Rail (UK)

Vi­varail ‘484’

- Paul Clifton Con­tribut­ing Writer rail@bauer­me­dia.co.uk London · Long Marston · Department for Transport · Vivarail · Isle of Wight · Wightlink · Portsmouth · Sandown, NH · Ryde · Shanklin · United Kingdom Department for Transport · Network Rail Route 18 · Isle of Wight Steam Railway · St. John's · Alton Towers · Epping, NH · Transport for London

Vi­varail‘s first mod­i­fied Class 484 ex-Lon­don Un­der­ground train ar­rives on the Isle of Wight for test­ing.

THE first Vi­varail Class 484 ex-Lon­don Un­der­ground train has been de­liv­ered to the Isle of Wight.

It ar­rived on two Wightlink fer­ries from Portsmouth to Fish­bourne on Novem­ber 19. Each lorry, trailer and sin­gle car­riage weighed 78 tonnes, fill­ing half of each ferry’s ve­hi­cle deck. They then had to ne­go­ti­ate the is­land’s nar­row roads be­fore un­load­ing at Sandown.

It was the first time ‘new’ rolling stock for the 8½-mile Is­land Line had been de­liv­ered since 1989.

The re­fur­bished ex-Dis­trict Line trains from Vi­varail’s Long Marston work­shop will re­place the old­est rolling stock used on the na­tional net­work (built dur­ing the Sec­ond World War).

They will re­tain the Lon­don Un­der­ground seat­ing lay­out, with lots of room for stand­ing, and fea­ture on-board WiFi, charg­ing sock­ets, pas­sen­ger in­for­ma­tion screens and space for wheel­chairs. Is­land Line prom­ises they will be trans­for­ma­tional for trav­ellers.

The first new train must com­plete test­ing and fault-free run­ning be­tween Ryde and Shanklin be­fore Jan­uary 3, af­ter which the route will close un­til March 31 to en­able track to be re­placed, com­mu­ni­ca­tions mod­ernised, and plat­forms raised to pro­vide level ac­cess.

A pass­ing loop will also be built at Brad­ing sta­tion, to en­able ser­vices to run at 30-minute in­ter­vals. Buses will re­place trains dur­ing the three-month clo­sure.

All five two-car trains are due to be de­liv­ered by May. The whole project is cost­ing £26 mil­lion, of which £25m comes from the Depart­ment for Trans­port.

Uniquely on the na­tional rail net­work, SWR main­tains both track and trains. It leases the track from Net­work Rail, which con­tin­ues to have re­spon­si­bil­ity for land be­low the track bed.

NR is re­spon­si­ble for a par­al­lel £20m project to strengthen Ryde Pier. Wightlink’s FastCat pas­sen­ger ser­vices from the pier are cur­rently sus­pended, due to lack of pas­sen­gers trav­el­ling dur­ing the sec­ond lock­down.

Af­ter Jan­uary 3, the old trains will no longer be able to op­er­ate. It is likely that one set will go to the Isle of Wight Steam Rail­way, but other ve­hi­cles, which have been stripped for spare parts to keep oth­ers run­ning, are be­yond prac­ti­ca­ble re­pair.

Ryde St Johns Road De­pot Man­ager Ian Butch­ers said: “It will be sad to see the old trains go. Each one is slightly dif­fer­ent, and you get to know all their quirky bits. The kids love them - you see them bounc­ing up and down on the seats. It’s like Al­ton Tow­ers on them, they get a bit lively on the track!”

He added: “The old trains have come to the end of a long life. It’s time for them to re­tire. The new trains are to­tally dif­fer­ent to what we’ve been used to. The team will have to up­skill dra­mat­i­cally - go­ing away from main­te­nance with sledge­ham­mers and crow­bars and us­ing lap­tops in­stead. All the driv­ers and guards will have to be trained up, too, all be­fore the line closes down for the win­ter.”

SWR Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor Mark Hop­wood was on the is­land to watch the de­liv­ery.

“There is a lot of work to do,” he said. “It’s eas­ier to do it in one big block, rather than across a year or more of week­ends. We re­alise a num­ber of is­land peo­ple use

the trains in win­ter, but ev­ery­one recog­nises the num­bers are much smaller than in sum­mer.

“There is a lot of work to do on all the plat­forms to make ac­cess eas­ier. These trains are quite a bit larger than the ones they re­place, so the plat­forms have to be raised and lev­elled - not just for peo­ple in wheel­chairs, but for par­ents with bug­gies as well.

“We plan to launch a new half-hourly timetable with the new trains in May. It puts us in a strong po­si­tion for next sum­mer.”

■ It was con­firmed on Novem­ber 24 that homes have been found for the two op­er­a­tional Class

483s. One is des­tined for dis­play at the Isle of Wight Steam Rail­way, while the other will move to the Ep­ping On­gar Rail­way in Es­sex in the care of the Lon­don Trans­port Trac­tion Group. It’s planned to fit bat­ter­ies to the LTTG ‘483’, al­low­ing it to travel the coun­try.

 ?? MICHAEL DANGERFIEL­D. ?? An aerial shot of South Western Rail­way 484001 as it is un­loaded on Novem­ber 19.
MICHAEL DANGERFIEL­D. An aerial shot of South Western Rail­way 484001 as it is un­loaded on Novem­ber 19.
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 ?? SOUTH WEST­ERN RAIL­WAY. ?? A driv­ing ve­hi­cle from the first of five Vi­varail Class 484s ar­rives on the Isle of Wight on Novem­ber 19.
SOUTH WEST­ERN RAIL­WAY. A driv­ing ve­hi­cle from the first of five Vi­varail Class 484s ar­rives on the Isle of Wight on Novem­ber 19.

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