Portsmouth Direct Line
|Portsmouth Direct Line|
|Principal stations (from north to south)
The Portsmouth Direct Line is a service operated by South West Trains which runs from London Waterloo and Portsmouth Harbour, UK. Trains use the same tracks between London and a junction south of Woking as the South Western Main Line and West of England Line, and then branch off.
The earliest railway to reach Portsmouth - in reality Gosport on the opposite side of Portsmouth Harbour - was via a London and South Western Railway (LSWR) branch via Fareham to Eastleigh and thence via Winchester to London.
The first section of the direct route was opened to Guildford as the Guildford Junction Railway on 5 May 1845; the line was extended to Godalming on 15 October 1849. The line was extended to Havant in the 1850's as a speculative venture, backed by Portsmouth townspeople frustrated with the circuitous routes via Eastleigh and Brighton. The new line was taken over by the L&SWR who opened it on 28 December 1858, having already reached Portsmouth via Cosham. In order to reach it, however, trains had to use London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (LB&SCR) metals from a junction at Havant, and the latter objected to the L&SWR trains using the line. Fighting and obstruction took place, and passengers were forced to use a horse bus from Denvilles to complete their journey, but after a legal resolution trains ran freely from 24 January 1859.
Before electrification the route was a difficult one, since there are two summits on its seventy-mile (112km) run. After using the River Wey valley through Guildford, the line climbs from Godalming for eight miles (13km) at 1:80/1:82 to a summit near Haslemere; the second climb is three miles (5km) near Buriton Tunnel south of Petersfield.
A local drinking game involves drinking a shot every time the train passes through a station beginning with 'W'. On the line between London and Guildford, almost half the stations begin with the letter 'W': Waterloo, Wimbledon, Walton-on-Thames, Weybridge, West Byfleet, Woking and Worplesdon. Also, until the 1940's Byfleet and New Haw station was called West Weybridge!