The first of Island Line’s new Vivarail Class 484 trains has arrived on the Isle of Wight, crossing over from the mainland on the 14:45 ferry to Fishbourne.
Vivarail has converted former London Underground D78 stock, as used on the District line, into modern trains with new interiors and other enhancements that include adding free on-board Wi-Fi, significantly improved onboard passenger information, and the provision of charging sockets and wheelchair spaces.
To show what the interior of the new train will look like, Vivarail has prepared a virtual tour of the interior.
A major upgrade to the Island line is underway, and the arrival of the first of the new fleet of trains has been highly anticipated in advance of their entry into service in spring 2021. The upgrade has been planned since September 2019, when £26 million of funding was announced, primarily from the Department for Transport (£25 million), with support from Isle of Wight Council (£300,000) and Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) (£700,000).
The newly refurbished Class 484 train, and four others that will arrive on the island over the coming months, continue Island Line’s long-standing tradition of using refurbished and transformed former London Underground rolling stock. They will replace the existing 82-year old Class 483 fleet, which were originally built in 1938 for the London Underground, and have served Island Line since the late 1980s.
As well as the new train fleet, Island Line will soon benefit from a number of infrastructure and station improvements including the installation of a new passing loop at Brading, allowing for a service at regular 30-minute intervals, track enhancement work to improve ride quality and adjustments to platform heights to improve accessibility.
In order to complete these improvement works, the line will be closed from 4 January 2021 until 31 March 2021, with replacement buses operating instead. Following these works, the new trains will be introduced into service.
Mark Hopwood, managing director of South Western Railway, said: “Island Line customers are going to notice a real improvement with the introduction of this new fleet, improving journeys for the future. The Class 483s have proven to be the workhorse of the railway, but these newer trains will help modernise the rail experience on the Isle of Wight for years to come.
“This is the first major step towards a better railway for the island, and we are now only a matter of months away before the trains enter service.”
Bob Seely MP (Conservative, Isle of Wight) said: “I am delighted to welcome the first of these trains to the island. This is good news for residents, commuters, students and the tourism industry, who can now look forward to a much better passenger experience from next May onwards.
“Today marks an important milestone in the overall improvement of rail provision and connectivity from Shanklin all the way through to the mainland. We will see half-hourly trains throughout the day, starting earlier and finishing later to provide a more comprehensive service.
“Along with the Isle of Wight Council, the Solent LEP, KILF and various other interest groups, we convinced the Government to back this multi-million pound investment in Island Line, which – together with the forthcoming work to Ryde Railway Pier – amounts to the biggest upgrade the route has seen in over 50 years. I am also grateful to South Western Railway who have remained committed to delivering these improvements, despite the significant difficulties of recent months.
“Like many Islanders, I look forward to travelling on the trains once they are fully operational.”