SOUTH Western Railway (SWR) has announced the reopening of the Island Line will face a delay due to challenges with the delivery of the new fleet of class 484 trains.

Rolling stock manufacturer Vivarail had been set to deliver the trains to the Island before Easter, but complex software issues mean the fully refurbished trains are yet to be delivered.

As soon as the trains can be delivered to the Island, SWR says it can begin the extensive process of operational testing, safety assurance and training required to bring them into service.

As a result, Island Line's reopening date has been pushed back until this summer, although SWR says it is too early to provide a firm date.

SWR has pledged to double the capacity of the rail replacement bus service from May 17, to match the capacity of the previously expected rail timetable.

Isle of Wight County Press: One of the new Island Line fleet.One of the new Island Line fleet.

Alex Foulds, major projects director at SWR, said: “Our infrastructure works are largely on track, but there is a delay to the delivery of the trains and we apologise for the impact it will have on our customers and 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, chief executive, Vivarail LTD, added: "We know this is the second delay to the introduction of the new service, and acknowledge 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.

"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."

Infrastructure works have developed the following areas:

  • Improved ride comfort of the line by trimming, rejointing and adjusting the rails on over 6.5 miles of railway, as well as installing new sleepers and rail at various locations between Shanklin and Ryde St Johns.
  • Installed new electricity cables, an upgraded power supply and new signalling cables and equipment across the line to provide greater resilience and reliability for years to come.
  • Constructed a ‘passing loop’ at Brading which allows trains to pass each other and make possible a new regular half hourly service.
  • Upgraded stations which will see new ticket machines at three locations and Wi-Fi at all stations
  • Improved accessibility by raising platforms or lowering tracks at five stations to reduce the step between the train and the platform.
  • Transformed the Ryde St Johns depot to accommodate the new 484 class trains, with a new crane and hi-tech software to maintain the fleet