Island Line says goodbye to its much-loved trains

The Island Line, the Isle of Wight’s railway, has been operated since 1989 by refurbished former London Underground trains, built originally in 1938.

However, they have now operated their last service. The final Class 483 train rolled out of Ryde Pier Head Station at 23:17 on Sunday 3 January, closing a historic chapter for Island Line passengers and staff.

The trains are being replaced by another, but much newer, former LU train – Vivarail’s converted District Line trains which will take over the service on 1 April once some major refurbishment work on the railway has been completed.

The old trains, which are estimated to have travelled in excess of 3 million miles in their 82 years, will enjoy a retirement which befits their cherished status. One will be heading to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway, meaning that islanders and visitors alike will still have a chance to enjoy the old red train, while another unit goes to the London Traction Transport Group. Formed in May 2020, the Group hopes to run the train on the Epping Ongar Railway under its own power and even take it to rail galas across the country.

Commenting, South Western Railway’s Managing Director Mark Hopwood said: 

“We’re saying goodbye to a truly iconic train fleet which is held in great affection by people living on the Island and elsewhere.

“These trains had already been carrying passengers for half a century by the time they arrived on the Island in 1989, coincidentally the same year that I started my first job on the railway, but they have served our customers well – even if they have on occasion shown their age. This is in no small part thanks to the exceptional team at Ryde Depot, who have gone above and beyond to keep the trains running.

“While this may be an emotional end to one era, it’s also the start of an exciting new one. The £26 million being invested in new trains and major infrastructure upgrades will help to deliver a railway fit for 2021, with performance and customer experience both set to be transformed. “

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