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TSW2: About the Isle of Wight

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  • TSW2: About the Isle of Wight

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    We’re proud to announce our very first route for Train Sim World 2: The romantic Isle of Wight Island Line. Based on surveys we did earlier this year, the route features the present day layout from Ryde Pier to Shanklin. By way of rolling stock, it comes with the iconic class 483. Available for TSW2 on PC, Xbox and PlayStation on 15th October!

    Pre-order on PC now here : https://www.rivet-games.com/product/tsw2-isle-of-wight/

    In this article, we want to give you the background to both the route and the class 483 as the rolling stock. Let’s start with a quick historical brief about the route: The railway route which today is known as Island Line was originally constructed in two stages. The line from Ryde St. Johns Road station to Shanklin was built by the Isle of Wight Railway Company and opened in 1864. The line was extended southwards to Ventnor two years later. The northern section from Ryde St. Johns Road to Ryde Pier Head was built for the London & South Western, and the London Brighton & South Coast railway companies jointly and was opened throughout in 1880. Neither of the two mainland railways operated trains on their section of the route; instead train services were supplied by the Isle of Wight Railway and Isle of Wight Central Railway as an extension of their services from Ventnor and Newport.

    In 1923 the Island’s railway companies were amalgamated into the Southern Railway and in 1948 became part of the Southern Region of British Railways. At its peak there were over 55 route miles of railway on the Island stretching from Bembridge in the east to Freshwater in the west, and from Ventnor in the south to Cowes in the north. The 1950s saw this mileage significantly reduced as holiday habits changed and motor cars became more popular. By the start of 1966 there were two routes remaining: Ryde to Newport & Cowes, and Ryde to Ventnor. During 1966 both the Ryde to Newport & Cowes, and the section from Shanklin to Ventnor closed. This left the Ryde to Shanklin section to be electrified using the Southern Railway third rail system. The “new” electric rolling stock for the line was former London Transport tube trains built between 1923 and 1934.

    The Line became part of Network South East when it was formed in 1986 and there was some investment in the line with two new stations at Lake and Smallbrook being opened, and the railway was giving its marketing title of “Island Line”. The route was one of the first to be privatised in October 1996 having been separated out from the rest of the national railway organisation as Island Line Ltd, and set-up as a self-contained franchise operation. Since then the franchise has been operated by Stagecoach and latterly First Group as part of the larger South West Trains/South Western Railway franchises.

    Continuing with an overview of the route itself: Ryde Pier Head station is located out to sea, approximately half a mile from the shore. This is to allow the trains to connect with the Wightlink “Fast Cat” passenger ferry service to Portsmouth Harbour railway station and provide passenger connections between the mainland and Island railways.

    Island Line runs approximately north to south down the eastern side of the Isle of Wight, and the next station south from Ryde Pier Head is Ryde Esplanade which is located at the shore end of the Pier. Here there is an interchange with local buses and also the hovercraft to Southsea. Leaving Ryde Esplanade station the trains join a double track and descends into Ryde Tunnel. This cut-and cover tunnel takes the railway under the Esplanade area and emerges about a quarter of a mile later on the south west side of the town. A short distance further on it runs into Ryde St. Johns Road station which was the original terminus of the line from Shanklin until 1880.

    Situated at Ryde St. Johns Road station is the Line’s train maintenance depot and train stabling sidings. The Depot occupies the site and buildings of the former Ryde Works and one of the buildings dates back to the original opening of the line to Shanklin in 1864. Also at the Station is a signal box which controls all the tracks from Ryde Pier Head to Shanklin. Located by the signal box is one of the three traction sub-stations which supply the power to the third rail.

    Leaving Ryde St. Johns Road trains continue on the Down Line (‘Down’ being Ryde to Shanklin and ‘Up’ being Shanklin to Ryde) to Smallbrook Junction. Historically Smallbrook was where the line to Newport diverged and today it is the location of the Island’s newest station (opened in 1991) which provides a cross-platform inter-change with the Isle of Wight Steam Railway heritage line. Just before the station the Up and Down Lines merge into a single line. Leaving Smallbrook the Island Line train continues south on the now single line through open country to the town of Brading.

    Brading station was the location where a branch line connected from St.Helens and Bembridge which are to the east. This line closed in 1953. At Brading between 1927 and 1988 the route became double track again with the Bembridge branch using a third platform on the eastern side. The old station building and old signal box have been restored and are open to the public as a heritage centre, café etc. Today the track is a single line using the former Up platform.

    Leaving Brading the trains continue southwards across low lying land then up a gradient to Sandown where there is the site of another former junction. Here a line diverged west to Merstone and then on to Newport, but which was closed in 1956. Sandown was the end of the former double track section from Brading and today is the location of an automatic passing loop which allows a Down Service to pass an Up service from Shanklin.

    Shortly after leaving Sandown the train pauses at Lake station before proceeding onwards to Shanklin. Lake station was opened in 1987 to service a developing residential area between the towns of Sandown and Shanklin. On leaving Lake panoramic views of Sandown Bay may be seen to the east.

    Shanklin station was the terminus of the line from Ryde from 1864 to 1868 and again from 1966. Originally the station was the location of another passing loop on the line to Ventnor, but today there is only one track using the former Down Platform with buffer stops at the south end of the platform.

    The route itself is clearly special in itself, as is the class 483 that comes with the TSW2 route: The Class 483 multiple units are the second generation of electric trains to operate on the Island. When the railway was first electrified in 1967 London Transport tube trains of 1923-1934 vintage were converted and used. These operated in two to seven car formations as traffic required. Initially they operated a twelve-minute interval service of seven coach trains between Ryde and Shanklin at peak times during the summer, but this reduced to a four-car train hourly during winter Sundays. In 1989-90 these trains were replaced by modified and refurbished London Transport 1938 tube stock (the Class 483 units). Reduction in passenger demand, especially during the summer allowed these to be formed as two-cars units. When first introduced they were intended to operate a twenty-minute interval service using two car units in the winter and strengthened to four cars in the summer. An additional unit would be used between Ryde Pier Head and Esplanade stations as a shuttle service for ferry passengers. Today only two trains an hour operate between Ryde and Shanklin usually formed of one two-car unit.

    The Class 483 vehicles are currently the oldest passenger carrying carriages on the UK mainline railway and are due to be replaced during 2021 by further London Underground trains, this time refurbished former District Line stock again formed into two-car units. The next generation of stock has been designated Class 484.

    We hope that was an interesting insight into the history of the route we’ve built for Train Sim World 2. The route will be released on 15th October 2020, and can be pre-ordered on PC here: https://www.rivet-games.com/product/tsw2-isle-of-wight/

    Make sure to visit our YouTube channel and subscribe, so you don’t miss the developer blogs for the Isle of Wight route add-on.

    We would like to thank Mark Brinton for providing the detailed text for this article!
    Last edited by Jasper_Rivet; 10-09-2020, 10:26 AM.
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