THE MAN SAYS "YES"! Good News From Hampshire County Council. I am get…
THE MAN SAYS "YES"!
Good News From Hampshire County Council. I am getting some traction now, with cross party agreement.
Another giant leap forward yesterday as the Executive member for Transport & The Environment, Cllr. Rob Humby, accepted Officers recommendations and advanced the case for further moves to pursue the project to restore the Waterside passenger railway service.
It's worth me reproducing an exert from the text of the report. You will see that things have changed in favour of the scheme since I was pushing this several years ago…
34. Over the last ten years, a number of studies have examined the feasibility of re-introducing passenger services on the Waterside line. These studies concluded that there was a poor business case and that a scheme was not justified at that time. As a result, in 2013 the Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment recommended that “the County Council will not at
the present time commit further funding or other resources to this project but will review this position if there are significant changes in either future funding arrangements for rail projects or other local circumstances…" The 2013
Decision Day report also concluded that the business case may improve as a result of an increase in local population or economic which may require the business case to be reassessed.
35. Since then a number of changes in local circumstances have happened including allocations in the new Forest District Local Plan for a number of new major development proposals. The District Council, in partnership with others,
has developed a Waterside Vision document identifying significant employment growth potential. Taking these into account it was considered timely to reassess the business case.
36. In 2019 Hampshire County Council commissioned consultants to carry out a feasibility study that reviewed the evidence base for re-opening the railway line which would investigate if it was operationally feasible, and set out the costs and benefits to transport users of re-introducing passenger services on the Waterside line. This work is now largely complete and is showing an improved business case. It indicates that it would be operationally feasible (in rail terms) to re-introduce passenger services, and there is now a more robust economic and strategic case for further development of this scheme. The improved
business case needs to be balanced against other local issues and concerns and further work will be needed going forward to consider the wider case.
37. Following the County Council’s successful bid for funding earlier this year from the DfT’s Restoring Your Railway Fund, work is currently underway with
Network Rail and DfT to prepare a draft SOBC for submission in November this year. The DfT is providing a grant of £50,000 towards the cost of technical
feasibility work that supports this business case. The government has pledged £500m to the Restoring Your Railway Fund.
38. In light of the government future funding opportunities and the changing local circumstances, including an increased local population, local employment and
economic activity, conditions have now been met for the council to review and develop the business case for re-introducing passenger services on the Waterside Line. The purpose of this business case is to set out the updated
capital and operational costs of re-opening alongside information about expected demand, based on forecast use by existing residents, and residents of planned development, and use this to assess whether or not the scheme represents value for money.
39. It should be noted that business cases move forward in a staged process and have to progress through gateways to move through the stages. The work done to date suggests there is merit in progressing to the next stage. Greater
detail and scope is required at the next stage, which will need to include consideration of the wider local issues not fully assessed in early stages including those listed below.
40. The proposal being assessed is the re-introduction of passenger rail services on the existing freight-only Fawley branch line. At present the line is used by a
small number of freight services going to Marchwood Military Port on an ad hoc basis. Commercial services to the refinery ceased in 2016. Passenger services on the line ceased in 1966.
41. The proposal assessed involves new stations at Hythe Town, and Hythe and Fawley Parkway, with the existing station at Marchwood upgraded.
I am absolutely delighted. I also think this is the best chance of getting some funding to sort out the Totton Train Gates issue with a bridge (the topic of a separate study that has also now been agreed).
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