The Anonymous Widower

Southampton – A City Built For Cars

These pictures show Southampton as I walked between Southampton Central station and the Town Quay for the ferry to Hythe.

The last few pictures are when I walked back.

This Google Map shows the layout of Southampton

Note how the city sits between the two rivers; the Itchen in the East and the Test going to the West.

Crossing the Itchen is a modern Itchen Bridge, which was built in 1977, that takes the A3025 into and out of the City.

, To the East of the bridge two stations; Woolston and Sholing on the West Coastway Line can be seen.

From Woolston station, the West Coastway Line, curves Northwards and follows the East bank of the River Itchen through Bitterne station, which can be picked out at the top of the map, East of the River Itchen.

The West Coastway Line then joins the South Western Main Line at St. Denys station.

This Google Map shows Bitterne and St. Denys stations.

After going along the river for a short distance and passing Northam Depot, the line splits, as this Google Map shows.

One branch goes South past St. Mary’s stadium and the other turns West and takes Southampton Tunnel to Southampton Central station.

I wrote about the upgrading of Southampton Tunnel in Boxing Clever, where I said this about how the project was performed.

I particularly liked the way that the 1847 Southampton Tunnel  was made larger. Rather than use the traditional approach and closing the tunnel for two to three months, as they did when they upgraded Ipswich Tunnel, they did it a track at a time closing for only three weekends and over Christmas 2009, saving a year on the project.

It is my belief that we can save a lot of money on infrastructure projects, like roads, railways, hospitals ands schools by thinking things through with a great deal more innovation, enterprise and by borrowing good and proven ideas and methods from other countries and industries.

The Wikipedia entry for Southampton Tunnel, has a section called Tunnel Development, which says this about those works.

During the period Sunday 27 December 2009 to Sunday 3 January 2010, the tunnel closed for the track to be lowered to achieve W10 (freight container) route clearance. Previously, Hi Cube intermodal container traffic had to be carried on special low wagons with areas which could not be loaded, resulting in both traffic planning issues and lower train capacity. Additionally, all container trains were restricted to 20 mph when passing through the tunnel because of the limited clearances at the top edges of the loaded containers. Since rebuilding no speed or loading restrictions apply to the tunnel and container trains can travel at up to the line speed of 40 mph, the limit for the tunnel. The work meant containers could be transported more easily by rail from the Port of Southampton.

In some ways the Southampton Tunnel sums up the problems with the UK’s railways. The Victorian layout doesn’t really support the needs of modern transport. And especially freight transport!

The railways will have to live with the updated Southampton Tunnel, as I doubt there is an alternative route to get intermodal container traffic between Southampton Container Terminal and the rest of the UK.

I will finish my East-West journey across Southampton by showing this Google Map, which shows Southampton Central station and the Docks that lie to its West.

Note Millbrook station to the North of the Docks. It doesn’t appear to be a very busy station.

I shall now return to the Itchen Bridge along the Waterfront.

Note the following can be seen on this map.

  • The Itchen Bridge
  • St. Mary’s Stadium
  • Southampton Central station.
  • Red Funnel Ferries on Town Quay
  • The Ocean Terminal.
  • The West Quay Shopping Centre

There are also vast areas of surface car parks.

A Metro For Southampton

Southampton is a city, where I believe that too much emphasis has been placed on access to the City by car.

But the skeleton of an urban railway is still there, as this map of the railway lines through Southampton shows.

To be fair, the chance may have been missed when the Itchen Bridge was built in 1977. I suspect that at that time in Germany for example, the bridge would have been future proofed for trams to be added at a later date.

But the thoughts at the time in the UK, were that trams were of the Past and not of the Present.

This Google Map, which shows the Itchen Bridge, with St. Mary’s Stadium on the West Bank and Woolston station on the East.

If you look at this map carefully, the rail corridor to the old Southampton Terminus station is still there and about two hundred metres North of the station, a train in South West trains livery can be seen. The line is obviously used for some purpose by Northam Depot.

If I look at various rail systems, I’ve seen all over the UK, it would appear that the following could be done.

