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Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced this afternoon (Saturday) that the Isle of Wight is to receive funding to conduct a feasibility study into extending the Island Line railway network to Newport and Ventnor.

During today’s Downing Street press conference, Mr Shapps revealed to the country that the Island – alongside 9 other applicants – will benefit from the ‘Restoring Your Railway’ ideas fund.

If the study is successful and the project goes ahead it would partially reverse some of the devastating Beeching cuts of the 1960s.

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Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely says he is delighted that the Department for Transport has approved the development funding. He has also thanked the Isle of Wight Council for their work on this.

Earlier this year Mr Seely said he was pushing the Government to fund a feasibility study to look at the options for extending the railway from Shanklin to Ventnor, as well as extending the Island Line network from Smallbrook Junction to Newport via the Isle of Wight Steam Railway’s infrastructure.

A locomotive at Smallbrook Junction on the IW Steam Railway line, which could in the future become part of the main line network

Up until the 1960s, the railway ran from Shanklin to Ventnor via Wroxall, but some of the land has since been built on and Southern Water occupies the tunnel through St Boniface Down. It is proposed that a station/stop would be created at Wroxall, opening up another form of public transport for those living in the isolate village.

The line from Smallbrook to Wootton is used by the Isle of Wight Steam Railway, who raised concerns about the proposals back in March. However, Mr Seely has said that the Steam Railway do support a feasibility study.

Although the former track path to Newport remains fairly unchanged, the endpoint at Fairlee Road has been heavily built upon.

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Council leader Dave Stewart has said that today’s announcement is great news for the Island.

“Once again – working in partnership with our MP – we have been able to convince the government to support us in taking forward plans to enable investment on the Island.

“The potential to have an extended railway service on the Island is very real, and could have a transformational impact on our public transport provision.

“We also welcome the opportunity to explore how a train route into Newport could play an integral role in our plans for the regeneration of Newport Harbour.

“I would like to thank our officers for their tremendous work so far in support of this initiative, and we look forward to working with local stakeholders over the coming months to explore how these plans can be progressed.”

Bob Seely MP has added:

“When the rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris visited us on the Island last September, he saw first-hand how our Island community is passionate about not just upgrading our existing route but also seeking to re-open some of the previous routes in the longer-term.

“If we were able to see rail services restored to Newport and Ventnor, these towns (and the surrounding areas) would immediately benefit from improved connectivity. Working with the council and others, I will do all I can to see these aspirations become a reality.

“However, we must also be realistic about the logistical challenges we face in seeing these routes restored.

“My discussions with the steam railway last week confirmed that they will support feasibility studies, which will need to look at how – and if – the existing route between Smallbrook and Wootton could be utilised for public passenger services, alongside its existing use.

“Understandably, the steam railway’s first priority is to ensure the continued operation of their award-winning and popular heritage railway.

“I am very keen to explore how we can continue to progress their plans to return steam trains to Ryde St Johns and – in due course – see them running into Newport as well.

“In addition, there are also some substantial issues which would need to be resolved to enable the return of railway services to Ventnor, but these are not insurmountable.

“It is clear that our vision for the future of railway provision on the Island has convinced the government that these plans merit further consideration, including funding for a feasibility study. We must now rise to this challenge and take these aspirations forward with vigour.”

There is a long way to go before ex-London Underground trains roll up in Ventnor, but today’s announcement is a major step forward in the plan.

The views/opinions expressed in these comments are solely those of the author and do not represent those of Island Echo. House rules on commenting must be followed at all times.
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Trains to Ventnor please why are people so negative, bring it on

William Dunnet

How many trains have run along the steam railway this year? Wouldn’t use a volunteer model to replace an underfunded neglected service.

D. Nash

I don’t think the lack of steam trains is exactly the IoWSR’s fault, given their operating season wasn’t due to start until March 29th. In case it’s miraculously escaped your notice nobody has been able to volunteer anywhere, or do many other things, since March 23rd…

I’m sure the IoWSR would be running perfectly well, with enthusiastic and competent staff, were the lockdown and the virus to have not decimated their operating season.

