Published: 18th January 2014
The eight mile long quirky Isle of Wight Railway was badly affected by the storms in the run-up to Christmas and had to be closed for repairs.
The normal track gang of six had to be doubled with plant and machinery brought by ferry from the mainland via Portsmouth.
So the major engineering effort that was pulled together in the days before Christmas has kept Island Line’s promise that the line would be open by late January. In fact, the line was reopened a few days earlier than original estimates by Andy Naylor, Island Line’s Area Manager.
Mr Naylor and his boss, Tim Shoveller who is Managing Director of Southwest Trains and Island Line, visited the line with local television cameras on January 10 to update passengers on repair progress. Rail.co.uk would like to thank the two for posing for a photograph as they were about to be interviewed. They have also thanked passengers for their support during repairs.
The repairs were carried out in a two-week engineering project which used 770 tonnes of ballast to rebuild the line in the 20 places that suffered storm damage. Engineers were brought in from Kent by Keltbray Limited who also brought a road rail crane to transport materials to flood damage sites.
The joint teams from Keltbray, S&T Cover Ltd, Island Line/South West Trains and Network Rail had to endure more torrential downpours and high winds while making good the pre-Christmas storm damage.
The track damaged has been repaired and the lineside support reinforced with new measures provided offering greater protection against future bad weather.
Between Ryde and Brading, at Smallbrook Junction, waste pipes were installed at ground level for the width of the track alongside ballast.
This section of line, adjacent to the IOW Steam Railway, is in a dip where water runs down the hill in very wet weather and the new drainage scheme will help to prevent further wash outs offering the water somewhere to run-off to and escape.
Concrete ‘boards’ have also been fitted to the posts inserted to support the track ballast and a large number of old tree trunks that were diverting water towards the railway have been removed.
Empty trains were operated on January 18 to test the track, signalling and safety of the line before services resumed the following day.
Two trains were also stranded at the other end of the line in Shanklin and Ryde Depot staff will examine and undertake planned maintenance on these trains. The depot at Ryde was flooded and has had to be repaired as well. Inside the depot are two trains which suffered flood damage and these are also under repair and may take until March to return to service but as it is not the main tourist season, the effect should be minimal.
These trains are the oldest in regular daily use in Britain and are 76 years old and were previously used on the London Underground but modified for Island life.
Area Manager for Island Line, Andy Naylor said: "We are very grateful to our passengers for their patience during this difficult time. We are very happy that the repairs have both gone to plan and have been completed ahead of time. Our staff and contractors have had some difficult conditions to deal with, but repairs have gone well. We've also taken the opportunity to strengthen some areas to protect the track against future bad weather."