Plans for a new underground link between the Southampton and Netley railway lines

AMBITIOUS plans for an underground rail link in Southampton – similar to London’s Underground network – have been revealed as part of a £45billion transport plan.

If going ahead, the scheme would link Southampton Central and the Netley line, providing a more direct route, reducing journey times between the city and Portsmouth.

It currently takes 42 minutes to travel between the two cities.

The potential new line has been included in the consultation by Transport for the South East with the aim of supporting the growth and regeneration of Southampton.

“30 Minute Train Trips”

This would allow four trains per hour between cities, with a journey time of 30 to 35 minutes.

A public transport map for Southampton is also included, including trams, light rail, buses and/or ferries.

The Transport Case for the South East said: “TfSE has worked with key stakeholders to develop a longer-term package of programs that unlocks significant capacity and shorter journey times between Southampton town centers and Portsmouth.

“This could include a potential new underground link between Southampton Central and the Netley line, providing a more direct route and reconciling north-south and east-west rail movements.”

The proposal is part of several other plans, including improvements to Southampton Central.

‘Amazed’

But Nick Farthing, director of the Hampshire Community Rail Partnership, said: ‘I would say it’s very ambitious and I can’t see how they’ll get there – I’m flabbergasted.

But Mr Farthing welcomed plans to open the Fawley branch line to passenger rail ahead of the £800million Fawley Waterside development.

‘Ambitious’

Councilor Eamonn Keogh, Cabinet Member for Transport and District Regeneration at Southampton City Council, said: “TfSE’s plans are ambitious and would completely transform the way we all move around the area.

“We are committed to making Southampton a city of opportunity, where residents, workers and visitors can enjoy the many benefits these plans would bring.

“Investing in these plans would significantly reduce air pollution from passenger cars, create thousands of new jobs which would improve the local economy and provide much easier and cleaner transportation for years to come.”

Other plans include a ‘fix’ at the Totton level crossing, allowing trains from Southampton to run to the underserved Totton.

The Botley Line would be reinforced with twin tracks.

Replacement of the Northam Rail Bridge, alignment of West Quay Road and improved port access are all planned.

Southampton Itchen MP Royston Smith said: “This is an ambitious proposal to fully exploit the opportunities offered by our rail network.

“I am particularly in favor of a metro-level rail service in Southampton and believe it would transform the way people move around our city.”

“Environmental Risks”

The construction of an underground tunnel may affect the environment.

Transport for South East’s own document warns: “The Southampton tunnel proposals would cross close to Solent and Southampton SPA and Ramsar, Chessel Bay LNR, Lee-On-The Solent to the Estuary of Itchen and the Itchen River SSSIs.

“Careful design will be required to ensure that the infrastructure required for these options does not result in the degradation and disruption of these important sites and the unique habitats and species that reside there.”

The document adds: “Rail and road developments, in particular the construction of the Southampton Tunnel, will adversely affect the character elements of the townscape due to the associated impacts of additional lighting, street luminaires and maintenance equipment. .”

The £45billion for the South East is set to be spent over the next 27 years, hoping to create 21,000 new jobs in the transport sector alone.

A 12-week consultation on current plans on transportforthesoutheast.org.uk closes on September 12.

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