The future of the Isle of Wight’s railway network will include new rolling stock and a passing loop at Brading thanks to a £26million investment, it has been announced by the Minister of State for Transport today (Monday).
Addressing stakeholders and the press at Brading Train Station this morning, Chris Heaton-Harris MP explained how the Island can expect more punctual, reliable trains and better connections to cross-Solent services, supporting local residents, businesses and tourism.
The new trains, which will continue to run on a third rail system, will be refurbished former London Underground stock from 1978 – Vivarail Class 484. They will provide more capacity, better accessibility, passenger information systems and wifi.
A total of 5x 2-car trains have been ordered with the first carriages expected to arrive on test from the Vivarail facility in the Midlands in early summer 2020. Track improvement works will follow during the winter of 2020/2021.
As well as new rolling stock, a new passing loop is to be created at Brading to help improve the connectivity of the trains with cross-Solent sailings. The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership have contributed £1million to fund this new loop.
There has been no announcement made about plans to extend the Isle of Wight Steam Railway to Ryde St John’s, as rumoured for several months. Bob Seely MP has told Island Echo that he hopes it will be the case within the next 5 years.
Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said:
“These trains have diligently served passengers since 1938 – coinciding with the first ever edition of the Beano and the maiden voyage of the record-setting Mallard steam train – so this upgrade is a long overdue boost.
“This investment in the Island Line means more punctual, reliable trains and better connections to ferry services, supporting local residents, businesses and tourism. This underlines our determination to provide passengers across the country with the modern rail network they expect.”
Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely has welcomed today’s announcement:
“I am pleased that yet again, the Government will be investing in the Isle of Wight, and I thank the Rail Minister for visiting the Island today to make this announcement with South Western Railway.
“This represents the first significant upgrade to the route for over 50 years (since electrification in 1967), and I look forward to liaising with SWR, Network Rail and the DfT to ensure that the benefits are delivered in a timely manner, with minimal disruption. Island Line serves residents, commuters, visitors and students on a daily basis – and I know how much these rail users will welcome this overdue investment.
“I am also pleased that a new passing loop will be introduced at Brading. This will improve connectivity with cross-Solent sailings at peak times, and complements the allocated funding from Network Rail to renew Ryde Railway Pier.
“I support the ambitions for steam trains to return to Ryde St Johns, and I will continue to work with the award-winning Isle of Wight Steam Railway to see how their practical proposals to achieve this can be delivered. I also support viability schemes to investigate the possibility of getting the Island line extended.”
There has been considerable interest in the fate of the existing 1938 Island Line trains and South Western Railway will be working with stakeholders to ensure they find a good retirement home. The last 1938 stock will retire in March 2021.
Proposed Island Line Upgrade Programme
|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|
|Summer 2020||First Class 484 train arrives on the Isle of Wight for testing|
|October/November 2020||More new Class 484 carriages arrive on the Isle of Wight|
|Winter 2020/2021||Disruption during infrastructure works – shuttle service in operation|
|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|