COUNTY transport bosses are set to formally shelve a multi-million pound plan to reopen a railway line that closed almost 50 years ago.

This comes after a report concluded that the scheme is unlikely to secure the necessary funding – mainly because of the “low demand” for a new rail service.

Passenger services stopped after 1966 as a result of savage rail cut backs across the country which followed recommendations made by Dr Richard Beeching.

Cllr Sean Woodward, executive member for economy, transport and environment, is set to follow the report’s recommendation at a council meeting on Tuesday (January 21) not to release county council funding for the project.

In 2009 the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) said suggested the line should be reopened to ease congestion on the A326 and other roads between Southampton and the Waterside.

Costing £17m, the proposal includes new stations at Hythe and Hounsdown.

But a Hampshire County Council report cites the “relatively low level of demand” for a new passenger service on the Waterside which would not justify subsidy or private investment. It would also impact heavily on the Hythe ferry and local buses.

Cllr David Harrison, who represents Totton and Marchwood, who has campaigned to open the line conceded the plan had stalled.

But he said: “I think it is inevitable that at some stage in the future, the Waterside railway line will reopen for passenger traffic.

“At the present time I don’t think it’s likely to happen because decisions are being made purely on financial grounds without taking into account the massive social and environmental benefits.

“The recent traffic snarl up in Southampton city which have led to crisis talks tell me a little bit about the need to invest in other forms of transport other than cars. “