Today’s announcement of a £26million investment for Island Line has been welcomed by a variety of local organisations.
As previously reported by Island Echo, the Isle of Wight’s railway network will welcome new rolling stock and the creation of a new passing loop at Brading thanks to a multi-million cash injection. The news was revealed by Chris Heaton-Harris MP at Brading Train Station this morning.
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.
Responding to the news, Isle of Wight Council leader Dave Stewart said:
“I am really pleased to welcome the decision by the Department for Transport to invest millions into Island Line. Today’s announcement follows a long and detailed process involving South Western Railway, the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, the Isle of Wight Council and our MP Bob Seely aimed at securing a long-term solution to Island Line.
“Islanders can now look forward to new electric trains, major infrastructure improvement and track upgrades, including a passing loop at Brading, enabling the synchronisation of services with the ferries — all of which supports our desire for sustainable and environmental friendly contribution to our Island connectivity.
“This is great news for the Island, great news for South Western Railway and most importantly great news for the users of Island Line. A big thanks to the government for listening and supporting the island once again.”
Gary Jeffries, Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Chairman said:
“Securing a renaissance of our coastal communities is an absolute priority for the Solent LEP as we strive to raise productivity levels and spread prosperity across the Solent.
“Our work with South Western Railway has been critical to unlocking the significant central government investment announced today, which will both safeguard and transform connectivity on the Island, as well as supporting the coastal communities to the east coast of the Island. We welcome this strong endorsement of the Island economy from Government and look forward to continuing our work with South Western Railway to secure additional investment into the Island Line in the coming months.”
Keith Greenfield, Wightlink’s Chief Executive, adds:
“This investment will bring about a significant improvement to Island Line and therefore transport on and off the Island. As the Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said today, the money will mean better, more reliable trains and a timetable that connects better with our ferry services. That is great news for travellers.
“Today’s announcement marks the culmination of much hard work by many people and organisations including South Western Railway, the Isle of Wight Council and the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) as well as Island MP Bob Seely.
“Wightlink will continue to work with our partners to ensure our services are part of a high quality and sustainable integrated transport network to and from the Island.”
Cllr Chris Quirk – a founding member of the Keep Island Line in the Franchise (KILF) Campaign – added:
“We are delighted with this outcome. Our sole objective has always been to secure Island Line’s future within the wider franchise model. SWR’s package of investment for the route – backed by the DfT – confirms that our train service will continue to be an integral part of the wider operation.
“As far as we are concerned, today’s announcement is ‘mission accomplished’ for KILF”.