The rail minister has announced a £26m upgrade to the Isle of Wight, including repurposed Tube trains to replace the UK’s oldest rail fleet.
The Department for Transport (DfT) is providing the majority of the funding for South Western Railway’s (SWR) plans to improve the sustainability of the railway linking Ryde to Shanklin.
A mock-up of a new train in Island Line livery
The DfT cash will go towards improving the tracks and other infrastructure to support the new trains, which are remodelled London Underground trains from the 1980s, but significantly newer than the trains they replace.
The Isle of Wight Council and Solent Local Enterprise Partnership have agreed to jointly contribute £1m to fund a new passing loop at Brading, which will allow a half-hourly service to Ryde Railway Pier, where trains connect with ferries to Portsmouth.
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.’
The railway uses repurposed London Underground trains because of height restrictions at the Ryde tunnel. SWR has ordered Vivarail's Class 484 trains, which were in service until 2002 and have been rebuilt to ‘as new’ at Vivarail’s Long Marston facility in the Midlands.
SWR managing director 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.’
Council leader Dave Stewart said: ‘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.’