Reopen The Rail Line To Southampton Terminus

The line from St. Denys station to Southampton Terminus station could be reopened with possible stations at Northam and St. Mary’s Stadium.

St. Denys is a four-platform station and it could act as a cross-platform interchange between services going to and from Southampton Terminus and Central.

Run West Coastway Services To Southampton Terminus And London Waterloo Services To Southampton Central


  • The South Western Main Line is at capacity with freight and passenger services.
  • The West Coastway Line is less busy.

So why not run West Coastway services to Southampton Terminus?

Remodel St. Denys Station

St. Denys is a four-platform station and it could act as a efficient cross-platform interchange .

  • Platform 1 – Services from Southampton Central to London
  • Platform 2 – Services to Southampton Central
  • Platform 3 – All services between the West Coastway and Southampton Terminus


  1. By making Platform 3 bi-directional, this means that trains using the West Coastway Line don’t have to cross the main line if they terminate at Southampton Terminus.
  2. Travellers going West would just walk across the platform, whereas those going East would use the bridge.
  3. Provision would be made to allow services to go between the West Coastway Line and Southampton Central.
  4. Provision would be made to allow trains to access Northam Depot.

There is probably a better layout, but by careful design and the opening up of Southampton Terminus, Southampton would be given extra capacity.

A Cross-City Tram

Every time, I’ve gone to Soiuthampton, I’ve always seemed to walk halfway across the City.

Looking at the map, there must be scope for a tram route.

This article in the Romsey Advertiser is entitled Plans for multi-million pound tram project in Romsey are being investigated.

This is said about the route.

Phase one of the “Solent Metro” network would see trams run from Eastleigh past the airport, down to a new station at Southampton St Mary’s, on to an interchange at Royal Pier, then back up to Westquay and Southampton Central railway station.

The plan also envisages the network – which could be trams or a light railway – being extended west to Romsey and from there back to Eastleigh, and eastwards to Segensworth.

Southampton certainly needs something that connects the Waterfront to the West Quay Shopping Centre and Central station, hopefully with a good connection to St. Mary’s Stadium.


My preference would be for a tram-train system, where tram-trains started at places like Bournemouth, Eastleigh, Fareham, Fawley, Lymington, Portsmouth and Romsey as trains and then went walkabout as trams in the City Centre.

At the East, the tram trains would change mode in the vicinity of the old Southampton Terminus station and proceed to St. Mary’s and St. Denys stations as third-rail electrified trains

This Google Map shows the old Southampton Terminus station, which is now a casino.

The rail line goes North to St. Mary’s Stadium, Northam Depot and St. Denys station. To the South it goes as far as the Waterfront, where it finishes just to the East of the Ocean Terminal.

In the West they would need to join the South Western Main Line in the area of Southampton Central station.

The Google Map shows the area.

I’m sure that a more than adequate connection could be arranged after what I have seen in places like Karlsruhe.

There would of course be only one way for the the tram-trains to cross between Southampton Terminal and Southampton Central stations and that would be on battery power. I’m certain if Birmingham  do it across a City with much more of a gradient, as they intend, then Southampton could do it across the Waterfront.

Serving The Cruise Ships

The plan from the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership detailed in the Romsey Advertiser mentions running the trams or light rail service to the Royal Pier, where they would reverse.

This Google Map shows the Ocean Terminal, with a handy cruise ship alongside.

Note how the rail line that runs down behind St. Mary’s stadium continues to the dockside, just to the East of the Ocean Terminal.

If tram-trains were working the routes around Southampton, they could all terminate by the Ocean Terminal and thus give cruise passengers access to tourist attractions like Bournemouth, The New Forest and Portsmouth, in addition to the whole of Southampton City Centre.

I’m sure those clever engineers from Stadler can come up with a third-rail version of a Class 399 tram-train, that had enough battery power to traverse across Southampton. Especially, if a charge station like a Railbaar was installed at the Ocean Terminal to charge waiting tram-trains.


The possibilities at Southampton to improve public transport in the City are endless.









