Eastleigh to Fareham Line
The Eastleigh-Fareham Line is the railway line from Eastleigh to Fareham in the United Kingdom. At Eastleigh, trains join the South Western Main Line for onward travel to Basingstoke, Reading or to London Waterloo. At Fareham trains join the West Coastway line for onward travel to Portsmouth or Brighton.
Services and stations on this line are operated by South West Trains. It has an approximately hourly service in each direction. It is a useful diversionary route, used when the Portsmouth Direct Line is closed or when the lines around Southampton are closed.
The line was electrified with 750v DC third rail in the 1990s.
The Eastleigh-Fareham line was built by the London and South Western Railway (LSWR) and opened in 1841. It linked the original Southampton to London trunk route (at Eastleigh) to Fareham which was a developing market town, small port and had a rapidly developing brick and tile industry. At the same time, the LSWR also built a line from Fareham to Gosport, with the intention of extending services to the city and important naval dockyard of Portsmouth. The area was the scene of competition between the LSWR and its main competitor in the region, the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (LBSCR). In the event, the latter reached Portsmouth first.
The area around Fareham has very unstable soils due to the large clay beds which made the area suitable for brick-making. When constructing the tunnel just north-west of Fareham on the Eastleigh-Fareham line numerous problems with flooding and subsidence were encountered, and only with much use of bulkhead walls and props could the tunnel be driven through the hills. Once the line opened, problems continued with water damage and flooding. In the late 19th century the central part of the tunnel collapsed and the decision was made to build a single-track bypass line to the west through another tunnel on more stable ground, which rejoined the main line at Knowle Junction near Funtley. The collapsed section of the original tunnel was dug out, braced, turned into a cutting and re-opened in 1903 as part of construction work on the Meon Valley line from Fareham to Alton (also an LSWR line). To this day there actually two Fareham tunnels, separated by a short open-air section in a deep cutting. The bypass line was closed in the 1960s when the Gosport line was closed and traffic levels fell.
The line became increasingly important throughout the 20th century as not only did traffic to Gosport and Portsmouth increased, but Southampton's development as Britain's major port for trans-Atlantic liner services meant that the line became busy with traffic from further east on the south coast bound for the port. With the Meon Valley line to Alton opening in 1903 the southern section between Fareham and Knowle Junction became busier still.