OPERATOR South Western Railway has announced that the upgraded Island Line is set to reopen on November 1, subject to a final round of train safety tests being successfully completed.
Once reopened, customers will return to a transformed rail link, with new trains running along upgraded infrastructure and through improved stations.
According to SWR, the new trains will significantly improve the customer experience, with upgrades ranging from better interiors to plug sockets, free WiFi and wheelchair spaces.
As well as testing the new trains, SWR staff have been busy improving the rail infrastructure and stations on the Island. Amongst other enhancements, the Island Line tracks have been upgraded to ensure customers can enjoy a smoother ride.
The £26 million project, which has been funded by the Department for Transport, Isle of Wight Council and Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, has taken longer to complete than first anticipated. This has been due to several factors including train testing complications, the pandemic and even the flash flooding which engulfed the Isle of Wight earlier this summer.
During testing, the new Class 484 Island Line trains have been affected by software issues, which SWR and train supplier Vivarail have made good progress in solving through further testing. The final phase of testing is key to the delivery of a safe and reliable railway.
Claire Mann, Managing Director of South Western Railway, said: “We are really pleased that the Island Line is set to reopen on November 1, providing that a final round of testing allows us to safely introduce our new trains into passenger service.
“It goes without saying that the safety of our customers and colleagues is the absolute priority for us, which is why it’s so important to get these final preparations right.
“When the Island Line reopens, the new trains and upgraded infrastructure will give a real boost to the customer experience, delivering the modern, punctual and accessible railway that people expect and deserve.
“We are sorry that this project has taken longer to deliver than we first hoped, with a series of complications sadly delaying re-opening. However, we are confident that the transformed Island Line will be worth wait, and we are so excited to welcome locals and visitors back onboard!”