One of the more delightful quirks of British Railways could come to an end, with the planned closure of Newhaven Marine station. Newhaven is a sea port town not far from Brighton, with a couple of town centre railway stations, but also a smaller station on a spur line right next to the ferry port.
This little station, Newhaven Marine, opened in 1886 to provide a rail link from the continental railways direct to London Victoria. There’s still a ferry to France, but as the port is a mere few minutes walk from the town’s main station, use declined and by 2006, there was just one train per day calling at the station.
In August 2006, it closed to the public entirely following storm damage to the station canopy which was deemed uneconomic to repair. Both the canopy and the station building were demolished in 2017.
However, it’s still legally classed as a working railway station, so a Parliamentary Train service operated — running one train per day to the station and back to maintain the legal fiction of a working service, even though no one was allowed to be on the train itself.
As closing a station is an exceptionally difficult thing to do, it’s often easier to run these weird little shuttle services and keep the station legally, if not practically, open.
The empty shuttle train stopped calling at the station early last year due to signalling system upgrades nearby, and there is now a train-replacement-taxi-service for the few people who manage to find themselves outside the station waiting for a train.
This railway oddity is soon to come to an end though, as plans have been announced to legally close the station for good.
The proposed closure would see the remaining platform demolished and the track remain as a siding for berthing trains, as now, but also for freight train access to Newhaven Port where a new dock and freight handling facility is due to open. Network Rail expects the closure to save it around £1.9 million by avoiding the costs of upgrading the existing station to modern standards for passengers.
It is proposed that, subject to successful completion of the closure process, the station will be closed, on or after 26 September 2020. But wouldn’t it be fun to run some trains along that bit of track to the station just for a weekend to mark it’s closure?
Note, if you wanted to visit, the Port of Newhaven does not allow public access to the station.