OLD railway lines between Ventnor and Newport could be reopened, as part of ambitious plans to restore routes lost to the Beeching cuts.

The Island has been announced as one of ten areas to receive a share of £500,000.

Transport secretary, Grant Shapps has announced that the Island is among the successful bids in the the government's 'Restoring Your Railway 'Ideas Fund'.

The Isle of Wight's MP has weclomed the news, saying although "there are also some substantial issues which would need to be resolved to enable the return of railway services to Ventnor, these are not insurmountable."

The plan is to reopen railway lines, including those closed during the 1960s. 

The bid, submitted by the Isle of Wight Council and sponsored by Island MP Bob Seely, proposed two schemes:

• extension of the existing Island Line service (Ryde-Shanklin) south of Shanklin to reach Ventnor, calling at Wroxall

• integration with, and extension of, the existing Isle of Wight Steam Railway route to provide passenger services through Smallbrook from Ryde to Newport

Isle of Wight County Press:

Leader of the Isle of Wight Council, Councillor Dave Stewart, said: "We have been able to convince the government to support us in taking forward plans to enable investment on the Island. 

"The potential to have an extended railway service on the Island is very real, and could have a transformational impact on our public transport provision.

"We also welcome the opportunity to explore how a train route into Newport could play an integral role in our plans for the regeneration of Newport Harbour.

“I would like to thank our officers for their tremendous work so far in support of this initiative, and we look forward to working with local stakeholders over the coming months to explore how these plans can be progressed.”

A bid was put in in March. Read more: MP wants great railway journey to bring back trains to Newport and Ventnor

Department for Transport officials will now work with the council to agree the focus of the work and the funding which will be required, and on what timescales.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely

The Isle of Wight MP welcomed the possibility of restoring the routes but warned it would not be easy.

Bob Seely said: "If we were able to see rail services restored to Newport and Ventnor, these towns (and the surrounding areas) would immediately benefit from improved connectivity. Working with the council and others, I will do all I can to see these aspirations become a reality.

“However, we must also be realistic about the logistical challenges we face in seeing these routes restored."

Mr Seely said: "My discussions with the steam railway last week confirmed that they will support feasibility studies, which will need to look at how – and if – the existing route between Smallbrook and Wootton could be utilised for public passenger services, alongside its existing use.

"Understandably, the steam railway’s first priority is to ensure the continued operation of their award-winning and popular heritage railway. I am very keen to explore how we can continue to progress their plans to return steam trains to Ryde St Johns and – in due course – see them running into Newport as well.

"In addition, there are also some substantial issues which would need to be resolved to enable the return of railway services to Ventnor, but these are not insurmountable.

“It is clear that our vision for the future of railway provision on the Island has convinced the government that these plans merit further consideration, including funding for a feasibility study. We must now rise to this challenge and take these aspirations forward with vigour.”

"We must now rise to this challenge and take these aspirations forward with vigour.”

- Bob Seely MP

The news follows the announcement last September that the Island’s existing public passenger route – from Ryde to Shanklin – will receive £26 million of investment, including to provide refurbished rolling stock, a new passing loop at Brading (to provide a half-hourly service) and improvements to track quality.

Read more: £26 million investment in Island Line ­— County Press gets the reaction

Elsewhere, Network Rail has allocated millions of capital funding to ensure Ryde railway pier is maintained to a high standard, with preparatory works now underway.