Thursday, 4 June 2020

Isle of Wight Railway Plans Move Closer - Government Funds Awarded

Following the announcement that Class 484 Vivarail Trains are to be operated on the Isle of Wight here, the island has been selected as one of ten areas to receive a share of Restoring Railways Fund.

As a result, old rail routes to Ventnor and Newport could be re-opened, as part of ambitious plans to restore routes lost to the Beeching cuts.

Transport secretary, Grant Shapps has announced that the Island is among the successful bids in the the government's fund.

The Isle of Wight's MP has welcomed the news, saying although "there are also some substantial issues which would need to be resolved to enable the return of railway services to Ventnor, these are not insurmountable."

The plan is to reopen railway lines, including those closed during the 1960s. 

 Map showing the original network of rail lines on the island

The bid, submitted by the Isle of Wight Council and sponsored by Island MP Bob Seely, proposed two schemes:

• extension of the existing Island Line service (Ryde-Shanklin) south of Shanklin to reach Ventnor, calling at Wroxall

• integration with, and extension of, the existing Isle of Wight Steam Railway route to provide passenger services through Smallbrook from Ryde to Newport

Leader of the Isle of Wight Council, Councillor Dave Stewart, said: "We have been able to convince the government to support us in taking forward plans to enable investment on the Island.

"The potential to have an extended railway service on the Island is very real, and could have a transformational impact on our public transport provision.

"We also welcome the opportunity to explore how a train route into Newport could play an integral role in our plans for the regeneration of Newport Harbour.

“I would like to thank our officers for their tremendous work so far in support of this initiative, and we look forward to working with local stakeholders over the coming months to explore how these plans can be progressed.”

Class 483 electric multiple units run on the island. They were originally built as 1938 tube stock units for London Underground. 
It is has been announced that they will be
replaced by Class 484 Vivarail trains.

A bid was put in in March to bring back trains to Newport and Ventnor

Department for Transport officials will now work with the council to agree the focus of the work and the funding which will be required, and on what timescales.

The Isle of Wight MP welcomed the possibility of restoring the routes but warned it would not be easy.

Bob Seely said: "If we were able to see rail services restored to Newport and Ventnor, these towns (and the surrounding areas) would immediately benefit from improved connectivity. Working with the council and others, I will do all I can to see these aspirations become a reality.

“However, we must also be realistic about the logistical challenges we face in seeing these routes restored."