The Anonymous Widower

Reinstatement Of Branch Lines On The Isle Of Wight

This is one of the successful bids in the First Round of the Restoring Your Railway Fund.

This article on isleofwhiteradio is entitled Funding From Government To Develop Isle Of Wight Railway Reopening Proposals.

The article lists two proposed schemes for expansion of the Island Line.

• Extension of the existing Island Line service (Ryde-Shanklin) south of Shanklin to reach Ventnor, calling at Wroxall.
• Integration with, and extension of, the existing Isle of Wight Steam Railway route to provide passenger services through Smallbrook from Ryde to Newport.

The article has an informative map.

Nearly, three years ago, I wrote Diesel And Battery Trains Could Be The Solution For Island Line, based on an article on the Island Echo, with the same title.

Since then, things have moved on and these developments have started.

  • Vivarail are building a fleet of five new zero-carbon Class 484 electric trains.
  • Network Rail have promised £5 million to upgrade Ryde Pier to secure the future of the line.
  • The track and signalling system will be upgraded this winter.
  • The passing loop at Brading will be reinstated.

This will allow a thirty minute service interval from May 2021.

Wikipedia states that a twenty-minute service could be possible in the future.

The Trains

These pictures show the Class 230 trains on the Marston Vale Line.


  1. These are a diesel-electric version of the Class 484, which will use the existing third-rail electrification and possibly batteries on the Island Line.
  2. The operator can choose an interior appropriate to their needs.
  3. Three-car versions of the train have been ordered by Transport for Wales.

Battery versions of the train are available with a forty-mile range, See Retired London Underground Train Travels Forty Miles Solely On Battery Power.

The Extension To Ventnor

Looking at the map and measuring distance using methods that would have been known to Drake and Grenville, I estimate that the distance between Shanklin and Ventnor via Wroxhall is less than fifteen miles.

  • As the battery range of Vivarail’s trains can be in the region of forty miles, this must open up the possibility of using battery power between Shanklin and Ventnor.
  • Building the extension without electrification would lower the cost.
  • Trains running from Shanklin to Ventnor would be charged on the electrified section of the route.
  • One of Vivarail’s charging systems could be installed at Ventnor if required. See Charging A Battery-Powered Class 230 Train.

Would Vivarail just add a third car with batteries to the Class 484 trains and update the software to enable trains to run on the extension to Ventnor?

The Extension To Newport

The Island Line connects to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway at Smallbrook Junction station.


  1. The Island line running North-South on the Eastern side of the map.
  2. The Isle of Wight Steam Railway curving away to the South-West.
  3. The two railways connecting at Smallbrook Junction station.
  4. Ryde is to the North.
  5. Shanklin is to the South.
  6. Newport is to the West.

I doubt, that allowing trains to run between Ryde and Newport, would be one of the most challenging projects in railway engineering.

The map on the isleofwightradio web site, shows a chord, that would allow trains to run between Shanklin and Newport.

I would estimate that the distance between Smallbrook Junction and Newport is around ten miles.

  • The terminus would appear to be in the Barton area of Newport.
  • Much of the route would appear to be across open countryside.
  • The only place for a station could be the Isle of Wight Crematorium. Why not?

As with the extension to Ventnor, I believe that battery-electric Class 484 trains could run services to Newport.

Will The Isle Of Wight Steam Railway Object?

I very much feel, that if the scheme is well-designed, that they could be a beneficiary because of increased numbers of visitors.

The scheme might also be able to give the steam railway paths to run steam trains as far as Ryde St. John’s Road station.


This proposal is an elegant one, that uses proven technology and builds smoothly on work, that is already underway.

It is also a zero-carbon solution, if the electricity is from renewable sources.

I also suspect, if Network Rail put one of their brighter teams on the current upgrade to the track and signalling of the Island Line, that the extra work needed to connect to Ventnor and Newport, could be planned and costed in a very short time.



May 27, 2020 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , ,


  1. Really not sure where you get your distances from but I seem to recall the total route miles on the IoW when ALL LINES were operating around the end of the 19th century was circa 15!
    I suggest you re-visit your calculations for both routes as you are wildly out!

    Comment by Andrew Bruton | May 27, 2020 | Reply

  2. According to the isleofwightradio article, the island had 60 route miles in the 1950s!

    As I have difficulty using my left hand, which makes using protractors on an OS map difficult, I’ll admit they could be a few miles too long, but not much!

