By David Staines
THE Hythe Pier Railway in Hampshire is facing an uncertain future.
The 2ft-gauge line forms part of an important commuter link between the New Forest and the commercial centre of Southampton and is worked by electric locomotives built in 1917 by Brush for the First World War.
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If the railway remains open, they will celebrate 100 years of use this year.
The line is claimed to be worked by the oldest locomotives in regular commercial use on the UK mainland.
Towns on the western side of Southampton Water lost their direct rail service to Southampton when the Fawley branch closed to passengers in 1966. The alternative route by road is almost 10 miles longer, with some notorious rush-hour bottlenecks. In contrast the direct ferry to Southampton’s Town Quay takes less than 10 minutes from Hythe Pier Head.
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