Hogrider 166 (December 2022)

South Hampshire Rail Users’ Group Newsletter









There are some significant structural changes in the revised timetable. Most notably is the exorcising of that great curse of the former South West Trains, station stops of up to half an hour at Brockenhurst. This will mean many journey times from Totton to New Milton or Christchurch being effectively halved. Some journeys involving change of train at Southampton Central will also be quicker, but many more will take longer.

In compiling the following information, every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, but please always check the SWR or National Rail websites when planning journeys. We cannot guarantee accuracy, especially in view of the many operating problems which may arise, such as infrastructure work, severe weather, and industrial action. For the full revised timetable details, please see: southwesternrailway.com/plan-my-journey/timetables.


The longstanding basic Monday-Friday and Saturday service pattern, as reflected in the pre-pandemic December 2019 timetable, comprised half- hourly semi-fast trains between London Waterloo and Portsmouth Harbour at 00 and 30 past the hour from Waterloo and 15 and 45 past from the Harbour.

There was also an hourly stopping service between Waterloo and Portsmouth & Southsea at 45 past from Waterloo and 24 past from Portsmouth. Southbound only, the service was overtaken at Haslemere by the next semi-fast service, allowing passengers to interchange.

On Saturdays from 17 December, the London-bound stopping service will start from Portsmouth & Southsea at 07 past and will be overtaken by a semi-fast service at Haslemere, providing a parallel service pattern in both directions.

On Mondays to Fridays off-peak, the stopping services will run only between Waterloo and Haslemere. The southbound service will still connect into the 00-past from Waterloo, but the latter will then call at all stations to Portsmouth Harbour. A corresponding service pattern will apply northbound, with the 15-past from Portsmouth Harbour advanced to 03-past to accommodate the extra stops.

Enhancements in the Monday-Friday peaks will continue, and early morning and evening services vary.

Final semi-fast services from Waterloo to Portsmouth are at 22.30 Mondays-Fridays), 23.15 (Saturdays), and 23.30 (Sundays). Final stopping services are at 23.32 (Mondays-Fridays), 23.45 (Saturdays, and not serving Portsmouth Harbour), and 23.00 (Sundays).

Final semi-fast services from Portsmouth Harbour to Waterloo are at 19.45 (Mondays-Fridays), 20.45 (Saturdays), and 22.32 (Sundays). Final stopping services are at 22.19 (Mondays-Saturdays), and 21.48 (Sundays).

[Note that engineering work on Ryde Pier means that Island Line trains are replaced by road transport between the Pier Head and Esplanade stations until the Spring of 2023, with extended journey times between the mainland and stations from Ryde to Shanklin]


The hourly service throughout the day continues, but the Farnborough stop will additionally apply through the Monday-Friday evening peak period. [Passengers from intermediate stations between Woking and Basingstoke became significant losers during the pandemic, because (1) travelling south of Basingstoke on fast Cross-Country services is now possible only in alternate hours and (2) there are now no regular direct services between Fleet, Farnborough, Southampton and beyond].


The twice-hourly Monday-Saturday service continues, including the split train arrangements west of Southampton in the Monday-Friday peak periods.

However, the off-peak services 05-past from Waterloo and 20-past from Weymouth will detach/attach a stopping Poole portion at Bournemouth, instead of empty coaches. The Poole portion compensates for loss of the former Waterloo-Poole stopping services at Branksome and Parkstone, but seems very extravagant for such a limited market.

When First/MTR took over the franchise, they accepted the case for one Waterloo-Weymouth service to detach/attach a slower Poole portion at Southampton Central hourly throughout the day. This would have increased the number of faster services between London Waterloo, Bournemouth, Poole and Weymouth besides restoring an appropriate service level for the 30,000 residents of Totton and another 30,000 in the Waterside area for whom the station is a railhead.

Since the change was not implemented, Totton has a strong claim to be about the worst-served station, relative to its population catchment area, in the South East of England. The covid pandemic resulted in even further curtailment of direct services, with many trains running only between Bournemouth and Winchester on Mondays to Fridays, and Poole and Winchester on Saturdays].

From the December timetable, the remnants of the Waterloo-Poole stopping services will be re-arranged. Eastbound, they will run only from Bournemouth to Winchester on Saturdays, reflecting the Monday - Friday service. Westbound they will run from Winchester to Southampton Central. A separate Southampton- Bournemouth stopping service will depart on the opposite side of the hour. This means that, with no layover at Brockenhurst, these trains will run roughly in their existing paths from that station.

