Lymington Branch Line
|Lymington Branch Line|
View of the remains of Ampress Halt from passing train, looking towards Lymington.
|Type||Suburban rail, Heavy rail|
South East England
|Operator(s)||South West Trains|
|Rolling stock||Class 158 Sprinters, Class 159 Turbos, Class 450 Desiros|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
|Operating speed||50 miles per hour|
|Lymington Branch Line|
The Lymington Branch Line is a railway that runs from Brockenhurst to Lymington Pier, both in the New Forest. The railway line is around 9 km (5.6 mi) long, and is single track throughout its length. It diverges from the South Western Main Line at Lymington Junction; and, at Lymington Pier, trains connect with Wightlink ferry services to Yarmouth, on the Isle of Wight. The Lymington Branch Line is electrified using the 750 V DC third rail system—common in the ex-Southern Region.
The branch line celebrated the 150th anniversary of its opening in July 2008. Between 2005 and 2010, it was promoted as a 'heritage' route, making use of older rolling stock that had been retired from elsewhere on the UK rail network.
Rolling stock 
Following the withdrawal of slamdoor stock from the rest of the SWT network in 2005 it was expected that by May 2005 at the latest the operation of the line would have been taken over by the new Class 450 "Desiro" units. However, SWT considered that due to the self-contained nature of the branch it would be more cost effective to continue Mk 1 operation. On this basis SWT bought and refurbished two British Rail Class 421 units to exclusively operate services on the line. Work carried out on the units included the fitting of central door locking and other safety features to allow them to remain in service beyond the November 2005 deadline for the withdrawal of slam-door stock and the reduction of the 4 carriage units to 3 carriages (3Cig) to address the extreme height difference between the train and the platform at Lymington Town.
The final two units of this type to work the line were numbered 1497 and 1498 and officially named Freshwater and Farringford respectively at a ceremony at Brockenhurst railway station on 12 May 2005. They were also repainted into an approximation of their original liveries. The "heritage" service commenced on 12 May 2005 and an exemption was obtained to enable the use of the 3Cig units until 2013, at which point they were estimated to be life expired.
A Lymington Flyer headboad was made by Malcolm Ellis of Parkstone station, for use on the slam-door stock by local traincrew.
In Summer 2009 South West Trains announced plans to replace the heritage EMUs with more modern units; Class 158 Sprinters on weekdays and Class 450 on weekends (the latter were also used on occasion when the 3Cigs were unavailable, with the 4th carriage locked out of use to overcome the platform height issue at Lymington Town). This change took place on 23 May 2010, with the final 3Cig service departing from Lymington Pier on 22 May 2010 at 22:14 and arriving at Brockenhurst at 22:24.
- Network Rail - Route 3 (SWML) Route Plan
- South West Trains - Lymington Line marks 150th anniversary
- South West Trains Lymington Branch Request for Exemption from Railway Safety Regulations (1999)
- Jones, Robin (2010). "End of line for Lymington slam-door stock". Heritage Railway (134 (18 February - 17 March 2010)): p61.
- http://www.southwesttrains.co.uk/NR/rdonlyres/362300CA-BDCA-4242-8AF5-AF1A5B34570B/0/LCAug09_FullTranscript.pdf[dead link]
- Staff at Bournemouth depot have unofficially named each unit.
- Butt, R. V. J. (1995). The Directory of Railway Stations: details every public and private passenger station, halt, platform and stopping place, past and present (1st ed.). Sparkford: Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 1-8526-0508-1. OCLC 60251199.
- Jowett, Alan (2000). Jowett's Nationalised Railway Atlas (1st ed.). Penryn, Cornwall: Atlantic Transport Publishers. ISBN 0-9068-9999-0. OCLC 228266687.