Branch Line Britain - celebrating Britain's minor railways

Southern - Lymington review 1

Lymington Pier railway station

Brockenhurst to Lymington Pier 27/5/08

Cost of ticket £

Dept:  Brockenhurst 13.29    Arrive: Lymington Pier

Journey time:  10 mins

Distance: 5 miles       Weather:  Cloudy

Traction used: Class EMU 3 car unit (single track all the way)

Train Operating Company: South West Trains

Frequency of trains - one every half hour

The train on this branch is unique in that it is the only train using slam door stock in use by a train operating company on Network Rail. In fact South West trains have made the effort to preserve these carriages, which gives the impression of a heritage line, especially as the stations are also painted in Southern Railway colours. My train leaves platform 3 at Brockenhurst station bang on time as soon as I had got on the train! So I'm lucky to have caught it. There is a guard who checks the tickets so I am able to pay on the train. There are some first class compartments and if I had been thinking I might have gone in there for such a short journey.  Brockenhurst is a village, which is in the middle of the New Forest and as the station is on the main line from London Waterloo to Bournemouth, it is of above size for such a small community. It has three platforms with 2 and 3 being island platforms. Indeed whilst I was there a Cross Country train from Poole to Edinburgh made a scheduled stop in the station. The line to Lymington runs parallel with the mainline for about a mile before swinging off to the southwest. We seem to go at a steady 40 mph then slow as we enter an embankment. There are plenty of trees on either side of the track, but once we leave the mainline these disappear and suddenly we are in a barren landscape of scrubland, which is common for much of the New Forest area, where trees have been cut down over the centuries. In the distance on both sides can be seen the famous New Forest ponies grazing. The land becomes more hilly and again trees appear on both sides of the track. We move through a succession of small cuttings as the train maintains a steady speed of around 50 mph. There are some isolated cottages to be seen, then we cross over the main road and an industrial estate shows we are now on the outskirts of Lymington. We pass through the old station of Ampress Works whose platform is still in existence. There are some flood barriers on the left-hand side of the track as the river Lymington is just out of sight behind the tress that line the track. On the other side are plenty of houses and then we see the river appear at last on the left. We slow down for Lymington Town station, which has just the one platform plus the original station building, which is painted in Southern Railway green. As we leave the station we cross over the river, which is full of yachts moored up. In the distance you get the first glimpse of the Isle of Wight and then we arrive at Lymington Pier station. It's a fairly new station as the original station was demolished a few years ago. It has a single platform and looks out onto the river on the right. On the left hand side you can see the ferry terminal and a large car park. The train is there for less than five minutes before it leaves for Brockenhurst again. 

Summary: This line should be safe from closure, not only because it provides a vital link with the Isle of Wight ferry, but also as it is popular with tourists to the New Forest area and is easily accessible from the National Rail network. MC