top of page

Mid Hants Railway

RCD’s Overview

This is one of the UK’s premier heritage lines and gets our very top rating.

This heritage railway, established in the 1970’s, is full of interest to visitors and enthusiasts alike. It travels through attractive Hampshire countryside, its steep gradients challenging its locomotives to reach the line’s summit. The railway has an extensive collection of ex-main line steam locomotives, many with a close connection to the southern area in which the line is located. It also has an impressive range of ex-main line diesel locomotives, making it attractive to both the steam and diesel enthusiast, and enabling it to hold frequent and very popular gala events.

The line was once a secondary main line, albeit always single track, and its museum at Alresford pays homage to not just its own railway but also to other famous secondary routes including the Somerset & Dorset (an engine of which runs on this line). At Ropley it is possible to view the impressive engineering sheds of the railway. With national rail connections at Alton, this railway is easily accessible by rail from London and its south west suburbs. 

The support group is the 'Watercress Line Heritage Railway Trust' (see 'Information on the Suport Group' below).



Happening This Month on the Railway

  • Go to 'Homepage' and click into 'Railway Club Calendar'

Key Facts (where and when)

Extent of Railway (where to where):

Alresford to Alton (Hampshire)

Principal Visitor Centre:

Alresford (SO24 9JG) and Ropley (SO24 0BL) stations

Period of Operation*

- February: Half Term service

- March: Thursdays to Sundays, from early March

- April: Daily over Easter (two weeks), then Thursdays to Sundays

- May and June: Thursdays to Sundays

- July: Thursdays to Sundays, then daily from late July

- August: Near daily, except occasional midweek day(s)

- September and October: Most Thursdays to Sundays up to late October

- November and December: Special event trains

 [* This is a summary. Please go to the railway’s website for definitive operating days] 


Key Facts (what you’ll see)

Services usually steam or diesel?

Both steam and diesel

Type of Steam / Diesel Locomotives Used:

Full range of steam and diesel locos (large, mid and small-sized)

Length of Line:

10 miles

Time taken for a round trip:

2 hours

Number of trains per day:

6 in each direction

Number of Stations:

4 stations

Prices (online):

Adult Rover: £23.50. Child Rover: £11.85. Family Rover: From £36.35. Society Member: £11.75

Time to allow for Visit:

Half to full day


Yes, at Alresford station



Picnic/Play areas:


Preservation Established:


Car Park Facilities:

Pay & display at Alresford and Alton. Gala event parking at Ropley


Key Facts (Galas/Events/Dining)

Dining Trains:

- Countryman

- Real Ale Train 

Event Trains:

- Wizard Week: October

- Steam Illuminations: Mid November to early January 

Principal Galas:

- Spring Steam Gala: April

- Diesel Gala: July

- Autumn Steam Gala: October




Telephone:                                                           01962 733 810


Social Media:                                              

                                                                                Also on Twitter/ Instagram/ YouTube



Brief History of the Railway and its Preservation  

The railway runs over approximately half of the former Alton to Winchester line built in 1865 and acquired by the London & South Western Railway in 1884. The line provided an alternative route between London and Southampton making it an important secondary route, including for military traffic, although most of its traffic was local including locally grown watercress. In 1937 the line from London to Alton was electrified, however the 17-mile section from Alton to Winchester was not, in time reducing its effectiveness as an alternative route. The line was proposed for closure in the Beeching Report, but objections meant a reprieve until eventual closure in 1973. The section of line from Alresford to Alton was purchased from British Rail in 1975, the line gradually reopening eastwards from Alresford finally reaching Alton in 1985.


Steam Operational Locomotives:

(1) LSWR Class S15 (Urie) - 30506

(2) LMS Class 2MT (Ivatt) - 41312

(3) Peckett & Sons 0-4-0ST tank engine: No. 1788 ‘Kilmersdon’

(4) ‘Thomas The Tank Engine’


Diesel Operational Locomotives/DMU:

(1) BR Class 08 shunter - 08 288

(2) BR Class 11 shunter - 12049

(3) BR Class 20 - D8059 (20059)

(4) BR Class 20 - D8188 (20188)

(5) BR Class 47 ‘James Nightall GC’ - 47579 (on loan in)

(6) BR Class 50 ‘Lion’ - 50027

(7) Heritage DEMU Class 205 ‘Hampshire’ Unit - 1125


Steam Locomotives Under Overhaul:

(1) SR Class S15 (Maunsell) - 30828

(2) SR Rebuilt Battle of Britain (Bulleid) - 34058 ‘Sir Frederick Pile’

(3) SR West Country Class (Bulleid) - 34105 ‘Swanage’

(4) SR West Country Class (Bulleid) - 34007 ‘Wadebridge’

(5) SR Merchant Navy Class (Bulleid) - 35005 ‘Canadian Pacific’

Diesel Locomotives Under Overhaul:

(1) BR Class 08 shunter - 08 032

(2) BR Class 08 shunter - 08 377


Stored/ Under Restoration/ Out of Service:   

- SDJR 7F - 53808 (88)

- SR Class V ‘Schools’ (Maunsell) - 30925 ‘Cheltenham’

- SR Class LN Lord Nelson (Maunsell) - 850 ‘Lord Nelson’

- SR Class S15 (Urie) - 30499

- LMS 5MT ‘Black 5’ - 45379

- BR Standard Class 5MT 73096

- BR Standard Class 4MT 75079

- BR Standard Class 4MT - 80150


Name of Support Group:

Watercress Line Heritage Railway Trust

Annual membership fee:

Adult: £35. Senior: £25. Junior: £14. Family: £50


Benefits of membership:                                  

-          50% discount on Watercress Line standard fares (excluding special events)

-          Free attendance at the annual open weekend

-          Entitlement to join one of the Regional Groups

-          Magazine, ‘Watercress Line News’ issued 3 times per year


How to Join:                                                Go to


What They Say About Volunteering:

We currently have about 450 volunteers who do everything from driving the trains and maintaining the rolling stock, tracks and stations to providing customer-facing retail and catering services. Some people volunteer for one day per month, whilst others volunteer for several days per week; some people fit their volunteering around their work commitments whilst others join us when they retire. Whether you have relevant skills or you would like to do something totally different, we will make you welcome.


How to Volunteer:                                               Go to


How to Donate:                                                    Go to


WHY JOIN: With its large collection of locomotives and rolling stock, help is always needed to maintain this prestigious railway


Those interested in this railway may also be interested in the following railway societies also listed on this



Traditional Railway Societies:

- South Western Circle

- Southern Railways Group

- Basingstoke and District Railway Society

- Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust (loco and museum aspects at Alresford)


Locomotive Societies (steam):

- Urie Loco Society

- Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust

Model Railway Clubs:

- Alton Model Railway Group

- Winchester Railway Modellers  



bottom of page