Major improvements for Isle of Wight passengers on the way as South Western Railway begins operations

Sunday 20th August 2017

20 August 2017

Major improvements for Isle of Wight passengers on the way as South Western Railway begins operations

Rail passengers on the Isle of Wight will today be served by a new operator – South Western Railway (SWR). The change in operator sparks the start of a key relationship with the Isle of Wight Council and other stakeholders to develop a more sustainable future for Island Line.

South Western Railway will now start the consultation phase of the process to deliver improvements for Island Line. This will include setting out a range of options to stakeholders for rolling stock and infrastructure, before submitting ideas to the Government next year.

Other Island Line highlights:

  • Marketing campaigns to encourage customers and tourists to travel to and from the Island

  • Work closely with cross-Solent operators and the Isle of Wight Steam Railway

  • Provide free Wi-Fi at stations

  • Deploy an annual customer and community improvement fund of £50k

  • Creating an Island Line stakeholder forum

Today, we also unveil the new Island Line and South Western Railway branding. There is also a new website (, customer app and social media channels (@SW_Help and @SW_Railway) for all customers to access news, information and book tickets for services. The new branding will begin to appear on leaflets and posters at stations and eventually on trains.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Isle of Wight Council Cabinet member for infrastructure and transport, Councillor Ian Ward, said:

“The Isle of Wight Council is looking forward to working in partnership with South Western Railway to provide a sustainable future for the Island Line. I particularly welcome the introduction of the Island Line stakeholder forum and the chance for input to help deliver improvements that passengers want and ensure an excellent service.

“I believe this new partnership will not only improve people’s journeys but keep our economy growing and bring much needed investment to the Island Line and we look forward to working with South Western Railway in making that happen. This is great news for residents and visitors alike.”

Commenting, Tim O’Toole, FirstGroup Chief Executive Officer, said:

"We are delighted to launch the new South Western Railway today.  Together with our partners MTR, we will connect millions of customers every week, while investing to improve the network now and in the future. Our experienced leadership team, working alongside thousands of our dedicated SWR colleagues, will deliver the tangible improvements that customers and stakeholders told us they want. Passengers can look forward to a step change in customer experience with new and better trains, more seats and services, quicker journey times, improved stations and more flexible fare options."

Andy Mellors, Managing Director, for SWR and Island Line said:

“Customer and stakeholder expectations are clear – they want to see improvements to Island Line and the services it offers to both residents and those travelling to the Island for leisure or business. We are committed to working with both the Council and stakeholders to achieve this and are confident that we can be develop a plan that will be deliver to the objectives of all parties”.


Press contacts:

Jane Lee / Justine Moon / David Murdoch

South Western Railway


Tel: 07623 514055

Notes to editors

The South Western Rail franchise was awarded to FirstGroup and MTR in March 2017 and starts operations on 20 August 2017 until at least August 2024.

Operating almost 1,700 service per day across the network, SWR employs over 5,000 employees and provides commuter inter-urban, regional and long distance services to passengers in South West London and southern counties of England and Island Line services on the Isle of Wight, as well as providing connectivity to the ports and airports in the region.

As well as commuters and business travellers, SWR transports leisure travellers across the region, to many tourist and heritage sites, and the numerous major sporting and social events that take place along the route every year.

We recognise the important role that SWR plays in this region, with so many people, businesses and communities relying on the services that we provide.