Posted 18th April 2023 | 3 Comments

Ryde Pier to reopen for trains in time for summer

The line to Ryde Pier Head, which has been closed since October last year to allow a major upgrade of the 143-year old pier, will reopen to an hourly service of Island Line trains by 10 June, according to Network Rail and South Western Railway.

After the engineering work had been delayed by winter weather, it had been feared that trains would not return until much later this year.

However, work has been going well and is now entering the final stages. Engineers have reinstated 172 metres of track and 280 sleepers following the repairs and painting of the steelwork along the 686m structure.

Over the course of the winter, engineers braved the elements and continued refurbishing and strengthening the structure, but the difficulties of working in a marine environment, including high tides and bad weather during December and January, meant work had to be suspended for safety reasons.

Trains started running again twice an hour between Ryde Esplanade and Shanklin on 2 April.

Further work to extend the life of the pier will be carried out in October, after the summer season peak on the Isle of Wight. Engineers will lay 396 metres of new track and 660 sleepers, while also realigning the track and renewing signalling equipment.

Network Rail’s Wessex route director Mark Killick said: ‘We’re sorry this work has taken longer than we had hoped, primarily due to the challenging winter weather conditions. We have remained focused on making sure that despite these challenges Ryde Pier Head station is open throughout the busy summer season.’

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • John B, London

    There is no right to a rail service. One can be provided if it is economically viable to do so; taxpayers cannot be expected to fund unremunerative services. The Island line lost SWR 137m in 2019. The IOW is popular with retirees, the average age is above 50. There are very few other lines it can be compared with in the rest of the country (St Ives?). It is not like for example the Kyle of Lochalsh, Cambrian or Far North lines as the Island line is self-contained and the limited area it serves could be done by bus. No, it is a remnant of the past and has survived I would imagine because the area generally votes blue.
    [Passenger railways the world over are 'unremunerative', in that they rarely make a cash profit. The benefits they provide to the wider economy and the life of the nations they serve in general are incalculable. Beeching was under the delusion that buses can replace trains. He was wrong. Many people who use trains would not consider a bus. Unfortunate, perhaps, but that's the way it is.--Ed.]

  • Neil Palmer, Waterloo

    You could probably make the same argument about the costs of repairing some of the recent landslips, bridges, etc. elsewhere.
    Compared to residents of the outer islands in Scotland the residents of the IOW are already getting shafted enough on what they pay for ferries. It seems the government in Edinburgh is a bit more concerned about their island residents than the government in London is about the IOW. The IOW residents are just as entitled as anywhere else to a continued rail service, considering they aren't getting much help with the cost of ferries.

  • John B, London

    For a line which handles relatively little traffic, one has to wonder if the investment is really justified. 26m to upgrade the track and trains, followed by a further 17m in pier repairs. I would have been very tempted to hand part or all the line over to the heritage railway, with costs of repairs met privately and/or by the local authority.