CAMPAIGNERS calling for a Hampsire railway line to be reopened say support for the idea is growing.

The Totton to Fawley branch line closed to passengers in the late 1960s but continued to serve Marchwood Military Port and Fawley oil refinery.

Although the line is now used only occasionally the signals, stations and level crossings are still in place.

Cllr David Harrison and fellow enthusiasts have spent years calling for the line to be reopened to ease the ever-increasing burden on the A326 and other roads in the Totton and Waterside area.

The campaign has gained new momentum since Fawley Waterside unveiled plans to build up to 1,500 homes on land currently occupied by the former Fawley power station.

Now one of the district’s most outspoken councillors has added her voice to demands for the line to be reopened.

Daily Echo:

Speaking at a meeting of Brockenhurst Parish Council, Maureen Holding raised concerns that extra traffic generated by the £1bn development could result in nearby villages becoming clogged up.

Cllr Holding, a former chairman of the district council, said: “I feel we ought to lobby all the parishes to get the railway back.”

She acknowledged that Fawley Waterside had proposed widening the A326 but warned that the planned improvements could take a long time and might prove inadequate.

“We’ve already got quite a lot of congestion as the cars and lorries which use the roads are always looking for short cuts. It’s going to have a huge impact,” added Cllr Holding.

Daily Echo:

Hampshire County Council has examined the possibility of reopening the line but no proposals have been put forward.

Cllr Holding’s backing for a new passenger service on the line was welcomed by Cllr Harrison, a county councillor for Marchwood and Totton South.

He said: “I have noticed growing support for restoration of the passenger service along the Waterside, especially among councillors representing New Forest wards.

“I am hopeful that Hampshire County Council will shift position and back a bid to get the service up and running.”

One of the biggest potential obstacles is the impact extra trains would have on the level crossing in Junction Road, Totton.

The gates are already closed for a total of 20 minutes every hour, resulting in long tailbacks and poor air quality in the area, which is full of shops and houses.

Cllr Harrison said: “Committing to the project will be the key to sorting out the train gates issue once and for all.”