One of the new trains now running on the Island Line
The Island Line could be extended from Sandown to Newport at an initial cost of £67million under initial plans submitted to the Department for Transport by the Isle of Wight Council. The authority, supported by Island MP Bob Seely, is seeking government support from the ‘Restoring Your Railway’ programme to further develop the case for reinstating some of the Islands’ lost rail links.
The project will aim to reinstate the disused railway line between the Island Line and Newport, via Blackwater, providing a frequent, fast and reliable railway service from Ryde Pier Head to the Island’s county town – albeit following an indirect route. The original suggestion was utilising the Isle of Wight Steam Railway track from Smallbrook Junction to Wootton and extending it to Newport, but the business case submitted by the Council now looks at reinstating a railway track from Sandown to Blackwater instead. The plan of utilising the Steam Railway has been ruled out on cost and feasibility grounds. Extending the existing Island Line to Newport via Blackwater has been identified as the most viable element of the project to be progressed as an initial phase, at an estimated infrastructure cost of £67 million. However, the project could cost up to £110million with annual running costs of 3 trains per hour of up to £3.2million. The proposal would utilise the former Sandown to Newport railway — the trackbed of which remains very largely intact — to link the existing Island Line to Newport. Existing cycling and walking routes would be retained and enhanced alongside any new rail infrastructure. A new north-facing junction would be created south of Sandown Train Station. 3 trains per hour would run with an end-to-end journey of between 21 and 26 minutes. The ‘new’ section could be built as a hybrid light rail, semi-segregated railway with battery-powered tram-trains or modified Class 484 trains.
Island Line railway tracks at Smallbrook Oakfield