West Coastway Line

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West Coastway Line
West coastway line from fishersgate.jpg
Looking eastwards from Fishersgate, April 2007.
Type Suburban rail, Heavy rail
System National Rail
Status Operational
Locale West Sussex
South East England
Termini Brighton
Stations 39
Owner Network Rail
Operator(s) Southern
First Great Western
South West Trains
Depot(s) Brighton
Rolling stock Southern:
Class 377 "Electrostar"
Class 313
South West Trains:
Class 158 "Express Sprinter"
Class 444 "Desiro"
Class 450 "Desiro"
No. of tracks 2 (Up to 4 in areas)
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification 750 V DC third rail
Operating speed 75 mph (121 km/h)
80 mph (129 km/h)
85 mph (137 km/h)

The West Coastway Line is a railway line in England, along the south coast of West Sussex and Hampshire, between Brighton and Southampton,[1][2][3] plus the short branches to Littlehampton and Bognor Regis. At the eastern end, the East Coastway Line continues the route from Southampton to Ashford International, via Brighton, Lewes, Eastbourne, Bexhill, Hastings and Ore.

The line was electrified (750 V DC third rail) by the Southern Railway during the inter-war years in two stages. Stage one was from Brighton to West Worthing, and stage two was from West Worthing to Havant (where it joined up with the electrified Portsmouth Direct Line), including the Littlehampton and Bognor branches.

For the purposes of this article, all the stations from Brighton to Southampton are included, although the ex-LSWR lines west of Farlington Junction were not originally part of the West Coastway line, some only being electrified in the 1980s.


Southern is the main operator of passenger services and stations on the line. Their primary route is a slow service (calling at most or all stations) from Brighton to Portsmouth. They also operate regular services from London Victoria via Gatwick both of which avoid Brighton by using the tunnel between Preston Park and Hove. Both services now run to Littlehampton with onward connections to Chichester, Portsmouth and Southampton (change at Worthing). There is also a service from London Victoria via Gatwick and the Arun Valley Line that runs along the West Coastway line, between Ford and Chichester. All of the Southern services are operated by electric multiple-units.

First Great Western operate services to Wales and the West Country, to Cardiff Central or Great Malvern. Southern now operate hourly services between Brighton and Southampton Central and Portsmouth Harbour with one of the Southern services to Southampton operating via Eastleigh. These are new service patterns that were introduced in the 10 December 2007 timetable because South West Trains were not required by their renewed franchise to operate their Brighton services which left free train paths which were quickly filled by Southern. However, this has resulted in a whole new West Coastway timetable to be introduced, and it has suffered many teething problems with numerous cancellations and delays. South West Trains also operate regular services from Portsmouth to Southampton and from Portsmouth to London Waterloo via Fareham.


The lines now operated under the banner 'West Coastway Line' have a complex history and were built in stages by five different companies between 1840 and 1889.

The line from Brighton to Shoreham was a branch of the London and Brighton Railway which opened 12 May 1840, before the completion of the main line. The extensions of this line to Worthing (opened 24 November 1845), to a temporary station at Littlehampton (opened 18 March 1846) and to Chichester (opened 9 June 1846) were built by the Brighton and Chichester Railway. In July 1846 these two companies merged with others to form the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (LBSCR), which continued the line to Havant (opened 15 March 1847) and Portsmouth (opened 14 June 1847). Part of this section became jointly owned with the London and South Western Railway (LSWR), following the opening of the LSWR line from Fareham to Portcreek Junction on 1 October 1848 (connecting to the Eastleigh to Fareham line).

The Southampton and Netley Railway built a line to connect with the Victoria Military Hospital at Netley, which opened 5 March 1866 and was operated by the LSWR. The final connecting link from Netley to Fareham was opened by the LSWR on 2 September 1889.

In the meanwhile the LBSCR opened the Littlehampton branch from Ford Junction on 17 August 1863 and the Bognor Regis branch from Barnham Junction on 1 June 1864.

West Coastway Line
0m 00ch Miles/chains (from Brighton)
South Western Main Line
Southampton Central
Southampton Tunnel
St Denys
South Western Main Line
to Southampton Terminus and Docks
River Itchen
Netley Hospital
Hamble-le-Rice oil terminal
Eastleigh to Fareham Line
Branch to Gosport
M27 motorway
Paulsgrove Halt Closed 1939
Ferries to Isle of Wight
45m 36ch Portsmouth Harbour
44m 47ch Portsmouth and Southsea
43m 64ch Fratton
41m 41ch Hilsea
41m 04ch Cosham Jn
Farlington Halt
41m 03ch Portcreek Jn
40m 38ch Farlington Jn
38m 14ch Bedhampton
37m 40ch Havant
Hayling Island branch
Portsmouth Direct Line
36m 66ch Warblington
35m 50ch Emsworth
34m 16ch Southbourne
33m 14ch Nutbourne
31m 43ch Bosham
30m 12ch Fishbourne
To Midhurstclosed
West Sussex Railway to Selsey
28m 51ch Chichester
Drayton Closed
Woodgate Closed 1864
25m 75ch Bognor Regis
22m 29ch Barnham
Yapton Closed 1864
19m 55ch Ford
Arun Bridge (River Arun)
19m 31ch Ford Jn
Littlehampton Jn
19m 01ch Arundel Jn
Arun Valley Line
Lyminster Closed 1914
Arundel and Littlehampton Closed 1863
15m 44ch Angmering
13m 07ch Goring-by-Sea
12m 13ch Durrington-on-Sea
11m 30ch West Worthing
10m 46ch Worthing
9m 55ch East Worthing
8m 19ch Lancing
Shoreham Airport Halt(Closed 1940)
Shoreham Viaduct(River Adur)
Steyning Line (closed 1966)
5m 69ch Shoreham-by-Sea
Kingston-on-sea(Closed 1879)
4m 30ch Southwick
3m 47ch Fishersgate
2m 73ch Portslade
Devils Dyke Branch
1m 74ch Aldrington
1m 35ch Hove
1m Hove (Closed 1880)
Hove Junction
Holland Road HaltClosed 1956
Hove Tunnel220yds
Cliftonville Tunnel (Cliftonville Spur))
0m 00ch Brighton(Brighton Main Line)
East Coastway Line

