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Friday, March 24, 2023

Is light rail the answer for the Island Line?

Replacing the Isle of Wight’s Island Line railway with a cheaper light rail system is one option which has been put forward in a new report.

The report, which has been submitted to the Department for Transport by the Isle of Wight Council, points out that a tram network would offer lower operating costs than the current Island Line, which requires “significant investment” in its rolling stock and infrastructure.

The council sought the view of various local stakeholders to create the report, which was submitted as the council’s response to the DfT’s South Western franchise consultation.

A light rail solution would not only be cheaper, it would create the opportunity to extend the network in the future.

Councillor Jonathan Bacon, Leader of the Isle of Wight Council, said: “It seems that we are all in general agreement; Island Line must remain, and that it might benefit from local management, which will provide better local opportunities for promotion and control, to enable the line to flourish and support the local economy.”

The report also pressed the DfT to give the Island Line the same level of protection afforded to other franchises should the service be dropped from the South Western franchise.

Cllr Bacon added: “It is also essential that government gives us cast iron assurances that Island Line remains part of the nation rail network for timetabling and ticketing and has the same guarantees in relation to infrastructure as the rest of the network.”

Photo licensed under Creative Commons.


  1. The rail network on the Isle of Wight is an essential public service. Conversion to LRT would be an acceptable approach to the situation, and provisions should be made for an expansion of the coverage in the near future.


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