Main Line to the South: The Southern Railway Route between Basingstoke, Winchester, Eastleigh and Southampton Part 1: Basingstoke to St. Cross (Irwell)

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The railway line between Basingstoke and Southampton was opened by the London and Southampton Railway in 1840. It was the first major railway in the south of England and featured easy gradients only made possible by the substantial civil engineering works undertaken during construction. These included high embankments, deep cuttings and numerous tunnels through the chalk downs, not least of which was Litchfield Tunnel at the summit of the line between Basingstoke and Winchester.

Traffic grew steadily, particularly goods, to and from the expanding docks at Southampton. Boat trains in connection with ocean liner traffic also proved lucrative. As Southampton developed into the principal port for military traffic to the Empire, the line played a major role in the supply of men and materials for the Boer, First and Second World Wars.

In the 1960s the line achieved fame as the last steam worked main line in England until its electrification in July 1967. Today the line between Basingstoke and Southampton carries not only heavy passenger traffic, but also some of the nation’s heaviest freight trains with containers from Southampton Docks.

Main Line to The South Part 1: Basingstoke to St. Cross is the first of three volumes containing a comprehensive history of the line, this volume covering the section between Basingstoke and Winchester. It begins with a detailed description of the route and its infrastructure, followed by the story of the line from the London & Southampton Railway days, through the London & South Western Railway and Southern Railway ownership, to British Railways and the privatisation era.

The detailed text is accompanied by over 300 black & white photographs plus many maps, diagrams, tables and other reproductions. 296 pages. Hardback.

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