Island Line (brand)

Island Line is a brand of the South Western Railway train operating company which runs the ​8 12-mile Island Line on the Isle of Wight. A stand-alone franchise from 1996 until 2007, it then became part of the South Western franchise operated by South West Trains until August 2017 and since by South Western Railway.

Island Line
Isle of Wight Inselbahn
Franchise(s)Island Line
13 October 1996 – 3 February 2007
Part of South Western franchise
4 February 2007 – present
Main area(s)Isle of Wight
Fleet size5
Stations called at8
National Rail abbreviationIL
Parent companySouth Western Railway
Line length8 miles 34 chains
Operating speed45 mph (72 km/h) max.
Branding until August 2017
Stagecoach, Island Line logo
Former logo of Island Line


Before Island Line

From 1985 to 1990 rail services on the Isle of Wight operated under the brand RydeRail. In 1986 Network SouthEast was created, itself part of British Rail, and RydeRail was incorporated into it as a sub-brand.

Island Line

The name Island Line first came into use in 1989, when Class 483 trains were introduced on the route, and this new brand name and a logo were included on the trains' livery. However, this re-branding did not officially occur until 1994,[1] when it had completely replaced all RydeRail branding.

From 1989 until 1996, Island Line was a sub-brand of Network SouthEast. In 1996, services on the line were privatised as the Island Line franchise, with the winning bid from Stagecoach (legal name Island Line Limited[2]). On commencing operations on 13 October 1996 the name Island Line for the passenger service was retained.

Island Line was the only passenger franchise that included maintenance of the infrastructure in addition to the running of passenger services. Island Line was reportedly Britain’s most reliable and punctual train company; the shortness and simplicity of the route may contribute to this.

The Island Line franchise was, until February 2007, the smallest train operating company on the National Rail network. It was combined with the South West Trains franchise to form the new South Western franchise in an effort to reduce the number of train operating companies.[3]

Although South West Trains operated the line thereafter, the Island Line branding was retained.[4] Island Line Trains have repainted all their stations in a heritage cream and green colour scheme, as part of a general station improvement package.[5]

Operations under South Western Railway

In March 2017 the DfT awarded the franchise to a FirstGroup / MTR consortium with South Western Railway, which includes the Island Line, commencing on 20 August 2017. It will run until at least August 2024 with an option for the DfT to extend for a further year.[6][7] South Western Railway will be working with the local council and bodies with regards to replacing the rolling stock, upgrading the infrastructure and adding an additional passing loop to introduce a 30-minute service to improve connection times with the Ryde to Portsmouth ferry service and the hovercraft.[8][9][10] These expected changes were received favourably by the Keep Island Line in Franchise (KILF) group,[11] who have been campaigning for improvements to the line for several years.

Rolling stock

2007 1002 IoW Train
Island Line train in dinosaur livery

Standard National Rail vehicle types cannot be used by Island Line Trains, due to the low ceiling within Ryde Tunnel,[12] where the track-bed needed to be raised following flooding.[13] Instead, services are operated using Class 483 units, which are refurbished ex-London Underground tube trains originally built in 1938. These replaced the older Class 485 and Class 486 units, which dated from 1923 and were introduced to the island in 1967 when the line was electrified. The Class 483 trains entered service on the island in 1989, originally painted in the standard Network SouthEast livery.

South West Trains bought the stock outright from the leasing company HSBC Rail in March 2007 for the nominal sum of £1.[14] The purchase meant that the leasing costs, which were reimbursed by the government, were eliminated, thereby lowering the line's tax burden.

483004 Ryde St Johns Road
Island Line Class 483 No. 004 at Ryde St John's Road station

The rolling stock operate in the former London Regional Transport livery, which the units would have had when operating on the London Underground. Two units first received this livery in 2000, when the rest were painted in a blue livery with pictures of dinosaurs aiming to entice tourists in the summer months when passenger numbers are high. A modern change is that there are yellow warning panels on the front ends of the units, required for the safety of track workers and a change compared with the original red. The livery was introduced as part of a refurbishment completed between 2007 and 2008, funded by leasing company HSBC Rail,[15] which also included work at all stations. Rolling stock also received the same seat moquette that the London Underground A60 and A62 Stock received during their refurbishment between 1993–98, and interior route maps in green. Stations also received new tarmac platforms, green and cream painted seating, new waiting shelters and 'heritage' style station name boards.[16]

Following its successful bid for the new integrated franchise, South West Trains announced in 2006 that there were no plans to replace the current rolling stock; instead they would invest "to ensure the continued viability of the existing Island Line rolling stock and infrastructure".[17]

Current fleet

 Class  Image  Type   Top speed   Number   Routes operated   Built 
 mph   km/h 
Class 483 Sandown Station 786087 Electric Multiple Unit 45 72.5 5 Island Line 1938
1989 - 1992

