THE Ryde Pier railway line will be maintained as part of the Island Line franchise.

Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely has won assurances from the government that Network Rail will commit to maintaining the line.

It was feared Network Rail may not provide the necessary investment.

After meeting with Mr Seely shortly before Christmas, transport minister Andrew Jones said: "We expect Network Rail to be making provision for, and planning to undertake, all necessary work required to maintain the Island Line train service in accordance with its asset management responsibilities.

"For the avoidance of doubt, that includes the Ryde Pier railway."

Mr Seely said the cost of the works should be met by the government.

Franchisee South Western Railway has submitted a bid for Department of Transport funding, to buy new trains, upgrade the track and invest in the pier.

"I am delighted the government has committed Network Rail to invest in the Ryde Pier railway, thus ensuring its future. This is good news for Island Line users, specifically those who use the ferry from Ryde Pier Head," said Mr Seely.

"I received a general commitment over the future of Island Line in October, but this latest letter specifically includes the Ryde Pier railway by name, which is what I was looking for."

Founder member of the Keep Island Line in Franchise (KILF) Island Line campaign group, Chris Quirk, welcomed the 'brilliant news.'

"In reality, fixing the pier is more important than fixing the trains because that connectivity to the mainland is the most important thing," he said.

"It's integral to securing the future of Island Line, and I'm pleased that South Western Railway is looking at the long term viability of the service."