FASTER trains between Portsmouth and Southampton are needed, council bosses have said – after it was revealed the city’s roads will not be part of a multi-million pound improvement scheme.
Portsmouth council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson branded the hour-long train journey to the neighbouring city as ‘crazy’ and said the rail link ‘should be a priority.’
Regional body Transport for the South East (TfSE), which is made up of local councils, business groups and transport experts, confirmed the rail line could be considered for future work if it is identified as a ‘strategic priority for the region.’
It comes after roads in the Portsmouth area were not included in a list of 10 schemes shortlisted by TfSE in a latest bid for government funding.
Councillor Vernon-Jackson said: ‘Inevitably we do want investment in Portsmouth.
‘But for me the biggest thing we should be looking at is how to make the rail link from Southampton to Portsmouth much faster.
‘It’s about an hour to get from Portsmouth to Southampton on the railway, which makes it not much above 20mph. Compared to the HS2 trains from London to the north that’s crazy.’
The council’s transport boss Cllr Lynne Stagg agreed. ‘We weren’t too disappointed to be left off the list of successful councils,’ she said.
‘An improved Portsmouth to Southampton rail service is a much higher priority for us. Also, the M27 is being upgraded so the need for an improved road is already being addressed.’
It is hoped the 10 chosen schemes, such as improvements to the A259 through West Sussex and the Redbridge Causeway in Southampton, will speed up traffic as well as boost economic growth and ‘improve the environment’ on the south coast.
Each scheme would be awarded up to £50m from a £3.5bn national pot if funding is approved.
A TfSE spokesman said: ‘If the strategy identifies faster journeys between Southampton and Portsmouth as a strategic priority for the region, then we will put the full weight of our partnership behind schemes which help make that happen.’
Other schemes will be considered for the next funding period from 2025 to 2030.
A broader draft transport strategy will also be published for public consultation by TfSE this autumn.