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12.08.15

Future of Island Line in SWT franchise ‘not decided’

No decisions have yet been made about the inclusion of the Island Line in the next South West Trains (SWT) franchise, the Department for Transport (DfT) has told RTM. 

Isle of Wight council had said that, following meetings with the Department, the line would remain part of the new franchise when it is put to tender. 

There had been fears by local campaigners that the line, which operates a 13.7km route from Ryde Pier Head to Brading, Sandown, Lake and Shanklin using former London Underground trains, could be scrapped when the Stagecoach franchise ends in spring 2017. 

RTM asked the DfT to confirm what the council had said, but a spokesperson told us: “As we have repeatedly made clear, no decisions have yet been made about the inclusion of the Island Line in the next SWT franchise, and to suggest otherwise is inaccurate and misleading. 

“We are working closely with our local partners to look at the best way forward in order to ensure the maximum benefits to the local community, passengers, businesses and visitors to the Island. We will not make any decisions without taking local views into account.” 

Back in March 2006, the line was designated by the DfT as a community railway but in 2007 the Island Line was merged with South Western on the mainland.

Cllr Stephen Stubbings, deputy leader of the Isle of Wight Council, said: “The meeting with the DfT was extremely positive and constructive. It gives me great hope that together with the DfT and local stakeholders, we will find the right solution for the future of Island Line.” 

Additionally, the DfT wants to see greater community involvement with the Island Line service within the franchise specification, and will continue to talk to the council about this. A DfT consultation with stakeholders, including the public on the franchise specification, will take place in the autumn.

(Image: c. Ian Capper)

Comments

John Dunford   17/08/2015 at 18:46

Just forget SWT. Give the subsidy to the IOWSteam Railway and let them run it. Bet the subsidy would be reduced within 5 years. JonD

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