|The railways of the Isle of Wight have always played poorer
sister to those on the mainland and have been in receipt of many hand-me-downs
over time. This in turn has resulted in rolling stock running for much longer
than on the mainland and fostered a "make and mend do" attitude to
keeping such aged stock running. Following the ending of steam operations in
1967 the remaining line - Ryde Pier Head to Shanklin - was electrified and
inherited former 1923 to 1985 former London Underground units formed into four
and three car sets, designated 4-Vec (Class 485) and 3-Tis (Class 486)
respectively. These well-worn units were replaced in 1989 by former London
Underground 1938 stock in two car sets, designated Class 483. These units
soldiered on for over another thirty years, by which time they were by far the
oldest passenger rolling stock running on the national railway network in the
UK. It became a daily fight to keep them running. Some units were cannibalised
for spares to keep others running. Towards the end, some days the battle was
lost and buses had to be substituted.
For many years various replacement stock was considered in conjunction with the very future of the line. This included the assessment of converting the line to light rail and use of trams. One of the limiting factors of this line was the tunnel under Ryde Esplanade which over history had been prone to flooding and the track had been raised, thus reducing the vertical clearance and requiring deep level tube stock. It was the improvement of drainage and lowering of the track in the tunnel that provided the possibility of running larger rolling stock again leading to the introduction of the Class 484.
photograph by Keith Harwood
|The Isle of Wight Railways were electrified at the end of steam
workings in 1967. Ex-London Transport tube stock was purchased and refurbished
into three & four car units. The 4 car units of Class 485 (4-Vec) were
numbered 041-046 and were composed of a Motor Open Brake Second, two Trailer
Open Seconds and another Motor Open Brake Second. The three car units of Class
486 (3-Tis) were numbered 031-035 and were composed of a Motor Open Brake
Second, a Trailer Open Second and a Driving Trailer Open Second. When a unit of
each class was coupled together they formed a 7-Vectis, which was the Roman name
of the Isle of Wight.
The individual cars in these sets were built for LT between 1923 and 1935 and in 1985 the units were reformed into five five car and two two car units. These first Island electrics suffered from corrosion due to the proximity the sea. In 1989 they were withdrawn and replaced by newer 1938 era LT stock of Class 483 which had all been given effective modern corrosion prevention coatings to protect the steel.
This section was last updated 22 March 2003
photograph by Michael Taylor
|When the electric trains were first introduced to the Isle of Wight there were concerns that the stock would suffer whilst on Ryde Pier from the effects of the sea spray and water. In the event it soon became apparent that the conductor rail was far more sensitive than the trains and would usually trip out, suspending services, before the sea got anywhere near the traction equipment! These units were, however, fitted with a metal splash guard under the traction resistance grids to deflect any spray coming from underneath due to a rogue wave. Following on from corrosion problems with the earlier Class 485 units one of the requirements of the Class 483 refurbishment at Eastleigh was to ensure effective modern corrosion prevention coatings were applied to protect the steel. Recent inspection of a number of units suggests that by and large it appeared to have been very effective.|
This section was last updated 31 January 2004
photograph by Paul Bradley, via Eric Nicholass
|In September 2019 it was announced that former London Underground sub-surface
Metro-Cammel D78 stock, thoroughly rebuilt by Vivarail, designated Class 484,
would replace the struggling 80 year old trains. Thus continuing the tradition
of hand-me-downs! Vivarail had bought a large quantity of the former District
Line vehicles as their 40 year old aluminium bodies were still in very good
condition and had a lot of life left in them. Some of these vehicles have
already been radically rebuilt into essentially new diesel electric and hybrid
unit trains - Class 230 - for use on branch lines around the country. However,
the Class 484 two car units are straight electric, picking up from the existing
conductor rail but using new bogies, ac traction motors and ac control They
have new cab fronts and interior accommodation. These units feature modern
facilities previously absent from trains on the island such as improved access,
a connection between cars, a passenger information system and wi-fi. These units
are formed DMS-DMS. They have TSA ac motors fitted to Bombardier FLEXX1000
flexible frame bogies controlled by an IGBT Inverter system.
484001 - 131 231
484002 - 132 232
484003 - 133 233
484004 - 134 234
484005 - 135 235
Whilst the new rolling stock is being introduced the line itself will receive attention with improvements to platforms and a passing loop installed at Brading permitting introduction of a 30 minute even interval service (vice the previous asymmetric two trains an hour timetable), amongst other work. The line is closed between 4th January and 31st March 2021 for this.
The first unit, 484001 was delivered to the island, later than originally planned, on 19th November 2020. Car number 231 was taken on the 14:00 Portsmouth to Fishbourne ferry and car number 131 followed on a later ferry. They were thence driven by road to Sandown PW depot for placing onto the rails. It was then driven very slowly to Ryde St John's Road depot. Testing overnight was due to start on 1st December, however failure of all three of the serviceable class 483 units and substitution of buses on some days permitted a few bounty daytime test outings.
This section was last updated 24 January 2021