South Western Railway has announced that the new fleet of Class 484 trains for the Island Line have been delayed due to a ‘complex software issue’.
The first train was delivered by Vivarail last year with the rest set for completion before Easter, but these software issues mean that the remaining trains are yet to be delivered.
Once the new trains are delivered, South Western Railway can begin testing and training to bring them into service.
The line closed at the beginning of the year for improvement works. South Western Railway says that the reopening of the line has been pushed back to later this Summer.
South Western Railway and Vivarail both say that they are completing a full review to build a programme to provide further updates.
Whilst the trains are completed, South Western Railway has also announced that they are doubling the capacity of the rail replacement bus service from the 17th May 2021.
Alex Foulds, Major Projects Director at SWR, said: “We are as disappointed as our customers by this delay. Our infrastructure works are largely on track, but there is a delay to the delivery of the trains and we apologise for the impact that will have on our customers and the communities we serve. We continue to work incredibly hard in partnership with our train supplier Vivarail to reopen a safe, reliable and fully upgraded Island Line as soon as possible.”
Adrian Shooter, CEO, Vivarail said: “This is an announcement I hoped I wouldn’t have to make. I must tell you that, regrettably, there will be a delay in delivery of our trains for the Island Line. Whilst we were able to deliver the first train to the Isle of Wight several months ago, the rest of the fleet are still at Eastleigh for mainline testing before delivery.”
“We know that this is the second delay to the introduction of the new service, and acknowledge that South Western Railway is on schedule with its infrastructure upgrades.”
“As a company we take full responsibility and offer our apologies to the passengers and staff of the Island Line. It would be easy to hide behind Covid and point the finger at the pandemic, but we had in fact managed to claw back a lot of that lost time and brought the build back on schedule and all trains have now left our factory.”
“However, we have unforeseen difficulties with the software. Although in essence it is no different to the version we have used previously it needed some changes to enable the train to run on the 3rd rail. Planning and analysis began over 18 months ago and did not bring any problems to light, but the live tests have uncovered some serious issues. Our priority is to deliver safe and reliable trains, so I have instructed my team to undertake a thorough review rather than try to ‘patch’ the software.”
“Although this is a difficult time I would like to acknowledge also the help that we have had from our friends in the Railway Family. Bombardier allowed us to use their test track at Derby, Arriva have let us use their depot at Eastleigh and Network Rail could not have been more helpful. Above all the support from SWR has been invaluable. Their team of engineers and project manager have given us help and guidance throughout and it is testament to their professionalism that we still have a robust testing, delivery and training programme in place.”
“We have a team of engineers on the Island already, working with SWR’s depot engineers on unit 484001 to ensure a smooth handover of responsibilities as the rest of the fleet begin to arrive.”
The infrastructure works are on schedule and has seen rails adjusted and rejoined to improve ride comfort as well as installing new sleepers and rails between Shanklin and Ryde St Johns.
New electricity cables and an upgraded power supply has been installed as well as a passing loop at Brading to allow trains to pass each other, making a half-hourly service a possibility.
Ryde St Johns depot has also been transformed to accommodate the new Class 484 trains, with a new crane and software to maintain the fleet.
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