April 12, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

The Class 319 Flex Train And Third Rail Routes

In writing The Electrical System Of A Class 319 Flex, I came to the conclusion, that the designers of the Class 319 Flex had taken great care that the train would perform to a high standard on lines with third-rail electrification..

There are three routes that could be given an improved service using a third-rail bi-mode train.

Ashford to Brighton on the Marshlink Line.

Oxted to Uckfield on the Oxted Line.

Reading to Tonbridge via Gatwick Airport on the North Downs Line.


  1. From Ashford, trains on the Marshlink Line could go to London, but probably not on High Speed 1.
  2. The East Coastway Line between Hastings and Brighton can accept eight-car trains, and is a 90 mph line, that has recently been resignalled.
  3. From Oxted on the Oxted Line trains could go to London.
  4. The Uckfield Branch has been updated to accept twelve-car trains.
  5. Tonbridge to Gatwick Airport was electrified as a Eurostar diversion route.

For operational reasons on the Uckfield Branch and along the South Coast, it would probably be a good idea, if the ability to run as eight- and twelve car formations was developed for the Class 319 Flex.

The South Coast Express

The East Coastway Line could be connected to the West Coastway Line to Southampton Central station with a reverse at Brighton.

At present because the Marshlink Line is not electrified and the two Coastway Lines are run independently, you can’t travel between stations on the West Coastway Line to any station on the East Coastway Line without changing trains at Brighton.

Consider creating a South Coast Express between Ashford and Southampton using bi-mode trains.

  • The Class 800 train, which is the only current bi-mode train, comes as a five-car train, but doesn’t have a dual voltage version, although its cousin the Class 395 train can work on third rail networks.
  • The Class 319 Flex train could do the whole route and would only need to use diesel power for twenty-six miles.
  • The speed limit along the two Coastway Lines could probably be upgraded to 100 mph.
  • A new Eastbourne Parkway station could be created on a reopened direct line between Polegate and Pevensey & Westham stations, to avoid all trains reversing at the current Eastbourne station and hence save time.
  • It would be a feeder railway to Thameslink services at Brighton and Eurostar services at Ashford.
  • Eight-car or even twelve-car formations could work through Falmer station on match days at The Amex.
  • Southampton have plans to develop the railway to serve St. Mary’s Stadium and the Waterfront, which could be part of an upgraded West Coastway Line.

Currently, with a change at Brighton, Southampton to Ashford takes three hours forty-seven minutes. With a 100 mph train on an updated 100 mph line, the service could surely be a lot faster.

If an hourly service was required, then you get this table of trains required to run the service against  the journey time between Ashford and Southampton.

  • Three hours needs six trains.
  • Two and a half hours needs five trains.
  • Two hours needs four trains.

Southern use more trains than that now to provide a slower service, with a change at Brighton.

West Of Basingstoke

The West of England Main Line is only electrified as far as Basingstoke station, which is just under fifty miles from London.

Distances from Basingtoke are approximately.

Could a Class 319 Flex carry enough fuel to serve this route?

I have seen an early copy of the brochure for a Class 319 Flex and Porterbook say that the train is designed to handle ten round trips from Hazel Grove to Buxton, which is a seventeen mile trip, where the steep gradients up are probably balanced by the coming down.

This would indicate that the Class 319 Flex could do a round trip without refuelling.

The route is currently worked by eleven two-car Class 158 trains and thirty three-car Class 159 trains and they take three and a half-hours for each hourly service between London Waterloo and Exeter St. Davids.

The Class 319 Flex train has a comparable speed to the Class 158/159 trains on diesel and is ten mph faster, when running on electricity.

I don’t think that the trains would be used all the way to Exeter, as they are not really designed for a journey of that length, but there may be other places where they could be ideal.