Tube stock

Class Image Top Speed Time in service Number
Class 483 Isle of Wight Inselbahn 45 mph 5 July 1989 – Present 10 (4 scrapped, 1 store)
Classes 485 and 486 Shanklinstn 45 mph 1966 - 1992 12 (1 preserved, rest scrapped)

The route

The railway has eight stations:


  1. ^ Hardy, Brian (2003). Tube Trains on the Isle of Wight. Harrow Weald, Middlesex: Capital Transport. p. 75. ISBN 1-85414-276-3.
  2. ^ Companies House extract company no 3007942 Island Line Limited
  3. ^ "Stagecoach wins railway franchise". BBC News Online. 22 September 2006. Retrieved 26 August 2007.
  4. ^ "Island Line Online - Contact Us". Archived from the original on 23 July 2007. Retrieved 26 August 2007. Island Line is a brand name of Stagecoach South Western Trains Ltd.
  5. ^ "Spruce up for Island Line stations". South West Trains. Retrieved 3 September 2007.
  6. ^ FirstGroup and MTR welcome South Western rail franchise award Archived 26 June 2018 at the Wayback Machine London Stock Exchange 27 March 2017
  7. ^ First/MTR joint venture wins South Western franchise Railway Gazette International 27 March 2017
  8. ^ "Isle of Wight - Island Train to be run by First Group Consortium". 27 March 2017. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
  9. ^ "Island Line: Passenger group share cautious welcome over franchise news". 29 March 2017. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
  10. ^ "First MTR South Western Trains Limited wins South Western franchise". 27 March 2017. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
  11. ^
  12. ^ "1938 tube stock on the Isle of Wight". Retrieved 13 March 2009.
  13. ^ Scott, Jenny (20 June 2015). "London Tubes: Unexpected locations of underground trains". BBC News. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  14. ^ "Island Line buys trains for £1". Solent TV. 28 March 2007. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007.
  15. ^ "Smart new look for 'pensioner' trains". Isle of Wight County Press. 23 January 2008. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  16. ^ TheRailwayCentre.Com
  17. ^ "Stagecoach Group welcomes South Western Rail Franchise win". South West Trains. Retrieved 4 April 2016.

External links

Preceded by
Network SouthEast
As part of British Rail
Operator of Island Line franchise
1996 - 2007
Succeeded by
South West Trains
South Western franchise
Preceded by
Island Line Trains
Island Line franchise
Sub-brand of South Western franchise
2007 - present
Brading railway station

Brading railway station is a Grade II listed railway station serving Brading on the Isle of Wight. It is located on the Island Line from Ryde to Shanklin. Owing to its secluded location and single operational platform, it is one of the quietest stations on the Island.

British Rail Class 483

The British Rail Class 483 electric multiple units were originally built as 1938 tube stock units for London Underground. They were extensively refurbished between 1989 and 1992 by Eastleigh Works, for use on services on the Isle of Wight's Island Line. This was despite having already worked for nearly 50 years on the London Underground. The units replaced the even older and life-expired British Rail Classes 485 and 486 units, which were introduced in 1967, but were originally built as 'Standard' stock units for the London Electric Railway in 1923.

The stock is 80 years old and still in service as of 2019, making it the oldest type in Great Britain to remain in regular service. The current operator, South Western Railway, have submitted a plan to the Department for Transport to replace the elderly stock with newer Class 230 units. These trains are also former London Underground Stock, formerly designated as D78 Stock.

British Rail Classes 485 and 486

The British Rail Class 485 (or 4Vec, later 5Vec) and British Rail Class 486 (or 3Tis, later 2Tis) electrical multiple units were originally built for the London Electric Railway from 1923-31 as its 'Standard' tube stock. They were purchased by British Rail in 1967 and transported to the Isle of Wight to work 'mainline' services on the newly electrified Ryde to Shanklin line, where they worked for an additional quarter of a century. At the time of their purchase the units had already worked for over 40 years on the London Underground, but their introduction allowed the last steam locomotives on the line to be withdrawn.

Island Line, Isle of Wight

The Island Line is a railway line on the Isle of Wight, running 8 1⁄2 miles (13.7 km) from Ryde Pier Head to Shanklin on the Island's east coast. The line was electrified (630 V DC third rail) in 1967. Trains connect with passenger ferries to Portsmouth Harbour at Ryde Pier Head, and these ferries in turn connect with the rest of the National Rail network via the Portsmouth Direct Line. The line also connects to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway, a steam-operated heritage railway at Smallbrook Junction. For much of its length the line runs alongside the A3055, criss-crossing this road by means of the Ryde Tunnel and bridges at Rowborough, Morton Common, Lake Hill and Littlestairs.

