Announcing plans for a £26 million investment in Island Line (reported HERE by Isle of Wight Radio), during a gathering at Brading train station this morning (Monday), 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.
“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.”
Vivarail’s Class 484 trains will run on the existing line. They have two carriages with connecting gangways allowing guards to move freely throughout. The first train is expected to arrive on test in early summer 2020, with track improvement works due to take place over the winter of that year.
Managing Director of South Western Railway Andy Mellors said:
“This is a great day for the Isle of Wight. I want to pay tribute to our team at Island Line who have kept the current 1938 stock going for so long and to all of the stakeholders who helped us develop our proposals. I look forward to our continuing partnership as we deliver the next exciting chapter in Island Line’s history.”
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.”
Chairman for Solent Local Enterprise Partnership Gary Jeffries said:
“A renaissance of our coastal communities is a strategic priority for the Solent LEP as we strive to raise productivity levels and spread prosperity across the Solent. Improved digital and transport connectivity is a key enabler of this renaissance , and we are delighted to be working with SWR, the Department for Transport and Isle of Wight Council to unlock funding for the creation of a new passing loop at Brading Station, allowing a more standard 30 minute service.”
Director Network Rail Southern Region David Dickson said:
“Our plans for the Isle of Wight will see us making a multi-million pound investment to improve the island’s infrastructure rail infrastructure and include refurbishing Ryde Pier. We are looking forward to working with SWR to deliver these improvements and to ensuring that together we continue to provide a train service for passengers for years to come.”
Vivarail CEO Adrian Shooter said:
“It is a great privilege for Vivarail to be part of the wholesale upgrade of the Island Line. Vivarail will be building 3rd rail trains to make best use of Island Line’s electrified track , this follows on from our diesel units for West Midlands Railway and battery/diesel trains for Transport for Wales – and is an example of how flexible the train is. I look forward to taking the first ride and enjoying the picturesque views of the Isle of Wight from the comfort of the new trains.”
Wightlink Chief Executive Keith Greenfield said:
“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.”