Solent LEP has confirmed a £700,000 investment to upgrade Island Line trains – securing the cash boost already promised – of £26 million.
As previously reported by Isle of Wight Radio, a £26 million investment was announced last September by the Department for Transport in Brading.
Today (Thursday) the Solent LEP is confirming its investment of £700,000, which, alongside an investment of £300,000 from the Isle of Wight Council, provides the £1m local funding needed to secure the DfT investment.
The project will see:
- Upgrading of the rail infrastructure.
- Reinstatement of a passing loop at Brading station.
- The operation of an even 30-minute interval train service in place of the existing staggered 20:40 minute service.
- New refurbished rolling stock.
- A better-aligned schedule with ferries.
Solent LEP Chairman Gary Jeffries 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 in September, which will safeguard and transform connectivity on the Island, as well as supporting the coastal communities to the east coast of the Island. We are very pleased that a scheme identified in our Island Infrastructure Investment Plan will soon be delivered.”
South Western Railway Managing Director, Mark Hopwood:
“I want to pay tribute to our team at Island Line which has kept the current 1938 stock going for so long and to all of the stakeholders who helped us develop our proposals. I am particularly grateful for the grant funding from the Solent LEP and Isle of Wight council and I look forward to our continuing partnership as we deliver the next exciting chapter in Island Line’s history.”
The Island’s MP, Bob Seely said:
“I am delighted that local partners have come together to secure the future of Island Line. After working with others to persuade the Department for Transport to make this investment, I am pleased that the Isle of Wight Council is now complementing this at a local level. Island Line provides vital public transport connectivity to the wider Solent region, so I am also grateful to the LEP serving this area for agreeing to invest in the route. The improved frequency and alignment with other modes of transport is long overdue, and I look forward to working with local partners to ensure that this investment is delivered in a timely manner over the next 16 months, with minimal disruption to passenger use during the upgrade works.”
Isle of Wight Council Leader, Councillor Dave Stewart said:
“This is a great example of partners across the private and public sectors working together to make a real difference to our coastal communities and businesses. The Island Line, which performs a critical role in our sustainable transport network, has suffered from years of under-investment. Now with this significant investment from DfT and the Solent LEP, alongside the Isle of Wight Council’s investment, the Island Line has a bright future and can be a catalyst for a renaissance of our economy.”