Isle of Wight Railway

The Isle of Wight Railway was a railway company on the Isle of Wight, United Kingdom; it operated 14 miles of railway line between Ryde and Ventnor. It opened the first section of line from Ryde to Sandown in 1864, later extending to Ventnor in 1866. The Ryde station was at St Johns Road, some distance from the pier where the majority of travellers arrived. A tramway operated on the pier itself, and a street-running tramway later operated from the Pier to St Johns Road. It was not until 1880 that two mainland railways companies jointly extended the railway line to the Pier Head, and IoWR trains ran through, improving the journey arrangements.

An independent company built a branch line from Brading to Bembridge, and the IoWR operated passenger trains on the line from 1882, and later absorbed the owning company.

The IoWR was itself absorbed into the Southern Railway in the "grouping" of 1923.

The Bembridge branch closed in 1953, and in 1966 the Ryde Pier Head to Ventnor line was truncated to terminate at Shanklin. This was electrified, and former London Underground tube train stock was brought into use on the line; this arrangement continues to the present day.

Lake railway station

Lake railway station is a station on the Isle of Wight serving the village of Lake, situated in a quiet residential area not far from Lake Cliff Gardens and the beach at Sandown Bay. Until the construction of an interchange station with the Isle of Wight Steam Railway at Smallbrook Junction in 1991, this station was the newest on the island having opened by British Rail in 1987. The Station is formed of only a single wooden platform with a shelter. The trains that serve this station are Class 483s (London Underground 1938 Stock).

Ryde Esplanade railway station

Ryde Esplanade railway station serves the town of Ryde on the Isle of Wight, and forms part of the Ryde Transport Interchange. Located on the sea front, it is the most convenient station for the majority of the town. Ryde Esplanade is also the location of the principal ticket office and all lost property facilities for the Island Line. The larger St John's Road station houses the area office and is next to Ryde depot, where all in-house maintenance for the line takes place.

Ryde Pier

Ryde Pier is an early 19th century pier serving the town of Ryde, on the Isle of Wight, off the south coast of England. It is the world's oldest seaside pleasure pier.

Ryde Pier Head railway station

Ryde Pier Head railway station is one of three stations in the town of Ryde on the Isle of Wight. Situated at the end of the town's pier, it is adjacent to the terminal for the Wightlink fast catamaran service connecting the island with Portsmouth on the UK mainland. Passengers can use this to connect with the rest of the National Rail network at Portsmouth Harbour station, which is adjacent to the Portsmouth terminal. Through rail tickets for travel via Pier Head station are available to and from other stations on the Isle of Wight. These include travel on the catamaran service to or from Portsmouth as appropriate.

Trains run down the eastern coast of the Isle of Wight to Shanklin (the Island Line), the last remnant of a network of railways on the island. Because of the restricted loading gauge, particularly through the tunnel under Ryde, services are operated by Class 483s (London Underground 1938 Stock).

The ticket office at the station is run by Wightlink and not Island Line.

Ryde St John's Road railway station

Ryde St John's Road is a railway station on the Island Line, and serves the town of Ryde, Isle of Wight. The station is 1.25 mi (2 km) south of Ryde Pier Head—the Island Line's northern terminus. When the station opened in 1864, it was known as Ryde railway station, as it was the northern terminus of the Isle of Wight Railway at the time. Rather than a railway, a tramway continued northwards to where the current Ryde Pier Head railway station stands; the railway was extended to Ryde Pier in 1880.

Ryde depot

Ryde depot is a railway traction maintenance depot, situated in Ryde, Isle of Wight, to the east of Ryde St John's Road railway station. The depot is operated by Island Line Trains, and is allocated Island Line Trains' fleet of British Rail Class 483s. The depot code is RY.

Sandown railway station

Sandown railway station is a railway station serving Sandown on the Isle of Wight, England. It is located on the Island Line from Ryde to Shanklin.

Shanklin railway station

Shanklin railway station is a Grade II listed railway station serving Shanklin on the Isle of Wight. It is the present terminus of the Island Line from Ryde, although the line used to continue to Wroxall and Ventnor. The station now has one platform with a ticket office and a small shop with the second platform now in use as a flower bed. The former subway has been filled in.

Passengers can change onto Southern Vectis buses to Ventnor and St Lawrence.

Smallbrook Junction railway station

Smallbrook Junction railway station is a railway station on the Isle of Wight, England. It is unusual because it has no public access but exists purely to provide a connection between two rail systems.

Another similar station is Manulla Junction in County Mayo, Republic of Ireland. However, that station allows interchange between two national network rail routes, rather than between a network route and a heritage route.

Island Line, Isle of Wight


Ryde Pier Head
Ryde Esplanade
Hovercraft to Southsea
tunnel under Ryde
396 yd
362 m
St John's Road B3330
Ryde St John's Road
Smallbrook Junction
Sandown Road
to Newport and Cowes
Sandown sidings
Down arrow closed 1966
tunnel under
St Boniface Down
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