This is a messy service pattern, but it does considerably reduce journey times from Totton and Ashurst to stations from Sway to Pokesdown, and also provide better connections at Southampton Central out of the remaining Cross Country services from Manchester (generally now running in alternate hours only). A serious new disadvantage for Totton and Ashurst, however, will be much worse connections from Cardiff, Portsmouth Harbour and Gatwick Airport.

A knock-on effect of these changes is that the Mondays-Fridays 07.25 Weymouth-Brockenhurst will extend to Ashurst, Totton and Southampton Central, and form the front portion of the 09.30 Waterloo service. However, the 07.55 Poole-Waterloo, which leaves Southampton Central at 09.00, will be retimed to start at 08.05, and cease to call at Hinton Admiral, Sway, Ashurst and Totton. Passengers from these stations will need to catch the preceding Bournemouth-Winchester train and change at Southampton Central.

Revised train departures from Totton, 11/12/2022 to 20/5/2023 (times apply when normal service operating)

Trains call at Ashurst New Forest 5 minutes earlier eastbound, and 5 minutes later westbound, except where an asterisk [*] is shown

To / via Southampton Central


08.18 [07.20 Poole-London Waterloo]
08.48 [07.50 Poole-London Waterloo]
09.48 [08.55 Poole-London Waterloo]
Then hourly until
20.48 [19.55 Poole-London Waterloo]
21.48 [19.58 Weymouth-London Waterloo]
22.48 [20.58 Weymouth-London Waterloo]
23.48 [21.58 Weymouth-Southampton Central]


05.48 [05.00 Poole-London Waterloo] *
06.22 [05.40 Poole-London Waterloo] *
06.53 [05.55 Poole-London Waterloo]
07.16 [06.34 Bournemouth-London Waterloo]
07.46 [06.50 Poole-London Waterloo]
08.16 [07.20 Poole-London Waterloo]
08.44 [08.02 Bournemouth-Winchester]
09.07 [07.25 Weymouth-London Waterloo]
09.44 [09.02 Bournemouth-Winchester]
Then hourly until
15.44 [15.02 Bournemouth-Winchester]
16.44 [16.02 Bournemouth-Basingstoke]
Then hourly until
18.44 [18.02 Bournemouth-Basingstoke]
19.44 [19.02 Bournemouth-Winchester]
20.47 [19.50 Poole-Winchester]
21.52 [20.07 Weymouth-London Waterloo]
22.52 [21.00 Weymouth-Woking]
23.52 [22.10 Weymouth-Southampton Central]


06.23 [05.26 Poole-London Waterloo]
07.23 [05.42 Weymouth-London Waterloo]
07.45 [06.50 Poole-Winchester]
08.44 [08.02 Bournemouth-Winchester]
Then hourly until
20.44 [20.02 Bournemouth-Winchester]
21.52 [20.10 Weymouth-London Waterloo]
22.52 [21.54 Poole-London Waterloo]
23.52 [22.10 Weymouth-Eastleigh]

To / via Bournemouth


00.42 sets down only [23.05 (Saturday) London Waterloo-Poole] *
01.43 sets down only [00.10 London Waterloo-Bournemouth] *
08.39 [07.48 Basingstoke-Poole]
09.41 [07.53 London Waterloo-Poole]
Then hourly until
11.41 [09.53 London Waterloo-Poole]
12.41 [10.54 London Waterloo-Poole]
13.41 [11.54 London Waterloo-Poole]
14.39 [12.54 London Waterloo-Poole]
Then hourly until
16.39 [14.54 London Waterloo-Poole]
17.41 [16.05 London Waterloo-Poole]
Then hourly until
23.41 [22.05 London Waterloo-Poole]


00.45 (Monday) sets down only [23.05 (Sunday) London Waterloo-Poole] *
01.18 (Tuesday-Friday) sets down only [23.35 (Monday-Thursday) London Waterloo-Bournemouth] *
06.28 [06.22 Southampton Central-Weymouth]
07.07 [05.30 London-Waterloo-Weymouth] *
07.38 [07.30 Southampton Central-Poole]
08.04 [06.30 London Waterloo-Weymouth]
08.33 [07.03 London Waterloo-Poole] *
09.11 [08.41 Winchester-Bournemouth]
10.01 [09.56 Southampton Central-Bournemouth]
11.04 [10.58 Southampton Central-Bournemouth]
12.01 [11.56 Southampton Central-Bournemouth]
Then hourly until
16.01 [15.56 Southampton Central-Bournemouth]
16.34 [15.05 London Waterloo-Poole]
17.02 [15.35 London Waterloo-Poole]
17.20 [16.38 Winchester-Bournemouth] *
17.34 [16.05 London Waterloo-Poole]
18.04 [16.35 London Waterloo-Bournemouth]
18.30 [17.05 London Waterloo-Poole]
19.01 [17.35 London Waterloo-Poole]
1930 [18.05 London Waterloo-Poole]
20.02 [18.35 London Waterloo-Poole]
20.33 [19.05 London Waterloo-Poole]
21.01 [20.56 Southampton Central-Bournemouth]
21.30 [20.05 London Waterloo-Bournemouth] *
22.01 [21.56 Southampton Central-Bournemouth]
22.32 [21.05 London Waterloo-Bournemouth]
23.29 [22.05 London Waterloo-Bournemouth]


