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Lymington and Pennington Town Council backs study into reopening of Ampress Halt railway station

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COUNCILLORS have voted for an investigation into reopening a long-shut railway station in Lymington amid “abysmal” bus services.

Ampress Halt, near to Ampress Park on the edge of the town, closed in 1989 but Cllr Barry Dunning, who is the local county councillor, is pushing for an official feasibility study to look into its revival.

He put forward a motion to the latest Lymington and Pennington Town Council meeting seeking endorsement to partner with Hampshire County Council on the idea.

Cllr Dunning revealed to members that he had spoken to HCC officers and they were privately supportive of exploring the idea.

The footbridge near the site of the old Ampress Halt station
The footbridge near the site of the old Ampress Halt station

A similar suggestion was rejected as unviable back in 2007, but Cllr Dunning reasoned the situation has changed as Ampress Park had grown, the hospital was becoming busier, and local bus services were “abysmal”.

HCC was embarking on a set of policies designed to pull more cars off the road to benefit the environment, Cllr Dunning went on, and reopening the station would allow people to commute to work on the line between Brockenhurst and Lymington.

Cllr Dunning stressed it was only backing a study, adding: “I’d like to explore this and see if there is support for trains to potentially stop at Ampress.”

Conservative colleagues, including Cllr Anne Corbridge, were very supportive, but others remained sceptical.

Cllr Jacqui England said there were several reasons the station was unlikely to be reopened, including that houses had been developed too close to the line for a platform to be built of the minimum legal size.

She also pointed to the proximity of a petrol station and dispute over ownership of parcels of land.

She and three other members abstained from the vote, while Cllr Jack Davies was against. But 10 Tory members on the council voted to undertake the feasibility study.

A South Western Railway spokesperson told the A&T: “There was a feasibility study done on reopening Ampress Halt station a decade ago and it was found not to be viable.

“We are not aware of any further plans to explore the viability of reopening the station.

“We have not been contacted by Hampshire County Council with regards to a new feasibility study.”

The call to reopen Ampress Halt has echoes of early appeals to bring back passenger services to the Waterside railway line between Totton and Fawley.

That initially failed to gain support but more recently has attracted £7m of government funding for development planning.

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