I congratulate those who secured and delivered the Island Line renewal project.

In the same breath, I’m concerned that the franchisee South Western Railway (SWR) is running an hourly train service (only) in both directions (CP, 05/11/21).

Not the half-hourly service for which the renewal project was designed and funded.

Is this the “new normal”? Half-hourly trains in the summer when tourists are here; but only one an hour in winter for Isle of Wight residents, including schoolchildren and commuters?

Read more: SWR says 'no date set' for half hourly Island Line despite rumour

For sure, SWR knows that the £26 million spent on renewal included funds to construct the new passing loop at Brading. That makes half-hourly train services possible in both directions.

Meanwhile, the renewed Island Line is the jumping-off point for expansion of the Island’s rail network.

Funding for extensions is being pursued, for a new line to Newport from Sandown, and one to Ventnor from Shanklin.

Extensive feasibility work was done last year on these proposals, funded by central government.

The Isle of Wight Council and MP Bob Seely rightly committed themselves to the success of that endeavour.

However, beware, if the message now is that Isle of Wight residents don’t want or need half-hourly trains throughout the year on the Island Line, the “business case” for expansion will be damaged.

In the circumstances, I ask Isle of Wight Council and MP Bob Seely to apply pressure on SWR to properly support the Island Line project, and their customers.

That is, at minimum, half-hourly trains in both directions, all year round, starting shortly.

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