Jul 2020 – Fawley, Hampshire

Last month a ‘fact-finding’ passenger train traversed the Fawley branch – also known as the Waterside line – carrying, among others, Network Rail Chairman, Sir Peter Hendy, and Rail Minister, Chris Heaton-Harris, as plans for a large new residential development at Fawley have revived hopes of restoring the rail link. The line could also give a boost to the still operational, but threatened, Hythe – Southampton ferry. South Western Railways are keen to reopen the 6-mile line to passengers and say the necessary upgrading work could be completed in four years at a cost of around £45 million. The line does see occasional freight workings to Marchwood Military Port, while the last train to Fawley oil refinery used the line in 2017. In June, Hampshire County Council won government funding to develop the business case for the reopening scheme. (BBC News; Alan Johnston; Gas Hill)