Island Line all at sea over rolling stock delay

The re-opening of the Island Line railway on the Isle of Wight has been delayed to later this summer ‘due to challenges with the delivery of the new fleet of class 484 trains’.

South Western Railway said manufacturer Vivarail had been set to deliver all the trains to the island ‘well before Easter’, but that ‘complex software issues’ have delayed their arrival.

The first train was delivered by ferry in November

The rail operator added that as soon as the trains can be delivered to the Island, it can begin the extensive process of operational testing, safety assurance and training required to bring them into service, but that ‘given the complexity of the challenges we face, primarily with the software on the trains, it is too early to provide a firm date’.

In the meantime, SWR has pledged to double the capacity of the rail replacement bus service from 17 May, to match the capacity of the previously expected rail timetable.

Major projects director Alex Foulds said: ‘We are as disappointed as our customers by this delay. Our infrastructure works are largely on track, but there is a delay to the delivery of the trains and we apologise for the impact that will have on our customers and the communities we serve.

‘We continue to work incredibly hard in partnership with our train supplier Vivarail to reopen a safe, reliable and fully upgraded Island Line as soon as possible.’

In a statement, Vivarail CEO Adrian Shooter said: ‘Whilst we were able to deliver the first train to the Isle of Wight several months ago, the rest of the fleet are still at Eastleigh for mainline testing before delivery.

‘We know that this is the second delay to the introduction of the new service, and acknowledge that South Western Railway is on schedule with its infrastructure upgrades.

‘As a company we take full responsibility and offer our apologies to the passengers and staff of the Island Line. It would be easy to hide behind Covid and point the finger at the pandemic, but we had in fact managed to claw back a lot of that lost time and brought the build back on schedule and all trains have now left our factory. However, we have unforeseen difficulties with the software.’

The Class 484s will continue the line’s tradition of using refurbished former London Underground rolling stock and are due to will replace the existing Class 483 fleet, which were originally built in 1938 and have served the Island Line since the late 1980s.

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