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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.

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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.

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“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

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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Steve McCombe

Great news and hopefully the remaining 1938 stock will be able to continue running until then.


Did the museum want the others back then


Maybe they’ll go to the steam railway


Well now there smartening up with new trains,Mabe tidy up the stations,and have toilets that can be open,for a few hours a day,especially at Shanklin,where people have been known to urinate against the old paper shop door,and also around the bike cover


Nice to see we’ll be getting some New (42 year old 2nd hand, worn out) rolling stock.

About as up to date as the attitudes of a lot of the people who live here

none given

ferries are running Daemy – plenty of housing and jobs on the mainland just waiting for you to move there, if you are not happy about the way we live on this island and the way we intend to keep it.


There are not 42 year-old 2nd hand worn out trains. They’re brand new trains, built around an aluminium shell recycled from older tube stock. The body shells aren’t worn out. They’re just lumps of metal. The trains were reburbished on the LU between 2004 and 2008 and found to be structurally in perfect condition – which is why Vivarail bought the shells. They’re fantastic trains. Every single mechanical part will be brand new. Everybody would like brand new trains, I’m sure… but it’s just not economically viable to buy them for a nine mile long route with eight stations. The… Read more »


I’m sure you know better that I do Rick, but often “refurbished” refers to just a few cosmetic updates & replacement of seriously worn out parts.

Perhaps the article would have better described them as “new trains, manufactured with a small amount of recycled material”.

& none given,.. I am one of the ‘we’, but just prefer not to be kept in the dark ages by the attitude of “well it was alright 50 years ago, so why does it need to be different now”


Yes nice to hear,let’s hope it geared up for the disabled as well,I’e ramps for wheel chairs ect,have these modern trains got toilets on them as there’s more space,will the guards have there own cubicle to sit in

Simon Jarrett

This is fantastic news and great to have the passing loop back at Brading station
It is a wonderful island line and thank you for doing this
Please look after the old 1938 stock as they have given great service and need a good home
Thank you again for this news

george may

Good news at last,brilliant


Will these train s be able to use the tunnel as they look like the old taller ones from the district line


Is that the tunnel under the solent


There is no tunnel under the Solent!! David is referring to Ryde Tunnel, between Ryde Esplanade and St John’s Road stations. These are indeed ex-District line trains, which makes me wonder about clearances too. Presumably they’ve already thought out a plan there???

Mike McDermott

This is great news for the Island and its residents and visitors because as much as the former London Underground 1938 stock has been serving the Island Line since their introduction on the Island Line under Network SouthEast back in 1989/90, they are starting to fall apart and they are looking very tired as nothing last forever. Plus the parts for these very old ex-London Underground trains are hard to find with the result of the remaining fleet of trains being cannibalised in order to help keep the remaining train fleet running. Over the past 3 years Southern Vectis have… Read more »


Last time I was on the Island, the poor guard has to shove the doors open with his forearm at every station. It’s heartbreaking to see the old ’38 trains in that state… but all good thing come to an end, I guess…

John Goddard

The passing loop at Brading is not new. There used to be one but it was removed, significantly, AFTER the introduction of electric trains. Also, how are these standard height trains going to get through Ryde tunnel?


Now that is a great point about Ryde tunnel

Tornado Jones

Oh bugger, we hadn’t thought of that!!

The steel support beams that were the clearance issue in the tunnels were replaced with much slimmer ones about 20 years ago…

Fred Nurke

I understood that those works were to allow for raising the tracks, as 630volt live electric rails are not good with the flooding in the tunnel.
In their original format, the replacement trains were almost 12 feet high, the current ones are listed as 9 and a half feet. That’s a lot of space they need to find.

The replacement trains are also approx one foot wider than the current ones, meaning platform clearances will need to be changed.


Great news, the Island has advanced to the late 1970’s!
Who knows, maybe Isle of Wight Radio will update their playlist now…


Can we have a ticket machine at Ryde St John? Currently have to walk to Ryde Esplanade, get a ticket, walk back, then get on train. Seriously the guard said buying tickets from him was the last resort and we should be getting them from Ryde Esplanade! :-O


I just do it on the train

Az-zahra Aziz

Would have made more sense to tarmac the track over, and make a payable private road from it, or to have tarmacked it, and run private bus service instead of trains. No electricity and danger, no huge upkeep, just three buses. Total waste of cash.
Rather see it given to Haven street for free to extend their wonderful Steam track.


Thats great if you live on the East side of the island


It is a railway station not a train station we live in the UK not in the USA

Mr R Evans

Could not agree more. Minor point perhaps, but fed up of lazy “Americanisms” creeping ever more insidiously into our language. We invented railways and therefore, by default, the stations and so certainly in our country, they are Railway stations. End of.


Hope they have aircon

Joe Blogs

Can they please spend some of this money extending the railway back to Ventnor.

Fred Nurke

Anyone wanting to extend the line from Shanklin to Ventnor needs to walk from Shanklin Station, down past Upper Hyde, through Wroxall, then look for the tunnel mouth. Goodbye Houses on St Johns Road, St Martins Road and Brookside Close. It can never happen.
I always believed that Ventnor Tunnel carried the spring for the Ventnor water supply. There’s certainly still a lot of Southern Water facilities there.

Martin Axford

Long overdue, I take it the new stock fits in Ryde Tunnel ? Met-Cam built the original D78 stock to the taller surface stock loading gauge for District Line services. Looking forward to seeing the new trains next to steam on the pier in the near future

Peter Schonhut

D stock trains will not fit the Ryde tunnel as it is to low at 3.3 metres

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