long term solution to the problem. 


Options considered include surfacing over and infilling.  An infilling trial was undertaken in 2012.  Four different options were tested, but none proved durable.  In addition, infilling only addresses on aspect of the risk (cycle wheels being caught in the void between the tracks) The slip hazard remains, and there has been no reduction in the accident rate. 


An option for partial removal has been considered and discounted because although it may remove the risk to cyclists at key locations, the risk remains elsewhere, and the long-term maintenance issue would remain unresolved including the presence of wooden sleepers under the carriage. 


Surfacing options have been discounted because they only provide a temporary solution and leave the long-term maintenance liability in place. 


Do nothing was ruled out as untenable due to the ongoing risk to safety, the long-term maintenance issues and the positioning of the rails precludes the development of an on-road cycle route to be developed separately as part of the town wide network.



External: Network Rail, Weymouth Town Council,

Internal: Local Member, Conservation Officer and Archaeologist.  Engagement with local members


Budget Implications

£200,000 from the Local Transport Plan budget.  £1.137M from the Department for Transport.  £200,000 from Network Rail. (update: Network Rail given an extra £41,319 – total of £241,319) Notice amended on 21/12/2020


Legal Implications

The transfer of ownership of  the rails is underway and will be completed on receipt of documentation from Network Rail, who are joint funders of the scheme. We have assurances from Network Rail that they have instructed their legal representatives to effect the transfer and finance has been authorised.


Reference Documents

For full information about the rationale behind the scheme, see our funding bid.





To proceed with the removal in accordance with the terms of the £1.137M Department for Transport grant – while being sensitive to the historic context.

Publication date: 17/11/2020

Date of decision: 28/09/2020

Accompanying Documents: