Solent Link Electrification

One major investment project to come to fruition in Hampshire is the Solent Link electrification scheme, with the May 1990 replacement of the Class 205 and 207 DEMU’s linking Portsmouth, Fareham, Southampton and Eastleigh by Class 421’s and 423 EMU’s.. Encouraged throughout by Hampshire County Council, British Rail received strong backing from the County Council when it sought the go-ahead from central Government for this £22 million scheme.

Class 205 Solent link saw the replacement of these DEMU's......

Class 421.....With these EMU's.

Major renovation work was also undertaken at Eastleigh to coincide with the electrification. Fratton and the smaller stations on the Solent Link routes have been refurbished and a public address facility installed whereby loudspeakers at stations on the line can be addressed from a single control point.
The principal development on the Solent Link routes is a completely new station at Hedge End, the first in Hampshire since 1966. This opened in May at the same time as the new electric service was introduced.
Local authority grants were also made by Hampshire County Council (£470,000) and by Eastleigh Borough Council (£360,000 including major contributions from developers) towards the station improvements associated with electrification. This project was seen by the County Council as an important step towards encouraging increased use of rail services thus bypassing congestion on south Hampshire’s road network.

Hampshire grants were specifically targeted on the refurbishment of Eastleigh station including lifts for the mobility handicapped, the refurbishment of the Solent Link stations, and the provision of access for the mobility handicapped at the new Hedge End station. Eastleigh Borough Council secured the developers contributions for the new Hedge End station and also grant aided the provision of the lifts at Eastleigh.
The largely recently refurbished electric trains have through corridor connections between the coaches, more toilets, and are quieter and much more environmentally friendly than the old diesel units.
The services they operate are a world away from those previously seen. The principal innovation is a regular - hourly for most of the day - service linking Portsmouth and Waterloo via Fareham and Eastleigh. This gives Fareham its best ever through service to London as well as providing a valuable link between Portsmouth and Winchester and, not least, an additional fast London service for Basingstoke, Winchester and Eastleigh

Text ©Hampshire County Council, adapted for the NSE page.Solent Link route map

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