November reopening for Island line

The Island line between Ryde and Shanklin on the Isle of Wight will reopen on 1 November, subject to completion of a final round of train safety tests.

The line closed on 4 January for a £26 million upgrade, including new Class 484 trains supplied by Vivarail and enhancements to the infrastructure, among them provision of a passing loop at Brading to enable a half-hourly service to operate. South Western Railway’s original intention was to reopen the line on 1 April, but a series of delays have meant the line has remained closed for most of the year. The operator confirmed it plans to restart services with a half-hourly timetable once the line reopens.

The project has been funded by the Department for Transport, Isle of Wight Council and Solent Local Enterprise Partnership. Vivarail is supplying 5x2-car Class 484s, which will offer facilities including charging sockets, free Wi-Fi and wheelchair spaces. However, software problems with the new trains have been one of the contributors to the delays affecting the project. SWR says the final phase of testing of the replacement trains is key to the delivery of a safe and reliable railway.

As well as the new passing loop and second platform at Brading, upgraded infrastructure includes adjustments to platform and track heights, a signalling upgrade and renewal of a significant amount of track. Flash flooding over the summer, which affected 16 sites on the line, caused a further perturbation to the upgrade programme. Network Rail is carrying out a separate programme of strengthening works on Ryde Pier.