Fawley branch line, also known as the Waterside Line, is a railway line in Hampshire that diverges from the Southampton Central to Bournemouth line at Totton.

Until their withdrawal in 1966, passenger services terminated at Fawley, with intermediate stations at Marchwood, Hyde and Hardley Halt. The line continued beyond the Fawley terminus to Fawley Refinery, the largest oil refinery in the United Kingdom.

The track remained in place for freight services to Marchwood Military Port and to Fawley refinery. The last train serving the refinery ran on 1 September 2016, after which trains would normally run only as far as Marchwood, although the occasional charter train would travel the branch line as far as the gates at Fawley oil refinery. (Source: Wikipedia.)

The line has been identified as a priority for reopening to passenger use by Campaign for Better Transport and has made a successful bid for an award from the Restoring Your Railway Fund to investigate the restoration of passenger services.

Three Rivers Rail Partnership is the promoter of the reopening scheme, which has a southern terminus at a new station called Hythe & Fawley Parkway and further stations at Marchwood and Hythe Town.

The scheme has the backing of Hythe & Dibden and Marchwood parish councils.

South Western Railway will provide services from Southampton Central to Hythe & Fawley Parkway when the line eventually opens.

Earlier plans to open a station called Hounsdown, located on the branch to the south west of Totton, have been dropped.

On 28 July 2020, South Western Railway ran a ‘fact-finding train’ down the branch line, stopping at Marchwood, to demonstrate the branch line’s potential. This service carried the station’s first passengers in 54 years. (Source: Wikipedia.)

In early 2020, Three Rivers Rail Partnership chair Nick Farthing said a trial service would begin within 18 months to two years, with the line completely open within three to five years.

Waterside Line. Map source: Three Rivers Community Rail Partnership

Map source: Bringing Passenger Trains Back to the Waterside (pdf), Three Rivers Rail Partnership.
Three Rivers Community Rail Partnership – Network Map

Map source: Bringing Passenger Trains Back to the Waterside (pdf), Three Rivers Rail Partnership.

Councillor Rob Humby, Deputy Leader of Hampshire County Council and Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment, said: “Hampshire County Council was very pleased that our bid to the Department for Transport’s restoring Your railways Fund was successful and we now look forward to working with the Department for Transport, Network Rail and stakeholders to review the evidence and undertake a business case for re-introducing passenger rail services on the Waterside line.”

Source: ‘Fawley Explorer’ investigates re-opening of historic branch line, on South Western Railway website.

Proposed stations

Marchwood

Hythe Town

Hythe & Fawley Parkway

Further reading

Bringing Passenger Trains Back to the Waterside (pdf), Three Rivers Rail Partnership

Fawley branch line – Wikipedia

Special Train Offers A Strong Case For Reopening Fawley Line, on The Anonymous Widower website

Three Rivers Rail Partnership

Tide turns for Waterside, on Railfuture website (2016)

Waterside Totton and Hythe railway line plan back on track, on BBC News website