OFF THE RAILS: ISLAND LINE RE-OPENING DELAYED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

A major scheme to improve the Island Line network between Ryde and Shanklin has been delayed once again, with trains now not expected to run until later this Summer with no fixed date given.

The multi-million-pound project was originally meant to last just 3 months with the line re-opening at the start of April. However, it was then announced that the completion of the scheme had been delayed by 6 weeks until mid-May.

South Western Railway now says that it aims to recommence train services ‘later in the Summer season’ – which could mean the scheme will overrun by as much as 4 months, if not longer.

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The delays were previously blamed on the coronavirus pandemic, but the blame has now shifted to rolling stock manufacturer Vivarail, who had been set to deliver all the trains to the Island well before Easter. Serious and complex software issues mean the fully refurbished trains are yet to be delivered, although all trains have left the Vivarail workshop.

The Class 484 trains have been undergoing unsuccessful testing in the Eastleigh area of Southampton. The live testing has uncovered ‘some serious issues’ in relation to the computer software adapted to utilise a 3rd rail system. Planning and analysis did not highlight any issues, but the mainline runs have flagged up issues that require a thorough review, rather than just a ‘patch’.

The first Class 484 train arrived at Fishbourne back in November 2020

The infrastructure works are said to be ‘on track’, although the scheme was meant to have been completed 4 weeks ago. Even if the trains were delivered today, the track isn’t ready to accommodate them.

South Western Railway says that once the trains arrive on the Island they can begin the extensive process of operational testing, safety assurance and training required to bring them into service – but it’s not clear how long this will take. 1 train is already here but has completed only a limited number of runs between Ryde St John’s and Sandown. It’s not thought that the train has passed through Ryde Tunnel or up Ryde Pier to date.

Photo: Ben Rue Photography

SWR and Vivarail are conducting a full review to build a strong programme in which all parties can have confidence and will provide further updates on that programme in due course.

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Alex Foulds, Major Projects Director at SWR, said:

“We are as disappointed as our customers by this delay. Our infrastructure works are largely on track, but there is a delay to the delivery of the trains and we apologise for the impact that will have on our customers and the communities we serve. We continue to work incredibly hard in partnership with our train supplier Vivarail to reopen a safe, reliable and fully upgraded Island Line as soon as possible.”

Adrian Shooter, CEO of Vivarail, adds:

“As a company we take full responsibility and offer our apologies to the passengers and staff of the Island Line. It would be easy to hide behind Covid and point the finger at the pandemic, but we had in fact managed to claw back a lot of that lost time and brought the build back on schedule and all trains have now left our factory.

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“However, we have unforeseen difficulties with the software.  Although in essence it is no different to the version we have used previously it needed some changes to enable the train to run on the 3rd rail.  Planning and analysis began over 18 months ago and did not bring any problems to light, but the live tests have uncovered some serious issues.  Our priority is to deliver safe and reliable trains, so I have instructed my team to undertake a thorough review rather than try to ‘patch’ the software.

“Although this is a difficult time I would like to acknowledge also the help that we have had from our friends in the Railway Family. Bombardier allowed us to use their test track at Derby, Arriva have let us use their depot at Eastleigh and Network Rail could not have been more helpful.  Above all the support from SWR has been invaluable.   Their team of engineers and project manager have given us help and guidance throughout and it is testament to their professionalism that we still have a robust testing, delivery and training programme in place.

“We have a team of engineers on the Island already, working with SWR’s depot engineers on unit 484001 to ensure a smooth handover of responsibilities as the rest of the fleet begin to arrive”.

A rail replacement service will continue to operate as it has done for the past 4 months and will begin a 30-minute service from 17th May – doubling the capacity. Due to the ongoing roadworks on The Broadway in Sandown, buses in the Shanklin direction are currently operating via Perowne Way and The Fairway. They are calling at 22 minutes past the hour at the back entrance to Sandown Train Station.

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 ✅
Summer 2020 First Class 484 train arrives on the Isle of Wight for testing – (delayed until November) ✅
October/November 2020 More new Class 484 trains arrive on the Isle of Wight – (delayed until Q1 2021) ✅
Winter 2020/2021 Shuttle service during infrastructure works – line completely closed instead
February 2021 Final new Class 484 carriages delivered – delayed until the Summer 
March 2021 Last 1938 stock Island Line train decommissioned ✅
May 2021 Brand new timetable introduced with new trains – delayed until at least late Summer

Last month the old Class 483 trains were lifted off the tracks at Ryde St John’s and taken to their new homes – or the scrap heap.

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.
25 Comments
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richard
richard
5 months ago

Could be the same people who haven’t done much if anything to skew bridge as well delayed and delayed. How about a story on the skew bridge or update

RAY YOUNG
RAY YOUNG
Reply to  richard
5 months ago

2 months now and not one painting section completed

Keith Jennings
Keith Jennings
5 months ago

Should have linked the haven street line at St John’s road and provided a reliable steam service thy never failed they run at all times including the war 1st and 2nd

fred
fred
Reply to  Keith Jennings
5 months ago

The island line was the most reliable service in the UK, it will be again. These are just teething problems. Good that they were found before the trains entered service.