01.18 sets down only [23.35 (Friday) London Waterloo-Bournemouth] *
06.25 [06.20 Southampton Central-Weymouth]
07.10 [05.30 London Waterloo-Weymouth]
07.26 [07.21 Southampton Central-Weymouth]
08.05 [06.30 London Waterloo-Weymouth] *
08.22 [08.17 Southampton Central-Weymouth]
09.08 [09.03 Southampton Central-Bournemouth]
10.01 [09.56 Southampton Central-Bournemouth]
Then hourly until
21.01 [20.56 Southampton Central-Bournemouth]
21.29 [20.05 London Waterloo-Poole]
22.34 [21.05 London Waterloo-Poole]
23.29 [22.05 London Waterloo-Poole]

Some highlight effects for Totton of switching off-peak and Saturday Southampton to Bournemouth stopping services to the opposite side of the hour

Totton to New Milton and Christchurch: about 25 minutes faster.

Portsmouth Harbour to Totton: about 25 minutes slower.

Netley to Totton: About 35 minutes faster.

Cardiff to Totton: About 25 minutes slower.

Gatwick Airport to Totton: About 25 minutes slower.

Brighton to Totton: About 25 minutes slower.

Manchester to Totton: About 25 minutes faster.

Some Totton homebound passengers changing at Southampton Central on Monday to Friday evenings will be little affected, as trains from London Waterloo will be calling at Totton twice hourly.

However, despite the industry reporting that weekend leisure travel is more buoyant than commuting since the pandemic, Totton’s Saturday service is especially poor, with just one local train an hour from 09.00 to 21.00. Not very attractive, for example, for families returning from London who have to change at Southampton Central.

National Rail's journey planning facility remains almost comical in offering morning peak services from Southampton Central to Eastleigh

Around half a century ago, British Rail’s Southern Region considered its two largest shorter-distance passenger flows, outside the Greater London area, as Brighton-Worthing and Southampton Central-Eastleigh. Then came the Stagecoach SWT cuts, followed by First/MTR’s SWR, which left them largely in place.

At most times on Mondays to Saturdays, the service between Southampton and Eastleigh is at roughly 20 and 40 minute intervals in each hour. On Sundays, Eastleigh to Southampton is roughly half hourly, but from Southampton to Eastleigh, two services run just four minutes apart.

Suppose you want to travel from Southampton to Eastleigh in the Monday-Friday morning peak? National Rail’s website struggles to help (computer programming with a sense of humour?):

Southampton Central depart / Eastleigh arrive:

07.35 / 07.49 (single fare £4.90)
07.38 / 07.53 (single fare £4.90)
07.42 / 08.42 (single fare £14.90 – change at Fareham)
08.15 / 08.45 (single fare £12.80 – change at Winchester)
08.35 / 08.50 (single fare £4.90)

Look closely and there are two trains three minutes apart, with no further sensible service for 57 minutes.

Southampton Central – Exeter Central

Rail links between South Hampshire and the West of England have never been ideal. The few direct services have long been extinguished, and official westbound connections at Salisbury, via the long subway, are too tight to be convenient for disabled people. It’s hard to imagine the summer of 1994 when a semi-fast class 159 train ran from Southampton Central to Exeter Central every Sunday afternoon in 120 minutes.

Thanks to GWR’s recently introduced early services, it’s possible to leave Southampton Central at 05.33 on Mondays to Fridays and reach Exeter Central at 08.17. On Saturdays, leave Southampton at 06.57, and reach Exeter at 09.43.

On Sundays though, GWR starts late and SWR runs the earliest services from Southampton to Salisbury. Get the first train at 09.10, enjoy leisurely calls at the remote halts of Mottisfont and Dean, and reach Salisbury at 09.48. With luck you might spot the departing 09.47 SWR service to Exeter. So the first sensible connection is between GWR’s 09.57 from Southampton, and SWR’s 10.47 from Salisbury, meaning you can’t get to Exeter before midday without paying over £100 single to travel via Reading. Who says operators are adjusting to the demand for weekend travel?


