Work progresses to preserve and refresh the Island Line’s historic Ryde Pier on the Isle of Wight – with completion expected in late spring: Working on Ryde Pier

Monday 20 Feb 2023

Work progresses to preserve and refresh the Island Line’s historic Ryde Pier on the Isle of Wight – with completion expected in late spring

Region & Route:
| Southern: Wessex

Engineers working to improve Ryde Pier have provided a progress update after battling through winter storms to give the Victorian pier a new lease of life.

The railway line between Ryde Esplanade and Ryde Pier Head has been closed since October 2022 to allow engineers to strengthen the 686-metre-long Victorian pier that was built in 1880.

The strengthening work is part of a wider programme of maintenance and improvements on Ryde Pier. South Western Railway (SWR) will soon begin platform improvements at Ryde Esplanade along with vital track maintenance, as part of the joint project.

Over the course of the winter, engineers continued refurbishing and strengthening the structure and were faced with several challenges, meaning that the programme has been extended further into the spring.

Part of the challenges of working in a marine environment came from the severe weather conditions through December and January, which caused safety concerns meaning that work had to temporarily be paused.

This also had a knock-on effect to the installation of scaffolding, which meant the project has been pushed back slightly.

Despite the revised programme timescales, there is good news for Island Line customers as from Sunday 2 April, SWR will operate two trains per hour between Ryde Esplanade and Shanklin, fulfilling a long-term franchise commitment.

Island Line services will operate as follows:

  • Ryde Pier will remain closed until the completion of the programme in late spring, with a minibus connecting to Island Line train services.
  • Ryde Esplanade will be closed from Monday 13 March with buses replacing trains between Ryde Pier and Ryde St Johns via Ryde Esplanade. The station will re-open by Saturday 1 April.
  • From Sunday 2 April, two trains per hour will operate between Ryde Esplanade and Shanklin, with a rail replacement bus service from Ryde Esplanade to Ryde Pier Head.

Mark Killick, Network Rail’s Wessex route director, said: “We’ve been faced with several weather-related challenges on the Isle of Wight but with the worst behind us we’re pleased to see that progress has been made at Ryde Pier. I’d like to thank customers for bearing with us whilst we carry out this complex renewal to give Ryde Pier a new lease of life.

“We recognise that winter is a challenging time of year to carry out work due to the unpredictable weather, but at the same time if we were to carry this work out during the summer period, it would cause more disruption to customers and tourism on the Isle of Wight.

“Apart from the weather, one of the major challenges we faced is that our time on site is limited by the fact that we have to work around the tides.

“Even though the programme had to be extended, we are confident that we’ll be able to reopen the line by late spring.”

The work aims to extend the life of the structure for decades to come, improving the overall reliability of the line, allowing SWR to run trains on the Isle of Wight long into the future.

Mark Dunn, South Western Railway’s Island Line general manager, said: “Strengthening work on the pier has been harder than anticipated due to the exceptionally difficult weather conditions, however, we have seen some good progress in recent weeks.

“Customers should be aware that buses will replace trains between Ryde Pier Head and Ryde St Johns from Monday 13 March, while we complete vital track and platform maintenance at Ryde Esplanade

“We know just how important Easter is for customers and businesses on the Island, so we will continue working hard with Network Rail to ensure we reopen Ryde Esplanade by Saturday 1 April.

“We’re very pleased to confirm that when we re-open Ryde Esplanade we will begin operating two trains per hour to Shanklin. A lot of hard work has gone into reaching this milestone, delivering on what is an important, long-term commitment to the Island Line.”

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Tala Ghannam
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Network Rail
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