The first new train for the Isle of Wight arrived on the island this week, marking a major milestone in the upgrade to the Island Line.
The 14:45 ferry docked at Fishbourne Ferry Port carrying a rather different kind of passenger onboard among the usual load of cars, vans and lorries.
A major upgrade to the Island Line is underway and the first new train is expected to enter service in Spring 2021.
The trains have a host of upgrades, with new interiors, and enhancements as well as a new livery scheme.
The Class 484s will replace the outgoing Class 483s, which are 1938-stock that was originally used for the London Underground, but have been serving passengers on the Island Line since the 1980s.
The “new” trains are London Underground D78 stock that was constructed in 1978 and served the District Line on the London Underground network, they have, however, been overhauled and revamped by Vivaril in Long Marston.
You can see a sneak peak of the new trains by clicking here.
Mark Hopwood, Managing Director of South Western Railway said: “Island Line customers are going to notice a real improvement with the introduction of this new fleet, improving journeys for the future. The Class 483s have proven to be the workhorse of the railway, but these newer trains will help modernise the rail experience on the Isle of Wight for years to come.
“This is the first major step towards a better railway for the island, and we are now only a matter of months away before the trains enter service.”
Rail Minister Chris Heaton Harris said: “It’s great to finally see this long-awaited, welcome improvement, that will bring the Island Line into the modern era.
“Passengers on the Island Line will benefit from the new fleet’s more comfortable and reliable services, whilst still being able to enjoy the unique charm that has become a hallmark of the island’s railway.”
Rachael Randall, Solent LEP Director, said: “The arrival of the first of the new trains is a major milestone in our work with South Western Railway to improve connectivity on the Island. We now need to ensure that local communities can get the best possible use of this new fleet, with a regular service aligned with other transport options, and I am delighted to be able to confirm the LEPs £700,000 Local Growth Deal investment into the Island Line to make this possible. This will ensure that the service is sustainable and can operate for the benefit of Island commuters for years to come.”
Bob Seely, Member of Parliament for the Isle of Wight, said: “I am delighted to welcome the first of these trains to the Island. This is good news for residents, commuters, students and the tourism industry who can now look forward to a much better passenger experience from next May onwards.
“Today marks an important milestone in the overall improvement of rail provision and connectivity from Shanklin all the way through to the mainland. We will see half-hourly trains throughout the day, starting earlier and finishing later to provide a more comprehensive service.
“Along with the Isle of Wight Council, the Solent LEP, KILF and various other interest groups, we convinced the Government to back this multi-million pound investment in Island Line, which – together with the forthcoming work to Ryde Railway Pier – amounts to the biggest upgrade the route has seen in over 50 years. I am also grateful to South Western Railway who have remained committed to delivering these improvements, despite the significant difficulties of recent months.
“Like many Islanders, I look forward to travelling on the trains once they are fully operational.”
Councillor Ian Ward, Cabinet member for transport and infrastructure at the Isle of Wight Council, said:
“We welcome this investment in Island Line by South Western Railway which will usher in a new era of travel on this important railway line. The new Class 484 trains will offer rail passengers travelling between Ryde Pier Head and Shanklin more comfort, greater capacity, better accessibility and modern features such as USB charging, passenger information systems and free on-board WiFi.
“This is in stark contrast to the current trains being used on the Isle of Wight which are older than some of the trains running on the heritage steam railway. We look forward to seeing the Class 484 trains in action next year, together with a new passing loop at Brading which will enable Island Line to run a service at regular 30-minute intervals, providing better connections to ferries to the mainland.”
Adrian Shooter, CEO Vivarail said: “The Class 484s are an excellent addition to our suite of emission-free trains and we are delighted that they are heading to Island Line. The air on the Isle of Wight seems to suit trains so perhaps these will continue the venerable tradition of the Class 483s and keep passengers and tourists moving for decades to come.”
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