Network Rail is inviting communities along the Waterside area, on the edge of Southampton Water and the New Forest, to find out more about proposals to run passenger services on the freight-only railway for the first time since 1966.
Between Wednesday 10 August and Friday 9 September Network Rail will be running a public consultation along the railway known as the Waterside Line, and wants to hear everyone’s views.
Thanks to the Department for Transport’s (DfT) ‘Restoring Your Railway’ initiative, proposals have been developed to bring passenger services to Marchwood and Hythe.
Mark Killick, Network Rail’s Wessex route director, said: “We’re really pleased to share our proposals for the Waterside Line, which we have carefully developed over the last two years with the DfT and our partners.
“The communities of Marchwood and Hythe are very different to when the line was closed to passenger services 56 years ago. We believe our proposals would support those communities today and as they continue to grow into the future.
“We’re looking forward to discussing our proposals with local communities at our events in August and September.”
Alex Foulds, South Western Railway’s major projects director, said: “Network Rail’s proposal to restore a passenger service to the Waterside area after almost six decades are hugely exciting and I hope local communities will make their views known during the consultation period.
“The proposed service would be a significant investment in the future prosperity and sustainability of the area, complementing existing transport links, supporting neighbourhoods and jobs, as well as taking pressure off local roads.”
The proposals would see passenger services running from Southampton Central to an upgraded station at Marchwood and a brand-new station in Hythe, to serve the nearby communities of Hythe and Fawley.
The new passenger services would improve connectivity by linking the Waterside area with Southampton and its onward connections to the likes of Bournemouth, London, Salisbury and Southampton Airport, boosting both commuter and leisure travel.
A recently approved development in Fawley – which is set to create 1,500 new homes and provide 2,500 jobs – would be well served by the proposals, providing a more sustainable method of transport to link to Southampton and which could help to ease increasing congestion on local roads.
Councillor Edward Heron, Hampshire County council’s executive lead member for transport and environment strategy, said: “It is good to see proposals emerging for passenger services and for members of the public and communities to have an opportunity to give their views.
“There are a number of developments taking place or being planned along the Waterside. With the added potential of the area receiving official Freeport status, there are also housing and employment growth opportunities of national significance.
“Progressing transport infrastructure improvements, in association with the investments we are already making in walking, cycling and bus infrastructure, and the major maintenance scheme on Redbridge Causeway, are essential if we are to address the impacts of development and it is important for local residents’ views to be heard through this consultation.”
As part of the consultation, several events are being hosted in the Waterside area where local residents can find out more about the proposals. Details are listed below:
- Wednesday 10 August, 1400-2000: Anne’s Neighbourhood Centre, Hythe
- Thursday 11 August, 1600-2100: Marchwood Junior School
- Friday 12 August, 1330-1800: Totton and Eling Community Centre – Plant Room
- Saturday 13 August, 0900-1400: Hythe and Dibden Parish Hall
- Monday 15 August, 1300-1800: The Jubilee Hall, Fawley
- Monday 5 September, 1700-2200: Marchwood Junior School
- Tuesday 6 September, 1500-2000: Hythe and Dibden Parish Hall
- Thursday 8 September, 1300-1800: Totton and Eling Community Centre – Plant Room
- Friday 9 September, 0900-1400: The Jubilee Hall, Fawley