Network Rail has said it will continue to work on the scheme to reopen the former Fawley branch line, but only as far as Hythe, where a new station would need to be built. The original plan was to open a park-and-ride station at Hardley, just outside Fawley Oil Refinery, but the cost of the extra two miles seems to have put NR off. At Hythe, although the original station building remains and is now the Waterside Heritage Centre, its location is not ideal for the town, and a new station is proposed behind the town’s library.
Annamarie Compton, head of consents and environmental planning for Network Rail’s Southern Region, told RAIL magazine: “We are looking to restore regular passenger services to the Waterside Line. Over the next several months, we will be building our proposals to submit a full business case to the Department for Transport at the end of the year, with a prospect of getting a decision to go by early 2024.’
Campaigners, on the other hand, hope that Hythe is just the start. Nick Farthing of the Three Rivers Rail Partnership, which has led efforts to revive the line, told the BBC it was a “disappointment” not to have it fully reopened as far as Fawley, yet “The main thing is the railway is coming. If we can get it as far as Hythe to start with, then I’m confident we can get it as far as where a park and ride is planned at the refinery gates.”
(BBC; Rail Magazine)