Stuart shares this response to the Island Line franchise news from the Isle of Wight Bus and Rail Users’ Group. Ed
IWBRUG, which is the sole independent organisation acting on behalf of the interests of bus and rail passengers on the Isle of Wight, is giving a cautious welcome to news of the award of the South Western rail franchise to First Group in partnership with MTR.
IWBRUG Chairman, Stuart George, said,
“We are pleased to note the investment of £1.2 billion in rolling stock, infrastructure and information technology that First/MTR will be applying across their South Western Railway network over the franchise term.
“Island Line’s passengers should welcome the promised improvements in connectivity with cross-Solent operations and with mainland train services. We look forward to seeing a co-ordination of timetables between operators that will demonstrate that connections between trains, ferries, and buses are a high priority and that passengers are no longer inconvenienced by lengthy delays as happens at present when operators change their timetables in isolation.”
Cautious view of long term future
IWBRUG is however far more cautious at this stage regarding the long term future for Island Line.
Mr George added,
“Whilst Island Line is contained within the new South Western Railway franchise, there is a conspicuous absence of any specific funding identified for the long overdue rolling stock and infrastructure improvements required for the line.
“In the absence of specific funding, the future of Island Line would depend on talks between First/MTR and the Isle of Wight Council and local bodies leading to a business plan which might provide a more sustainable future for the Line.
“IWBRUG is very willing to work with all parties to help ensure that the case for investment in Island Line is made so as to ensure a positive long term future.”
IWBRUG will seek to meet with First/MTR and the Council at the earliest opportunity so that the voice of passengers can be clearly heard.