The Isle of Wight is a beautiful island with a rich history and no shortage of things to do. There are great beaches and harbours to explore. There’s wonderful food to be eaten and superb lodgings to stay in. There are dinosaur walks and museums. And since 1864 the Island has been the proud home of its own train line: the Island Line.
The Island Line on the Isle of Wight operates between Ryde and Shanklin, serving Smallbrook Junction, Brading, Sandown and Lake stations in between. It has always been the Isle of Wight’s main line, even when the Island boasted a complex 53-mile rail network with 36 stations and halts.
Island Line history
The first services between Ryde (St Johns) and Shanklin, with intermediate stations at Brading and Sandown, ran on 23 August 1864. Fierce opposition from local landowners and the need to cut a 1,312 yard tunnel through St Boniface Down delayed the opening of a four-mile extension of the line to Wroxall and Ventnor, 11.5 miles from Ryde, until 15 September 1866. The Ryde to Ventnor Line, serving the developing seaside resorts along the Isle of Wight’s east coast, was an immediate success.
Lines and stations opened:
- Ryde St Johns Road – Shanklin: opened 23 August 1864
- Ryde St Johns Road – Ryde Esplanade: opened 5 April 1880
- Ryde Esplanade – Ryde Pier Head: opened 12 July 1880
- Lake station: opened 11 May 1987
- Smallbrook Junction station: opened 20 July 1991
Facts about the Island Line network:
- Steam powered until 31 December 1966
- Electrified from January 1967 to March 1967
- Electric powered from 20 March 1967
- Current train of choice: Class 483 Electric Multiple Unit (EMU)
- Number of level crossings: none
- Number of freight crossings: none
- Tunnels: Ryde 391 yards
Total length of Island Line: 8.5 miles (13.7km)
Find out more fascinating facts about the Isle of Wight.