We’re developing proposals to reintroduce passenger services on the Waterside Line near Southampton.
The Waterside Line, also known as the Fawley branch line, is a nine-mile-long branch line that connects Totton and Fawley in Hampshire and once served the areas of Marchwood, Hythe and Fawley, near Southampton.
The line closed to passenger services in 1966, but thanks to funding from the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Restoring Your Railway initiative, we are developing proposals to reintroduce passenger services.
In February 2020, the Department for Transport (DfT) launched the ‘Restoring Your Railway’ initiative, a £500 million programme to start reopening lines and stations.
Hampshire County Council (HCC) applied for funding to develop proposals for reintroducing passenger services. The application was successful and in May 2020 the DfT agreed to contribute towards economic studies and a business case.
In July 2020, South Western Railway (SWR) ran a ‘fact-finding’ train to investigate the potential reopening of the line and help inform both a feasibility study and a Strategic Outline Business Case (SOBC). This was the first service carrying passengers on the route for 54 years.
The outcome of the feasibility study and SOBC work saw the DfT award an additional £6 million of funding, which was announced in the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) of October 2021.
The additional funding is being used to develop a final business case and to continue to develop proposals. We’re engaging specialist suppliers to develop design options and engineers are carrying out investigations on the line.
Between Monday 8 August and Friday 9 September 2022, we ran a public consultation on our proposals, to gather your feedback and help us further develop our design and the proposed service.
We are developing proposals that would see passenger services restored from Southampton Central to an upgraded station at Marchwood and a brand-new station in Hythe.
This would require the introduction of new railway infrastructure, particularly in the Hythe and Marchwood areas.
The proposed new services will call at Totton station, using the existing station.
To run the trains to and from Southampton Central we plan to refurbish Platform 5 to allow passenger services to terminate in the platform.
Constructing a new station at Hythe with associated facilities, a new station forecourt, cycle facilities and connections for onward travel.
Two options for the station location in Hythe are being considered, one alongside the railway behind New Road car park and one alongside the railway between Jones Lane and School Road.
Reopening Marchwood station with associated facilities, a new station forecourt, cycle facilities and connections for onward travel.
Reintroducing passenger services on the Waterside 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.
In recent years the communities of Marchwood and Hythe have grown through residential and commercial developments. This has led to increasing congestion on local roads – particularly the A326 which links Fawley, Hythe and Marchwood with the A35 road into Southampton.
Regular passenger services could help alleviate this 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.
Not only would regular passenger services support local communities as they stand today, it would also support them as they grow. 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 our proposals.
Public Consultation update
The public consultation closed on Friday 9 September following eight public events that took place in Hythe, Marchwood, Totton and Fawley. We would like to thank everyone who attended these sessions and to all of those who provided their feedback. We have produced a summary of the consultations that can be downloaded below.
You can find out more about the Waterside Line and our proposals in our leaflets below.
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For more information or to get in touch with us, please contact us by emailing Watersideline@networkrail.co.uk or by calling our 24-hour national helpline on 03457 11 41 41.