Saturday, 10 March 2012

Medstead and Four Marks 1976

(Both copyright Rail Thing 24.6.1976)

The Winchester-Alton line closed on 5.2.1973. This line had been under threat for many years but it was still a surprise to see it go as it provided an excellent alternative route for Waterloo to Southampton and beyond trains when the main line was blocked or there were engineering works. Surely it would have made more sense to electrify it? That way Alresford would have become a proper commuter town. Strange days indeed.

Although a preservation group was soon formed much of the line was still lifted. So in 1976 this delightful intermediate station was railless and resembled many other closed stations at the time.

The line has of course resurfaced as the Watercress Line, gradually being extended back towards Alton from Alresford, and now has a main line connection at Alton, where the electrified route to London begins. Today Medstead and Four Marks has rails again and sees plenty of trains, but sadly few if any of them are 'real' in the sense that they carry ordinary people just wanting to get somewhere, and there's no freight traffic. The section west from Alresford with the intermediate station at Itchen Abbas is still closed, listed and dead.

But surely in the future this strategic route will be rebuilt and through trains will run again, taking pressure off the main line via Basingstoke. It needs to be electrified and take its proper role as a transport artery.

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