Network Rail and South Western Railway (SWR) have confirmed that Ryde Pier Head station and the line between there and Ryde Esplanade station will open no later than 10 June, in time for the start of the summer holidays and the Isle of Wight Festival.
The companies report that work is progressing well and is now entering its final stages. Engineers are reinstating 172 metres of track and 280 sleepers following the repairs and painting of the steelwork.
The 143-year-old, 686-metre-long Victorian pier has been closed to Island Line services since October 2022 for a programme of steelwork strengthening and track renewals.
The reopening of Ryde Pier Head station will provide a timely boost in supporting tourism during the Island's busy summer holiday season. It will also help the thousands of festival goers attending this year's Isle of Wight Festival, which will take place between Thursday 15 and Sunday 18 June.
Work on the pier began last autumn. During the winter, engineers worked to refurbish and strengthen the pier structure. However, the challenges of working in a marine environment – including high tides and severe weather conditions – throughout December and January meant that work had to be paused for safety reasons, and the programme timeline extended into the spring.
SWR has operated two trains per hour between Ryde Esplanade and Shanklin stations since 2 April. From 10 June, this service will be extended to include Ryde Pier Head station every hour.
Further follow-up work will be carried out to extend the life of the pier. This will be done over several weeks in October when fewer people are travelling. Engineers will install 396 metres of new track and 660 sleepers, will realign the track to provide smoother journeys along the pier, and will renew signalling equipment to improve reliability.
Mark Killick, Network Rail's Wessex route director, said: “We're pleased to announce that Ryde Pier Head station will reopen to customers in time for the summer holidays, which we know is a particularly busy and important time on the Isle of Wight.
“We're sorry this work has taken longer than we had hoped, primarily due to the challenging winter weather conditions. We have remained focused on making sure that despite these challenges Ryde Pier Head station is open throughout the busy summer season.
“We'd like to thank local residents and customers for their patience while we've carried out this huge programme of work to restore the pier, giving it a new lease of life.”
Mark Dunn, SWR's Island Line general manager, said: “We're very pleased that the line between Ryde Pier Head and Ryde Esplanade will re-open on Saturday 10 June to support the many tourists and festivalgoers we're expecting.
“Once complete, these works will significantly improve customer journeys on the Island's iconic pier and we are grateful to our customers for their ongoing patience as we work closely with Network Rail to complete them as soon as possible.”