Railway expansion planned by Network Rail between Portsmouth and Southampton
TWICE as many trains could be heading from Portsmouth to Southampton and the surrounding area.
Portsmouth City Council’s cabinet member for traffic and transportation Lynne Stagg is set to discuss a proposed expansion of railway services across the Solent.
Cllr Stagg is expected to endorse the study made by Network Rail, called the Solent Continuous Modular Strategic Planning. It aims to boost the number of rail passengers in the region.
Under this plan, there would be a total of four trains per hour between Portsmouth and Southampton, and two trains per hour between Portsmouth and Eastleigh – double the current number on each route.
Platform two at Portsmouth Harbour Railway Station would also be reinstated, with the track being put back into use, and another low-level platform would be provided at Portsmouth and Southsea.
There would also be changes made to Fareham station, with what is known as a ‘bi-directional through platform’ being put in instead of the current bay platform. This would mean trains could overtake, meaning that timetables could be a more flexible. The Fareham platform would also be adapted to be able to take longer trains.
The 114-page document, produced by Network Rail and Solent Transport, also includes proposals for elsewhere in Hampshire.
It reads: ‘Just a small percentage of any rail investment secured for Solent, if used for station access improvements, would help to maximise the value and benefit of investment in service improvements.
‘Frequency improvements can help city-to-city connectivity by providing more opportunities to travel each hour, reducing average wait times.
‘The wider Solent corridor beyond the cities is a key growth area for employment and housing and development in these out-of-city areas will be key in influencing future demand and journey patterns.’
A council report on the subject says that ‘the Solent area has a high level of car dependency and currently a lower use of rail than might be expected for its population size – only 2.3 per cent of commuter trips
are made by train’.
It adds: ‘In the morning peak period rail travel times are quicker than those possible by car for many of these journeys. However, the relatively low train service frequencies at many stations make rail travel unattractive.’
It says that there would be quicker journey times between Portsmouth and Southampton, less congestion in Portsmouth and an economic knock-on effect as better travel times would encourage more people to work in the city and lead to companies investing in the area.
Cllr Stagg is expected to lend the city council’s support to the changes, with the meeting being live-streamed from 4pm.
Councillors Simon Bosher from the Conservatives and Labour’s Graham Heaney will represent the opposing parties.