Just to clarify, I’m not an IoWSR volunteer (I’m a Mid Hants Railway volunteer).

William Dunnet

That’s the point I was making. The volunteer model doesn’t replace the service we have. Just because it’s under funded it shouldn’t be replaced with something that can’t run.


Never get them up to boat, much to heavy, and surely never get [email protected] to pass. And to expensive for the work, I think we’re be lucky to keep a train service at all. No news on new ones due 2021/2022,still need mths of work and then mths of tests.


Political will over economic sense. If there’s investment money on offer, give it to the Steam Railway.


Waste of time.

Joe cole

We are now in May, April the 1st has been and gone!
Absolutely ridiculous, the Island line has made a loss year on year. To think this gets funding over a fixed link study is unbelievable.

Black rat

There is hardly anybody that wants a fixed link thats why, and rightly so, bring on the extra rail line is what i say.


Could always consider moving to the mainland if you don’t like the inconvenience of living on an Island. Would certainly be easier than building a tunnel.


Most of the old Newport and ventnor old tracks have been sold or build on

D. Nash

Most of the formation to Newport is reasonably intact. I did a bit of looking at maps, and the only really problematic bit would be to try and get the line back to the old station site in Newport. As far as Fairlee Road Tunnel it’s not too bad. A station could be sited alongside Victoria Road, where there’s currently a car park and empty plot on the old formation. There would need to be several bridges over the railway reinstated (three, I counted), and of course the IoWSR would need to be treated fairly in all of this.

Mark Dunsford

There are several buildings of buildings on the line at the Fairlee end and the solar farm has encroached badly further up.

Wroxall has similar buildings and an industrial site strategically placed on the old line to prevent reinstatement.

I also seem to remember that IoWSR had some major concerns about the legal and regulatory aspects of sharing their line with commercial services.

Martin (Ryde)

Doesn’t hurt to have a look, a island wide network would be fantastic..


You had one once!


Martin, It WOULD HURT if YOU were the one footing the bill alone, but as it is spread over us all, you assume wrongly that it has no ‘cost’

Yet all the friends of the council will do very well from the wasted cash, again.


If this can be done it would be a great idea, and Island Line might start making money again, for people who use the bus to get travel to work it would be ideal.

stephen bushell

what planet are bob seely and dave stewart on, its a pipe dream . the costs would be tremendous the trees and land that has been allowed to over grow would need to be cleared causing damage to wild life and the environment ,the council will probably employ a consultant to do a survey at great expense to us the tax payer to state the obvious .

Black rat

Imagine the disruption then if a fixed link was agreed which it never will be in opur lifetimes thank god.

D. Nash

Most of the formation to Newport has not been grown over, at least not very substantially. I suspect the impact on wildlife would be minimal.


hear we go trust the snowflake enviromentalists to whing and whine stuff the bloody environment its buggered anyway and most of the recycled rubbish is dumped on landfill or sent to mainland in artic lorry trailers and sent out in barges because our plant on forrest road simpley don’t work so shut up about the environment go live in a tree u muppett and take your mates with you WE AINT INTERESTED

Lucy Lane

Why such an emphasis on the train? What is in Ventnor? Jobs? Surely sorting the boat service and cost is more important?


Spend the money on better bus services. Much more accessible for people. Short distance railways are a thing of the past due to cars becoming more affordable and reliable.


a better train service is ideal


for enabling people to get to supermarkets to do their weekly shop, taking kids to school, getting to hospital or clinics, taking the dog for a walk in the countryside, taking the family to a tourist attraction for a day, going for afternoon tea?


Buses do an enormous amount of damage to our roads…

Joe Bloggs

So your electric buses wouldn’t run over kids. The tarmac wouldn’t need replacing. The batteries wouldn’t go flat mid journey.


So a longer line with cancelled trains.
How does that help anybody?
Ah yes, the feasibility studies will have plenty of snouts in the trough grabbing cash.

And how do IslandLine staff get paid the mainland rates anyway for a toy train that never runs???

