The Island’s MP has welcomed the Government’s new rail strategy that will consider reopening previously closed Island Line rail routes.
Bob Seely has said the strategy could help the case for extending the Island Line from Ryde to Newport and possibly even from Shanklin to Ventnor.
Speaking about this week’s news, Bob said:
“I am delighted at this announcement. This new rail strategy is very helpful. It makes clear lines closed in the 1960s could be opened again”.
Prior to the publication of the current South Western Railway consultation on the future of Island Line, Bob urged the operator to include questions about whether the line should be extended either to Newport or Ventnor.
“I am delighted that SWR accepted my suggestion and put in a question in the consultation about extending the line. I am talking now to transport and rail stakeholders on the Island about whether they would support extending the Island Line.
“I believe there is potentially a strong case to extend the railway to Newport, to link the Island’s two biggest towns and help ease traffic congestion, and also to link Ryde with Ventnor, supporting Ventnor’s regeneration. However, both possibilities are not without difficulty.
“The route to Newport would require greater integration with the Isle of Wight Steam Railway, and I recognise that their principal objective is to maintain a popular heritage route for visitors. However, the Steam Railway have long-term aspirations to extend both into Ryde St Johns and closer to Newport, so there is certainly the potential for closer working and the extension of existing lines, subject to the current services provided by both Island Line and the Steam Railway continuing, as a minimum.
“Regarding Ventnor, getting the train back into the town would help the town and help connect it better with the east of the Island. However, there will be issues about potential routes through or around Wroxall, as well as access to the tunnel.
“The important thing is that, if there is a desire to see the routes extended, we should look to secure a feasibility study to offer an up-to-date assessment of the potential costs and opportunities of either extension.
“I have already made my ambitions for Island Line clear to the operators, South Western Railway, and to the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling in several meetings and I have had with them.”
Bob is urging all residents who are interested to attend a public meeting on the future of Isle of Wight railways at Shanklin Theatre on the 14th December at 19:00.