Nick Black
Nick Black
5 months ago

And, despite earlier dates and reassurances, and then some half-hearted excuses regarding Covid for the initial delays, no-one will lose their job following this major failure!
At the very least, there is NO excuse for the track not being ready.

isle of wighter
isle of wighter
5 months ago

reminds me of the floating bridge – another prime example of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

Truth
Truth
5 months ago

The taxi drivers at Shanklin station have to pay £300 a year to use that taxi rank, the chances of that money being paid back is zero…

Very few people use that bus that’s replaced the train, it’s a complete farce…

JHVF
JHVF
5 months ago

Sounds like the typical, modern day, over reliance on computer progressing, patching up software defects just leads to more. Get in there and progress it manually.

Wightman
Wightman
5 months ago

So ‘ planning and analysis didn’t highlight any issues’,have they kept there remuneration and their jobs ,you know the answer !

Mr Bean
Mr Bean
5 months ago

Half the workforce walked off after the boss tested positive for cocaine
that didn’t help! Guess they all were on it too
sad

Martin Shoebridge
Martin Shoebridge
5 months ago

They worked when in use on the London Underground… what’s changed ? If it works, don’t fix it ? FB6a ?

Cedric Lynch
Cedric Lynch
Reply to  Martin Shoebridge
5 months ago

What’s changed? The addition of software, without which software issues do not occur.

ron
ron
5 months ago

Is it actually worth all the time and trouble, most people have adapted without the trains.
Perhaps we should scrap the whole saga and make it a track for electric scooters.

Oldbutalive
Oldbutalive
5 months ago

I was so looking forward to having a trip on the new old trains, wonders how long i will have to wait now.

Mop bucket
Mop bucket
5 months ago

How many trains use a third rail power pick up? Hmmm. Re-inventing the wheel or BS.

Mark
Mark
5 months ago

So this basically sums up as: 

1. The Covid excuse was just that – an excuse.
2. There was no way they were ever going to meet even the delayed mid May opening date even if the rolling stock was ready.
3. It took Vivarail over a year to discover a software bug so major that it will take longer than the initial software took to develop to fix.

Add to that the apparent lack of any service for travellers arriving at Ryde pierhead on the Fastcat and you have a very poor customer experience that will have a massive negative impact the island’s already hard hit economy.

A couple of extra coaches and an apology won’t fix that.

Simon
Simon
5 months ago

Probably due to all the litter the contractors dump clogging rails. Seriously though when they were parked on smallbrook lane, on my dog walk I watched them dump ther lunch litter daily out of the car doors. Disgusting.

Eat more pies
Eat more pies
5 months ago

Trains always ran ok without computers .why do they need them now ?

fred
fred
Reply to  Eat more pies
5 months ago

It makes them a lot more efficient, and if the correct hardware used, far more reliable. In the 70’s cars had no computers. They would brake down all the time, never last for more that 80k miles and in the winter were a night mare to start. Everyone had a peg for the choke and a can of easy start in the glove box. Now, cars just work. And even the cheap ones will do well over 100k. If done correctly, the addition of computers brings many advantages.

RichardTheBeard
RichardTheBeard
Reply to  fred
5 months ago

“Efficiency” costs! My 1955 Standard 10 cost me next to nothing, to buy or maintain, even though it occasionally it needed a push. My “never failing” computerised SUV has just cost me two arms and two legs, just to replace two sensors, one at a time because the diagnostic computer didn’t spot that, when there are four sensors, the chances are that all four will wear out at roughly the same time! So now it has failed again, same diagnostics, 5 miles after paying the last bill! Expecting to lose another arm and leg (as if I had three 🙂 ), Computers!! :-((

fred
fred
5 months ago

It’s good they found the issues before the trains entered service. It would be interested to know why the addition of the 3rd rail caused issues. I would have though they used a 3rd rail before being modified. Maybe someone cheeped out and the kit can’t carry the current and so the system shuts it down.

Tim Phillips
Tim Phillips
Reply to  fred
5 months ago

I drove these on the District line pre refurbishment. They have been rebuilt with new controllers and traction motors. They have been used in other NR locations since rebuild but not on third rail set ups. There is often problems with third rail signalling picking up interference from ole systems and whatever train protection has been installed here may not like the stray magnetic fields generated by third rail traction.

MC hammer
MC hammer
5 months ago

Well,if as predicted it’s going to be a bumper summer staycation,then the pier head and esplanade are going to be one massive circus,I might start selling tickets to watch the chaos unfold, happy days?

Robin Lattimore
Robin Lattimore
5 months ago

I say why not redo the faithful 1938 stock up and continue running them.
Order enough spares to last several years from a company that can manufacture them.
then you will have a set of trains that will be able to work the line.

Mike Poole
Mike Poole
5 months ago

It seems that in the 230 form, the power supply to all trains is the same ie diesel or battery. They all have a Dc output that is reliable and constant, not affected by outside variables.Their software knows what to expect and controls the Ac motors and other electrcal equipment as expected all the while. The class 484’s have a third rail supply that varies due to resistance, rail joints, conductor rail and other factors. Therefore the software does not have a reliable supply but varies by location etc. Could they not include a battery pack as in the 230 trans but charged up by the third rail and this would act like a buffer for software.

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