The uncertain future of tube trains on the Isle of Wight

On assured sunny days, visiting the Isle of Wight is for us a favoured adventure day trip. We’ve travelled there by almost all possible ways.

The easiest way for us is to go from Portsmouth. We can get there easily by car, park in Gun Wharf Keys, then catch the foot ferry to Ryde. Occasionally we might take the car ferry to Fishbourne. We’ve not yet used the hovercraft to Ryde esplanade, nor have we yet caught the train from Woking to Portsmouth Harbour, perhaps we will try both in 2019.

Arriving at Ryde Pier by foot ferry we either walk down to Ryde esplanade, or catch the Island Line tube train from the pier-head. On one visit we caught the tube, and got off at Brading station– such good fun, lovely heritage station and Signal Box.

The tube trains are reconditioned 1938 London Underground trains, and boy don’t you know it. While fun, they are uncomfortable, as you might expect with 80-year-old carriages. The rail track is similarly uncomfortable, bumpy, noisy, and in need of replacement.

Most recently, this year, we caught the tube to Lake station, walked on the promenade to Shanklin up to the station and thence for late afternoon lunch in Ryde. We’d not been this far previously by tube. Handy yes, uncomfortable, certainly. I thought, at the time, that the rolling stock and line were in urgent need of replacement.

Hence, the point of this story. The tube train from Ryde Pier is something that adds to the tourist experience, which the island should endeavour to retain. But how?

All the arguments about possible alternatives are addressed in London Reconnections article Third Ryde Tube: Transfer Troublesome. It’s a longish article, but fun for train buffs. Below are a few photos on the tube from our past visits.