Reinstatement of branch lines on the Isle of Wight was one of 10 schemes to receive an award in the first round of the Department for Transport Restoring Your Railway Fund programme.

The scheme, promoted by Isle of Wight Council and sponsored by Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely, consists of two distinct parts:

  1. An extension of the existing Island line service (Ryde – Shanklin) beyond Shanklin to reach Ventnor, with an intermediate station at Wroxall.
  2. Integration with, and extension of, the existing Isle of Wight Steam Railway route to provide public transport services from Ryde to Newport via Smallbrook Junction.

Source: Railway plans for Newport and Ventnor, on Isle of Wight Council website (May 2020).

This map shows the location of the proposed reopenings:

Former and current railways on the Isle of Wight

A 1914 Railway Clearing House map of all railway lines on the Isle of Wight, with overlay showing lines and stations that are currently operational.
New stations will be required at:

  • Wroxall, on the proposed Island line extension.
  • Ventnor, also on the proposed Island line extension.
  • Newport, on an extension of the track currently used by the Isle of Wight Steam Railway.

Some challenges facing the scheme’s promoter

Shanklin to Ventnor

Map showing course of former railway from Shanklin to Ventnor

© OpenStreetMap contributors | OpenStreetMap copyright notice | View context map
  • The alignment is obstructed at Wroxall.
  • The tunnel through St. Boniface Down, between Wroxall and Ventnor, carries Southern Water pipes.
  • The site of the former Ventnor station, immediately below the southern portal of the tunnel, is occupied by a Southern Water compound.

Smallbrook Junction to Newport

  • The track from Smallbrook Junction to Wootton is owned and used by the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. A parallel track for Island line trains would probably need to be laid, with 630 V DC third rail electrification.

“We note with interest the suggestion, put forward by Bob Seely MP, of connecting Newport to Ryde via the Steam Railway and Island line. Whilst our Strategic Vision contains the long-term ambition to extend our line to Newport, this has significant financial and technical challenges. For the foreseeable future we, therefore, have no plans to extend westward from our current terminus at Wootton. Current safety legislation makes shared usage of our line challenging. Modern faster trains needed to operate a viable public transport link would not be able to operate alongside our historic wooden-bodied carriages which currently run at a maximum speed of 25mph. Significant changes would also be required to the infrastructure and signalling.”

Isle of Wight Steam Railway spokesperson, quoted in Extension of the current Isle of Wight railway moves to the next stage, on On the Wight website.
  • The former trackbed is intact for a short distance beyond the site of the former Whippingham station, but access to Newport town centre is constrained.
Location of former Whippingham and Newport stations, Isle of Wight

© OpenStreetMap contributors | OpenStreetMap copyright notice | View context map

As for Newport, utilising the original track bed would result in a terminus impossibly far from the town centre. This is a non-starter. But a late friend of mine, in teaching an engineering course at the local college, used to set his pupils the task of laying out a line from Whippingham station down to the east bank of the River Medina and then along the bank to Newport harbour, which is on the edge of the town centre.

Source: Graham Akers, excerpt from a letter published in Rail Magazine, 9 – 22 September 2020.
Location of former stations, Newport, Isle of Wight

Location of former station at Newport, Isle of Wight.

Is Isle of Wight Council serious about seeking an extension of the Island line into Newport?

We also welcome the opportunity to explore how a train route into Newport could play an integral role in our plans for the regeneration of Newport Harbour.

Councilor Dave Stewart, Leader of Isle of Wight Council, cited in Railway plans for Newport and Ventnor, on Isle of Wight Council website (May 2020).
Newport Harbour Masterplan—Development Areas

Source: Newport Harbour Masterplan—Development Areas (download pdf document, 48pp).
Newport Harbour Masterplan Report, March 2020, a 57-page document published by Isle of Wight Council on its website with a truncated URL and now apparently redacted in its entirety (see here), makes no mention of a possible new station in Newport.

We are familiar with some of the methods local authorities use to make online planning documents hard to access, and were able to download and view this one before it was replaced by the empty version, which is still without its .pdf file extension.

Please send us a contact form message if you would like to receive the unredacted version by email.

Further reading

Island line, Isle of Wight – Wikipedia

Isle of Wight Railways – Disused Stations website

Isle of Wight Steam Railway – Wikipedia

Newport railway station (Isle of Wight Central Railway) – Wikipedia

Railway plans for Newport and Ventnor, on Isle of Wight Council website (May 2020)

Railways on the Isle of Wight – Wikipedia

Reinstatement Of Branch lines On The Isle Of Wight – The Anonymous Widower

Ventnor – Disused Stations website

Ventnor railway station – Wikipedia