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South Hants LRT
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[Latest News] November 2004

Hampshire County Council with Portsmouth City Council are promoting a light rapid transit (LRT) system between Fareham, Gosport and Portsmouth, which would be Phase 1 of South Hampshire Rapid Transit (SHRT). SHRT is a proposal for a modern rapid transit system which will provide fast, frequent and reliable public transport services. It will offer an attractive alternative to travel on the increasingly congested road network in southern Hampshire, and form an integral part of the local public transport system.

The first phase of SHRT comprises a 14km light rail project linking Fareham, Gosport and Portsmouth, including a tunnel under Portsmouth Harbour and 16 stops along the route. Interchanges will be made with the bus stations in Fareham, Gosport and Portsmouth and railway stations at Fareham, Portsmouth Harbour and Portsmouth and Southsea. About 70% of the route is on segregated alignment (disused railway) with the remaining 30% on-street. An immersed tube tunnel one kilometre in length forms the link across Portsmouth Harbour. The light rail vehicles, with low floor access, will take under 30 minutes to complete the end to end journey with an anticipated frequency of 7 1/2 minutes during the day and 15 minutes in the evening. This represents a significant journey time saving compared with the equivalent road journey and is therefore an attractive alternative. Provision is made for a separate cycle shuttle service through the tunnel.

The tunnel under the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour will be constructed in sections and lowered into a trench dredged in the seabed. In addition to being a cost -efficient method of constructing the crossing it will allow less deep workings and so enable stops to be built at both Gosport Esplanade and The Hard Interchange in Portsmouth. During construction there will be changes to the way the harbour is used. Consultations have been held with harbour users to find ways of minimising disruption.

Various modes of transport were studied for this route but public consultation and technical assessment supported the choice of a tram.

The ferry link will be retained too, although it is likely to evolve into a different type of business if the SHRT harbour crossing if the tunnel is as successful as predicted.

Phase 1 of the scheme between Portsmouth, Gosport and Fareham is being promoted by Hampshire County Council and Portsmouth City Council. The scheme is only likely to be built with significant funding from the private sector, and it is likely that a private sector consortium will operate the tram system for the two authorities.

Much of the outline engineering work is now complete, and an assessment of the impacts of the scheme during construction and operation has been carried out.

An application for powers to design, construct and operate the scheme was made to the Department of the Environment, transport and the Regions (DETR) on 6 March 1998. Following the Public Inquiry carried out in 1999, the Secretary of State will decide whether to grant these powers.

Funding for the construction of the scheme will primarily be generated through a public / private sector partnership under the Private Finance Initiative. A business case is being prepared for consideration by the DETR and treasury, in a bid to secure the necessary public funding element. A strong business case will attract the interest of the private sector and maximise their contribution to the capital costs.

Following government approval a private sector consortium will be chosen through a competitive process. It is expected to take about 18months from invitation to tender before contracts are awarded and construction commences.

Following detailed design, the construction period would last for about three years. Building the tunnel is likely to take up most of this period, with other sections being completed in a shorter time. After the system has been commissioned, the first fare paying passengers would be able to travel between Fareham, Gosport and Portsmouth.

Further proposals

Light rail services are also envisaged along the Fareham-Southampton corridor, in part sharing Railtrack's existing route. These services would connect with the Fareham-Gosport-Portsmouth route and provide a direct link between Southampton and Portsmouth city centres and the residential and employment centres in the corridor. The County Council is working with Railtrack to pursue the technical issues associated with developing the system. The development of SHRT will continue to involve the wider community and Hampshire Economic Partnership has expressed its support for the proposals.

For further details see the South Hampshire Rapid Transit site and the Hampshire Local Transport Plan site

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