An artist’s impression of a tram in St James’s Square, Newport. Picture © LOHR.
CAMPAIGNERS battling to expand the Island’s rail network by running trams over existing disused lines have welcomed a pilot 'tram-train’ project, which has been launched in South Yorkshire.
Transport group Tranzwight said rolling stock used on the £58 million scheme, announced by transport minister Norman Baker, would also be suitable for use on Island Line, if it was converted to 'light rail’ when the current franchise runs out in 2017.
The existing heavy rail line is operated by ageing 1938 ex-London Transport stock, which is rapidly coming to the end of its useful life.
Tranzwight said not only could light rail vehicles operate over the existing Ryde to Shanklin rail line but they could also be used to expand the network using currently disused railway lines.
The trams could run alongside the cycle tracks and could also 'street-run’ into town centres.
Roger Berrisford, from Tranzwight, said: "Using low-floor, light rail vehicles powered from a new overhead line would enable future extensions using the original railway alignments alongside the existing cycle tracks and walkways with minimal intrusion into the town centres at much reduced cost over the existing heavy rail 1938 tube stock operation.
"However, the recently introduced Bombardier Flexity 2 vehicles in Blackpool following the system refurbishment would be better suited for the Island operation as some of the systems included with the tram-train vehicle would not be required for Island operation."
The group has been campaigning for a number of years to promote the conversion of the Ryde to Shanklin line to light rail or trams.