Aerial shot of a South Western Railway train running on the Ryde Pier on the Isle of Wight in July 2023

Crucial infrastructure upgrades to 143-year-old railway see Isle of Wight station reopen in time for summer

For the past nine months, engineers have toiled away to restore a 143-year-old Victorian pier back to its former glory, Network Rail has announced.

In conjunction with South Western Railway, the infrastructure owner’s workforce has braved the elements and worked tirelessly around the clock to complete a programme of crucial upgrades to Ryde Pier Head Station on the Isle of Wight.

As well as giving the station a fresher look with a new lick of paint, the engineers have added a new weather screen to protect passengers, replaced 172 metres of track and installed 143 metres of new steel rail bearers.

Because of the work, the station has been able to reopen for the first time since last October – just in time for summer also giving the local economy a boost.

The final part of the track still requires some updates, with composite sleepers set to replace wood to increase durability in extreme weather conditions and enhance reliability.

General manager for South Western Railway’s Island Line, Mark Dunn, said: “It was fantastic to see trains running on the pier last week when our colleagues completed their familiarisation training, and we’re pleased those trains are now carrying customers once again.

“We’d like to thank our customers for their continued patience as we, and our colleagues at Network Rail, progress this complex programme of maintenance and repairs.”

Network Rail’s Wessex route director, Mark Killick, added: “I’d like to say a huge thank you to Island Line customers and local residents for their patience while these important restoration works have been carried out at the historic Ryde Pier to give it a new lease of life.

“I’m really sorry for the delays the project has faced, it’s been a huge task for our teams who have encountered several challenges including the winter storms and high tides, which meant the work took longer than planned.

“I understand the importance of reopening in time for the summer holidays and the positive impact tourism has on the local economy, so I’m excited to be welcoming customers back.”

The two organisations say they are working closely together to establish when the best time would be to complete the follow-up works and will announce any updates to customers when they have them.

Image credit: Network Rail

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