West Coastway Line

West Coastway Line

Looking eastwards from Fishersgate, April 2007.
Type Suburban rail, Heavy rail
System National Rail
Status Operational
Locale West Sussex
South East England
Termini Brighton
Stations 39
Owner Network Rail
Operator(s) Southern
Great Western Railway (train operating company)
South West Trains
Depot(s) Brighton
Rolling stock Class 158 "Express Sprinter"
Class 313
Class 377 "Electrostar"
Class 444 "Desiro"
Class 450 "Desiro"
Number of tracks 2 (up to 4 in areas)
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification 750 V DC third rail
Operating speed 75 mph (121 km/h) - 85 mph (137 km/h)

West Coastway Line

distances from Brighton
0 mi 00 ch
0 km
South Western Main Line
to Redbridge
Southampton Central
Southampton Tunnel
to Southampton Docks
St Denys
South Western Main Line
to Eastleigh
River Itchen
Netley Hospital

Hamble-le-Rice oil terminal
Eastleigh to Fareham Line
to Eastleigh
Fareham to Gosport Line
to Fort Brockhurst
Paulsgrove Halt
Ferries to Isle of Wight
Portsmouth Harbour
45 mi 36 ch
73.14 km
Portsmouth and Southsea
44 mi 50 ch
71.82 km
43 mi 64 ch
70.49 km
41 mi 41 ch
66.81 km

Cosham Junction
41 mi 04 ch
66.06 km
Farlington Halt
Portcreek Junction
41 mi 03 ch
66.04 km
Farlington Junction
40 mi 38 ch
65.14 km
38 mi 14 ch
61.44 km
37 mi 41 ch
60.37 km
Hayling Island Branch Line
to Hayling Island
Portsmouth Direct Line
to Guildford
36 mi 66 ch
59.26 km
35 mi 50 ch
57.33 km
34 mi 16 ch
55.04 km
33 mi 14 ch
53.39 km
31 mi 43 ch
50.75 km
30 mi 12 ch
48.52 km
Midhurst Railways
to Midhurst
West Sussex Railway
to Selsey Beach
28 mi 51 ch
46.09 km
Drayton(closed 1930)
Woodgate(closed 1864)
Bognor Regis
25 mi 75 ch
41.74 km
22 mi 29 ch
35.99 km
Yapton(closed 1864)
19 mi 55 ch
31.68 km
Arun Bridge over River Arun
Ford Junction
19 mi 31 ch
31.2 km

Littlehampton Junction

Arundel Junction
19 mi 01 ch
30.6 km

Arun Valley Line
to Horsham
Lyminster(closed 1914)
Arundel & Littlehampton
15 mi 44 ch
25.03 km
13 mi 07 ch
21.06 km
12 mi 13 ch
19.57 km
West Worthing
11 mi 30 ch
18.31 km
10 mi 46 ch
17.02 km
East Worthing
9 mi 55 ch
15.59 km
8 mi 19 ch
13.26 km
Shoreham Airport Halt
6 mi 77 ch
11.21 km
Shoreham Viaduct over River Adur
Steyning Line
to Christ's Hospital
5 mi 69 ch
9.43 km
Kingston-on-Sea(closed 1879)
4 mi 30 ch
7.04 km
3 mi 47 ch
5.77 km
2 mi 73 ch
4.69 km
Brighton and Dyke Railway
to The Dyke
2 mi 01 ch
3.24 km
1 mi 74 ch
3.1 km
1 mi 35 ch
2.31 km
Hove Junction

Cliftonville Spur
Holland Road Halt
0 mi 75 ch
1.51 km
Hove(first station)
0 mi 75 ch
1.51 km
Hove Tunnel (
220 yd
201 m
Cliftonville Tunnel
0 mi 00 ch
0 km
Brighton Main Line
to Wivelsfield
East Coastway Line
to Lewes

The West Coastway Line is a railway line in England, along the south coast of West Sussex and Hampshire, between Brighton and Southampton,[1][2][3] plus the short branches to Littlehampton and Bognor Regis. At the eastern end, the East Coastway Line continues the route from Southampton to Ashford International, via Brighton, Lewes, Eastbourne, Bexhill, Hastings and Ore.

