Roger Berrisford – who twice interrupted Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely during his speech yesterday – has said in a statement that 16th September 2019 was a ‘shameful day for Island Line’, stating that the Government ‘will have to eat its words’ because, he says, South Western Railway has ‘not delivered the more sustainable solution for Island Line that was specifically requested by the Department for Transport (DfT) Invitation to Tender’.
As previously reported by Island Echo, it was announced by Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris MP that the Isle of Wight is to receive not only new Class 484 Vivarail trains, but a passing loop at Brading and other enhancements to the local railway.
Roger has said:
“It is also abysmal in this day and age that the DfT can see no further than heavy rail, and so another branch line is to continue with the expensive make do and mend policy which we know costs this line more than £3.5m a year instead of a new bright future of light rail with expansion.
“In 2017 Light Rail Isle of Wight (LRIoW) put forward proposals to the Isle of Wight Council that Island Line be upgraded to a modern, greener, more frequent and easily extendable new light rail system. The new service would have seen the introduction of new light weight trains and would also completely transform Ryde, opening up the seafront at Ryde Esplanade so making it accessible along its full length. The new light weight trains are a member of the Light Rail Vehicle (LRV) family with all the benefits that they can bring.
“As much as £20m could have been saved by introducing new light weight trains, the development of which is fully supported by the Office of Road and Rail and the DfT in order to make branch line rail services much more sustainable and are keen to allocate them to branch lines like Island Line”.
“It is truly shocking that our MP’s highest aspirations for the Island’s rail service is to support the cheapest option of more second-hand, old London trains when far more sustainable new light trains could be available within a similar timescale and even cheaper. Clearly he doesn’t believe Islanders deserve any better?
“Our proposals would have delivered a 15-minute service using six new lightweight trains which could in the future be extended to re-link towns such as Newport and Cowes. He appears to have taking his cue from a former Council Leader, now Tory chairman, who has also campaigned for more second hand old regurgitated London trains and it is time for the Islanders to ask why?
“Light Rail Isle of Wight is calling on the Island’s Council, the transport authority, to do the right thing and insist that the Government to treat the Island better. Other places deserve and are getting new trains – why not us?”