South Western Railway (SWR) announced on Wednesday (September 22) that the upgraded Island Line is due to reopen on November 1, with final train safety tests currently underway, following a 10-month closure.
Passengers will be returning to a completely renovated Island Line, with new trains - London Underground trains - running through upgraded stations and along improved infrastructure.
With various upgrades ranging from better interiors to plug sockets, free Wi-Fi and wheelchair spaces, the new trains are set to significantly improve customer experience.
Alongside the trialling of the new trains, SWR staff have been hard at work improving the rail infrastructure and stations on the line. The Island Line tracks have also been upgraded to guarantee customers can enjoy a smoother journey.
The Department for Transport, Isle of Wight Council and Solent Local Enterprise Partnership have all funded the £26m project, which has unfortunately taken longer to complete than initially anticipated.
This is due to a series of complications surrounding train testing difficulties, the pandemic, and the flash flooding which consumed the Isle of Wight earlier this summer.
During testing, the new Class 484 Island Line trains had been affected by software issues, which SWR and train supplier Vivarail have made good progress in solving through further testing, with the final phase of testing being crucial to delivering customers a safe and reliable railway.
Claire Mann, Managing Director of South Western Railway, said “it goes without saying that the safety of our customers and colleagues is the absolute priority for us, which is why it’s so important to get these final preparations right.”
She continued, “when the Island Line reopens, the new trains and upgraded infrastructure will give a real boost to the customer experience, delivering the modern, punctual and accessible railway that people expect and deserve.”
The Managing Director added, “we are sorry that this project has taken longer to deliver than we first hoped, with a series of complications sadly delaying re-opening. However, we are confident that the transformed Island Line will be worth wait, and we are so excited to welcome locals and visitors back onboard!”