Trams could be used to link Portsmouth with Southampton

NEW SERVICE? Fratton Station would be one of the stops on the route.
NEW SERVICE? Fratton Station would be one of the stops on the route.
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RAIL plans under consultation could see trams running between Portsmouth and Southampton, in an effort to cut journey times and improve services between the cities.

Network Rail has laid out proposals to cut the 41 mins to an hour it takes to travel the roughly 16 miles between Hampshire’s two biggest cities. Its Route Utilisation Strategy which has been reviewed by Transport for South Hampshire, suggests ‘tram-trains or light rail’ services could run between the cities.

They would call at Fareham and travel via Netley.

Trains would still operate between Portsmouth and Southampton, but would divert north at Fareham, calling at Eastleigh and forming a direct service to Southampton Airport Parkway.

The plan would be part of a measure to link the south coast as far east as Brighton, taking in Chichester and Havant, direct to the airport.

The report says: ‘Train operator Southern has a commitment to re-route the off-peak Brighton to Southampton Central service via Eastleigh, to provide a direct connection to Southampton Airport Parkway.

‘There is a relatively infrequent rail service between Portsmouth and Southampton, an hourly fast service taking 41 minutes and a stopping service which takes an hour. This is not competitive with roads, on which the journey should take 31 minutes.’

The report suggests the hourly fast service, which finishes at Cardiff Central, should be retained, and suggests adding a second fast train each hour.

But it also discusses running tram-trains and light rail services on the line, which would operate more frequently, and could, as a result, call at fewer stops and make the journey quicker.

Hampshire County Councillor Mel Kendall, a member of the TfSH committee, said: ‘Portsmouth and Southampton are our major growth areas.

‘They will be the places new homes and businesses are going to be developed in the near future, at least. And the more people we can get on the trains the fewer we’ll have on our increasingly-congested roads. We could look at either a light-rail service, or adding the extra fast train. In either case, our priority will be to improve transport between the county’s two major cities.’