Mar 2020 – Totton to Fawley, Hampshire

Few railway lines have closed in recent years, but this freight-only branch is one of them – and it seems very unlikely to be converted into a trail. On 5th March, the Hampshire Chronicle published a sizeable article on plans to re-open the now mothballed line to passengers, noting that local councils are giving the proposal strong support, especially given development plans in the area which include building a small new town on the site of the old Fawley power station. Supporters say that this amount of building will cause gridlock on the A326 (the main road from Fawley to Southampton), but opponents along the rail corridor are ‘horrified’ at the prospect of passenger trains passing their homes, and claim that the railway will make no difference at all to traffic levels on the A326. For good measure, they claim that the closing of level crossings to let trains pass will make the local traffic situation even worse. (Presumably, these people are unaware of the phenomenal success of other rail re-openings, such as Edinburgh to Tweedbank.) The Fawley branch has been described as the only realistic re-opening proposal in the county. All the old stations would be re-opened, with the former Hardley Halt re-developed as Hythe & Fawley Parkway, and a new station built to serve Hythe Town. (Chris Cook and Jeff Vinter)