Surely Ventnor has a steady enough drugs supply without needing a train????

Vinny Phillips

Clearly you know nothing fake person


Well I know where not to get my car washed.
But I agree, my drug knowledge is a lot more limited than some……

D. Nash

You ought to try living on the mainland, my friend. Island Line has the highest punctuality and reliability of any of the UK’s franchises last time I looked! It used to be always above 90% which compares extremely favourably with most mainland operators. The most recent reference I can find puts it at 68%, which was still better than any other operator.

Nice try. Check the facts next time.


Something Better Change – I though Sandown was drugs central?

Just Sayin’

Obviously, looking at the various comments I must be in a minority but I think something along these lines (no pun intended, well, maybe just a little) would be very good for the island particularly any extension to the steam railway.

Jack Kennedy

The reason the railway closed in the first place was that not enough people used it. Why extend back to Ventnor the station will be no nearer the town than it ever was.

Vinny Phillips

Play another record, your tarmac tune has now dropped off the top 100

An old railway man

There have been three feasibility studies to my knowledge, all pretty much stating the same info.
I have worked in the industry and am now retired but still hold a copy of the last feasibility study statement. Why do we keep putting money into the old boy network pockets without any follow up action?


It will be the first feasibility study since the South Western Railway placed an order for 5 two-car Vivarail Class 484 electric trains for the Isle of Wight. How many trains would they need for the extended Isle of Wight line ‘old railway man’?


Or how many locomotives???? :-)) There’s thought. An extensive steam railway would bring income from all over the world. (Diesel too of course, or battery?)

An old railway man

Blame, with the current rail layout (as shown in table A) the service would be the same (2x trains per hour) BUT their timing would then be every half hour apart instead of the current 2 per hour, 20 minutes apart then a 40 minute gap. The present timetable problem was created when the conservative gov. Privatised the system with the promise of no service reduction. Just before privatisation the island was running 3 trains per hr.which works with the passing loop at Sandown. BR was ordered to reduce the island service to 1 train an hour, after privatisation we… Read more »

Tim Brayford

We need funding for a fixed link feasibility study!


Well said Tim a link to prosperity not poverty


I though that, but after this pandemic, no, if the ferry companies can’t stop themselves from money grabbing and letting anyone over here, if we had a fixed link, we would all be for it.


A complete waste of (lots) of money for something that will never happen.


I like the idea of an extended railway line


If the steam railway were alive today as it was originally, think of the millions of people that would visit from around the world, and the revenue it would generate for the island. This would be the boost that the Island needs and I for one would be happy to volunteer to help. People need to stop being so negative. Long term this would boost the economy and create jobs. Places like The Worsley Pub, in Wroxall, may still be open as it would be a local village pub that you could visit. Imagine the beer and buses weekend but… Read more »


You need visitors for such an attraction, the cost of the visit is too much for a fancy train ride.


Have you seen the cost of rail attractions? People spend £ks to travel by steam.


They dont have to cross the Solent do they…….that’s the problem!

Jack Kennedy

Your a dreamer. The railways closed because nobody used them.

William Dunnet

Won’t be many jobs if everyone is volunteering.


Great news have less cars on the roads, great for tourists, great for jobs, great for pensioners,
Great for kids, great for workers, nowt negative

Beacon of Ignirance

Why not put up a load of tree wires and everyone carry a pulley wheel and just hook it on and zip along the wires because distancing on the trains will not be feasible.


Tar mac the lot. Battery shuttle bus on private track. Easy to drive, cheap to do and can ‘leave’ the tar mac track UNLIKE a train and go INTO towns to pick up and drop off people near their chosen destination NOT miles away. Remember we have LONG winters of rain, cold, wind. Cant see the masses being dumped off over half a mile or more away from their chosen destination. Wake up, think WHY it ended, and SEE the problems have NOT gone away, in FACT the public have gotten lazier since those days. Sure i get voted down,… Read more »

William Dunnet

Agreed tarmac it! and bring in a 30mph max speed to all roads on the island, plus tolls everywhere. Such intelligence. 😉


People don’t want your bile either!

