Network Rail announces public consultation into reopening train passenger services on the Waterside line
A MONTH-LONG consultation will kick off on proposals to reopen the Waterside railway to passenger services, including reopening Marchwood station and building a brand new one at Hythe.
Network Rail said it was engaging specialist suppliers to develop design options and engineers are carrying out investigations on the line.
Documents on Network Rail's website stated: "The proposals we are developing would see passenger services restored from Southampton to Marchwood station, which would be reopened, and to a brand new station in Hythe.
"Our proposals are subject to a positive review of the project’s business case and we are still to determine what changes would be needed to the existing railway infrastructure such as track, signalling and level crossings."
It added: "Reintroducing passenger services on the line would strengthen and improve transport links to Waterside communities, support their growth, provide a more sustainable mode of transport and support government and industry objectives."
As reported in the A&T, the nine-mile branch line was closed around 50 years ago.
Freight trains continued to use the line until 2016, transporting crude oil to Fawley oil refinery. Some freight services still use the line to access Solent Gateway port in Marchwood.
Last October the then Chancellor Rishi Sunak allocated £7m towards developing plans to reopen the railway.
Campaigners have been pushing for the line to reopen to help alleviate traffic on the A326 which is expected to increase ahead of the planned development of 1,500 homes at the former Fawley power station.
However, opponents have warned the service might not be practical or popular, wasting money, and train crossings could snarl up traffic.
The consultation added: "Regular passenger services could help alleviate congestion by allowing local commuting and providing links to destinations further afield from Southampton.
"As public transport such as rail is a more sustainable alternative to cars, it would help the local environment too."
The public consultation runs from 8th August until 9th September.
Members of the public can view the proposals on 10th August from 4pm-8pm at St Anne’s Neighbourhood Centre in Hythe; 11th August 5pm-9pm at Marchwood Junior School; 12th August 2.30pm-6.30pm at Totton and Eling Community Centre; 13th August 10am-2pm at Hythe and Dibden parish hall; and 15th August 2pm-6pm at Jubilee Hall in Fawley.
Full details will also be available online from 8th August at www.networkrail.co.uk/watersideline