Saturday 11 June 2022

Island Line Improvement, Lovely? (1)

This Is How It Used To Be
When the Island Line was first electrified, trains ran every 12 minutes on summer Saturdays between Ryde Pier Head and Shanklin, the rest of the network having been closed down. The trains were seven car units of 4 and 3 carriages designated 4VEC and 3TIS ("Vectis" the Roman name for the Island - Gettit?). The trains connected with a fleet of three "big  boats" as they became known.
As the "classic" foot passenger business declined in favour of the ever enlarging car ferries and their motorist contents, lightweight catamaran craft replaced the big boats ...
... the trains had fewer carriages ...
... and the track was rationalised to allow a maximum 20 minute frequency to run.

Further reductions in passenger numbers led to the operation of two trains an hour but at every 20 and 40 minutes apart. The "economised" track layout would not allow a sensible every 30 minutes, meaning connecting with a standard half hourly ferry service was, at best, a variable facility.

What It Became!

Two catamaran fleets later ...
... and one train fleet replacement ...
... things have gone from bad to worse on the Island Line.

Latterly, "the lads" at Ryde St Johns depot struggled to keep even two two-car trains serviceable.
Reductions to hourly became common, but, in the winter at least, the connections with the hourly ferry were usually maintained.

So How To Upgrade?

The big question was "What can we use to replace the failing old, old, underground trains. What is small enough to go through the Ryde tunnel?"
Up pops Vivarail, the company recycling District Line stock from the Underground.
"They will definitely fit through the tunnel", quoth Vivarail.

Still profoundly suspicious of a possible and expensive scraping sound, the engineers gingerly towed the first train to arrive on the Island through the tunnel.
In a Cinderella-like outburst of success (as she tried on the slipper) came the loud chorus of all involved, "It fits!"

fbb can confirm that the trains do fit and did fit on his ride yesterday ...
... and in both sides of the double tunnel.

The total cost of the upgrade - which took far longer than planned - has been a modest £26 million. So what have Islanders got for the money, apart from five shiny new two-car trains?

This is what was promised ..
Notably, the track improvements would make it possible to run a proper half hourly service with trains spaced 30 minutes apart, ideal for connection with the "traditional" summer catamaran timetable, also every 30 minutes.

So it was that yesterday afternoon, after a stonkingly good lunch, courtesy of Alan and his other half, fbb took a round strip along the whole line.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!
More on the current timetable and the upgrade to follow later.

It was a superb home made steak pie, by the way ...
... and a proper pie with pastry top, sides and bottom. Super-yummy. Three tum-filled cheers for the White Hart at Havenstreet!
And to Alan for generously "picking up the tab"!

A Toast For Morrisons Toast - NOT
Yesterday's breakfast was taken at Morrisons store in Lake, just along the road from the gaff. Good value and, surprise, surprise, fbb indulged in a "full English".
fbb's came with two hash browns and no black pudding - although the latter delicacy could have been added for an extra charge. It also came with "toast".
The other side of the slice did have tinges of brown here and there. But the slightly warmed bread was of high quality.

fbb Is Getting Old
This poster was displayed outside the Kentucky Fried Chicken emporium.
Maybe the Colonel is more "up" with the youff than fbb? But what does it mean?

Sainsburys Ferndown - A P.S.
Reeling from the withdrawal of the excellent caff, fbb forgot to mention one positive - although the initiative was not with Sainsburys, but with First Wessex. In the corridor leading to the Ladies and Gents essential services was a rack of tourist publicity, And thereupon ...
... a wodge of leaflets for the Jurassic Coaster network centred on Weymouth. The way these racks work is that those wishing to offer their leaflets upon them pay much fine gold for the privilege. The promoting "agency" then installs the racks in supermarkets etc. and, in theory, keeps them stocked up.

So First Wessex have paid to put their brochures on display.

A bus company publicising it's services with PRINTED leaflets? What is the world coming to?

Well done First!

 Next Island Line blog : Sunday 12th June 

1 comment:

  1. Andrew Kleissner11 June 2022 at 11:41

    But ... if they put out their leaflets, people might take them!

    And where would we be then, eh?