A CAMPAIGN to reopen a Hampshire railway line could result in trains travelling as far as Fawley, the Daily Echo can reveal.

The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) has called for passenger services on the old Southampton to Hythe line to resume after a gap of more than 40 years.

A new group called the Waterside Community Rail Partnership (WCRP) has been formed in a bid to keep the £3m project on track.

The group has agreed to explore the possibility of extending the proposed service to Fawley and building a new station.

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The track already goes as far south as the parish and is used by trains going to and from the Esso refinery.

WCRP members include Totton and Marchwood county councillor David Harrison, who said: “Initially, our discussions centred around a passenger line linking Southampton and Hythe.

However, I suggested we look at the possibility of a service all the way to Fawley.

“Negotiations will take place with Esso as they would benefit from staff being able to get to work by train.

“It might be possible to create a new station outside the refinery, possibly near the Hardley roundabout. Things are at an early stage, anything is possible.”

A £15,000 feasibility study will look at the business case for reopening the line, including the Fawley section.

Cllr Harrison added: “This is a very exciting development with great potential for thousands of people living in Totton and the Waterside.”

The only cloud on the horizon is the possibility of extra trains causing additional disruption at the level crossing in Junction Road, Totton.

Cllr Harrison added: “We’ll have to proceed with caution and make sure the project doesn’t go ahead in a way that causes more congestion.”

ATOC’s proposals for the line were published last summer and gained the immediate backing of South West Trains.

ATOC also called for the old Brockenhurst to Ringwood railway to be reopened to meet growing demand for rail services in the south.