There will be few changes from December. Whereas Southern and Great Western are running normal service levels in our area. Cross Country continues to offer little more than two-hourly services between Bournemouth and Manchester. However, all the remaining trains will call at Winchester from December, though only a few will call at Brockenhurst.

The reduced timetable is not as great a cost saving as might be thought, because the missing alternate trains continue to operate between Reading and Manchester. As we commented in Hogrider 165:

“The change does not only affect long-distance travellers. For example, there is generally a direct train between Southampton and Oxford only every two hours, with a huge time penalty in the alternate hours. Leave Southampton at 09.00, change at Basingstoke and Reading, and reach Oxford at 11.12. Leave Southampton at 10.17 on the direct Cross Country train and get to Oxford at 11.38."


The on-line consultation (www.networkrail.co.uk/watersideline) was very brief compared with Hampshire County Council’s consultation (our response to the latter is in Issue 164 of this newsletter). However, the complementary drop-in sessions, held in August and September, seemed very positive. There was clearly strong support among many members of the public who attended.

The effects of national economic failure on relatively small-scale projects like this are uncertain, though the announcement on 15th November that the reinstatement of services between Bristol and Portishead is to proceed, after long delays, may give hope for optimism.

The Hythe scheme ticks all the right boxes (environmental, economic, health and levelling up). It fits well into the smaller schemes delivered, in progress, or under consideration. For example, at Ashington, Okehampton, Portishead, Wellington (Somerset), Cullompton, and Levenmouth. Reinstatement of the North Devon line beyond Barnstaple to Bideford is a recent aspiration now under serious consideration.

If approved the Hythe scheme would be implemented possibly from mid-decade, with a service frequency of up to half-hourly (less off-peak) between Southampton Central (using the west-facing bay platform - the steam era’s platform 5) and a new Hythe station, either on Jones Lane or New Road, with intermediate stops at Totton and Marchwood. Hounsdown and a Parkway station at Hardley no longer feature.

Trains would comprise existing two-coach class 158 diesel units as used on the Romsey-Salisbury services.

Our comments to Network Rail:

Marginal preference for the New Road site for Hythe station. Both locations are convenient for the shopping centre and marina village, but New Road is slightly nearer the hospital and (for ramblers) the New Forest Country Park. If trains could have increased space for cycles, boosting revenue, Hythe might gain an enhanced role as a gateway to the Forest. The delays which cycle loading / unloading causes on the main line would be avoided at a terminus.

In scale and population catchment area, the Hythe proposal is very similar to some other restoring railway schemes such as on the Portishead branch. Continuing population growth in Totton and the Waterside is causing road congestion. The road bridge between Totton and Southampton and motorway link at Redbridge are adjacent pinchpoints. Buses therefore need slower timetables at peak times and still run late.

With the two container terminals and Southampton refuse facility served by the same route from Southampton there is a very polluted corridor which adversely affects the quality of life of nearby residents. The rail proposal could therefore have beneficial knock-on effects for people on the western side of Southampton, as well as those in Totton and the Waterside.


Of course, despite global warming, not everyone wants greener and more efficient transport. Marchwood Parish Councillor Sue Bennison was reported in the Southern Daily Echo as raising some extraordinarily inflated concerns about reopening the line. SHRUG’s co-ordinator had the following response published:

“A few points on Councillor Bennison’s views about introducing Southampton-Hythe passenger trains:

Impact on bus services. The popularity of public transport tends to increase with the overall scale of services, especially with integrated ticketing.

Level crossing closures and tailbacks. Closures would be less frequent than at many other locations. Tailbacks happen at traffic lights too!

Dozens of mums with buggies and dogs waiting at level crossing, probably spilling into the road amongst frustrated and angry drivers. Sounds unlikely for crossing closures of a couple of minutes.

Severe impact on people living in homes built beside the line since it closed in the 1960s. Passenger trains were withdrawn in the 1960s but much heavier Fawley oil trains continued for decades, causing greater noise and vibration.

People presenting the public consultation were saying it was a good idea, without offering firm costings. Public expenditure is usually costed using a range of assumptions and options. The popularity of rail travel has soared in recent times, and is recovering from the pandemic.

Projected passenger numbers exaggerated by including Totton residents who already have a station.

Totton’s rail services shrank as its population grew. Office of Rail and Road data show its rapid rise in passenger footfall then stalled, suggesting latent potential.

Dismissal of idea that drivers using the A326 would take the train. Park and ride facilities are generally popular in busy traffic zones. Also, why begin longer rail journeys stuck in traffic jams into Southampton?”

