Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Waterside Totton and Hythe railway line plan back on track

Waterside rail line
Image caption Much of the infrastructure on the line between Totton and Hythe remains in place

Plans to reopen a freight railway line near Southampton to passenger trains have taken a step forward.

Hampshire County Council shelved the idea of using the line, between Totton and Hythe, for commuter and tourist services in 2014 due to cost concerns.

The council has submitted a bid to government to fund a feasibility study, backed by New Forest District Council.

Campaigners said there was a "shift in favour" of the project.

The six-mile (10km) Waterside line was last used by passenger trains in 1966 but more recently has been used by the military port and the Fawley oil refinery.

The council previously decided against progressing with a £17m plan to set up a passenger rail service.

Campaigners maintain a scheme could now be justified, given plans for a new 1,500-home development on the site of the former Fawley Power Station.

Image copyright disusedstations.org
Image caption The line through Marchwood was last used by passenger trains in 1966

Totton county councillor David Harrison said: "If you think of the social and environmental benefits, it ticks a huge amounts of boxes.

"With climate change up the agenda, it's a more sustainable way of travelling rather than sitting in queues of traffic on the A326."

The New Forest National Park Authority said it "very much supported" the reintroduction of rail passenger services in principle.

New Forest District Council's environment committee voted to support the county council's approach for funding from a recently-announced £500m central government fund.

Rob Humby, county council cabinet member for transport, said: "We will consider the case for the re-introduction of passenger rail services alongside other potential measures, such as enhanced bus services, better walking and cycling provision, road enhancements or, most likely, a combination of some or all of these."

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