A PLAN to reopen a railway that closed almost 50 years ago has hit the buffers.

Transport boss Sean Woodward yesterday formally rejected a proposal to restart a passenger service on the Fawley branch line.

The line was axed in 1966 as a result of savage rail cut backs across the country following the recommendations made by Dr Richard Beeching.

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

Making his decision, Cllr Woodward said: “The purpose of the feasibility studies was to work out whether there was actually a viable scheme and if it carried a chance of being delivered.

“And the work that has been carried out shows that the business case was a long way adrift of it being viable.

“It’s not that we would like to open a railway line. I would love to open a railway line if the whole thing was viable and stacked up.

“The owner is Network Rail and Network Rail does not support the project and that means we cannot proceed further.”

In 2009 the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) 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.

The plan had met with opposition among some residents, which included a 439 name petition against it by people living, working and visiting the area. A big fear among opponents was the impact a revived train line would have on people living next to the line as well as stealing passengers from existing bus service and the historic Hythe ferry.