    But both distances are well short of the range of a Class 230 train running on battery power.

    Comment by AnonW | May 27, 2020 | Reply

  3. […] Reinstatement Of Branch Lines On The Isle Of Wight […]

    Pingback by Restoring Your Railway Fund « The Anonymous Widower | May 27, 2020 | Reply

  4. There are several obstacles to the proposed Shanklin – Ventor reinstatement:

    1. The alignment has been built on at Wroxall. See

    2. Southern Water as pipes running through St Boniface Down tunnel. Source: Wikipedia,

    3. Southern Water occupies the site of the former Ventnor station. Source: ibid. See also

    Is the Anonymous Widower aware of any proposals for addressing these challenges?

    Comment by Jack Martin Leith | August 7, 2020 | Reply

    • It’s to sort out issues like these, that the money for a study will be awarded.

      Comment by AnonW | August 7, 2020 | Reply

  5. […] See Reinstatement Of Branch Lines On The Isle Of Wight […]

    Pingback by Restoring Your Railway: Successful Bids « The Anonymous Widower | December 10, 2020 | Reply

  6. To extend to Ventnor, the passing loop would have to be re-instated at Shanklin as well as re-building the up platform as well as re-building Landguard Road bridge. From Wroxall, the line would need to negotiate a housing estate going back towards Ventnor. as for returning to Newport, again, the trackbed south of Cross Lane (Halberry Lane) bridge has been built on. I think the terminius should be nearer the town. Newport tunnel still exists and could be used to take it through there and towards the bottom of the High Street via passing under medina way and building the station in the County hall car park.
    it would be more beneficial if it could continue back to Cowes as well.

    Comment by Steve Knapp | February 3, 2021 | Reply

  7. Thanks!

    Comment by AnonW | February 4, 2021 | Reply

  8. You’ve made the same mistake again as per your previous version of this article which I had previously commented on. The distance between Shanklin & Ventnor via Wroxhall is nowhere near 15 miles, unless you choose to add in a major detour via Newport and Cowes. Jeez!

    Comment by Andrew Bruton | February 4, 2021 | Reply

  9. You’re right, Andrew.. Looking at the map, I’d say it’s five or six miles. That’s via the tunnel, which, as we know, is occupied by water mains. And at the southern end of the tunnel is a small industrial estate. You don’t need to hire a firm of engineering consultants to know that Wroxall, land ownership issues and the tunnel are major challenges. Isle of Wight Council seems to have little enthusiasm for this reinstatement, and local stakeholder interests, such as those of Southern Vectis and Southern Water, make it highly unlikely.

    Comment by Jack Martin Leith | February 4, 2021 | Reply

  10. Any extension to Ventnor using the old route would still leave the railway a long way from the town centre. Why not tunnel from where the old trackbed turns left towards Wroxall so that the railway can actually serve Ventnor Town. The reason the railway closed was because it wasn’t used. Any railway would affect the viability of Southern Vectis Route 3 by abstraction. The whole lot should have been ripped up and a by-pass put round the back of Brading. The project is already two months behind schedule and way over budget, what a waste of taxpayers money.

    Comment by Chris Sullivan | April 11, 2021 | Reply

    • Sadly it is claimed that the railway to Ventnor was actually viable when it closed and as a consequence the hotel and guest accomodation suffered with all the support industries and local trade. I suggest you read ‘The Great Isle of Wight Train Robbery by R E Burroughs for the circumstances around the closure. Maybe the future will reverse the injustice of the past.

      Comment by Chris Parrish | April 14, 2021 | Reply

      • Harold Wilson and his minions did nothing to make the railways more useful.

        Comment by AnonW | April 14, 2021

  11. I recall being a passenger on a packed train into Ventnor when I visited! I also
    remember years later when on business at Ventnor being in a traffic queue behind
    a slow moving fume belting bus crawling up the gradient from Shanklin!
    Sadly Governments when they think short term usually screw up big time! Rail reconstruction is now a world wide phenomenon and a major industrial source
    of employment! So common sense points to reconnecting Ventnor, Newport and even
    Cowes possibly even to a Solent Tunnel! But I won’t hold my breath ! No official
    body likes to actually commit to anything as there is no real leadership sadly.

    Comment by Richard B Carter. | April 24, 2021 | Reply

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