Isle of Wight Conservative MP, Bob Seely, is reported as having submitted expressions of interest to the Department for Transport last week to reopen two rail branch lines on the Island.
Isle of Wight Radio reported the MP was seeking a feasibility study to look in detail at:
- Extending Island Line from Shanklin to Ventnor
- Providing regular passenger services through Smallbrook from Ryde to Newport
The second option would be dependent on collaboration with the Isle of Wight Steam Railway (IWSR), who own the track.
Mr Seely said that most of the money needed for the feasibility study would come from the DfT, but that some extra would be needed to be put in.
IWSR: “No plans to extend westward from Wootton”
In response to the news the Steam Railway said,
“We note with interest the suggestion, put forward by Bob Seely MP, of connecting Newport to Ryde via the Steam Railway and Island Line. Whilst our Strategic Vision contains the long-term ambition to extend our line to Newport, this has significant financial and technical challenges.
“For the foreseeable future we, therefore, have no plans to extend westward from our current terminus at Wootton.”
IWSR: “Significant changes would be required”
Although they remain supportive of the development of public transport on the Island, they went on to add,
“Current safety legislation makes shared usage of our line challenging. Modern faster trains needed to operate a viable public transport link would not be able to operate alongside our historic wooden-bodied carriages which currently run at a maximum speed of 25mph.
“Significant changes would also be required to the infrastructure and signalling.”
The Steam Railway, do however, say they’re open to discussions with Bob Seely and the Dept for Transport to establish whether these challenges could be overcome.
Support for Island Line investment
The Steam Railway say they have a strong working relationship with their neighbours at Island Line and fully support their recently announced investment in new track and rolling stock.