Island Line trains will be run by a new operator from August. The South Western rail franchise, which continues to include Island Line, has been awarded to FirstGroup and MTR. The current franchise holder Stagecoach Group has run the network since privatisation.
Island Line’s new operators have pledged to “deliver on the promise” to “work with the Isle of Wight Council and other stakeholders to help develop a sustainable future for the Island Line”.
FirstGroup and MTR are considering include more modern stock as well as more modern signalling and a new passing loop to allow the introduction of a regular half hourly timetable to give far better connections across the Solent.
They will also begin consultation with the Island community to obtaining feedback to ensure that plans “reflect your aspirations for the future of Island Line – a route that provides important connectivity both on the Island and to your ferry services.”
Proposals will be submitted to the DfT next year following consultation with local stakeholders.
The new operators have also pledged to:
- partner with ferry operators to offer excellent value, flexible combined rail-sea tickets;
- launch marketing campaigns to encourage customers and tourists to make extra journeys to the island;
- work with Solent Transport, the local authority consortium, to integrate SolentGo with our smartcard scheme;
- work closely with the Isle of Wight Steam Railway;
- provide free Wi-Fi at stations;
- deploy an annual £50,000 Customer & Communities Improvement Fund for Island Line; and
- pay all our employees at least the Living Wage.