Concerns over road congestion in Marchwood and Totton and the impact on buses and the Hythe ferry were reportedly highlighted at a recent roundtable meeting chaired by New Forest East MP Julian Lewis. He called the discussion following talks with transport minister Wendy Morton. It involved officials from Hampshire County Council, National Rail and the Department for Transport (DfT), among others.

According to an agreed report of the meeting published by Dr Lewis, a DfT representative confirmed that support for the railway could be withdrawn if it failed to generate revenue within a few years after reopening.

Dr Lewis has previously raised concerns that reopening the line could prejudice funding for improving the A326. [Comment: with almost 30,000 vehicle movements daily already, and a new community to be established on the site of the former Fawley power station, the environmental and capacity cases for rail must be considerable]

Questions were also raised over the cost-benefit ratio, with objector Colin Cooley, a former project manager at Fawley oil refinery, saying he “fundamentally disagreed” with the demand forecasts in the outline business case. It indicated a 26% increase in Totton to Southampton rail journeys as a result of the scheme. But he questioned why more people would use the train between those stations when there was already a good service in place. [Comment: Totton is probably the largest rail-served town in the South East with such an infrequent and irregular service pattern].

Dr Lewis agreed and said the figures were a “key concern”.

ANOTHER EFFECT OF THE MASSIVE BREXIT EXODUS? YOU CAN’T RELY ON REPLACEMENT BUSES From the SWR news page of their website, 14th October: “Due to a nationwide shortage of bus drivers, rail replacement bus services will be much less frequent than originally planned on Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 October with less overall capacity. This means that some stations will not be served or will have a more limited service, and there may be long gaps between buses at some stations.

* On Saturday, there will be no rail replacement buses serving Pokesdown, Christchurch, and Hinton Admiral stations. Local bus services to Bournemouth or New Milton stations can be used to connect with rail replacement buses to Southampton but they will not necessarily stop at the stations themselves. Unfortunately, SWR tickets will not be accepted on these local bus services. You can find where local bus services are available here.

* On Sunday, there will be no rail replacement buses between Southampton Central and Fareham via Netley, but there will be a normal train service between Eastleigh and Fareham via Hedge End.”


The pandemic had some odd side effects on the railways. It was suddenly possible to cross footbridges at major stations without activating pre-recorded warnings about the necessity of holding a handrail.

Less beneficially, timetable leaflets disappeared as if by magic, presumably in the name of hygiene but achieving relatively modest savings. Yet leaflets are a useful window to all kinds of information. Most staffed stations have plenty on display, but timetable leaflets of any kind are rare, except at Lymington Town station where bus timetables are usually available in generous quantities for almost any area of Hampshire.

More Bus has just delivered its winter bus timetables to households in the Bournemouth area. First has introduced a very compact but comprehensive leaflet for its City Reds services across Southampton, showing bus stops imposed on a citywide street plan, and beginning to end-of-day frequencies for each route. Unfortunately, you still need to scrutinise their website to find that alternate Route 1 services turn into route 13 in the city centre, providing direct services between the Totton area and Woolston and Bitterne via the Itchen Bridge!

So why are leaflets considered a valuable marketing tool except by the rail industry? On-line information can have various unhelpful shortcomings, especially for the non-regular travellers whom the industry is keen to attract to compensate for the decline of commuting. Want to go from Southampton to Eastleigh via Fareham or Winchester anyone, to arrive a few minutes earlier at an extra cost of about £8 to £10 as this newsletter has already set out?


As always, thanks to everyone who has been kind enough to contact us. Without your support and input, this newsletter would be much less comprehensive. It is produced in good faith, based on reports and information from individuals and sources including the press and news websites.

Contributions are always welcome. We aim for accuracy at all times, because our good reputation depends on it. We do not use material which could be offensive or which appears unlikely to be correct.

We do not process information of a personal nature and, in view of GDPR, we will maintain our approach that the names of those who contribute news items or articles will be acknowledged in newsletters only where they have indicated that they consent to this. So, when submitting articles or items for collation, please indicate if you would like them to be attributed to you.

Railways are a public service and our Group is open to any interested parties. This newsletter will be available on-line. Newsletters are e’mailed to recipients involved in the Group, and individuals or organisations who have asked to be included in the circulation list or otherwise have close links (for example, through HCC’s New Forest Transport Forums). If you receive the newsletter and do not wish to receive further issues, please let us know.

Address for correspondence: Denis Fryer, 19 Fontwell Close, Calmore, Southampton SO40 2TN. E’mail: denisfryer44@gmail.com