They have been trundling along the tracks between Ryde Pier Head and Shanklin for over 30 years, but the much-adored Class 483 former London Underground trains have now been retired following completion of the last passenger service tonight (Sunday).
The last train – 006 – arrived at Ryde St John’s Road at 23:21 but there was no fanfare to be seen due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, 006 quietly pulled away from the station and into the depot sidings to mark the end of an era.
Within minutes the electricity was isolated and the line officially handed over contractors who took possession at 23:30.
A small number of people gathered for photographs of the retiring Island Line fleet, as they have been doing along the line for several months following the announcement that the Class 483s would finally be replaced.
Earlier on today 007 also ran for the last time, carrying out passenger operations until around 11:00. Both trains have carried a special destination plate entitled “483 Final Day 1989-2021”.
Readers will know the unmistakable clickity clack of the trains and that distinctive whistle but the line will now fall silent for 3 months as part of a £26million investment in Island Line. Track and platform adjustments will take place in January, February and March to enable the new Class 484 trains to enter service. A 30-minute timetable will come into operation in May thanks to a new passing loop which is to be created at Brading.
In the past few weeks, engineers have been struggling to keep the 80-year-old trains in operation with the service often suspended or down to an hourly service. However, hard work has paid off allowing the last 2 trackworthy trains to run for one final time this weekend. It is estimated that each train has completed over 3million miles over the past 8 decades.
The trains are now set to be preserved both here on the Island and on the mainland. It has been confirmed, for the first time, that the Isle of Wight Steam Railway is to receive 2 carriages which will be preserved at Havenstreet. The London Transport Traction Group will take custody of another 2. It’s unknown at this time where the other carriages will end up.
Mark Hopwood, Managing Director of South Western Railway, has said:
“Today we’re saying goodbye to a truly iconic train fleet which is held in great affection by people living on the Island and elsewhere.
“These trains had already been carrying passengers for half a century by the time they arrived on the Island in 1989, coincidentally the same year that I started my first job on the railway, but they have served our customers well – even if they have on occasion shown their age. This is in no small part thanks to the exceptional team at Ryde Depot, who have gone above and beyond to keep the trains running.
“While this may be an emotional end to one era, it’s also the start of an exciting new one. The £26 million being invested in new trains and major infrastructure upgrades will help to deliver a railway fit for 2021, with performance and customer experience both set to be transformed”.
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By chance, it is 4 years ago to the day that Floating Bridge No.5 retired from service after more than 40 years.
The history of the Class 483s
Originally built in 1938, these trains operated London Underground’s Northern Line during the war years and until they were withdrawn in the late 1980s having already completed over 40 years’ service.
In July 1989, the first of the 1938 stock (now the Class 483) arrived on the Isle of Wight to operate the 8.5-mile Island Line from Ryde Pier Head to Shanklin. The first carriages to arrive were 10184 and 11184 and they continued to operate until they were scrapped in 2006.
When the ex-Underground stock arrived on the Island they were displayed with a ‘toothpaste’ livery, which by the early 2000s changed to a rather unique and brightly coloured Dinosaur livery. By 2007 a more toned down livery was applied – the London Transport red we see today.
Each train, which can travel up to 45mph, is made up of 2 cars with each car measuring 15.94m in length. The trains are powered by a 630v DC 3rd rail system.
The future of Island Line
In September 2019, South Western Railway announced £26m of investment in Island Line that would see the Class 483s replaced by VivaRail’s Class 484 trains, as well as improvements in infrastructure allowing for a trains service at regular 30 minute intervals.
In keeping with Island Line’s tradition of former London Underground trains, the new trains are refurbished former District Line trains but with modern features including WiFi, passenger information screens and dedicated wheelchair spaces.
The first of these new trains arrived on the Island on 19th November 2020. A total of 5x 2-car trains have been ordered and are expected to be in service for decades to come. They are displayed in a dark and light blue livery.
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