Londoners would describe their feelings towards their transport network akin to a love-hate relationship. But how does this relationship change when part of the Underground is found somewhere a bit less expected?
Riders taking a day trip from London to the Isle of Wight may feel a bit unnerved hearing the same click clacking of the London Underground just outside Ryde’s Hovercraft port. No, this isn’t an auditory illusion. The Isle of Wight’s “Island Line” is in fact serviced by former London Underground trains from the 1930s.
Running overground from Ryde Pier to Shanklin, the 8.5-mile journey around the east of the Isle of Wight is strikingly different from that through central London. Rolling rural hills replace urban tunnels, coastal views replace particulate-ridden stations, and a half mile journey along England’s oldest pier is a must-do experience. If the weather is right, salty waves lap against the crimson carriages.
The stock trains worked their way onto the Isle of Wight just after electrification of the “Island Line” track in 1966. Unfortunately, The Esplanade Tunnel near Ryde was liable to flooding, so its road bed had to be raised to avoid repercussions of a flooded transport link. The new road bed decreased the tunnel’s clearance by 10 inches, making standard-sized train models too tall for the parameters needed. Roll in the shorter London Underground stock!
Since their arrival to the Isle, several reiterations of stock, painting and refurbishments have occurred to keep the carriages moving. Some anticipate the trains nearing the end of their lifespan quite soon, but they don’t seem to be at the end of their lines just yet.