Underground South Coast rail line proposed amid £45billion frenzy

Regional transport chiefs have drawn up plans for an underground rail line linking Portsmouth and Southampton as part of a £45billion spending spree.

The Transport for the South East (TfSE) draft Strategic Investment Plan has presented proposals for the new link between the two coastal towns.

Although they are less than 30km apart, it currently takes at least 40 minutes to travel between Portsmouth and Southampton by train, with passengers often having to change trains.

The investment plan, which is in consultation until September, said local transport authorities wanted to offer ‘get on and go’ services similar to those in London.

“To achieve these ambitions, a longer-term set of interventions is needed to unlock significant capacity and, potentially, shorter journey times between Southampton and Portsmouth city centres,” the report said.

“This could include the development of a brand new (most likely underground) rail link between Southampton Central and the Netley line.”

Trains currently run from St Denys in Southampton to Fareham in Hampshire on a stretch of track that runs through Netley. The report cites a tunnel between St Denys and Southampton Central as a ‘bottleneck’.

Bypassing this tunnel, according to the document, would help create 30-35 minute intercity journeys on at least four services per hour, while reducing carbon emissions and stimulating urban regeneration.

The draft consultation also sets a price of £3.2bn for Crossrail’s extension into Kent from its current terminus at Abbey Wood in south-east London. A business case submitted to ministers includes options to provide more track and related infrastructure for this section, which TfSE says could be delivered by 2028.

A total of £45billion would be needed over 27 years to deliver all the plans outlined in the consultation, the body estimated.

TfSE is made up of 16 local authorities, five local business partnerships and representatives from district and borough councils, national delivery agencies and other parties.

TfSE Chairman Keith Glazier said: “We are extremely proud of the partnership with TfSE and the work that has been done to develop this bold and ambitious plan. We believe it truly puts the Southeast and its communities at the center – connecting people and businesses, [and] improve access to education, health, employment and our green spaces.

“This will allow the Southeast economy to more than double over the next 30 years. It offers the potential for new jobs, new housing and new opportunities, all supported by a modern and integrated transport network. »

Bonny J. Streater