Island Line: Franchise decision delayed

Those expecting to hear who’s been awarded the South Western rail franchise – which includes Island Line – will have to wait an extra couple of months, after decision and implementation is delayed.

Island line carriage

Those interested in the outcome of the bidding process for the South Western rail franchise, including Island Line trains, will have to wait longer than expected to find out who will be awarded the franchise.

David Pugh from the Keep Island Line in Franchise campaign group, has been in touch to advise that the franchise award has been pushed to April.

The new franchise will now not start until August.

He said,

“With the Taskforce’s report (led by Christopher Garnett) on Island Infrastructure due out in March, it will be interesting to see whether his recommendations in respect of Island Line are then reflected / taken into account in the franchise award the following month.

“We (KILF) will be making further representations to the Taskforce in the next month, drawing on information we have secured from a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the DfT.”

Image: tompagenet under CC BY 2.0

Thursday, 5th January, 2017 5:26pm



Filed under: Island-wide, Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight News, Top story, Train, Travel

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19 Comments on "Island Line: Franchise decision delayed"

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Apart from existing set up where is the money coming from to set up anything ,unless closure.


They will run it down even more over the next few years so they have excuse to close it.

Let’s be realistic the service doesn’t make money it is currently being propped up by the current franchise owner. Who ever wins the franchise is not going to majorly invest in the service because there is no return in it for them. The rolling stock they are using are on there last legs and need replacing among other things. The staff who run it now do a… Read more »

@ richard

Most of the feeder lines do not make money. That is the whole ethos for keeping it in the franchise.

The downward trend started when the ferries were ofloaded out of the system years ago.

At some stage, someone will have to decide on public service or private profit. Hence the delay.


IslandLine doesn’t, actually, “feed” anything.

As you correctly point out, when the ferries were taken out of British Rail (Sealink) the IW railway was, effectively, amputated from the rest of the network.

Philip Hawkins

Oh it does, it feeds Portsmouth Harbour station – unfortunately your choice of onward journey from there is rather restricted at the moment.

Under normal circumstances it makes Gatwick the airport of choice, but getting the timing right for check-in is now in the lap of the gods!

No, it “feeds” Ryde Pier Head. You then have to use the services of two companies that are not in the same franchise to get to Gatwick. The dilapidated state of both the rolling stock and stations on the Isle of Wight show exactly what SWT think of Island Line. It is a millstone around their necks. They spend the bare minimum they can get away with… Read more »

I am all for it staying in franchise but it needs to be run as a public service and not a private for profit service and this needs to be put into the franchise agreement.


But the franchise holder is a “for profit” company.

They only keep Island Line in its current barely operational state because they are required to under the terms of their overall franchise.

KILF are deluding themselves if they imagine that Island Line will, in any way, improve if it remains in franchise. The best they can hope for is maintaining the status quo of functional dilapidation.

no delusion

They are not deluding themselves at all. They realise that the only way to keep the line open in any way whatsoever is to keep it in franchise. Take it out of the franchise and it will close. Then Southern Vectis prices will go up even more as there will be no other public transport at all on the Island.


So put it out of its misery.

Better that than the rust covered ancient rolling stock with its peeling paint and musty smelling interiors and the bleak , run down stations.

no delusion
Of course its not better to close it down. Its a public transport service that carries thousands of people every year and is a tourist link from the pier head to most of the east coast. The line should be kept in franchise, and the franchise holder forced to invest to bring the service up to the level it was at when they took it over. Too… Read more »
There are several alternatives to the existing pure rail set-up, including tramway, dual-mode vehicles and hydrogen power, most of which would result in appreciably lower operating costs and a better service. Placing Island Line within National Rail would certainly allow cost-sharing but at the expense of committing us for ever to outdated rail technology (because we could never afford or justify the new stuff, just other routes’… Read more »

I’m no expert at all but is there any mileage in looking to have the fantastic IOW heritage railway operation somehow take over the Island line – combining tourism and public transport in a cross-subsidy model supported by local and national government?

no delusion

No – because they wont do it. The steam railway will not take on the entire line, local government cant afford to support it, and national government would rather the white elephant closes down. Theres busses to take over when it does close, and if people cant afford busses they will have to walk.

There are many sound reasons why Isle of Wight Steam Railway doesn’t take over Island Line, but they and everyone else would benefit from a fast, reliable, affordable service between Ryde Pier Head and Sandown/Shanklin. It would have to be immune from the influence of SV (although we should not under-estimate their powers through the government’s ludicrous franchising arrangements). It needs the blessing but emphatically not the… Read more »

This is an opportunity for us whingeing Islanders to do something constructive – it must at least be worth a study???

You’re brave to mention transport, Isle of Wight and study in the same paragraph


I’m not suggesting expensive consultants, nor even IWC officers. I’m certain there is enough knowledge and business nouse among us to be able at least to decide whether it’s worth pursuing, and if so, to put in place some crowdfunding.

What do others think?

I agree, its just that whenever the subject of transport improvements for the island are mentioned the NIMBYs and trolls come out in force to say that they are quite happy with the way things are. As for the IWC they would much rather all the island related transport issues were swept under the carpet as being far too controversial. For what its worth I think that… Read more »