The first of the new Class 484 trains set to operate on Island Line from 2021 has arrived on the Isle of Wight this afternoon (Thursday), marking a significant milestone in the delivery of a modern railway for the future.
Just 14 months after the announcement of a major £26million investment in the future of the Island’s railway – the biggest upgrade the network has seen in over 50 years – the first train has been transported across the Solent and is making its way to Sandown Train Station.
The train arrived on the 14:00 Wightlink ferry from Portsmouth and is expected to be placed onto the tracks at Sandown in due course.
The Class 484s will operate between Ryde Pier Head and Shanklin and will replace the ageing 1938 former underground stock, which has been operating up and down the 8.5-mile track for the past 30 years. The new trains are in fact 42-years-old and previously operated on London’s District line, but have been completely overhauled by Warwickshire-based Vivarail and run on bogies from the 2000s. They are effectively brand new trains and will include free on-board WiFi, charging sockets and wheelchair spaces.
A total of 5x 2-car trains will be in the fleet by next Summer with the others arriving on the Island in the coming months. This is in stark contrast to the current 2 working trains, both of which are older than some of the steam trains running on the heritage steam railway.
Alongside the modern fleet, Island Line will soon benefit from a number of infrastructure and station improvements including the installation of a new passing loop at Brading, allowing for a service at regular 30-minute intervals, as well as track enhancement work to improve ride quality and adjustments to platform heights to improve accessibility.
WATCH: Live stream from Wightlink’s Fishbourne terminal as the first train arrives on the Island
In order to complete these improvement works, Island Line will be closed from 4th January 2021 until 31st March 2021, with replacement buses operating instead. Following these works, the new trains will be introduced into service.
Mark Hopwood, Managing Director of South Western Railway, has said:
“Island Line customers are going to notice a real improvement with the introduction of this new fleet, improving journeys for the future.
“The Class 483s have proven to be the workhorse of the railway, but these newer trains will help modernise the rail experience on the Isle of Wight for years to come.
“This is the first major step towards a better railway for the island, and we are now only a matter of months away before the trains enter service.”
“It’s great to finally see this long-awaited, welcome improvement, that will bring the Island Line into the modern era.
“Passengers on the Island Line will benefit from the new fleet’s more comfortable and reliable services, whilst still being able to enjoy the unique charm that has become a hallmark of the island’s railway.”
It will be a while before passengers are welcomed on board, so a 360-degree virtual tour has been created on the interior of one of the new carriages. This can be viewed at https://vivarail.co.uk/360s/SWR-261020_Interior/.
Earlier this week Island Echo reported that the Class 484s had been seen moving for the first time.
For more information on the improvements visit www.southwesternrailway.com/islandupgrade.
Proposed Island Line Upgrade Programme (issued September 2019)
|September 2019||Island Line investment announcement made at Brading ✅|
|Late 2019-2020||Build of new Vivarail Class 484 trains begins at Long Marston, Midlands ✅|
|Late 2019 onwards||Design and planning work for Island Line infrastructure ✅|
|April 2020||Testing begins on first Class 484 Island Line unit ✅|
|Spring 2020||Wifi and Ticket Machines installed at stations ✅|
|First Class 484 train arrives on the Isle of Wight for testing (delayed until November) ✅|
|More new Class 484 trains arrive on the Isle of Wight (now expected Q1 2021)|
|Winter 2020/2021||Disruption during infrastructure works – shuttle service in operation (Line will now be completely closed in January, February and March)|
|February 2021||Final new Class 484 carriages delivered|
|March 2021||Last 1938 stock Island Line train decommissioned|
|May 2021||Brand new timetable introduced with new trains|
WATCH – £26million investment in Island Line announced in September 2019