Jack Kennedy

What’s the point? Ventnor Station will be no nearer Ventnor than it ever was. RYDE to NEWPORT would seriously damage the profitability of Southern Vectis and would lead to cuts across the Island’s bus network


Who gives a monkeys about Southern Vectis and their profits, the only bus company in England NOT to even offer return tickets.


Daft – imagine the compo due to parkdean resorts at Shanklin when you take away their main access road into their site. Don’t forget there would also be noise abatement issues along the length of the reinstated tracks


Sounds a bit like HS2- good idea for some, massive overspend for others. think chain link…… Sharing the IOWSR on the current lines would be a big hit with tourists..As others have said, people spend £££ to go on steam.


Busy for around three months of the year with tourists, then dead for nine months, as trains don’t take you NEAR your destination. People won’t walk or cycle in the rain, so it will die in the cold wet long months ahead. Would have been lovely to see if steam and it would make money for a while, but never enough to cover the cost for the dead times imo. Tar mac it, use an electric shuttle buses system, then when it hits a town it can leave the private track to drop people off near to where they wish… Read more »


Very imaginative, good ideas, see it got voted down by voters who are probably dull and all they can do is slaughter someone or thing


Bewilders me how the government will pay out for something like this yet reject funding for special educational needs for children… Our children with these needs are being sent away to mainland just to get education in residential homes yet they can fund money got an extra bit of train line!!! Crazy


Island line is like flogging a dead horse absolutely terrible service, trains off, staff off, never ending excuses, just close it down, only half service most of time now.

William Dunnet

Run anything on a shoestring budget and it won’t be the best we expect. In my experience it’s a victim of its own success. The line has been so relabel, that now when it does have breakdowns, as it’s so old, it makes the news and people that obviously don’t travel by train complain. Until they get the new equipment we can’t expect the good experience we’ve had in the past.

Oot Ragus

I have just carried out a ‘feasibility study’. I looked at Google Earth and read a few historic reports. The route could in fact carry on from Shanklin towards Ventnor for a few miles without too much hinderance to existing road infrastructure or buildings. However things get a bit more complicated once we reach Wroxall. One would have to cut a path through Travis Perkins, The Community Centre car park and at least half a dozen houses before rejoining the original route. …which of course then proceeds to the old tunnel underneath Boniface Down. I’m no tunneler but I think… Read more »


Just go on Google maps and look at Wroxall. See what property will have to have compulsory purchase orders and be demolished. Also you will need a level crossing there right next to the primary school. Look at the businesses in Ventnor industrial estate that will have to close. Even less work for Ventnor residents.


When the railways closed in the 60’s, protection was put in place to stop the lines from being built on etc etc, Like the North East Newport Plan which would have protected the line from Newport towards Wootton.
The Council stopped supporting them and they disappeared, which allowed development on the lines, especially at Wroxal. Studies have been done before this one.
I would love to see the railways back to Newport from Ryde, and it would be interesting to see what they find when they dig out the infill at Halberry Lane.


And what about the bigger picture here. This will only cover part of the island. What about the rest. How about a train to Yarmouth from either Ryde or Ventnor and stops in-between. Just think of the enjoyment opportunities. This would be massive. Just saying

Giles Eton

Most of the possibilities, difficulties and benefits of extending the Island Line from Shanklin to Ventnor have been discussed, but not all. It has not been mentioned that Vivarail can supply 484 rail units fitted with a battery power option, with a specification which would suit the line (including the Ventnor extension) very well. Removing the need to electrify the line beyond Shanklin, and therefore through the tunnel, would surely moderate the cost. Interestingly, should a Newport service ever return, such trains would likewise not require electrification of the steam railway line. As for the utility pipes now located in… Read more »


So what about all the businesses in the industrial estate? What about the community centre and housing in Wroxall?
I agree the island could be a template for a greener transport system so let’s get greener buses, more cycle tracks. Encourage working from home more. There’s lots of things that can be done without spending millions on the railway line.


Tar mac is the answer

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