By Phil Marsh
At AN Isle of Wight Council meeting on May 3, it was confirmed that the UK’s only offshore franchised main line railway will see its 80-year-old trains replaced.
The news became public knowledge when representatives from South Western Railway, the Island Line franchise operators, presented an outline of its proposals concerning the future of the 8½ mile line running between Ryde Pierhead and Shanklin to councillors.
When SWR was awarded the franchise, it committed to providing a ‘costed option’ to the Department for Transport on how to make the line more financially sustainable by May 31.
Commercial details remain under wraps but SWR confirmed its intention to replace the UK’s oldest franchised trains with “refurbished rolling stock of a larger profile” enabling guards to move between carriages and offering a more comfortable passenger ride. Trains will offer wi-fi, charging points and real time passenger running information.
SWR will carry out heavy track repairs (it responsibility under the franchise agreement) and to work with the council with the Ryde Gateway scheme which will transform the underwhelming Ryde Esplanade station.
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