Portsmouth Direct Line

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Portsmouth Direct Line
Portsmouth Direct Line
Type Suburban rail, Heavy rail
System National Rail
Status Operational
Locale Hampshire
West Sussex
South East England
Opening 1858
Owner Network Rail
Operator(s) South West Trains
Rolling stock Class 450
Class 444
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Portsmouth Direct Line
South Western Main Line
Woking carriage sidings
New Guildford Line
North Downs Line
Guildford Chalk Tunnel
St Catherine's Hill Tunnel
North Downs Line
Cranleigh Line
Godalming 1st station
River Wey
Longmoor Military Railway
Midhurst Railways
Buriton Tunnel
Woodcroft Halt
Rowlands Castle
Havant New
West Coastway Line
Hayling Island Branch Line
West Coastway Line
East Southsea
Portsmouth and Southsea
Portsmouth Harbour

The Portsmouth Direct Line is the route of a railway service operated by South West Trains which runs between London Waterloo and Portsmouth Harbour, England. Trains use the same tracks between London and a junction south of Woking as the South Western Main Line (SWML) 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 1850s as a speculative venture, backed by Portsmouth townspeople frustrated with the circuitous routes via Eastleigh or Brighton. The new line was taken over by the L&SWR who opened it on 28 December 1858, having already reached Portsmouth via Cosham. 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 Havant New to complete their journey, but after a legal resolution trains ran freely from 24 January 1859.

In 1876, LB&SCR Chief Engineer Frederick Banister designed and commissioned an extension from the existing termius at Portsmouth and Southsea, to a new station at Portsmouth Harbour, allowing direct connection to the companies paddle steamer services to the Isle of Wight.

The route[edit]

Services leave London Waterloo along the South Western Main Line and fork off at Woking to take the actual Portsmouth Direct Line. It joins the West Coastway before Havant station and then diverges again at Farlington Junction to reach Portsmouth Harbour. Many services terminate at Portsmouth & Southsea

Before electrification, the route was a difficult one, since there are two summits on its 74¼-mile (120 km) run. After using the River Wey valley through Guildford, the line climbs from Godalming for eight miles (13 km) at 1:80/1:82 to a summit near Haslemere; the second climb is three miles (5 km) near Buriton Tunnel south of Petersfield. Fratton station is the location of the depot for the line, where southwest trains stable their stock.

The route was electrified by Southern Railway in May 1937,[1] leading to major service improvements; passenger numbers more than doubled in the following two years.

Service pattern[edit]

Four trains an hour run weekdays. Two are fast trains to Portsmouth, calling at Woking, Guildford, Haslemere, Petersfield, Havant, Fratton, Portsmouth and Southsea and Portsmouth Harbour. A third is a stopping train to Portsmouth, calling at Clapham Junction, Woking, Worplesdon, Guildford, Farncombe, Godalming, Haslemere and all stations. The final one terminates at Haslemere, calling at Clapham Junction, Woking, Guildford and all stations, though this is extended to Portsmouth close to and during the peak.

Rolling stock[edit]

Since 2007, services have been provided by Class 450 but mostly Class 444 electric multiple units. Unusually, the 450s, designed for stopping services, run certain fast services on Monday to Friday and all on Saturday.


Most of the stations are of similar design, possibly that of Sir William Tite the L&SWR architect.

There are closed stations at Farlington, Havant New and Woodcroft.

SW 110 M-Ch km
Woking Junction 0-00 0.00
Worplesdon 2-03 3.25
Guildford 5–45 8.95
Shalford Junction 6–60 10.85
Farncombe 8–58 14.05
Godalming 9–55 15.60
Milford 11–39 18.50
Witley 13–54 22.00
Haslemere 18-17 29.30
Liphook 22-05 35.50
Liss 26–53 42.90
Petersfield 30-09 48.45
Rowlands Castle 38-36 61.90
Havant 41–53 67.05
Bedhampton 42-26 68.10
Farlington Junction 44–50 71.80
Portcreek Junction 45-15 72.70
Hilsea 45–53 73.50
Fratton 47–76 77.15
Portsmouth and Southsea 48–62 78.50
Portsmouth Harbour 49-48 79.80

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Electric Railways". 'Stendec Systems'. 2007. Retrieved 25 February 2007. 
  • R.V.J.Butt, (1995). The Directory of Railway Stations. Patrick Stephens Ltd.  ISBN 1-85260-508-1