The Railway Comes to Farnham

Farnham Railway Station was opened on Monday 8th of October 1849 when the London and South Western Railway reached Farnham with their line branching off the South Eastern Railway Redhill  Reading Line at Ash Junction.

At the point where today’s trains slow down for the 40 mph curve between Wanborough and Ash.
Trains operated from Farnham to Guildford with stations at Tongham and Ash Green, (Wanborough Station was not opened until 1891) Farnham passengers would have had to change trains at Guildford for London Waterloo.

A single line from Farnham to Alton was constructed and opened on Wednesday 28th July 1852 the intermediate station at Bentley was opened two years later in July 1854, the year the British Army made its home at Aldershot.
The line was further extended to Winchester in October 1865 when Alton Station was rebuilt.

It was not until May 1870 that  a line was built from Farnham Junction  where the A31 crosses the railway today to Aldershot and on to join the Main Line at Pirbright shortening the journey to Waterloo from 40 miles 33 chains to 38 miles 6 chains a total of 2 miles and 27 chains !
Farnham now had a more direct railway route to London and also a link to Southampton from 1865 made Farnham even more attractive.

In 1901 the line from Farnham to Alton was doubled with the Bordon branch opening on the 8th December 1905.
As part of the Southern Railway’s Portsmouth electrification plan the Alton Line was electrified with the third rail system in 1937.
The Southern Railway planned for a carriage shed at Alton to be built to stable the new electric trains, but the local authority refused planning permission so the Southern Railway Company had to find another location.

Kingsley on the Bordon branch was considered as the railway owned a vast amount of land around the little station Halt, but operating difficulties were envisaged moving empty carriages over the single line.
Therefore the sand pit at Wrecclesham was filled in with chalk excavated from the extended sidings at Andover and the carriage shed was built.

Electric train services commenced on Sunday 4th July 1937 and passenger trains to Guildford via Tongham were withdrawn.
When British Rail made plans to electrify the Bournemouth to Weymouth line in the early eighties, economies were sought for obtaining the third rail as this item was very expensive. 

Plans were drawn up to single line the track between Frimley to Ascot, Effingham to Leatherhead and lastly Farnham to Alton.

The Farnham to Alton Line was the first to be singled on Saturday 20th July 1985 saving British Rail about eight miles of third rail and  with the service reduced to one train an hour.

But the operating difficulties experienced were so severe that the plans to single line the other routes were scrapped.

With the introduction of new rolling stock in the form of the Alstom class 458 and Siemens class 450 and 444 “Desiro” units by South West Trains in 1999 and  2004 respectively and the withdrawal of the old 1960's slam door trains, the sidings at Farnham Shed were extended with a carriage washer and servicing plant installed.

The train service to and from Alton improved   immensely.