  • Running between London Waterloo and Salisbury to increase the frequency, where they might save upwards of fifteen minutes between Basingstoke and Waterloo, as they are faster than the diesel Class 158/159s.
  • Running the hourly circular service from Salisbury to Chandlers Ford via Southampton, which has sections of electrified line, where they could replace Class 158/159s.
  • Existing lines like the Lymington Branch, where they could replace Class 158/159s
  •  Reopened lines like the Fawley Branch,  Ludgershall Branch and the Swanage Railway.
  • New services like Portsmouth Harbour to Salisbury via Southampton and Romsey.

It could be that some selective electrification like Southampton to Romsey could be very beneficial.






March 5, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Reopening The Fawley Branch Line

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.

Fawley Branch Line

Fawley Branch Line

It starts at Totton and there used to be stations at Marchwood, Hythe, Hsardley and Fawley.

Rolling Stock

The current proposals talk about using diesel trains, which would probably be Class 158 or Class 159 trains.

Given that Totton station is on the electrified South Western Main Line, other trains that can work on partly electrified lines may be able to work services on the Fawley Branch Line.

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.

Current Status

Currently, the project is on hold, but given the location, where some very nice waterfront housing might be built, circumstances could change.



February 17, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Some Trains Never Know When To Retire

This article in the Railway Gazette, which is entitled Southampton – London open access service proposed, caught my eye.

I like disruptive innovation in all its forms. When you consider that my pension is paid by the money I made from two examples of disruptive innovation, I would be a hypocrite to think otherwise.

To me, an open access operator on the railway, is just another form of disruptive innovation.

Although not open access operators, some of the smaller rail companies like Chiltern, c2c and London Overground are very much disruptive innovators.

If they get the product right they succeed, if they don’t they fail.

These train companies also bring much needed competition to a route.

I use them, when they are convenient to me and in the last couple of months, I’ve used several of them.

These points gleaned from the article describes the proposed Southampton London service.

  • Alliance Rail Holdings hope to start a new Southampton – London Waterloo route in December 2017.
  • Alliance envisages that there would be seven off-peak services a day, with two Peak services from 2018.
  • They will be offering a high class service.
  • They are proposing to use Class 442 trains for the route.

It is a proposal, I shall watch with interest.

I have never had many rides in a Class 442 train, but they are interesting beasts.

  • They started to be introduced in 1988, so are nearly thirty years old.
  • In some ways they are the ultimate development of the Mark 3 coach, with air-conditioning and plug as opposed to slam doors.
  • They hold the speed record for a third-rail electric train.
  • When first delivered, their reliability was questionable, but over time, they seem to have become a dependable electric multiple unit.

Recently, they have been working the Gatwick Express, but now that route has brand new Class 387 /2 trains, they are in storage.

It may seem strange to start a new train company with thirty-year-old trains, but then Mark 3  carriages still feel they have another few years yet. Certainly, companies like Chiltern and Abellio Scotrail are still recruiting them at the scrapyard’s door and giving them a treatment worthy of Joan Collins or Roger Moore.

In addition, there is this article from Rail Magazine, is entitled Refurbished Mk 3s for Tornado.

It describes how, a rake of Greater Anglia’s Mark 3 coaches, will be acquired to be used with the new-build steam locomotive 60163 Tornado.

I’ll be long dead, when the last Mark 3 coach is finally retired from revenue-earning service on the UK’s railways.



November 12, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Cardiff To Southampton By Electric Train

When I was waiting on Bath Spa station to return to London, a Class 158 train from Cardiff stopped at the station, on its way to Brighton via Southampton.

The train travels the full length of the Wessex Main Line from Bristol Temple Meads to Southampton, using the soon-to-be-electrified South Wales Main Line and the electrified West Coastway Line to complete the full route.

I wondered how much of the route will be electrified, once Cardiff to Bristol is hopefully electrified in the next few years. The current date for wires to Cardiff is December 2018.

I would estimate the length of the non-electrified section between Southampton and Bath is about sixty to sixty-five miles.

So it would appear that, the line could be within range for a Class 387 train or a new Aventra, with an IPEMU capability.

Obviously, Great Western Railway could also run a five-car Class 800 train on the route, using the on-board diesels to bridge the gap.

