Wessex Branch


Hampshire and the unitary authorities of Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole, Dorset, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth, Southampton, south Wiltshire, and also the south-west of West Sussex.
We have over one hundred Railfuture members across our area, and we represent hundreds more through their membership of rail user groups affiliated to Railfuture in our area.


Railfuture Wessex branch publishes its newsletter usually twice a year.
Click HERE for the latest and all previous editions (available to view, and to download in PDF format).

Wessex is on Twitter and Facebook

In addition to the national Railfuture Twitter feed @Railfuture, you can now follow the Branch on its own local Twitter feed @RailfutureWessex. Also the Branch has its own Facebook page.


Click here for Railfuture and other regional and national events, also conferences and key campaign dates.
At the revived Rail User Group Awards presented in Bristol on Saturday 16 July 2022 campaigner Nick Farthing went home with a gold framed certificate.
PHO-WES:2022.07.16 - Gold Award for Best Campaigner presented to Nick Farthing, Three Rivers Rail Partnership
See RUG Awards for full details.

Current campaigns

These are the key challenges we are pursuing with the four train operators in our area:

SWR - the restoration of the 2019 pre Covid Off Peak timetable. This has been achieved on the West Of England Line but on the Portsmouth and Southampton lines to Clapham Junction and London Waterloo we only have three trains per hour not four. This means some stations like Portsmouth, Eastleigh and Farnborough have lost 50% of their fast service.

GWR - to reinstate their previous commitment that most trains on the Cardiff to Portsmouth route would be made up of five coaches. Many are now two!

XC - to influence the refurbishment and additional rolling stock announced as part of their new contract. To continue to pursue some direct services with the North East.
We've been informed by XCT that they have taken early delivery of three extra trains (ex Avanti West Coast). Prior to refurbishment these will be used this summer to increase capacity. As a result many more services from/to the South Coast from/to the North West will be made up of five coaches or double units. Unfortunately, this will not change XCT's policy about omitting stops at Basingstoke and making Winchester set down/pick up only on certain Saturday services.

Southern - to continue to review their new timetable switching all Brighton services to Southampton and all Gatwick services to Portsmouth Harbour.

Our observations and proposals are set out in a Briefing Paper on the subject, which you can read here.

Railfuture has been instrumental in the successful bid to the Restoring Your Railway Ideas Fund for the Waterside line from Southampton to Fawley. With money from the Ideas Fund, Hampshire County Council commissioned a Strategic Outline Business Case - this report concludes that the project to restore a passenger service should proceed to the next stage. We responded by sending a letter of support to the Council in August 2021. Appended to this letter was our 2-page list of helpful comments which we hope the Council will take on board during subsequent planning stages. You can read this Appendix here.

We have been campaigning for a new station to serve the new 6000-home Welborne Garden Village north of Fareham, with a campaign leaflet and updates in July 2018, February 2019, January 2020, January 2021, November 2021, and May 2022. On 28 November 2022 Fareham BC announced and SLC Rail confirmed that they had been appointed to produce a Strategic Outline Business Case for the new station to serve the new garden village. Not a direct Beeching reversal / re-opening from the closure in 1964 of Knowle Halt as the site will be different, but the new Welborne station might be regarded as a Beeching replacement in a fit-for-the-21st-Century location.

We are also promoting a programme of incremental Route Capacity Enhancements between Salisbury and Exeter to increase service frequency and its capacity as a diversionary alternative to the Great Western route.

Our other objectives are:
  • Restore services to at least pre-Covid levels
  • Reintroduce suitable rolling stock to all main line routes
  • Lengthen trains which suffer overcrowding
  • Speed up services where practicable
  • Upgrade service on Portsmouth-Cardiff route to frequent inter-city standard
  • Oppose ticket office closures
  • Faster trains on the Alton line
  • Regular half-hourly service on Island Line
  • Support Community Rail Partnerships including increased frequency on 'Heart of Wessex' line

Communication with Members

We continue to review how we communicate with members. We are a small committee and have lost a couple of valued colleagues last year. We are always looking for suitable new committee members. The traditional AGM is very time consuming and costly to organise for the number of people who attend. We have concentrated our efforts on improving the RF Wessex Branch newsletter, with more articles, news and pictures. The feedback has been very positive.

Wessex Branch Contacts

Mike Southgate, Branch Chair - mike.southgate at railfuture.org.uk
Tony Smale, Branch Secretary - wessex at railfuture.org.uk
Our committee (with co-opted members) consists of around 10 activists representing all parts of the Wessex area, some with special interests in passenger, freight, infrastructure, social media, etc.
We can put you in touch with a Branch committee member in your area - please ask.

Rail User Groups in the Wessex region

Rail user groups in the Wessex area are shown on Railfuture's Regional List of Rail User Groups.
Wessex Branch helped to get the Salisbury-Exeter Rail Users' Group (SERUG) started in 2015. See their presentation to the Devon Rail Forum in November 2022.

Dashboard of all Wessex branch documents

View / download any of the material in the full Wessex branch dashboard here.

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