Island Line
An Island Line Class 484 at Shanklin
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
Parent companySouth Western Railway
Reporting markIL
Other Edit this at Wikidata
Branding until August 2017
Former logo of Island Line

Island Line is a brand of South Western Railway which runs the 8.5-mile (13.7 km) 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.


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. Network Rail and its predecessors have continued to own the infrastructure, but lease this out to the operator who is therefore responsible for everyday maintenance of the track[3] and immediate foundations.

While trains have never served Ventnor at any time since the Island Line brand was brought in, several attempts have been made to encourage use of the train to reach the former terminus. A dedicated rail-link feeder bus was introduced in 2004, operating on a direct route between Shanklin and Ventnor, but this was withdrawn in September 2010 after decisions by the Isle of Wight Council about the funding of Wightbus.[4] However, connections and through ticketing have since been provided on the regular bus service, which was slightly diverted to serve the main station entrance.[5] These arrangements continue to be advertised in the rail timetable.[6]

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.[7]

Although South West Trains operated the line thereafter, the Island Line branding was retained.[8] Island Line Trains repainted all their stations in a heritage cream and green colour scheme, as part of a general station improvement package.[9]

Operations under South Western Railway

Island Line services map

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.[10][11] 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.[12][13][14] These expected changes were received favourably by the Keep Island Line in Franchise (KILF) group,[15] who have been campaigning for improvements to the line for several years.

Rolling stock

This section needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (November 2021)
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,[16] where the track-bed needed to be raised following flooding.[17] Instead, services are operated using Class 484 units, which are refurbished ex-London Underground tube trains originally built in 1978. These recently replaced the older Class 483 which in turn had replaced the Class 485 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, and were replaced by the Class 484 trains in regular passenger service during 2021.

South West Trains bought the stock outright from the leasing company HSBC Rail in March 2007 for the nominal sum of £1.[18] The purchase meant that the leasing costs, which were reimbursed by the government, were eliminated, thereby lowering the line's tax burden.

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,[19] 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 and 1998, 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.[20]

In September 2019, South Western Railway announced the Class 483s would be replaced by five two-car Class 484s in 2020.[21] The first Class 484 unit, 484001, arrived on the Isle of Wight on 19 November 2020.[22] The final unit, 484005, was delivered on 16 February 2022 and was moved to Ryde Traincare Depot on 29 February of the same year.[23]

Current fleet

 Class  Image  Type   Top speed   Number   Routes operated   Built   Notes 
 mph   km/h 
Class 484 Electric multiple unit 45 72.5
  • 5
Island Line
  • 1978–1981 (as D78 stock)
  • 2019–2020 (rebuilt)
Entered service on 1 November 2021

Past fleet

Class Image Top Speed Time in service Number
Classes 485 and 486 45 mph 1966–1992 12
Class 483 45 mph 1989–2021 10

The route

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

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 Archived 12 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine Island Line Limited
  3. ^ "Transport Infrastructure Task Force Report" (PDF). Isle of Wight Council. July 2017. p. 23. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 May 2020.
  4. ^ Rachael Brooks (16 July 2010). "Ventnor To Shanklin Rail Link Being Axed". On The Wight. Archived from the original on 12 May 2021. Retrieved 22 April 2020.
  5. ^ Sally Perry (2 September 2010). "Southern Vectis To Provide Shanklin-Ventnor Rail Link Cover". On The Wight. Archived from the original on 12 May 2021. Retrieved 22 April 2020.
  6. ^ "ISLAND LINE: Isle of Wight to London Waterloo train times". South Western Railway. December 2019. Archived from the original on 22 April 2020.
  7. ^ "Stagecoach wins railway franchise". BBC News Online. 22 September 2006. Archived from the original on 12 May 2021. Retrieved 26 August 2007.
  8. ^ "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.
  9. ^ "Spruce up for Island Line stations". South West Trains. Archived from the original on 12 May 2021. Retrieved 3 September 2007.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  10. ^ FirstGroup and MTR welcome South Western rail franchise award Archived 26 June 2018 at the Wayback Machine London Stock Exchange 27 March 2017
  11. ^ First/MTR joint venture wins South Western franchise Archived 31 March 2019 at the Wayback Machine Railway Gazette International 27 March 2017
  12. ^ "Isle of Wight - Island Train to be run by First Group Consortium". 27 March 2017. Archived from the original on 31 March 2017. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
  13. ^ "Island Line: Passenger group share cautious welcome over franchise news". 29 March 2017. Archived from the original on 31 March 2017. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
  14. ^ "First MTR South Western Trains Limited wins South Western franchise". 27 March 2017. Archived from the original on 27 March 2017. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
  15. ^ "Island Line: Campaign group gives cautious welcome to franchise news". 27 March 2017. Archived from the original on 14 June 2017. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  16. ^ "1938 tube stock on the Isle of Wight". Archived from the original on 5 December 2019. Retrieved 13 March 2009.
  17. ^ Scott, Jenny (20 June 2015). "London Tubes: Unexpected locations of underground trains". BBC News. Archived from the original on 4 October 2017. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  18. ^ "Island Line buys trains for £1". Solent TV. 28 March 2007. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007.
  19. ^ "Smart new look for 'pensioner' trains". Isle of Wight County Press. 23 January 2008. Archived from the original on 12 May 2021. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  20. ^ "TheRailwayCentre.Com". Archived from the original on 28 October 2007. Retrieved 26 December 2013.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  21. ^ Isle of Wight line’s future secured with £26m investment Railway Gazette International 16 September 2019
  22. ^ The first refurbished Class 484 trains arriving on the Isle of Wight. Archived 2 May 2021 at the Wayback Machine Isle of Wight Council. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  23. ^ "Final 484 delivered to Isle of Wight". Today's Railways UK. No. 242. April 2022. p. 66.
Preceded byNetwork SouthEastAs part of British Rail Operator of Island Line franchise 1996–2007 Succeeded bySouth West TrainsSouth Western franchise Preceded byIsland Line TrainsIsland Line franchise Sub-brand of South Western franchise 2007–present Incumbent