In My View: Railway passenger service
It’s been a good few days for all those people who share my wish that a railway passenger service along the Waterside is re-established.
Hampshire County Council were about to quietly shelve the project at a Decision Day meeting on November 5th. Fortunately, I was tipped off this was the case, attended the meeting and have persuaded the powers that be to defer a decision for a couple of months.
I have also managed to secure two more important things. The most recent consultants report, commissioned by Hampshire County Council, known as a GRIP 3 Study, is now available to the public. Anyone can now download it and read all 80 plus pages. It’s available to download from my website : www.dharrison.org.uk.
Next, Hampshire County Council have now agreed to hold a meeting of all stakeholders, whereby officers will present the findings of the study and consult. This will give a chance for representatives from the Parish Councils, District Council and National Park Authority to ask questions and express views before a decision is made. This seems only right and proper, especially as they part funded previous studies.
Finally, I will be reading the consultants report very carefully, especially the part that leads them to conclude that there is insufficient demand for such a service. I set up a Facebook Page this week, simply called “ Waterside Community Railway “. It went live at around coffee time, Wednesday morning. When I returned to it, following a cornish pasty I enjoyed for lunch, over 500 people had liked the page. In two days, it has about 2,000 likes and it is growing by the hour. I think that this is pretty strong evidence of support for the project.
I acknowledge that not every single person will be in favour of opening up the line for a passenger service and it will have some negative consequences, but I firmly believe these to be outweighed by all the benefits. It is relatively low capital cost (in railway terms). How great would it be for the communities of Hythe, Marchwood & Totton to be linked up to Southampton with a 30 minute service. It will reduce congestion on our roads and probably drive down bus fares as the impact of competition (something rather missing in recent years) takes effect.