The Fawley Branch Line is a freight-only branch line alongside Southampton Water in Hampshire.
Under Future in the Wikipedia entry for the Line, this is said.
On 16 June 2009 the Association of Train Operating Companies announced it was looking into the reopening of the railway as far as Hythe, with a possibility of a further extension to Fawley if agreement could be reached with Esso, which owns the land where Fawley railway station once stood.
A lot more detail is also given, which has these major points.
- Reopening of all former stations along the line.
- A new station in Totton called Totton West, sited just west of the junction with the main line.
- A new train service from Fawley or Hythe to Totton and on via Southampton Central, Southampton Airport Parkway, Eastleigh, Chandlers Ford and Romsey before returning to Southampton Central, Totton and Fawley or Hythe, also serving other intermediate stations.
- Hourly train service.
- Possible future electrification
The section to be reopened would be about seven miles in length.
This Google Map shows the area of the branch line.
It starts at Totton and there used to be stations at Marchwood, Hythe, Hsardley and Fawley.
A Class 319 Flex train could use electric power on the main line and diesel power on the branch.
Battery trains like an Aventra with onboard energy storage, could use electric power on the main line, where they would also charge the batteries. Batteries would then be used on the branch, with a possible top-up charge from something like a Railbaar at Hythe station.
A Trip To Hythe
To look at the Fawley Branch Line, whilst I was in Southampton, I took a trip on the ferry to Hythe and had a look round.
The Fawley Branch Line passes through Hythe about two hundred metres from the water.
This Google Map shows Hythe.
The railway can be picked out as the green scar going across the bottom of the map.
I’m not sure, where the new Hythe station would go.
The Design Of The Line
This picture shows where the Fawley Branch Line joins the main line.
It all looks pretty tidy and in good condition, so making the connection to the main line wouldn’t be too difficult.
The quoted route from Fawley or Hythe via Totton, Southampton Central, Southampton Airport Parkway, Eastleigh, Chandlers Ford to Romsey is only electrified between Totton and Eastleigh, as the Fawley Branch Line and the Eastleigh to Romsey Line are not electrified.
But it is an interesting route, as one of its effects will be to double the frequency of services between Eastleigh and Romsey, where it is probably needed to serve new housing.
I reckon that it would take about forty-five minutes to go from Fawley to Romsey or vice-versa.
It would also be a route for using some form of train with new technology.
- A bi-mode train able to use third-rail electrification would be a possibility.
- A Class 319 Flex train would manage the route with ease.
- Perhaps, a battery train based on a third-rail multiple unit could make the route.
The battery train could be very suitable for the route, as an hourly service would need two trains, which would have around fifteen minutes to charge their batteries at either end of the route.
Currently, the project is on hold, but given the location, where some very nice waterfront housing might be built, circumstances could change.
In No-Frills Mini Trains Offer Route To Reopening Lines That Beeching Shut, one of the lines mentioned in the original Times article that might be suitable for reopening is the Blyth and Tyne Line between Newcastle station and a new Ashington station in the North East.
- More details of this route are given on the South East Northumberland Rail User Group web site.
This map is taken from their web site.
The East Coast Main Line is shown in red, with the proposed reopened line in orange.
Reopening the line would be a lot simpler than many others.
- Most if not all of the track is intact and used by freight trains.
- Some of the route is only single-track.
- Stations would need to be rebuilt or built from scratch.
- To work the desired frequency of two tph would probably need two units.
- Digital signalling would be needed, as there are freight trains on the same lines.
As there are electrified lines in the area, it might be an ideal line for a pair of Class 319 Flex trains, which could run on diesel, where there was no electrification.
Judging by the map, the service could call at the following stations coming North from Newcastle
- Seaton Delaval
- Newsham for Blyth
I also think that there is scope for more routes and stations.
It all looks very feasible.
Two possible routes have been proposed foe extending the Docklands Light Railway to the West
Whether either is worth developing, I don’t know.
- The Thameslink Programme will improve access between London Bridge and Charing Cross stations, which could take pressure off the Jubilee Line.
- The Thameslink Programme will improve Southeastern services into Cannon Street and Charing Cross stations.
- Charing Cross station has a couple of spare platforms, that some would like to re-use.
- Euston and St. Pancras stations have bad access to Canary Wharf and South East London.
- The Bakerloo Line Extension has been given the green light.
- Crossrail connects Canary Wharf to Bond Strreet, Heathrow, Liverpool Street and Paddington.
But the big issue, is what happens about Crossrail 2.
I feel that the more likely extension to the West is to go from Bank to Euston via City Thameslink and Holborn and/or Tottenham Court Road stations and finish by going on to St. Pancras.
It could link HS2 at Euston and European services at St. Pancras to the following.
- Thameslink at City Thameslink station.
- Crossrail at Tottenham Court Road station.
- Bank and Canary Wharf stations.
It would also provide a decent link between the long distance services at Euston, Kings Cross and St. Pancras.
These factors would also influence the design of the DLR Extension.
- The DLR has all the agility of a mountain coat to climb hills and turn sharply, so it might be possible to squeeze it through places impossible for a Crossrail or an Underground line.
- 3D-design techniques are getting better every year.
- Tunnel boring machines are getting more accurate.
- Escalators are getting longer.
So could we see the extension going from Bank to City Thameslink as a traditional extension and then going in a long double-track loop via some or all of the following stations.
- Tottenham Court Road
- Oxford Circus
- Regents Park
- St. Pancras
- Covent Garden
It would all depend on where they could squeeze the tracks through.
- Stations could be island platforms between the tracks.
- Platform edge doors could be fitted.
- Escalators and lifts could link the platforms to existing station.
There’s no reason why the line should be designed traditionally for the DLR.
Donald Trump is a gift to those with a sense of humour, as this article on the BBC web site shows.
My father told me all about the Zinoviev Letter, which was written around the time of the 1924 General Election and published in the Daily Mail.
He certainly knew all about the letter, but I doubt he was anything to do with its production, as he’d only have been twenty at the time.
But in the 1920s and 1930s he moved in left-wing Tory political circles, so he probably knew the truth, even if all he told me was the basic story, you can now read on Wikipedia.
The Zinoviev letter would certainly be considered Fake News today.