The line was electrified (750 V DC third rail) by the Southern Railway during the inter-war years in two stages. Stage one was from Brighton to West Worthing, and stage two was from West Worthing to Havant (where it joined up with the electrified Portsmouth Direct Line), including the Littlehampton and Bognor branches.

For the purposes of this article, all the stations from Brighton to Southampton are included, although the ex-LSWR lines west of Farlington Junction were not originally part of the West Coastway line, some only being electrified in the 1980s.


Southern is the main operator of passenger services and stations on the line. Their primary route is a slow service (calling at most or all stations) from Brighton to Portsmouth. They also operate regular services from London Victoria via Gatwick both of which avoid Brighton by using the tunnel between Preston Park and Hove. Both services now run to Littlehampton with onward connections to Chichester, Portsmouth and Southampton (change at Worthing). There is also a service from London Victoria via Gatwick and the Arun Valley Line that runs along the West Coastway line, between Ford and Chichester. All of the Southern services are operated by electric multiple-units.

Great Western Railway operate services to Wales and the West Country, to Cardiff Central or Great Malvern. Southern now operate hourly services between Brighton and Southampton Central and Portsmouth Harbour with one of the Southern services to Southampton operating via Eastleigh. These are new service patterns that were introduced in the December 2007 timetable because South West Trains were not required by their renewed franchise to operate their Brighton services which left free train paths which were quickly filled by Southern. However, this has resulted in a whole new West Coastway timetable to be introduced, and it has suffered many teething problems with numerous cancellations and delays. South West Trains also operate regular services from Portsmouth to Southampton and from Portsmouth to London Waterloo via Fareham and Guildford .


The lines now operated under the banner 'West Coastway Line' have a complex history and were built in stages by five different companies between 1840 and 1889.

The line from Brighton to Shoreham was a branch of the London and Brighton Railway which opened 12 May 1840, before the completion of the main line. The extensions of this line to Worthing (opened 24 November 1845), to Arundel & Littlehampton (opened 16 March 1846) and to Chichester (opened 8 June 1846) were built by the Brighton and Chichester Railway. In July 1846 these two companies merged with others to form the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (LBSCR), which continued the line to Havant (opened 15 March 1847) and Portsmouth (opened 14 June 1847). Part of this section became jointly owned with the London and South Western Railway (LSWR), following the opening of the LSWR line from Fareham to Portcreek Junction on 1 October 1848 (connecting to the Eastleigh to Fareham line).

The Southampton and Netley Railway built a line to connect with the Victoria Military Hospital at Netley, which opened 5 March 1866 and was operated by the LSWR. The final connecting link from Netley to Fareham was opened by the LSWR on 2 September 1889.

In the meanwhile the LBSCR opened the Littlehampton branch from Ford Junction on 17 August 1863 and the Bognor Regis branch from Barnham Junction on 1 June 1864.

Accidents and incidents

The routes

Note: To the east of the Holland Road bridge lay the site of a first Hove station, 1840 to 1880, the site was later used as a commercial coal yard [6]

With the junction at St Denys the West Coastway Line joins the route of the South Western Main Line


  1. Colin J. Marsden (1985). Route Recognition 1: Southern Region. p. 83. ISBN 0-7110-1553-8.
  2. Graham Collett, ed. (1988). Surrey and Sussex by Rail. Chapters 5, 6, 8 & 9. ISBN 0-7117-0331-0.
  3. Southern Main Lines – Crawley to Littlehampton. Middleton Press. 1986. Photo 105 caption.
  4. Glover, John (2001). Southern Electric. Hersham: Ian Allan. p. 137. ISBN 0 7110 2807 9.
  5. Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith (1983). Brighton to Worthing. Middleton Press. plates 19 through 22. ISBN 978-0906520031.
  6. Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith (1983). Brighton to Worthing. Middleton Press. plate 20 and line map. ISBN 978-0906520031.
  7. Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith (1983). Brighton to Worthing. Middleton Press. Plate 89. ISBN 978-0906520031.
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