One way or other by 2020, Cardiff to Southampton will be run by electric trains, with a much increased capacity.


April 28, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

FA Cup Match One – Southampton 1 – Ipswich 1

Ipswich took around 5,000 supporters to Southampton.

And with a bit of luck we might have come away victorious. The BBC said this, when describing Mick McCarthy’s reaction.

“I just said to the lads, ‘well done, it’s the last thing we really wanted’ – but that was tongue-in-cheek.

“I didn’t want to lose, that’s for sure. Why can’t we have a cup run as well? I came down here and watched Arsenal play and Southampton were worthy winners.

It will hopefully be an interesting replay at Portman Road on the 14th.

January 4, 2015 Posted by | Sport | , , , | Leave a comment

Wayfinding In Southamption

Southampton, or at least the parts I visited seems to have a comprehensive wayfinding system.

This web site shows the design, which is based on similar rules to London. A similar system will be rolled out all over Hampshire. The Hampshire web site says this.

The project team responsible for the signage is learning lessons from similar work elsewhere, including the recent Southampton legible cities project and the Legible London scheme.

So are we getting a de facto standard for wayfinding all over the country?

I hope so!





January 4, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Walking To St. Mary’s

St. Mary’s Stadium is not ideally placed for the main Southampton Central station, as this Google Earth view shows.

Southampton Central To St. Mary's Stadium

Southampton Central To St. Mary’s Stadium

It took me about twenty minutes and what slows the walk is the initial hill. If I ever go again, I’ll leave a little bit earlier and then have a cup of tea or a drink on the top.

At least St. Mary’s is one of the few grounds, where the Away supporters’ stand is closest to the train station.

But look at this enlarged Google Earth view of the area around the stadium.

Rail Lines By St. Mary's Stadium

Rail Lines By St. Mary’s Stadium

The South Western Main Line from Basingstoke and London comes into this picture at the top to the left of the two gas holders. Note how the lines curve to the west to go through the Southampton Tunnel under the centre of the city. The portal of the tunnel is just at the edge of the picture.

The rail tracks to the left (west) of the stadium are the route to Southampton Docks and the now closed Southampton Terminus station. Before electrification to Southampton in the 1960s, this station was the main one for Southampton and there was also another station at Northam, which was somewhere in the area to the west of the stadium.

Plans have been put forward in recent years to put a station at the stadium and also one on Southampton Waterfront. Some have been grandiose, but the City Council has safeguarded a route from the Waterfront to Romsey, Halterworth and Chandler’s Ford.

If Southampton Football Club stay in the upper reaches of the Premier League and decide to increase the capacity of the ground, I would not be surprised to see a metro link running on the line, with an interchange at say Eastleigh.

The route would also mean that passengers for cruise ships could get closer to the Cruise Terminals by train, just as they used to in the days of RMS Titantic.

January 4, 2015 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

The Manager is a Physio

I’m watching Southampton take on Coventry in a game that if they win, they’ll be in the Premier League next season.

Surprisingly, the Southampton manager; Nigel Adkins, trained as a physiotherapist and was employed in that position at Scunthorpe, when he was made manager there. He also played over 300 games as a goal-keeper for Tranmere Rovers, Wigan Athletic and Bangor City. Tradition has it that keepers don’t make good managers.

However, there is a precedent for a physio, who went on to be a top-class manager; Bertie Mee, who led Arsenal to the double in 1970-71.

April 28, 2012 Posted by | Sport | , , | Leave a comment

Southampton and Football

I went to Southampton on Saturday to see Ipswich play them in the FA Cup.

I’ve always had rather a low opinion of Southampton.  Not that I’ve been there very often, but I had great difficulty once getting a gluten-free meal and that clouded my view of the place.

I was surprised that the city had medieval walls, which contain the longest stretch in England, and you can walk along the top of them in places.  Like many English cities, it has a ruined church, Holyrood, that was bombed by the Luftwaffe in the Second World Wat and has been left as a memorial sailors of the Merchant Navy.

Let’s not talk about the football.

January 25, 2010 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , | 1 Comment