Accidents and incidents[edit]

The routes[edit]

  • Brighton trains serving the West Coastway leave from platforms 1, 2 and 3 which curve round to leave the Brighton Main Line route to pass through.
  • here was Holland Road Halt opened 1905 and closed 1956; when closed it was the only station on the West Coastway line to retain timber decking.[5] This station was sited just west of the Holland Road bridge.
Note: To the east of the Holland Road bridge lay the site of a first Hove station, 1840 to 1880, the site was later used as a commercial coal yard [6]
  • Aldrington opened as Dyke Junction Halt 1905 to serve the Devil's Dyke single-line branch (3.5 miles or 5.6 kilometres in length) opened 1887, closed 1938
  • here is the now closed branch to Kingston Wharf, serving Shoreham Harbour
  • here was the junction for the line to Horsham, opened 16 September 1861 and closed 7 March 1966. The line followed the valley of the River Adur
  • here was Bungalow Town Halt opened 1910, later to serve Shoreham Airport, closed in 1940 for national security reasons[7] (Shoreham Airport became an RAF base during WWII).
    • Littlehampton branch
    • This is a 2-mile (3.2 km) branch line opened as a single line in 1863 and doubled in 1887
  • Ford, was Ford Junction: at the third node of the triangle
  • Barnham was Barnham Junction until 1929 opened 1864 as the junction for
    • Bognor Regis branch
    • This a 3.5 miles (5.6 km) branch line
  • Drayton station – closed
  • Chichester Original terminus of the Brighton and Chichester Railway on 6 June 1846; present station opened 1847 when the line was extended to Havant. Junction for the West Sussex Railway opened in 1897, closed 1935; and for the LBSCR branch to Midhurst, opened 1881 and closed to passengers 1935.
  • Havant: Junction for the L&SWR Portsmouth Direct Line through Petersfield and also for the LBSCR Hayling Island branch line opened 16 July 1867, 4.5 miles (7.2 km) in length with two intermediate stations serving Langstone and North Hayling. The line closed in 1963.
  • here there is a triangular junction for the two routes to Southampton and Portsmouth Harbour. After Farlington Junction and Portcreek Junction (between which was the now closed Farlington station) Portsmouth Direct Line trains use the joint L&SWR/LBSCR metals to Portsmouth. The main West Coastway route travels across the triangle to Cosham Junction where the L&SWR section, opened on 2 September 1889, begins:
  • Cosham
  • Portchester
  • Fareham First opened in 1841 as part of the Eastleigh-Fareham line. The east and west Coastway routes opened 1848 and 1889 respectively (see dates above). Here were also junctions for Gosport (the original connection from London to the Portsmouth area) and to Alton via the Meon valley – both closed.
  • Swanwick
  • Bursledon
  • Hamble
  • Netley Original terminus of the Southampton and Netley Railway, built to serve the Military Hospital, which had its own short railway and station. The line from here to St Denys was originally single track (later doubled)
  • Sholing
  • Woolston
  • Bitterne on the outskirts of Southampton. Here was a passing point when the line was single track.

With the junction at St Denys the West Coastway Line joins the route of the South Western Main Line


  1. ^ Colin J. Marsden (1985). Route Recognition 1: Southern Region. p. 83. ISBN 0-7110-1553-8. 
  2. ^ Graham Collett, ed. (1988). Surrey and Sussex by Rail. Chapters 5, 6, 8 & 9. ISBN 0-7117-0331-0. 
  3. ^ Southern Main Lines – Crawley to Littlehampton. Middleton Press. 1986. Photo 105 caption. 
  4. ^ Glover, John (2001). Southern Electric. Hersham: Ian Allan. p. 137. ISBN 0 7110 2807 9. 
  5. ^ Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith (1983). Brighton to Worthing. Middleton Press. plates 19 through 22. ISBN 978-0906520031. 
  6. ^ Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith (1983). Brighton to Worthing. Middleton Press. plate 20 and line map. ISBN 978-0906520031. 
  7. ^ Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith (1983). Brighton to Worthing. Middleton Press. Plate 89. ISBN 978-0906520031. 

External links[edit]